Saturday, April 7, 2012

I Award You No Points, and May God Have Mercy on Your Soul

There have been a lot of dumb things said in the wake of Bounty-Gate, but Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely may have taken the cake this week. On ESPN's First Take, Feely made the following statement in response to the audio recording of Gregg Williams' speech to the Saints Defense leading up to their playoff game with the San Francisco 49ers:

"You’re trying to excite, elevate, get your team ready. Think about a general before sending a group into battle and what he says to them. If we just see his speech we’re gonna think it’s asinine what he’s saying to his soldiers."

Leave it to a kicker... It's absurd that I even have to say this, but there is a huge difference between football and war. Football is a game. It's violent and competitive and any number of other adjectives, but at the end of the day, it is still a game. In war, you are LITERALLY trying to kill other people. Football is not, nor will it ever be, life and death. There is no comparison here. The idea that Feely would even try to make a comparison shows just how warped the mindset of some current players in the league is. 

Now, ridiculous comparison aside, Feely's first sentence makes sense. Coaches are going to say some things that shouldn't be taken literally in order to fire their teams up. And I get that. The issue with what Gregg Williams said is that it went way past the rah-rah fire' em up rhetoric that I can only assume spans every locker room in just about every level of football. You can't talk about taking out guys' ACLs or delivering headshots to guys with concussions. Once you start naming names and talking about trying to inflict specific injuries, you've crossed over from motivational and inspiring to something dark and insidious.

I mean if you want your defense to play physical, what's wrong with this quote from Remember the Titans?

All right, now, I don't want them to gain another yard! You blitz... all... night! If they cross the line of scrimmage, I'm gonna take every last one of you out! You make sure they remember, forever, the night they played the Titans!

Inspiring, right? How do we get from that to this?

We need to decide whether [Michael] Crabtree wants to be a fake-ass prima donna, or he wants to be a tough guy. We need to find out. He becomes human when we f------ take out that outside ACL.

And where does it stop? If we say that this is ok because it's the culture of the game, where do we draw the line? I mean do you really want to instruct 10 and 12 year olds playing pee-wees that the key to winning is taking out the opponents' knees. Or to keep hitting the other kids after the whistle? Kids emulate what they see from the pros and if this stuff goes unpunished, it sets a horrible precedent. Gregg Williams may not be the only offender in the league, but I think it's important for Roger Goodell to stand pat on his indefinite suspension. There's no place in football for that type of coach and that message needs to be heard loud and clear throughout the league.

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