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"In Defense Of" Archive


Seattle Seahawks Corner Richard Sherman and why he should keep talking

Yesterday Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and New York Jets cornerback Darrell Revis got into a back on forth on twitter about who is the better player. Sherman, who is known for talking a lot of trash and is a superfan of stats, basically argues that in one season he’s put up bigger numbers than Revis (interceptions, forced fumbles) and that Revis will be “irrelevant” upon his return. To that, Revis says that Sherman doesn’t have a lot of followers and that he runs his mouth “like a girl.” Oh Revis, I will not forget that comment.

My stance on Sherman vs. Revis is simple. There’s not a big enough sample at this point to say who is currently playing better. Revis was out almost the entire season with a torn ACL, but to Revis’ credit he has had multiple seasons being a top corner to which Sherman has exactly one. It’s also important to remember that stats don’t tell the whole story. Depending on the defensive scheme (press vs. man, for example) a corner may not have much of a chance to grab INTs. It doesn’t mean he’s not doing his job. Revis, certainly, doesn’t give up many yards or  big plays or catches at all for that matter. So the man to outdo remains Revis.  And I’m a huge fan of Sherman but my favorite corner is still Lardarius Webb. Now that that’s cleared up, let’s talk about Sherman’s chitter chatter.

Sherman talks a lot and I think he should continue to do it. Part of the reason Revis is so popular is not just because of his play. It’s also because he plays in New York , cause he had a controversial contract hold out and because he has a coach in Rex Ryan who has done the bulk of trash talk for him. Sherman has none of those advantages at the current time. Sports fans are NOTORIOUSLY slow to realize who is playing well vs. who has a reputation for playing well. If you look at the Pro Bowl, there’s plenty of evidence. It sometimes takes years for fan bases to realize that the guy who was once a pro bowl caliber player is now playing respectably but not great. Sherman shouldn’t wait for everyone else to catch up especially since he plays on the west coast and he’s 6’3 so the window for him to be a top corner is shorter as taller DBs tend to lose a step faster than the 5’11 guys like Revis.

If it wasn’t for Sherman’s big mouth, there’s no guarantee he’d be gaining the popularity he’s gaining right now. You don’t see Bleacher Report and ESPN and, by proxy, the average fan hyping Peanut Tillman or Tim Jennings who were stellar corners this year as well. It’s conceivable that with the Ravens having won the superbowl, had Webb not gotten injured he would be getting the bulk of attention right now rather than Sherman.

Guys talk trash about each other all the time…this is a sport where every dude is hocked up on adrenaline and you need to have confidence to survive. If it bothers people that Sherman is loud and abrasive, that’s fine. But I don’t think he should stop drawing attention to himself because people don’t find him “likable.” Likeability comes with time, access and success. Right now it’s most important for Sherman to stand out from the crowd.

I can point to numerous athletes who tried hard to be liked and were unsuccessful like Lebron James who people seriously hated for no reason. Or athletes who were completely abrasive but protected for various reasons like Michael Jordan. Or guys like Kobe Bryant who don’t give a damn if you like them or not and have succeeded just fine without mass personality approval.  Getting endorsements is what’s important not having the fans want to cuddle with you at night time. I think Sherman is headed toward being a spokesman for brands and it’s in large part due to making a spectacle of himself. Revis has a shoe, I’m sure Sherman would like one too.

If Sherman puts together another top season media types will be clamoring to write profiles singing his praises and the public will come around just like many did when they saw his Bleacher Report video (below). After this latest digital skirmish it’s probably time for  Sherman to shift the way he talks trash now that he’s gotten a general positive result from it.  You don’t want people to “tire” of you. Being disliked is fine, but when people groan when they see your name that’s heading in the wrong direction. 

If you’re interested in analysis of Sherman and Revis’ games check out this article by Pro Fooball Focus. They got you covered.



False Positives: The Lockout Has Caused NFL Players To Commit More Crimes

A lot of people are running with the narrative that NFL players (and their wives) are committing more crimes due to the lockout. In defense of NFL players I’d like to say:


I do like to joke around about lockout stress, but my version of lockout stress causes NFL players to pretend they contacted me and telling me to reboot my blackberry several times since my BBM and text are obviously messed up since I didn’t get their messages. You know, prankster stuff. Not things that will get you arrested and locked up.

Of course with 2 players making news because their wives attacked them with knives (Miami Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall and Denver Broncos DE Jason Hunter) things may look kind of bad.

I don’t think there is an official blotter that records NFL crime, but two sites try:  NFL Crimes and Pro Football Talk’s Police Blotter.

in 2010, from January to June, NFL crimes recorded about 60 crimes being committed. Their stats from this year reflect about 60 as well. I say “about 60″ 60 because their reports include former players and, for whatever reason, ex boyfriends of team cheerleaders, ex wives and any number of people marginally related to the NFL. Anyway, according to that site’s numbers, the crime stats for the NFL have shown no real change from last year to this year.

ProFootball Talk reported 26 crimes in 2010 from January to June and 23 thus far this year. I’m a little thrown off by their “days without an arrest” ticker. It gives the wrong impression. Anyway, their stats also include some former players.

There are over 1700 players signed to NFL teams at any given moment. I’m not particularly moved by less than 150 of them finding themselves involved in the legal system at some point in the year.Many of the arrests were for public intoxication/drunkeness or speeding. Sounds like a regular Friday night for many 20-somethings. Until there is a blotter that is truly complete and shows me different, I’m going to have to defend the players and say there’s nothing new under the sun.






The Redskins Suspend Albert Haynesworth Without Pay, I Call EPIC Bullshit

The Redskins are a shambles of a team if I’ve ever seen one. This makes me feel bad about all my years of crying about Falcons’ losing seasons and the Eagles coming so close yet not close enough year after year…all along I should have just been glad that I’m not a Redskins fan.

Today, the Redskins announced that they were suspending Albert Haynesworth without pay for conduct detrimental to the team. This is total bullshit, but I must say it’s well played especially as it will go over with the casual fan. The Redskins have perfectly played played up the narrative that coaches/owners who misbehave are justified and players who do are petulant.

Timeline: Shanahan and Haynesworth fall out during offseason and again during pre-season (over illness and playing time-deja vu anyone?) thereby establishing that Haynesworth as a “troublemaker.” Shanahan then goes on to avoid working Haynesworth into base defense making it seem as though Haynesworth is some how incapable and better used that way. This probably in an effort to see how things go without him.  Shanahan, himself said, that Haynesworth had to earn his way into the group.

Haynesworth…who was dominant for the entire 2007/2008 season has to earn his way onto a defense that features the smooth stylings of Reed Doughty and Carlos Rogers?

So basically it looks like Haynesworth was a non-factor and therefore overpaid and spoiled (cause you know, he snuck into Dan Snyder’s house, stole his wallet, and wrote the checks to HIMSELF). The blown tackle against the Eagles who blew the Redskins into the wind didn’t help the imagery either.

Finally, last week, the  Skins complained that Haynesworth wouldn’t practice or didn’t practice well-at this point I’m confused about what actually happened- while simultaneously admitting that he was ill the day before.  They then deactivate him, and refuse to answer any questions about the deactivation until today’s announcement that he is suspended without pay.

Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret.

What this looks like to me, is that the Redskins had buyer’s remorse over Haynesworth and then set about a path to make it seems as though he is completely impossible to deal with on any level. The Redskins have actively tried to trade Haynesworth since at least April after he complained about the 3-4. They should have cut him then rather than heading down this rollercoaster road.

Let’s be clear, Haynesworth’s outspokenness and general fuck-you-and-fuck-you-too demeanor doesn’t help. But given the fact that I have the same demeanor, I know that demeanor does not equal guilt regardless of how it looks to an outsider.

Even if you believe Haynesworth has engaged in a series of decisions that warrant discipline, one has to admit that the Redskins have branded other players has troublemakers when they wanted to shop them, Clinton Portis, arguably their best blocker, being one of them. Further, the way they handled the McNabb benching (and subsequent 78 million contract worth nothing if they cut him this season) is yet another example of how this team operates. Call a man with a history of production fat and lazy, give him an opportunity to earn more money than God but then stick him behind an offensive line that couldn’t protect itself during sex wearing a condom and voila: The perfect scape goat.

The NFLPA shouldn’t allow the Skins to dodge paying Haynesworth through the rest of the season. It’s simply not ethical. And with all the drama going on around the Skins, whose conduct  REALLY detrimental to the team? Hint: It ain’t Hanynesworth’s.

If I had a crystal ball, I’d say Haynesworth ends up with another team next year (barring lockout) and does really well. Something tells me we have a Code Brandon Lloyd on our hands.

Listen to Haynesworth discuss the situation pre-suspension here.


The Media Forces Me to Give a Damn About Cam Newton Cheating

For weeks I have ACTIVELY ignored the Cam Newton story.  Every 3-5 years we go through this same fire drill of a college athlete being accused of taking money or talking to agents or breaking any other one of the NCAA’s “rules” for athletes. I’m sick of it. I believe that athletes should follow the rules setforth, and I’m not making excuses, but when you have a system as corrupted as the one that drives male collegiate sports, it’s hard to get excited about issues with individual players.

Let’s stop bullshitting-the NCAA doesn’t take its own rules seriously. The NCAA benefits from the fact that the average sports watcher only sees “spoiled” athletes who get to go to world class institutions “for free,” and typically shake their hands at infractions. But a deeper look shows an intricately run and financed business that in many cases makes the institution a near-sole beneficiary.

When State Fan Nation took a look at college sport financing they found a mess of confusing threads of expenditures on balance sheets and certain items that either went unreported or confusingly reported.The fact is at most Division I schools that pour big money into their football and basketball programs, the athletics side of the institution is all but completely separate from the academics side. In other words, the athletics side is essentially a business with employees under contract, many of whom do NOT work for that business for free (e.g. under scholarship) yet contribute to the success of the business and risk their health while doing so. And those that do receive scholarships and are the major contributors to the business largely receive less than they’re worth.

This is not to excuse Newton or his family from breaking the rules but it is to say that collegiate athletic departments don’t set a good example. Players and their families see very clearly how athletic programs profit from the hardwork of the students. By the end of that students’ college career they naturally want a piece of the action.

When it comes to a sport like football when many high performers either wash out of the NFL within 3 years, aren’t drafted at all, are injured severely (such as in the case of Rutgers’ Eric LeGrande), or don’t even finish college, the appeal of getting paid now rather than later is heightened.

As it pertains to the media’s coverage of this issue, I think they are light years away from public opinion and are unintentionally turning Newton and his family into sympathetic figures when in reality they shouldn’t be. The media keeps harping on how sad it will be if Newton doesn’t win the Heisman or that this is embarrassing for Newton and his family.

From Forbes blog:

• It may cost him a chance to win the Heisman if Heisman voters (with the historic forfeiture of Reggie Bush’s Heisman still fresh on the mind in light of his wrongdoings) hedge their votes in light of not only allegations surrounding extra benefits but also academic fraud at his previous school, Florida. Such allegations would illuminate “integrity concerns, “which are part of the Heisman voting process now more than ever.

• Even if the investigation isn’t completed before the Heisman vote or the BCS National Championship game, Mr. Newton could be thrust into Reggie Bush’s shoes and face the shame/embarrassment of a Heisman forfeiture if improprieties come to light in the months and years after January 2011 and if he were to win the 2010 Heisman.

Typically speaking, Heisman Trophy winners see a spike in their future earnings either by virtue of endorsements upon turning pro and/or being able to command a higher signing bonus upon entering the NFL. But if these supposed character flaws associated with academic fraud and extra monetary benefits are corroborated, his potential endorsement cache and draft stock will sink like a stone … costing Mr. Newton millions.

While I agree that Newton’s family is probably pretty humiliated by the CONSTANT coverage, I think that embarrassment will be short lived because the public is largely used to this sort of thing.

As far as the Heisman is concerned, rookie players in the NFL are getting major payouts that have NOTHING to do with winning the Heisman. Over the past 10 years many Heisman winners haven’t even been drafted in the top 10. To continue to connect winning the Heisman with an automatic bigger pay day than other  picks of the same class is just dumb-word to Chris Weinke. Maybe I’m out of touch, but I see the Heisman as a (fleeting) bragging right. I’m sure Reggie Bush would agree.

Besides, if Newton doesn’t get the Heisman,  Phil Jackson will refer to this as the Heisman year with the asterisk-and rightfully so. That devalues the NCAA’s award, not Newton’s college accomplishments or draft prospects. And if he enters the next draft he has a great chance of going high and putting this all behind him. I highly doubt that NFL teams or even corporations want to make a habit out of punishing players for “character flaws” that happened in the past and aren’t that uncommon.


In Defense of Thomas Jones–Former Falcon Jamal Anderson Makes the Case

Thomas Jones With the Dapper Look

This is the first post in my “In Defense of” series where I choose one player to defend against the criticism levied against them. Today’s post was inspired by a longer and better post by former Falcons running back Jamal Anderson.

In a world where T.O.s and Ochocincos rule the airwaves in more ways than one, we sometimes forget about the quiet warriors that take the field week after week during football season. Thomas Jones is one of those guys. After playing a key role in the  Chicago Bears’ 2007 march to the Super Bowl, Jones was steeped in a little bit of controversy.  He left lots of Chicago fans disappointed when he left the team and moved on to the Jets. in 2009, Jones found himself in a standoff with the always-interesting Coach Rex Ryan when he asked for a contract renegotiation after Ryan had made it clear that veterans would not be receiving extensions until their current contracts expired.

Now that Jones is playing for the Chiefs (he signed in March 2010), those days feel long gone. He’s productive and has quietly helped the Chiefs improve their offense by leaps and bounds.

Anderson covers Jones’ history in the league well:


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