Monday, October 29, 2007

Skipping the Post-Game Handshake

I want Tom Brady to get drilled in the knee and tear his ACL.

This is a new feeling for me, one that I'm struggling to accept. I don't particularly dislike Tom Brady, and as a former athlete I believe dirty plays are the lowest form of thuggery. However, after watching yesterday's game between the Patriots and Redskins, I have lost all respect for the Patriots organization, particularly their coach Bill Belichick, whom I had previously considered the best coach in football.

In case you haven't heard, the Pats beat up on the Skins 52-7, in a game that featured an even larger disparity than perhaps the score indicates. The lingering question from the game is whether or not the Patriots ran up the score late in the 4th quarter, breaking a unwritten rule of league etiquette.

So far the national media seems surprisingly unfazed by Belichick's decision to go for fourth down conversions up 38 and 45 points respectively. Allow me to protest then...

Sports, in its most basic capacity, serves as an outlet for competition that prevents people from using their competitive urge in a method which could prove hazardous or dangerous to those around them. The early Olympics were an effort to reduce the fighting of the various Greek nation-states by allowing them to compete against each other without death or war. As a result, the concept of sportsmanship has evolved through the centuries, so that the combatants each go home at the end of the day, beaten or victorious, but with the knowledge that they can try again next game. The respect amongst athletes gets passed down and taught to our children, as they line up and shake hands at the end of a hockey game, or when the ball is intentionally played out of bounds when a soccer player gets injured.

Belichick and the Patriots are slapping the rules of sportsmanship straight across the mouth. By leaving his all-world quarterback in the game, already up 38 points, with less than 10 minutes to go, he is telling the NFL world to go screw themselves. This attitude is most likely a response to the "Spygate" issue from the beginning of the season, and his attempt to prove that he can win without cheating. But there is winning, and winning ungracefully. Don't claim that its more insulting to kick a field goal, or that you needed to get your backup QB more work by going for it on 4th downs. Respect your opponent, respect the game, or else fear that someday it will come back on you.

The Redskins players and coaches said all the right things in postgame interviews. They had no problem with the Patriots approach, and it was their job to make the stops and get the other team off the field. But secretly, I'm certain that a few of them are mad they didn't take the effort to chase Brady down after a play, and spear him in the knee. What's a 15 yard penalty and a small fine worth compared to your dignity and honor?

It's true that I take this more personally because it happened to my beloved burgundy and gold, but the fact remains that New England has been running up the score all season against people. Sooner or later, karma is going to decide that it doesn't like to be shown up, and when that happens Bill Belichick, I hope you enjoy trying to keep Randy Moss happy when Matt Cassel can't get him the football.


Anonymous Allan N said...

I've heard all the reasons why they're doing it but I still don't think it's honorable. How are you supposed to teach kids sportsmanship when their idols aren't even doing the right thing?

1:01 PM  
Blogger carrie m said...

hang on a second. i'm a redskins fan as well, however, i'm not feeling like new england did anything dishonorable in this game. i'll also say that i didn't pay that close attention to the game b/c it was so godawful. that said...

where is it written in the rules of sportsmanship that a team stops going for points, even though a win in safely within reach? while i think it was reckless to go for 4th down conversions that far into the game, but 1, they don't have vinateri anymore (when he was a sure thing), and 2, who said just b/c you're winning, you quit playing? if i were a redskin, i'd be more insulted that they gave up. these are professionals and they should get out there and give it their all NO MATTER WHAT. this isn't week 14 or 15 with playoffs and division titles safely in hand, where they do sit out their best guys and take the L. the patriots are going against the colts next weekend, and i think they need to be on their game.

if you had the opportunity to keep doing well in whatever chosen pursuit, wouldn't you? i mean, this is football. this isn't like flaunting your hot new girlfriend to the simple, yet wonderful girl who you foolishly broke up with. these guys are paid ridiculous sums of money to get a goddamned football into the end zone as many times as they can.

i hate that i'm defending the patriots against the skins, but the way the skins are playing, they don't deserve to be taken up for at the moment. yes, we have injuries in our offensive line and yes that sucks and it hurts. however, the defense could have put up a better fight. hey look, vrabel is in on a scoring drive waaaaay down by the end zone. maybe we should COVER HIM. it's crap like that doesn't make me feel like the patriots were the big guys on the field kicking around the nerds. and hell, even if they are, this is the NFL after all.

2:48 PM  
Blogger PRSlaveDC said...


My argument isn't that the Pats should have stopped playing. It's that in a game that was clearly miles past its competitive point, they were leaving their starters in, abandoning easy (35 yard, you don't need Viniteri for that) field goals, and throwing deep, when convention and tradition (i.e. respect) say you start running the hell out of the ball, and shoving people back with your offensive line.

Remember the '91 Skins? Jeff Hostetler got a ton of garbage time action because the coaching staff realized the right thing to do was bench Mark Rypien. And he's 1/20 of the QB Brady is.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Freewheel said...

I agree that the Pats should have pulled Brady and other starters before that point. *However* - the best way to have prevented the Pats from running up the score would have been to stop them on 4th down. This isn't high school ball. There's nothing wrong with expecting the skins to put up a fight.

Second, if the Pats had kicked a field goal instead of going for it, that also would have been seen as running up the score. If the shoe had been on the other foot (wishful thinking) I'd hope that Gibbs would do the same thing - keep the kicker from getting injured while using up the clock.

3:57 PM  
Blogger No Celery Please said...

Here's looking at the Colts next week :)

Incidentally, they beat up my Panthers on Sunday, but at least they are a pleasure to watch kicking someone's ass.

4:35 PM  
Blogger carrie m said...

when does it really stop being competitive though? i mean, brady is on pace to beat manning's TD record last year (at least i think that's the one). those TDs will count if/when he breaks Favre's record. Everything that every player did out there counts towards their stats. Do you think Chris Cooley would say, no, man, take back that TD reception b/c we sucked and we lost. Absolutely not.

I think football of '91 and football of 2007 are completely different beasts. We've got f'ing TOs out there getting 'atta boy!'s while he couldn't be more of a prick. and that idiot from the Dolphins not knowing the British spoke English. These things are sad, sad facts about football, but it doesn't diminish that they can play. Well, that argument's not so good for the Dolphins, but you see my point.

I think that if Brady or any of the starters had gotten hurt, then it would have served the Pats right, however, I can't fault a team for stepping up even when the win was in hand. If they took out their starters, they could have been called lazy and/or cocky.

I wouldn't expect the Redskins to pull out Campbell with a win in hand halfway through the season. Yes, Brady knows how to win and maintain it, but he was still giving it his all late in the game, and I think that's commendable. When you're on that field, BRING IT. I mean, should the Browns have let the Rams win b/c they're 0-8?

Maybe I'm riding that line hard b/c the Redskins have forgotten what it's like to step up and bring it, but it applies to everyone.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Cravey said...

I'm over football players in general these days. Mike Vick was the last straw for me. Then the dude (Henry?) with 11 kids then the DUI's then... I'm sick of these people who the world in general holds up for hero worship using their fame/fortune/notoriety to just be bigger thugs/criminals/creeps.

What happened to the football players like Art Monk and Darrell Green. These were men worthy of respect.

I know I must sound like a gramma, but I'm sick of the overall poor quality of these people characters. Bellichick's cheating is just another example of their lousy integrity. AND HE'S THE COACH.


They all make me ill.

5:57 PM  
Blogger me! said...

I don't agree.
In fact, I think it's the opposite. The odds that they would make the td pass should have been less than that they would kick a field goal at that point and get the 3 points, so technically they were taking their risks and giving the Redskins an opportunity to to stop them from scoring.
It's not their fault the Redskins couldn't block those plays.

8:30 PM  
Blogger PRSlaveDC said...

Carrie and Me! -

Again, I agree with you the Skins certainly had the power to stop those 4th down plays, and probably should have. But the point still remains that by THROWING THE BALL DOWNFIELD in that situation, the Pats were running it up. Every deep pass is an insult, every incomplete pass is a stoppage of the clock.

Pound the running game, get what you get, keep the clock running, and get to the locker room. Don't have Brady throwing 50 yd bombs to Moss, and Cassel taking deep shots over the middle at that point. As Wilbon said in his column today (although we disagree on the larger point), someone on the Skins' D should have manned up and drilled the QB. That would be karma.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Across The River said...

It angers me some, but I take comfort in knowing that there's a very real chance that later in the season they'll leave Brady in a down too long and he'll get a season ending injury. The Pats have become the NY Yankees of football.

12:42 AM  
Blogger Gunfighter said...

New here... but I have to say that a competitive athlete never quits, never stops fighting, and always strives for the goal.

We are talking about grown men here... not my 8 year old daughters soccer league in the suburbs.

The Redskins were beaten, and from all accounts, they EARNED their beating.

3:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

does anyone remember the doug williams super bowl? redskins 42, broncos 10?
yeah-i was pulling for the home team then, but...well....
i also wonder if folks where crying like this when the bears beat washington 73-0 back in the day..

1:02 PM  
Blogger PRSlaveDC said...

Thanks for all your comments, and I appreciate that some of you think I'm wrong and overreacting...

Anonymous- Super Bowl XXII was 35-10 and the half, thanks to the greatest 2nd quarter in NFL history, and the Skins spent the second half running the ball, not throwing deep. So that example doesn't really apply.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice work, regards

9:55 AM  

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