08-10-2005, 07:07 AM
Aug 10, 2005, 6:17:42 AM

By Eileen Weir

For football fans across the land summer is the season of predictions. The scrutiny of college scouting, the NFL Draft, and free agency dim memories, now is the time to really get into some hard-core analysis. Checking out the daily reports from camp, fretting over injuries and threatened retirements, and speculating about who will and will not make the team help pass the time until opening day.

Anyone running out of things to bet on might consider engaging in one of my favorite pre-season diversion – prophesying who will be the first to say something stupid. Fortunately for media junkies and celebrity-watchers stupidity has no off season.

I think most people, even those with only a casual interest in football, can agree that NFL players are not stupid. The “dumb jock” stereotype has, happily, all but disappeared from our vernacular, and fans comprehend the complexity of the sport that quickly weeds out the truly unintelligent. There is a lot to grasp in an NFL playbook, and the ones who can’t learn it don’t last.

Not surprisingly the academic world has oft asked the question of why seemingly intelligent people do and say stupid things, it and devotes millions of dollars a year to the study and research of intelligence, and the lack thereof. In the attempt to understand why smart people do dumb things, psychologists generally agree that intelligence and stupidity aren’t mutually exclusive. Unlike absolutes like hot and cold in which one can be defined as the absence of the other, the irony of human nature is that we can be both smart and stupid.

Research goes further into identifying particular qualities of the human mind or stimuli that cause people to act foolishly. Examples abound in our culture of acts that range from jaw-dropping inappropriate to just plain dumb. When it comes to acts of blunder, the NFL certainly can’t claim sole custody of those tried, convicted, and sentenced by the court of public opinion.

The biggest culprit in “what-were-you-thinking” behavior is a lack of impulse control, called by academics “deficiency of the will.” Like Bill Clinton. President Clinton has also been personified by some observers as suffering from a god complex, and inflated self-image and sense of infallibility that psychologists also identify as contributing to recklessness. By his own admission the former president concedes that he had extra-martial affairs for the worst possible reason: because he could. The phenomenon of indulgence, or allowing oneself to fall into excess, is frequently coupled with a delusion of not getting caught which is a dangerous combination for regrettable behavior.

Man and womankind are predisposed to capitulate to our own flawed characters, creating moments of insensitivity we’d rather forget. Neglect, or ignoring something important, is a key to thoughtless remarks, as in the case of Martha Stewart who upon her release from prison announced to the media that what she had most missed during her sentence was lemons. And after a much-too-long pause, remembered to mention her family.

A base instinct towards avoidance and procrastination, putting off an inevitable negative result, matched with the power of denial is a meaningful psychological survival technique but can net shattering results. Rafael Palmerio continues to capture the national headlines as the media and the public struggle to reconcile the results of a failed drug test with the All-Star’s testimony just six months ago stating, “I have never used steroid. Period.” Suspicion suggests he may have lied to Congress. Not smart.

Some experts make a distinction between “blind folly” and “plain folly.” Blind folly is the inability to perceive the possible consequences of our words and actions. Who can forget Steve Bono’s unintentionally insulting remark that the best restaurant in Kansas City was worse than the worst restaurant in San Francisco? The town never forgave him.

Certain sports fans may think Ricky Williams engaged in plain folly. This overt disregard for a clear outcome recognizes risks but proceeds nonetheless. Williams’ 2003 retirement cost him millions of dollars, a wholesale lost of respect from teammates, and a “quitter” label, yet he persisted. At least temporarily.

Of course, the sports and entertainment world is laden with outrageous characters that make a career of being scandalous and controversial. Take Terrell Owens’ recent comment that he would play in Philadelphia but he wouldn’t be happy. Any self-respecting working stiff should respond to a rich, spoiled celebrity’s claim of hardship with, “Then go drive a bus, you idiot.” It’s ludicrous for millionaires to complain to fans about happiness.

Studies reveal that often an overestimation of skills leads to ill-advised remarks and misstatements. Maybe this explains President Bush’s painful and near-constant botching of his native tongue, which makes his intellect a target for criticism.

With the beginning of the Chiefs regular season quickly approaching, increased attention will surely be paid to the athletes who populate NFL rosters and their on-field and off-field blunders. Pursued by hungry media types hunting for scoops to fill wall-to-wall television broadcasts and round-the-clock Web sites and assisted by the public’s insatiable thirst for information, celebrities of all sorts are at risk for saying or doing something stupid. How we love to see the mighty fall and carry on about the stupidity in our heroes or, better yet, our villains. And some make it so very easy.

08-10-2005, 07:09 AM
I couldn't finish. Was this seriously on the Chiefs website?

08-10-2005, 07:29 AM
And they wonder why they were ranked dead last in websites.

08-10-2005, 07:30 AM
I couldn't finish. Was this seriously on the Chiefs website?

Yep. Articles like this are part of the reason they get rated the worst website in the NFL...