View Full Version : Stop whining and do the job

Mr. Laz
08-18-2006, 02:05 PM
Note to NFL players: You play, let the coaches coach

Late summer is here, and, naturally, the sweating inmates want their say in running the NFL asylum. Many players not only desire to be compensated with fabulous salaries, they want to coach, too. Fascinating. I would think memorizing a playbook and playing "Madden NFL 2006 "would keep them occupied.
Terrell Owens, who missed a 13th consecutive practice Tuesday with a cranky hamstring, is driving Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells nuts. ("We need to see something here pretty soon," warned the Tuna to reporters.)

Clinton Portis out with a bum shoulder after a preseason game injury can't figure out why Joe Gibbs played him.

Carson Palmer, rehabbing a knee, is being prodded to play this weekend by Marvin "Fish or Cut Bait" Lewis.

Randy Moss heaved his helmet and griped about Art Shell's decision to remove him from a game.

Complaining about training camp is nothing new. No one enjoys the tediousness and conditions not players, coaches, trainers, cafeteria workers or football scribes. For players, camp is a brutal exercise as draining mentally as it is physically. Players are away from their families, friends and high-priced toys. It's no fun. Then again, neither is crouching in a hot tank in Iraq, our definition of ultimate risk-taking and self-sacrifice.

The whining has escalated with continued pleas to halve the number of preseason games, a necessary evil for all concerned. In the case of Portis, his injury occurred in the first preseason game, not the last and the fourth game rarely features any significant playing time by first-teamers anyway.

Do players ever wonder why owners want four preseason games? Of course they have. It's to make more money and pay those juicy player $alaries.

In the be-careful-what-you-ask-for department, players get exactly what they bargain for during contract negotiations with the league. Want fewer preseason games? Tell Gene Upshaw to agree to the players taking a smaller slice of the bulging NFL financial pie the next time the players association meets with the league to extend their deal.

Let's focus on the specific criticism levied by Portis, the Redskins running back who injured his left shoulder making a tackle off an interception.

"I don't know why myself, or any other player of my caliber, should be playing in the preseason," he told reporters. "I think for the last four years I've done enough to show the world I'm going to be ready."

It's called football. It's a hurt business. We're not talking about picking out china patterns, you know. Anything is liable to happen. (Ask Adrian McPherson. Last weekend, the New Orleans Saint was attempting to field a punt during warm-ups when a golf cart piloted by T-Rac Tennessee's raccoon-outfitted mascot nailed him on his right kneecap.)

I think we all can empathize with Portis' disappointment. But does anyone really believe that the tough little sucker knows more about preparing an NFL team than a Hall of Fame coach who has won three Super Bowls? Training camp requires coaches to prepare teams for contact; develop timing, chemistry and camaraderie; evaluate young, untested players; and, if necessary, implement or revise systems.

Most of all, it is about coaches managing risk.

And that is what Gibbs prudently did.

He started camp as late as possible. There was no live tackling during practice. With Al Saunders now calling the plays, Gibbs planned to sparingly use his stud running back. The first-team offense ran 13 plays.

Was it Gibbs' fault that Mark Brunell threw a horrible pass? Or that natural instincts took over when Portis awkwardly flung out his shoulder to make a tackle during an exhibition? Sorry, don't blame Joe.

Had Gibbs played Portis the entire first half, then the player's arm-chair quarterbacking would be justified. I agree with Brian Mitchell, a former Redskin, who said on his sports talk radio show Tuesday: Portis "sold out Joe Gibbs. He put himself on a pedestal above other players. ... No one player (is) bigger than the team."

Portis gets paid to play a $50 million contract included a $17 million signing bonus. That's a lot more than Walter Payton got when he ran through brick walls in August. Portis is not paid to publicly offer undermining opinions about how camp should be conducted.

Express your frustrations to the coach in private. Otherwise, do your job, man, and let The Man worry about the rest. The same goes for the rest of the young, pampered elite in this new, sometimes surprisingly tissue-soft, era of pro football.


E-mail Jon Saraceno at jons@usatoday.com

08-18-2006, 02:11 PM
CP mom has a big mouth aswell.