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Players Can't Win

Discussion in 'American Football' started by floridaboltfan, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. floridaboltfan

    floridaboltfan BoltTalker

    Jun 10, 2008
    It was last season when LaDainian Tomlinson had his toughness questioned by Deion Sanders. Questioning the heart of an NFL player is akin to wondering about the courage of a special forces soldier.

    Tomlinson abruptly departed the AFC title game against the New England Patriots in the first half with what the team announced was a sore knee. He didn't return. It turned out Tomlinson had a sprained medial collateral ligament -- technically a partially torn MCL -- and without knowing all of the facts Sanders ripped into Tomlinson.

    "I have expectations and when you don't meet my expectations, you open yourself for us to try to guess," Sanders said then. "Now what's the problem? You're a big-time player. And big-time players must play big-time games."

    Shawne Merriman doesn't want to be in street clothes when his teammates are in uniform. (US Presswire)
    Sanders added that in order for Tomlinson to get relief from criticism that he was soft as a rose petal, he'd better soon be in surgery under the knife of Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

    In other words, in the eyes of Sanders and many others, the only way Tomlinson wouldn't be viewed as a stone-cold punk was if something was seriously wrong. Only surgery, in Sanders' mind, would justify Tomlinson sitting out. Tomlinson never had that surgery.

    "I think the funny thing to me is, all the things I've played with through my career and haven't missed a game, now all of a sudden I'm not tough?" Tomlinson said at the time, referring to Sanders. "You think I just wanted to sit on the sideline and not go, in the championship game? You think, me? Come on, man, that's ridiculous."

    Fast forward to now.

    Read some of the comments and listen to the words of NFL fans, media and others when they discuss the decision made by Tomlinson's teammate Shawne Merriman to ignore the opinion of four doctors and play this season with a damaged knee. He has been called an idiot. He has been called a fool. Message boards have been cruel and arrogant. Even former NFL players whom I respect said on The Brett Favre Channel that Merriman was basically brain dead for making this decision.

    Players can't win. If they don't play with an injury, they're ripped as soft, despite the fact that many in the media who do the ripping would flee to the emergency room if they suffered a paper cut.

    If players do play, as in the case of Merriman, they're called stupid.

    Merriman's situation might seem drastically different from Tomlinson's, but it's not. Part of the reason Tomlinson departed the New England game was out of concern about potential future damage to the knee.

    Sit and protect yourself, you're an expletive.

    Play and risk permanent damage, you're a darn fool.

    They can't win. Players can't win.

    The safety of football has improved since the days when players routinely died on the field a century ago, but it's still a bloodied mess. Football is a conveyor belt: body in, body out. It always has been and always will be this way.

    So please step off your judgmental perches regarding Merriman when he's simply a reflection of the reality of the sport.

    Merriman isn't a fool. He's doing what NFL players have done for decades. He's putting his team's interests ahead of his own. Players have been shot up and doped up and then shoved onto the field (or shoved themselves). They've played with broken bones and through dangerous concussions, all at the expense of their long-term health.

    If you think Merriman is the first player to make this kind of decision then you're the fool, not Merriman.

    Sometimes the player pushes himself when he shouldn't, many times the team does, and often both do.

    Once, I wrote a story about a former New York Jets defensive lineman who had been suffering from numbness in his arms. He saw eight specialists, seven cleared him. But one didn't. That physician said the player risked serious injury to his spinal column if he played before a damaged disc in his back healed. The player would go on to play despite that dire warning.

    In that case we're not talking about a knee. We're talking about possible paralysis, and still that player went back onto the field. Was he stupid? Maybe. Or was he, again, doing what football players always do, which is put their health at risk for the game they love?

    Former Philadelphia Eagles player Andre Waters committed suicide two years ago. It's believed the multiple concussions he suffered as a player led to depression. I knew Waters. It would've taken a wild animal to drag him away from the field, no matter the danger to his body.

    Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson is playing with a torn labrum. Each time he gets hit on that shoulder it'll feel like someone is stabbing him with a hot poker. But he plays on. While Johnson is sometimes a petulant clown, by continuing with that painful injury he's demonstrating a level of toughness and for that he should be commended, not condemned.

    There are likely other players in situations similar to Merriman's. They're risking permanent bodily injury or brain damage or some other serious problem to play football. NFL teams lie about injuries on a daily basis and are more clandestine than MI5, so we don't know just how many Merriman-like cases exist.

    And as a fan of the sport, don't act like you suddenly care about the health of players. Many of you are the ones who call players wimps when they attempt to protect their post-football lives. You, as a fan, are often as bloodthirsty and heartless as the teams who pressure players to go onto the field with debilitating problems.

    If concussed Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson decided to sit out the season opener because of concern for his long-term mental health, many of you would sprint to the message boards and excoriate him as spineless.

    Why people are shocked and uber-judgmental at Merriman's decision is beyond silly, it's naïve. Only people who are clueless about what truly happens in professional football -- and in big-time college ball -- would be in any way be confused.

    Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers played in that Patriots game last year with no ACL in his right knee. While Merriman's situation is admittedly more dire, it's a safe bet Rivers risked damaging his knee more by playing. After that game the knee needed to be totally reconstructed.

    Rivers was hailed as a hero for playing, so why isn't Merriman?

    Merriman isn't dumb. He's doing what a lot of players have done for 100 years.

    It's the rest of us, questioning Merriman's intelligence, who are behaving stupidly.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. megold0715

    megold0715 Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2006
    i totally agree its a catch 22 i can speak for myself i support the blue and gold to the fullest screw deion i never really saw him tackle anyone scared to break one of his painted nails.i can say one thing me being a season ticket holder from one of the furthest parts of america i will be screaming my head off at the home opener. im goin to try nd go to the miami game in a few months if i can
  3. Aggieman

    Aggieman I bleed blue and gold

    Aug 14, 2008
    Deion Sanders is just jackass and Wiley still harbors resentment towards the Chargers.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. TheLash

    TheLash Well-Known Member

    Aug 8, 2006
    Deion Sanders is the biggest assh*le/Tool out there:icon_evil:

    I actually got him to turn in the batters box and give me a dirty look once when I was drunkenly heckling him at a Dodgers game when he was w/ the Reds:icon_twisted:
  5. Thunderstruck

    Thunderstruck BoltTalker

    Aug 16, 2006
    Where is this article from?
  6. sdbound

    sdbound Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2006
  7. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    This guy is comparing apples and oranges.

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