Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Long Game, Masterfully Played

Good for Gregg Williams.

He played the game. The long game, and won. Life is unfortunately like this. You have to eat a giant steaming plate of corporate crap, because you just... can't... win.

And I say this not because I like the guy.

I don't. He's a dick. This is a known fact.

Case in point: he essentially choked out Lavar Arrington's career as a Redskin here in Washington.

Following Lavar's contract dispute with Snyder - the one where Lavar rushed to sign an extension (without basically reading it!) only to find out he'd been "shorted" about $6.5 million dollars from what had been previously agreed to - ol' #56 was basically dead man playing.

Lavar went public with the dispute, embarrassing the owner and organization, and it dragged on for almost a year and a half before finally being settled. But it wasn't over. Not by a long shot.

While Lavar was certainly injury prone at this point, and a bit of a free-lancer, he was STILL a far better playmaker than his weekly replacement Warrick Holdman.

Yet Holdman started, and played most of the snaps, week after week. Finally, when Lavar got out of the Gregg doghouse, it was dramatic. He actually MADE PLAYS, whereas Holdman had the amazing ability to basically "disappear" during game.

As a weakside linebacker, Holdman managed to start all 16 games in 2006 and record just 53 tackles!

I dubbed Holdman "The Folding Chair." Because basically a folding chair would make as many plays per game, if you just let runners trip over it.

But the message was sent, and Gregg was the guy who kneecapped Lavar. "We KNOW the guy playing instead of you sucks, but we'd rather suffer some on-field production so we can basically run you out of town.

So there's that. I am no Williams apologist, or even fan.

But what the NFL did to him was a joke. They swooped in, took his career hostage with that "indefinite" suspension, and made him sing and dance for the league's little puppet show called "Bountygate."

Fox Sports' Jen Floyd Engel delivers a deeply thought and quite rational acquittal of Gregg Williams as he returns to the NFL - albeit looking a bit more like Tom Skerritt every day.

And also makes a point about a hit in the Super Bowl that the NFL - if it wasn't so utterly full of shit - would have been an easy 15 yard penalty for defenseless helmet to helmet contact.
Everybody is talking about San Francisco’s last goal-line play in the Super Bowl. It is all the rage to debate whether the officials wrongly swallowed their whistles on what looked to be a possible pass interference on the fourth-down play near the goal line at the end of the game. 
The truth is, if the officials had correctly called the helmet-to-helmet hit on Crabtree the previous play, it would not have mattered. It is a call they made all year. It goes to the very heart of what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was talking about in his state-of-the-shield address Friday of Super Bowl week. It is exactly the kind of play Williams was calling for in his now infamous pregame speech before the NFC Championship Game. The fact it went uncalled speaks to how the NFL really feels: When it really, really matters, you do anything — even dangerous vicious things, especially dangerous vicious things — to win. 
What got Williams and Saints coach Sean Payton and a few players suspended was less about the Saints’ on-field actions and more that their inner workings were splayed open by Bountygate for all to dissect. I am afraid this has allowed us to pretend that Saturday meetings in other cities are all about preaching safety first and talking about their moral obligations to their fellow players. This is so ridiculous in its fantasyland premise it does not warrant discussion.
I will admit that BountyGate was indeed a "bounty" for those of us in sports radio. Hell, it filled hours and hours, and weeks, and months of airtime.

I will miss it, sort of.

Because this off-season, we'll likely be reduced to arguing over Tim Tebow's prospects of starting for the Argonauts.

But as a worthwhile effort by the NFL to ensure "safety" and to "change the culture", it was nothing but an epic fail. 

This time, Gregg will learn to keep the door prizes for big hits to himself, and to tone down the pre-game rhetoric. It would have been easy for him to climb a soapbox, and start burning bridges when the whole absurd spectacle came down.

But he didn't. He played the long game. And won.

And like most of us, we're just here to take their money.

Good for him.

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