Monday, October 24, 2005
STOP WHINING: CHAPTER 1
This will be a periodical guide to athletes. Each installment will help them deal with the "pressures" of the game, public life, and money.
CHAPTER 1: Wallowing in Self-Pity Only Makes You a Sad Pig
Most people could learn this lesson, but none more than professional athletes. All we ever hear from them is what they haven't been given, and what they deserve.
I won't point out the obvious numbers about over-inflated salaries to compete in pastimes. No, I will leave that to someone more cynical. More cynical and research minded, that is.
What I will say is simply this: you don;t reinvent your image in today's media. They want a story. You being a good guy is only a story once. You being a bad guy is a story for life. Does that suck? Yes. Does that give you a reason to whine? No. In fact, it's good reason just to stay away from whining and the media.
Example 1: Keyshaun Johnson. He was pissed off about his contract, he whined on the sidelines until he got traded. Everyone thought under Bill Parcels he would flourish. His numbers are good, not great, and the guy still overreacts to every underthrown ball. Two weeks ago he was on the sideline bitching about a fumble he thought was a bad throw. Then, instead of practicing that catch, he went and watched NFL countdown. Michael Irvin said Dallas had three number two receivers. Obviously, Keshaun thought this was a slight. Instead of going out and practicing to become a number one, he assumed he was, and went on the show to go head to head with Irvin. He actually called Irvin a number two. Said he never lead the league in anything (which is wrong, he lead the league in yardage twice). What does that look like? I'll tell you, he looked like a whining child lashing out at his father. Michael Irvin is a hall of famer. He changed the way we look at receivers by going over the middle and crushing people for extra yards. He created a position for Keyshaun, who does the same thing. You don't call him out to make yourself look good. It won't work.
Example 2: Flashback to last year. Terrell Owens wants out. He gets traded to the Eagles, after whining about a trade to the Ravens. He quickly hooks up with Donovan McNabb to become the best tandem of the year. He even repairs some of his image as selfish by going out and playing on one leg. Playing WELL on one leg. Everyone thinks the eagles have the winning formula, and the future is bright. Everyone except T.O. This guy decides he is underpaid (only two receivers make more) and throws a media temper tantrum for the whole of the offseason. He not only doesn't get more money, he ruins everything he worked for the year before.
Example 3: Who can forget Latrell Sprewell. This guy, albeit in jest and taken out of context, actually said "my kids gotta eat, too" I guess he was upset that he was making more than GFs like Shaun Marion. Anyway, he holds out a few days, ruins team chemistry, and gets run out of town. As a free agent, he is STILL unsigned. Not only does he look like a selfish whiner, he now passed up guaranteed money for two years, with a third year option, for blotto! He gets nothing now.
The truth is, none of these guys had a leg to stand on. They decided to take it to the public, and try to gain some leverage on the people they thought were holding them back. It failed, and now they are cautionary tales. What they deserve is not always what they are going to get, sure, but what they get might sometimes be just what they deserve.