As long as I'm alive, I will defend the Ron Artests of the world.

>> Wednesday

If you haven't heard, Allen Iverson is back in the headlines, and the potential combination of AI and KG has me (and the entire state of Minnesota) drooling. Of course, this topic has poured into bar conversations, and I am stuck trying to explain how I can love Iverson and hate Terrell Owens.

So let me make this very clear. I have no problems with a player being selfish, dirty, aggressive, hot-tempered, or any of these other "horrible" traits that plagues so many professional players. On one condition: if the player's so-called undesireable trait helps the team.

Players like Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace and Ron Artest help their team, and have a true desire to see their team succeed. Players like T.O. or Randy Moss are detriments to their team because they play for themselves first, team second.

Also, I have a special affinity for hot-tempered players because I think players should be rawly passionate about the sport that they play. Critics will say that players are profesionals and should learn to control themselves when they're on camera, but I say that's a waste of energy. A lot of pro players are insanely, naturally talented, and I truly believe that natural talent is best accessed when the player plays with raw emotion, and sometimes that raw emotion turns into frustration or anger. Look at Artest, Dennis Rodman, Reggie Miller, Zinedine Zidane, or Ty Cobb (all of whom are some of my favorite athletes). These players have had some pretty famous meltdowns, but you can't blame a guy for playing with passion, can you?

Come on guys, help me out here (Vinnie I'm looking at you especially), explain why we can love the 'Sheeds and A.I.s of the sports world without being hypocrites.


Mike 7:46 PM  

I think this might be the first time where I agree with you 100%. While before I have spoken out passionately against players who "hot dog it," there's a time and place for everything, and I've slowly become not-my-father (ditching the combover helped too).

I like Devin Hester doing a little Deion highstep and beckoning his pursuers as he waltzes into the endzone. It makes for great TV, and I think your assessment on showmen's impact on their team is spot on.

This is one of the reasons why I hate TO but like Chad Johnson. Chad is every bit the ringmaster that TO is, and while I can't lay claim to keeping up with the Bengals and Cowboys this season, 85 doesn't seem to be the cancerous cist on his team's neck that TO has been at more or less every stop in his career.

PS: If the Fire use their Beckham Rule slot on Zidane, I will pee my pants with joy.

Mike 7:50 PM  

The other thing is that how often do you hear Around the Horn types or barroom discussions say that a player isn't playing with any heart? That he's a spoiled millionaire who doesn't care how well he plays? (Admittedly, I've said some of that, but I've seen the light.)

Vinnie 8:32 PM  

I think the big difference between TO and guys like Iverson, 'Sheed, etc is that petulant egocentrism. While the Iversons can be pretty unabashed in putting their "undesirable" traits on display, I think they do it more with the attitude of "yeah, I know what I'm pulling, yeah, I know why you see it this way, but I am who I am, so you'll have to learn to take the good with the bad." And like you said, I think there's the realization that a lot of what makes them controversial relates rather directly to what makes them awesome.

With a guy like TO, though, his so-called baggage seems to contribute nothing to his talent. We perceive it more as TO hearing what he wants to hear and more or less being a baby, for lack of better terms. If anything, that self-consumed, deluded attitude just makes him softer and more demanding while growing less productive and alienating everyone for the sake of no one's well-being but their own.

At least to the public--of course, it could just be a misleading perception--TO doesn't seem to give a shit whether his attitude hurts the team and really, doesn't even seem to see or understand how it could. The attitude (whether it's a fair characterization or not) comes off as of "what's good for TO is what's good, period." And that's why he's always the victim and the other guy is always the jerk.

I don't know. Maybe there's not much of a difference, but it's the picture we're all fed, and I guess that's how I've sized it up. When Iverson or 'Sheed is playing, you're truly convinced that their team goals are foremost on their mind. And on top of that, they seem much more mindful of how their actions--on and off-cout--are affecting those team goals.

I guess that's the whole difference. They're conscious of their place amond other while TO just doesn't seem to get that at all.

Vinnie 8:33 PM  

"amond other" in the last sentence should read "among others." Man, what am I on tonight.

Matt 7:30 AM  

All right, let's slow this love/hate train down a second.

One caveat about Terrell Owens that puts him in the same class as AI and Sheed: between the lines, there is not (I repeat, NOT) an NFL player who plays his guts out harder than the cancerous cyst that is T.O. Anyone that's played with him has said this, and it's pretty apparent by watching him play (the Super Bowl, complete with broken leg, anyone?).

Sure, he's a tremendously clueless asshole off the field and in the locker room, and he plays hard to put up his own numbers, but the bottom line is that you'll never (repeat: NEVER) see T.O. pull a Randy Moss-style walkthrough in a game. There is, as I always tell people, a reason that this guy (despite being the most hated man in white America) still gets work. Whether they'd admit it or not, any NFL coach would kill to have a guy with those hands that will go over the middle with that kind of selfless abandon and has that kind of monstrous athleticism.

So, when you're bitchin' about T.O., keep it strictly off the field, and don't accuse him of doggin' it.

And in case you were wondering, yeah, I hate the guy too, but you can't deny that he plays hard.

Nathan 12:53 PM  

I never meant to accuse T.O. of dogging on the field, but dogging it in practice is only slightly more forgiveable.

He has admitted that he doesn't put any effort into football on Monday's and Tuesday's.

He also doesn't seem to give a flying fuck that he has 11 dropped balls this season.

In T.O.s mind, T.O. is already perfect and does not need improvement in any area, and that's where he doesn't give his full effort to his team.

Gavin 9:14 AM  

And CLEARLY AI does care about practice right??

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