I get it, and you don't think I get it. But I get it. We want class and "character." At the end of the day, of course, it's about how you played the game and not if you cut a few corners to get there. Merit badges = good even if you're losing. It's a nice consolation prize, like a toaster or a puppy calendar. It's around this time that we're all reminded, dutifully, that we lead the league in Non-Arrest Record. No need to get embroiled in the media on top of being a losing team.
Except a lot of the best football teams have always pushed the limits of this concept, teetering on the edge of acceptable limits of behavior. I would bet Lawrence Taylor was no choir boy when he was a part of that 1980s era Giants team. His personal life's woes just sprung up one day. Of course that's not the truth. The more likely story is that Parcells had multiple persons handling L.T. to make sure L.T. kept playing on Sundays. Ditto for many other NFL players. Right?
Are we to believe that Ray Lewis never had personal life "issues" except that one harrowing night where he may or may not have been personally involved in a murder? I bet that was just an isolated incident. The rest of the time, Ray Ray was probably the first to bed and the first to the free continental breakfast when on the road for an away game. Of course he was. He's the heart and soul of that team, he'd never be dumb enough to walk the line and jeopardize he and his team's chances. Which brings us to Cigar Gate.
Yes, friends, that awful moment when you, as a head coach find out from a friend who told it to a friend, who told to a friend, that your three depth players might be (ahem) GASP! smoking some MJ in a hotel room. Did they kill, rape, endanger or cause mayhem? Doesn't sound like it. No, they passed their time by passing the doobie to the left...probably to numb the reality of being on a death-gripped NFL team.
Meh, who could blame them? The only real sad part about all this is that they didn't drag Joe, Lig, and Derek Newton into that room with them and shove a cigar in their mouths, tell them to inhale, and get them a one-way ticket to early retirement, too. Another wasted opportunity by this team! Panama Red Zone woes...gets ya' every time in this league.
Meanwhile, a coach of a really successful NFL franchise with multiple rings NOT won in the 1990s, not only had an alleged murderer on its roster...but he also kept him on the team until the very minute the arrest was carried out. Then? Whoooosh, off the roster. But, until the cuffs were slapped on, he was on the roster. Not the practice squad. And not merely an activated depth role player. This was a guy who had terrorized teammates, had a laundry list of problems in college, and yet was still counted upon despite the potential for total career suicide. Right down to the wire, a league's head coach decided he was going to leave the door open for something positive to happen.
Now, this team isn't mired in a death-grip on next-to-last place or anything. Technically, they were, and still are, OK without that alleged murderer on their team. But the storyline is the same: If you can help my team win games, you stay until you completely and openly implode on your own...but I'm not helping you get there. No, I'm going to try my hardest to keep you under as much control as possible so that you help me win games.
Right now I know what you're thinking: "You don't care ANYTHING about rules!" Oh the horror. I'll tell ya' what, right now I'd like a freaking win more than anything else in the world. ONE WIN. One. Uno. What would it have hurt to gather those three players and tell them you need them NOW, for the game tomorrow, and that IF they get to play they better show you on the field on Sunday afternoon how bad they want to be on the Texans' roster on Monday morning? I mean, what if you could have foreseen a situation where a real run game might get your team the win and provide a life lesson to someone like, oh...say Cierre Wood, at the same time? What if? Instead: We don't NEED you. Except we did. Whuh?
Alas, buts and ifs are fun to ponder and debate. So, yes, they did a dumb thing and Gary decided it was the end of their run here (pun intended). Fine. But it doesn't mean it was (a) the best thing, nor (b) the right thing to do. It was "a" way, for sure. Gary's way. But then again, it's Gary's way to pretend Matt Schaub's record-setting Pick 6 Bonanza was inconceivable before it happened and then just, aw shucks, part of a larger problem after it did happen. Gary, in the mind of the idealists out there, is right no matter which way he choses to act or to not act. In the end, it's all about making sure you battle and get in bed early for a big game at Arrowhead. I wouldn't be surprised if it's mandatory to eat Wheaties, as well.
I know you're all ready for a turn around. I am, too. But I would prefer our head coach to think creatively not only in his weekly strategy against our opponent, but I'd like him to get creative in how he handles player problems. Dumping your RB3 Sunday morning, and then watching your RB1 and RB2 both go down with injuries makes me think that there was a better way to handle this particular, alleged, reefer madness that became a real bummer in a real hurry Sunday afternoon.
I am not advocating for us to recruit slimebags, just asking for some critical thinking skills from the head coach who makes some of the most curious and ill-timed "weighty" decisions I've seen in all of the NFL. Winning is the key, so go get the win and then think about if you can use that "W" to inspire a few dudes to leave the pranks and hijinks behind for higher ground (unintentional pun, I'm sorry).
All in all, this is entertainment. And my article is as such, as well. It's commentary. Blast me if ye shall, but remember that we all bleed Battle Red at the end of the day. Some days more than others. Go Texans.