Sunday, November 7, 2010

Playing for pride worth ten playing for selfishness

After the Minnesota Vikings overcame yet another mistake-prone, sloppy performance for three-and-a-half quarters over an offensively-challenged Arizona Cardinal’s team—that scored most of its points on special teams miscues—one might be tempted to say that this was proof that the departure of Randy Moss had hurt the team, as if the fact that the Vikings 1-3 record with him had proven his indispensability. On the other hand, observers might say that they detected the influence of Moss’ habit of giving half-hearted efforts and apparent lack of pride in giving his all for the team. Yet they would be wrong in this conjecture as well as the other. For all the “shock” and “disappointment” that players “close” to Moss who didn’t see or critique his personality and work ethic flaws, the Viking players showed, at least in this game, that they were not like Moss. Would Moss have run 66 yards to catch Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes and knock the ball out of his hands to prevent a pick-six like Greg Camarillo did? Of course not; he was too “big” for that. He would have just stood and watched. With the team down 14 points with less than five minutes to play, would we expect Moss to run his routes or try to get open to make himself relevant on very play in the face of seemingly insuperable adversity? Since when? The fact is the Vikings proved that they had more pride and more heart than Moss could ever muster; that intangible that Moss lacked made him dispensible.

Brett Favre, whose passed Warren Moon by a month in becoming the oldest quarterback to throw for 400 yards in a game—surprisingly only the second 400-yard game in his career—seems to have had a rebirth of sorts in the past two weeks, after his mistakes and ankle fractures intensified the calls for him to be benched in favor of back-up Tavaris Jackson. Whenever adversity was greatest, somehow he manages to elevate his play, as if he takes this attacks personally, upon which pride takes over and he must prove the critics wrong. In his press conference after the game, he alluded as much; he wasn’t playing for the coach, but for himself. When players look in the mirror, it isn’t the coach they see, but themselves. It is ultimately to themselves they need to answer to; if they don’t have the pride to play to the best of their ability, then they shouldn’t even be in the league. So far, two teams this year decided that Moss mistook selfishness for pride, and shouldn’t be playing on their team.

In any case, the NFL circus that is the Vikings continues; in regard to Brad Childress, I almost have some sympathy for him. He shouldn’t be fired over the Moss debacle, although he should have had a heart-to-heart with owner Zygi Wilf regarding Moss’ erratic and poisonous behavior, and the need to release him sooner rather than later. Childress is fortunate to have Favre on this team, despite the blustering of the anti-Favre contingent; a player motivated by personal pride to play his best is worth ten Randy Mosses.

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