On Wednesday, the best Redskins blog on the net, Hogs Haven, wrote up a piece about character which I followed up. Well, spun-off would be more accurate. Of course, I was tagged as the guy that throws out character because I'm a Bengals fan. Sadly, it's something I now expect. Do I approve of the conduct? Of course not.
The state of modern professional sports is this. Win. I know. It sounds simple, but you and I know, it's complicated. You have to build a foundation of players. You have to build a core of scouts (please, read that again Mr. Brown). You must have amities comparable to other teams; or you can't persuade free agents. You have to make deals with local companies to receive enough revenue to cover operating expenses.
You have to put all the pieces in place for one simple goal; to win. If you don't win, the organization doesn't get the sky-rocketing importance of local revenue. If you don't win, ownership tires and fires. It doesn't matter if you're the greatest Samaritan, if you don't win, you lose your job. That's the reality in professional sports. The pieces are put in place to win.
Does it mean you can't win with character? Of course not. Does it mean you can't pick up playmakers with character? That would be a dumb and naive belief. But the urgency for teams to win now doesn't give organizations time, or the benefit, to search for guys that won't embarrass the team. Take the local team for example. The Bengals went 2-14 in 2002 and needed to reform the personnel. They did. They went after playmakers disregarding some red flags. They had to. Otherwise, the city would riot because the team, again, wasn't winning. There was no way the team would win on the limited timeframe given by the fans patience to win.
On the Hogs Haven post, it was said in the comments that I "disregard character". I know it was a off-the-wall and good-humored comment. And I know that's the perception. I don't go into trivial rants about players getting arrested. What's the point? Realistically, the issue of character and image is prone for debate across all professional sports. It's not limited to Cincinnati. I don't disregard character. I do, however, understand the goal of winning doesn't always mesh with guys that have quality character. Again, it's the nature of modern professional sports.
How many pieces do mainstream sports media run about quality character? Not much. Is that because those guys are selfless and want no publicity (like a large portion of the Bengals players that no one, even local fans ignore)? Is it because it's just too hard to find? Is it because it doesn't drive ratings? I'll give the local media one compliment. They are just as quick to promote the charity and community work these players do -- which runs circles around those with conduct issues.
But here's a question. Do we have a right to care about a player off the field? Is it the money the players make? Is it the celebrity that comes with being sports figure? Is it about the kids? Is it a mixture of all that and more? I don't know. But like the Dames that pick up gossip magazines, the beer guzzling sports fan likes to be apart of the lives of sports superstars.
Maybe I'm wrong. This blog is open to comments and positions that you may disagree with. I don't believe that you have to have bad boys to win. But I do understand that the importance of character has fallen. But that's not sports. That's society.
I know, I'm beating Barbaro.
Geoff Hobson wrote up a nice piece on Chad Johnson. A small comment by Chad sparked my interest. You know, like those wide-open moments that flood the mind with thousands and thousands of possible posting topics. In response to being in the Pro-Bowl: "It’s nice, but it’s the same old same old."
People say the Pro Bowl is about the fans. And the daily readers, as irritated as some of you probably get, will confirm that I'm not a fan of the Pro Bowl. And further, I take exception to those that call the Pro Bowl, a game for the fans. If fans want to see half-assed play and more interviews than Joan Rivers on the Red Carpet, this game is for you.
Players only play enough to not get hurt. I understand the reasoning and their caution. Why get hurt in an exhibition game? Valid argument. But players playing only 50% isn't a game for the fans. The fans want to see their players dominate the other All-Stars. Fans want to see their conference win. Perhaps the meaning of All-Star games has shifted from pride in your conference/league to a Red Carpet showcase. You see that most all-star games these days. Major League Baseball felt it had to implement a system by rewarding the winning League with homefield advantage in the World Series.
It is what it is. It's an event where superstars get to play around a little, have some fun and relax. Again, that's fine. But just don't call it a game for the fans. It's not. Most fans don't live in or around Hawaii and most fans like to watch a good football game.
Back to Chad.
CJ was quoted in the Hobson piece as saying, "I need a (Super Bowl) ring. I’ve done everything else I’ve wanted to do. There’s nothing else left."