To be GMC Professional Grade you must know your craft inside and out. On every team, there must be an established veteran presence, that with the work that he does, it doesn't really show up in the stat sheet. It could be a veteran DB who give that jersey pull or a nice arm lock, so the receiver can’t catch the ball. Or an offensive lineman who’s crafty enough to get the hold real tightly to where the refs won’t call it, but the back, he’s off for a big run. Now, look at your team and analyze. Tell me, who’s that crafty veteran on your team. And if you’re really paying attention, what’s the signature move that he uses?
Crafty... a word that's replaced "cheating" in our sports lexicon because of its negative connotation.
Guys like Andrew Whitworth and Domata Peko, to me, are veteran leaders. When players have an issue, without disruption or hesitation, they reach out to them. These are the guys who took it upon themselves to stage practices and player-only sessions during the NFL lockout in 2011. Whitworth also represents the other 70 players (52 others on the active roster, 10 practice squad players and the eight on PUP or IR) for the NFL players association. But they're not crafty.
Who is your crafty veteran?
We have Terence Newman, strong at 36 years old, player the role of cerebral defender -- no longer the owner of a young body that was selected fifth overall. Newman, who showed up at the team's facility during an off day, studied film of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
"I’m watching everybody," Newman said. "They've got a rookie. They've got a vet (Jackson). They’ve got a vet in the slot (Louis Murphy). They've got some big, tall receivers that go up and get the ball. It’s about being smart and making them dictate where you want them to go with the ball. We have our work cut out. Good receivers. Smart quarterback. Good backs. We just have to study."
There's Adam Jones jawing at the defender, getting into their collective heads... perhaps even irritating them enough to try too hard. There's Vontaze Burfict, causing a bit of concern for the opposition who may, when Burfict returns, focus more on their ankles by adding less resistance. Well, if we're going to call this "crafty", let's apply the term. The brute strength of Geno Atkins, the hand-placement of Carlos Dunlap, the bouldering shoulder of Rey Maualuga or the technician of Leon Hall.
What about Jermaine Gresham, who is equal parts the Hulk (when he gets angry, he becomes one of the toughest players on the field), and Tony Stark... who irritates people on the field, so much so that Colts defensive end Erik Walden accidentally touches an official and gets booted out of the game as a result. Look, it gave the Bengals their first first-down against the Colts with less than a minute remaining in the first half. Crafty, Jermaine. Crafty.
Who is your crafty veteran?