Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cary Williams Stands His Ground

The Truth, It Burns, It Burns
I'd like to talk tonight about the nature of being a pro athlete at the current time.

Thanks to the Internet, you have direct access to the public, but you probably don't want that, since that's a two-way street and really time-consuming. You are surrounded by an increasingly irresponsible and click-baitish media. Your coach and organization doesn't want you to show any personality, except for when it moves merch and builds your trade value, and then it's all good, until it comes to contract time.

People from all over the country are now interested in you when they weren't historically, thanks to nerdy nitty betting (aka, fantasy sports). And just in case you've figured out how to jump through all of those hoops, there are the watchful eyes of your teammates around you, judging you, and deciding on a subconscious level if they want to follow your example and cover for you in the lean moments.

If I were an athlete, I think I'd regard the entire experience as something like performance art. I think I'd answer all questions with non sequiturs, or the same sentence over and over again, or nothing, or tell them how many questions I was going to answer before any session begins, and so on, and so on. Because the exercise is meaningless and yet meaningful, since it can have a big impact on your livelihood, and yet means nothing at all.

In a better world, we wouldn't even interview them. And at some point, given what's happening to journalism in the Internet age, maybe no one will, or maybe it will all be crowd-sourced or on Skype. Lots of ways this can go, but what isn't going to change is this...

We're going to punish anyone who tells us their honest opinion and doesn't apologize for it, assuming that opinion is in any way noteworthy.

Cary Williams is the Eagles' CB1, and has, like just about every CB1 in the NFL who isn't in active jeopardy of losing his position, he's got an expanded opinion of his abilities. This leads to bombastic quotes about his skills (he thinks he's at the same level as Patrick Patterson and Richard Sherman, which has no basis in reality of the results to date) and his opponents (he doesn't much like the Patriots). It's the latter point that inspired this.

On the Patriots, Williams said, "I give them all the credit in the world, but one fact remains: They haven't won a Super Bowl since they got caught."

This caused a bit of a firestorm, because you can't say anything about the Patriots without people noticing. And today, Williams did something amazing. He didn't take it back.

"Did I say the wrong thing? No. I stand firm on what my beliefs are, and that's just that. I didn't tell a lie. At the end of the day, that did happen. It's in the history books. As far as I'm concerned, I made a comment about it and that's that."

Now, the fun part is that the Eagles, currently having a wonderfully boring training camp (in that no one has had a serious injury, and there's no real training camp battle to see who will start at a position they won't be experienced enough to play well at once the real games start), are about to go into the annual ritual that is the shared week of practice with the Pats. This mostly exists because Chip Kelly and Bill Belichick like each other, or at least, like to measure their clubs against each other, because they are both middle-aged guys who pride themselves on innovation, and aren't shy about where they get it.

So for the next week, once the Eagles are clear of the necessary distraction that is Friday night's fake game against the Bears, we'll sit back and wonder if the other shoe will drop, and someone in a Patriot uniform cheap shots Williams, or Williams feels like he's got to back up his words with deeds.

And the fan base will wish that he just be quiet, for heaven's sake, these athletes today, why say anything...

When, well, the only thing that's likely to happen is that no one will remember anything about this in a week and a half, tops.

And if you are of the opinion that Williams should just stay quiet and not say anything, two things and I'll let you be...

Point the first -- He's not wrong.

Point the second -- Don't you hate it more when athletes seem to care less about the game, and who wins or loses, than the fans?


Tracer Bullet said...

I want to see an athlete who just hands out printed cards at the start of training camp. They contain nothing but dull cliches that include some combination of "hard work," "110%," "teammates," and "greatest fans in the league." Then he can just call out numbers instead of wasting everyone's time answering dumb questions.

DMtShooter said...

Mad Libs version of this would also be fantastic.

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