Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Anquan Boldin is not the problem

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic was on the Dan Patrick radio show this morning. Patrick asked him what was going on with Anquan Boldin. Bickley responded, and tucked within his response was this nugget (which isn’t an exact quote): “I don’t know if Rosenhaus told him ‘If you want to get traded this off-season, you need to start creating problems now.’ “

So this is leading me to put together a note of the conundrum that the players in the NFL face, when having to choose between their team, their fans, and themselves. I’m going to start by saying that I’m irritated by people who think that the “themselves” part of that sentence shouldn’t exist, cause players should only be about their teams…those fans are being as if not more selfish than a player is when he’s thinking about himself. And on top of that, why shouldn’t a person be allowed to think about themselves? The team thinks of themselves when they cut players. There is a tough situation that players have to deal with, to balance between doing what’s best for them as well as what’s best for the team.

A good example was whether or not Suggs would play in the game with the Steelers. His doctors had told him that he could cause significant ligament damage if he played, which could hurt his long-term playing status. As a free agent this off-season, does he do what’s best for the team and play if he feels okay to play? Or does he say “Playing could wind up costing me millions, not to mention the long term health impacts,” and sit out to protect himself and his earning capacity? Fans would say “Do what’s best for the team and play!” But it’s just not that simple. Would you risk significant injury to yourself to go to work one day if you knew there was a possibility you could damage your long term health and your future earnings?

Boldin faces much the same situation. Here’s the conundrum for him. He wants to get paid the way he’s valued. Why shouldn’t he? Regardless of whether you agree with him wanting to or not, he’s not being paid his market value, he wants that to change, and he’s very unhappy with the Cardinals for not fixing that. This preseason, he made a huge stink about it. But then in the regular season, he shut up. He went out and played. He was one of the best receivers in the league, until suffering a brutal hit that separated his face from his head. After undergoing surgery to rebuild his face, rather than park himself on the sidelines and mope and wait the Cards out, he continued to shut up and went back out on the field. His numbers projected over a full season would have been around 110-120 receptions, 1,300-1,400 yards, and 14-15 TDs.

But now he’s facing a choice. If he continues to shut up and play hard, his team has no incentive to make him happy. They could say “Well, he’s under contract, he plays hard and doesn’t create a distraction during the regular season. Why should we change anything with him?” Thus the conundrum…does he shut up and play and hurt his personal position? Or does he speak up and make things painful to attempt to satisfy himself personally?

I separate this from the TO phenomena. Boldin seems to me to be a guy that has done everything he could for his franchise. He’s been a locker-room leader. He’s come off an horrific injury and gotten back on the field quickly. He’s played balls-to-the-wall every game. He really hasn’t created any distractions during times that count, other than right now. He seems to have given the Cardinals every opportunity to make him happy without hurting the team, and now maybe he feels like his hand is being forced. Owens simply is never happy, wherever he goes, and the instant he becomes unhappy he decides to create a massive distraction and maximize locker-room disruption.

So I’m coming down on the side of Boldin here. After all, this is the Cardinals organization we’re talking about. Despite being in the Superbowl, Bidwell is not an owner known to throw money around. One story says that before he turned a majority of the day-to-day operations over to his son Michael, he used to make his players bring their own soap and shampoo in the locker room, as opposed to virtually every other team that provided it for them. The organization is still not run very well (Bill still has final say), and so it’s not hard to understand why a player could be unhappy there.

But the point is that Boldin isn’t the one that’s created this mess. The Cardinals aren’t, either. The system has created this mess. It’s a system that encourages a player to hurt his team in order to make himself happy, which makes him come off as selfish. It’s set up to allow teams to make those decisions without suffering the same image problem the player does when they try to make them.

And because the system is set up to create this conundrum, I can’t fault the player for doing what he feels he needs to do to be happy.


  1. Good article.

    This points back to the discussion where we agreed that the decision to play should be removed from the player and team. Roethlisberger playing against San Diego was absurd. There should be a minimal standard 'if your head is so swollen you can't fit it into your helmet, you can't play'.

    I read some speculation on Monday that Stone's penalty on Sunday cold be directly related to allowing him to return to action. Anyone who saw him stagger off the field like a drunk in the 1st quarter knew he had been knocked for a loop. None of us will ever know his mental state after that hit but it at least seems plausible that he was playing purely on instinct.

    Players simply should not be allowed to play with any kind of injury where permanent harm is risked. The standard should be 'if we would hold him out of a meaningless game, then we will hold him out now'.

  2. The tough part is finding that line. It becomes like instant replay. The play is only overturned if there is indisputable evidence. Unless the ref sees something that looks like it should be overturned...

    Common sense should prevail, but I feel like it rarely does in this world.

  3. A small team of medical types at games, not beholden to either team but part of the staff, like the refs. Maybe even just one doc, though as I think about it I'd like a neuro guy and an ortho guy. If they rule you're out, then you are medically ineligible to play the rest of the game.


About This Blog

Twitter: oblong_spheroid

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP