The Era of the Misunderstood Athlete

Posted: August 2, 2011 by dontbeskerritt in NFL

It has certainly been one of the wildest weekends in NFL offseason history.  It’s even wilder if you are sitting around on a Megabus after you just crossed the U.S.-Canadian border, catching up on all the free agency moves.  But there I was, returning from vacation in Toronto, scrolling through my phone after I just turned back on my data plan (no roaming charges for me!).  Here is a brief summary of my thoughts:

“Nnamdi Asoumgha signs with Eagles” – Crazy!  Thought he was going to the Jets

“Plaxico Burress signs with the Jets” – That’s right stick it to the Giants

“Randy Moss retires after 13 seasons” – Wahwah WWWHHHAAATTTT?????

For now, the 2nd most prolific receiver in terms of touchdowns and 5th all-time in yards is calling it a career. Randall Moss is probably the greatest receiver of my lifetime.  There was literally a point in his career that he was unstoppable.  As in, if he threw his hand in the air, it was going to be a touchdown.  Bill Belichick called him the smartest football player he ever coached.  It is reported that practices were crazy with Moss because he would make the most ridiculous catches you would ever see.  Defenses created the “safety over the top” coverage, just for size and his speed. The guy even had a verb named after
him.  A frikkin’ verb!!!  You know you made an impact if you have a verb in your honor.

But unfortunately, that’s not how Moss is remembered.  People were debating yesterday whether Randy Moss is better than Terrell Owens.  Are you kidding me?  I’ve been seeing T.O. drop passes all throughout his career including 10 in a playoff game.  Moss had 23 touchdowns in one season. And he’s not a running back.  You can say he was lazy and took off plays.  This takes us to the crux of this post.  Let’s flip around our thinking of Moss.  You say he was lazy; I say he was a genius and got bored.

Bomani Jones, the Around the Horn panelist, defended this argument on his radio show.  Often times, the media, which has people who do not have the time to really delve into the mind of these eccentric athletes, go with the traditional societal standards to judge these guys.   We want athletes to act like how we would act in their same position, knowing full well that we would probably act worse than them.   Moss is no exception.  After his troubles in college he fell in the draft and spent his entire career punishing teams for their error.  He got in trouble while in the league and was denounced, heavily despite his freakish numbers.   But Moss did things his way because he knew he was so dominant.  He worked hard in the offseason, that’s why he only missed 6 games in his whole career.  You can’t tell me he didn’t care about football; he has just misunderstood. He’s an easy first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and the argument should end there.  Here are two other athletes that have produced great numbers and have accomplished great things, but for some reason people are still mad at them.

Allen Iverson:  I could write another 300 words about how misunderstood Iverson was for his whole career. But I felt it would be more fitting for him to explain himself, in his own way.  Hell, that’s how he played his entire career.

Chad Ochocinco: We at the ManCave06 like to use the word coon a lot.  If you were born before 1950, or you have the soul of Cicely Tyson, you might not appreciate our vocabulary.  But coon is a term of endearment in our cave.  Coon describes actions that we demean as off the wall, eccentric, even entertaining, but you still have our respect because these actions are non-threatening to anyone.  Well Mr. Ochocinco, you are a coon!  But you produce, and will continue to produce in New England.  I never understood why folks were gung-ho to try to shut this guy up. He knew what his was job, and that was to entertain and he did it well in his own way.   From the over-the-top TD celebrations, to off-the-field antics, Ochocinco brought life to the one of the most rundown organizations in the league, the Cincinnati Bengals.  But he didn’t stop there.  He is one of the great philanthropists in the league.  He has given his life to football, but has been penalized for having a mind off of it.

That’s the thing with these misunderstood athletes.  You have to be a robot; you have to fit into the convention that has been set up by society and protected by the media.  If an athlete doesn’t fit into that convention, they’re deemed a mystery, aloof, and they just don’t get it.  Well, all I have to say is if I don’t get you personally, that’s ok.  All I need to study is your work to know what you are about.  And for these three guys, and the other misunderstood athletes throughout history, I know one day your story will be told in full.  The greatness that has been covered for years by your behavior will finally shine through for the world to see.

  1. LBC says:

    Thank comrade Randy much better than T.O. Better hands. Sports wouldn’t be as entertaining without the misunderstood athlete.

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