Antonio Brown, Josh McDaniels, Colin Kaepernick
Who would YOU want on your team?
Some people think watching sports is a waste of time. I, on the other hand, find watching the achievements of the human body, and following the stories behind them, as valid use of leisure time as enjoying arts or literature. And, placing an emotional investment on particular athletes or teams, rooting for them, makes sports that much more entertaining.
Like most fans, I have my favorite teams. What I dread is if these teams acquire personnel that I wouldn’t want to root for.
Two stories from the NFL serve as examples. The first was that Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, after a heated incident in a practice last week, went AWOL from subsequent practices, never responded to calls and texts from members of the organization, and was suspended from Sunday’s must-win game.
The second was that Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels has become a candidate for several NFL head-coaching vacancies. McDaniels was Broncos coach 2009–10, a failed tenure. That often happens with first-time head coaches and I don’t hold that against him, but he notoriously traded up to draft the mechanically-poor passer Tim Tebow in the first round. He was also fined for failing to promptly report a videotaping violation. Then last year he spurned the Colts, a team he had orally agreed to coach, and that already hired several assistants he wanted.
I don’t need everyone on the team I root for to be friendly, likable guys. I don’t need to hear all the gossip about internal tension. But I don’t want them to be jerks in public, and I want them to respect their profession.
Be cordial to the very media that promotes you. Show up for work. Don’t make weird, unethical decisions. Be consistent.
Antonio Brown is a great pass-catcher. Josh McDaniels is by all accounts one of the best offensive minds in the game. And I don’t want to root for them. If I wouldn’t hire them to wash dishes because I don’t know what they’ll do, why would I want them on my favorite team? It’s hard to root for someone you can’t even trust.
Where does unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick fit into this? His story is very different. Protesting police violence against African-Americans by kneeling during the National Anthem is an act of principle, not selfishness. But many if not most Americans place their patriotism above their religion, and a substantial number were triggered. They expressed outrage that Kaepernick would do such a thing.
The backlash was so widespread that, for as much as I admire Kaepernick’s stance, I don’t believe there was collusion among NFL owners to keep him out of the league. I think it came down to 32 different business decisions by NFL owners. Namely, you can’t have a guy in the most prominent position on your that a substantial percentage of your fan base dislikes intensely. Revenues from attendance and merchandise could suffer, as well as tv ratings.
Is the reason to root against Kaepernick valid? I don’t believe so — certainly not because of the National Anthem. Is the reason to root against Brown and McDaniels valid? Yes. They put themselves above their team (and in McDaniels’s case, that was the Colts).
You’ll never hear, “I’m so glad Antonio Brown finally won the ring he so desperately sought,” even if he does win one eventually, because we know that’s not what he cared about.
And will anyone say, “Josh McDaniels, what a great guy! So glad he won!”
But there’s no reason to believe that if Colin Kaepernick gets back into the NFL, he won’t act like a pro. That’s why I’d rather have him on my team.
My preferences don’t dictate what NFL owners and General Managers will do. But I’m letting the Packers know I don’t want Brown or McDaniels.