Thursday, January 22, 2009

Anquan Boldin's big deal about nothing

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)—Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin laughed off the negative reaction to his nationally televised run-in with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, calling it “hilarious.”

Boldin’s shouting match with the coach on the sideline came as Arizona drove for the winning touchdown in Sunday’s 32-25 victory over Philadelphia in the NFC championship game.

Boldin didn’t stay on the field in the postgame celebration, making a quick exit through the locker room. He said that he did congratulate his teammates and left quickly only to avoid questions about the Haley incident.

Instead, he acknowledged after Thursday’s practice, his abrupt departure “made it worse.”

“For me it’s hilarious,” Boldin said of the criticism he’s received. “I mean, I don’t want to sit here and dwell on it because for me it’s in the past, but that’s something that goes on every week in the NFL whether people know it or not.

“Every week, somebody on the sidelines gets into an argument, but it’s in the heat of the moment, it’s part of football and once it’s done, it’s dead on all sides.”

Well, given we've never seen a team's 2nd leading wide receiver celebrate the biggest win in his team's history by quickly storming off the field, I can't agree that it happens everyday. And given the modus operandi of the mainstream media, it's no surprise that they would react to the incident with the typical textual histrionics.

The Arizona Cardinals had just earned their first ever trip to the Superbowl after winning a game they were not expected to win, weeks after clinching a(n albeit weak) division title few expected them to clinch. I would expect a more typical reaction to such an event to look like this:


Team leaders Adrian Wilson and Kurt Warner strongly defended Boldin.

“I think people are making a lot out of nothing,” Wilson said. “That stuff happens all the time. Q is very dedicated to this team, very dedicated to the players. I think it’s a non-issue.”

Warner said it was “crazy” for people to define Boldin’s personality by this one incident after “everything that guy’s done all year and the character he’s displayed all year long.”

Well, it's typically rash to define a person's being by one isolated event, though an event like walking out on your team right after they won a trip to the Super Bowl can tell you an intuitive lot about that person, just as much as coming back strong three weeks after a scary concussion.

It's not as crazy as Kurt Warner says it is. Almost everyone in an NFL locker room works hard all season, even the 53rd guy on the bench of the worst team in the league... so to differentiate a guy by saying he works hard is hogwash: unless you're extremely talented, you have to work hard in the NFL, or you're out of a job. Bragging about a guy's hard work, if anything, is the true big deal about nothing.

And then we get to character, one of sports' favorite vague badges of valor. What is character? Anyone with a personality of their own has character. But let's not turn this into a great philosophical convo: Warner, here, is probably referring to the stones Anquan Boldin showed the team by coming back from a helmet to helmet collision that left him lifeless on the turf in week 4 against the Jets. Many players aren't quite the same after a blow to the head, so Boldin's return after three weeks, not to mention the 9 catches per game and 6 TDs he had in the next five games after his return, certainly deserves some note.

But so does walking out on your team in the middle of the biggest moment of their existence. Who does that? Maybe that blow to the head did have some after-effects, because it's not a decision that makes a lot of sense to most normal individuals.

Perhaps Adrian Wilson will be right in the long run: this will all be a big deal about nothing. The odds are on his side: how many scandalous sports incidents of yesteryear can you rattle off the top of your head? The talking heads wax philosophically indignant about what X Incident means to sports, but after a while, it's just a blip on a star player's radar... ultimately, just a big deal about nothing.

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