My prior post about Jesse James deserves a somewhat mitigating postscript because of an issue of which I was unaware after his horrendous performance in the Hall of Fame game (two crucial pass drops).
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that Jesse was mourning the loss of a high school friend who had died unexpectedly two days before the game. James did not use it as an excuse, though, and the Steelers are still putting lots of faith in his future.
Young guys freeze up sometimes,” Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said. “I mentioned to some of them, I would’ve liked to have shown them cutups of Lawrence Timmons from the Hall of Fame Game in 2007. It was pretty ugly. It provides a little window, a ray of light if you will, for those who are mentally weak enough to need it. You’ve got to start somewhere. Some starts are better than others. Regardless of how you start, it isn’t going to define you.”
Read the entire Post-Gazette article.
Big Al says
Turkey, you’re just an insensitive prick. Just kidding.
Actually, I disagree with the basic thrust of the article that: “what happened to James against the Vikings — the drops, his lapse in concentration — is perfectly understandable.” Speaking from personal experience,(albeit at a much lower level) if James is still thinking about his dead friend after the ball is snapped, he shouldn’t be on the field and he’s going to get himself injured. A family death can definitely affect game preparation and could result in screw ups like running the wrong pass routes and missing blocking assignments, but it shouldn’t affect something as elementary as being able to focus on catching the ball. He’s probably been catching passes like those for 15 years and muscle memory alone should take over.
In addition, a lot of the guys I played with (including me) viewed the actual game as opportunity to escape the real world and get lost in something you enjoyed doing. Once you were on the field, adrenaline took over and the only thing you thought about was the game itself.
IMO The sportswriter IS making excuses for James. But it’s the kind of excuses that are “perfectly understandable” in today’s sports environment when every kid gets a trophy just for showing up. You don’t need to apologize for your original post.
The Nittany Turkey says
As I was reading your comment, my mind was racing ahead to where you wound up. Kids are being taught that it’s ok to be sensitive little flowers and that people will always understand and give them leeway. Alas, most people only tend to understand their own issues and in general, don’t give a damn about the next guy’s. Such is the hypocrisy of today’s society. If we drop the masquerade, we get labeled as insensitive pricks, a badge I wear with great pride.
However, this is the NFL and big bucks are involved, pre-season or not, and there’s no room for delicate flowers. This supposedly inconsequential game could have cost the Steelers the season due to the loss of a very good place kicker. It would have been understandably easy for Shaun Suisham to pull up and not risk tackling that returner, but he was playing for keeps. You don’t want guys deciding when to play and when not to. Everybody on the field has to be ready to nake the same 100% commitment as he did in order to earn their keep. It’s not like they’re getting $8 per hour — big bucks should buy balls-to-the-wall performance.
Speaking of insensitive pricks, I think Donald Trump hit the mark when he asserted that one of the problems with this society is that we’re too damn politically correct and way too hypocritical about it. We go to great lengths to avoid hurting some poor schmuck’s feelings when inside we want to grab him by the lapels and tell him to go out and earn a living, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. It has come to the point where everyone who wants to opt out can lay on their asses and hide behind supposedly unassailable excuses and we’re all supposed to “understand.”
While I gave Jesse some leeway, I don’t think his personal grieving situation ameliorates the simple-ass fundamental football errors he made. I’m betting that Tomlin and the Steelers’ front office feel the same way, even though for reasons of either political correctness or it’s just no one else’s damn business, they are waffling. In the end, they’ll go where the big bucks take them, where sensitivity cannot reach.
Jesse James does not get a free pass on Cut-Down Day by any stretch, so he better get his ass in gear tomorrow night against Jax. (Maybe Allen “Gimme the Damn Ball” Robinson will give him a few tips on how to catch.) Jesse now has even more to prove to his new team.