“I Wasn’t Cut–I Quit!”

by

William A. Gralnick

Some weeks ago I wrote about ethics and football. The story line revolved around the many time sued Antonio Watson who seems to have extraordinary talent off the field in evading trouble. On the filed he is like Teflon; off it he’s like Velcro. This week Mr. Watson has been elipsed by Antonio Brown of the Tampa Bay Bucs. Mr Brown has a penchant for not playing. The old mantra about playing hurt, taking one for the team, don’ seem to be in his lexicon of football phrases.

American Football Teams
How many hits in the head does it take…

Last Sunday Mr. Brown’s lack of adherence to those two golden rules of football brought him more attention than his admittedly amazing talents. Millions saw him tear off his jersey, run bared-chested half-way around the sidelines, and then jog off into a fog of notoriety as he disappeared into the tunnel. His a buck short and day lack responses were two fold. When Coach Bruce Ariens announced Brown was no longer a member of the organization, Brown responded that he was cut. He quit. He also said the bru-ha-ha started by his refusing an order to suit up and go in to play. He claimed his ankle was too severely injured to play. One might question that as he used that same severely injured ankle to do his Johnathan Livingston Seagull exit from the stadium. No limp, no hop, no trip, no fall. Smooth as well…a bird in flight.

Soaring Seagull
Soaring–body or mind?

There are two major narratives that have resulted, both complicated but only one wiht much traction. One is Brown’s status. Can the coach “deorganization” a player by himself? And should he have bumped it up to the gereral manager. He could have saved face by saying, “I won’t coach a team with Brown on it,” to save face. That statement would leave the door open for salvaging money that the rat hole of Brown’s tenure on the team has become. If he is cut he’s a free agent assuming there’s another GM with an empty enough head to think he’ll be the one to straighten out Brown. Don’t take those odds.

This bring us to the less noticed, one day story told by Tom Brady. Not know for suffering fools or playing with people who won’t fall on their swords for him or the team, Brady apparently took Brown under his arms. To hear Tom Terrific (I know that was Tom Seaver, but it fits) tell it he befriended Brown, taught him the old political adage that, “in order to get along, sometimes you have to go alonG (Sam Rayburn to freshman Texas Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson). He had Brown home to dinner thinking maybe the stunning beauty of his super-model wife might act as a laser beam and burn out the rough spots in Brown’s brain.

At the end of his monologue Brady said, “We love him.” Not something he says too often other than about the products he sponsors and filled it out with a request for prayers. Who knows what Brady’s motives were but let’s take them at face value rather than snicker about how important Brown could be to Tom collecting another Super Bowl and also beating Aaron Rogers out for MVP.

At face value, we can surmise with some safety that Antonio Brown is a sick puppy with one or more screws loose. If there another floundering NFL’er who would not have responded to the care and feeding of Tom Brady by coming to heel, sitting down, looking up loving, and wait expectantly the next “to do” cue? Maybe. But I doubt it.

Sick Puppy
says it all

This then brings us to the league and the teams within it. It is time to add something to the 40 yard dashes and such of recruitment. It is time to well-designed psychological testing, some intense one on one and group sessions to tease out any mental hand grenades the recruit might be carrying into training camp and later onto the field. In another place, I wrote that the same thing was needed for police recruits. You give someone a gun, you ought to have some assurance as a department, and give some assurance to the citizens, that the officer isn’t going to turn in Doc Holliday, a doctor who had a penchant for curing problems with a lead slug.

Wyatt Earp - Portrait - Marshall - Personnage - Historique - Célèbre - Chasseur - Américain
Is there a doctor in the house?

And if something is found the response shouldn’t have to be, “Off with his head!” Just as a tent is there for run an injured player into for immediate injury care, there needs to be a set of protocols for mental evaluations. Let’s say three defined incidents on or off the field would mandate therapy, including for drugs and alcohol. If the player refuses the player is benched. The doctor decides when enough (therapy) is enough. This protocol will be a tough to implement in football as is in law enforcement. However, it is good for the fans; they can see their stars on the field instead of in the newspapers. It is good for the team; they don’t have to find ways to cancel out the commotion verbal and what goes on in their heads. It is good for the league; why should be obvious.

Young Mixed-race Man Wearing Eyeglasses Sitting On Cozy Sofa And Discussing Faced Problem With Highly Professional Psychologist During Therapy Session At Cozy Office
counseling–one on one or group if you choose

Most importantly, it is good for the player. Nothing is more precious or rewarding than a life well lived, or played. Therapy can do that for those who need it–at least from my perspective.

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Bill wants to share with you that he knows of what he speaks, having been a fan of and participant in, therapy for much of his life. For those of you not making squadrillions of dollars, there are multiple local, regional, state programs that work of a fee sliding scales. Non-profits too. It’s its drugs and alcohol–same options. Put on your Nike’s and “Just Do It!” But if you just need a rib tickled, pick up either “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Notes From Brooklyn” or “George Washington Didn’t Sleep Here.” Both on Amazon and B&N, paperback back or e-book. Enjoy!

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