One of the reasons that NFL players look to deliver kill shots to other players is that the fans and the media glorify it.
And ESPN’s Jon Gruden, who has spent his time in the broadcast booth glorifying just about everything he sees, has offered bizarre praise moments ago for Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil.
Cecil was regarded as a headhunter during his career. With continuous stream of blood down his nose, a snarling Cecil appeared 17 years ago on the cover of Sports Illustrated with this question: Is Chuck Cecil too vicious for the NFL?
Not in Gruden’s book.
“Chuck’s my guy, Mike,” Gruden said with that all-too-familiar speech pattern that makes him sound less like a broadcaster and more like a Superfan. “I coached at Green Bay when he was there,” Gruden said. “He would knock you out, Jaws. . . . He would clean up piles. He could hit you and knock you sideways. But Chuck Cecil is a tone setter, just like he is for the Titans defense. He’s a quality guy. He loves football.”
Um, Cecil was a dirty player who made no apologies for his style. He was fined repeatedly for dirty play. And Gruden’s decision to gloss over that fact (possibly because he’d like to hire Cecil when Gruden returns to the NFL) glorifies the very type of play that the NFL is now committed to removing from the game.
The responsibility to protect players doesn’t apply only to the league. Those in position to influence the opinions and attitudes held by the fans and the media need to be careful not to glorify kill shots or the men who apply them, regardless of whether those men have retired from the game. Thus, Jon Gruden would have been wise on Monday night to hold his tongue regarding the high character of a guy who only two weeks ago couldn’t control his middle finger.