Amazingly, a largely irrelevant game has sparked a discussion that has become very relevant to the question of the acceptable behavior of a player on a losing team.
Last night, ESPN’s cameras captured images of Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson and guard Deuce Lutui sitting on the bench and smiling/laughing/generally acting like two guys on a team who weren’t seeing their season essentially come to an end. The fact that ESPN’s Jon Gruden, who if he were a boxing announcer would have said that Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield’s ear because Tyson possibly is an undiagnosed diabetic, called out Anderson made the situation seem to be even more of an affront to the unwritten rules of team sport.
After the game, a reporter posed a fair and appropriate question to Anderson about the situation. And Anderson opted to fly off the handle about it.
Former players in the media have defended Anderson. Rams, Giants, and Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, who now works for FOX, suggested on Twitter that the laughing wasn’t inappropriate but the question was. Long-time Raiders great Tim Brown, in an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, seemed to think the question went too far.
Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post disagrees with Warner, and the pair went back and forth a bit on Twitter. Hubbuch eventually said that if Warner “thinks the Anderson laughing question didn’t need to be asked, FOX needs to rethink hiring him as an analyst. What a joke.”
We think the question was appropriate, and that it was asked in a professional way. We also think Anderson acted like a jerk in response to the question, possibly in the hopes of deflecting attention from the fact that he was yukking it up while the team’s 2010 hopes became a pile of ashes from which nothing but the stench of defeat ever will arise.
And stuff like that does indeed drive fans crazy. In fact, true fans despise those post-game shots of players from the two teams acting out the lyrics of Same Auld Lang Syne at midfield after a hard-fought game. But those images are usually fleeting and by then the commentators have taken off the headsets.
It’s not that players should storm off the field after losing, but there’s a middle ground that suggests disappointment and dejection after a loss, and there’s a way to act that way without coming off as a jerk. Either way, the paying customers want to see that the players are upset about losing. All too often, they sure don’t seem to be.