Four years ago, former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson took aim at the Patriots after they knocked off the 14-2 top seed in San Diego, prompting some of them to do Shawne Merriman’s “lights out” routine in the middle of the field.
Said Tomlinson at the time: “I can’t sit there and watch that. And so, yeah, I was very upset. And just the fact that they showed no class at all. Absolutely no class. And maybe that comes from their head coach. So you know, there you have it.”
The tables turned Sunday, when Tomlinson’s current team knocked off the 14-2 top seed in New England. Some of the Jets apparently were too exuberant, prompting New England receiver Deion Branch to take a page out of the L.T. playbook.
“I think the embarrassing part came after the game, with some of the classless guys they have on their football team,” Branch said after the game, according to the Boston Herald. “That’s their style. You have to expect that. They’re going to do that from now until they’re gone. Half the guys on the field, it was shameful, the guys with no class, that stuff comes back to bite you.”
Branch said that some Jets were taunting Patriots fans after the game. Some Patriots, including Branch, opted not to shake hands with some Jets players because of it.
“I’m a champion. I’m always congratulating guys upon victory,” Branch said. “They beat us today. They beat us when it mattered. The ones with class, I shook their hands. The other ones, I didn’t. . . . For them to act like that, you can tell they’re not used to being in this position.”
We don’t have a problem with players directing smack-talk between and among themselves, before, during, or after a game. Most fans prefer to finger-pointing than handshakes between players from rival teams. But when the players start to get into with the fans, that’s when the line is crossed.
At a time when the NFL is trying to get more and more people to choose to pay good money to attend games in person in lieu of watching the games on HD/3D televisions in the comfort of their own homes, the last thing the league wants to see is players making the experience less enjoyable for the paying customers.