There's something to be said for a player that owns up to his role on a team.
I mean each position has clearly stated duties and responsibilities at all times. A wide receiver has to run routes, break jams at the line, make cuts, get separation, focus on the ball and catch it, keep his timing right etc. etc.
There's a list like that for every position on the team, some longer than others, but all well defined and fairly standard on a position by position basis.
But these days it seems too common to get players like Owens who says, “give me the ball”. Or players like Ellis who says, “I want to start”. And even a player like Romo that just wants to have fun and enjoy what he does on the field.
All contract issues aside; there are several players on every team in the National Football League that wants particular things for personal reasons. And that should be fine; Owens wants the ball? Well, he makes plays so why not? It makes sense to get the ball to your play makers, and your play makers know it too so what's the big deal if they say something about it?
The desire isn't the problem, regardless of whether it's handled in the media or it's off the record, the desire of a player being too strong is rarely a problem. The problem lies more in the player feeling the need to air his concerns.
In a game, game management is a tremendous task, so much so that no player can handle it and the duties of their position at the same time. That's what coaches are for, to manage the games, to choose the plays and how each player is involved on every down. When a player like Owens goes into the media and says things like, “I can't throw the ball and then catch it too,” it points out an obvious flaw in the modern day players' mind; If you can't do it, then why worry about it?
Does worrying about when he's going to get the ball help T.O. get open? No. Does it make him run any faster? No. Did it get him what he wanted when Anquan Bolden yelled at his OC during the NFC Championship game? No, the OC just yelled back and continued to call plays that didn't feature Bolden, just as he was doing to begin with.
It wasn't because Todd Haley was trying to send a message to Bolden that he isn't any good; the guy got a multi-year contract worth millions of dollars and has a starting job on a professional football team. He should know that's he good enough.
He got hung up though, hung up in the excitement of that game, hung up in the possible glory of helping his team reach the Super Bowl, hung up on his personal reasons, whatever they may specifically be.
But Haley had the right idea, he started using a part of his offense that he felt was the right choice, and he stuck with it. And the rest of the players went out there and performed their function in that chosen offense. The result? The Cardinals drove the field to score the winning touchdown and are going to Tampa next weekend to play in the Super Bowl. Simple, right?
My God it's such a simple concept; it really is a wonder why it's even an issue more than one time with any player. Once being all that's needed to see what kind of player he is, once being all that's needed to cut him loose, before he personal-agenda's his team into the ground.
But we can't do that, can't just cut a player because he wants to win, because he wants to compete. It's the nature of the business to want to compete, but what many players could benefit from is keeping it right at the front of their minds that winning is a team activity. It takes one guy to throw the ball, another to catch it, a few decoys to allow the catch, and few more to let that one guy throw the ball. There's no avoiding it.
That's where owning up to your position comes in. Give me a wide receiver that just goes out play after play, whenever he is called upon by the coach, and does everything he's been trained to do. Gets off the line, tries to break free from coverage, to get that crucial step needed to beat the coverage, and then, if the ball comes his way, catch it, secure it, and run as far as you can with it until either somebody throws him to the ground or he's running across white paint on the ground.
To do the job given to you, in this league, has become overrated. Very few players just go out and do what the play says they are supposed to do, and leave all their personal crap on the sidelines.
Players like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Darren Woodson, and even DeMarcus Ware; they know what it means to be a football player. They get their assignment, study it, perfect it in practice, and then give everything they've got on the gridiron.
Here's hoping to a 2009 season full of people doing their damn jobs. Cheers.