It would seem crazy to see a 250 pound athlete pouting, but it happens even in the NFL. This past Sunday saw a couple of incidents of players getting pissed about playing time and deciding to call it quits for the day. Ahmad Brooks of the 49ers left his game early, as did LeGarrette Blount of the Steelers. Both guys have had some team value at different points, but felt slighted by their lack of action in week 11.
Blount has had a few off the field issues before, so this is not totally new for him. One teammate was reported as saying he hoped that Blount didn’t bother to travel back to Pittsburgh with the team at all. And there are worries about Blount’s level of influence over young running back Le’Veon Bell, who could be a franchise player sooner or later.
The 49ers’ Brooks was a huge part of the defense last year and has played good again this season. He was put off by being rotated in and out with rookie Aaron Lynch versus the Giants. He felt like he needed to be on the field at all times and when that wasn’t happening, he took himself out of the game. He made a point of taking his cleats off and cutting the tape off his ankles as well. The only thing that would have made it more clear he was finished for the day would have been grabbing a beer from the concession guy in the stands.
I see Blount’s point more than Brooks’. The defensive player at least had the chance to make something happen on the plays he was involved in. It is hard for a running back to stand out when he gets zero carries.
I can appreciate NFL players not wanting to sit out plays. That means that have a vested interest in the game. I certainly don’t want players on my team who don’t mind sitting on the bench. I like some enthusiasm for the game itself. These two guys seem to have plenty of that, but you can’t just take yourself out of the game. That is unprofessional at best and a weak move to boot. And I am well aware that this kind of thing has happened before with higher profile players. I am sure it has happened a ton more than we have actually heard reported as well. Still doesn’t make it OK. They did make a point I guess, since they got some attention for their actions. But that kind of attention can get you on a bus out of town as well. Better to be a good teammate even when it is hard to swallow less playing time.
I can’t imagine the best of the best NFLers pouting like this. If Walter Payton ever refused to go into a game because of a grievance, then I certainly have never heard about it. And if that did happen, I’d just assume not ever know! Jerry Rice pulling himself from a game would be insane to the wide out. Brooks and Blount made a statement with their pouting but perhaps they would have been better off to make a statement while on the field. That would look better for future play, whether on their current teams or ones that they end up on eventually. Not many NFL teams are on the look out for guys who quit before the game ends.