Thursday, September 20, 2012

Athletes Are Human -- Just Barely, But It Counts

Brian Waters is 35 years old and has been a National Football League player since 2000. This means that Waters is more than old enough to have his nervous system deliver the first warning signs of the actuarial truth those 12 seasons have shortened his life expectancy by at least that many years.

In my experience, offensive linemen are the most aware, hippest if you will, of all NFL players. Quarterbacks get too many rewards. You don't want aware people on defense. So it doesn't surprise me that Waters has not returned for another season. It astonishes me that other people are surprised.

Shalise Manza Young of the Globe has reported that the Patriots offered Waters $4 million to end, well, you can't call it a holdout exactly, more like going off the football grid, during training camp. This report has been denigrated by talk show hosts who used to be reporters and therefore ought to be ashamed of themselves (talk about oxymorons!) because they used to be reporters on the grounds the Patriots leaked the story to make themselves look good.

Earth to talk radio. If the story was a lie, then Waters' agent would have been on every media outlet this side of Chinese wire service Xinhua denouncing it as such. This naivete is sad but unsurprising. Michael Felger and sidekick Tony Massarotti, my old colleagues who I probably still like but no longer respect, are proof of Damon Runyon's adage that "nobody's easier to bullshit than a bullshit artist."

Let me suggest an alternative scenario for Water's Howard Hughes impersonation. The logic part of his brain has come to the conclusion he should retire from football. The emotional part (the much bigger part, as it is for us all) is torn. Football is addictive. Why not let the Patriots, renowned as the most unsentimental of franchises in these matters, put the offer on the table to adjudicate the decision?

Waters got an offer that was flattering by any assessment. And he didn't take it. The logical conclusion is there was no offer he'd have taken. He's done. He just wanted an outside assessment of how much he had left.

We all like to be wanted, even if we don't want what likes us.


At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Athletes are indeed human. And sometimes they feel disrespected by what transpires before the generous final offer is proffered at the 11th hour. And when they are smart Olinemen who have already banked millions they decide that playing one more year isn't all that important. He parted ways with KC in 2011 for similar reasons, although as a FA he chose to play again elsewhere. His choices this time around are more limited. He seems to have chosen to not play. Maybe if he felt he'd been appreciated all along he doesn't make that decision.


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