In A League of Their Own, Jimmy Dugan said, “There’s no crying in baseball.”
And he was right.
But what about in football?
After Sunday’s meltdown to the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens had a meltdown of his own. From behind a pair of jet-black sunglasses, Owens, his sniffling nose, quivering lip, and defense of quarterback Tony Romo, appeared all too human.
“This is not about Tony,” Owens said, sobbing. “You guys can point the finger at him. You can talk about the vacation. And if you do that, it’s really unfair. It’s really unfair. It’s my team. It’s my quarterback. If you guys do that, man, it’s unfair. We lost as a team. We lost as a team, man.”
Unfortunately for all you T.O.- haters, the man has a point.
The Cowboys didn’t lose because of Tony Romo’s vacation in Mexico with Jessica Simpson.
They lost because they made too many mistakes, took stupid penalties, and failed to score more points than the Giants — a team they outscored by 10 and 11 points in two regular season victories.
All game analysis aside, Sunday’ post-game-tear-fest seemed more like a game of charades; a potential ploy to deflect criticism after a losing effort, rather than an attempt to convey honest, heartfelt emotions.
Surely, it was nice to hear T.O. talk about someone other than himself, but I can’t say that I’m exactly ready to believe he’s a changed man all because of one game.
After all, Owens has been on two other teams — neither of which are the 17-0 Patriots — so he knows what it’s like to lose a football game, which would lead you to believe that one more loss shouldn’t evoke this sort of reaction, right?
And to those of you who believe that T.O. is now a more mature person for standing up for his teammate — a quarterback nonetheless! — I applaud you.
You’ve decided to forget about his oh-so-controversial past, with the idea that he has evolved into a harmonious being; one capable of bringing love and compassion to the locker room, football field, and even the post-game press conference.
But I’m still not convinced.
It took a loss to show that Owens “cares”.
Being a good teammate and showing emotions akin to love and compassion should not be contingent on the media’s scrutiny of Owens’ teammate or the outcome of the game.
Yes, being a good teammate is about sticking up for your guys.
It’s about doing what’s right, and remembering that ‘team’ comes before ‘me’.
But it’s about keeping that mind set in tact at all times, not just after a loss.
And when post-game comments become so out-of-the-ordinary — given T.O.’s reputation for being a poor teammate — it’s all the more reason to doubt the legitimacy of the emotions in question, instead of automatically assuming that a dramatic maturation process has taken place in the blink of eye or just because a player starts sobbing.
It’s just not possible.
And although Owens may have matured from the time he left San Francisco and Philadelphia, he hasn’t given many people reason to believe that he’s changed much.
He still hypes his persona up a week before every game, prophesizing all the great things that he’ll do.
He still has something to say about everything and everyone.
And he still throws temper tantrums if he doesn’t get his way.
These are not characteristics of someone who has evolved into a mature adult. They might be a step or two up from the younger Terrell Owens — one that held out of training camp, insinuated that his quarterback was gay, spit in the face of another player, celebrated a touchdown at the 50- yard line, etc. — but they are not consistent with the assumption that his post-game comments were embodied by a changed man.
For now, we can only look to the future to determine whether or not T.O. has truly upgraded his performance as a teammate and as a person.
But I’m not holding my breath.