As many of you know, the Minnesota Vikings are my second-favorite football team. They're on a pretty good run, winning four of their last five games including two division games that even up some important tiebreakers for the Vikings. So why am I mad?
Because the Vikings are going to lose defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams for the last four games of the season, which puts even this weekend's game against Detroit in doubt. The importance of the two Williams to the Vikings defense cannot be overstated. They are quite simply the reason that Minnesota sports the #2 rushing defense in football. Kevin Williams also has 8.5 sacks, and his strength in the pass rush has allowed offseason acquisition Jared Allen to run rampant on opposing quarterbacks to the tune of 11 sacks. Losing the "Williams brothers" (the men are not related) would be a virtual deathblow to a defense that has come up strong in this recent stretch, and potentially to the Vikings' playoff chances.
My opinions on the NFL's and all sports' steroid policies is a matter for another post; what I want to talk about here is the Vikings. The Vikings lost Bryant McKinnie for the first four games of this season due to a suspension stemming from a fight outside a night club in Miami. Hmm. A football player in a fight? Unheard of. Well, except for on the football field.
On November 2nd, Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson and Bengals guard Andrew Whitworth were in a scuffle. According to ESPN.com, "Henderson and Whitworth exchanged punches after Henderson knocked off Whitworth's helmet, then appeared to try to gouge his eyes. Both players were penalized and ejected Sunday." Punches, eye gouging, sounds like an classic WWF match. Their punishments? Four-game suspensions? Not exactly. They were ejected, as mentioned, and fined $10,000 apiece.
Why? Why this disparity? As a Vikings fan, of course, I think it's because the NFL hates the Vikings (and I'm not so sure that they don't). But realistically, it's because the NFL likes there to be fights on the field. They want their games to be as close to gladiatorial combat as is legally allowed. Fights are great. Street fights at a night club don't help the NFL perpetuate that similarity, so you get suspended. It's a load of shit. How is a player more responsible for his conduct when on personal time than during an actual NFL function? You know, like a game?
It's all about the public perception among non-NFL fans. It's not a news story if NFL players fight on the field; it's not a story at all. You can tell that from the lack of concern that commentators show when players get into scuffles. "And now a little bit of chippiness after the play," that's what they say. But it's a news story if an NFL player gets into a fight at a night club, because regular people want to think that rich people are all arrogant jerks, and professional athletes are an easy target for that.
This post has gone in every direction, so I'm going to grab one more story and call it a day. I'm sure most of you know all about the Plaxico Burress story, so I'm not going to bore you with the details. What I am going to mention, though, is this: from everything I've read and heard, it sounds like Antonio Pierce committed a serious crime. If the NFL doesn't punish him to at least the extent that McKinnie, Williams, and Williams have been punished, I'm going to move the Giants up to #1 on the list of teams I hate the most. Yes, I keep a list.
And more than likely, your team is on it.
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