I’ve got a question on my mind this afternoon. It’s this: Who, exactly, is the stupidest man in the NFL? Is it Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith, who, it appears has lived up to the criticisms I leveled in my post a few days ago and pissed away an entire season (should I have gone with the let a season go up in smoke pun, instead?) of what would seem to be an increasingly brief NFL career? Is it Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who apparently will be sitting out the 2005 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in a dumb-ass motorcycle accident? Or is it Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban, who apparently is actually interested in bringing Ricky Williams back to his team? Or is Ben Roethlisberger and Tommy Maddox, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ committed helmetless motorcyclist quarterbacks?
It’s a tough call, really. But let’s look at this stuff case by case and see if we can’t come to some conclusion.
Let’s start with Smith, mostly because I can get through his situation quickly, having said most of what I had to say in my last post. The thing of the thing is that this guy is now gonna spend an entire year watching football on TV — and his team, which looks like it could actually make a run at the Super Bowl this season, is gonna be short one very potent offensive weapon — all because Onterrio, who’d already served a four-week suspension last season for smoking dope, couldn’t put his career and his commitment to his team ahead of momentary pleasures. That’s pretty fucking sad for Onterrio. It should be a wake up call to the Vikes. Yeah, he’s talented, but you’ve gotta divorce yourself of this loser, because he’s gonna get himself kicked out of the league for life eventually, and if you’ve got him under contract when that happens, you’re gonna be left holding the bag. (The puns won’t stop!)
You know, as I’ve said before, I think it’s absurd and improper for the NFL to have a policy on players smoking pot. If it doesn’t enhance performance, it should be between the guy and his team. But that’s neither here nor there. The policy exists. And this kid has shown that he can’t live within it, even with millions of dollars on the line. He’s a loss, Vikings. You have plenty of depth at RB (though I’d argue no one on the team has Smith’s raw talent). You should let him go smoke dope and try to come back elsewhere if another team will give him a chance (note to Al Davis: don’t even think about it, bub), but get rid of him as soon as it makes cap sense to do so. Odds are easily 9 to 1 you’ll be glad you did.
As for Winslow, well, earlier this week I was thinking maybe he deserves a bit of a break. Yeah, he’s about to miss an entire season. And, yeah, that means the highly paid 2004 first round draft pick (actually, he’s bigger than that — the Browns gave up a second round selection to move up and get him) will have played in exactly two games in the two years since he signed a six-year deal worth $40 million (though it appears it’ll be far less now, since the Browns will probably be taking back a big chunk of his signing bonus, which is, incidentally, virtually the only guaranteed money an NFL contract includes). But the 14 games Winslow missed in the 2004 season were the result of a football injury, so you can’t attribute all of his problems to stupidity as you can with Smith.
Then it came out that the accident in which Kellen tore his ACL took place not while he was simply riding a motorcycle, but while he and some buddies were attempting to do tricks on motorcycles. They’d been to see a stunt riding show and, it appears, decided to do some stunt riding of their own. That’s the kind of decision you’d expect from a bunch of 10-year-olds on bicycles. That’s some kind of stupidity, especially considering that this guy is at least supposed to be a professional athlete, someone who should know intimately that just because you see a pro do something that doesn’t mean you should conclude you could do it yourself. (Of course, as noted Winslow’s experience with pro sports is pretty limited.)
Winslow, who’s dad was a great NFL player, apparently was more than a bit of a headcase in college. And it’s looking like he remains a bit of a headcase more than a year out of school. Looks like he thinks he’s indestructible, despite significant evidence to the contrary. He’d best shape up and start acting like a pro, though, because even if this shit doesn’t kill him, it will destroy his career. And I’m certain it’s not making a good impression on new Browns coach Romeo Crennel, who knows full well from his experience as Patriots’ defensive coordinator that there’s no player you can’t do without, and a few you can’t do with.
Then there’s Saban, who would do well to take a close look at what’s going on with Onterrio Smith before he seriously entertains thoughts of bringing Williams back to the Dolphins. Forget that Williams royally fucked his team by deciding to retire out of the blue on the eve of the 2004 season. Forget that the guys who remain on that team, and who had to suffer through an awful season without Williams (though Ricky’s absence certainly wasn’t entirely to blame for Miami’s troubles last season) can’t possibly be happy about the idea of having to share a locker room with this flake again. Forget that for all his enormous talent, this guy clearly isn’t committed enough to the game to remain worth the money (and cap space) you’d have to commit to him if he were to return. Just consider the fact that this is another young man who has demonstrated an inability to discontinue getting stoned long enough to have an NFL career, even though he knows he’s putting his future, and his team’s fortunes, on the line every time he sucks in a bong hit. Is that someone you want playing for you, Nick? Is it? Really?
And finally, the helmet-free brigade down in Pittsburgh. Are these guys for real? They wear helmets to play football, but not to ride motorcycles? What the fuck is that all about? And the best part of it is, they don’t even seem to think it’s a real safety issue. Witness Maddox’s ridiculous comments in that ESPN.com story, which include this: “You have to look at life, obviously you have to be smart, and I try to be smart because I have a wife and two kids, not because I’m playing a game.”
Maddox tries to be smart, he says, because he has a wife and two kids. He has a wife and two kids. And he’s riding around on a motorcycle with no fucking helmet. And that’s being smart. Because, probably, he has tons and tons of money in the bank. And big life insurance and disability policies. So if he comes off the bike and smashes his head into meat sauce, his wife and two kids will be taken care of financially. Or if he comes off the bike and puts a giant, non-fatal dent in his cranium, his wife and two kids will be able to put him in a nice nursing home, or hire good help to wheel him around and wipe his drool and his ass. Well, that’s OK, then. Because smart wouldn’t amount to making decisions that will let your wife have someone to grow old with and your kids to have a functioning dad around, would it? I mean, that’d be asking way too much. Fucking idiot. Maddox, you may try to be smart, but you fail. Wanna know why? It’s because you are a giant fucking idiot. (And you know what else? Adults are called Tom or Thomas, not fucking Tommy. Jackass.)
As for you, Roethlisberger, Jesus, son, you’re a year out of college. You just had the best rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history. You could very well have an incredible career out in front of you. You almost certainly have a very nice life out in front of you if you make a few decent decisions. But here’s the deal: A strip of pavement is going to knock something very different from sense into your thick skull. You’ve gotta take care of the sense bit yourself. But I bet you won’t. Because I bet you’re just as fucking stupid as Maddox.
Have I reached a conclusion about who’s the dumbest? Not so much. You? Go ahead. Take your pick. I won’t argue with you either way. Because the truth of the matter is that these guys are probably all the dumbest. And I guarantee you, there are 100 guys lined up behind them waiting to get into the competition. Just you wait and see.