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Old 05-26-2007, 01:01 PM   #1
lamberts-lost-tooth
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Default Patriots prove character doesn't count more than ability

Pro Football Weekly
Ron Borges
May 26, 2007

Without question, ?character? has become the most overused word in sports.

In life, character is an important thing, to be sure. It just has little or nothing to do with athletic performance. Not the real meaning of character, anyway.

There indeed might be something called ?sporting character,? which would be analogous to game speed as opposed to straight-line, sprinter?s speed. But character, as in making the hard choices in life, has won few Super Bowls.

Although we might wish it to be otherwise, great athletes do not perform well because they have more character than the average man or even the average opponent. They perform well because they have more skill or more physical gifts, or often both, than their opponent. If character were a profound issue on Draft Day, the seminaries and the Ivy League would produce a lot more NFL employees than the ACC, the SEC, the Pac-10 or the Big Ten.

Character, you see, like most everything the NFL says, is a relative thing. Character is certainly of importance when commissioner Roger Goodell makes clear there is a new sheriff in town and that this one will crack down on NFL lawlessness with a far harsher hand than his predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, ever did. But character becomes a relative thing when counterbalanced by factors like a 4.4 40-yard dash time or soft hands or a strong arm. The more you have any of the latter traits, the more ill-defined the word ?character? becomes.


Brandon Meriweather: This spring the Patriots have been questioned roundly about their Draft Day decisions to select troublesome Miami (Fla.) S Brandon Meriweather with their top pick and to deal their fourth-round selection to the Raiders for a once-brilliant but recently nonfactor of a wide receiver named Randy Moss.
Moss slipped noticeably himself on Draft Day nine years ago because of character issues but erased all those questions by playing brilliantly for the first six years of his career. Controversy, questionable actions off the field and effort on it, as well as some ill-advised comments, followed him to the Vikings, but so did touchdowns, 20-yard pass receptions and 1,000-yard seasons, and so character was suddenly replaced by, ?That Randy is quite a character.?

But the past three seasons, his play has slipped noticeably. In two of those seasons, including 2006, he fell short of 1,000 yards receiving, and after grabbing 20 catches of 20 yards or more per season in those first six years, that total slipped by half (10.6 per year, to be exact). Suddenly, Randy Moss now was taking plays off, and Randy Moss wouldn?t practice, and Randy Moss was a clubhouse cancer, and Randy Moss didn?t want to win.

Well, Randy Moss in ?06 wasn?t a whole lot different from Randy Moss in ?99 or ?01 or most other years ? with one noticeable exception. He wasn?t productive last season, having the worst year of his career and, in the opinion of many, quitting on his team, the hapless Raiders.

Moss might tell you that they quit before he did. He might even be right. Either way, Patriots coach Bill Belichick liberated him from a team that will not win any time soon and that was not going to pay him, and Belichick has given him a final chance to establish he has ?sporting character? ? which would mean he can produce another 1,000-yard season and double-digit touchdowns with Tom Brady throwing to him instead of Aaron Brooks. If he does, his status as an Eagle Scout will be of little interest to his public or to the Patriots.

Belichick is betting Moss will be on his best behavior because he has only a one-year contract for $3 million with another $2 million in bonus money if he hits certain numbers. In other words, for the first time in many years, Moss? present and future income will be locked into what he does this season rather than what he might have done some time in the distant past. This has a tendency to focus the mind, even a sometimes mercurial one like Moss?.

As for Meriweather, his greatest fame came from a near riot between the Hurricanes and some members of Florida International?s team last season. Meriweather was caught on video stomping one of his opponents as if he were auditioning for a Michael Flatley Irish step-dancing revue. That and the fact that Meriweather once pulled a gun on someone who was trying to shoot a friend of his and allegedly fired three shots in the guy?s direction in self-defense understandably caused some NFL folks to grow a bit worried about paying a large sum of money for his services.

The Patriots were not among them because (a) they needed a fast, young safety who will knock your block off; (b) they believed they had enough veterans with Super Bowl rings to keep both a rookie and a wayward wide receiver with questionable work habits in check; and (c) they, like everyone else, care a lot more about winning games than they do about winning a commendation from the Peace Corps.

Time will tell if they are right in those assessments, but Belichick believed it was a gamble worth taking, in part because he knows Moss has long been a front-runner who performs well when he is not the center of attention and when his team is winning. The Patriots believe they have enough weapons where Moss can be just another armament rather than the secret weapon, and enough talent to win with or without him. They just believe they have a better chance to win with him, so they made the trade.

New England believes the same about Meriweather, which is why the Patriots drafted him. If that impacts upon their public persona as a team that does things differently, so be it, because the fact is that they really don?t.

As long as they win, they know nobody really will care about anything else, because in professional sports, character issues only become real issues when the wins stop and the losses begin.
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Old 05-26-2007, 01:08 PM   #2
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Default Re: Patriots prove character doesn't count more than ability

Funny how the Bengals didn't enter into Borges' article at all. Borges basically makes the claim that character doesn't matter at all, and I disagree. Exhibit A being the Bengals and the problems they have had with talented, but troubled players.

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As long as they win, they know nobody really will care about anything else, because in professional sports, character issues only become real issues when the wins stop and the losses begin.
I agree with this statement in principle, however, there comes a point when a lack of character leading to the arrests of team members becomes enough of a distraction that the losses begin to mount as a result. The Bengals' 2006 season is a perfect example.
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Old 05-26-2007, 01:36 PM   #3
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Default Re: Patriots prove character doesn't count more than ability

For those who aren't aware - Wrong Borges is one of the most anti-Patriots writers (or specifically anti-Belichick) in the Boston area.

He was recently persuaded to 'retire' because he was caught plagiarising whole portions of other sports journalists work and passing it off as his own.

Thats a little 'background' on the guy.

As far as this article goes, its of the type that makes me think I (and many others) could easily perform the job of 'sports writer'.

Most of the Moss observations , while true, have been flying round the NFL media ever since the Patriots made the trade - there is nothing new enough, or intersting enough, to warrant re-hashing it all over again.

The Brandon Merriweather situation falls victim to the writer using sensationalist terms/langauge in order to paint a pictire of a guy.

The mentioning of the gun incident for eample, Merriweather was totally cleared of any wrong doing yet it still features in a segment regarding 'player character'.

For years, the media has force fed the public a steady diet of BS about the Patriots and their band of untalented, high character guys - I say BS because these guys didn't win those past SB's by just being good team mates - they won it by being able to execute better than the other team on the day.

The Patriots look for guys who are willing to buy into the team ethic, which has nothing to do with being an angel off or on the field.

Selfish, egotistical displays will not be tolerated - and that applies whether you are Reche Caldwell or Randy Moss.

Time to find a new day job, Borges.
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The Patriots didn't bother with swagger to start this NFL season; they went straight to defiant. Either you're one of them or you're about to get crushed.
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Old 05-26-2007, 01:38 PM   #4
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Default Re: Patriots prove character doesn't count more than ability

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Originally Posted by fansince'76 View Post
Funny how the Bengals didn't enter into Borges' article at all. Borges basically makes the claim that character doesn't matter at all, and I disagree. Exhibit A being the Bengals and the problems they have had with talented, but troubled players.



I agree with this statement in principle, however, there comes a point when a lack of character leading to the arrests of team members becomes enough of a distraction that the losses begin to mount as a result. The Bengals' 2006 season is a perfect example.
A fine point 76.

The term 'character' is pretty vague in its usage in the NFL - you put a bunch of guys who'll put their bodies on the line for the team and each other and you are half way to a good team.

Employ a bunch of immature, ill-disciplined egomaniacs and you get....well...the Bengals.
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They've been great for a while now, three Super Bowls' worth of great. But only this season have the New England Patriots become The Show, the must-see team of stars, pretty boys and reformed bad boys. Suddenly, the Patriots are not simply great; they're compelling, fascinating, appearing to be almighty and a touch lawless.
The Patriots didn't bother with swagger to start this NFL season; they went straight to defiant. Either you're one of them or you're about to get crushed.
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Old 05-26-2007, 02:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: Patriots prove character doesn't count more than ability

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Originally Posted by Livinginthe past View Post
A fine point 76.

The term 'character' is pretty vague in its usage in the NFL - you put a bunch of guys who'll put their bodies on the line for the team and each other and you are half way to a good team.

Employ a bunch of immature, ill-disciplined egomaniacs and you get....well...the Bengals.
I about spit my cofee up when I saw that the writer failed to mention the bengals and make the contrast between the two teams....thanks for the background LITP...makes more sense now.
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Old 05-26-2007, 03:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Patriots prove character doesn't count more than ability

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I about spit my cofee up when I saw that the writer failed to mention the bengals and make the contrast between the two teams....thanks for the background LITP...makes more sense now.
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