Four NFL players are currently visiting US troops in the Persian Gulf. The players are Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Vikings defender Jared Allen, Rams linebacker Will Witherspoon and Giants linebacker Danny Clark. They will meet with troops throughout the Persian Gulf region this week, continuing a tradition established by the NFL over 40 years ago. The progaram was developed in 1966 with several players visiting U.S. troops in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf.
Two more players probably should have gone on the trip – Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. Seeing our soldiers serving in their life and death commitment to their country might have gone a long way to creating a sense of balance and responsibility that appears to be lacking in the current makeup of each player.
When Marshall can’t walk away from an argument that has gone public and Cutler is unable to recognize that he is paid to play, not to dictate what the front offices around the league do in legitimate negotiations, even if those negotiations hurt his feelings, perhaps they should consider looking at what other people do in their professional life.
Being highly paid to play a children’s game at an incredibly high level is a privilege, but ti's not a right. The NFL players are paid very well for that skill, and that’s as it should be. They are very talented entertainers. But they are both (Cutler and Marshall) employees, and the organizations, the NFL proper and the individual team, that they work for have both standards of conduct and systems of negotiation. Those are in accordance with the NFL charter and the agreements of the NFL Players Association.
Marshall continues to require counseling and may be seeing a substantial suspension. He easily loses sight of his own life responsibilities and obligations and may be dangerous to his own well being in the sense that he is headed for a level of professional trouble that could end his career a la Pacman Jones.
As for Cutler, can any of us imagine the following conversation?
“Jack, I’d like you to come into my office and talk about the problems between us that have come up.”
“No, boss, I don’t feel like it. My feelings are hurt, and I refuse to have a polite conversation regarding it. I’m going to make my unhappiness known around the company and the profession, too.”
Right? You would be fired, and for good reason. Cutler is under contract, very talented, and the Broncos will not fire him, but if he continues in this vein he may have to be traded. Regardless of whether McDaniels behaved reasonably (perhaps not) and whether or not he has been accurate in his statements (probably not, but I wasn’t there) he is the head coach of the team and Jay works for him.
I appreciate the contributions of both players, want the best for them and hope that they resolve their presonal issues. Yet these behaviors smack of NFL prima donna-hood in very big ways. Both individuals need to begin to recognize their roles in the professional community and accept the restrictions that this places on their personal lives.
Perhaps seeing the commitment of those who place their lives on the line in their professional lives would do both of them some good.