What if we could get over ourselves? Isn’t it about time we realized that as Proverbs says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace”?
I was watching the NFL playoffs on television this weekend and witnessed two players for the Cincinnati Bengals basically end their team’s playoffs with a pair of selfish penalties.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict was flagged for a personal foul when he struck a defenseless receiver in the head with a vicious shot following an incomplete pass near midfield in the game’s final seconds. Then his teammate Adam “Pacman” Jones, gave the Steelers another 15 yards with a second flag during the scrum that ensued as he went after one of the Steeler’s coaches on the field and argued with the officials.
I don’t know Vontaze Burfict. I’ve seen him on TV, it seems equally divided between highlights of his amazing athletic achievements and replays of his rule-breaking and illegal physical assaults of fellow players on the field.
With his team on the cusp of downing the hated Pittsburg Steelers and ending a seven-game playoff losing streak dating back to 1991, Burfict selfishly washed that all down the drain with his actions. On a play that was clearly an incomplete pass, the linebacker saw his chance to release some of his anger that had beenbrewing all game long, quite visibly, on and off the field. The Steeler’s All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown was fortunate to suffer only a concussion, when Burfict hit him in the helmet with a cheap shot, that was an obvious penalty.
If it weren’t bad enough that the play obviously was aimed at injuring the receiver, Burfict let his temper get the best of him at the absolutely least-opportune moment for his 52 teammates, his coaching staff, and team ownership who pays his salary.
To make things worse, his terrible decision was made in front of 63,000 plus fans at Paul Brown Stadium and another 31.2 million television viewers according to Nielsen ratings.
Pittsburg was out of field goal range, out of timeouts, and had just 18 seconds left with the ball at the 47-yard line.
The penalty moved the ball to the 32-yard line, which would have made for a 49-yard field goal attempt. NFL kickers made 68% of such kicks during the season, about rainy, windy conditions definitely would have made this more like a 50/50 proposition.
But after one penalty flag gave Pittsburg life, a second yellow hanky put the icing on the cake. Packman Jones, he of the multiple arrests, suspensions and on-field altercations, lost is cool once again and argued with the officials and a member of the Steelers coaching staff who was inexplicably on the field during the injury timeout, and turned it into a chip shot 35-yard game winning field goal for the Steelers.
Bengals fans didn’t help their cause, as many embraced the embarrassing play of their players, supporting it by tossing debris on the field and cheering when Steelers players were injured. The Cincinnati police report following the game revealed six arrests were made of fans, three Bengals and three Steelers. At least two incidents involved men punching women, and another case included one fan urinating on another.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t rank the play, sportsmanship or professionalism of the Pittsburgh team much higher. Linebacker Ryan Shazier knocked out Bengals running back Giovani Bernard with a vicious helmet-first hit and showed zero regard for his counterparts health, instead strutting around on the sidelines with several of his teammates, taunting the fans and dancing around like a proud peacock.
I’m sorry folks, but some things are more important than winning. Does anyone else find this type of behavior embarrassing? Isn’t it about time we start acting our age? Another Proverb spells it out best – “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds back.” Unfortunately it seems like instances such as this are becoming the norm. I fully expect a political debate in the not-to-distant future to turn into an episode of WWE Smackdown with chair-smashing professional wrestling moves that will crown the winner with the championship belt as well as the next presidency.