12.10.07

Torched Smith Refuses Globe’s Offer Of A Do-Over

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 11:43 am by

The Boston Globe’s Jackie MacMullan on a Pittsburgh safety who managed to become, well, quite famous in the past week.

Long after a future Hall of Fame quarterback undressed him in front of a national audience, with touchdown bombs over his head and verbal bombs inches from his face, long after a raucous hometown Patriots crowd mocked him with a derisive cheer that sounded a bit like M-V-P, but upon further review was actually “Guar-an-tee,” young Pittsburgh safety Anthony Smith stood at his stall in the hush of the muted Steelers locker room yesterday and was offered a chance to rewrite history.

Smith is the second-year player who boldly – and foolishly – guaranteed the Steelers would win yesterday’s game against New England.

“Anthony,” I asked him, just minutes after New England shredded his team, 34-13, by scorching the secondary for 399 passing yards and four touchdowns, “If you could do it over, would you guarantee the win again?”

“Yes,” he answered. “I come out every game to win. In this league, if you walk into an arena planning to lose, you’re not a guy anyone will want to play with.”

Nobody can match New England’s ability to take the slightest perceived disrespect and transform it into a major – and personal – injustice. The Patriots relied on this tactic in Super Bowl XXXIX when loudmouth receiver Freddie Mitchell belittled their secondary. They worked themselves into a lather during last season’s playoffs when San Diego star Shawne Merriman predicted the Chargers would face the Jets, because they would beat the Patriots.

The latest victim of their motivational frenzy is Smith, the former Syracuse star whose aggressive defensive style was expertly exploited by the Patriots.

“We knew he plays that way, so we put some stuff to take advantage of that,” said receiver Jabar Gaffney (seven catches, 122 yards).

Patriots CD Ellis Hobbs is also a young, confident player who isn’t afraid to speak his mind or flaunt his abilities, yet he refused to be lumped in the company of Smith.

“I’ve said some things I’ve regretted,” Hobbs said, “but nothing to that degree. Nothing where I’ve gotten the whole East Coast ready for you, saying, ‘Come on over here so we can slap you around.’”

Perhaps this would’ve been a good time for some mature observer — Mike Tomlin? Jackie MacMullan? — to suggest that perhaps Smith is more naive than arrogant. His “guarantee” of a Pittsburgh win wasn’t volunteered out of the blue, it came from being questioned about the Steelers’ chances. Can we presume that if any members of the Jets profess to being scared shitless of facing the Pats next Sunday, MacMullan and colleagues will applaud their honesty rather than questioning their desire?

10 Responses to “Torched Smith Refuses Globe’s Offer Of A Do-Over”

  1. Lego says:

    EXACTLY. Why does the public love this shit? The guy made either a naive or really ballsy move. It’s not like he does this every week.

    I also love how the Patriots need to use this crap to get up for games(like the whole cheating thing, then feeling slighted by the media). You’re a professional athlete for Christ’s sake. You’re motivation for success comes from that paycheck you receive every week.

  2. Patrick says:

    Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, among others have been recognized as past masters of this technique. It can be seen on a broader basis in the “Nobody believed in us but the guys in this room.” speech you hear after every championship, playoff game, hell, even after “significant” regular season wins. Not having been a pro athlete (I know, hard to believe, Harry), I am just guessing, but I don’t think it serves as that much of a motivational edge. I think its for our benefit.

  3. GC says:

    “Your motivation for success comes from that paycheck you receive every week.”

    yeah, well, the Dolphins are getting paid every week, too, Lego. So are the New York Knick, I’m pretty sure.

    “bulletin board material” is one of the more tired cliches in sports (or sports media), but I’ll give New England this much — at least they’re actually getting up for the games. I figure the Pats win yesterday’s game with or without Smith’s comments. But I’d like to think that every now and then, the desire to win is almost as big as the desire to get paid. If the Hooded Casanova feeds his players a particularly stale brand of Kool-Aid, who am I to sneer if the formula works?

  4. Michael says:

    Lego just gave the Hooded Casanova even more fuel for the fire. This thread is probably being printed and posted to the bulletin board this very second.

  5. Lego says:

    GC,

    Let me modify that statement then:

    Your motivation for success SHOULD come from that paycheck you receive every week.

  6. Rog says:

    Lego, you’re not making much sense, especially since the Patriots didn’t sink down to the level of name-calling or guaranteeing their own win. They just went out and won. Is that a bad thing nowadays? Everybody’s on the ‘hate the Patriots’ bandwagon and why? Because they come prepared to play the game and bury the opponent? They’re not robots, asshole, they respond to stimuli like every other human being.

  7. Lego says:

    Rog,

    I see your reading comprehension ranks right up there with your understanding of basic electoral politics (see your comments on the Benesowitz post). Anyway, please show me where I stated my “hatred of the Patriots.” I actually like the Pats, but you can’t be bothered by that, can you?

    As far as them not sinking to Smith’s level:

    Did you see Brady get in his grill after the first TD? Do you think Tom was just asking him how the wife and kids were doing? What kind of car he’s driving these days? Did you see Moss start strutting to the endzone after he burned him? How about after the game, when Belichick took this shot at him:

    “We’ve played against a lot better safeties then him.”

    Look, I’ve got no problem with them using this as motivation. I would have respected them more if they had acted as if it didn’t matter to them, ignore him, crush him, move on to next week.

    By the way Rog, I may be an asshole, but you are a fucking donkey.

  8. Rog says:

    By the way Rog, I may be an asshole

    Right.

  9. Lego says:

    but you are STILL a fucking donkey.

  10. Rog says:

    If you’re referring to the size of my shaft, then yes, I am donkey-like.

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