Photo Courtesy Boston.com
Ask and ye shall receive I guess. I post today saying there’s nothing to talk about and bam, here’s a fresh story to talk about.
If you read this article on ESPN.com and this article on boston.com you’ll read about the Ted Johnson story that’s running around the news. Unbelievably, Ted Johnson appears to blame Belichick for the woes in his life. What Ted Johnson doesn’t understand is that BB never has run his life, therefore he’s not responsible for the decisions Ted makes.
First, I concede I’ve never played a second of pro football, nor do I understand what it’s like to get a concussion. Having said that, I have to completely disagree with Ted Johnson and call him out for being a punk, blaming the Patriots/Belichick for his current predicament. When it comes to a persons well being, there’s only one person that’s in control of that situation, and that’s the person themself. If Ted didn’t feel comfortable playing, to the point where he could suffer another concussion, he should have said no. But putting pride in front of his well being, he assumed the responsibility for his injuries.
A lot of you may feel I’m being irrational for siding with Belichick on this matter. You have to look at the entire picture to see why I’m siding with him. The players have to understand they accept certain risk when they play football. For an inside linebacker, a position all about causing collisions, that risk is exceptionally high. But Ted Johnson took that risk along with the generous 5 year, 25 million dollar contract he signed back in 97 or 98, and continued to play.
But of course, big bad Bill Belichick made him play with a concussion apparently. In the article, he explains BB “challenged” him to play by putting a full contact jersey in his locker, rather than a red one, indicating no contact. So when Ted was presented with the jersey, he decided to play, instead of pulling himself out of practice. His logic was explained, and I understand where he’s coming from. It’s a difficult, something I’m glad I don’t have to deal with, but I don’t feel he made the right one.
In the NFL, there are serious consequences to being labeled “soft,” or “injury prone.” Some guys, most guys, don’t get more than one chance. The moment you get labeled an oft injured guy (remember Terry She Glenn?) you have to bust your ass to remove that label, if you ever can. The consequences are two fold, because you gain a reputation and lose respect in the lockerroom, you can also suffer financially, being considered a risk. Playing through pain is part of the deal in the NFL, and that’s what Ted did, as he thought he should.
The problem, and why blame squares solely on Ted Johnson, is that he needs to watch out for himself first, especially if he’s suffering a head injury. As bad as it sounds, BB’s job is not to babysit players who get hurt; players get hurt all the time. BB’s job is to win, and to dress the guys he needs to give him the best chance to win. Coaches, BB included, have to walk a fine line with their players. You need to motivate/pressure/push your players to the brink every week. If you can’t get your players to do that, you won’t win for long. BB can push his players, and a guy like Pete Carroll cannot. Because of that pushing, motivating, and pressuring, sometimes you push guys too far. But the cost is great for a coach; if you can’t win, you don’t last long. BB knows this, and that’s part of the reason why he’s a three-time Super Bowl winner.
Don’t get me wrong. The situation Ted Johnson is in is terrible. He’s going through serious problems in his life, all likely stemming from these concussions. In one of those articles some Patriots officials state he’s been dealing with emotional issues even before the concussions, but I’ll still give him the benefit of the doubt. My problem is it’s pretty weak of anyone, including Ted Johnson, to place blame on someone else. This situation sucks, and no one should have to deal with it. But the fact of the matter is in the end you need to be responsible for yourself. If Ted Johnson truly was worried about the consequences of multiple concussions, he first wouldn’t have played football, but second, would’ve done a better job handling the situations he was in. I feel it was a lack of wisdom on his part that put him in this predicament in the first place. It’s easy to blame others, who may have been able to help you, but really, in the end, you need to be able to help yourself.
Ted Johnson was a great player and a fantastic Patriot. I truly hope he can find help and get well.