Funny how winning changes things.
Terrell Owens was a “confident” wide receiver when he came back early from a broken leg to star for the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX in February 2005.
A year later, he’s what we always thought he was – a selfish, egotistical crybaby who is the equivalent of the Ebola virus for team chemistry. The difference is that one was the only player who showed up in the big game, the other was on a team that finished 6-10 while doing crunches in his driveway during a press conference.
With the recent Miami-Florida International melee, it got me thinking. I’d love to get on my moral high horse and berate the players and call for mass dismissals and suspensions, but that would be boring.
I intend to indict the sports culture as a whole. Why? We love winners, and will overlook inexcusable behavior in order to facilitate or glamorize them whenever possible. The University of Miami is a prime example.
Let’s think about this for a second; Miami has been doing this type of thing for the better part of three decades now. The difference is that Miami used to brawl with Florida State, not Florida International.
It started in the mid-’80s with Jimmy Johnson as head coach and continued under Dennis Erickson. As the team ascended to dominance, (winning a national title in 1987 under Johnson and 1989 and 1991 under Erickson), a bunch of off-field and gridiron-related offenses followed.
Miami had become notorious for trash talking and doing things in pre-game warm-ups that you would only see in a Mighty Ducks sequel.
Things like dancing on the center of the opposing team’s field.
With the exception of a few, many analysts and players called it the Miami “swagger.” A supreme confidence in their ability, a way to get hyped up before a game.
The off-field problems were abundant as well, the most infamous being the pay-for-play (1986-92) scandal involving Luther Campbell of “Me so Horny” fame. Note: If you are taking money from anyone in 2 Live Crew, you are probably getting pimped in one way or another.
Almost everything was overlooked because Miami was dominant, cockiness was swagger, and disrespect came to be expected from the kings of college football.
All of the sudden in the mid-90s, “The U” stopped attracting the Michael Irivins and Warren Sapps and started getting the Yatil Greens of the world. The result – a gaggle of Miami teams that were mediocre on the field and even worse off it. Swagger turned into arrogance, culminating in a 1995 cover by Sports Illustrated, calling for the dismissal of the program.
Enter head coach Butch Davis. Miami sends the better part of both Pro Bowl teams to the NFL from 1995-2001, including Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis and Andre Johnson.
Davis won a BCS national title in 2001 and all things were right in the Miami universe. No longer was Miami arrogant – they had that “swagger” that the teams from the ’80s and early ’90s had. Granted, there were no riots like this past Saturday, but that attitude still prevailed.
Well, things are looking like they did a decade ago.
Miami is no longer the super power it once was.
I’m not making an excuse for the events of Saturday night. It looked like a full-blown riot, but it seems there is a double standard in place here.
I guarantee that if Miami was undefeated and ranked in the top 25, this would be an “unfortunate incident.” As it stands, Miami is out of the top 25 for the first time since 1999, and this is the a “stain on college football.”
The behavior that incited the brawl has been going on – both on and off the field – for more than 20 years and garnered mild criticism at best. If you are going to set a precedent for curbing bad behavior, do it for a national champion as well as a team that has fallen off the map.
That would set an example.