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KERBER: Athletes, What Are You Thinking? Better Yet, Start Thinking!

Chris Kerber
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Getty / Jamie Squire

Getty / Jamie Squire

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – One of the all-time greatest quotes and maybe philosophy in life is’ “Better to keep your mouth shut and thought the fool than open it and erase all doubt.”

I can think of no better place for this to find use right now than NFL.  I understand free speech. I am all for things that provoke good thought and conversation.  I am for comments that challenge you to think and maybe discover a different perspective.  The reality though, is speech can hurt.  It can be powerfully moving and inspirational and also devastatingly destructive and damaging.  Understanding that, there’s still plenty of room in there for pure stupidity, and the free speech argument opens the door to point out that stupidity.

Three specific incidents jump out at you recently.  While all three involve the NFL, we know moments like this are not one sport specific.

Example 1:

Most recently, within 2 days of Osama bin Laden, Rashard Mendenhall decides to tweet “What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…”

Do I even need to respond to this?  I think I understand what he is trying to say, but how in the hell can anyone justify any insinuation of another plausible side to the story when it comes to the atrocities inflicted on innocent people by bin Laden?  While he may have a bigger point to make, what possibly could Mendenhall have been thinking when he decided 140 characters or less would give his dumb comment any possible legitimacy for real thought?  Did he think his comment would smack in the face of anyone who lost someone in the 9/11 attacks?  Never mind.  I can’t think of a reason that justifies what he is saying, and his poor choice of vehicles to do so, eliminates me from even caring where he was coming from.

Example 2:

This example isn’t insensitive, but a great example of not thinking things through.  During draft weekend, Green Bay running back Ryan Grant decided to take offense at the newest drafted members into the NFL for hugging and looking happy around Commissioner Roger Goodell.  Again, via twitter, Grant was quotes as saying (via ESPN.com article) “It’s really baffling for me to see these young guys hugging the commissioner with everyone that has gone on in past months…I absolutely want these guys to enjoy this night.. They worked their butts off to get to this point But to hug the man who… Literally is leading the campaign for taking money out your pocket doesn’t sit well with me …I might be wrong… But def happy for them.”

Do we need to show the lack of thought here again?  First of all both the NFL and the NFL PA want to limit what rookies can sign for so basically Grant is one of the guys wanting to take money out of the rookie’s pockets.  Secondly, was he even watching what was going on?  Where were the tweets condemning Marshall Faulk, Aeneas Williams, Andre Tippett and the other former players that were more than happy to be up on stage with the commissioner for the second round?  Don’t those guys have a better understanding of what is really going on than the college kids?  Don’t those guys have a responsibility to support what the NFLPA wants to do?  Where was the venom towards those guys?  He said in his tweet he might be wrong….He was.

Example 3:

This example rates right up there with Mendenhall’s, but may have been even more foolish.  Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson decided to compare the NFL to “Modern Day Slavery”.  Now this one is simple.  Can anyone explain to me where Peterson is forced to play football? Can someone explain to me where the millions he is being paid even puts this in the same boat as slavery?  My simple advice to Peterson, because I can’t even get myself to give this any more rational thought, is to quit.  Please stop playing football.  No one wants you to feel like a slave every Sunday afternoon.  You have a choice.  Use it.  You don’t need to be hidden and face any kind of danger to earn your freedom.  You simply have to walk away and be done with it.  Somehow I don’t think you will take that route.

The NFL should take these three examples and make sure players learn from them.  Teach tem that twitter and other forms of social media are immediate and thinking afterwards rather than before hand is not the best game plan.  Before we get yet another example to add to the list (and another example will come sooner than later) please remind your players of this.  While this country does afford the right of free speech, it also affords them the right to think before speaking.  Maybe if that’s done just a bit more, we won’t have to ask you, “What were you thinking?”

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