Wednesday, March 4

Big babies

No matter how much I remind myself that professional athletes live in a bubble, millionaires isolated from the real world by money and fame, it's still hard to believe how childish they can be sometimes. Two recent cases in the NFL illustrate this point.

One involves the Browns' own Shaun Rogers, who reportedly wants out of his deal (which has 5 years remaining), over a non-incident where new coach Eric Mangini didn't say hi to him at a sports banquet. Wow, dude, get over yourself. Rogers is also apparently upset that the team gave him a directive on maintaining his weight around 360 pounds, but even that's not grounds for demanding a trade or release. You know, Shaun, it's kind of important to the team that you keep a reasonable weight. Doesn't seem like such a crazy demand to me.

Of course, Rogers and his agent have emphasized that the conflict is "not about money," which can mean one thing and one thing only: it's about money. Rogers undoubtedly saw that huge deal Albert Haynesworth got and wants him a piece of that as well. The good news for Browns fans is that the team is under no obligation to release Rogers, nor should they do so, considering his value to the team. The bad news is that Rogers has a reputation for not being the hardest-working guy in the league, and lingering unhappiness over his contract situation (again, for those of you in the real world, he has $15 million guaranteed for the next two seasons) might spill over into performance. Let's hope not.

The other case involves Denver QB Jay Cutler, and, I can't believe I'm saying this, may actually not be about money. The situation is this: new Denver coach Josh McDaniels was actively pursuing trade talks that would have sent Cutler to Tampa Bay and brought former New England QB Matt Cassel to Denver as his replacement. The trade didn't happen, but word got out and now Cutler is refusing to speak with team management, saying that he's "upset and shocked" at hearing his name come up in trade discussions.

Oh, come on, Jay Cutler. Player names come up in trade discussions all the time. Shaq very nearly got traded twice in two years. You're not Shaq. You're good, yes, but still 17-20 as a starter, not exactly untouchable material. I can understand you wanting to stay in Denver (well, not really, but hypothetically), but you're going to have to accept the fact that teams are always examining trade possibilities in an effort to improve their rosters. It's senseless to take these things personally. Plus, and I stress this, the trade didn't happen. Cassel went to the Chieves. You're still the Bronco QB! You haven't been fired and you didn't take a pay cut - nothing's changed. So try to be a man and maybe say hi to your boss on the telephone.

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