Maybe I'm too insensitive, but I'm having a hard time understanding why the Terrell Owens "spitting incident" is such a big deal. T.O. was fined $35,000 for spitting on Falcons defensive back D'Angelo Hall. Hall wanted him suspended. Former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin went on record saying it's the worst possible thing you can do to a player on the football field.
I know it's degrading. I know it's inappropriate. I know it's ignorant. But, the worst possible thing you can do to a player?
I never played professional football, but I did play in high school and college. I've been punched, bitten and scratched. I've been grabbed in inappropriate places. I've been chop-blocked below the knees. I've been clipped. I've had my facemask yanked. And, yes, I've been spit on. And frankly, the spitting doesn't rank very high on the list. It made me mad, and it was disgusting, but I wiped it off and went on beating the poor sap between the whistles.
I talked extensively with Eric Williams about this issue. Williams played ten years in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins. He said what T.O. did was extremely uncool.
"It's a dirty enough game to get turf burns and have people chewing tobacco, and all the stuff you get from the astro turf," Williams said, "and to have someone spit in your face, that's a rough one. It doesn't happen often, or it happens more and people just don't complain about it, but it was uncalled for."
Interesting point there. "It happens more and people just don't complain about it." Isn't that what the NFL is all about? This is the most violent sport a person can play. Dirty, violent and mean things happen all the time.
"People do rude stuff on the field," Williams added. "They hit where they shouldn't hit, they stomp on people with cleats, they spit, they gouge, they poke people in the eye. It's a violent sport, and when you get those emotions going, people do crazy stuff."
Don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning that kind of behavior, but I'm also not saying it doesn't have a place in the sport. Players with attitudes like Michael Irvin wouldn't have made it in the "old school" NFL. In the "glory days" of the NFL, the 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, players ripped your helmet off, kicked you, spit on you, then went back to the huddle to do it all over again on the next play. If you couldn't handle it, you got off the field. It wasn't a game for sissies.
I'm from that school. Hand the ball to the ref after you score a touchdown. Play the game with ferocity, as if your life depended on it. Hit, bite, scratch, claw... do whatever it takes to get the job done. If you get spit on, no, *when you get spit on, give the jerk a cold stare, wipe it off, go back to the huddle, and pop the guy in the mouth as hard as you can during the next play, and the next play, and the next play, until he regrets ever playing the sport. And, if you can't handle it, go play tennis.