Ocho-T.O. aren’t punks

29 07 2010

When you think about all the NFL players who get into trouble with the law every year it starts to make Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco seem less harmless.

Both players might have reputations as headache cases, and now that they’re on the same team it might become all the rage for NFL fans to feel sympathy for Carson Palmer and how he’ll manage them on and off the field. (You shouldn’t, though, because Palmer is in the midst of a $119 million deal that pays him to hold this kind of responsibility.) Yet T.O. and Chad aren’t bad guys.

Each has been an incredibly productive wide receiver during his career. Each stays generally healthy and seemingly plays as hard as a wide receiver can. (Every guy takes plays off here and there.) While their personalities are at times divisive, especially in T.O.’s case, fans don’t always appreciate all the personality conflicts that likely exist on every team.

I just finished reading Sam Smith’s The Jordan Rules, which documented the soap opera of a season with the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan was portrayed, I’m assuming realistically, as a selfish diva. Scottie Pippen was an enigma who just hadn’t matured. Horace Grant was thin-skinned to criticism and bitter that MJ and Pippen took the majority of the team’s shots every game. Every other player seemed to have some sort of conflict with someone else during the season. But they co-existed and won a title, the first of three for that particular team.

I liked how Smith reviewed his experience at the end of the book. He noted that anytime you get a group of well-paid men in their 20s and 30s on one team, with their egos and aggressive personalities having to live with each other for the length of a season, conflict is always likely to arise. Same case with T.O. and Chad. Conflict will always be there. But they don’t ever seem to get arrested.

Perhaps there have been instances in which they were let out of compromising situations. All we have to go off of is that T.O. and Chad aren’t Michael Irvin. You don’t see them getting caught in a hotel room with cocaine and strippers. They’re certainly not Rae Carruth, getting caught trying to kill a woman who got pregnant. T.O. and Chad are largely harmless when you consider that they don’t get in trouble with the law.

What Carson Palmer has to do is ensure their egos can work with each other, and that they don’t potentially pull the locker room apart with their occasional selfish tendencies. In other words, Palmer has the job this season of a normal NFL quarterback.

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