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NFL Unfiltered Week 13: Jovan Belcher, Chiefs, Eagles, and more

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Several weeks ago, Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive tackle Eric Winston publicly chastised Arrowhead Stadium fans for booing injured quarterback Matt Cassel as he lie motionless on the field.  
 
His impassioned rant served to remind us that football players aren’t gladiators, they’re human beings.  He demanded we remember they are far more than robots, that they’re actual people with lives and families away from the game.  

If that is the case, why did they vote to play football hours after learning of fallen linebacker Jovan Belcher’s heinous deeds?  Is it the play at all costs mentality that players are seemingly born with?  Is it that players’ identities are so wrapped up in their occupation they don’t know any other way to respond?    
Jovan Belcher photo: usatoday.com
Winston and his ilk leave me thoroughly confused.  When his quarterback is knocked out during a game we’re expected to treat him like a regular guy.  But when another teammate murders a young woman, then blows his brains out at team headquarters, we’re supposed to laud the team’s ability to “man up.”  

Forgive me, but I have difficulty making that distinction.  I’d prefer to view pro athletes, including football players, as men first but their incessant need to muddle through the worst circumstances suggest they aren’t real at all.  How else do you explain it?  How many civilians could function normally after being so close to such a tragedy?  

The truth is NFL players want us to view them differently.  And more importantly, they view themselves differently.  That’s why they play through a myriad of injuries.  That’s why they leave the game with fewer than ten fingers like hall-of-famer Ronnie Lott.  They see themselves as tough guys and tough guys don’t pause to reflect on events like what transpired last Saturday.  Tough guys play.   
 
Throughout the weekend I heard many different people from several media outlets say, “well, the Kansas City Chiefs’ players voted to play the game so who are we to say they shouldn’t play?”  The simple answer is people (even pro football players) cannot be expected to make wise or prudent decisions when they are in crisis.  They tend to react emotionally or even irrationally.  

To play or not to play after a teammate’s murder-suicide should have sent a signal to leadership.  It shouldn’t have been a choice for the 53-man squad and it certainly shouldn’t have been decided by head coach Romeo Crennel or GM Scott Pioli, both of whom witnessed Belcher’s last act.  

Instead, Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt, commissioner Roger Goodell or even the NFL players’ association needed to protect the team from itself.  But as usual in pro football’s culture, they came up small.  The fact the Chiefs’ actually won the game is irrelevant.    

Someone needed the foresight to see the entire landscape and recognize it was in the players’ best interest to take the weekend off.  I ask you: do you think you’d be ready to conduct business of any kind if a friend murdered the mother of his children then took his own life?  Do you think you could administrate the productivity of a group of individuals one day after watching someone put a bullet in his head?  

I have never witnessed the violent death of another human being and hopefully I never will.  But if I ever do, I hope someone cares enough about me to insist I take some time to deal with it.  

The Kansas City Chiefs’ players and front office needed leadership and were instead led astray.

WEEK 13 OBSERVATIONS
What the pundits can’t or won’t say
Drew Brees photo: tshq.co
Drew Brees’ throws as many high passes as Michael Vick and is often just as reckless.  

The 49ers might be the league’s deepest team but I’m beginning to wonder if they’re also the dumbest.

I don’t care how freakishly athletic the likes of Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick are, super hero plays can’t be the staple of the offense.

The three most important people in any organization are the talent evaluator, quarterback and head coach, in that order.  Every bad team in the league is has question marks at those positions.  

I wonder if Andy Reid and Jeffrey Lurie have nothing more than a business relationship.  It’s either that or Lurie is a terrible friend.

I stand corrected; Alex Smith will most certainly find another job.  

Pete Carroll is now 54-54 in 108 career NFL games.  He must be a really nice guy because he has mastered the art of mediocrity, but nobody seems to notice.

Ken Whisenhunt proves once again there are no geniuses coaching in the NFL.  There are only those who have talent and those who don’t.

Eagles’ fans don’t want to hear this, but if you really look at the situation honestly, it isn’t the most attractive head coaching job in the NFL anymore.  

Former NFL coaches Bud Grant, Marv Levy and Dan Reeves are generally viewed as good but flawed because they’re a combined 0-12 in Super Bowls.  Yet Andy Reid and Jeff Fisher are seen as successes despite two Super Bowl appearances in over 31 years of coaching.     

Once your fantasy football season ends and you’re no longer cheering for statistics, do yourself a favor and really watch the games.  I guarantee you’ll find a player who is better or worse than you think.

Top 4 this week (rankings disclaimer: my top four will always feature two AFC teams and two NFC teams).

1. Houston Texans (11-1) – Lit up by good quarterbacks all season; now comes Brady.   
2. Atlanta Falcons (11-1) – They seem primed for disappointment.   
3. New England Patriots (9-3) – A four-man pass rush will end their season, again.      
4. San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1) – Kaepernick is two FG’s from being 4-0 as a starter.      

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

Contact Earl at emyersiii@hotmail.com

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Jovan Belcher photo: usatoday.com

Drew Brees photo: tshq.co