Sunday, January 7, 2007

Truth will out: Samuel, a mercenary and opportunist

One can hardly fault a professional football player for seeking a higher contract. The game is violent--potentially deadly. On the spectacle of this violence the league makes a tremendous profit, and no team casts a shadow over the Patriots in terms of gross revenue.

But I'm sorry to find my opinions of Asante Samuel's high-profile performance this year have been validated. On the morning of the first playoff game of what has been a difficult season, the Boston Globe runs an article by Jackie MacMullen detailing exactly what Asante Samuel wants. Hint: it's not a Super Bowl ring.

"Get Paid."

About to face a division rival in a highly-charged playoff rubber match, Samuel comes out with this gem:
"We've talked to them about a new contract," Samuel said. "What they offered isn't even worth discussing.

"It's disappointing. You want to believe they know what you've done. So you hope for the best, but you end up feeling underappreciated. You feel disrespected, especially how they come at you with so much negative stuff. They show you such a low regard.

"I took it personally, at first. You'd think I would have been around this team long enough to realize it's all about business. So I'm putting it out of my mind.

"If you get emotional, you are going to lose focus and that will show up on the field. I'm not going to make that mistake."

Of course not, Asante. Because what matters to you isn't winning, it's getting paid. Those of you who know me know that I've been calling this bullshit from the start. This guy still gets roasted every week. He's consistently beat for key plays and big gainers. Sure, the Pats have given up only 10 TD passes this year, but that's more a credit to the speed of our safeties than to any "shut-down" corners. What we have in Samuel is a gambler. A dice-thrower. That's fine if you're capable of following up a missed interception with a tackle, but that's yet another weakness of Asante's. He can't, or won't, wrap up. Just as his penchant for getting INT's instead of racking up passes defensed, he'd rather go for a SportsCenter knock-down than a more reliable run-of-the-mill tackle. The result? One of the more porous secondaries in recent Patriots history in terms of yards surrendered. Nobody can run on them but somehow all their games are close. Why could that be?

Asante and his agent will show up for contract negotiations (perhaps as soon as Monday) with a tape of all his "great plays." I think 10 interceptions should take about 1 minute to show. Maybe 90 seconds. 24 passes defensed. That's pretty good. That should take about 5 minutes. Then we can sit back for about a half an hour and watch endless tape of Asante missing interception attempts, giving up big plays or key first downs and whiffing on tackles.

Fine. But that's not what's pissing me off this morning. What's pissing me off this morning is that the Globe and Samuel have chosen to raise this issue not in the off season but before the biggest game of the year so far. To the Globe editorial staff I have this to say: Screw you guys! You could have run this story any time. Shit, you could have waited until Monday. But no. Sunday morning before a playoff game. Thanks. You must be tired of writing about a good-maybe-great team and you're ready to write about a bunch of losers again. Why not cover a team where you don't have to help engineer dissension and upheaval. Write about the Bruins or the Celtics if you want to cover incompetence and controversy.

To Samuel I say this: pack your f***ing bags. Go out west with your buddy Ty Law and play for those "contenders" like the Chiefs. You're playing on a team whose best player took an insultingly small contract to give the franchise some flexibility (which they've arguably squandered, but that's another story). You have no right to bitch. And the timing of your bitching indicates that you're more concerned with yourself than the team. That might fly in baseball, but it's poison to any NFL team with a championship on its mind. Take off, eh?

1 comment:

deadissue said...

You can't fault Samuel for saying this right now as I see it. He's a cornerback in the NFL on his rookie contract who led the league in interceptions. Ty Law had less than that to say before signing a maximum 7 year deal, and besides left tackle, a shut-down corner is the highest paid player in the league.
Asante Samuel - Patriots cornerback sees dollar signs ahead

That's my take on it. I think we're both diehard Pats fans, and so there's probably a lot more we agree on than we disagree on...the thing to keep in mind is that by saying something now, he knows that with the Pats not willing to break the bank to keep him, that other teams will have heard it and perhaps make some offers to the team prior to training camp next year.

What Branch went through isn't what a player wants to be doing at that time of the year. So while Deion waited until after the draft to start playing hardball, subsequently missing a quarter of the season and having to learn a new playbook the day he arrived in Seattle, Samuel is trying to avoid that.

I'll be posting a link to your blog on mine, - great to see others posting on this situation. Can't ever have enough Pats content!