Maybe laughter isn't always the best medicine. A mini-controversy erupted after the Monday night football game, a game in which losing quarterback Derek Anderson was seen laughing with a teammate after their team's fortunes had gone into the dumpster. It was a sideline scene, reminding everyone that the camera is always on.
Anderson plays for the Arizona Cardinals. They were in the Super Bowl last year but that was with Kurt Warner as quarterback. Anderson is no Kurt Warner. He is on the margin among quarterbacks in the NFL.
Anderson made the matter much worse by how he handled it in the post-game press conference. Actually that's an understatement. By then it was no laughing matter (ha, ha).
Getting defensive in a press conference is a sure prescription for humiliation. Doesn't Anderson know that comedians and beer commercials get fodder from these meltdowns? I began to imagine right away how clips from Anderson's appearance could be used.
Denny Green was the coach of the Cardinals when he had a similar meltdown. How can we forget the shouted retort of "the Bears are the team we thought they would be!" (The Cardinals had just spectacularly blown a lead.)
Arizona fans should have been laughing at Anderson's performance against the Minnesota Vikings. That debacle for them was on November 7 at the Metrodome. Anderson and his Cardinals failed to hold on to a 14-point lead over the last 3 1/2 minutes. Had the Cardinals won, the Vikings would have started their housecleaning sooner.
We're told the Vikings still have a "mathematical" chance to make the playoffs. But I wonder how realistic it is.
I thought it was classless for Brett Favre to make a big public display Sunday at the end of the Redskins game, when he presented the game ball to Leslie Frazier. I'm not a fan of Brad Childress but I'm rather impartial about him. I don't think he's incompetent.
I think the Zygi Wilf family had faith in him. Favre's behavior seems to be upstaging the Wilf family as if to vindicate his own judgment.
We should be surprised by Favre doing this? There's a lot for Vikings fans to be hanging their heads about now. The only remedy now would be for Favre and his mates to "run the table" and eke out a playoff berth.
But I suspect that at a certain point, Adrian Peterson, who now appears to be touching the ball more (following the wishes of the Childress critics), will fumble a game away. Perhaps Childress was delicately managing Peterson for this very reason.
Perhaps Childress knew you can't just give Favre a blank check because his self-discipline breaks down. Favre throws the ball as if he thinks good things will happen as if my magic.
It has been said of professional athletes that they have no fear of failure. It's in their DNA. Chicago's Jay Cutler certainly seems to be an example.
The best coaches know you have to look these guys in the eye once in a while and remind them they're mortal, that magic isn't in the equation.
Derek Anderson may end up more well-known for his press conference anger than anything he's done on the football field. When a reporter kept pressing him on the laughing incident, he should have pleaded "compartmentalization."
"Look, I give a hundred percent when I'm out there playing and I die a thousand deaths when we lose, but there are idle moments where a little levity can be helpful. I apologize if anyone was offended."
No need to bleep any words either.
Humility can go a long way.
It's ironic that laughter can be viewed as offensive. Because, the world needs so much more of it.
One of the most charming scenes of the Bill Clinton presidency was when Clinton broke down laughing, helplessly, when standing next to Soviet leader Boris Yeltsin. Clinton put his hand on Yeltsin's shoulder at one moment. It made us all wonder if international conflict would be minimized by such a spirit as this.
Clinton was dealing with grave international matters. Derek Anderson was just trying to win a football game.
In case you missed it, you'll probably see the prickly Anderson from the press conference on commercials or comedy sketches.
Anderson might get the same kind of notoriety as Jim Mora who had the famous meltdown where he said "playoffs? Don't talk to me about playoffs" (his voice cracking).
We all appreciate someone with a sense of humor. So I'm not upset about Anderson at all, especially with his Scandinavian name.
More from the football notebook:
ESPN is airing a riveting documentary these days, called "The Best that Never Was." It's about Marcus Dupree.
Dupree was a Superman type of athlete who came from very humble origins in Mississippi. He was an African-American young man from Philadelphia, Mississippi. It was a community with a troubled racial background.
Dupree was a symbol of a newly-integrated South (albeit still with warts) that could come together and feel joy about the athletic exploits of a uniquely gifted athlete.
Dupree was a football runningback. He had the speed of a receiver. In fact, he had everything.
The problem is that college recruiters descended on this modest family like predators. It was a bad omen.
Dupree was never really able to establish himself as a collegian. He seemed overwhelmed by his surroundings. At his best he turned in highlight reel plays for the University of Oklahoma. Dupree at his best is preserved in precious video footage. He left college and went where he probably belonged all along: the pros.
He helped launch the USFL, the springtime league. He got hurt and never fulfilled his full potential. He did get a brief fling with the Rams of the NFL, so for the record he did make it to that pinnacle. I'm glad for him.
I imagine we're supposed to feel sorry for Dupree coming out of this documentary. Today he's a part-time truck driver. After pondering, I decided I was happy for Mr. Dupree because he has his health. He seems basically contented.
Former Minnesota Viking Fred McNeill has been on CNN lately as an example of a former player nursing health effects of the game. McNeill appears to have some mental impairment. And, former Viking Wally Hilgenberg died from a degenerative brain condition that we now learn was most likely connected to football.
Thanks for the memories, Wally, but I'd rather see you hale and hearty.
I have read that former Viking Brent Boyd has problems.
Did Walter Payton die before his time because of all the blows that his body was dealt? Did O.J. Simpson develop his pathological traits as a result of the blows he took? Payton and Simpson were runningbacks like Dupree. Payton is dead and Simpson is in prison. McNeill is challenged.
Dupree by comparison can enjoy life even in his modest existence driving truck. His past fame might even bring some material rewards for him, like a baseball Hall of Famer who can live on his income attending card shows.
And Mr. Dupree didn't have to get his brains beat out to get to that point. Maybe he's football's answer to Greta Garbo.
Congratulations Marcus Dupree. You might be the greatest football player ever, and I don't care if you didn't bash heads with opponents over years and years.
"The Best that Never Was?"
I don't think so.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org