The League

Jess Atkinson
Place Kicker

Jess Atkinson

Former place kicker and NFL commentator.

Fans May Think So

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Season ending injuries, to stars like Brady, Merriman need not suck the life out of a team and therefore alter the balance of power. But they will take a toll on the player. First, my Lloyd Bentsen disclaimer: While I'm no Tom Brady, like him, I too was injured in the first quarter of the first game of a season and subsequently missed an entire year. It was 1987, and Andre Waters added me to his list of victims. Here's Brady's and Shawne Merriman's problem -- no matter how hard they try, there's no way to be part of the Patriots or the Chargers if they're not playing. That means it will be the longest, most tortured year of their careers. But it doesn't necessarily mean the balance of power will shift from AFC to NFC.

The great teams that I had a cup of coffee with, the Giants and the Redskins found ways to adjust. They did it by having relative no-names and unproven players step in and contribute. Most observers who have never played in the NFL don't get that. They don't watch film and study the game enough to understand that it's not what people think of you, but what you do on the field that really matters. No way Jeff Hostetler could fill Phil Simms shoes, or Ricky Sanders be as capable as Art Monk. Right?

But when game-time comes, Brady and Merriman can't do anything but watch like the rest of us, as their teams adjust. See, in the NFL watching is the dregs. It's what fans do, and the dirty little secret in the NFL is that players don't really like the fans- no matter what they say publicly.

Even the current batch of NFL'ers, uneducated and myopic as they are, know that fans are fair-weather -- cheering if you win, booing if you lose. So for the player, it's all about the performance speaking louder than the cacophony of the great unwashed. Consequently, any player would rather try and fail, than watch. All the more cruel when it's the indispensable man who's watching because he knows the reality: life, and the league, move on, without him.

By Jess Atkinson  |  September 10, 2008; 11:10 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Whateverer you say kicker.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2008 4:01 PM

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