The League

Gene Wang
Fantasy Guru

Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

Hating on Hypocrisy

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Character and integrity are buzz words we hear all the time in the NFL. Coaches often will praise a player's citizenship more than his productivity, and general managers frequently will commend their latest draft pick on his scholarship.

Some fans may buy into this subtle sanctimony, but it's really a con job. The reality is when a player's skills erode because of age, injury, or a combination of both, all the virtue in the world won't save his job.

Therein lies the hypocrisy. A team isn't going to keep an unproductive player around just because he's an upstanding member of society. But you can be sure they'll hang on to a player with a questionable past if he consistently can beat a Cover-2.

It would be refreshing to hear just one GM or coach deliver the unfiltered truth when a player with alleged character issues joins their team. Just once I'd like to hear a front office official say a troubled player has so much talent that it trumps past transgressions.

It's an affront to a fan's intelligence when the Cincinnati Bengals, for example, get on their soapbox and preach character all offseason, then sign reported bad citizens Chris Henry and Cedric Benson because the team is limited at wide receiver and running back.

Not that they have the right to judge Henry or Benson in the first place. Those players may have made poor decisions, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are bad people. Save the morality play for the church pulpit, and get those players on the field because they can help you win games.

In the billion dollar industry of the NFL, it's all that matters.

By Gene Wang  |  October 2, 2008; 8:20 AM ET  | Category:  Crime , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I believe that character does matter and should not be overlooked. While it is true that the best players on the field are not always the most "virtuous," why can't we reverse that trend and have top-notch players that are also known for their off-the-field contributions?

Posted by: Andy | October 2, 2008 1:07 PM

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