Touchy, touchy—commentary

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By Mike Forster

Recently, two prominent and well-respected figures from the world of sports were insulted, or so we have been led to believe. Joe Gibbs, the past and present guru of the Washington Redskins, was supposedly disrespected when the New England Patriots continued to pile up the points after the game was already firmly decided. Joe Torre, skipper of the New York Yankees, was insulted by the paltry sum that was offered to him by the Yanks to return for another year. Torre opted to hang up his pinstripes.

Sorry, folks, as much as I admire both of these living legends, the insult card doesn?t play in either case.

The job of any coach who faces Gibbs is to have his team make the most points while giving up the least. Period. That is exactly what New England?s Bill Belichick did.

The issue isn?t that Gibbs and his team were shown up by the Pats. The issue is that Gibbs and his staff have to rejuvenate the team and the fan base after such a thrashing.

Let me ask you this, what is the more prevalent response after a team has been beaten 52-7 and gets the opportunity to face the team that applied that beating, at some point in the future:

??These are the jerks that embarrassed us. Let?s crush them.??


??These are the guys that pounded us before. Hope they don?t do it to us this time.??

Also, just how does one hold down the score? Don?t give me that line about putting in the second string. Those guys are fresh and hungry to prove themselves. They want to be on the FIRST string and the way to do that is to show they can perform.

Don?t be fooled, people. Pro football is about hitting and hurting and lording it over your opponent. The fans love the taunting and menacing that typify pro football. There?s no chivalry in the game and there is no such thing as embarrassment.

What there is, though, is the difficulty a coach faces in trying to build back the confidence and the swagger in a team that has just been deflated in convincing style.

I don?t know if Gibbs would do the same thing as Belichick if the roles were reversed. But, I do know that I hope he would. That is what he gets paid to do.

The story here isn?t that Gibbs was embarrassed. It is that his team got clobbered.

To his credit, Gibbs didn?t make a big deal about it. Also to his credit, he was able to rally the troops the following week and nail a win over the Jets?hardly what you?d expect from a man so shamed. It looks as thought this ?insult? was more of a media driven affair.

The Yankees-Torre situation is a bit more baffling. Yikes! Talk about sensitive.

Torre, a seemingly good and decent man, hung his emotions out in the public square following the Yankees? offer and his rejection of it.

Let?s review the facts:

?The Yankees have had the highest payroll in the sport.

?The team has not won a World Series in eight years.

?Everyone associated with the Yankees uses World Series wins as the standard of measure. Playoff appearances mean bupkus.

?Torre was offered a base salary of $5,000,000.00 per year. With performance incentives (i.e. World Series), he could make 8 mil.

?That package is worth twice as much as what any other manager gets, including Red Sox skipper Terry Francona, who has won two of the last four World Series.

In my opinion, Joe Torre was not insulted. If the Yankees had emptied Torre?s locker the day after the team was knocked out of the playoffs by the Cleveland Indians, that would?ve been insulting.

If he had been fired during the press conference at the conclusion of the final game with Cleveland, that would have been insulting.

If George Steinbrenner had driven to Torre?s house following the Yanks? elimination in order to kick Torre?s pet dog around the yard, that would have been insulting.

Being offered a huge chunk of coin to manage the best collection of talent in the sport is not insulting.

Fortunately, Joe was able to salve his wounds with the three year deal he got from the L.A. Dodgers.

Oh, yeah. It pays less than what the Yanks offered him.

Puzzler answer: There are four cities that serve both as state capitals and as the hosts of ACC schools: Boston (Boston College), Atlanta (Georgia Tech), Raleigh (NC State) and Tallahassee (Florida State). Although it is the center of the universe for many, Blacksburg is NOT the capital of Virginia.