Going Too Far?
Washington Post columnist and ESPN personality Michael Wilbon took offense to Bill Belichick's decision to keep his starters on the field late in the 52-7 blowout against the Redskins when it was obvious New England would win the game. In his Monday column "Redskins Go A Little Too Quietly", Wilbon may have taken his objections too far, suggesting that the Redskins, or other opponents, should take a shot to hurt Tom Brady to teach the Patriots a lesson.
Wilbon attempted to preface his desire not to injure a player earlier in the column, but his vitriol for the Patriots' decision to not let up against the Redskins was clear.
"Even if it brought 15-yard flags, a couple of Redskins ought to have converged on Brady and hit the Golden Boy so hard he'd need Bridget Moynahan and Gisele Bundchen to help him to the sideline. Then Belichick wouldn't leave him in sneaking on fourth down and throwing from spread formations so late in the fourth quarter with an insurmountable lead. That, too, is football, but maybe at a violent level we don't find tolerable anymore."
Sometimes, fans wish players would leave the game with an injury so that the other team has a chance to get back in the game. That sentiment is not unusual. Coming from a national sportswriter, it's a bit surprising. But would it have helped the Redskins? The Patriots continued to score even with their backups. They still went for it on fourth down, and they were still passing late in the game.
The column was in addition to an online chat (link) Wilbon had with fans on the paper's website. During the chat Wilbon advocated physically hurting Brady to teach the Patriots a lesson. Except from Washingtonpost.com:
Tom Brady's Knee: I can understand Bill Belichick's desire to crush every team in the NFL, but why keep your franchise QB in there to do it? One cheap shot helmet to the knee and it's goodbye Super Bowl unless Cassell suddenly gets good.
Michael Wilbon: You're absolutely right. And if I was on the opposing team, I'd hit Tom Brady with everything I had as late as I could and take the penalty and join the fight that would surely follow. Football is a violent game and there's got to be somebody out there sharpening his fans for the Patriots Golden Boy in the 4th quarter one of these weeks.
Has Wilbon stepped over the line? Should sportswriters be allowed to advocate this type of response to the Patriots decision to run up the score against opponents? Certainly fans have their own ideas as you can see in any sports message board on the Internet, or hear around the watercolor at work.
What would you do? Share you thoughts