On DeSean's Gaffe and the NFL's Sportsmanship

Apparently, it wasn’t enough for us to all agree that what DeSean Jackson did on Monday night was a brief moment of stupidity -- and hilarity -- by an otherwise incredibly gifted football player. No, we couldn’t have our chuckles about Jackson dropping the ball a yard shy of the endzone and all move on, only to bring it up in the years to come as a way of mocking our enemies from Philly. It had to mean something more. It had to mean that the NFL is full of a bunch of cocky, showboating, me-first, arrogant players. Just ask The Washington Times’ Tom Knott, who would also like for you to kindly GET OFF HIS LAWN!!!: ↵
↵⇥This is a long way from the days of letting your deeds do the talking. ↵⇥

↵⇥Now it is possible for a showboating-obsessed player to botch a seemingly easy touchdown in pursuit of the look-at-me form of entertainment. ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥This is business as usual in today's NFL, where the notion of sportsmanship is as antiquated as leather helmets. ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥Too many players today act as if a 10-yard scoring play is the first ever in the NFL. ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥Players line up in a chorus line and shake a leg, playing to the crowd and cameras, almost demanding that the game be stopped and the moment recorded for posterity. ↵⇥

↵
↵Look, we can all agree that what Jackson did was dumb and that he, for a moment, hurt his team, only to be saved by Brian Westbrook one play later. But, please, let’s not turn this one play into some nonsense about the league being full of selfish guys who only care about attention. Do the athletes play up to the fans and cameras more now than they did decades ago? Sure, but that’s probably because more people are watching, and the NFL is more popular than ever. It’s a bigger spectacle now, attracting more eyes and money than ever before, so the players -- and the league -- are embracing that, to an extent, and making it more about entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with that. ↵

↵Furthermore, a lineman celebrating a sack or a receiver doing a little dance after a big third down conversion doesn’t mean sportsmanship no longer exists in the NFL. It’s clear the players respect each other on the field. For a prime example, we’d have to look no further than the same Monday night game that spawned this entire topic. After getting run over by Marion Barber, Asante Samuel rushed over to him and the two high-fived several times before returning to their respective huddles. Or perhaps a better example is found at the center of the field after any NFL game, where players and coaches always embrace before heading to the locker room. ↵

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↵So, the players today like to celebrate and have a little more fun than their predecessors. This doesn’t mean the game is somehow tarnished, or being disrespected. As long as no one is hurting his team, or anyone else, I don’t see what the harm is. Remember: This is still just a sport. It’s a nice little excuse to drink beer, eat unhealthy amounts of fatty foods and distract ourselves from the daily grind. It doesn’t need to be taken so seriously. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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