- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Dear Terrell,

Please shut up, already. Quit crying about being traded to Baltimore. Stop carping about your teammates. Enough with the pompons. Honestly, who do you think you are? You’re paid to catch footballs. Period. So open your hands — and while you’re at it, try closing your big, fat, obnoxious mouth.

Oh, and do yourself a favor: Leave the complaining to the rest of us. The preening, too.

Look, we get why you’re upset. You like money. You hate the Niners. They hate you. Understandable all around. As such, you couldn’t wait to be a free agent. But your agent, David Joseph, FUBAR’ed matters worse than Carl Lewis singing the national anthem. He forgot to send in a fax, missing the deadline to void the final three years of your San Francisco contract. Face up? Face down? PC load letter? Maybe Joseph got confused. Either way, Trump would have canned the guy yesterday.

Still, you had a deal worked out with Philly. New contract, new team, catching knuckleballs from McNabb … then poof! It all went up in smoke. ‘Cisco swapped you to the Ravens, hardly your first choice. All because of an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny little date on the calendar. Weren’t you supposed to be the cream of a woeful free agent receiver crop, weighing lucrative offers and eating free steak dinners in cosmopolitan destinations like Cleveland and, um, Cleveland? So now you’re whining on national television. Skipping out on your Baltimore physical. Filing a formal grievance, taking your case to an arbitrator. An arbitrator. That’s practically a trial.

Frankly, what you should be doing is working out. Like, shagging passes and lifting weights. Or something.

Again: You are a football player. You’re good for 5 yards over the middle — and maybe more, if you can stiff-arm the free safety. That’s it. Give up acting like someone you’re not. Rules are rules. You follow them. End of story.

Do you see the mayor of your former town, San Francisco, flouting gay marriage laws because he thinks they’re unfair and wrong? Do you see a disputed presidential election ending up in court, before the nine highest arbitrators in the land? Do you see the world’s only superpower thumbing its nose at the foot-dragging U.N. and that silly Kyoto treaty?

Do you see millions of Americans driving well over the posted speed limit each and every day?

Please. Don’t be silly.

Frankly, T.O., we’re sick of your griping. We watch football for the violence and the insightful color commentary. And maybe those Coors Light twins. We don’t watch it to see you ream out Niners offensive coordinator Greg Knapp on the sidelines. Your job is scoring touchdowns. Not carrying on about why you aren’t scoring more touchdowns. Frankly, we don’t want to hear it. We’re not interested in your petty squabbles with management — and if we were, we’d head over to the office happy hour, where workplace sturm und drang is par for the course, at least after the third round of margaritas.

We expect more from you, Terrell. You play in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Be mindful. Keep your dirty laundry in the locker room hamper. Don’t flog your quarterback in the press. Refrain from slamming your teammates when the cameras are rolling. Leave the rip jobs to your local sportswriters, the public eviscerations to the guys from “PTI.” Stay above the fray. Avoid stooping to the level of John Kerry, President Bush, the members of Congress. Fact is, we don’t want our Sunday afternoon pigskin resembling the Sunday morning talk shows, with or without George Will.

To put it another way: It’s OK for Roy Disney to hammer Michael Eisner. It’s not OK for you to undermine Jeff Garcia, even if his quarterback rating is slightly higher than his blood alcohol level.

Barring a legal miracle, there’s a good chance you’ll end up in Baltimore. If so, try not to celebrate your first Ravens score by setting a ball ablaze, moonwalking along the crossbar and performing an impromptu singalong with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And don’t even think about tearing off Janet Jackson’s nipple shield, then whipping out a Sharpie to sign what’s underneath. Show some restraint. Honor the game.

After all, this is football. A grave and sober undertaking, same as hostage negotiations. The fate of the Republic is at stake. You don’t pull a marker out of your sock and autograph a ball for your financial adviser. You don’t run to the Dallas Cowboys’ midfield star, then make like the kids from “You Got Served.” And you certainly don’t boogie with the cheerleaders.

Uh-uh. You act dignified in your mesh top and shiny, cartoon-colored bicycle pants. Dancing? That’s for the shirtless fat guys slathered in body paint. And the pompon girls in the form-fitting half-shirts, who are still squinting from the smoky, pregame fireworks and half deaf from the stadium P.A.’s 1,000th playing of “Rock N’ Roll Part II.” Resist temptation. Display gravitas. Comport yourself like a man of substance — think Terry Bradshaw, broadcasting live from the deck of a landlocked replica pirate ship.

In short, T.O., we want you to know your role. Button-lipped, pass snagger. No-worries touchdown maker. Is that really so complicated? Don’t go getting all annoyingly human on us. We’ll handle that part ourselves, thank you very much.


Your loyal fans


Your friends in the press.

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