Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Crazy/Talented Player

With Tom Brady's injury and Matt Cassel only throwing to Randy Moss a few times two weeks ago for only 22 yards. And last week Moss had only 25 yards. I think that Cassel is going to have to throw to Moss more next week to avoid a burst of crazy from this very talented receiver. Moss has gone off the deep end before, he admitted to taking plays off, and has caused much media distraction. And it looks like the wheels are going to fall off soon. They did lose to the Dolphins this week. However a happy Moss, is a productive, incredibly talented Moss. He's in his 30s and still runs faster than pretty much anyone on the field and doesn't even look like he's near top speed. And he's got great hands, if you throw a ball anywhere around him he seems to come down with it, even in double or triple coverage. He seems like the kind of player you should try to keep happy. But what do I know? We'll see what going to happen soon.

But contemplating a Moss breakdown got me thinking about other talented but unstable players. When is a player too much of distraction, or too crazy to be worth putting up with? And how much talent does a player need to have in order for his on/off the field stunts to be forgiven? Yes there are crazies in other sports, notably Gilbert Arenas and Manny being Manny, but I'm focusing on the NFL, because it seems to be a breeding ground for craziness. And its football season now so it seems appropriate.

For instance, Chad Johnson has been a brat, he demanded a trade that he didn't get, talked a bunch of shit, and then changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco. And so far this season he has failed to preform up to his own hype. The Bengals seem to be willing to deal with a lot more crazy than more most teams. They resigned Chris Henry after 500 hundred or so arrests and Marvin Lewis saying they would not take him back. But the owner wanted him back so he's there in Cincinnati, causing distractions and problems.

Dallas also seems to be a home of trouble/crazy/incredibly talented players. First, there's Adam "Pacman" Jones. He's been suspended a bunch of times for incidents at strip clubs and involving shootings. Dallas decided to give him a "second chance." But my favorite crazy of all is also on Dallas, T.O. Terrell Owens is nuts, but he is so entertaining. Yes, he passed over my Ravens, but we have enough trouble makers, not so many crazies, just straight up criminals. But his antics have ranged from incredibly entertaining, the Sharpie and the Usain Bolt antics, to just downright insanity, lifting weights in his driveway while ranting in front of media cameras.

But the question was when does the crazy become too much? It happens when a team can't keep the crazy happy anymore. When it becomes too self destructive to the team is when most teams let go. Well, other than the Bengals. The need to win can overshadow. But teams can't let clubhouse cancer take over.

Buffalo tried to rid itself of any bad guys and it seems to be paying off, they started out 3-0 for the first time since forever, well it seems that way anyway. They sent Willis McGahee to the Ravens and haven't looked back. The Ravens have not had many problems with McGahee. I think maybe with so many strong personalities there is too much pride and no one wants to be the one who messes up. But a few injuries caused them to implode last year. So who knows.

Overall, a winning season and good team chemistry can probably overcome most problem players. But coaches and teams walk a dangerous tightrope when they sign that crazy talented star. But when they are the play maker that can be the difference between a making the playoff and winning the Super Bowl maybe its worth it. Maybe even the difference between making the playoffs and not is worth that player. But if something goes wrong, say a season ending injury, and then maybe this player will cost the team the viability for that season. So when does the crazy start to outweigh the talented?

I'm not sure what the answer to this question is. But I think we'll probably find out soon when Randy Moss implodes. Or when T.O. loses in a playoff game again, maybe sooner. And the tipping point is always entertaining. So stay tuned.