A wise man once said, if you’re gonna be dumb you gotta be tough.
What an NFL player might say is, if you’re gonna be tough, you gotta be dumb. As in, dumb about your future health. Dumb about your pain tolerance. Dumb about your ability to hold a pen correctly, both now and 20 years down the line.
You have to make decisions that only make sense in the confines of an industry where putting your body on the line is everything, long-term consequences be damned.
Dez Bryant’s broken left index finger might sound minor when held up next to some of the injuries his teammates have played through in recent years. A lacerated spleen for Jason Witten. A fractured rib and punctured lung for Tony Romo. Lord knows what for DeMarcus Ware.
But ask yourself, is three games of football worth 60 years of awkward typing? Struggling to grip a coffee mug? This?
That’s what Bryant will be grappling with over the next 36 hours as he decides whether or not to go forward with his season.
We know he wants to play. Bryant has been called many things during his three-year career. “Indifferent about dominating football games” isn’t one of them. But if his doctors tell him it’s either catching passes against Pittsburgh on Sunday or catching the remote when his wife tosses it to him in 2035, he’s going to have a decision to make.
His fantasy owners will undoubtedly think it’s an easy one: play football. But if Bryant can’t be guaranteed the future sanctity of his left index finger, it will be anything but easy.
Bryant has been a beast this season. He’s caught 75 passes for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s scored seven times since Week 10. He’s surged to No. 6 overall in receiver fantasy points. But if he plays through an injury he shouldn’t, nevermind his future quality of life, it’s always possible the football will suffer as a result.
An all-important day in Bryant’s decision-making process will come on Wednesday, when the Cowboys return to practice. For now, owners can only sit, wait and wish.
The Tao of Dwayne
Dwayne Bowe’s season is reportedly over after he cracked a few ribs in Sunday’s loss. The question is, what about his time with the Chiefs?
The Dwayne Bowe era in Kansas City has been characterized by many different things. Catches. Tons of coaches. Hardly any wins. Garbage time — lots and lots of garbage time.
But all six years have been colored by a curious ineffectualness. Bowe has posted three 1,000-yard seasons, but just one Pro Bowl appearance.
He’s been held below 800 yards receiving only once — in 2009, where he served a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances — and 995 yards just twice. However, he would finish an average of No. 23 in the year-end fantasy receiver rankings going back to 2007 were the season to end today.
Despite an annual line of 69/955/7, Bowe simply hasn’t made that big of an impact, either in fantasy or “real life.” Is it because of the talent around him? If the Chiefs don’t win another game this season, they’ll have averaged an abysmal 4.8 wins during Bowe’s six years with the team.
Is it because he doesn’t have his head on straight? Despite a reputation as a bit of a malcontent, Bowe has rarely made public waves. Even his supposed October trade demand was vehemently denied by the man himself.
Whatever it is, Bowe will be leaving Kansas City with a legacy of disappointment, not to mention a few broken ribs.
That’s not going to stop him from landing a lucrative, multi-year deal in free agency, of course. With passing as big of a part of the game as ever — and only getting bigger — having a true No. 1 receiver has become almost as essential as a franchise quarterback, left tackle or pass rusher.
But it should be “buyer beware” with Bowe, especially since a team with comically little receiver depth appears ready to let one of the best wideouts in franchise history walk during his prime.
That goes for fantasy owners, too, who will surely be lured in by his gaudy career numbers should he land with, say, Matt Schaub or Russell Wilson.
Yes, it’s true you could be getting a rejuvenated player freed from the shackles of Matt Cassel. What’s much more likely, however, is that you’ll be getting Dwayne Bowe.
What About Bob (Griffin)?
Robert Griffin III has done some amazing things since coming onto the national stage at Baylor. None of them may match not getting his knee exploded on this hit in Sunday’s overtime win against the Ravens.
How Griffin was able to walk afterward — let alone play a few snaps — is anyone’s guess, but the news only got better on Monday.
Griffin is dealing with a Grade 1 — read, least severe — sprain of his right LCL, and is officially day-to-day. Although coach Mike Shanahan isn’t sure if his quarterback will be ready to practice Wednesday, he’s optimistic about his chances of playing against the Browns.
It’s quite possible Griffin will end up not giving it a go for the second week of the fantasy playoffs, but the fact he even has a chance is a minor miracle.
Monday Night Football Quick Slants: Amidst the carnage, Brandon Lloyd had his best game of the year, hauling in seven passes for 89 yards and a score. Lloyd was frequently open against the Texans’ banged up and undersized secondary, but future fantasy glory shouldn’t necessarily be expected. Lloyd’s usage has been game-plan specific all season, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be a major part of it in Week 15 against the 49ers. … Aaron Hernandez also had arguably his best game of the season, catching eight passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Both his scores came in the red zone, where he made mincemeat of the Texans’ tackling efforts. Finally 100 percent, Hernandez is showing why he’ll remain a top three tight end heading into 2013 despite his troubles staying on the field. … Although he carried the ball “only” 18 times, Stevan Ridley’s 18 totes put him at 243 on the season. That’s seventh in the league with three games to go. There’s still no committee in New England. … Wes Welker didn’t catch at least six passes for the first time since Week 2. We’re guessing he’ll be fine. … Aside from Andre Johnson, everyone on the Texans stunk, including Arian Foster. No patches for the letterman jackets this week, boys.
Quick Slants: Jared Cook (shoulder) is done for the season. As with Dwayne Bowe, the question now becomes, what about his Titans career? Whether impatient owner Bud Adams retains his coach and GM should play a large factor. … Fred Jackson (knee) is also out for the year. It’s sad news for an extremely hard-working veteran, but does pave the way for C.J. Spiller to finally take control of Buffalo’s backfield. Coach Chan Gailey pledged Monday that Spiller will "get (the ball) as much as he wants.” … Michael Vick (concussion) and LeSean McCoy (concussion) have been cleared for non-contact practice, but not game action. With the Eagles playing Thursday, McCoy will be up against it to be active for Week 15. However, even if it’s small, he does have a legitimate chance of suiting up against the Bengals. He’d split carries with electric rookie Bryce Brown. … McCoy and Vick’s teammate Brent Celek (concussion) has already been ruled out for Thursday. … Darren McFadden (ankle) practiced Monday. He should be fine for Sunday. … Jay Cutler (neck) pronounced himself “ready to go.” … Au revoir, Brandon Jacobs. … The Cardinals claimed Brian Hoyer off waivers. He’s probably already their best quarterback.
Depressing Stat Of The Week: Mike Thomas had 19 more rushing yards than Bryce Brown on Sunday.
You’ll always have Week 15, 2007, Cam Cameron.