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Shut up and Play

Scott Haynes, College Editor

On Campus Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I sat there and watched the clip of Kellen Winslow's tirade following the Miami loss to Tennessee and at first laughed it off as just a young kid that simply didn't know how to express his feelings regarding disappointment. With the benefit of a few days perspective, my thoughts have changed to dismay in first Winslow's mentality on the field and second his inability to control himself.

Winslow is a product of the new age in football. It is all about the highlight reel, all about personal goals and rarely about team play. How many times do we have to watch a player make a six-yard reception for a first down and then dance around like he just won the Super Bowl. Two plays come to mind this past week in regards to that.

First, down by 77 points against top-ranked Oklahoma, a Texas A&M player (forgive me for not remembering who), did a war dance after stopping the Sooner running back for a loss. Are you kidding me? It may have been the only positive play of the day for the A&M defense, which was embarrassed in every phase of the game against the top team in the land.

Kellen Winslow
Miami's Kellen Winslow has just 527 yards with 1 touchdown this season.
The second play is where it really hit home. Winslow made a terrific block on Tennessee's Corey Campbell, actually knocking the wind out of Campbell and leaving him on the field for a few moments. What Winslow did next was completely uncalled for, as he stood over the fallen Volunteer and taunted the injured player.

While Winslow is a truly gifted athlete and will undoubtedly be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, there is no place for his attitude in any sport. Those who oppose my point of view are quick to point out that they would love to have 22 guys with the same passion for the game on their team, but there is a big difference between passion and a thug mentality. Having a swagger on the football field is a positive thing, especially in a sport that thrives on intimidation. Winslow wiped out Campbell. Was it any more intimidating to stand over him and taunt the young man? Of course not.

To add insult to injury, the Hurricanes lost the game, further fueling Winslow's anger. Anger that spilled out in post game interviews and will be played for years to come. First, he used several expletives in referring to the officiating and the "dirty" play of the Volunteers. Then he went on to compare himself to a "soldier" and a football game to "war." While we all get the analogies (as vague as they may be), this is not a time in the world when anything should be compared to war. Having served my country during Desert Storm, I am certainly offended by Winslow's comments. What does he know about the kind of sacrifice it takes to be in the Armed Forces, or the ultimate price that many of our military personnel have paid, especially recently? None whatsoever.

I don't necessarily blame Winslow. He is a product of the sports world today. There isn't any money in being a humble performer who simply goes about his business on the field. His role models are guys who keep Sharpies in their socks and care more about their TD dances and endorsements than how they conduct themselves in public. However, the young Miami tight end had one of those humble stars right in his own household in his Hall of Fame father. It is quite clear that trying to teach the right things in sport is a lost art form, even if that example is your own dad.

It was nice to see Miami head coach Larry Coker reprimand his star player by not allowing him to start this weekend against Syracuse. Coker seems fed up with Winslow's inability to control his emotions. He has been flagged twice for unsportsmanlike conduct in the team's last two losses and that has resulted in the hollow suspension (Coker will not start Winslow, but will allow him to play in the game).

Speaking of hollow gestures, Winslow's statement of apology didn't seem to be genuine. In fact, it sounded more like the school putting out a generic apology and slapping his name on it. The same young man who couldn't say three words without a a four-letter word in between, suddenly was clear and concise in his apology to anyone he may have offended.

The truth of the matter is, we don't really need an apology from Winslow. We all have let things fly out of our mouths that we would rather have kept inside. The fact that he is remorseful is fine. Apology accepted. What remains to be seen is what exactly Winslow has learned from this little experience? Will he simply be the same highly talented, but shallow player who cares only about himself and nothing about his teammates, or will he learn from his mistakes and become a better person and player for it?

I certainly hope it is the latter.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Haynes
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