Give me a break

Whine of the week

Kellen Winslow, Jr., the University of Miami star tight end, leveled two Tennessee players on one play during Miami’s loss to the Volunteers. When one of the players, injured, did not get up right away, Winslow stood over him and taunted him. When asked about his actions after the game, Winslow explained

“It’s war.”…”They’re out there to kill you, so I’m out there to kill them. We don’t care about anybody but this U. They’re going after my legs. I’m going to come right back at them. I’m a … soldier.”


I commend his commitment to his team and to his school, but to compare a football game to a war is either ignorant or just plain dishonest.

I’m not sure what the elipsis represents, though. Does it mean he paused (either for dramatic effect or because he forgot the word ‘soldier’) or does it represent edited words? For all we know from this story, the last sentence of the quote could have been “I’m a humble American who has a great deal of respect for those overseas fighting so that I can go to college and prepare to play NFL football for millions of dollars per year instead of being a soldier.” Doesn’t seem likely, though.

The comparison to war reminds me of a New York Giants player, before the championship game against Buffalo in 1991, who said of the troops who were building up in Saudi Arabia to attack Iraq and free Kuwait, “They’ve got their war. We’ve got ours.” I don’t recall who the player was that said that, and a quick search returned nothing, but it has stuck in my mind ever since.

I always find it a more than a little offensive when someone says “I feel like I’ve been through a war” after a bad day or “Of course, you know this means war” after someone gets a practical joke played on him. Thankfully, the vast majority of us have never experienced war, so we can at least be forgiven for our ignorance. I’m thankful for mine. But we’ve all seen the first thirty minutes of Saving Private Ryan, haven’t we? I don’t know anyone who’s had a day at the office that was that bad. War metaphors can have their uses, but they are over-used, especially in the world of sports. And if you use them while there are actually some of your countrymen overseas fighting an actual war, they are particularly appalling. Even more so when used to explain actions of questionable sportsmanship.

The best thing I can say about Kellen Winslow, Jr. today is that I was a big fan of his dad.