Just shut up

The Baltimore Sun

Dear moderately successful professional athlete:

A word, if I may.

I've always liked trash talking. Admired it, really. If you're between the ages of 18 and 39, it's part of our generation. It's all we've ever known when it comes to competition. We're the children spawned by the greatest trash-talking movie of all time, White Men Can't Jump. For the most part, it's in our DNA now. We can't resist.

But seriously, moderately successful professional athlete, please heed this advice.

Shut up.

That means you, Philip Rivers, who had the gall to taunt, tease and, in general, completely spaz out in front of Colts fans Sunday after the San Diego Chargers defeated defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis.

That means you, Patrick Crayton, and you, too, Marion Barber, two Dallas Cowboys who pounded their chests so much in the first half, they seemed completely exhausted and unable to perform basic tasks such as running and catching in the fourth quarter of Dallas' loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.

Even you, Rory Sabbatini, golfer from South Africa, who had the temerity last year to call out Tiger Woods, a man who probably could beat you with a 7-iron, 3-wood, wedge and putter if he thought it was worth his time.

You see, trash talking is an art. It's sort of like novel writing or ballet. Just because it looks cool doesn't mean everyone should attempt it. More and more, it seems, you don't even have to be any good to talk smack. Sixth-round draft picks who will be selling insurance in a year are popping up on kickoffs after a tackle, jawing with Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs, acting as if they've just won an Oscar. They're pounding their chests, preening for the cameras with bulging biceps, pointing to the heavens and barking, "You don't want another piece of this!"

Meanwhile, everyone watching on television can see that Hester got tripped by his own man.

Enough. We're instituting the Two Pro Bowl Rule. Until you've made it to two Pro Bowls, you're not allowed to dance or jaw with anyone. In baseball, don't stare down the pitcher after a long home run unless you've got a pair of All-Star appearances under your belt. Don't pop off at the AT&T; Family Plan Open unless you've got a couple of major trophies in your case.

Otherwise, it's awkward. It's ridiculous. It's like watching overweight people dance at a wedding. We're not laughing and cheering with you, dude. Trust me.

Deion Sanders and Larry Bird earned the right to talk trash. Ray Lewis can dance the waltz after every deflected pass for all I care because, after years of getting it done, he has earned it. Tom Brady doesn't have to wipe that smirk off his face because he's got three Super Bowl rings and at night he gets to go home and sleep the with prom queen. Do you go home with the prom queen? No, you don't.

You, moderately successful professional athlete, just look like a moron. Catch a few passes when it matters, then we'll talk. Randy Moss catches passes with his elbow when his arms are pinned. He'd probably catch them with his teeth if the NFL didn't require that he wear a face mask. You can't do that. That's why you shouldn't strut and preen like he does.

You, Philip Rivers, might be the biggest offender. I once watched you talk trash and try to start a fight - right after you'd lost for the fourth straight time to Maryland. On the same day North Carolina State retired your jersey. Before the game. You were a clown then, and you remain one today. This past weekend, you were talking trash even though you didn't even play for much of the fourth quarter. Enough.

Leave the smack talking to those who've earned the right to do it.


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