A Guide For Former Players Speaking In Public

Submitted by Brian on May 27th, 2011 at 12:19 PM


Desmond Howard Profilebrian-griesejohn-navarre-2




Don't. This is the easiest and best way to go about it. What does everyone think of David Baas? Exactly. We think David Baas won the Rimington award. We do not think he has some weird grudge against his younger doppleganger or is Joe Morgan.

If you have to, do not say anything about Denard. Nothing you can say about Denard will meet the standards of the Michigan fanbase, which thinks he is made of rainbows and sweetness and light and will brook not even the slightest criticism. For instance, saying

You looked fantastic for five games against nobody. That's what you did.

…as a way to "blast college athletes' sense of entitlement" is taking a cheapshot at a guy playing opposite the worst defense in the history of man. Many people will make the internet annoying for a day until the next outrage.

More importantly, it's inane because Denard is the least entitled athlete at Michigan in a very long time. We get it: you hated Rich Rodriguez to the point where you'll roll your eyes at Denard Robinson. You can stop it now.

If you do say something about Denard, at least own up to it. Desmond Howard's response to this was to claim his comment was about "fans and the media," and while the fuller context of the quote does soften it somewhat it mostly emphasizes how bizarrely inappropriate it is to grab Denard Robinson of all people as a "perfect example" of entitled kids.

I mean, it's not like there's anyone else in Michigan's recent past that fits that bill slightly better—

Ryan Mallett publicly drunk

If you have successfully piloted your speaking away from Denard, don't imply the kids currently on the team are lazy and soft. This is called "projection," a malady that often befalls middle-aged men past their glory days. The people on the team have worked very hard for little reward because there are a lot of people who aren't on the team for various reasons. So when you say the effort was "lacking" or Michigan "toughness" is back you are telling Ryan Van Bergen, who can stuff your desk-job-having ass in a can, that he's failing you.

This isn't very nice. Also, the opposite is in fact the case.

If you have managed to not talk crap about the players, you are most of the way home. Congratulations! Now you've only got three topics left:

  • Rich Rodriguez is the devil. Accurate! So very accurate. But also played out. Everyone in the room will be envisioning you beating on a dead man. How did that go in the last season of The Wire? You didn't watch The Wire? You only read Rudyard Kipling books? Well, let me tell you: not so good. Also it was biting dead people but telling you that is pointless until David Simon writes a book of illustrated allegories featuring animals. How hard would I buy this book? So, so hard. I digress.
  • Shuffling the fullback so you can run a power play at a defense that knows what's coming but is powerless to stop you is the only way to play football. Also very, very true but so obvious in the aftermath of Rodriguez being the devil that it hardly bears mentioning. You are trying to bring the Wisdom Of The Michigan Program to the public, but the public already knows that part in its bones. Fooling people is for communists. The wages of spread are turnovers.
  • Brady Hoke is a cuddly bear-god who you, 6'9" high school tackle Zach Banner, should definitely play for. Now we are talking. This is a matter that the public is uncertain about—just look around here a few months ago—and Zach Banner is definitely uncertain about, being one of the few high school players in the country who has not leapt to play for our magic-poopin' cuddly bear-god. This is a topic of major interest amongst laymen and scholars and may result in honorary degrees from prestigious institutions if expounded upon at sufficiently withering, recruit-ensnaring length. Bonus points(!) awarded for pointed contrasts with Jim Tressel.

Escuche y repita. Like last year's Ohio State season, the last three years never happened. They are the Godfather III, the lying-newspaper-guy plot from The Wire, the Brian Ellerbe era… right… forgot. Kipling. Forget this bit.

Remember: the last three years never happened and therefore cannot be commented on BRADY HOKE MAGIC POOPING BEAR GOD SAY IT DO IT NOTHING ELSE

SPECIAL BO-ERA DUDE ADDENDUM: it is not racist that Corwin Brown was not hired by Michigan and you should stop saying that because it's not helping Corwin Brown any.



May 27th, 2011 at 12:26 PM ^

While I totally disagree with Desmond's statements (bringing Denard into the fold), and think he certainly should not have made them, he is definitely entitled to speak about Michigan football in whatever manner he pleases.  That said, he may lose support from some of the fanbase.


May 27th, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

Great athletes and great players only know how to work hard and win; Des is just talking what he knows. The fact that he's friendly with Denard indicates to me Denard understands this too. My take: Des is lighting a fire. Denard will rise to the challenge and be the guy who takes Michigan to the next level. Or he won't. Either way, Des is just saying you can't feel entitled until you can strike a Heisman in the endzone and actually get one.


May 27th, 2011 at 2:10 PM ^

Actually, many posters HAVE accused Brian of hoping for the failure of Hoke in order to be "proven right" about RR. The distinction between that and "accusing of subversion" is semantic at best.

Furthermore, it's a forum for discussion and reasonable disagreement, but willfully misreading Brian for the purpose of attacking him isn't discussion, it's useless strawman burning designed to make the poster feel superior. E.g. "I know Brian specifically said he doesn't hold a particularly negative opinon of Lloyd Carr, but I'm going to scream at him for hating Lloyd Carr anyway. WHY DO YOU THINK LLOYD CARR WAS A WORSE MICHIGAN COACH THAN RICH ROD BRIAN!?!?!"



May 27th, 2011 at 2:20 PM ^

that me disagreeing with brian's opinion is best handled by me and brian, not me and three hundred strangers

/end string of posts discussing posts discussing brian's posts

//brian and i, the sycophant, don't get to discuss his opinions :(

Lyalls Wolverines

May 27th, 2011 at 12:48 PM ^

I don't think Desmond's goal was to bash Denard.  As Brian even stated, he was trying to make the point that players these days have a sense of entitlement. Desmond states that fanbases and media are the one's that are fueling it and he is right.  All the attention Denard got when RichRod was fired makes him a larger than team figure and Desmond is just trying to say that shouldn't be the case.


May 27th, 2011 at 1:49 PM ^

There were better examples for Desmond to point to on that team, and frankly he didn't need to name anybody or even allude to them for his point to be heard.  I like Desmond, but singling out Denard because "hey, he might leave with a new coach" is not close to the best example of the "entitlement" he is railing against.  My sense is that if Bo was let go while Howard was at UM and the new guy said he was going to install the triple-option and was going to move away from throwing the ball, Howard might have contemplated leaving as well.

EDIT:  And yes, I know that Desmond went through with the change from Bo to Moeller, but that was about as easy a transition as could be expected.


May 27th, 2011 at 1:06 PM ^

i think it was just a poor choice of an example by desmond who didn't really think it through that well. i'm sure if he were writing an article, he would have stopped and put in the time to think of a better example, but an interview, you just say whatever comes to your mind first. and let's face it... denard is the first thing that comes to all our minds. doesn't matter what the question.


May 27th, 2011 at 2:11 PM ^

...it is also irrelevant.  You can't rip someone for a "sense of entitlement" for on-the-field performance failures, whether real or perceived. Hell, quarterbacks don't throw picks because they think the defense is unworthy.  Unless he was suggesting that Denard did not properly prepare, or did not listen to the coaches because he thought he knew better (both of which seem hilariously ill-fitting to Denard), using Denard is a ridiculous example. 

Denard, by all accounts, worked as hard as anyone.  Shit, look at the progress he made from his first year to his second year.  We CARRIED the offense (and the worst defense since the Maginot Line).  And then, despite finishing in the top six in Heisman voting, his school completely revamped the offense away from his strengths.  Most budding superstars would say, "peace out," but Denard stayed, because those who stay will be champions.

There are examples of entitlement on this (or any) team.  Denard is probably the worst one you can pick.

Everyone Murders

May 27th, 2011 at 12:45 PM ^

Former players do have the right to speak their mind.  But we all have the right to comment on a former player's statements if what he says is off-base or unfair.

/ looks at Desmond, and slowly shakes head* /

// Desmond shrugs, acts like he might have heard a faint murmur in the ether //

/// Life goes on ///



May 27th, 2011 at 1:13 PM ^

that appear on this board. Our former players are not like Army servicemen, putting their lives on the line to protect us. They played football, got paid (scholly, not like OSU), in many cases got idolized, and then left. That doesn't mean they have the blanket right to criticize people on the current team, who are kids typically trying their best.


May 27th, 2011 at 3:29 PM ^

when he said Denard did fantastic against nobody. That is criticism, and there is no possible other way to take that than as criticism. Now, you can agree or disagree with it (I'm with another poster above in disagreeing) and you can say he has the right to do that, but to say that isn't a critique is to not pay attention. If I say raiderblue has some good posts only when the topics are uninteresting and trivial, would you consider that a criticism? 


May 27th, 2011 at 12:31 PM ^

That all the jawwing about how "Michigan is BACK, baby! Yeah!" and "Hoke totally gets it!" by the former players is going to do an about face if we lose to Notre Dame in Game Two. Or we drop more than one of our OOC games. Or we don't beat MSU or OSU. Or some combination thereof. None of these guys - not one - has been to the future and seen how the team performs - you know - on the field 'n stuff.

Which is why the mantra of the program - unless and until we start winning big this year - should be, "Why don't you helpful alumni head out to the kitchen and get yourselves a nice hot cup of STFU."


May 27th, 2011 at 12:52 PM ^

Once again, we have the assumption that former Michigan players are a bunch of jerks. That they'll suddenly start badmouthing Hoke if we lose to ND. I don't think it's crazy to think they're better than that (for the most part).

And I think they're more excited about the direction of the program as a whole than whether we beat this or that team this year.

I also don't understand this idea that our former players, who surely have the right to discuss a program that should still be considered theirs, should STFU until we start winning.

coastal blue

May 27th, 2011 at 12:58 PM ^

They probably won't.

They are lined up behind Hoke and they will support him through and through.

If he struggles, they will say it takes time to adjust to a new system.

They will afford him time.

They will attribute all success next year to Hoke.

They will attribute all failure to the transition. 

Hoke is their guy.



coastal blue

May 27th, 2011 at 3:14 PM ^

That showed that this is the new writing style if you want to get your point across.

Writing long paragraphs in this impatient age ensures many people will only skim.

Spacing emphasizes each sentence and ensures they will be read.



May 27th, 2011 at 5:48 PM ^

Really dude?  If Hoke coaches the team and it goes 3-9 this year you can bet there will be some frustrated alumni out there.  I don't Hoke will use the excuse of needing to get the players that fit his "system" excuse either.  He and Mattison seem like no-nonsense/straight talking guys who will tell it like it is and not talk about how Vince Lombardi couldn't make the team learn faster.


May 27th, 2011 at 1:08 PM ^

i think people give WAY too much credence to what former players say, but I also think people give them more credit for being rational fans than they ever display.  They liked UM because they won there, and they don't like to see their team lose.  If Hoke had experienced the last three years instead of RR, those players would have ripped him a new one, complaining about the team "not growing" and being stagnate under the old guard.  Football players, especially some of the skill position guys who seem to run their mouths the most (looking at you Braylon) are front-runners, and so if UM starts to lose they start complainining.  

I'm fine with them speaking their mind, but they better accept that there are going to be people as smart as them who feel they are talking from a place of ignorance and/or delusion.