The Zionist Conspiracy
Friday, February 24, 2006
Why The Jets Should Bring Chad Back
I know there's much skepticism among some Jets fans regarding the chances that Chad Pennington can recover from his injuries to be a starting caliber NFL quarterback. I'm among those who believe it's possible that he can - after all, major leagues pitchers who blow out their arms do at times return and star again, and New England Patriots linebacker Teddy Bruschi even returned from a stroke. I admittedly am concerned that Pennington may need more than just one year to recover from his latest injury, a second torn rotator cuff.
A report in today's Newsday illustrates one of the reason that I believe Pennington deserves the benefit of the doubt. According to Newsday, Pennington has instructed his hard-line agent to soften his stance and resolve his contractual situation.
While some might reasonably scoff that Pennington has little choice but to take this position, the reality is that in today's world of athletes with massively inflated egos, Pennington's reasonableness does stand out.
I would contrast Pennington with another Jet, John Abraham. Abraham is now in a fury that the Jets have had the gall to label him their franchise player, meaning that Abraham would only make $8.3 million in 2006, despite having basically underachieved and been injury-prone throughout his career. Abraham argues that since he finally actually played in all 16 games last season, he deserves a huge long-term contract.
This is the same John Abraham who refused to play late in the 2004 season when he had a sprained knee. He made clear then that he would not risk his financial future by taking a chance that his knee injury could worsen in a game.
While Abraham was in street clothes, Pennington was starting at quarterback for the Jets, helping them defeat San Diego in the wild card game. Pennington played with a torn rotator cuff, even though he indeed was risking his financial future.
When I think of the great players in sports, much of what distinguishes them is how hard they played even when seriously hurt. Kevin McHale of the Celtics played in the playoffs with a broken foot that as a result never really healed. Jason Kidd of the Nets kept going in the 2004 playoffs even when he could barely walk on his knee. There was Bill Walton, whose endless string of stress fractures couldn't take him away from the court. Cam Neely had all kinds of severe injuries, but stayed on the ice in a desperate effort to bring a Stanley Cup to the Bruins. Kirk Gibson had no business being anywhere near the field in the 1988 World Series. Sandy Koufax pitched one complete game after the other, even on two days rest, to lead the Dodgers to the World Series, even though it caused him to depart right in his prime. Lawrence Taylor appeared to have complete disregard for his body even as he dominated opposing offenses.
Maybe Chad Pennington will never be able to come back. But it's guys like him who deserve the benefit of the doubt, and prima donnas like Abraham who deserve to underachieve and be overpaid someplace else.
As Jets running back Curtis Martin told Stephen A. Smith on ESPN Radio when asked about other Jets who anonymously called for the team to release Pennington: "I will play with Chad any day, I don't care what anybody says."