As you probably know, Chris Cooley, speaking on his one-hour radio segment with 106.7 The Fan on Monday, noted how much he enjoyed Tony Romo "choking" in a loss to the Detroit Lions last week. Sure, it was a bit mean, but it was also funny and a way for all involved to create the casual vibe needed for the show to work. It also spurred a lot of silly overreactions by people.
Thing is, I'm not really that surprised by this. This is how things work in 2011. Athlete gives off-the-cuff quote, local media picks it up, media in other local cities pick it up, national media picks it up, talking heads say something stupid about it, athlete expresses shock at the firestorm he created ... we've done this before. What I am surprised and disappointed by is this particular take from ESPN's Dan Graziano.
Graziano isn't firing back at Cooley with the typical "worry about your own team" stuff. Instead, Graziano's issue is that athletes shouldn't ever take glee in other athletes' failure, at least publicly, because that's unprofessional. In his words.
The Washington Redskins' tight end had no business talking as gleefully in public as he did about Tony Romo's most recent collapse. Cooley's a fun guy who's free with his opinions, and that makes him entertaining. But in this particular case, as a contemporary of Romo's and a fellow professional athlete, he should know better and should have kept his mouth shut.
In other words, not only should all athletes on the same team be nice to each other publicly (which they should - a group that stays together plays together, or however that idiom goes), but all athletes on any team should as well. Well, that wouldn't be very interesting at all. The whole point of sports is that they're a visual display of a bunch of competitive superhumans, and it's hard for them to stay competitive when they have to love each other publicly. So to call Cooley unprofessional for saying anything negative about Romo -- I mean, c'mon. It's sports. Let sports be sports.
The most amazing part to me is all the rhetorical questions Graziano asks. Hell, I guess I'll FJM this part and only this part. My answers in bold.
What if Cooley and Romo end up on the same team someday? They'll apologize, hug it out and get over it like grownups. What if one of Romo's defensive teammates, who happens to really like Romo, decides to seek out Cooley personally in the next Cowboys-Redskins game and exact revenge? Then let him extract revenge. That's sports. Cooley knows he's opening himself up to that. He can handle it. And what about professional respect and courtesy? What about what? Would it be all right with Cooley if he dropped three balls in the end zone and the Cowboys' backup tight end came out and laughed at him about it on the radio and said how awesome it was to watch? Sure, why not? I bet Chris could get a kick out of it.
Bottom line: people like Cooley keep sports interesting. If sports aren't interesting, we wouldn't watch sports.