Derek Moore and I actually talked about this on Monday, when the Kwame Harris story broke. Someone is bound to ask 49er players about gays in the locker room. We figured, as long as you’re smart, use good judgement and be a good human being… things would be fine. We were wrong. As for Chris Culliver, whose anti-gay comments have brought a 10,000 pound distraction that no team wants, what the hell were you thinking? The moment Artie Lange asked you “how many white women you plan to sleep with this week?”… did it occur to you for a moment, that this might not end well? You can believe whatever you want, but your insensitive comments, during the biggest football week in America…. brought shame to your team, to Jim Harbaugh, Jed York, your teammates and to your fan base. I hope your apology is sincere. Garrison Hearst, one of the greatest running backs to ever wear a 49ers uniform, made similar anti-gay comments once. That was TEN years ago, and he’s still remembered for it.
For San Francisco fans, how does it get any better than this? We’re still high on the euphoria of the San Francisco Giants claiming their second World Series title within three seasons. Now, the trumpet summons us again. Well, it could be a giddy weekend is what I mean to say. But as Super Bowl Sunday approaches, I’ll worry about… everything. The flu bug, a practice injury, tripping over a gutter on Bourbon Street. I want to enjoy the week, but the butterflies are starting to flutter. Is the team ready to make history? Are they prepared? I sure as hell hope so. As they say in poker, “you don’t have to win every hand… just the last one.”
It was unavoidable… Alex Smith had to weigh in on the Peyton Manning circus yesterday. We could all see that the whole series of events was at worst, insulting… and at best, awkward. But if there’s anyone who knows how to say the right things, it’s Alex Smith. If that makes him a softy… so what? Can you imagine the fallout if Alex had said “Yeah, the 49ers lowballed me..” Or “Yeah, I wanted to fire my agent..” Or “Yeah, I was kept in the dark about Peyton Manning..” Instead, he said No to all of those things. Alex may be “a game manager”…. but he’s the prince of public relations. Alex, in the end, you were a little disrespected… and now you have to “settle” for around 8 million a year. If that’s the worst thing you have to endure in your career… you’ve done all right. Still, being 49ers quarterback is never easy. Ray Ratto calls it“one of America’s worst jobs.”
So Peyton Manning left the 49ers at the altar, so to speak. Now that he’sdecided to join the Denver Broncos, this melodrama has taken a whole new turn. How will this affect Tim Tebow, Matt Hasselbeck, the Tennessee Titans, the Miami Dolphins and obviously, Alex Smith? But most intriguingly, this has proximately caused the meltdown of Lowell Cohn. Because this morning’s decision has set in motion a series of events that will not only affect the fortunes of a couple of hundred players, it will mean Lowell can't wait to get inside Jim Harbaugh's head. I figure he'll pepper the coach with unending questions about how he could hang Alex Smith out to dry. Then Jim will look him straight in the eye and say….”I’m proud of our guys…”
Holy smokes… Terrell Owens has got to be thinking… “Hey, he’s a cancer in the clubhouse!... Oh wait, I’m a cancer.” I thought the 49ers were just going through the motions, working out 35 year old Randy Moss, who was completely out of football last year. It was widely reported that his session with Jim Harbaugh lasted all of 15 minutes, which indicates either the former Pro Bowler is clearly washed up, or he made a big impression. I know, Randy Moss has more baggage than a pack mule. He’s a diva, a selfish player, a train wreck waiting to happen. We know. Then when the 49ers actually inked him to a one-year deal, I got over that real quick. If Randy Moss becomes a head case, he’ll be gone. But if he grabs that fade in the corner of the end zone, it’ll be “Randy… My Man!”
Most of us have a great capacity to forgive. But when it comes to Terrell Owens, that’s a challenge. Here’s a player who’s earned around $80 million during an NFL career that has showcased his incredible talent… and his toxic, alienating, self-centered behavior. Is it just me, or is it hard to feel sorry for this guy? Jeff Arnold writes in ThePostGame that Owens says he’s now broke and lonelier than ever. In a GQ profile,Owens blames his agent for bad business decisions, and says “the media never allowed me to change.” Right.. it’s the media’s fault that you’re not a better person. “I don’t have no friends. I don’t want no friends,” Owens said. Well, maybe the former is a result of the latter. What a waste.
I’m with Donte Whitner, who said.. “It’s not the end of the world. But right now it feels like it.” How will yesterday’s crushing overtime defeat be remembered? Not for a terrific performance by Eli Manning. Not for the superb catches by Victor Cruz. Not for the 49ers’ epic failure on third downs. Make no mistake, it’ll be remembered for Kyle Williams, who coughed up two valuable possessions in crunch time. Is it fair to put the blame on one player? No. There were plenty of other opportunities that were lost… but those gut wrenching turnovers were the most obvious. For Kyle Williams, how much of a burden will this be? You’re about to find out. How long will fans grumble about it? Oh, at least twenty years. Ask Roger Craig, whose fumble against the New York Giants in the 1990 NFC Championship Game cost the 49ers a chance to “threepeat” in the Super Bowl. Roger’s brilliant accomplishments overshadow that one speck in his career. I hope one day the same will be said about Kyle Williams. Think about this…. The New York Giants got terrific play from Eli Manning and perhaps the most talented receiving corps in football, they played stout defense…and they still should have lost. The 49er defense stopped them with sudden death on the line. It just wasn’t enough. To Jim Harbaugh and his band of overachievers… thanks for a phenomenal season.
Of course the 49ers may see their glorious, surprising season come to an end this weekend. The mighty New Orleans Saints just may be the best team in football right now… what else is new? But I had a dream about Home Field Advantage. Game Time: Candlestick Park. The grass hasn’t been cut since the Giants left. And why is there 4 inches of standing water on the turf? Even Michael Irvin said it can be “a squishy mess” at the Stick. The 49ers linemen will try and keep Alex Smith safe, as they’ve been outfitted with 9 inch cleats… and the ball Drew Brees gets to use is slightly deflated. Oh, and Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter have been practicing with Pro Glides, special shoes custom made by those people who make the airboats in the Everglades. The running backs plan to glide into the end zone in front of 60,000 screaming fans. The Saints are outraged… but hey, there’s nothing they can do. Who’s got it better than us?
I love reading Lowell Cohn, whose musings about Bay Area sports appear regularly in The Cohn Zohn.Lately he’s being tortured by Jim Harbaugh, which is hilarious to me. Lowell is obviously extremely annoyed that the 49ers head coach is not very forthcoming with information. Lowell, you are way more educated than I am, but you don’t seem to get it. I went to Sac City but I get it. Jim Harbaugh keeps things to himself, not to be a jackass… or to punish you personally. It’s because of the times we live in. With the blogosphere (something Vince Lombardi didn’t have to worry about), if you make one slip… one untoward comment about a play, a player or a team… things happen. You use one ill-advised adjective (did he say that receiver is “slow”?)…. and it’s all over the internet in 15 seconds. It would headline material, discussed ad nauseum by sports bimbos all over the world. So Jim Harbaugh, don’t give an inch. Love your stuff Lowell, but get over it.
In what felt like a playoff game, the 49ers sang their version of “When the lights go out in the City..” and shut down the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers on national television. Oh, you can bet the 49ers won’t get any props. And that’s just the way Jim Harbaugh likes it. You know, please disrespect us. Ben was gimpy, Alex got lucky, James Harrison didn’t play… it was too dark. You get the picture. No, the 49ers are 11-3 by accident. To be sure, the games don’t get any easier, and anything can happen. Ask the Green Bay Packers. Just when you’re getting anxious that the post season is still weeks away, think about Eli Manning and the New York Giants. They might not even get there.
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