By: John Molori
October 16, 2007

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THIS WEEK:

- Johnson waxes
- Terry's troubles
- Simms the seer

ESPN's Johnson no expert on team leadership

I have no issues with former athletes overtaking the broadcast industry. Indeed, there are some observations that only an ex-player can make. I do, however, take issue with ex-players who seem to forget their own shortcomings when critiquing today's athletes.

Case in point, ESPN's "NFL Countdown" analyst Keyshawn Johnson. Johnson has, more than once this year, spoken about how many teams are lacking unselfish leaders. This past weekend, Johnson again took that path in discussing the differences between Terrell Owens and Randy Moss.

Johnson stated, "(Owens) loves the attention. He's starving for the attention. Everything is about him. I've never once seen Randy Moss say, 'Oh, it 's about me. I want to go to the Pro Bowl. I want to do this here.' He's (Moss) talking about winning championships.

"He went to the New England Patriots to try to win a championship. Terrell didn't go to the Dallas Cowboys to win a championship. He went there to get money. It is all about him. You cannot do that."

Excuse me while I cough up my esophagus. Keyshawn Johnson was one of the single most selfish players to ever slip on a jock strap. He says that Owens thinks it's all about him, yet it was Johnson who wrote a book called "Just Give Me The Damn Ball!" Are you kidding me?

Back in 2003, The Buccaneers dumped Johnson because he was constantly undermining coach Jon Gruden and putting himself ahead of the team.

On Sunday, Johnson stated, "(Owens is) dropping way too many footballs. His natural athletic ability does not take over games at the end of games. If you look, Randy Moss makes big catches at the end of the football game. I need that from my wide receiver. Third down, I need that. In the red zone at the end of the game, I need that.

"In all of Terrell Owens career, I've seen him make one big catch against the Green Bay Packers at the end of the game."

Johnson saw nothing. He was too busy trashing Jets' teammate Wayne Chrebet and calling out coaches on the sidelines. Maybe Johnson should have been watching Super Bowl XXXIX when Owens caught 9 passes for 122 yards essentially playing on one leg.

He dominated the Patriots defense even though the Eagles lost the game. Owens took Randall Gay to school, gave him lunch money and bought his books.

This is not the first time that Keyshawn has made an ass of himself on television. Back in 2003, after the Bucs deactivated Johnson, he appeared on Fox "NFL Sunday." Then host James Brown tried to take Keyshawn off the hook, saying that the Buccaneers made Keyshawn "look like a major malcontent."

In reality, Keyshawn Johnson made Keyshawn Johnson look like a major malcontent. The Bucs made him disappear. When asked what he did after being deactivated, Keyshawn first said that he called Jon Gruden, then retracted that saying he called then-GM Rich McKay. He finally stated that he called the team's assistant GM. Hey, Keyshawn, which one was it?

The only member of the Fox on-air team who pressed Keyshawn for answers was Jimmy Johnson. When Keyshawn said that he was committed to the Bucs, Johnson asked him why he failed to show up for off-season and Monday workouts.

The issue of former athletes being critical of current players came up earlier this season when ex-Giant Tiki Barber ripped Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin. Barber has a right to tap into his knowledge of the Giants, just as the Giants have a right to be ticked off at Barber for airing locker room dirty laundry.

Fox analyst Troy Aikman took issue with Barber's comments saying, "I'm a true believer in that a team needs great character in addition to great talent in order to achieve success. When you look at the Giants and see all of the talent they've had over the last several years, you almost have to say, ' Why hasn't this team been able to accomplish more?'

"Then you look at some of the public comments made recently by Barber about Eli Manning. I don't think you have to look much further than that to say, 'You know, maybe now I understand why this team has underachieved.'"

Fox's Jimmy Johnson was equally critical of Barber. "If it hadn't been for Tom Coughlin, Tiki Barber might not have even been playing these last couple of years," said Johnson.

"(Tiki) dropped the ball so many times that there's a good chance he'd be over on the sidelines. But I guess now that he's in the broadcast business, he has gotten a lot smarter and forgot about all those fumbles."

Aikman and Johnson aside, Barber was a team leader in New York and never had any of the character flaws that Keyshawn Johnson possessed. He has a lot more integrity in the leadership department.

Keyshawn Johnson has every right to discuss pass routes and play calling, but when the subject turns to leadership, he should best step aside and let more credible analysts take the floor.

Bradshaw's bombs

What's eating Fox's Terry Bradshaw? Several weeks ago, he ignorantly trashed Donovan McNabb for statements McNabb made about being an African-American quarterback in the NFL. Bradshaw dismissed McNabb's thoughtful statements as a cry for more love.

Two weeks ago, Raiders quarterback Daunte Culpepper had a great day against his former team, the Dolphins. Miami jettisoned Culpepper due to the quarterback's lingering knee problems.

After scoring a touchdown, Culpepper pointed to his knee and triumphantly motioned to the Miami crowd as if to tell them that his knee was fine.

In response, Bradshaw said to Culpepper, "You should keep your mouth shut, go sit on the bench, show some class and be thankful you've been given another chance. That's what wins people back to your side, and that's what shuts your detractors up."

What was Bradshaw talking about? In what way does Culpepper have to win anyone back? He got hurt and has battled back from it. The only detractor I see is Bradshaw himself. Culpepper's touchdown celebration was harmless and joyous. It was hardly classless.

Bradshaw is being incredibly hypocritical given his longtime infatuation with Brett Favre, a guy who celebrates every touchdown pass as if it were a Super Bowl winner.

Favre has also made a habit of getting in the face of opposing defensive linemen. Bradshaw has done everything but give Favre a hot oil massage, yet he criticizes Culpepper for showing similar emotion.

The odd rants continued this week as Bradshaw commented on Vinny Testaverde's return to the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. Bradshaw stated, "Just how thin is the National Football League as far as quality quarterbacks are concerned, that we have to go and get a guy out of a wheelchair, put him on a team and he stands a chance to start today?"

First of all, the "wheelchair" line is a bit insulting to a host of people and groups. Second, Bradshaw is showing his ignorance. Testaverde, most recently a New England Patriot, is no kid, but he is still one of the best-conditioned and smartest quarterbacks in the league.

You don't make a Bill Belichick roster if you're dead weight. Bradshaw' s unkind remarks were further buried when Testaverde completed 20 of 33 passes for 206 yards highlighted by a 65-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith.

Hmm, I wonder if Bradshaw will pull out that "wheelchair" line in five years when Brett Favre hits 43. Doubt it.

Phil's forecast

In the aftermath of the NFL's first Clash of the Titans, New England at Dallas, it's interesting to break down the pregame thoughts of CBS' game analyst Phil Simms.

Leading into the contest, Simms stated, "(New England) will be even more determined, more focused and more ready for this game because they know the environment. They know the team they are going to play is a well-rounded team. And, they know it will take their best to win. All that is right up New England's alley."

How true. There is no substitute for big game experience and you could tell right away which team seemed more used to the atmosphere. Many of Dallas' s players were dancing and strutting following mere tackles.

Conversely, the Patriots, save for a couple of celebrations by Vince Wilfork and Rodney Harrison, looked like they had been in important games previously.

Simms continued, "New England is a team where winning is important to them, but they also love to battle. I have always said that in athletics always be afraid of the person who loves to battle. They have proven ever since Bill Belichick has been there that they can fight for a long time."

Simms taps into a part of the Patriots that is often overlooked. This team is incredibly tough. Smart, tested, proud and prepared are often-used terms to define the Patriots, but they are as down and dirty a bunch as any.

Simms also stated, "A lot of teams have wanted a piece of New England over the years and they enjoy that fight, but somewhere in the second half they end up asking is this fight ever going to end?"

Simms predicted the outcome perfectly. When Dallas jumped ahead of New England 24-21, the Patriots responded like a boxer who tastes his own blood. They went ballistic. From there on, it was a 24-6 drubbing with Dallas clearly out of gas at the end of the game. Credit Simms for accurately forecasting the game's storyline.

John Molori's columns are published in Boston Sports Review, Boston Baseball Magazine, New England Hockey Journal, BostonSportsMedia.com, PatsFans.com, Staatalent.com, BostonSportz.com, Methuen Life and several newspapers and websites throughout New England. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.


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