Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Kravitz vs. Colts: Marvin Harrison is "Selfish and Small?"

Something fishy is going on between Indystar sports columnist Bob Kravitz and the Indianapolis Colts (specifically, Tony Dungy and Bill Polian). In Monday's column, Kravitz was a bit harsh with Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison. Apparently, Marvin walked off into the locker room before halftime, while Vinatieri was setting up for a field goal.

I missed this during the game, but people who went to the game probably noticed. At any rate, Kravitz criticized Harrison for this "disappearing act," saying that it was "as embarrassing as it was out of character." He goes on to complain about Harrison not attempting to tackle Philadelphia's Lito Sheppard after an interception. These acts are described by Kravitz as Harrison's "hissy fit."

You can read that article here

Well today, Kravitz has written an equally "embarrassing and out of character" column for IndyStar. He appears quite offended that the Colts are actually defending Harrison and attempting to explain what really happened. Imagine someone involved with today's media accusing others of putting a story through the "spin cycle." Kravitz doesn't reference it, but a few of Polian's quotes can be read here. He defends Harrison's actions.

If you read between the lines of Kravitz's column today, you can see that he pushed the wrong buttons on Monday. I'm guessing they (someone associated with the Colts) complained to Kravitz for being so harsh on Harrison. Then Kravitz felt the need to defend himself through his column, by showing everyone why he is right and the Colts are lying. He is accusing them of creating "revisionist history and spin." Amazing.

I'm not saying he's wrong, I just think he's being a bit ridiculous. After admitting that anyone can have a "lousy day at the office," he goes on to say that Harrison "reduced himself to the lowest common denominator." That's absurd. Yeah, Harrison shouldn't have done it. But to say that is just ridiculous. That's like if Mother Teresa had a rough day and cursed at an orphan who had stolen food. Then Kravitz would say, "See! She's no saint." Okay, that was a horrible example, but it gets my point across.

At the end of the article, Kravitz encourages us to refuse to "buy what Dungy and Polian are selling." Unless we "don't mind them tinkling in your boot and telling you it's raining." That is funny.

But I expect no less from Dungy and Polian. They've probably already worked out whatever issues needed to be handled. Who cares? So Harrison walked out before halftime and complained about a call instead of catching a defender and injuring himself for the season. Let the coach handle that situation. Don't write a sophomoric article saying a man has "reduced himself to the lowest common denominator."

I don't know about you, but it sure looks like rain to me.

Anyways, I wouldn't be at all surprised if we hear more about this in the future. Please let me know if you hear anything, I'm interested to see how it pans out. I'm including the full text of today's column in case you're interested. Here's a link for it at IndyStar, or just read on:

"November 29, 2006

Bob Kravitz
Colts try spin cycle in Harrison story

A couple of minutes after Sunday night's Indianapolis Colts victory, I approached coach Tony Dungy as he made his way from the interview room to the locker room.

I asked him if anything was going on with Marvin Harrison, who seemed upset throughout the game, and I specifically noted that the player left the field before halftime.

Dungy said he didn't notice that Harrison had exited stage right. On Monday afternoon, though, Dungy was saying that he gave Harrison permission to leave early to receive additional stretching during halftime.

And Monday night, Colts president Bill Polian said on his radio show, "I just confirmed this with Tony less than 10 minutes ago (before the 6 p.m. show). Marvin went into the locker room with Tony's knowledge because he was tightening up. Now if you're 188 pounds and you're blocking for sweeps against safeties like (Brian) Dawkins and Lito Sheppard, you might tighten up. And he did, and he spent the entire halftime being stretched out by trainers in the training room.
"That's why he went in early. Not because he was Randy Moss. Not because he walked off the field because he didn't catch a pass. Because he needed to get stretched.''

So, which is it:
Dungy knew, or he didn't know?

Think about this: If Dungy had responded to my postgame question by saying, "Yeah, he was tightening up and we wanted to get him into the locker room to get stretched,'' don't you figure the column would have read differently?

I would have gone one of two ways. Either written:
"Despite what looked like a premature LeBron James-style walkoff before halftime, Harrison, in fact, left with Dungy's blessing in order to get treatment for muscle tightness.''

Or I would have written nothing.

Maybe stuck a paragraph into the Dopey Report Card about how Harrison didn't make much of an effort on the interception.

Except Dungy didn't say that. He said nothing about Harrison's early exit. Mostly, he shrugged and looked at me like I was from the Planet Formerly Known as Pluto.
Polian needs to understand this: While he believes all of this is a concoction brewed by what he calls the "chattering classes,'' the fact is, fans who were at the game and those who watched on TV were yapping about Harrison's demeanor long before a word appeared in The Star.

The message boards were buzzing with talk of Harrison's body language. As I drove home from the RCA Dome, the postgame show was filled with callers wondering what was up with Harrison, well before a single word of mine or anybody else's appeared in the next day's paper.

Even if we're to accept the team's explanation that he wanted to get a four-second head start in the training room, the truth is, Harrison appeared to many of us -- and not just the pundits and football Oprahs -- that he was in serial mope mode all night.

Did he block well?
Yeah, he blocked well.

As Polian noted, Harrison graded out with an A-plus for his blocking on the coaches' Not Quite As Dopey Report Cards.

"So, Marvin was not disinterested, he was not uninvolved, he wasn't pouting, he wasn't in a snit, he was blocking his tail off,'' Polian said.
That wasn't the argument.

Nobody claimed he was dogging it -- except, well, on the interception, where he stood and argued for pass interference rather than pursue the defensive back.
The claim here -- and elsewhere -- is he was pitching a very subtle fit.
And what we're getting now from Dungy and Polian is revisionist history and spin because in Colts World, a player can do no wrong, unless his name is Mike Vanderjagt.

Look, there's nothing wrong with ego. I had one installed a couple of years ago in a relatively painless procedure. Athletes who are great at anything generally have oversized egos to match. I remember that when Edgerrin James didn't get his carries, nobody moped more. I don't know if the wide receiver position draws certain types of personalities, or produces divas, but all around the league, the game is populated by high-profile soloists who demand pampering and special attention.

That's what made Harrison's performance just a little bit shocking. Sure, he cares about numbers, a whole lot more than he'll let on, and he's one of the moodiest and most inscrutable athletes of all time. But for the better part of a majestic Hall of Fame career here, he has represented everything that's supposed to be good about the NFL.

I can readily accept that a player, or a coach, or a columnist, is going to have his lousy days at the office. That's not the issue here. The issue is, a great player with a mostly spotless reputation reduced himself to the lowest common denominator.
You want to buy what Dungy and Polian are selling?

Hey, if you don't mind having your intelligence insulted, if you don't mind them tinkling in your boot and telling you it's raining, well, then, that's your problem.

Bob Kravitz is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star."

IndyStar comments from this article

1 comment:

torporindy said...

Harrison has been here for 10 years and has been a class act for the entire time. Maybe he did walk off in anger the other night. Maybe not. It is a team issue that is being handled internally. Kravitz must really be out of things to write.