The Vikings are classless. The decision to dock Troy Williamson a week's pay because he attended to his maternal grandmother's funeral arrangements (she practically raised him, mind you) was cold-hearted, unnecessary, and stupid. It was so bad that I had to agree with ESPN loudmouth Stephen A. Smith, who yelled at Skip Bayless on First Take this morning. And who wouldn't want to yell at Skip Bayless?
Smith was right. Sure, you only have 16 days out of the year that you are getting paid to work (football players are only paid salary from teams during the regular season). But that doesn't mean that you should be required to ignore family matters so you can play football and avoid financial penalty. Williamson was very close to his grandmother, also his brother is in a coma after a car accident. Give the man time with his family.
I will credit Brad Childress for one thing. He didn't bring up Brett Favre when talking about players who played through family tragedies.
Williamson had the right attitude. He didn't rip the organization, and he said he would have stayed away even if it meant being docked his pay for the remainder of the season.
Perhaps I'm old-fashioned, but no human being should be required to shoo aside a family emergency in order to perform job duties. Nothing in this world is more important than a person's immediate family. Something like bereavement should be left up to personal philosophy and choice.
(Will Leitch made a great point. Fred Smoot and Bryant McKinnie were each fined a game check for causing the Vikings great embarrassment in the famous Love Boat case. Now Williamson is docked a game check for missing a game so he could mourn the loss of his grandmother. Ugh.)
Mike Golic admits steroid use while playing football; Mike Greenberg ignores. Possibly the stupidest thing I've ever heard a radio host do. Twice this week, Golic has admitted on ESPN Radio that he used steroids to help deal with an injury during his playing career. Twice, radio sidekick Greenberg has quickly moved on to another topic, ignoring what Golic said.
I mean, this is the same network that has spent much time in the last six months discussing the use of steroids in sports (well, baseball), right? How is this swept under the rug?
Greenberg has the look and feel of someone who is afraid of the topic. No radio host should be able to survive in the business while being afraid of a controversial topic. They are what makes sports radio work. If you don't have controversy, why the hell is anyone listening?
Is this somehow related to ESPN's hefty rights fee to carry NFL games? I hope not. Wouldn't be surprised if it was, but I hope not.
On to the picks.
Last week: 10-4
Minnesota at Green Bay: Tough call for the Packers. Do you get your safeties back and try to prevent
Oh, wait. That's not a tough call. Neither is this, though the Vikings will threaten a cover of the point spread.
The pick: Green Bay
Indianapolis at San Diego: The Chargers are now 4-4 and probably need this game to have much of a shot at the AFC playoffs. Indianapolis probably needs to win out to put any pressure whatsoever on New England for home-field in the AFC playoffs. The Colts should get Marvin Harrison back for this one, and I think they'll find a way to exploit the things Minnesota did to the Chargers' defensive front.
The pick: Indianapolis
Jacksonville at Tennessee: Neither team throws well, and both teams play tough defense. This screams "low-scoring slobberknocker", but will probably end up 38-34 because I said that. I like the Titans here. Can you believe that the winner of this game is probably considered a darkhorse AFC contender?
The pick: Tennessee
Cleveland at Pittsburgh: With a win, the Browns tie Pittsburgh for the AFC North lead. After the Steelers won the season opener 34-7 in Cleveland, could anyone have seen this coming? Pittsburgh has to avoid the ol' Monday Night Blahs, but I think they'll pull out a win at home. The Browns are a nice story, and once they get through this one, they are a legitimate contender for the playoffs. Really.
The pick: Pittsburgh
Dallas at N.Y. Giants: The Giants are on a roll, winners of six straight, and they had two weeks to recover from the London trip and prepare for this one. However, Tony Romo is on a roll of his own, and Terrell Owens can't be covered by human beings. Dallas' offensive balance is too much for the Giants to stop.
The pick: Dallas
Other picks (home team in CAPS)
KANSAS CITY over Denver
Buffalo over MIAMI
NEW ORLEANS over St. Louis
WASHINGTON over Philadelphia
CAROLINA over Atlanta
BALTIMORE over Cincinnati
Chicago over OAKLAND
Detroit over ARIZONA
SEATTLE over San Francisco