As you read and watch the continuing melodrama of LaDainian Tomlinson versus the New England Patriots, remember these two words: Grown men.
Those were grown men dancing on the Chargers' logo after the game Sunday. Grown men. We often lose sight of that fact, mainly because we allow athletes so much leeway in the name of "emotion," as in, "Give them a break; they just got caught up in the emotion of the moment."
It really doesn't fly in this case. There was nothing emotional about what the Patriots did. They were acting like the worst kind of winners -- sore winners, intent on smearing their opponents' faces in it. Someone like Walter Payton would have told them to act like they've been there before. It just so happens that the closest we have to someone like Walter Payton happens to be Tomlinson, and he told them just that.
The only problem is how he told them. Like everything in the NFL, it was taken too seriously, and Tomlinson fell victim. You could say he got caught up in the emotion, and in this case you would have been right.
But what about this: What if LT had stood there in the press conference, before anyone asked a question, and started laughing? What if, instead of raging at the Patriots, he had mocked them?
What if he stopped laughing -- I'm thinking about obviously fake, mocking laughter -- long enough to say, "Did you see the way those guys acted out there? Could you believe a team that has won three Super Bowls still does that kind of stuff?"
What if he finished by saying, "Those were grown men doing that"?
What would have happened then? I'll tell you: He would have owned the room, that's what.
This Week's List
• Advice for the NFL: More field goals!
• On a serious -- OK, semi-serious note: With the absolutely vital importance of the kicker in the NFL, why haven't we heard about the first Marv Marinovich-style dad attempting to craft the ultimate Super Kicker?
• One thing to remember when reading and hearing all the comparisons of Tom Brady and Joe Montana, especially those that pay specific attention to Brady's far better postseason winning percentage: Montana was playing against much, much better competition, which should in no way be construed as a criticism of Brady.
• In Seattle they all think it's Matt Hasselbeck's fault, with a little thrown the punter's way, but in San Francisco: Barry Bonds blames Mark Sweeney.
• Just for the heck of it: Natrone Means.
• This, frankly, is pathetic: The idea that New England's tacky celebration in San Diego had something to do with the Pats' not receiving the proper respect for their achievements.
• This explains everything: The Elias Sports Bureau, which makes it its business to know such things, reports the following -- "The Patriots were the fourth team to overcome a deficit of more than 10 points on the road in a postseason victory over a team with the league's best regular-season record."
• So here's what I want to know: If you, for some unknown reason, didn't believe that entire preceding sentence regarding the Pats and their comeback win on Sunday, where in the hell would you start in your quest to refute it?
• Oh, no, not at all -- I really enjoy competing against them: You have to figure the Chargers' biggest fan over the weekend was Peyton Manning, who can't be looking forward to another week of talking about whether Bill Belichick and the Patriots' defense have his number.
• A lot of people think the Chargers dropped a lot of passes on Sunday, but in San Francisco: Barry Bonds thinks it was Mark Sweeney.
• It might not make for as much drama in the ad, but your fellow passengers will appreciate it: If you're like the guy on the Avodart commercial who always has to go the bathroom but then has trouble going once he gets there, request an aisle seat next time you book your flight.
• Since he's making twice as much (counting endorsements and other perks) as A-Rod, it seems only fair: The first time David Beckham doesn't come up with a big goal in a close game against one of his team's rivals, I'm calling him a choker -- twice.
• Everyone in San Diego thinks it's Marty Schottenheimer's fault, but in San Francisco: Barry Bonds blames Mark Sweeney.
• A word -- or nonword -- that should be stricken from the lexicon forever starting right now: Trickeration.
• And finally, one guy who has already gotten hip to the trickeration ban: Mike Holmgren, who apparently thinks tricky means sending Shaun Alexander off left tackle instead of left guard on either third-and-1 or fourth-and-1.
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Page 2 here.