Woodson just might be right
By Tim Keown
Page 2 columnist

The coach is always right, right? That seems to be the message you get most often from the people who are paid to analyze professional football. But what if an allegedly divisive influence -- oh, let's call him Charles Woodson -- is the one who's right?

Woodson has engaged in a nearly weeklong harangue against Raiders coach Bill Callahan, and you don't have to be the king of insight to realize he's not just speaking for himself. In fact, it's a pretty good bet Woodson is speaking for more than half of the locker room, given both his persistence and insistence in the matter of Callahan's shortcomings.

Bill Callahan
Raiders coach Bill Callahan is taking heat from his star cornerback, Charles Woodson.
So why are so many members of the media -- granted, they're usually former players -- so quick to chastise a player for not keeping his opinions "in-house"? Woodson has repeatedly given the traditional middle finger to the locker-room motto: What's said here stays here.

Not that this was Woodson's intention, but players who express their concerns in public about how their team is being run are doing the fans a service. The people who pay their money to support a professional team are entitled to know what's going on behind the curtain. If Woodson and Rice and Brown and whoever else believe the Raiders are having directional difficulties, the guy shelling out too much money to sit too far away from the field on Sunday needs to know.

So if you're in the media business, if you're one of us -- whether you admit it or not -- then you know the players who keep things "in-house" don't make for the best TV. If you have a rooting interest, it should be for "out-house" every time. Kobe and Shaq? Come out and stay out. Charles Woodson? He's out, way out, and he seems to be enjoying it. Don't discourage him. Who knows, he might even be right.

This Week's List

  • Imagine how deftly he'll parlay this and his winning personality into millions more in endorsements from some of the world's most dynamic companies: Vijay Singh, nearly a lock for the PGA money title.

  • Shouldn't there be a requirement that a guy has to make a play every once in a while before he gets all that attention?: Chris Hovan.

  • Give 'em a break -- they were plumb out of Mike Kincade batting gloves and Cesar Izturis batting helmets: It was reported in Los Angeles that the Dodgers contributed 1,000 blankets, 500 lunch boxes, 500 visors, a few hundred bobbleheads and some Tommy Lasorda dolls to the victims of the Southern California fires.

  • Watching the game, the thought occurred to me that this was a government-sponsored study on institutional incompetence: The officiating crew for the Washington State-USC game on Saturday.

  • Believe it or not, there's someone out there who makes John Sterling and his "Thuh ... Yankees win!" smack sound like Mike Wallace: Former Washington State coach Jim Walden, working the color commentary for the Cougars' Radio Network.

  • Yet another reason kids sports would be better without the adults: Today's hero is Nate Haasis of Springfield Southeast High in Illinois, who petitioned to have a completion that gave him 5,000 passing yards expunged from his record after he found that his coach and the opposing coach agreed to let him complete the landmark pass in exchange for a touchdown for Cahokia High.

  • One reason why Gary Payton and Karl Malone will be able to overcome their age and stay fresh enough to help the Lakers win it all: Just enough putrid teams on the schedule to ensure sufficient rest between the games that really matter.

  • Just for the heck of it: Cas Banaczak.

  • In this case, maybe it is the media's fault: Have you noticed that every time LeBron James is interviewed, he wants to talk about the team but the guys holding the microphones won't let him?

  • It's what they call having a psychological edge: Bill Parcells' at-least-we-didn't-lose philosophy is one of the reasons the Cowboys haven't been losing.

  • Another basketball season, another chance to grind my teeth while listening to babble that extols the virtues of the world's most overrated statistic: The double-double.

  • Again, for the thousandth time: If you're 6-foot-8 or taller and you're making more than $5 million a year to play basketball, the absolute minimum requirement is a game in which you manage 10 points and 10 rebounds.

  • For example: Erick Dampier.

  • It'll be easier to tell his coach how he feels about him when they're both on the field: Bucs coach Jon Gruden has reportedly called Rickey Watters, who once stood on the field and directed a middle finger toward Gruden in the press box when both were with Philadelphia, to inquire about his willingness to return to work.

  • And finally, got to close it out: I think I hear Snoop Dogg at the door.

    Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.



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