A discussion with a fellow PC writer recently made me think...he referred to Ahmad Carroll as an "anti-hero", someone that people can look to, perhaps without admiration, but respect for what he does, despite the fact that he does some things that would probably p*** off the other team and their fans.
I don't know about that. But it is interesting.
I remember my favorite guy who could walk that line between hero and antihero, Sterling Sharpe. And it is true, he had some behaviors that were just borderline cocky, behaviors that if they had been done by Cris Carter or Herman Moore, I would have been furious with.
On one play, as the play was being whistled, some defensive back was struglling yet to strip the ball from him. Now, any DB going against the pipes Sharpe had is pretty much a non-battle, but Sharpe appeared to be toying with him. When the DB finally got frustrated and pushed Sharpe away, Sharpe tossed the ball at him. The CB caught it, stared at it for a second, then pounded the ball away.
As we mentioned earlier this week, on a day in the LionDome, Sharpe decided to be cocky and waltz up to the goal line instead of crossing it, and just reach the ball over the goal line. It got whacked out, he picked it up, and sat in the end zone smiling like a Cheshire Cat, knowing he got away with it.
Another time, as a big ol' defensive tackle was standing over the pile, Sharpe got up and quickly handed him the ball. Like the DB I mentioned earlier, he looked stunned for a sec, then slammed it away.
Of course, the penchant for not talking to the media was something else that his fans seemed to support, although the media didn't take kindly to it.
I must admit, as each of these and other event would unfold, I found myself fervently supporting him and his actions. Why? Because he was my boy. And, he backed up his cockiness with solid play.
We can remember many anti-heroes, and they are much more memorable when they are on other teams: Butkus, Deion, Irvin, Chad Johnson. When they do their actions to us, we hate them. But if they were to do it as a member of our team, we'd giddily support it.
In literary terms, there is a literary element known as the "mary sue". A Mary Sue is a secondary character who seems to be superior to everyone else, especially the main character, yet doesn't take the leadership role. They're often nearly perfect and idealized.
However, something that is often noted about Mary Sue's is the ability of the character to "get away" with things that the other main characters would not be able to, and certainly, the villians doing the same actions would be, well, villified. But those characters are "special".
That a bit how I liken our "anti-heroes" in football....we are willing to forgive these cocky or belligerent or self-serving behaviors because we've already placed them on a pedestal.
That brings me back to Carroll, or folks like Cletidus Hunt, Chris Akins, who did little to distinguish themselves on the field, yet seemed to have behaviors that set people off.
Can Carroll reach that point of being an "anti-hero"? At this point, no, I don't believe he can. Because when you look at some of the Packer anti-heroes, such as Sterling Sharpe or perhaps Donald Driver today, or the great anti-heros of the NFL, like Deion, Irvin, TO, or Chad Johnson, every single one have established themselves statistically and subjectively as great players.
Does Chad Johnson get away with significantly more "crap" than Ahmad Carroll? Absolutely. So does TO. But those fans are more willing to forgive that because that bravado translates into performance on the field.
Face it. I'm guessing there were a lot of Dallas fans who HATED Owens before he got there. How many of them, do you think, decided to be a bit more forgiving now that he was wearing blue and white? And, even with the feigned "injuries", if TO has a couple 150-yard receiving games that translate into wins when the games count, he will, again, become the anti-hero, the Mary Sue, forgiven of his faults.
The key is Carroll needs to peform at a high level on the field in order for people to give him an overlook or two of his faults.