Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nick Barnett and the Samurai: It is what it is...

In what was an incredibly disappointing display by the Packer defense last Sunday, Nick Barnett lit a firestorm after doing his samurai celebration after a tackle, drawing boos from the crowd and ending up what will be heralded as the first instance of an NFL player taking his Twitter and going home.

Yes, Nick brought some criticism, and in his own words, some of it deserved. When you're getting trounced, its not usually looked on with high approval to be doing some me-first celebrations on the field. The crowd let him know, Barnett let them know how he felt, and the sun came up the following morning.

Aaron over at CHTV decided to launch a salvo at Packer fans who have been critical of Barnett's actions, which then turned into one of the biggest Internet slapfights in recent memory.

My take:

I agree with Brian Carriveau on the topic of "acting like you've been there before" when it comes to professional sports. I realize that Chad Johnson gets a lot of our own media guys excited because they have something to write about, but I'm sure glad he's not on my team. The celebrations overshadow the game and simply seem to detract from, if not distract, the team.

I've never been a fan of the Samurai. I think it is a bit juvenile and I wish Barnett could just make a play, celebrate with his teammates, and go back to the huddle and get ready to tee it up again. And, it looks kind of goofy.

But, you have to consider who Nick Barnett is. Nick is a guy who, I believe, has tried a bit too hard to be the emotional leader of the defense. Can't blame him...he and Al Harris are the longest-tenured Packers, both remaining on the team from the Sherman era. Barnett has been far more stable than the position of defensive coordinator over the course of his career.

This is who Barnett is. I like him, I think he's a good linebacker. I don't know if he'll ever make a Pro Bowl, but I think there's been years he's been worthy of consideration. Middle linebacker, however, is a pretty crowded field when it comes to post-season honors. He's not a superstar, but is a solid player who would be even better if surrounded by solid talent.

I'll tell you what I wish Barnett was. I wish he was just like Mike Singletary. I wish he would get into the huddle, call the formation with a cold stone glare that makes every other player in the circle pray to God they aren't the one who messes up and has to face him again. I wish that he would line up across from Carson Palmer and silently intimidate him so much that Palmer wets himself before getting the snap off. And I wish he would spend four seconds transformed into a complete wild animal, wreaking havoc on the blockers before demolishing whomever has the ball. And then, as soon as the whistle blows, slowly saunter back to the huddle and do it all over again.

But Nick Barnett isn't Mike Singletary. He's Nick Barnett. He does what he knows how to do. He is what he is, which is an emotional player who tries to lead with his actions both during the play and between plays.

So, when Barnett pulled the Samurai out, I don't fault him. No, it wasn't great timing and it is just as lame as I've always thought it, but that's not the point.

The point, quite simply, is that the team needed to pull their heads out of their butts, and no one else (save Charles Woodson) was doing a damn thing to make it happen. Cedric Benson and the Bengal offensive line were driving our defense back, over and over again, and you couldn't see a spark of life after Woodson picked his second interception.

Did the Samurai save the team, inspire them to new heights? Nope. But give Barnett credit for at least trying. He can only do what he knows how to do, and he did that by making a play and getting all demonstrative.

Barnett shouldn't be criticized for emotionally trying to get his own head in the game, if not bringing along the heads of his teammates. You can criticize the lameness of the Samurai if you want, but not the action of trying to get the team off its collective posterior.

Hey...if Barnett doesn't do it, who does? Perhaps Dom Capers needs to come out of the booth and do the job himself.

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