The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Hurricane staff.
Following the Hurricanes’ upset loss to Tennessee, Kellen Winslow Jr. blew up at reporters and made comments that many people deemed inappropriate. On Sunday, Winslow wrote a letter of apology to the University of Miami and Donna Shalala.
The truth is, the University should be writing Winslow a thank you note. While most people have a problem with his comments, I am probably in the minority of people that will defend what he said.
Let me start by saying that I have not always been the biggest Winslow Jr. fan. I have probably been harder on him than almost anyone. With that said, I did not have a problem with his comments after the Tennessee game.
First of all, Winslow said that he was ticked off and told reporters to write it down. I like the fact that a player is angry after his team loses. Personally, I can’t stand the athletes who are seen smiling and joking with their teammates or the opposition five minutes after their team loses. Winslow cares about this team and he wants to win. Why should that be something that earns criticism?
There are certain elements missing from this year’s team, like emotion, fire, and heart. Winslow’s comments were full of emotion and fire, showing that there is someone in the Hurricanes’ locker room that actually cares when the team loses.
The ‘Canes are now in a place that they have not been in for a few years. They are facing adversity and are down now. Rather than being kicked while they are down, Winslow said that he is a soldier and will keep fighting.
The war and soldier comments have been blown way out of proportion. The metaphor that Winslow used was not about war and soldiers in Iraq. He was saying he is a soldier on the football field for the University of Miami, not that he was a soldier in Iraq. The war and soldier analogies are commonplace in football and the strong reaction to them is ridiculous.
As far as some of his other comments, Winslow said that if someone came after his knees he would come after them and not feel sorry for them. No one ever said football players were nice guys, so that shouldn’t surprise anyone. On top of that, what Winslow Jr. said was basically the “eye for an eye” principle that every child is taught when it is young. If someone picks on you, then you can defend yourself.
Winslow ripped the officials and said they were targeting him. If anyone has watched the ‘Canes this season and does not think Winslow gets targeted, then they are watching a different team than I am. That is not to say that Winslow does not deserve to be a target, since his past actions have ruined his reputation and are the reason that he gets harsh treatment now. However, officials are supposed to be more professional than that, and are supposed to call games objectively. The last two flags I have seen thrown on Winslow Jr. were calls that should not have been made. Against Virginia Tech, he was flagged for a personal foul, but the Hokie players did numerous things throughout the game that were worse and were never flagged for it.
Finally, the last criticism of his comments from the people who say that Winslow has “implied” that there needs to be changes in the offense. Well, my response to that is that it’s about time someone said that changes need to be made. When you score 13 points in two games, obviously something different needs to happen.
There were definitely better ways for Winslow to have expressed his feelings and I do not agree with the way he handled the situation in that regard. He should have been careful with the choice of words and the language that he used. However, to criticize an emotionally charged player on those grounds would be nitpicking.
Besides, Winslow’s comments may have been strong, and if someone is over analytical, I can see where the statements could be taken as a bad thing. Try to ignore the actual words and think of the motivation behind the comments and what he was actually trying to say and do. Therefore, Winslow should not be apologizing, and the University of Miami and the fans should be thanking him for showing that he cares.
Darren Grossman can be reached at DRG215@aol.com