The Boy once told me that after a loss, his high school football coach forbid the team from talking, laughing, or smiling on the bus or the way home from games. "What are you smiling about? You lost!" he'd say, or some variation of it.
It was that kind of attitude that caused The Boy to go play rugby; he wanted to play something fun. If only he'd known that in the NFL, losing by 18 is a laughing matter: Derek Anderson, the for-now-QB of the Arizona Cardinals (Motto: Kurt Warner, please take our calls!) was caught laughing on the sidelines while down by 18 against San Francisco -- then got huffy when a reporter dared ask him what was so funny. Let's look at what someone low-budgetedly taped off their TV to see what happened:
Someone should tell Derek that if you want to be a star in this league, the way to handle press conferences is to repeat every question and then just say "I'm just here to play the game."
What's amazing is that the reporter-- the reporter -- is now taking heat for doing his job. One site called the reporter's question a "blindside attack." Sure -- because asking a quarterback about something he did during a game is way out of line, right?
That reporter -- a guy named "Milton Kent"-- takes the time-honored step of "misphrasing the question in a way that lets him answer it the way he wants: what lawyers call a "straw man" argument, setting up a straw man that you can then knock down:
Have we really reached the point where every single action on a sideline or bench or dugout has to be explained? How many of us, especially those in the media, could withstand the inevitable scrutiny that would arise if we had to answer for every seemingly inappropriate comment made in the course of a working day? There's hardly a reporter or editor alive who has always said the right thing at the right time, but we always expect the people we cover to be perfect, even if we don't know the reason for their imperfection.
The problem with that is that the reporter who asked the question wasn't asking about "every single action on a sideline." The reporter was asking about one action: Laughing while in the midst of losing your sixth straight game.
You know what Anderson might have been laughing about? Maybe that Arizona guaranteed him a minimum of $3.25 million when it signed him -- so no matter how bad he played, he's going to be a millionaire. Here's what I imagine that conversation sounded like:
Anderson: Man, we suck.
Lutui: You said it.
Anderson: Want to go get some solid gold tattoos grafted onto our skin after the game? On me?
Lutui: Only if we can spit on Arizona fans on the way home.
Anderson: (Laughing) You got it, man.