Is it me, or does almost every opponent we've beaten in the playoffs turn into a whining, moaning, bitching bunch of p*ssies after we end their season? The Raiders and Steelers in '01, The Colts in '03 and '04, and now the San Diego Chargers take their place among the obnoxious and pathetic whiners.
Why? Because after the game was decided, some of the Patriots celebrated. They imitated Shawne Merriman's spaz dance, and stomped on the all of a sudden hallow and sacred San Diego Charger logo at midfield. The excessive celebration resulted in a meaningless 15 yard taunting penalty, and an equally meaningless Ladainian Tomlinson temper tantrum.
Here's what LT had to say:
"When you go to the middle of our field, when you start doing the dance that Shawne Merriman is known for, that's disrespectful to me. And I can't sit there and watch that. And so, yeah, I was very upset. And just the fact that they showed no class at all. Absolutely no class. And maybe that comes from their head coach. So you know, there you have it."
First of all, how is making fun of Merriman disrespectful to LT? I understand Tomlinson wanting to stand up for his teammate, and I respect him for that, but the Patriots weren't disrespectful to Tomlinson in any way shape or form by doing the "Lights Out" dance. LT is taking this way too personally, as if Ellis Hobbs walked over his mother's grave doing the Lights Out dance.
Let's look at the man that the Patriots actually disrespected by mimicking him. Shawne Merriman is one of the best players in the NFL. He was also suspended for 4 games due to failing a steroids test. In other words, he cheated. He cheated big time.
When Merriman finished 3rd in the voting for defensive player of the year, Jason Taylor said that he didn't belong on the ballot due to his steroid use. According to some rumors, Merriman then sent Taylor a "Lights Out" t-shirt, and some popcorn so that Taylor could eat it while watching Merriman in the playoffs. That's real classy. Now maybe it was a joke, and maybe it never happened. Nevertheless, on the surface at least, it seems like Merriman has some difficulty in respecting a player who is not only very good, but has been very good for a long time.
The funny thing is, the NFL seems to have heeded the advice of Taylor and will not be allowing any player who has been suspended during the season to receive any award or accolade beginning next season.
Merriman is perhaps best known for his spastic embolisms after recording a sack. He's one of countless players that have prepared and planned celebrations. Usually, guys like Chad Johnson or TO do their little dances after touchdowns. Merriman does them after sacks. Now a sack is a great play, but it is hardly a touchdown. Apparently, Merriman can do his dance, but nobody else can.
Where did Merriman get the nickname "Lights Out" which adorns his body in the form of a tattoo? Playing in a high school game, he knocked out 4 players on the opposing team in the 1st half. This achievement, of injuring 4 players, has caused so much pride for Merriman that he revels in being named for it.
Merriman was also not shy or even humble leading up to Sunday's game. During the Pats/Jets game, he predicted the Patriots would lose. During a pep rally in San Diego, he vowed to "hit Tom Brady in the mouth" as if Tom had done something to him.
What did Merriman do to backup his talk on Sunday? He had two tackles, and sacked Tom Brady at the line of scrimmage as Brady attempted to scramble for yardage. It was hardly an electrifying performance. In fact, it was quite mediocre.
This is the player the New England Patriots had the gall to disrespect. A cheater, a showboat, a braggart, a trash talker, and after Sunday: a loser.
As far as celebrating on a team's emblem on a field goes, I think LT and some anti-Patriots haters out there are blowing it out of proportion. I'm sure it hurts to watch an opposing team dance on your own field, but it happens. Grow up! It's a friggin' lightning bolt painted on turf! If you don't want people celebrating on your field, or on your team's logo, don't give them reason to celebrate. Don't get pissed off at the Patriots for beating you in your own house. Could you imagine Tedy Bruschi going ape-sh*t if opposing players danced on the Flying Elvis in Gillette? I'm sure he wouldn't be pleased, but he'd probably be more upset at losing a game, not watching another team do a little dance on a painted piece of sod.
People are comparing the Patriots logo celebration with the infamous incident in Dallas with TO.
There's a few differences, though. TO celebrated twice DURING the game after touchdowns. The Patriots celebrated after essentially WINNING the game. TO's celebrations were also during a regular season game against a mediocre Cowboys team. The Patriots celebrated on the logo of the #1 seeded 14-2 Chargers in a divisional playoff game. BIG DIFFERENCE between the two.
This will sound weird, but maybe LT and the Chargers can see the Patriots celebrating as a sign of respect to their team. I can't recall the Patriots celebrating on anyone else's logo in recent memory. And we certainly wouldn't do a dance on the Buffalo Bills logo or the Houston Texans logo. You only do that kind of thing if the logo actually means something. This season, the Chargers logo meant the best in the NFL in the regular season.
And the remark about Belichick was way, WAY out of line. It was a very disrespectful thing to say about one of the best coaches in the NFL's history. Belichick keeps things in house, and shows nothing but respect for his opponents. All of us in New England who watch him on TV shows or listen to him on the radio in between games are practically sick of hearing him talk about how good of a pass rusher Jason Taylor is.
It isn't as if Belichick ordered or even suggested to his players that they go celebrate on the Chargers logo. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if he scolded some of them for the outburst. But he isn't going to use the media to do that scolding. If he wants to say something to Ellis Hobbs, he'll say it to Ellis man to man, not through WCVB or the Boston Globe. Unlike a guy like Parcells, he isn't going to tear down one of his players via the media.
But there's some people that just flat out dislike Belichick and still think the Patriots are nothing but lucky illusionists, somehow beating teams through smoke and mirrors, or even the occasional vast NFL conspiracy theory. Just look at Mike Ditka, the coach of the Super Bowl Shuffle Bears, who called out Belichick and the Patriots for being "classless, ridiculous, and childish." You want to talk about class, Coach Ditka? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words.
The remarks from Tomlinson above came right after a gut-wrenching and heartbreaking loss in his team's first playoff game of the season. So some intense emotion is to be expected. It's got to be frustrating to have a great game like LT had and still lose. But Tomlinson, a self-described "classy guy," was still crying about it long after the game was over with.
“What message do you want to send kids? That’s the way you act after a win? In my opinion, that’s not the way you act.”
Apparently LT feels that a dance mimicking his teammate is a worse influence on kids than say, a Pro Bowl linebacker doing steroids (Merriman), or another linebacker driving around drunk (Steve Foley), or a defensive linemen using steroids to recover from an injury (to Luis Castillo's credit, he openly admitted his steroid use). I guess LT feels that respecting the pride and honor of another team is a much more heinous act than injecting yourself with a harmful substance in order to gain an unfair advantage, or driving around with 3 times the legal limit blood alcohol level in your system, disobeying a police officer.
“When you’re the three-time Super Bowl champion, you don’t need to act that way. My whole thing is, you won the game. We were going to congratulate you for going on. But then you start to further disrespect us. In my mind, you don’t do that. Not with athletes, anyway. We’re all competing.”
I guess, in LT's mind, it's okay to talk trash and be disrespectful before a game, then during it, but not after you've won it. The Chargers were talking and jawing all game long. Hell, they even head-butted Kevin Faulk in plain sight of the official. The Patriots kept their cool and celebrated when they had secured victory.
And what the hell does Ladainian Tomlinson know about being a three time Super Bowl champ? Seriously, who does this guy think he is, giving advice on how to act like champions to the New England Patriots? The only Bowl LT has ever won is the Sun Bowl. If you want to give lectures and criticism on how to act like a champion, let's limit it to the Mountain West for now.
“Marty always tells us to act like you’ve been there before. That’s something your coach always tells you, so if your guys are acting like that, it comes from top to the bottom, in my opinion. I could be wrong.”
Again, what does Marty know about "being there?" Did I miss something? This is the guy who holds the distinction of being the NFL head coach to have the most wins without ever coaching in a Super Bowl! Suddenly everyone who has never been "there" is telling a team that has been "there" how to act like they've been "there."
Does Marty tell Merriman to act like he's been there before when he records a sack? If he does, Shawne must not be listening. Maybe Merriman is on another cycle and the roids cause muscle spasms or something.
LT, you are wrong.
Here is what Philip Rivers had to say:
"I was disappointed at the finger-pointing and the lights-out stuff and how they handled winning. As much as people expect them to win, they didn't act like it."
I guess Rivers is more disappointed in the Patriots than he is with his own teammates. How about Drayton Florence and Shane Olivea and their pointless unnecessary roughness penalties? How about Marlon McCree fumbling a game sealing pick, or Eric Parker trying to pick up a muffed punt so he could return it? How about the non-factor Merriman was? I guess Rivers is more concerned with the honor of his team's logo and the lack of respect shown to his honorable teammate Shawne Merriman, than he is about winning. Good for him.
This is all really funny and childish. It was obvious that the Chargers were trash talking right in the face of the Patriots players during the game. How did we handle it? We remained calm and won the game. That is what acting like a champion entails.
Since when did people expect us to win? Are you telling me the Chargers were underdogs in this game? Guess what, Phil, you were expected to win by everyone and your team messed it up. You had 9 Pro Bowlers, the NFL MVP, homefield advantage, and pretty much everything in the world in your favor. But you lost the game. Your team lost to the likes of Jabbar Gaffney and Artrell Hawkins. No offense to either of these guys, but they aren't exactly superstars or Pro Bowlers. But they are winners.
Here's what Shaun Phillips had to say:
"That was very classless. When we went in and beat their head in New England, blew them out, we did nothing but compliment them and say they were a good team. We would never disrespect a team like that. Shaun Phillips will have a grudge against them the rest of his career."
That game was in 2005 and you're still talking about it? Wow! And talking in 3rd person? HAHAHAHAHA!
"That's just something you don't do"
That's what Merriman had to say. Apparently doing steroids is okay, but doing his "Lights Out" dance isn't. Now, in the rest of this interview with Merriman, he seemed to want to move on from this whole celebration issue and focus on next season, so give some credit to him for not being a total cry baby. He didn't like what we did, but he seemed to not like losing even more.
The San Diego Chargers are being nothing but a bunch of cry-babies. It's really a shame because they played such a tough game against us, and are a very good young team that will be in many more playoff games in the upcoming years. but it seems like they're trying to take the low road like the 2001 Raiders, 2001 Steelers, 2003 Colts, and 2004 Colts. They're getting mad at things and people other then themselves for losing. The Raiders blamed the refs and their fans concocted a huge NFL-wide conspiracy. The Steelers complained about the better team not winning. The Colts whined and moaned about being touched too often. None of these teams could just look in the mirror and say "We lost, let's learn from it, and move on."
LT, Rivers, and Phillips are taking their anger out on the Patriots because we celebrated a victory. They're not assessing their own team's performance against us. They're being immature, and as tough as they played us, that toughness seems to have vanished after the game as they whined and moaned about the Big Bad Patriots being a bunch of Big Bad Meanies.
To paraphrase one of my favorite lines from The Rock, losers complain about classless celebrations, winners go home and [expletive] Gisele Bundchen.