ASHBURN, Va. -- One comment will draw bigger headlines and more debate. The other matters more. In both cases it can’t be the way the NFL hoped Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather would return from his one-game suspension.
And, yes, Meriweather really went there with Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall. Meriweather came across as a wounded friend when he dug deep and personal with Marshall. The Chicago Bears receiver said Meriweather should be suspended or banned because of his repeated illegal hits.
Meriweather returned serve by saying anyone who beats their girlfriend should be out of the league, too. Marshall, of course, has multiple arrests for doing such a thing (but no conviction).
Uh, wow. Thing is, there are many who probably love what Meriweather said and perhaps agree. And, the reality is, it makes for good copy. As a reporter you never want to tell a player to stifle their comments. I’d rather a guy is honest and, in this case, it was raw honesty. Meriweather and Marshall have a relationship and the Bears’ wideout told ESPN’s Linda Cohn last week that they spoke on the phone. In the end, one guy said player X should be kicked out of the league and player X responded in kind, by going personal. It’s a backyard fight.
But the comments that matter more center on what Meriweather said about his new target: players’ knees. Whether he was serious or not, he repeated it twice, saying the NFL would rather have players’ knees ruined than to hit up high. Where, of course, they could suffer a concussion, which could lead to other issues down the line.
"I guess I just got to take people's knees out," Meriweather said, resigned about what he must do and clearly confused as to what's a good hit anymore.
What Meriweather said is simply what many defensive players believe, about what the NFL would rather see when it comes to hits. However, those players aren’t coming off a suspension for illegal hits. With one more hit leading to a much longer one. It’s not like Meriweather was convicted of a crime and now must show repentance. But he needs to show more understanding of why he’s in this spot. And he needs to let the NFL know he understands, in a more political way, what they expect from him. Nobody wants to be known as a dirty player, but Meriweather has put himself in a spot that every hit will be scrutinized heavily. Of course, he was probably already there anyway.
Thing is, Meriweather had a while to think about what he wanted to say. And this is what he decided was best.
“You’ve got to change,” Meriweather said. “And the way the league is going, I’m going to have to.”
There’s no doubt the NFL, and the Redskins, wish he had stopped there.