All's fair in war and football
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

Kellen Winslow created a stir Saturday during an angry postgame interview, when, among other things, he said, "It's war. They're out there to kill you, so I'm out there to kill them. ... I'm a soldier."

Kellen Winslow Jr.
This man plays a game. He is not a soldier.
While Winslow clearly needs to lighten up, it's hardly surprising that a 20-year-old who has heard football coaches repeatedly use inappropriate war metaphors might voice one himself after a tough loss.

He certainly isn't alone, either. Although we all placed an unofficial embargo on war metaphors after Sept. 11, we've slid right back to describing big games as "wars" and calling players "courageous" for doing nothing more than performing well in the clutch.

While such descriptions are gross hyperbole, obviously inappropriate and just plain silly, they also aren't worth getting too worked up about. People have been saying silly things in sports for a long time, and we will continue to say silly things for a lot longer.

The worrisome thing isn't all the inappropriate war metaphors. The real worry is the inappropriate football metaphors ...

U.S. Military holds news conference on Iraq War:

Wearing camouflage fatigues and an army helmet, Hank Williams Jr. opens the press conference by bellowing out his trademark ditty, "Are you ready for some Shock and Awe?" His performance is followed by the entrance of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Gen. Tommy Franks and deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, all dressed in camouflage running suits.

FOX NEWS: Coach Franks, what did you learn from the 1991 Gulf War that you were able to apply to this contest?

FRANKS: A lot. We had a problem finishing off drives during the first Gulf War, no doubt about it. We got down into the red zone, but we settled for a field goal when we should have gone right for a touchdown.

RUMSFELD: The Iraq defense had been on the field that whole game. They were sucking wind, and they were playing back on their heels. We just got conservative and didn't take advantage of the situation. We weren't going to let that happen this time. That's why we kept going long this time, even late in the fourth quarter.

BBC NEWS: Coach Rumsfeld, considering the increasing losses since you declared an end to major hostilities, is it possible you may have underestimated Iraq by looking ahead to your next opponent?

Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld will stick with the game plan and pound the opposition on the ground.
RUMSFELD: No, we didn't. We took Iraq seriously even though it was a 37-point dog. After all, they were playing at home and their wishbone offense has given a lot of defenses trouble. But look at the scoreboard, and you'll see we definitely didn't take them lightly. To the contrary, we took them completely out of their game with our West Coast offense. We have a great ground game, a superior passing game, and our defense hasn't given up a touchdown for 17 quarters. We forced a lot of turnovers, and we absolutely dominated time of possession.

WOLFOWITZ: No one gave us a chance. There were about 10 million protesters against us, and we still kicked butt, man. And you know why? Because we got game. Because we're a team. We're athletes out there. We're play-ahs.

NEW YORK TIMES: Coach Rumsfeld, what's your game plan for defending against the increasing insurgent attacks in Iraq?

RUMSFELD: Well, I think it's important to stress that the attacks, while regrettable, are very isolated. Our fan base is very, very strong in Iraq, and ticket sales for next season are very solid. And after beating Saddam so decisively, I think we're going to be able to recruit well in Iraq, too. We're right on pace to reach the postseason next year, and I'm confident we can go all the way in 2005.

WOLFOWITZ: And if these postseason skirmishes continue, we're just going to get down in the trenches with the big uglies and take it to them. We're bigger, stronger, and we've got plenty more walk-ons in the weight room just itching to get in the game. We'll win. Because we got game. Because we're a team. We're athletes. We're play-ahs.

WASHINGTON POST: Coach, are there any changes to the injury report for this weekend?

RUMSFELD: The 1st Armored Division is probable. The 101st Airborne Division is probable. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is probable. The 37th Army is questionable.

FRANKS: One last question?

NEW YORK TIMES: Coach Rumsfeld, the coalition team was able to take Baghdad and force Saddam Hussein out of power in less than a month of combat. On the other hand, you haven't found weapons of mass destruction and continue to incur serious casualties despite your declaration of an end to major hostilities. Your thoughts on the team's performance?

RUMSFELD: I'll have to look at the films first.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.





FOOTBALL IS HELL!

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