Greg Hoard
Greg Hoard

Born in Indiana and educated in Georgia, Greg Hoard came to Cincinnati in the winter of 1979 as a columnist for the Cincinnati Post sports department, and joined the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1984 as the beat writer for the Cincinnati Reds.  He has received numerous awards for his work. In 1990, he left journalism for television. Hoard worked for WLWT-TV from 1990 through 1993 as sports director and spent 12 years as sports director at WXIX-TV. His written work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Baseball America, Baseball Digest and NFL Game Day. He has appeared on ESPN and NBC’s The Today Show. Greg is the author of three books: Joe, Rounding Home and Heading for Home; Gary Burbank, Voices in My Head; and, most recently, Hannan’s Way, An Unlikely Trek Through Life. He is currently working on a baseball memoir, parts of which he will share here.

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I’m so tired of professionals who embarrass themselves, their team, and their family…I’m convinced that the Colts spent more time preparing to act badly Saturday than they did to play good football.

CINCINNATI—Has it come to this? Do we need to curb the on-field behavior of the players in the NFL? Are fines necessary?

If not, should every game begin with a disclaimer:

The NFL and this network are not responsible for the behavior of the players during the broadcast of this game. Be aware that some of the players’ actions may be offensive to some viewers.

If “The Shield” doesn’t want to go that far, should the league apply a ratings system like the movie industry: G, PG, NC 17?

Let me say this off the top. I’m hardly a prude. I grew up in the country and learned the harsh side of life at a very early age. Personally, I’m not easily offended but I am very big, very big on civility and manners and proper behavior in public places.

During my own modest athletic career I was taught that it was a privilege to wear the uniform and that with it came a responsibility to my teammates, my coaches, my family, the families of my teammates, my school and my community.

Great emphasis was placed on comportment. You did not pout. You did not parade. Win or lose, you treated your opponent with respect. Regardless of how good or bad the officials were, they were treated with respect–always.

We were expected to behave as men and that did not mean that we flexed and preened and celebrated our skill our dominance over an opponent. It meant that we behaved as good citizens, a concept which seems largely lost today.

Far too often the NFL provides a showcase for those who have little sense for the concept of acceptable or proper behavior. Instead they lean toward acts that are all about one’s self or me rather than the team or even the score.

Personally, I am very weary of the players who find themselves trailing by 15 or 20 points, yet when they make an individual play, they stop to pose and pound their chest, hoping, I guess, they have a fleeting moment on the JumboTron or network cameras. Unfortunately, they are. In fact it seems these soloists get nearly as much air time as they guy who runs for 100 yards or catches six balls and scores a couple of touchdowns.

What’s most bothersome is when the celebration reaches tasteless levels. In Saturday’s Colts game with the Chiefs, a game in which Indianapolis was plagued by penalties, a defensive lineman who shall go nameless, made a tackle on a Chiefs player for a loss.

While the ball was dead, he confronted an official—face-to-face—put his hands behind his head and did a bump-and-grind act. It was intended to belittle or intimidate the official. In response, the official smiled, as one would smile at a fool’s behavior, and  threw a flag, 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the Colts, who lost 31-13, were in an even deeper hole.

All of this, of course, was caught on camera and was the culmination of a day when Colts players—with exceptions, of course—did more bad acting than playing good football.

Some of these dudes take it past PG and while, yes, you can turn the television off that should not be required. We ought to be able to watch a football game without some 300-pound cat putting on a show that’s right out of a strip club or a bachelor party, and the greater problem is kids see this stuff, and while you can tell them all day that it’s not right or proper, it still has an effect. Dad may run the house and say it isn’t right, but Dad is not on television wearing a pro “unie”.

The strange thing is that some teams—the Patriots, the Saints, the Chiefs to name a few, organizations that have a winning culture or are building one like the Rams—demonstrate less of this showboat behavior than others.

I’m not one who continually begs that we turn back the clock, but I will say that there was a time in sports—regardless of the level, high schools to pro ball—when “showboats” were not regarded as heroes. It was quite the opposite. The “Showboats” and the “Hot Dogs” were handled, quieted—if you will—by their teammates. Often, it went well beyond a good talking to. Often, coaches left it to their captains to deal with those who put themselves before the team or those who chose to disrespect the uniform

I’m probably spitting in the wind, but I think it’s time the NFL takes a good, hard look at what’s happening on the field. We all know where to find a bump-and-grind show and it’s not during an NFL game.

Dave Arbogast Buick-GMC is proud to host coverage of the Dayton Flyers on Press Pros Magazine.

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