This was incredibly awkward: Anthony Gargano had Fletcher Cox on his show this morning, and he tried to take him to task about smiling in a jovial post-game powwow after the Eagles lost, the classic scorching take on a common NFL thing. He was hesitant to even bring it up:
“When you’re losing, you know how it is, Fletch: No one wants to see anybody yuck it up with anybody on the other team. So what was the deal with you and Bennie Logan? Bennie talked about it, right? About being … he was from some hometown, some of the guys hometown, is that the deal?”
If you want to call out a player for smiling when you think he shouldn’t be smiling – a stupid idea to begin with – come out and do it. Don’t dance around the subject and throw out a half-assed question at the end of it. Fletch didn’t care:
“We don’t get caught up in that, man. That’s crazy. And I don’t care about what anybody has to say about it. We’re NFL players, we’re pros, we respect each other. You know, who cares that we’re talking to the other team? It had no effect on us winning or losing that game. I mean, of course you want to respect each other. You wanna laugh and play, but when it’s the time to get serious, you get serious.And Bennie is like that. Bennie likes to play, I like to play. But when it’s time to get serious, it’s time to get serious. Nobody cares about what the outsiders think, because he was talking to his ex-teammates, or he was laughing with Jameis. That’s out of respect.
Gargano: Just know though, when you’re losing, fans never wanna see that. Just understand it. Because Brian Dawkins … when you’re losing, no smiles. Just remember that. Because in this day and age, Fletch, cameras catch everything. And what you seem as innocent, you think it’s innocent, people go ‘Oh, you’re getting your ass kicked and you’re smiling and laughing.’ And that doesn’t come across well.
Cox: I mean it don’t, from people on the outside, but I mean I don’t think anybody can take my smile away. Cause I’m gonna smile, you know, through the good and the bad.
Gargano: Yeah, I hear ya. But you know what I’m talking about. Like Brian Dawkins, this isn’t just fans, Brian Dawkins talked about this.
Cox: Everybody respects Brian and everybody knows, you know, he’s well known in Philly, but I mean of course we were losing and if everybody felt like Bennie was wrong, then, I mean, he was wrong. But he’s like me, nobody can take his smile away.
Gargano: Yeah, and look, nobody wants you to lose that smile. That’s such a beautiful thing about ya. It’s a great smile that you have. It’s a great smile. [But] you know … 45-17 to the Buccaneers is unacceptable, at home. You know? I mean that’s what it comes down to. Because you’re right, all the other stuff is window dressing. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s all about context, right? You’re sitting there going, who cares? What’s the big deal? We gotta win a game. It’s not about stupid things like that.
Cox: And that’s the most important part about it, we lost … I know that everybody is ready to go. We know what we gotta do on Thursday. To win a football game. And that’s the most important thing right now, I don’t think anything else matters.”
Here’s what those fans Gargano was talking about don’t want to admit: The players don’t care – and shouldn’t care – if you think they should smile or not. You may want every game to be a war where the opposing team is your sworn enemy, but that’s not the case. There aren’t that many professional football players. Many of them played together/played against each other for years/grew-up together. There’s a bond amongst people who do a thing only a select group of people do. That’s why LeBron and Chris Paul ride banana boats together. It’s why Bill Clinton and George Bush fly around the world together. It’s why Stephen Colbert keeps interviewing his competition.
When you have a sports talk radio host telling one of the Eagles’ best players how he should behave on the field, it’s flat-out insulting. You can almost hear Cox rolling his eyes at the stuttering and mumbling of Gargano’s probing question, which he tried to punctuate with an “I’m just looking out for you” note. But Cox doesn’t need Gargano’s advice or his condescension. He (and you) can’t tell him how to act, and the faux-outrage over a dude flashing a smile isn’t going to make the argument swing your way.
Kyle: Dawkins, Dawkins, Dawkins. Everything is always Brian Dawkins. Dawkins is 42. Cox is 24. He didn’t grow up around here. He doesn’t genuflect at the alter of Brian Dawkins. No argument that Dawkins is a special type of player, but invoking B-Dawk in a condescending interview with one of the few Eagles you’d keep around if you blew this whole thing up is absurd. Why on Earth would you lecture Fletcher Cox of all people? Get off Cox’s balls.
UPDATE: It’s worth noting 97.5 considered this interview a highlight and actively promoted it this morning: