"Today's athlete'' suffered a big setback this past weekend.
That phrase has become part of sports jargon, implying that many current professional athletes are much different than those of the past. These new athletes apparently are much more focused on themselves and play by their own set of rules.
When teams start losing these days, many times it's because the coach is "out of touch with today's athlete.''
Except for their physical attributes, it is my belief that today's athletes are not much different from those of other eras. The coaches, team officials and league officials have just become more lenient in allowing these players to perpetuate their individualism.
That's why it was refreshing to see NFL coaches such as the Steelers' Mike Tomlin, the Giants' Tom Coughlin and the 49ers' Mike Singletary take disciplinary action against some of these prima donnas.
Tomlin deactivated starting wide receiver Santonio Holmes after he was busted for marijuana possession, Coughlin benched wide receiver Plaxico Burress for several series for missing a scheduled medical treatment, and Singletary sent tight end Vernon Davis to the showers during a game due to a foolish penalty and allegedly undermining Singletary's authority on the sideline.
All three of these players were former No. 1 draft picks.
Tomlin has welcomed back Holmes after he stood in front of his teammates on Monday. Holmes could have made a difference in Sunday's 21-14 loss to the Giants, but Tomlin made an even bigger difference in the long haul by making an example of Holmes.
Coughlin hasn't let up on Burress, fining him throughout the four years they've been together. Coughlin's throwback style of coaching, which many believe wouldn't be as successful today, surely is working with the 6-1 defending Super Bowl champs.
Singletary doesn't have the talent in San Francisco to be a contender right now, but he at least showed Sunday he can get the team headed in the right direction if the organization backs him.
A quick example: The Tennessee Titans, at 7-0, are considered to be the most over-achieving team right now in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys, at 5-3, are considered by many to be the most under-achieving team. The Titans recently got rid of "today's athlete" poster child Adam "Pacman'' Jones, and the Cowboys currently have him on their roster.
These players definitely have talent and can be big contributors to a team's success. But they have to know that it is a team game, and the team comes before any individualism.
Hopefully coaches at the lower levels are driving this point home to "future athletes.''
NFL Week 9
Game of the week: Cowboys at Giants, 4:15 p.m. Sunday (FOX).
Upset special: Houston (+4) at Minnesota.
Fantasy tip: With Kevin Curtis back in the lineup to pair with DeSean Jackson, the Eagles' Donovan McNabb may post bigger numbers in the second half of the season.
Buck Frank can be reached at 946-7461 or firstname.lastname@example.org.