name any names
, but let’s just say I don’t often get a whole lot of positive critique from those whose lives I examine in the pages of this august weekly. This week, I profile Jevon Kearse
of the Tennessee Titans. I would like to avoid any misunderstanding — and charges of character assassination — this time, especially because I genuinely liked meeting and
talking to Kearse about life and football. (You'll also find a slideshow of our story here
.) To that end I wrote an open letter to The Freak. I’m too lazy to mail it, so I posted it after the jump. :
First, I want to thank you for letting me into your home and being so candid about your hopes for this season and the criticism that has been leveled at you.
I hope you don’t think that our story this week
is meant to cast doubt over your ability to contribute. Last Saturday night, you demonstrated that you can still pressure NFL quarterbacks and get off the line with speed.
Our intent with this piece was to paint the picture of a lion in winter, a man who once played in the rarefied stratosphere of football excellence — three Pro Bowls, Rookie of the Year, etc. — but who, after monumental struggles with injuries, is now trying to find his place on a roster loaded with players in their prime.
I personally hope you can do it. I’m from Philly, and a lot of my friends back home
don’t say very nice things about you. They took issue with some of the partying
you did in the off season while you were supposed to be rehabbing that knee, to say nothing all that cash the Eagles gave you to sit on the bench. Granted, these are people who booed Mike Schmitt in his prime -- not to mention Donavan McNabb, Pat Burrell, Eric Lindros, and many other talented athletes. But I digress.
The point is, the Titans and their fans still believe in The Freak. Perhaps they should. After watching you in training camp, I can see that your technique looks good, you’re in amazing shape and — both on and off the record — your coaches really seem to believe that you can make an impact this season. Also, you didn’t get yelled at during drills nearly as much as some other players. That must count for something.
It’s your knee that makes me wonder. All that limping. And after you dinged it in training camp, you told me that you “bent it farther than it usually goes. That kind of broke up some of the tissue but it also kind of aggravated it more….It was painful, but hopefully I’ll have a little more flexibility on it.”
I cringed as I wrote that down. It also made me think I was being spun by a guy who wants desperately to believe that he can be the player he once was. But in this league, performance talks and bullshit bags groceries with Kurt Warner. (He is bagging groceries again, right?) You, Jevon, are the only one who can erase the doubt and make the rest of the world believe again. I think you know that, and that’s why you’ve been such a quiet presence in the locker room, not your usual, ebullient self. Any real statement you have to make will be heard loud and clear on Sept. 7, against the Jags. Here’s to hoping that it’s one for the ages.
Best of luck,
When I profile somebody, they're rarely happy with the end result. I’m not going to