By Cold, Hard Football Facts contributor Steve Hatch
Loyal Cold, Hard Football Facts readers (Hi Aunt Sue!) know that we do not hold Sportsline.com's Pete Prisco in high regards. Truth be told, he's a spineless fraud who fears the awesome power of the Cold, Hard Football Facts. But he makes up for it by being a horse's ass. And he continues to write articles that are ... well ... let's just say his work is like the stuff that comes out of the horse's ass.
Take, for example, Prisco's various views on the topic of money.
Most football fans know that the NFL is a business. The owners are in it to make money. The players are in it to make money. Hell, we don't spend half our day collecting empty beer cans just to be good citizens. We're in it to make money, too.
We see the business side of football when a popular player gets cut or when a free agent leaves his longtime teammates for a better deal in a different town. Hey, we're devout capitalists. We love money and believe you should make it while you can.
But we also see another side of the game. We see individuals on a team working together to win that elusive Super Bowl trophy. We see the essence of team sport and competition: you play to win. The money is great, but many athletes would give up a fair amount of it to be a champion. Ask Corey Dillon, Tedy Bruschi, Matt Light, Rodney Harrison and a host of other players who are still wealthy but who sacrificed a few dollars to reach the pinnacle of their profession.
But Prisco does not count himself among the many who would sacrifice a couple bucks to be a wealthy winner. According to Prisco, the almighty dollar is king. If your decisions fatten your wallet you did the right thing. If your decisions cost you a few dollars you're an imbecile. Prisco laughs at rich winners simply because the losers are a little richer.
Need evidence that Prisco is a buffoon when it comes to the topic of money? We cite below exhibits D, I, C and K: a series of Prisco columns that address the issue.
May 30, 2002
Prisco criticized Arizona safety Pat Tillman for walking away from the NFL to join the Army.
As most people are aware, the events of Sept. 11, 2001 caused Tillman to re-examine his life. He decided that it was more important to serve his country than it was to play football. Almost overnight he became a hero to many Americans. Tillman could have stayed in the NFL and made millions to play a game and no one would have thought any less of him. Instead, he decided there was something more important than money.
This is a concept that Prisco could not grasp. "Tillman is being praised for giving up a chance to make at least $1 million this year playing football – and even more the next couple of seasons – to possibly put his life on the line. That's to be applauded?"
Yes, it is.
But not according to Prisco.
"The war doesn't need Pat Tillman," wrote Prisco. "There are plenty of good soldiers, trained for years, handling things right now, and you can bet those guys think Tillman's crazy. They joined the Army, Navy and Air Force never expecting to be in a war; they didn't go looking for one."
Tillman, of course, did not go looking for war, either. He reacted to a war that was placed in front of him. He gave up his cushy, toy-soldier career to become a real soldier – and ultimately gave up his life to defend a country that he obviously loved.
Before Tillman was killed in action, Prisco wrote: "He can do what he wants, but let's not go overboard in praising him for doing what thousands and thousands of young men have done before him."
O.K., Petey, we agree: our all-volunteer military is loaded with brave men and women. But give us the names of the thousands and thousands of millionaires who volunteered to serve their country after Sept. 11 and we'll admit Tillman is just an ordinary Joe. Until then, Prisco, you're an ordinary moron.
July 25, 2004
Prisco wrote an article shredding Dolphin running back Ricky Williams for quitting the NFL.
Prisco seemed personally offended that a "weirdo" (Prisco's word) could walk away from a multimillion dollar career in the NFL. Millions of people would trade places with Williams in a minute to have the life he had, argued Prisco. How could he give it up?
But Williams was more than a "weirdo." Wrote Prisco: He's "also selfish ... (a) guy who bailed on his teammates as they were readying to make a Super Bowl push. That's the ultimate insult."
This was an interesting take on the situation. According to Prisco, Williams owed it to his teammates to be there to help them make a "Super Bowl push" – in July. It's interesting because when the playoffs rolled around six months later, Prisco suddenly found that the Super Bowl was not that important. In fact, he argued that the Super Bowl really was not that important on ...
Jan. 27, 2005
Prisco defended N.Y. Jets defensive end John Abraham for not playing in the postseason because of a knee injury.
Jets doctors cleared Abraham to play but he chose not to for fear of re-injuring his knee.
"Remember," wrote Prisco "for all the talk about how this is about winning and losing and it's a team game, the reality is these players are individual corporations. Their body is their living. Abraham's accountable to himself and his family. If he felt there could be more damage, then he made the right move – no matter what the team or outsiders thought."
That's funny. "Weirdo" Williams had a lot of nerve bailing on his team in July, thus ruining his team's chances at a Super Bowl. But Abraham's team was just two games away from the Super Bowl. Yet in Prisco's world, Abraham should answer only to himself because "winning rings is nice and all, but rings do not pay the bills."
Of course, we started to see a trend when Prisco made a similar argument again on ...
Feb. 17, 2005
Prisco defended Lawyer Milloy when the Buffalo safety said that money is more important than Super Bowl rings. In fact, Prisco wholeheartedly agreed: "money," he wrote, is "more important than winning."
Milloy, of course, played seven seasons in New England. He appeared in two Super Bowls (XXXI and XXXVI) and played in four Pro Bowls (1998, 1999, 2001, 2002). He was also overpaid, according to the Patriots.
Milloy was slotted to make $4.5 million for the 2003 season. The Patriots felt his play didn't warrant that type of salary. The organization's argument made sense when you consider that the Patriots, and all NFL teams, have a 53-man roster and a salary cap of about $85 million. So the Patriots wanted Milloy to take a $1.5 million annual reduction to roughly $3 million. Milloy refused, so he was cut.
One day later Buffalo signed Milloy to a four-year, $15 million dollar contract with a $4.75 million signing bonus. In the two years since Milloy has been in Buffalo the Patriots have won a two-season NFL record 34 games – two of which were Super Bowls. The Bills have won 15 games and have not made the playoffs either year.
All of which begets the question: which would you rather have?
A) $9.75 million and a 15-17 team record, or
B) $6.75 million (including playoff salary), a 34-4 team record, an NFL record 21-game win streak and back-to-back Super Bowl wins?
Milloy and Prisco think it is a no-brainer. They want $9.75 million, no postseason, no Super Bowls, no rings, no glory and no chance of being part of one of the great teams in NFL history.
"Will those rings, and the memories of how great it felt to get them, be worth $3.25 million 30 years from now? Not even close," wrote Prisco.
Prisco also stated that he once took an "informal survey" of players asking them if they'd rather have a huge contract or the championships. Most players, wrote Prisco, chose the money.
But Prisco – assuming he actually asked the question – asked the wrong question. The real question for most established, veteran free agents is "would you rather have a huge contract and the championships, or a huger contract and no championships?" It's not as if the Patriots, for example, were asking Milloy to starve. In fact, no team ever asks this question. Consider that the NFL veteran minimum is $750,000 per year.
Of course, any player worth anything in the free-agent market will make much more than that. Milloy would have earned $6 million, plus playoff salary, while capturing his second and third Super Bowl rings. How many years will you work to earn $6 million? Even if you had a cushy gig making $150,000 per year, you'd work an entire lifetime to earn $6 million.
Here's something to consider, Petey Boy. Next time you see Dan Marino, conduct another little "informal survey." Ask him if he'd give up a few million dollars to win a Super Bowl. Ask him if he'd give up a few million if he could still be filthy rich and put and end to a lifetime of doubters who believe he couldn't get it done when it counted. We think the answer is pretty clear.
Of course, Prisco can think whatever he wants. Money is almighty. It's more important than competition. It's more important than winning. It's a fair argument. But just when we thought we had Prisco all figured out, he dropped another 2-ton contradiction on us on...
March 3, 2005
Prisco criticized Jacksonville safety Donovin Darius, who was franchised for the third straight year and then asked for a trade.
"Darius is a good man off the football field, a devoted family man," wrote Prisco. "But don't for a minute think he will be missed inside the Jags locker room. He has never been close with his teammates. There are those who believe he spells his name Darlu$."
Darius, in other words, is all about the money. We thought this was A-O.K. in Prisco's pretty little coloring book. We thought players were "individual corporations" and that "rings do not pay the bills." If that were the case, Prisco should applaud Darius's request for a trade.
Of course, it's clear by now that Prisco's not sure what to believe. But here's a quick summary:
* American hero Pat Tillman does not deserve praise
* Ricky Williams is "selfish" for bailing on his teammates as they made their Super Bowl push – in July
* John Abraham did the right thing by bailing on his teammates in the postseason.
* Lawyer Milloy was right: $6.75 million and two Super Bowl rings won't put his kids through college.
* Donovin Darius is a pariah in the Jacksonville locker room because he's watching out for his family's best interests.
Petey Boy, if you are reading this – and we know you are because our moles at Sportsline tell us you are – then we're still awaiting your response to our challenge for a Manning/Brady debate.
Originally, when you refused to debate us, we just assumed you were a gutless fraud. We now understand that you refused because you were not going to be paid for your time. We know, we know. Money talks. That's why the Cold, Hard Football Facts have collected a few coins from the redemption center and decided to pay you for the debate. We will give you a check that a man of your obvious skill requires as compensation for your valuable time. We already have the check for $2.38 made out in your name. Just tell us where to mail it and we'll get this debate rolling.
Oh yeah, one other thing Prisco, seeing we beat you senseless at everything: We'll take that bet you offered earlier. "Those guys" in the Army, Navy and Air Force don't think Tillman's crazy.
They think some things are more important than money.