Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chris McAlister: Winner on, not off the field

Chris McAlister is quite an enigma. He is blessed with physical skills that leave scouts in search of a shut down corner salivating. He supports the run and tackles as effectively as any player who plays outside the hash marks. He’s also an articulate and intelligent man.

The trouble with McAlister though is he lacks common sense and loves to play the victim.

Earlier this week we heard McAlister on 105.7 The Fan with Anita Marks and he expressed shock and disappointment about the handling of his release. He claimed that after leaving a nice chat with John Harbaugh he skipped down the hall to check in on Ozzie Newsome and that chat turned out to be not so pleasant for the 10 year veteran. It was then that he learned that he was the team’s most recent former Raven.

Supposedly still in “shock”, McAlister I assume reached out to Marks and they recorded the interview heard by those of us tuning in to The Fan.

The tear-jerking drama fully enabled by Marks was in full bloom and McAlister’s performance was worthy of Hollywood’s attention.

Well boo hoo!

Is anyone buying this really?

Look this release was no surprise to McAlister. How could it be?

Let’s break it down…

He apparently missed some meetings around the time of the embarrassing loss to the Colts. Then he embarrassed the team while on the road in South Florida so off to a seat on the bench he went – a seat from which he would never return.

John Harbaugh said McAlister’s knee wasn’t right. McAlister said it was fine.

The team reiterated its position on the knee. McAlister said, “My knee is excellent.”

Less than four weeks after this proclamation, McAlister has knee surgery and is placed on IR.

The team carries on and they advance to the AFC Championship Game without McAlister.

So, here we are at the end of February and the Ravens need to focus on their offseason reconfiguration of the team’s roster. Staring them in the face, practically jumping off the page at them is a $10.8 million cap figure for a 32 year old corner who appears to have lost a step and is the team’s biggest malcontent.

Forget about McAlister’s history of broken curfews and skipped team meetings. Forget about violated team rules and DUI charges. Forget about the charges of marijuana possession and rumors of late night social activities impacting his performance on the field. Forget it all if you can.

The fact that the Ravens advanced as far as they did without McAlister while he’s tied to such a huge cap number screams “release me.” To keep McAlister would have been far more surprising. Meanwhile back at 1 Winning Drive, McAlister expresses shock and disbelief over his sudden departure.

Please spare us the drama!

Look, McAlister is much smarter than that and I’m sure his agent had to know that his client’s cap figure stuck out like the anatomy of a scantily clad vixen parading around a team hotel lobby in Miami.

Get over yourself Chris!

Now in no way do I wish to discredit McAlister on the field when he really wanted to play. Yet for all of his accomplishments the three Pro Bowl appearances and his All Pro nomination, I can’t help but think that McAlister was an underachiever. Brian Billick during an appearance on WNST’s Comcast Morning Show pretty much said the same thing when discussing McAlister’s career as a Raven with host Drew Forrester.

The discussion made me pause and think about significant plays made by McAlister over the years; the 97 yard interception return against the Jets on Christmas Eve 2000; his interception in Super Bowl XXXV; the 107 return of a missed Jason Elam field goal; a game changing interception against the Browns in 2006.

But then those plays were clouded in my mind by the countless number of boneheaded penalties and the unfulfilled expectations given his vast talents. If only he had applied himself a little more and didn’t take those talents for granted he could have been destined for Canton, Ohio and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now if I had any say in the matter, he wouldn’t even be in the Ravens’ Ring of Honor.

I’m sure there are those who will disagree and support McAlister’s inclusion by pointing to the ridiculous induction of Earnest Byner as the Ring’s benchmark. Two wrongs never made a right and to place McAlister in a Ring of Honor is wrong.

Definitions of the word honor describe high esteem; a keen sense of right and wrong; adherence to principles considered right. The word “respect” is often used to define honor.

Chris McAlister was a very good player but he didn’t respect the game and his actions suggest that he didn’t respect his team or his teammates. One could argue that he didn’t even respect himself. Respect and honor are words I have a difficult time associating with Chris McAlister.

McAlister received many awards for his athletic achievements – there were millions and millions of them and he deserved those. The Ring of Honor should never be among his awards. Children should one day look at that Ring and know that the men that comprise it were winners on and off the field.

McAlister only got that equation half right.

He’ll now move on, continue to play the victim and fail to face a foe greater than any he’s faced before – himself.

And until he does, the drama will never be over for Chris McAlister.

Photo by Sabina Moran


Deer Hunter said...

Balls on column! I'll take a team full of overachievers like Jim Leonhard over a team full of Chris McAllisters any freaking day of the week.


mickeysix said...

i'm a falcons fan and was reading some pieces on domonique foxworth -- who by the way will make an excellent addition to the ravens. i really wish we could have kept him.

then i see a headline about mcalister failing a physical and did a slight double take. my exposure to mcalister pretty much consists of all the things you mentioned "thinking about": the kick return, the INT vs. cleveland, etc. in other words, all the good stuff. i knew about the marijuana incident, but i didn't put much weight on it .

it's a little bit shocking reading this. mcalister always struck me as a tremendous natural talent. wonder where he'll end up.

good post.