In the second half of last weekend's NFC Championship Game, Arizona Cardinals' receiver Anquan Boldin was seen getting into a snitting match with the team's offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, over Boldin's lack of playing time. Boldin subsequently left the team's locker room without speaking to reporters.
above: ooh, c'est triste, n'est-ce pas Anquan?
These two events have been the launching point for several days of discussion regarding Boldin's actions. Talking heads have mulled over whether Boldin's actions could mean trouble for Arizona in the Super Bowl.
Conventional wisdom has it that the Cards will need both Boldin and his fellow wide receiver Larry "The 12th Cylon" Fitzgerald at their best in order to break down a tough Pittsburgh defense. So if Boldin is either sulking or a distraction to the team, it could make the difference in the game. This meme has a certain surface appeal to it, as Boldin is a potentially important player, and as Terrell Owens has made it his life's mission to demonstrate, a wide receiver in high dudgeon can torpedo a team.
However, once you think about it for more than five seconds, there are three reasons (which sort of build on each other) why this meme makes no sense.
1. Anquan Boldin Is Not A Quitter
How can we here at the GRBG make that sort of blanket assertion when we, admittedly, haven't spent all that much face time with Boldin. Well, the fact is, ordinarily we wouldn't, as we prefer to leave unsupported blanket assertions to the professional media. But there is a pretty persuasive piece of evidence supporting our assumption here, namely that Boldin broke his whole motherloving face earlier this year, and came back to the team. And when we say broke his face, we mean broke his face--he apparently looked like a late November jack o'lantern when they carted him off the field at the Meadowlands earlier this year. The injury was so bad that it almost caused his quarterback, aged Christian armor bearer Kurt Warner, to retire.
So if getting his head staved in didn't cause Boldin to lay down, how can we expect that a lack of PT will do the trick? We're not dealing with Matt Leinart here, folks.
2. At The Super Bowl, Nobody Is A Quitter
Even assuming Boldin was the kind of guy who would lay down when miffed, who the hell sabotages a Super Bowl, either by sulking or intentionally causing a distraction? Even Owens, the human distraction machine, rose to the occasion in his lone Super Bowl appearance, helping the Eagles keep the game superficially close against the Patriots. All of the player "distractions" that have cropped up (like Eugene Robinson and his hooker) have had their roots in stupidity, not selfishness.
The only possible exception here was caused by a non-player, Bill Parcells, when he bailed out on the Patriots the week before the game. And if you'll give us a little bit of room for speculation here, we don't think Parcells has the same character as Boldin--if Parcells broke his face during the season, we don't think he'd make it back. Though if somebody want to run the experiment, that's fine by us.
above: sexy, kind of.
3. It Won't Affect The Outcome
Now assume that, somehow, both (1) and (2) above are wrong. Boldin is a big enough jerk to quit on his team, and decides to do so in the Super Bowl. What would happen?
Well, although you can't know for sure, we got a pretty good peek at what would happen last week in the NFC Championship Game. It's tough to imagine Boldin blowing up any more in the SB than he did in Phoenix, unless he kneecaps Steve Breaston or something. It's also tough to imagine him being much less of a factor in the SB than he was in the conference championship. But did his antics or lack of effectiveness affect the team in the NFCCG?
Not really. All they did was score 32 points on the number 3 defense in the NFL, win the game, and end the franchise's baffling losing streak.
So there doesn't seem to be any real way that the Boldin story will affect the game itself. This is a perfect example of a Super Bowl hype meme: it sounds like it's about the game, but it's really about the media's own coverage. Once one person speculates about the effect Boldin might have, the rest of the gang jumps on board, instead of first deciding whether the theory actually makes any sense.
For that reason, we give this one an 8 on the meme scale. Hang on, all--it will only get dumber from here.