Buckley: Curt Schilling risks loss of respect with Adam Jones comments
We had a good weighing-in the other day from former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who used his Breitbart platform to cast big league doubt on Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones’ claim that a Fenway Park patron directed the third-rail n-word at him.
“If somebody did say it, we’re going to see it and hear about it, and I would apologize to Adam Jones for doubting him, but until then, I think this is (expletive),” said the Schill. “I think this is somebody creating a situation.
“But we’re gonna hear from somebody in the section that saw (Jones) called a racist (word),” he said. “If not, he’s lying. And I say he’s lying. If he isn’t, I will apologize. I will absolutely apologize on the air and I will be sincere about it if it happens.”
Schilling could have made his case by offering frustration that nobody has stepped forward to corroborate Jones’ story. Instead, he pushed all the chips to the middle of the table and called the guy a liar. With that, he has taken yet another step toward losing something that’s so much more valuable than the money he made as a player: The expectation that he be treated as a wise and heroic old soul by the younger players now walking in his footsteps.
I was thinking about Schilling, and his comments about Jones, when I came across a story about Davis Webb, the Cal quarterback selected in the third round of the NFL draft by the New York Giants. Webb addressed incumbent Giants quarterback Eli Manning as “sir” during a post-draft telephone call between the two, after which Manning made it known he’d be cool if the kid dropped the “sir” bit.
“I just wanted to welcome him to the team, let him know if he has any questions or needs anything in the next few days, I was here for him,” Manning told veteran sports pundit Michael Eisen, who writes for the Giants website. “He responded to that with, ‘Yes, sir.’ I told him we were off to a bad start. Please do not refer to me as sir. I appreciate the manners, but we’re teammates. I was always taught the same thing. Anyone older than me, I have to call them sir. But hopefully, we straightened that out.”
I’m guessing Manning wasn’t really upset, that he wanted only to help make Webb feel like one of the guys. Webb may one day emerge as the next QB of the NYG. Because of that, one can imagine there being some possible stiffness between the two. Good on Manning for removing that stiffness. But good on Davis Webb for giving a 36-year-old quarterback with two Super Bowl rings the respect to which he’s entitled.
And then there’s defensive end Derek Rivers, selected in the third round by your New England Patriots. Asked what it’ll be like to meet Pats quarterback Tom Brady, Rivers said, “I’m going to be star-struck. I’m not going to lie. I got to meet (Panthers linebacker) Luke Kuechly earlier in the year .?.?. and I was star-struck then. So I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when I meet Brady. It’s going to be crazy.”
If you want to get in a snit about Deflategate — or in Eli Manning’s case the quarterback’s denials about a scheme to hawk fake game-used merchandise — you go right ahead and do that. But the fact is that both Brady and Manning are NFL stars, each of them viewed and respected as franchise icons. Brady is a Hall of Fame lock, and Manning almost surely will join him there. (For those who doubt there’s a bust waiting for Eli in Canton, Ohio, an independent analysis done by ESPN gives Manning a 72.2 chance of making the Hall of Fame. Then again, some of you are probably saying, “ESPN has an agenda!” So maybe I shouldn’t have gone there.)
What can’t be argued is that Tom Brady and Eli Manning have so much more than cache. Whereas fans of their respective teams rightly swoon in their presence, recent evidence shows that emerging NFL players feel the same way. And it’ll likely remain that way for the rest of their lives. Any time they show up in the locker room, all other activities will come to a stop. I saw that when Ted Williams would appear in the Red Sox clubhouse, and I see it when Carl Yastrzemski and, now, Pedro Martinez stop by. You ought to see how any Bruin reacts when Bobby Orr is in the building. With the Celtics, well, take your pick: Russell, Bird, the Cooz .?.?.
And while there’s a debate as to whether Drew Bledsoe belongs in the Hall of Fame, he’s a Hall of Famer when he’s in the home locker room at Gillette Stadium — even if Tom Brady is the last remaining Patriot to have been teammates with him. When Bledsoe made a postgame appearance in the Pats locker room a couple of years ago, there were two lines: Sportswriters who wanted to interview him .?.?. and Pats players who wanted to shake his hand.
Curt Schilling minces no words: Adam Jones is a liar.
One has to wonder how that’s going to play out in clubhouses across Baseball America.