Keeping Stiff Upper Lip Is Best Advice for Derek Anderson, NFL Players
What you didn't see was shots of smiling New York players on their sidelines. Whether that happened as a result of the avalanche of criticism heaped on Arizona quarterback Derek Anderson from his moment of levity on the bench near the end of the Cardinals' loss to San Francisco last week is an interesting question.
A week later, Anderson's sideline chat with lineman Deuce Lutui and his volcanic reaction to being questioned about it after the game are teachable moments for players and the outlets that cover them.
We don't yet know whether Anderson has learned anything, but it appears that ESPN, which carried the game, including the shot of Anderson and Lutui talking and smiling, then plastered Anderson's blow up at the postgame press conference, hasn't.
During a teleconference last week to promote the New England-New York game, Jay Rothman, senior coordinating producer of "Monday Night Football," said ESPN was merely fulfilling its role as telecaster in airing the scene on the bench.
Rothman believed that Anderson's reaction, given the fact that the Cardinals were down 18 at that point in the fourth quarter, was, in a word, strange.
"The quarterback is the critical position, I believe, in football," said Rothman. "And, based on his performance in that game, the circumstances of losing Kurt Warner and letting Matt Leinart go and Derek starting and losing his job to a rookie and coming back up being the guy that's going to lead them to victory and being counted on, you don't typically see that type of smiling was our reaction in the truck based on fumble, interceptions and frankly not playing well."
"They were basically going to lose their season, based on losing to the 49ers."
The shot of Anderson was punctuated by comments by analyst Jon Gruden, who drew on his coaching experience to wonder why Anderson was smiling.
Journalistically speaking, the worst and relatively underreported part of the Anderson kerfuffle is that the shot of the quarterback and lineman smiling was aired on tape, about 60 seconds after it happened, Rothman said.
That means, as the producer, the person with editorial control over the broadcast, Rothman had the opportunity to send either Suzy Kolber or Michele Tafoya, the MNF sideline reporters, over to the Arizona bench to ask the media relations person on duty to ask Anderson what was so amusing.
It's not as ESPN would have been at a competitive disadvantage if it had waited a few minutes after Rothman saw the shot to find out what was going on with Anderson and Lutui. The clip would have had the same impact no matter when it aired, but a response from Anderson or a team representative would have had two effects.
First, it would have allowed ESPN to air the clip with the context that even Rothman and Gruden admit it didn't have. Second, it would have given Anderson, who faced a series of questions from Arizona Republic beat writer Kent Somers after the game, a heads-up that that people were watching and that he would have some 'splainin' to do.
And for Rothman and play-by-play man Mike Tirico to say in that conference call that Anderson's problems were initiated with the quarterback's blowup at the post-game press conference is rather disingenuous.
To the point, it's a lot like holding up a torch next to a house already doused with accelerent on a windy day, then being shocked when a wind gust takes the flames to the building.
The bottom line is, if ESPN doesn't air the pictures of Anderson and Lutui sharing a lighter moment in the midst of a fiasco, it's quite likely that no one knows about it. As a result, there's likely no tough line of questioning and Anderson doesn't lose his cool.
But then, what would the talking heads on "NFL Live" have had to talk about for the rest of the week?