No matter how badly your quarterback is playing, suffice to say it's a matter of pride (not to mention professional responsibility) to block your very best for Mr. Craptacular no matter how badly he's stinking up the joint. And that's what made the recent admission of former NFL lineman and current ESPN analyst Lomas Brown so surprising. Brown recently told ESPN Radio that in a 1994 game with the Detroit Lions, he whiffed a block on purpose so that Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Sean Jones could basically take quarterback Scott Mitchell out of the game.
“We were playing Green Bay in Milwaukee,” Brown said. “We were getting beat at that time and he just stunk up the place. He’s throwing interceptions, just everything. So I looked at Kevin Glover, our All-Pro center and I said, ‘Glove, that is it.’ I said, ‘I’m getting him out the game.’ . . . So I got the gator arms on the guy at the last minute, he got around me, he hit Scott Mitchell, he did something to his finger . . . and he came out the game. [Lions backup quarterback] Dave Krieg came in the game.”
Yes, Mitchell was playing horribly, and yes, Krieg did nearly lead the Lions to a comeback win. But to admit that you laid down so that one of your teammates could get hurt? It seems to be the very antithesis of the football ethos. When asked about it by Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio on Wednesday's Dan Patrick Show, Mitchell used the word a lot of people must have been thinking: reprehensible.
“It just really hurt,” Mitchell said. “It was extremely disappointing. I’m really shocked by it, to be honest. Here’s a guy I’ve had in my house, I had a big dinner for the offensive linemen every year, he came to my house and ate dinner, I gave my offensive linemen gifts every year. For him to do that is just reprehensible, beyond words. It’s really disappointing, it really is painful. When you mess with my family, mess with my livelihood, mess with my health, it’s unacceptable. It’s B.S. I just wouldn’t do it to a teammate. I wouldn’t do it. If Lomas has a problem with me, come talk to me. To try to get someone hurt, it’s just mind-boggling.”
The injury ended Mitchell's season, the Lions went 5-2 down the stretch with Krieg at quarterback, and they actually made the playoffs. But Brown's admission puts a big stink on the whole thing.
Whether other players have done such things in the past or not, what's mind-boggling is that a player would ever admit it after the fact. Mitchell signed a three-year, $11 million contract with Detroit before the 1994 season based on a few good years behind Dan Marino in Miami. Things didn't pan out as planned for Mitchell, but that's still no excuse for what Brown claimed to have done.
That said ... given that Brown now works for a company that seems to want sensationalism above analysis, and given that Brown had trouble remembering some of the facts of the game, one wonders if Brown was gilding the lily a bit in order to get his name out there.
If that's the case, mission accomplished. Brown will now be remembered more for one alleged dive than for a 13-year career with seven Pro Bowl selections. And that's a shame.