Dre’ Bly has the right to his opinion. But he just lost the right to complain.
At his team’s lowest hour – the firing of its coach – Bly decided what the world needed was for him to mouth off, so he went on TV and talked to the Free Press and shot an arrow at the quarterback, Joey Harrington.
He blamed Harrington for Steve Mariucci’s dismissal Monday. He did the very thing that football players since the birth of the game have said you never do.
He turned on a teammate.
“One guy in particular … is the cause of this whole thing,” Bly said on the NFL Network. “It’s not hard to figure out. … The quarterback here has been bad. … He has not really gotten the job done ever since I have been here. … I really believe Coach would not have been fired if Jeff (Garcia) would have been healthy.”
And he expounded to the Free Press.
“Joey’s been here four years,” he said, “and being the No. 3 pick in the draft, he hasn’t given us anything.”
Well, it’s nice to know that Bly, a cornerback who has missed four of the 11 games due to injury, is such an expert on offense. And it’s nice to know he thinks so highly of Garcia, who was last seen throwing a moon ball into the Atlanta defense. And as long as Bly is such a draft expert, he might point out that Charles Rogers, a No. 2 pick in the draft, hasn’t given us anything, either. But Bly didn’t blame him for Mariucci’s axing.
Somehow, only Harrington is responsible.
What Bly did was classless, and every bit as bad as what Terrell Owens did in suggesting the Eagles would be better off with Brett Favre at quarterback. That controversy helped cost Owens his job.
The only reason Bly hasn’t gotten similar attention is because nobody cares about the Lions.
Joey won’t get into a public feud
I spoke with Harrington on Tuesday. He was clearly floored by Bly’s quotes. But true to his personality, he tried to stay above the mud.
“I’m not even going to dignify his comments by getting into a public arguing match,” he said. “What I will say is what Coach Jauron told the team last night: As a team we have to stick together. Without that, at this point, we have nothing.
“I don’t think those comments are appropriate for a teammate to make. I’ve never believed it’s OK to publicly criticize a teammate. I’ve stayed away from that all season, and I’m going to continue to stay away from that now. …
“We’ve had a disappointing season. We are all frustrated and upset about it. But passing the blame is something that I have never done and I never will do.”
Let’s be clear about something. Joey Harrington didn’t get Mariucci fired. No more than Roy Williams did by falling down on that Thanksgiving Day interception. No more than Shawn Bryson did fumbling a few minutes later. No more than Kevin Jones did with his disappointing season. No more than Charles Rogers did by flunking his drug test. No more than the offensive line did in collapsing or the defensive line did by racking up penalties. No more than the defensive backs – including Dre’ Bly – did by allowing nobodies like Chicago’s Kyle Orton and Carolina’s Chris Weinke to have big moments.
Enough blame to go around for everyone
They all played poorly. And Mariucci coached poorly. Maybe Bly is going to miss a coach who didn’t get on his case. But that’s no reason to get on a teammate’s.
What on earth did he expect to accomplish with those statements? Are the remaining five games going to be easier now – or harder?
Not only should Bly apologize, but the team, if it had any guts, should fine him. With his comments, Bly has divided the locker room. In sports, that’s the biggest no-no.
Look, we’re not wearing blinders for Harrington. Of course he could play better. He’ll be the first to admit it.
But last I looked, Harrington was benched by Mariucci and only got to play again when Garcia broke down. Garcia hardly shone. The play-calling was atrocious no matter who was the quarterback. There never was a running game. Yet through all the ugliness, Harrington never turned on Garcia or his coach. Publicly, his statements were all about support. Supporting Garcia. Supporting Jones. Supporting the team.
Which is more than you can say about Bly.
I know he was frustrated. I know he has a right to his opinions. But players are always telling the media no one player is at fault for a loss. For the rest of his career, if Dre’ Bly ever complains about a reporter being critical, he becomes a total hypocrite.
Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He will sign “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” at 2 p.m. Saturday at Borders Books at Arborland in Ann Arbor and at 7 p.m. next Thursday at Barnes & Noble in Royal Oak.