Why Are These Men on the Bench?

Have you noticed that some of the best players in the NFL have been benched for key plays or even entire games over the past few weeks?  I just wrote a piece about Norv Turner’s inexplicable decision to go with Darren Sproles on the goal line vs. the Broncos.  While LT missed out on a key play, players like Jevon Kearse were “healthy scratches” from entire games.


New England Patriots LB -- Adalius Thomas on NFL Network

Others, like Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas have been benched as well.   You’ll note from the tenor of the questions and the responses (click the picture to see the discussion) that the quality of Thomas’ play is not at issue.

The three-time Pro Bowler Kearse simply went home after hearing he was a scratch vs. the Indianapolis Colts.  Peyton Manning threw for 309 yards and led the Colts to a 31-9 pasting of the Titans.  Could the Titans have used Jevon Kearse in that game?

At this time of the season, it is curious to see talented veterans on the bench.  Only Thomas was in a situation where his contributions could not be missed.  Still, he is a professional who puts in time at practice, and ostensibly earns the right to play each week.

Something is going on.


ESPN’s Kevin Seifert is reporting today (10.22.09) that former first round draft pick (#5 overall) A.J. Hawk has been benched by the Green Bay Packers.  It’s not a complete benching.  However, according to Seifert’s reports, Hawk has only been in on about 25% of all snaps.

Hawk has been a big disappointment since being hailed as the next great middle linebacker coming out of Ohio State.  It hasn’t happened.  He hasn’t supplanted Brian Urlacher as the “defensive face of the division.”  He hasn’t even unseated Nick Barnett.  He is currently ranked 5th in tackles among linebackers drafted in the 2006 class.

A.J. Hawk -- One of Many Riding the Pine


  1. Perhaps the NFL is becoming concerned about images, they try to maintain the fiction that players are (in some sense) role models for youth. Check out these benched folks for tattoos and corresponding gang affiliations. Also, look for partial-sleeve arm warmers whose reaL purpose is to cover up objectionable tattoos…

  2. I hear you, but the Moral Turpitude Search has to begin with the highest profile players…specifically guys like Kerry Collins (QB of the Titans) who is very likely back on the sauce after his inexplicably dismal performance in New England.

    It doesn’t end there.

    Even the most casual observer of the NFL knows that Tomlinson, Kearse and Thomas are high character guys who have been team leaders for years. The Limbaugh-esque reach is as off base as his ownership attempt. If you want to get this right, you’ll have to dig under the covers of the bums who are still playing, but clearly do not deserve to be doing so.

    And that conversation begins with Collins and Jake Delhomme. You could add Trent Edwards, Shaun Hill, and several others to that list.

    In the absence of a definitive injury, I’m left to conjecture that the cause of their overall “suckiness” is either gang-related (Sons of Silence-style, of course), alcoholism (the preferred method), pill-popping (a Favre favorite), or whoring (the Matt Leinart-Paris Hilton-Brian Urlacher method).

    What say you, BD?

  3. The screening needs to start in college. Now days they scrape IQ-75 gang-banging goons off the streets of Oakland and Compton, have the nerve to call them students when they could never gain admission on their academic merits, give them free ride scholarships and tutors who do most of the homework, illegal perks under the table (cars, luxury apartments)etc, and the schools (plus well-connected alumni) bail them out and squelch the bad publicity for all the legal troubles they get into. The school administrators also hassle profs that don’t play ball issuing easy grades to players (withholding tenure and raises).

    Use REAL students and zero-tolerance boot them permanently from the sport for ANY legal or drug trouble. Visible tattoos also a disqualifier, it’s very tacky low-brow at best. Now you gots role models…

  4. I’m not sure which players you’re talking about. As I stated up top, that certainly doesn’t apply to the men in the post.

    Perhaps you’re being intentionally obtuse today. You should be well aware that the NFL has extensive screening policies, but little can be done to preclude the entry of strong-armed hustlers who become alcoholics at Penn State (Collins) or drug addicts after leaving Southern Miss (Favre).

    When that offensive lineman was engaged in drug trafficking from rural New York to Canada, insufficient attention was directed to his transgressions. I totally agree that this situation is out of hand. It’s time to tear up the wheat fields and stop giving shelter to these biker boyz and meth heads.

    BD, are you ready to lead the charge? We’ll start in Bakersfield and Fresno…then hit Colorado. This scourge is led by these guys who have easy entree in an out of America’s primary drug-using communities — the suburbs. The suburban/rural dynamic here is simply out of control. I’m glad you’re lending your voice to put the focus right where it should be. And to think, the media can condone and endorse this type of animalistic behavior by creating shows like “Sons of Anarchy.”

    BD, I hear your outrage. Welcome to the club!

  5. I don’t have any speculation on this. If I did, I would have explicitly put it out there.

    Are you a Titans or Patriots fan? What do you think?

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