Ok guys, the time has come for us to have a talk. I’d hoped that it wouldn’t have to be this way, but I’ve got no choice now. NFL players have a frightening addiction. It’s not anything they can eat, drink or inject, but rather an odd “hobby.” That’s right, I’m talking about celebrity reality competition shows.
At first, it was innocuous enough. Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice turned in medal-stand performances on Dancing with the Stars. That’s fine. They’re former players just trying to keep the paychecks flowing and the fans fawning.
Then, a couple years ago, housewives across the country tugged on our replica jerseys to ask who Chad Ochocinco was as he appeared in sequined garb on the show. Ochocinco, who was trying to maintain NFL relevance, was wasting time mugging for the cameras as he twirled a couple months of his prime into the gutter. We thought Chad’s entry was an outlier; he had his own Bachelor knock off show for crying out loud. But no, as Donald Driver proved last year, current NFL players are getting in on the bit as well.
Last night, it was revealed that Jacoby Jones, he the fortunate receiver of several Joe Flacco arm-punts this past season, will appear on the next season of Dancing with the Stars. Jones showed his moves celebrating in the end zone in the Super Bowl, but that’s after an amazing catch and run for a touchdown, not after zipping into a silk onesie.
It’s not even the unmanliness of the thing that gets me, it’s the fact that these guys are still trying to make a much more lucrative existence in a sport that demands peak health. It’s only a matter of time before one of these guys pulls something in dance practice, leaving him on the sideline for their NFL gig and engendering the chagrin of the fans, media and teammates. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but it seems like these guys are setting themselves up for an unnecessary risk.
Speaking of unnecessary risk, dancing isn’t even the most dangerous reality endeavor being attempted by an NFL player this offseason. Ndamukong Suh will be appearing in the celebrity diving show “Splash” in a matter of weeks. The premise is simple: Celebrities train with professional divers and then do individual dives for a panel of judges. This idea sounds fine for, say, a guy like Tony Siragusa or Jerome Bettis (not actual competitors, just examples), but for a Pro Bowl caliber defensive tackle still in the league, it just seems dicey.
If the concept of the show isn’t enough of a red flag, there’s this. Suh and diving coach Greg Louganis (he of the concussion received from a diving board) rescued Louie Anderson from drowning during a recent practice. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Suh is probably in better shape than Anderson, but the fact that somebody is having to be rescued should give Lions fans a bit of pause.
One thing we can take away from Suh’s foray into lifeguarding is this: maybe the bench press isn’t the most effective way to gauge college graduates’ strength at the combine. Perhaps, instead of how many reps a player can knock out on the bench, they should test how many times they can hoist Louie Anderson out of a pool. At least the, it would make for great TV, and that’s what it’s all about right?