Good Grief! Quit it with the Security Blankets
– Charlie Brown, Peanuts
You may ask yourself what topic could inspire me to start this blog post with a quote from Charlie Brown. The reason is that I believe that the Oakland Raiders have just made what I would consider the most irrational decision based on a “security blanket” since Linus Van Pelt. Also because this quote from the great Charlie Brown, while debatably inspirational, does not apply to professional athletes in any way shape or form.
Today, in light of T.J. Houshmanzadeh’s signing with the Raiders, the San Francisco Chronicle had the senselessness to post a graphic that chronicled how T.J.’s numbers were significantly better when Carson Palmer was his quarterback. Those years happen to coincide with the prime of his career, ages 27 through 31. “Look, he was terrible with Jon Kitna under the helm, and then he was great with Carson!” What they are missing is: he is old, and his numbers have declined significantly, and will continue to do so, regardless of whether Carson is his quarterback.
In related news, gee whiz, Babe Ruth really did fall off once he left New York and didn’t have Lou Gehrig hitting behind him – look, he only hit .181 in 1935 while playing for the Braves!
Here’s the gist of why I think this concept is a bit twisted. Let’s say Linus, the inventor of the security blanket term, in the midst of decades-long boy-love for his blanket, had it switched out for a brand new one with no knowledge of the switch out. Is there any doubt that Linus would love the blanket equally, and that it would provide him with additional warmth? The newer, younger blanket would be much better!
Don’t get me wrong, there are proper uses of the idea –when a team or coach consistently relies on one player to be there in clutch situations or times of need. Mariano Rivera is a security blanket for the Yankees. Mike Alstott was a security blanket for the Tampa Bay Bucs a decade ago- they knew he could always get a few yards. Robert Horry could be considered a security blanket for the Rockets and Spurs.
But don’t give me T.J. Houshmanzadeh is a security blanket for Carson Palmer. And don’t give me Deion Branch as a Tom Brady blanket… literally all of the Patriots receivers are made better by Tom Brady, whoever lines up in the slot, and runs the fastest crossing pattern is Tom’s best option this week. If Randy Moss wakes up on the right side of the bed, as he seemingly did three years ago, then he transforms into Tom Brady’s record-setting warmest blanket of all time.
This is sports people. Do you really think Carson Palmer will line up behind the line this Sunday and say to himself, “I’m friends with TJ, so I’m going to throw him the ball on this pass, no matter what?” No, and if he does, then the Raiders gave up two first-round picks for a nincompoop.
Let’s remember, in football they have helmets on. I wonder whether an NFL quarterback can even distinguish who they are throwing to… they just see an open man breaking through the defense, and have to unleash a throw instantly. It shouldn’t take a good quarterback very long to figure out how fast his receivers are, and throw to whichever one is open, regardless of whether they are a jerk or an angel.