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When asked how Sunday’s AFC Championship rematch would differ from last year, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin simply responded, “Because we’ll make it different.”
And thus began a minor media maelstrom about Boldin’s (supposedly) brash prediction. He said what?! Would the New England Patriots take offense? Would Bill Belichick use this as “bulletin board material?” Would it detract from Ray Lewis’s potentially final curtain call???
Wait. Why do we care? Why is this news?
For whatever reason, the current culture of 24-hour news outlets has made a proclamation of self-confidence by an athlete a leading news headline.
Boldin says his team will win? Gasp! Joe Namath refused to curl up in the fetal position playing the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III? Oh no he didn’t! Eli Manning thinks he’s a top five quarterback? Blasphemy!
What’s controversial about any of that? We crucify LeBron James when he isn’t assertive enough at the end of NBA games, yet posterize players when they exhibit any semblance of faith in their own abilities.
Is Boldin supposed to believe the Patriots will best him yet again? (Ideally.) Is Namath supposed to kneel down every play instead of believing he can win? (That’s why they have gambling spreads, right?) Is Manning supposed to hang his head and admit he sucks? (Which, to be fair, he does.)
It doesn’t make sense. We harp on athletes who seemingly don’t fulfill their talents or maximize their potential, yet simultaneously act stunned when they express belief in themselves. It’s as if athletes aren’t allowed to read “The Little Engine that Could,” with its terrible subliminal message for aspiring children everywhere.
Is it because it’s at the expense of someone else, like poor Tom Brady with his Super Bowl rings and supermodel wife? Maybe? I’m asking a serious question (or at least asking the question seriously).
I suppose I’ll never know, and I suppose it doesn’t matter. The media will keep on spinning headlines out of athletes who make bold statements guaranteeing their own success. Even worse, I’m going to keep on clicking and reading and contributing to the never-ending cycle of hyperbolized sports stories.
The media delivers it, I sign for it, the world keeps on spinning.