Justin Harper Wrote A Good Article
4:11 PM EDT on June 25, 2007
So I woke up this morning, logged on to NewsOK.com, and after a few hours managed to find the sports section (seriously people, that new site design is an absolute disaster. Please, for the love of god, get someone to fix it). I noticed that Justin Harper had written an article on Heritage Hall graduate Wes Welker, who downgraded from Oklahoma City to Lubbock for college before finding his way into the NFL with the Miami Dolphins and now the New England Patriots.
He starts the story off with these five words:
Grit, guts, heart and determination...
At this point, I was sharpening my knives. If there are four words that send me running for the hills, they are "grit," "guts," "heart," and "determination." (If there was a fifth, it would probably be "gonorrhea.") The reason I hate these words is twofold. First, they are always overrated as qualities in athletes. I prefer actual talent and production to scrappiness. I'm scrappy, and I suck at every sport imaginable. Secondly, they are used to describe exactly one type of athlete. A very scientific study was done on this recently, and they determined that 10% of the time any of these words were used to describe an athlete, they were used to describe an undersized white guy with perceived athletic shortcomings. The other 90% of the time they were used to describe David Eckstein. Seriously, have you ever watched a Cardinals broadcast? You will hear those words every single time he makes a play or comes to bat, and announcers gush with admiration about how he can barely throw the ball from short to first, while I think to myself, "Gee, that isn't a very good trait to have in a shortstop."
I have read something like 482 articles on Wes Welker that said essentially the same thing, that he was gritty and gutty and had a huge heart and I rolled my eyes at every one of them. So it was with glee that I saw this mornings article, as I finally had a forum to rant about it. You can imagine how aghast I was when I saw the second paragraph of Harper's story:
"You can work hard, but if you don't have talent it doesn't matter," said Texas Tech strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie. "Wes does work hard. He works harder than anybody else, but that's just part of the things that make him great. But you have to have the talent to play in the NFL. On that level, if all you've got is a strong work ethic then you're just another guy."
What is going on here? Has Justin Harper asked some of Welker's coaches about his actual athletic ability for a change? How can I make fun of him in this scenario?
It went on:
"The year Wes went into the NFL (2004), J.J. Arrington, a running back from Cal ran the best "L" drill time of anyone entering the draft at 6.6 seconds," said Wylie. "Wes ran a 6.8. That's unbelievably fast."
"Rod Warner, who coached Welker at Heritage Hall, has long known what others require proof of.
"I've coached for 34 years and had guys like Jackie Shipp who played in the NFL," Warner said. "But Wes is the best athlete I've ever seen and from a lot of different angles.""
My god. It's been done. A decent article about Wes Welker that points out what is obvious to everyone with eyes and a functioning human brain: He's an exceptionally quick, moderately fast, very strong football player who happens to work hard, like the vast majority of NFL and college football players. On this day, no fun can be made of Justin Harper. Well done.
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