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Has Trash Talking Gone Too Far?

Trash talking in sports is all around us; everyone hears it constantly. While trash talking may be said jokingly, lately in professional sports it has gone too far.

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Trash talking has moved away from harmless humor to something more serious and offensive. Especially in the NFL, the harsh and sometimes inappropriate words are weekly news headlines.

A recent example of crossing the line was prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff games. A huge battle of words occurred between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie started the word war by calling Patriots quarterback Tom Brady some names that no individual would ever want directed at them. Then, during a press conference, Patriots star receiver Wes Welker made references to Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s wife. Welker may have thought his comments were amusing, but Bill Belichick did not. He benched Welker for the first series of the game.

Many Jets players took offense to Welker’s words, responding with their own comments. Bart Scott threatened Welker by saying his days in a uniform were numbered. Nick Mangold, the Jets’ center, also chimed in by posting comments on Twitter. He made references to Welker being a great player and how the Jets need to keep a “spy” on him or he could really open the “gate.” Mangold’s comeback was aimed at Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ illegal videotaping scandal known as “Spygate.” It hasn’t been just the Patriots and Jets who have exchanged heated words. Almost every team took part in at least some type of trash talking.

Trash talking is viewed differently by each coach. For example, Ryan joins in with his players and supports the exchanges. He chose not to punish Cromartie for using an array of bleeped out words and saying how he hates Brady. On the other hand, Belichick took the calmer and more typical response of benching Welker. Would Welker’s presence to start the game have made a significant difference in the outcome? No one will know.

One thing that has become clear is that commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL have made it known that they are becoming less tolerant of talk that threatens others. The NFL has stated that if someone takes a “cheap shot” at another player in a game, their previously stated words will be used against them when they are disciplined. Trash talking may be entertaining and amusing, but recently it has just gone way too far.