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Emmitt told to shut up, but is it justified?

With not much to write about I went searching through my news feeds from different sources for some inspiration. I came across this headline "Emmitt needs to keep mouth shut" so I decided to read the article.

It's written by Aaron Brenner for The Badger Herald which is a daily campus newspaper for the University of Wisconsin. I figured it was about Emmitt Smith speaking up for Michael Irvin and it was. I think Emmitt's heart was in the right place and most of what he said is true, he just worded it poorly. So taking a shot at him on bad communication or strategy skills is justified. But the author of this article is so off the mark in blasting Smith it's comical, and he sets himself up for ridicule right out of the gate with this opening paragraph.

Just use "Emmitt needs to shut it" for the headline. I think you guys will like this one, it's one of the better columns I've written so far.

Yikes, the minute someone has to tell you how good their work is before you read it, you can bet the farm the article stinks. This one lives up to that rule.

Emmitt defended Irvin by saying only the on-the-field stuff should count, he's not running for - in the now infamous Smith quote - "the Life Hall of Fame", but the football Hall of Fame. Here's how Brenner responds.

I could present more examples [of bad behavior], but I think you get the point. Yes, on-field records and achievements are the key measure of who gets in and who goes home, but extremely dumb mistakes that take away from an athlete's role model status should also play into consideration.

Actually, ONLY the on-field records and achievements are to be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame. Nothing else should be considered. How am I so sure of this? Because that's what the Hall of Fame voting by-laws say, that's how. I guess Aaron didn't have time to look that up or mention it in the article as a counter-argument because it didn't fit his narrative. He follows up that folly by presenting two examples of players who fit the pattern.

But if these words are truthful and justified, then I guess Pete Rose belongs in Cooperstown. I mean, who cares that the guy broke baseball's golden rule? He had more hits than anyone else in the history of the game, so he should be in the Hall of Fame, according to Emmitt.

Pete Rose was betting on his sport while he was involved with the game, potentially altering the outcome of games. This isn't an off-the-field activity; he was actively managing games and had the ability to affect their outcome. For this offense he was banned from baseball, rightly or wrongly, so his name doesn't even appear on a ballot. They can't hold his gambling activities against him in voting, he's not eligible. My guess is if they put him on the ballot he would get voted in.

Brenner continues with the second example:

Let's take it a step further. Barry Bonds got `roided up in the clubhouse, which is obviously not on the diamond, so technically, his soon-to-be home run record should be good for Hall of Fame credentials, right? (emphasis added)

My goodness, this logic is absurd. "Obviously not on the diamond..." in reference to his steroid use? Hello, this had everything to do with his on-the-field performance and is absolutely grounds for debating his credentials. Michael Irvin's drug problems were not with performance-enhancing drugs but with performance-damaging drugs. They didn't alter his on-the-field performance unless it was in the negative.

Emmitt Smith continued in Irvin's defense:

"If you're going to sit there behind closed doors and not show your face and not tell people who you voted for, shame on you," he said. "Shame on you for a lot of reasons, because ... if you're man or woman enough to make a vote against a person, you should be man or woman enough to tell someone why you did it. That's the part for me that's totally disappointing."

He continued, "A player should be honored to be here. And when you start seeing stuff like this, what honor is there? Some people get snubbed because of what? Nobody knows. Everybody's behind closed doors still making their vote, still walking up to the player's face and smiling in their face and talking behind their back at the same time. That's not cool."

Instead of acknowledging the underlying point, that secret voting is a problem with the process, Brenner decides to mock Smith as some kind of petulant child.

I'm sorry, Emmitt, you lost me. Were we talking about the Hall of Fame or a day in the life of a fourth-grader?

Walking up to the player's face and smiling in their face and talking behind their back? I think I just had a flashback of the playground bullies picking on me during recess because I couldn't make it across the monkey bars.

Seriously though, does anybody know what Smith's talking about?

Um, yeah, I know exactly what he's talking about. He's talking about the same thing a lot of people talk about, that secret voting in things like this is bad policy. Don't believe me? Ok, how about Ira Miller from SF who has actually voted in the process.

All the votes should be made public. In the media, we argue all the time for openness and accountability yet, in this significant endeavor, media votes are kept secret. Hall of Fame voters should not be able to hide behind a veil of secrecy. Even with open voting, the confidentiality rule on the discussion could be maintained so that voters can debate openly. But light needs to be shed on the verdicts to assure the public the process is fair and not biased.
(source: SF Gate)

Or how about CBS Sportsline columnist Ray Ratto:

Two, they are allowed to vote in secret, and anything that obscures the process leaves it open to question. The college coaches who vote for the Top 25 each week were finally shamed into making their final vote public, which is not nearly good enough, but if college coaches can be forced to do something in public, then sportswriters absolutely should.
(source: CBS Sportsline)

I could go on with many other examples but the point being contrary to Brenner's mocking question; "Seriously though, does anybody know what Smith's talking about?", in fact a lot of people know what he's talking about and have written and said numerous things in support of his position.

So what we have is a poorly executed hatchet-job on Emmitt Smith that fails to confront the essence of Smith's arguments. By throwing up straw-man examples of other players that don't match Irvin's situation, failing to acknowledge the Hall of Fame's own by-laws that say only on-the-field performance matters, and pretending no one knows what Emmitt is talking about when it's obvious plenty of people do, the author shows himself to be a complete and total hack.

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