What kind of a guy is Tom Brady, Cromartie was asked by a Daily News scribe who probably couldn't believe his luck. The answer: "An asshole. Fuck him." Suggs livened up another boring post-practice press conference with his custom made t-shirt and eminently quotable comments about Pittsburgh. Instant back page headlines for the papers, instant story with inevitable follow-ups, and gold for editors and readers with a week to fill talking about a single game.
Leitch's take on this was spot on, in that we as fans want our players to be as emotionally invested in these games as we are. But there's more to it than that. Players like Cromartie and Suggs aren't just unusually honest. They're media-savvy too.
The quid pro quo has always existed, but athletes understand the benefits of good press coverage on a higher level. Twenty years ago, I doubt they subscribed to the local paper. Now, you can be sure they're at least Googling their own name. And they've figured out that if you give them news to fill the bottomless pit that is today's newshole, you'll generally get treated right. Not that the writers will necessarily protect you, but they'll certainly give you a pulpit when you want one.
And that's perfectly all right. Never mind the legitimacy of the venom; trash talking and predictions and words of hate make for great hype and a better game. The NFL is already a spectacle, so credit the actors who get that and play along.