The Steelers-Bengals rematch from that brawl of a wild card game is this Sunday—and as Drew wrote, the NFL is dumb as hell for scheduling it for before Vontaze Burfict returns from suspension—and Pittsburgh running back DeAngelo Williams sounds ready as hell. Check this quote:
“Everybody knows the professional hatred we have for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Bengals have with us,” Williams said. “Everybody’s heard the Twitter fight and things of that nature that we’ve had in the offseason. Guess what? This Sunday, that comes to a head, and the cameras will be watching. It will be our will versus their will, and we will see who breaks first.”
My second instinct was to like it even more, because “professional hatred” is such a perfect term for sports rivalries. It’s a job, but it can also get varying degrees of personal. It’s just good business to possess—or at least convey—the same enmities as the fans, and no one on either team forgets that nothing in sports can be monetized like a grudge.
My third instinct was to be turned off by how Williams trailed off into bromides at the end. This isn’t really a battle of wills, it’s a football game where the team that plays the best football will (probably) win. I hate war metaphors when applied to sports (count ‘em sometime, you’ll be shocked), I think they’re lazy as hell, and this feels something like that.
And then I realized Williams’s quote sounds like nothing so much as a pro wrestling promo, circa 1990. Picture Mean Gene at his locker. Append “brother” to the end of each sentence, maybe. This is showmanship, this is hype, and it’s coming from a player self-aware enough to have worn ski goggles to respond to another player’s promise of “blood and guts.”
I love this quote.