USA Today, CBS Sports, ESPN, NFL.com, the Business Journal, Grantland, Deadspin, Fox Sports Arizona and numerous other outlets, like most team’s offensive lines, recently made Cardinals’ defensive lineman Darnell Dockett a key focus of their coverage. It had nothing to do with what has happened during training camp on the movable turf of University of Phoenix Stadium either.
The act in question that created more stir than Lady Gaga baring it all for a Kickstarter video, was the fact that Dockett claimed, via Twitter, that he had purchased a tiger cub and wanted to bring it to practice. Cue a media storm that would make Edward R. Murrow cringe at it’s absurdity.
The above entities, along with many others, gravitated towards the story and plastered it across their digital channels perpetuating the notion that somehow Dockett managed to pull a The Hangover and acquired a tiger. (Just remember, tigers love pepper, they hate cinnamon.) It seemed outlandish and led to a Woodward and Bernstein type investigation into whether or not the story, and picture that accompanied it, were truthful.
The more important question that everyone of these people should have been asking is, “who the hell cares?”
PETA did for one but what they and media members didn’t get was this was Dockett being Dockett and just trying to grab attention. He is a court jester — or in football is it more appropriate to refer to him as a field jester? — who brings the levity necessary in a locker room and to a fan base to realized their men playing a kids’ game. His online antics are to be amused by and nothing more. Unless it involves Ustream and a shower, then other emotions are allowed.
The only thing that matters is whether or not Dockett is a tiger on the field this season. If he is not, the defense likely will fall well short of the level it needs to be at if the Cardinals hope to actually be a winning team and he’ll fall well short of the production necessary to keep him relevant.
He is heading into his 10th season in the NFL and his production has taken a nose dive. Last season was his worst on the field since his second year out of Florida State. If it keeps up and he proves to be more kitty than jungle cat, his time in Arizona could be shorter than Beyonce’s new hair.
Here’s to Darnell making headlines for his on the field play this starting Friday in Green Bay. I’m genuinely rooting for it to happen, mostly because I’d rather see our best NFL writers focusing on something more worthy of their time and leaving the online antics to those of us who write sarcastic and pithy online blogs.