Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Last week, Hall of Famer Steve Young was a guest on KNBR’s Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks Show. He spoke about talking (earlier that week) to Hall of Fame wide receiver, Jerry Rice, about what he [Rice] was thinking about the 49ers. This apparently took place the day after the San Francisco 49ers lost, in embarrassing fashion, to an Arizona Cardinals team that was missing many of their starters, including quarterback Kyle Murray.
“I go, ‘What do you think?'” Young said. “He goes, ‘There’s no dogs.’ And I got to interpret that. There’s no dogs on there. You watch the team go on, go off, everyone’s like, ‘OK.’ Young went on to discuss how the 49ers’ handling of the quarterback situation has had a negative impact on the locker room.
49ers safety Jimmie Ward apparently didn’t appreciate the comments, especially Rice’s suggestion that the 49ers have ‘no dogs.” On Wednesday morning, Ward was a guest on KNBR’s Murph and Mac Show to discuss Monday’s win over the Los Angeles Rams.
“I respect their game when they played, but at the same time, they’re not playing no more,” Ward said. “They doing what they need to do. They need to talk, and they need to grab the headlines. That’s kind of how it goes when you hang up the cleats.”
Regardless of the motivation behind the comments of former players, when those players speak, and when they have the championships and pedigrees like Rice and Young possess, most current players pay attention. Ward, though, simply didn’t agree with what the Hall of Fame duo had to say.
Said Ward, “If I’m not mistaken, I want to say they said it’s ‘not enough dogs.’ I don’t think they said there’s ‘no dogs,’ because if there was no dogs, I think we would lose a lot more games. It’s hard to win games, and there’s no dogs on the field.”
Actually, Rice did say ‘there’s no dogs.’ He may have meant there aren’t enough dogs, but that’s not what he said, according to Young. And only Rice can say what he meant. Although Young did try to explain what Rice was saying.
“And I’m pretty sure they watch the film,” Ward continued. “They know who are the dogs and who’s not. Basically, what they’re saying, they’re just trying to, like I said, pull the headlines.
“Maybe because they’re former 49ers players, so they’re really rooting for us. That’s like a message to other guys to try to say, ‘Step it up.’ I think that’s why they’re throwing their shots, because I’m pretty sure when they was playing, [there were] former guys that used to play, or it was just media or something that really cared for the 49ers and was trying to push them. They probably were saying the same thing, so I don’t really look at it as disrespect.”
Ward may be right. It’s possible that Rice, Young, and other players say things to motivate the current players, realizing the influence they still have. And because they may not always have the opportunities to address the team in person, they (perhaps) take advantage of media interviews to express those thoughts, or speak to players indirectly.
Most likely, though, former players are simply giving their opinions when they are asked a question. Maybe there are points of motivation, but in all likelihood, it’s just conversation, with no harm intended.
Ward continued, “I don’t look at it as motivation because, at the end of the day, I’m passionate enough about this game, and I don’t need nobody telling me what I need to do and what I don’t need to do unless you’re in this deal and grinding with me. Then that’s when I’ll listen to you. If you’re going through what I’m going through right now, then I’ll listen to you.”
Certainly it can be frustrating to be criticized in the media, especially when the comments come from former players. But when you wear the uniform of the organization with five Lombardi trophies, the job comes with a certain amount of expectation and standard. And former players, especially those wearing championship rings, have the right to expect today’s players to live up to it.
- Marc Adams
Public Speaker. Writer. Covering the San Francisco 49ers
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