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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    AWOL player turns up heat on Linehan

    By Bryan Burwell
    Friday, Sep. 22 2006

    As he roamed through the back hallways of Rams Park early Thursday afternoon,
    Scott Linehan moved past the trainer's room with a urgent stride, a crooked
    grin and shoulder-shrugging knowledge that his already turbulent week had
    suddenly been upgraded to a category 4 storm of controversy.

    He had just spent the better part of the past two weeks defending the merits of
    his struggling offense. He had just finished playing musical chairs with his
    banged up offensive line, evaluating post-concussion medical reports on his
    slightly woozy Pro Bowl offensive tackle, and burned plenty of midnight oil
    trying to devise a successful game plan that would jump-start his offensive
    attack against the Arizona Cardinals.

    And now, just to make the day a bit more interesting, Linehan just finished
    telling reporters that one of his starting defensive ends had gone AWOL, and no
    one knew exactly where he was.

    So as he zipped past a few reporters in that narrow corridor near the locker
    room, Linehan greeted them with a clever one-liner that accurately summed up
    how his day was going: "So you wanna be a head coach, huh?"

    With that perfectly timed, self-deprecating zinger, Linehan summed up the
    not-so-glamorous side of being the guy with the whistle around your neck. The
    easiest thing for a leader to do is take charge in calm waters. But what
    happens to a man as he assumes the challenges of leadership in troubled seas is
    a far more accurate reflection on his ability.

    So here is Linehan, barely into his third week into the regular season, and
    we're about to see him tested to his limits. His first few months as a neophyte
    NFL head coach had been a breeze, without so much as a trickle of nonsense. No
    protracted holdouts; no influential free-agent defections; no debilitating
    preseason injury disasters. Now within the span of 11 chaotic days, Linehan's
    comfort zone has been completely disheveled.

    The latest turbulence came in the form of the wayward ways of third-year
    defensive end Anthony Hargrove, who failed to report to work Thursday morning
    and failed to notify anyone at Rams Park with an excuse.

    I won't begin to speculate what prevented Hargrove from contacting somebody in
    Earth City with his whereabouts. But I know this: In this day and age when cell
    phones have signals that can reach around the world and text messages can flash
    instantly, Hargrove could have squeezed in a few seconds out of his day to
    inform the Rams about what was important enough to blow off a day's work
    without an excuse.

    Yet for about seven hours, no one knew where he was, and worse yet, if anything
    bad had happened to him. No one knew whether he was merely sleeping off an
    all-night binge, or lying unconscious (or worse) in a wooded ditch on the side
    of some remote country road.

    Linehan is by nature a very measured man, and in this instance that became his
    greatest asset. When he walked off the practice field, he informed reporters
    that Hargrove was AWOL but refused to make any rash proclamations out of anger.
    "We had one player that was absent today," Linehan said without a hint of
    emotion. "It's not an excused absence. As soon as I get to the bottom of why
    first, make sure everything is OK with Tony, then I'll comment on it."

    Now comes the fascinating part of this saga: waiting to see what Linehan does
    next, because he has a locker room full of players and a world full of fans
    with decidedly differing perspectives anxiously awaiting his next step.

    Keep in mind, this is not high school or college. Linehan is not dealing with
    some impressionable young kid. This is the NFL, and he's dealing with grown men
    who are paid millions of dollars to do a job and impatient bosses who want to
    see the new guy turn this team around as quickly as possible.

    In the locker room Thursday, one veteran summed up what life is all about in
    situations like this. "As a man, you're always concerned about the person, but
    on a professional level, the only thing you can do is say, 'Who's next in line?
    Step up and do your job,' " said the player who did not want to be identified.
    "There's nothing else you can do because we have a game on Sunday whether he's
    here or not."

    The players have to move on emotionally, but the head coach can't. At the very
    least Linehan knows he has a highly irresponsible player on his hands. If he's
    lucky, that's the worst of his troubles. He must quickly determine exactly who
    and what he's dealing with and act appropriately, because the resolution of
    this issue -- not to mention all the other turbulence on the horizon -- could
    make or break his already fragile rookie season

  2. #2
    VegasRam's Avatar
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    Re: AWOL player turns up heat on Linehan

    Sometimes I think Burwell should be writing for daytime soaps. This just ISN"T an earth shattering story.

    Might be a blessing isn disguise. Interesting to see the new guy, (not going to attempt the spelling), especially since he apparently has beaten Green out, who I think is OK.

  3. #3
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: AWOL player turns up heat on Linehan

    When Bulger, Jackson, Holt, Bruce, Pace, Little, Glover, Witherspoon, Tinoisamoa or Chavous is AWOL, you can write about how it is having a big impact on Linehan.

    But Hargrove? Let's be real. How much of a dropoff, if any, is there from Hargrove to Adeyanju?

  4. #4
    VegasRam's Avatar
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    Re: AWOL player turns up heat on Linehan

    I'm predicting none. We'll see.

  5. #5
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: AWOL player turns up heat on Linehan

    Whether it is Hargrove or Holt, I think the point is that there is a player AWOL, and so far, totally unjustified.

    That's what the no-no is about, an NFL player not understanding his responsibilities to his Head Coach and to his team. I think it is serious business, and perhaps reason to take disciplinary action unless a valid reason comes up soon.

    Tsk, tsk. What a shame. But as said before, I hope Hargrove will have learned a lesson.

  6. #6
    1st & Goal Guest

    Re: AWOL player turns up heat on Linehan

    This is not about the player. It's all about the Head Coach. How he handles this is important. It sends a message to the entire team. If not handled right, we could be talking about a coach who has lost the respect of his players. Do not under estimate the importance of this decision. This may be the most important decision made all year.

  7. #7

    Re: AWOL player turns up heat on Linehan

    I still want to know why he didn't show up to practice. I think he owes it to the team and to the fans to let them know why he couldn't practice with the team.


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