The Smile that Launched a Thousand ESPN Replays

Derek Anderson and Deuce Lutui share a moment of levity as their team is getting stomped on national television

UPDATE: Guard Deuce Lutui  spoke to Darren Urban of the Cards’ official website today regarding the nature of what he and Derek Anderson were talking about in the now infamous 4th quarter gossip session.  “I told him, ‘Hey, I’m with you to the depths.  You understand that?’ ” Lutui said.  “It was that kind of thing given the deficit of the game.  We have to have the mindset that we stick together.”

Everyone figured as much.  I can understand Anderson not wanting to divulge a private conversation between teammates during a troubling time, but the situation wasn’t handled well during the conference and really got blown out of proportion when perhaps it didn’t need to be such an explosive issue.  Then again, the Cardinals had just ended their season with an old fashioned beat down at the hands of a rival.

It’s also interesting to note Kurt Warner’s (remember that guy?) tweet to Darren Urban regarding the Anderson-Lutui ordeal.  Kurt tweeted, “@Cardschatter Knowing Deuce he was inviting DA over 4 a Tongan barbecue 2 lighten the moment, I would have laughed 2!”  I’m willing to bet, though, that Warner would never have flipped out on Somers in an expletive laced rant.

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The screen-shot above that was captured during the Monday Night Football telecast has received the most attention from the football world in a game that saw the Cardinals play with zero effectiveness and Frank Gore break his hip in a season ending injury.  Many would like to compare this incident to the Denny Green outburst, but they aren’t even close.  Green has a special place in Cardinals lore that can’t be matched.

After the Cardinals offense came off the field following a typical three and out, the cameras panned onto Anderson and Lutui apparently laughing while seated on the bench.  At the time, the Cardinals trailed by 19 points and were getting beaten into the ground in a game that looked like a pro team against a high school squad.

During Anderson’s post game conference, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic asked Derek to elaborate on the context of his conversation with Lutui.  Basically, the reporter asked Anderson, “What was so funny?”

“You think I was laughing about something?” Anderson said, his voice getting increasing louder and more intense.  “I take this [expletive] serious.  Real serious.  I put my heart and soul into this every single week.”  Anderson was yelling at that point.

After a little more prodding by Somers, Anderson continued.  “I’m telling you right now what I do every single week,” Anderson boomed.  “Every single week I put my heart and soul into this [expletive].  I don’t go out there and laugh.  It’s not funny.  Nothing’s funny to me.  I don’t want go out there and get embarrassed on Monday Night Football in front of everybody.”  Somers tried a third time to ask Anderson what he and Lutui were specifically talking about, but Andreson stormed out of the press conference shortly thereafter.

So apparently nothing was funny, if I understand Anderson correctly.  I suppose I can understand why Cardinals fans would be upset that Anderson was smiling while his team was getting pounded, but I think those same fans have to realize that this is a job for these players.

Honestly, I believe that Anderson wasn’t laughing about getting destroyed on national television.  That’s just ridiculous.  No one would think that’s funny.  Also, I personally would not want teammates of mine laughing it up on the sideline in that situation.  Having said that, what we want honestly doesn’t matter that much.  NFL fans often care about games much more than the actual players do.  At the end of the game, these guys are going to walk out onto the field and shake hands with their collegues and go shower and collect their paychecks.  Sure they want to do well because they’re competitors, but no matter what Anderson and Lutui were talking about (and at this point we’ll probably never know) it’s a little ridiculous to pick out one instance during an entire game where someone is smiling and vilify them for it.  Again, it’s not the way I would want my teammates to conduct themselves, but as a fan, I’m more concerned about the level of play than whether Derek Anderson is smiling on the bench.

Here’s Somers’ reaction to the incident, which Kent posted on his blog page.

As most ardent Cardinals fans know, Anderson became angry  after the game after I asked him several times about the conversation with Lutui and its context. I tried to be diplomatic and professional, but I guess that’s for others to judge. Anderson obviously didn’t think so. Some wanted Anderson roasted over spit. Others think I badgered him. I hope I was somewhere between those two extremes, but as I said, that’s for others to judge.

I take no satisfaction in what happened, but I felt the questions were justified.  The Cardinals were losing their sixth consecutive game. Their starting quarterback and right guard were smiling on the sidelines.  Readers wanted to know why, especially since many of them think this team is not playing as hard as it should.

The bottom line is that Anderson shouldn’t explode like that during a post-game conference.  Obviously, the game was extremely frustrating.  Sure, Somers was trying to get under Anderson’s skin, but Derek should control himself better than he did.  Even if Anderson believed that Somers was out of line, Derek owes the press, the fans, and the NFL more respect than he mustered, which wasn’t much.  Getting fired up is great, but it should probably be saved for the field or the locker room.


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