Sunday, May 06, 2012
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Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Tough time to talk tough

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by NFL players: It's all about timing, fellas.

Q: Who put his foot in his mouth this time?

A: That would be Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, who went on a radio show in Houston on Friday and ranted about how bounties are no big deal. He said the sport is about "kill or be killed" before adding, "This is football. It's not powder puff. When Nike unveiled their new uniforms, I'm surprised they didn't have flags on the side."

Q: Yeah, but we've heard that kind of macho talk before. What makes Pollard so out of line?

A: Pretty sure you don't want to say that on the same day the grieving family of Junior Seau agrees to donate the late linebacker's brain to research after he stunned the sports world by committing suicide this week.

Nobody knows what role concussions played in Seau's tragic decision, but anybody who thinks the effects of two decades of football had nothing to do with it must be smarter than the rest of us.

Q: Didn't Pollard also say he didn't think football would still be around in 20 or 30 years?

A: He did. And in the same interview, he said he wouldn't let his son play football. "I don't want to see my son with a concussion," he said. Hmmâ?

Q: Would you let your son play football?

A: I would, but only because his genes won't permit him to sniff the NFL. The rewards of four years of high school football - discipline, teamwork, excitement, girls - far outweigh the drawbacks, I think. But the higher you get, the more that balance tilts in the danger direction.

Q: Speaking of injuries, a lot of big ones this week, including Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Which is a bigger loss to his team?

A: Tough call, but I'll go with Rivera. Eight-inning games are over in the Bronx. At least the Ravens drafted Courtney Upshaw.

Q: The Sprint Cup series heads to Talladega today, where Dale Earnhardt Jr. historically has been good. What did you think of the story in your paper about how he might end his winless streak this week?

A: Not bad, but I liked it better the time we ran it before Martinsville, before Richmond, before Daytona, before â? you get the idea. Time to quit writing about it until it actually happens.

Q: So, will it happen this week?

A: You bet!

Q: Comment of the week on the blog?

A: So many different opinions on the James Johnson hire as Virginia Tech's basketball coach. Let's pick two.

First, from alwaysOandM: "Since the baseball analogies have started, let's get to it. Jay Wright would have been [a] grand slam. Johnson is a ground-rule double, runner on second and third. Not getting the max out of the at-bat but getting some runs and keeping the inning alive. With the young returning players and him having a better chance to keep the two newcomers, his learning curve from assistant to head will be shortened."

And from scott whitaker: "I reiterate that had [Jim] Weaver had his finger to the pulse of the basketball program, Seth [Greenberg]'s firing would have taken place earlier and Weaver would not be in a position where he has to make a 'he's been around basketball all his life so he must be good' hire a la [Ricky] Stokes. I understand Johnson previously worked for the program and is not a totally unfamiliar entity. Yet being a good assistant obviously does not translate to being a good head coach, so in effect the team is where it was with Stokes, i.e., 'Let's hope he's good.'"

Q: Thoughts on those?

A: Agree with both. Just like with Pollard, it was all about the timing.

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