Stephen A Smith has a job to do - and he does it well - being provocative enough to make people watch him talk about sports.
He certainly hit that target this week with his wildly over the top reaction to comments made by Redskins defensive linemen Chris Baker and Ricky Jean François in the moments following a win over the Eagles.
"We run the East" pic.twitter.com/VbIcYkpBu0— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) October 16, 2016
Smith determined that Baker and François' comments were indicative of a loser mentality in Washington. Smith's comments come off much more bombastic than anything said by the Redskins defenders.
Simply put: Smith is wrong. I should know, I was there.
While Smith had the advantage of watching the video minutes, hours or perhaps even days after the events transpired, I watched Baker and François walk through the tunnel, look at my phone and address the camera.
Emotional? Yes. Boastful? No.
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What the Redskins D-linemen were saying is something folks in Washington have grown very accustomed to: Despite winning the NFC East in 2015 and reeling off a four-game win streak, the team is still not nationally recognized as a playoff squad.
And Smith's commentary proved the flaw in that national outlook. NFL fans and media alike still view Washington as a team comprised of aging, high priced free agents and a cauldron of discord.
That is no longer the case.
One NFC East team attempted to buy their way out of mediocrity this offseason, but it wasn't the Redskins. That was the New York Giants.
Another NFC East team had a veteran QB demand a trade in the offseason after a rookie was drafted. That wasn't the Redskins. That was the Philadelphia Eagles.
Another NFC East team plays in the shadow of its owner, obviously the Dallas Cowboys. Despite a five-game win streak and a great rookie QB in Dak Prescott, Jerry Jones has intimated that Tony Romo will start when he returns from injury. So instead of talking about Prescott and fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot, the story around the Cowboys is still Romo.
With the Redskins - the story is all football. And that's not what the Stephen A. Smith's of the world are used to.
Smith pointed out Washington's struggles over the last 20 seasons as a reason Baker and François should not be celebrating. It's a silly argument.
NFL teams are new each year.
François just came to Washington last season, and in his first year in town, won the division. Does the franchise's futility of the 2000s have any impact on him or the 2016 Redskins? Of course not.
Chris Baker has fought his way from the practice squad to an integral interior lineman that had six sacks last season. Does the franchise past haunt him? Does he care about the Albert Haynesworth contract or The Swinging Gate? Of course not.
Again, I stood there as François said, "We run the east." I saw Baker's anger towards all the prognosticators picking the Eagles to beat the Redskins. But Smith saw that, too (likely from my Twitter video).
On a personal note, I've met Stephen A. Smith a few times, both as a student and as a reporter. He's been respectful and kind in each situation. Further, Smith visited the Redskins during training camp in Richmond, and attended the season opening loss to the Steelers. Unlike many others, Smith is not just a national talking head without experience seeing the Redskins up close.
What Smith didn't see - and others that still want to lump this 'Skins team in with the frustration that came before it - was the locker room after the Eagles win.
For four straight games, the Redskins locker room has hardly resembled a team on a win streak. The talk is of missed opportunities and ways to get better. There are no wild celebrations.
That's the mark of a good team. That's what Stephen A. doesn't see.
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