Explaining the rage

Former `dirtiest player' says `football is a violent sport'

October 08, 2006|By Alex Marvez | Alex Marvez,South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Should it be surprising that the former offensive lineman once named the NFL's dirtiest player by Sports Illustrated has some sympathy for the Tennessee Titans' Albert Haynesworth?

Kevin Gogan, who played for five NFL teams over 14 seasons, said he isn't trying to defend the Titans defensive tackle for twice stomping on the exposed head of Dallas center Andre Gurode in last Sunday's 45-14 Cowboys rout. The action gave Gurode a 30-stitch cut, landed Haynesworth a five-game suspension and elicited outrage from players across the NFL.

Gogan, though, argues that Gurode might have done something to provoke Haynesworth and that the nature of football itself occasionally generates excessive acts of rage.

"Football is a violent sport," said Gogan, who played from 1987 to 2000 with the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers. "There's an ambulance on the field before the game even starts. You tell guys to push, shove and blow people over a pile and then, `Oh, here's the whistle. Stop.' I'm sure [Haynesworth] would love to retract what he did. But there's another 75 guys who would have done the same thing but won't admit it."

Although he once saw former Cowboys defensive tackle Danny Noonan pull off teammate Nate Newton's helmet and clock him with it during a practice skirmish, Gogan said he never went as far as Haynesworth did. But that's largely because the 6-foot-7, 325-pound Gogan earned his dirty reputation through other means like taunts and cheap shots.

Gogan was ejected from the 1998 Pro Bowl after kicking defensive end Neil Smith in the groin, capping a game-long battle in the trenches between the two. (Smith also was ejected for throwing punches.) Some of Gogan's other tactics were below the belt, literally, like tripping, punching and cut-blocking.

But to his credit, Gogan still commanded enough respect to earn three Pro Bowl berths.

"It's hard to get all your revenge on one play," said Gogan, who now hosts an Internet radio show appropriately called "The Trainwreck" at nbx.com. "You'll get penalized or kicked out. You have to take it in small increments and keep building up. At the end, [the opposing lineman] is not going to have to retire, but they're going to be feeling pretty bad."

Gogan said there was a method to his meanness.

"If you start working these guys a little bit and let them implode, their game is done," he said. "They're supposed to be rushing the quarterback and they end up forgetting all about that stuff. There's a lot of little games inside the game and that's one of them."

That is where Gogan believes Haynesworth made his biggest mistake.

"Why didn't he just get back at the guy over the duration of the game?" Gogan said. "Start breaking him down play after play, punch him and take some cheap shots and not kick him in the head where everyone can see and it costs you [$190,070 in fines].

"It's more fun to get back over a series of plays than one little stomp on the head."

Alex Marvez writes for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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