Blessed with the gift of gab

Dec. 20, 2001, midnight | By Calvin Anderson | 19 years, 1 month ago

Football players use their hands to catch and block. Basketball players use their hands to dribble and shoot. And athletes in virtually all sports use their legs to run and jump. But one important body part that is often overlooked is the mouth. The mouth is used to release torrents of what outsiders consider trash talk. Now, trash is defined as something that is not valuable. No one should describe something so integral to sports as trash.

"The mouth possesses amazing capabilities, remarkable endurance and frightening range. The mouth annoys opponents, scares coaches and alternatively amuses and disgusts teammates," according to an ESPN Magazine article by Tim Keown.

Some football players are renowned for their ability to talk quality smack. Shannon Sharpe of the Baltimore Ravens, who is famous for his gift of gab, can talk Jerry Springer out of a job. And newly retired Deion Sanders can out-talk Springer and Sharpe put together.

These two, however, are not alone atop the throne of trash talk. As a matter of fact, they are mere jesters in the presence of NFL great Warren Sapp, whose mouth brings to the game of football what James Naismith brought to basketball.

But some Blazer athletes can give these men a run for their money. Junior Jermaine Jack, a varsity football cornerback, was once thrown out of an exhibition game for mouthing off to an opposing wide receiver and to the referee when he was asked to stop. His talking was not trash. It was genuine, 100 proof, grade- A smack talk that proved to be invaluable. His lips were moving a mile-a-minute, and by the time he was done, the wideout he was covering was mentally lost. "Opposing wide receivers don't know what to do when you have a cornerback like me in their faces screaming about how I dare the quarterback to throw the ball to him," says Jack.

For this reason, trash talk is especially important to the game of football. Without it, the greatest game God invented would be played without emotion or feeling. Which would mean that instead of seeing Michael Strahan of the New York Giants flex after every sack, we would see him help the QB to his feet. That's not football; that's pansy ball. Talking trash not only adds emotion to the game, but it also adds to the way the game is played.

In Nelson H. Kobren Memorial Gymnasium, trash talk is widespread. Varsity basketball shooting guard Ellis Yeadon, a senior, uses his mouth to penetrate opponents' minds. "If someone on [the opposing] team misses a shot, I never let him get over it. I keep reminding him." His words are equivalent to putting points on the board, because if the team's star player is scared to shoot, he can't score.

Trash talking is good in most situations, but there are trash-talking boundaries. The boundaries are not necessarily always about the vulgarity or obscenity of the talk, but more about whether you can practice what you preach. The talk is all good and well until an athlete goes public with it.

That's when you get embarrased, like our buddy, former heavyweight boxing champ Hasim Rahman, who on Nov 17 became "Has Been" Rahman when he was rather impolitely shut-up by Lennox Lewis. "Has Been" had talked about how he was "under Lewis's skin" in the weeks leading up to the fight, yet somehow he was sprawled on the cover of The Washington Post's sports section two days later, lying on his back.

CAL'S CALL: Trash talking is a good thing. In either sport, football or basketball, being able to run your mouth is just as important as your ability to block, throw, catch, shoot, dribble and run. It's one of those skills that some athletes are born with. Trash talking is like any talent: the more you harness and perfect it, the more lethal it is.

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Calvin Anderson. Calvin Anderson was born in Washington D.C. on January 3rd 1986. He now lives with his mom in Takoma Park Maryland. Calvin is the man behind the infamous column Cal's Call. In addition to writing his column he enjoys playing sports including lacrosse and basketball … More »

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