FanPost

McGahee Debate

The following is a debate that I had with Ampallang:

I can't believe the McGahee hatred!

It’s not just you, Rexx. I’ve heard this hundreds of times. Did everyone forget the 2007 season? He WAS our entire offense that year! Last year, he had a bad season (mostly due to injuries), and now everyone wants to throw him off the team. Why? Because he didn’t show up for voluntary workouts? So what! They are voluntary! Because he performed badly? He was injured and was still one of our leading rushers! Dawan Landry and Kelly Gregg didn’t contribute at all last season. Why are we welcoming them back? Let’s give them the Willis treatment to be fair. Get that trash off the team!

I’m sorry if I sound irritated, but I was really annoyed by Buffalo fans when we got McGahee. They were treated him unfairly and gave him the Philly fan’s McNabb treatment. Unfortunately, this attitude has been contracted by Baltimore fans. It won’t be long before we’re cursing L.J. Smith too. I just thought that we were better than that.

by BAL_Hawk

You know, I lived just east of Buffalo (horrible, horrible town) for about five years, just as McGahee was overtaking Travis “Can’t Stay on my Feet” Henry, and I can tell you that there was no unfair treatment. Buffalo wasted a first round pick on a seriously injured college freshman in the hopes that he’d return to form, and eventually gave him the #1 RB slot. In return, they got an under-performing athlete that trash-talked his meal ticket town. They happilyshipped him off to us. As you say, he was our offense in a year in which Medicare McNaire couldn’t hold onto the ball or pass more than 10 yards to save his life. That makes McGahee the smartest kid on the short bus. Congratulations, Willis.

Fast forward to last year. All of a sudden, McGahee has some competetion. What do we get? Lots of whining. Underproduction. Who is our lead rusher? A full back. And where is McGahee? Whining to the local media. You may or may not have seen some of my prior posts about said whining months ago. So, I’m sorry if I sound irritated, but this guy deserves it. We have depth at RB with McClain and Rice, and I feel like we’d be just fine without the UM whiner. Also, Dawan Landry and Kelly Gregg never went mouthing off to the media; that’s why you don’t see anybody around here anxious to give them the boot.

 

by Ampallang

Your facts are wrong.

McGahee rushed for 1128 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first season as a starter in Buffalo. Those are excellent numbers, and the Bills rode McGahee to a 9-7 record. He gave us the same performance in the 2007 season, rushing for 1207 yards and 7 touchdowns.

McGahee never trash-talked to anyone. He made a comment about how boring it was to live in Buffalo, and the fans got their feelings hurt. That was all he said. I would challenge you to find other trash-talking quotes from McGahee. You won’t find them. I would also challenge you to find coaches or players that have criticized McGahee. If you can find them, please give me the quotes. The fact is… you won’t find any. All of this negative press surrounding McGahee has been generated by the press and fans who got their feelings hurt.

I’m serious about finding me quotes. You called McGahee a whiner MANY times. I challenge you to find quotes to back it up.

by BAL_Hawk

Get comfortable, BAL_Hawk, because this may take a while. You’ve asked for quotes about things that happened years ago, and I’ve done my best to accommodate that. I think the best way to organize this will be by topic. Also, after waxing narcissistic for a sufficient number of words, the formatting (bolding and breaks between quotations) gets all wonky, so try to bear with me.

Your First Post

First, a recap. In your original post, you characterized McGahee as “our entire offense.” Since you didn’t respond to my rebuttal, I’ll have to assume that my point stands. You compared McGahee to Landry and Gregg, to which I countered that they didn’t whine; relevant quotes are forthcoming. You said he didn’t attend voluntary workouts. This is a particular thorn in our collective sides because he’s a repeat offender. It was actually the second time he’s skipped voluntary workouts while a new offense was being put into place. Again, more on this later. Now on to the meat of the subject.

McGahee’s Performance in Buffalo

You are correct about McGahee’s first year as a starter (2004). 1100 yards and 13 TD’s is great. I notice that you didn’t mention the subsequent years, though. In 2005, he again broke the 1000 yard barrier, but his yards per carry fell below 4.0 and he posted only five touchdowns. His next season, in which he missed two games due to injury, was equally disappointing with him running under 1000 yards and getting only a half-dozen touchdowns. I’d also like to point out that he actually did not give us the same production in 2007 as his performance in 2004; there’s a minus six touchdown differential!

McGahee’s “Trash-talk”

Let’s take a quick look at what McGahee actually said.

"Coming from Miami, I was used to partying, going out, just having something to do every night. Restaurants, whatever. Going to Buffalo, it was like hitting a brick wall. Like, ‘Damn!’ Can’t go out, can’t do nothing. There’s an Applebee’s, a TGI Friday’s, and they just got a Dave & Busters. They got that, and I’m like, ‘What the?’ And, you know, the women …

"You see, when I was in college that’s what I used to thrive off of," the 25-year-old says. "The better you do, the more fame you get. So you know, it was like, I was used to that. And then you get to Buffalo and no matter how you do, it’s the same. It’s no big city. You know what I did every day? I came home and played video games."

The most reliable source I could find for this was http://www.brendanloy.com/wp/2007/03/willis-mcgahee-doesnt-like-buffalo-and-the-feeling-is-mutual.html
The link to the original source at the Baltimore Sun was unavailable; however, the sheer number of times I’ve seen that exact quote repeated all over the Internet leaves me pretty confident in its authenticity.

As I said previously, I have a bit of personal experience with Buffalo. Please excuse the caps, BUT THE BARS DON’T CLOSE UNTIL 4AM!!! Buffalo has plenty of flaws, but the night life really isn’t one of them. When you get more cloud and snow cover than 99% of the rest of the continental United States, you develop a propensity for drinking. A guy with that kind of money and time on his hands should have easily found something to do. Worst case scenario, if he’s looking for something a little more up-scale, Toronto is a day-trip away, which brings me to my next point.

“They should just bring the Buffalo Bills to Toronto. Case closed.”

http://www.canada.com/topics/sports/story.html?id=1d29b2c1-b6bb-4426-8bbe-38a4f73962c7&k=98190
Originally from an interview with Penthouse magazine.

To put this into context, Buffalonians have an inferiority complex with their Northern neighbors. That kind of comment hits close to home, especially with a fan base so dedicated to their team. You said they treated McGahee unfairly, but I believe that he gave them every reason to hate him. He denigrated their night life and their women, and basically said that they were less deserving of their franchise than a rival city. What if McGahee came out tomorrow and said that Baltimore’s night life was non-existent, its women were fugly, and suggested that the franchise just move on out to Ohio? Combine that with his declining performance on the field. How much does it really take before the hatred is valid? Please let us all know.

Coaches Criticizing McGahee

This is, admittedly, a tall order. Players, let alone coaches, don’t really criticize other players publicly all that often, so when it actually does happen, it tends to be kind of a big deal. Other than a lot hearsay, the following is pretty much all I could find.

“Willis literally didn’t know what to do on the plays,” a source said. "After the play was called, we’d have another coach signaling to Willis what to do because he didn’t know. He’d miss blocks [in pass protection] a few times, not because he was beat, but because he didn’t know what he was doing.

“He just doesn’t study. … His teammates noticed it, and it affected how they viewed him in the locker room.”

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=jc-combinenotes022407&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

It looks pretty damning to me, BAL_Hawk. I said earlier that I’d be bringing this up again. This was after McGahee skipping the voluntary off-season workouts after they had put in a new offense under a new coaching staff. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s what happened here in Baltimore this past season. McGahee skips workouts designed to teach a new offense, then his production slips from the previous year. Only this time around, he actually had some competition in the backfield. There will be more later on his reaction to this turn of events.

McGahee Whining

You’ve challenged me to find quotes of McGahee whining. Ask, and ye shall receive.

McGahee said he “tried to be someone else’s running back this year, and it didn’t work out.”

“I’m just going to go out there and play for me. I can’t play for nobody else but me.”

“Still, it’s not like where I want to be at. I’m used to competing, but with the injuries and whatnot holding me back, I look at it as a loss.” … “See, I’m talking about my season, I’m not talking about the team’s season,” McGahee said. “I’m talking about my season as an individual. That’s what I’m meaning: My season is over with.”

http://www.baltimorebeatdown.com/2009/1/2/707034/mcgahee-running-his-mouth

It’s apparently impossible to find any articles older than several weeks on the Baltimore Sun website, as the two sources I’ve quoted in that Fan Post are broken links. Nobody in that thread, including a hostile Dolphins fan, called me out for making up shit, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. For the sake of brevity (ironic this far into my post, I know), I’ll let you browse that Fan Post for the salient points. I recommend the actual Fan Post itself, as well as my second post from the bottom, although you are free to peruse all of my witty banter there and elsewhere. In Buffalo, McGahee managed to keep his big mouth out of the media for the most part, so I’ll just leave you with some general impressions of his time there.

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Willis McGahee (325/1247/5 rushing and 28/178/0 receiving last season) scored only 1 TD during his final 10 contests last year. He finished 2005 held to under 100 yards rushing per game in 7 straight games (until a 22/113/0 rushing and 2/22/0 receiving effort during the meaningless week 17 game vs. the Jets, which had no fantasy significance for most of his owners). How did he respond to his dismal second half? Why, he agitated for a renegotiated contract and then held out of non-mandatory OTAs during the offseason, of course – while the Bills worked on installing the new offense with their new coaching staff (headed by Dick Jauron).

http://subscribers.footballguys.com/2006/06faceoff-McGaWi00.php

At that point, his contract was incentive-based. With his play falling off, it’s no wonder he was trying to get a renegotiated contract.

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Asked if McGahee had requested a trade, Jauron replied: “That’s a good question for you to ask him.”

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2791831

Sounds like Dick Jauron was repressing some aggressive emotions about the topic.

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Jauron said McGahee indicated to him that he’s working out in Miami, staying in shape and studying the new playbook but a specific reason for not attending this week’s OTA wasn’t provided.

The Bills were given no notice that McGahee would be appearing on the NFL Network for three days this week until late Tuesday.

Veteran Joe Burns said the new offense under coordinator Steve Fairchild is loaded with new terminology and McGahee is missing valuable time.

“Because it’s a new offense, I’d say so,” Burns said. "If it were the same offense as last year, I’d say he’d be fine, but anytime you can get together as a team it’s a benefit.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/bills/2006-05-30-mcgahee-absence_x.htm

And there’s your quote by a player. It’s very politically stated.

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Buffalo News columnist Bob DiCesare wrote that removing McGahee had “purged the rot” from the Bills’ locker room.

http://www.ravens24x7.com/column_view.php?cid=33&id=1871&view=archive

Also mentioned there is the website www.willisistrash.com, which is, unfortunately, not up and running anymore.

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Whelp, that’s about all I have. You wanted quotes, and you got them. A coach saying in no uncertain terms that McGahee’s poor work ethic was hurting his performance, as well as that of the team (via missed blocking assignments). An entire city with plenty of reason not to like this guy. Unreliable performance from year to year. Self-centered whining just before our first playoff game, in spite of backing from the coaches and several good games up to that point (you said that he “was still one of our leading rushers!”) I believe that I’ve met your challenge, and I eagerly await your response.

by Ampallang

 

All of Willis McGahee’s problems started after he insulted the city of Buffalo. McGahee “made a comment about how boring it was to live in Buffalo, and the fans got their feelings hurt.” Since that point the media has been looking to ruin his image and ultimately, his career. I’m not going to address the Buffalo quote now. Obviously, I agree that he should not have said that. His life would be much easier if he hadn’t said that. My ONLY points are as follows: Much of the bad press that McGahee received was been drummed up by the media and infuriated fans, and his bad reputation as a player is unfounded and has never been directly confirmed or confronted by coaches or players. I’m an objective person and listen to reason, but I cannot find any reason for McGahee’s continual media persecution.

McGahee’s Performance

McGahee’s performance as a player has been very good overall. I’m sure that you are laughing, but it’s true. His average did drop from 4.0 yards per carry to 3.8 yards per carry, and he only scored 11 touchdowns in his finale two seasons with the Bills. However, his team was struggling during that time. The Bills went 9-7 during his first starting season, but went 5-11 and 7-9 during McGahee’s last two seasons. McGahee’s lack of production cannot be blamed on him entirely, and he showed that he was still a dominate player when he rushed for 1200 yards and 7 touchdowns with the Ravens. He would have had more touchdowns in 2007, but Billick liked to pass in the red-zone for some reason.

McGahee’s Trash-Talk

I have already addressed the offensive quotes that McGahee spoke against Buffalo. I knew that McGahee had “made a comment about how boring it was to live in Buffalo.” In fact, I originally challenged “you to find other trash-talking quotes from McGahee.” Note the emphasis on other. I have already heard those quotes hundreds of times. When I said that “this is exactly what I was talking about before,” I was talking about people who refuse to let this offense go. Sure, it was mean. Sure, it hurt some feelings. I just don’t think that McGahee is a monster because of it. You said yourself that Buffalo was a “horrible, horrible town.” McGahee just made the mistake of saying to the media. I’m not going to say that people shouldn’t have been hurt. That’s not for me to judge. I just don’t think that it’s fair to eternally smear a player’s name over one misspoken quote. I think that it’s especially bad when a player’s performance is unfairly evaluated due to these issues. I consider my challenge on this issue unmet. You failed to provide quotes of McGahee’s trash-talking other than the quote that I had previously referred.

The “source” that you provided is another example of a problem. After some time, players that are in the hot-seat become a lighting rod for bored reporters. These reporters are looking to drum up any story that they can find. That’s why I don’t take these anonymous quotes seriously. Who was that being quoted… the water boy? People want recognition, and reporters want stories. The quote by Joe Burns was closer to what I was looking for, but it’s not “damning.” Burns was simply stating that McGahee would have benefited from the voluntary workouts. I’m sure that the reporters were trying to get Burns to say something bad about McGahee. The remaining links that you provided were all beat-writers, and I’m not interested in what they have to say. If this is all of the dirt that you can find on McGahee, then I think that you are reaching. Until I hear a coach or a player saying that McGahee is a problem or a bad player (bad motivation or work ethic), I will not believe it. I also consider my challenge on this issue to be unmet.

The “whining” quote that you presented was very controversial. I will admit that. However, I honestly don’t think that he knew or meant what he was saying. I was watching the video. When he said, “I can’t play for nobody else but me,” his eye’s widened like he was thinking, “What did I just say?” He quickly recovered by saying, “See, I’m talking about my season, I’m not talking about the team’s season.” I think that he was trying to say that he was disappointed with his season, but he said it in the worst way possible. I just chalk this one up to stupidity. Obviously, this is speculation on my part, but if you were to watch the interview and take the quote into context, it could go either way. Of course, he immediately followed that quote up with his 108 yard performance in Dallas.

Conclusion

Throughout this whole debate, I have not seen anything that would lead me to believe that McGahee is a bad player. McGahee made a mistake by insulting the city of Buffalo. Since then, he has been a target in the media. Don’t get me wrong. McGahee is no saint. I admit that I have also questioned his work ethic and intelligence at times, but I cannot hold his past against him if he’s trying to get over it. If you take everything into account and do your (unbiased) research, I think that you’ll see a player, with below average intelligence and elite athleticism, whose past has haunted him and is ruining his reputation and career. As fans, who ultimately pay player salaries, we should not be so easily swayed by the media, who write many stories only to make money.

The opinions posted here are those of the administrator of this blog and his loyal readers. They are in no way official comments from the team, and should not be misconstued as such, even though he thinks he could do just as well or even a better job!

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