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Kevin Schnepf, Published January 18 2011

Schnepf: Trash talk is cheapening the NFL

There are plenty of options when it comes to watching people make fools of themselves on television. I guess I didn’t expect to see so much of it when I – like millions of other Americans – sat down Sunday to watch the New York Jets play the New England Patriots in professional football.

I use the word ‘professional’ loosely – because the trash talking that preceded this game and continued during and after the Jets 28-21 win was as nauseating as watching “The Situation” flex his muscles on “Jersey Shore.”

In this day and age of so-called reality TV (i.e. Jersey Shore), I didn’t expect that sleeze to ooze into the world of NFL football. The trash talk was reminiscent of pro (and I used that word loosely) wrestlers Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair bashing each other with verbal abuse and folding chairs.

I suppose it does make sense that the Jets-Patriots game drew the highest television rating for a divisional playoff game in 14 years. America just can’t get enough of reality TV … that really isn’t so real.

The hype began last week when the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie called Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady an “expletive.” It continued when Jets head coach Rex Ryan – never at a loss for words – kept adding fuel to the fire.

It continued when Jets players taunted the New England home crowd after the game, with some reportedly giving fans the finger.

“Pretty classless stuff,” said Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch who himself displayed the ignorance of a “Judge Judy” plaintiff when he started taunting Ryan after making a catch in front of the Jets bench.

Then there was the class act of Jets linebacker Bart Scott, who in a postgame interview on the field, was shouting as if he had just won the world championship wrestling belt.

“Poetic justice,” he yelled.

“We were pissed off,” he yelled.

Yes, the NFL warned teams to cut back on the trash talk. This came after Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker made numerous references to feet in a press conference, a not-too-subtle reference to Rex Ryan’s foot-fetish controversy.

That had Scott foaming at the mouth during his postgame interview.

“I was going to try to take my helmet and ram it through his (Welker) chest,” Scott yelled. “I’m not a dirty player but you can get someone going man-on-man, bone-on-bone.”

Like I said, if I wanted to watch people make fools of themselves, I would’ve switched channels to “Wife Swap” to watch some punk-rocking dad covered with tattoos argue with a bun-haired Amish mother.

Or I could’ve switched to “The Bachelor” to watch some arrogant single guy who rarely utters complete sentences make out with a dozen different women.

Makes you wonder if the NFL actually encourages all this trash talking. Pretty soon they’ll have the cheerleaders fighting each other. After all, the fights on “Jerry Springer” have proven to draw some good TV ratings these days.

All this trash talk should serve as a timely reminder that all you see on reality TV doesn’t represent the real world – nor should it in the wide world of sports.

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor

Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549 or at kschnepf@forumcomm.com