New York Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka (94), left, and Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Flozell Adams (76) get in a scuffle in the second quarter of their NFL football game at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Criticism has assailed Cowboys left tackle Flozell Adams from all sides this week in the wake of his actions on Sunday--shoving Justin Tuck from behind and grabbing Mathias Kiwanuka's facemask after the play was dead and the half was over--ranging from media scrutiny to a $50,000 fine and a stern, accompanying letter brought down by league offices.
Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin was furious after the incident, particularly a loophole in the NFL rulebook which obliged his team to decline the ensuing 15-yard personal foul penalty and, ipso facto, allowed Adams to escape with no repercussion until the fine came down on Tuesday.
Tuck, who missed most of the teams' first meeting after being tripped by "The Hotel" and landing on his shoulder, called Adams a "dirtbag."
In a semi-predictable change of pace, though, head coach Wade Phillips came to Adams' defense this week, saying that he didn't believe that his left tackle was a dirty player.
"I think he worries about playing the game and playing it well," Phillips said. "In my opinion, he’s not a vicious player."
As Tim MacMahon on ESPNDallas points out, it's hopeful that Phillips sang a slightly different tune behind closed doors. Defending your players in the media is a positive, after all; but allowing them to shirk any responsibility for their actions is, as we saw during the Barry Switzer era, a different beast altogether--one that can mean the demise of a team.
Had Flozell been suspended rather than fined, this scenario would take on a decidedly uglier outlook for Phillips, as his team attempts to traverse the toughest remaining schedule in football with some degree of success and, thereby, preserve his job. This is the time to get tough if there ever was one; and if the rumors of a tougher Wade Phillips, which is only seen behind closed doors at Valley Ranch, have any truth to them, it's likely that Adams is now well acquainted with him.