Michael Turner, Dunta Robinson and why fans assume they know the minds of players.
Take a moment to think about Michael Turner. What do you know about Turner?
You can probably recite stats. You can talk about the way he runs, the awesome Weems-as-a-human-shield block, the highlight reels. You can talk about how he seems to be in decline as a running back. You can talk about his quiet grumbling about his reduced role or his infamous DUI.
What I'm reasonably confident you can't tell me is what Turner is like as a human being. His interests, his family, his life outside of football, the things that make him more than just a stout guy in a helmet who racks up yardage on Sundays. As fans, we're not particularly well-equipped to understand what players like Turner are actually like outside of the Georgia Dome. It doesn't stop us from analyzing them endlessly, nor should it. But I want to sound a quick cautionary note.
This off-season, I've heard (and to be fair, been involved in) countless discussions about Turner and Dunta Robinson, among others. Many say he should want a ring and should re-structure his contract. Others, myself included, have argued he probably wants to start and won't re-structure. In every case, to put it charitably, we're guessing. We don't know his motivations, his thoughts on his contract or what kind of role he's hoping for a year from now. We guess because it's part of the discussion that comes up inevitably when we're talking about players arriving or moving on.
I think it's worth remembering we don't know a damn thing about guys like Turner and Dunta Robinson, and it's awfully presumptuous for us to say they should re-negotiate a contract. As fans, we care most about the fortunes of the team, which informs our perspective. If you're a player, you think about making the most money you can, going where you're appreciated, getting enough playing time and being close to your family, things that fans don't consider as part of their calculus. For us, it's fairly simple: What keeps a beloved player in Atlanta and saves the team money? Good, that should happen.
I don't expect us to know the inner workings of the team or these players, and I don't expect any of us to stop guessing. I just think we should recognize that we don't have a clue what's motivating Turner, and thus it's not as simple as saying he should be willing to re-structure if he wants to stay.
Don't be surprised, in short, with however this shakes out.