I had a private chuckle when the Jaguars released Hugh Douglas as they got their roster down to 65 players. Douglas tried to make a big splash when he arrived in Jacksonville last year, and failing that, left with a hardly a whimper. In the locker room on the day of his arrival, Douglas was trumpeted as the player the Jaguars needed to change directions on the defensive line. He was one of Jack Del Rio’s first coups, a veteran, name defensive player willing to commit to Del Rio’s new team.
Douglas was brash, and defiant in his first interview, chastising the media for asking about his knee (which was hurt) and his motivation (which turned out to be lacking.) But it was obvious Hugh Douglas was a big personality, and he wanted to be just that. He was “Big City” and he was going to bring that to this town. But if you’re going to be big city, you can’t play like little village, and Douglas barely qualified for a spot on the map based on his performance.
He was in a funk, not because he wasn’t playing well, (and he wasn’t) but because nobody was making a big deal about him. He complained that nobody knew him on the street and in the clubs here, that the lifestyle wasn’t what suited him. How that translates into poor performance on the field, I guess only Douglas knows, but the extra 20 lbs or so he was carrying around certainly didn’t help. So with the spare tire on his waist and the chip on his shoulder, Douglas took millions of dollars from the Jaguars and complained about it. He did produce 3 ½ sacks for his effort (or lack thereof).
I’m not sure where guys like Hugh Douglas get their personality from. He’s not going to the Hall of Fame. He was a very good player among some very good defensive players in Philadelphia. As media outlets discover parts of the country heretofore unknown to them (i.e. anything not NY, LA, Chicago, Miami or Dallas) players find it acceptable to go to those places, figuring they’ll drag the poor unwashed masses into the 21st century when it comes to “the high life.” But what happened to Douglas here is a good example of how things have changed.
The celebrity aspect of athletes is waning. Despite desperate efforts by MTV, the NBA and the NFL networks, people don’t really care what the players are doing outside of the field of play. We don’t care where they’re partying, what their “cribs” look like, what kind of car they drive or what clothes they’re wearing. Sure, players can have an impact in their communities by getting involved, setting good examples and doing charity work. But just hanging around showing off their “bling-bling” doesn’t cut it any more.
Douglas used to try and run the press conferences he was involved in, telling the media to physically “back off” or that they could “kiss my a__!” Eventually as his play diminished, he stopped talking to the media and we stopped asking. At training camp this year, Douglas met with the media, holding his thumb and forefinger about a half inch apart saying he had a “little bit more respect for the media” after his stint with NFL network as a reporter. That’s OK, I had a “little bit more respect for Hugh Douglas” after he actually did some work in the off season. His comment how people here were “learning the game” was so arrogant and off-base it was laughable.
Douglas cut and run (or what he calls running these days) when his skills were questioned this year, just like most cowards do. It won’t surprise anybody if he doesn’t get much of a reception in Philadelphia either.