The Dreaded “D&R” Words
This is an IndyCar site. It’s what I write about. Every now and then, I’ll deviate off-topic, but more times than not I can loosely tie my topic back to IndyCar. Sometimes I can’t. In July of 2009, I wrote about the space program on the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing. Although the space program and the astronauts of the sixties is another passion of mine, there was no realistic way to connect it with racing.
Sometimes, I’ll write about something that irks me about college or pro football and make comparisons between NFL players and IndyCar drivers. This is one of those times.
After watching the NFL divisional playoffs this past weekend, I kept hearing a common theme out of one game in particular – the Jets and Patriots. Keep in mind; I don’t have a rooting interest between these two since I’m a Titans fan. Strangely enough, I’m also a Colts fan even though the two teams are division rivals. Being a Tennessee Vol, I’m obviously going to cheer for Peyton Manning. I also really liked former coach Tony Dungy, although I can’t really get a good feel for Jim Caldwell after two years.
In case you don’t follow football, the NY Jets (11-5) upset the heavily favored New England Patriots (14-2). It was an upset because the last time these teams met in early December, the Patriots beat the Jets 45-3. I’ll admit, I never gave the Jets a prayer in last Sunday’s game.
But it was the war of words in the days following the game that got me riled up. The Jets players continued to use two of the most overused and abused words in sports – one of my many pet peeves.
If you looked at the title of this article and thought that “D&R” meant I was writing about Dreyer & Reinbold Racing – you would be wrong. D&R stands for the two words that the Jets used with such frequency: Disrespect and Respect.
Football players are big on these two words. They tend to put a lot of value in the meaning behind these words. Soon-to-be former Titans quarterback Vince Young threw these words around better than he could throw a short pass at a receiver’s feet. He always claimed that fans should show him respect. He recently accused Titans Coach Jeff Fisher for disrespecting him as a man during his five seasons with the Titans.
It was more of the same this week from the Jets. Almost to a man, Jets players claimed that the Patriots had disrespected them and now everyone would have to show the Jets some respect. Please.
The two words are used in such a way these days that it’s hard to tell what the real definition is. When I was growing up, we were told to respect our elders, be respectful in church and so forth. To do the opposite was being disrespectful.
Webster defines “respect” as holding something or someone in esteem. However, urbandictionary.com defines respect as ”valuing each others points of views. It means being open to being wrong. It means accepting people as they are. It means not dumping on someone because you’re having a bad day. It means being polite and kind always, because being kind to people is not negotiable. It means not dissing people because they’re different to you. It means not gossiping about people or spreading lies.”
My own son went through a time as a teenager when he felt compelled to sound off anytime I did something he considered stupid, which was about 24 hours a day in his mind. However, if I ever corrected him on something – he claimed that I was disrespecting him. What that really meant was I was telling him something he didn’t want to hear. Needless to say, I grew very tired of hearing the word “disrespect” around my house. Fortunately, at twenty-one, he has pretty well grown out of those fun teen years.
Here is where I make the inevitable comparison to IndyCar drivers. I’ve listened to a lot of drivers over a lot of years. Not once, can I ever remember hearing a single driver complain of not getting respect or that someone disrespected him or her. In my mind, respect is something that is earned over time – not something you are entitled to because you had a successful weekend.
Dario Franchitti is worthy of respect. He has earned it. He quietly went about his business over the years. He learned his craft, won a lot of races, almost won the CART championship in 1999. He kept his mouth shut, and suddenly it all came together for him. He is now a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and a three-time IndyCar champion. Yet, not once have I ever heard him use the term respect when talking about himself.
Tony Kanaan was unceremoniously dumped at Andretti Autosport at the end of last season. If any driver had reason to feel they were ”disrespected”, it was Tony Kanaan. Yet, he kept his mouth shut, found another job and still will not take the bait when given the opportunity to trash his former employer. That is someone worthy of respect, yet he’s never uttered the word.
Even Milka Duno, who has incurred the wrath of almost every driver and many fans throughout her IndyCar career, has never whined about being disrespected within the IndyCar community. If any driver did not get any respect, it was her. Credit Milka for ignoring her many detractors (including myself) and taking the high road.
What makes respect such a prevalent issue in pro-football and an afterthought in IndyCar? Both groups compete in highly charged, emotional sports. What is so different about racing and football that makes one group throw the D&R words around constantly, while it remains a non-issue with the other group. Can you imagine AJ Foyt complaining that some of the other drivers were disrespecting him on the track? It’s hard to visualize Bill Vukovich demanding that fans should give him the respect he thinks he deserves. He never gave it a thought.
So as we head into the conference championships this weekend and we hear the Jets moaning that the Steelers don’t respect them or that Packers are going to disrespect the Bears – just remember that the start of the IZOD IndyCar Series is just nine weeks from this weekend, and we won’t hear anything then about the D&R words. Now, that’s something I can respect.