It’s official: the hot new trend in trash talk is refusing to talk trash.
According to an article from Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck makes a point to congratulate his opponent whenever he gets sacked. It drives them nuts.
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll told a story about getting totally thrown off by Luck being nice to him after a big play:
Carroll was walking back to the huddle when he heard “Great job, Nolan!” He turned around, searching for the person who said it — maybe it was a teammate, he thought. “Then I realised it was Luck who said it. I’m like ‘what’s going on? aren’t you supposed to be mad?'” Carroll said. “So then I’m the one who gets ticked off because an upbeat attitude isn’t something you see.”
“You know if you hear a quarterback get mad, you are in his head,” Carroll said. “With Luck, you thought you hurt the guy, you hear ‘good job’ and you just say ‘aw, man.'”
The big question is whether this is a tactic or a personality trait. The WSJ stories leaves it unanswered, but across multiple sports, we’re seeing the traditional trash talk — vulgar, mean-spirited insults designed to distract the mind — being replaced by intentional niceness.
Oregon quarterback and No. 1 NFL Draft prospect Marcus Mariota practices this sort of anti-trash talk. While an unnamed NFL executive criticised Mariota for being “too nice,” one teammate told USA Today he gets in opponents’ heads by complimenting them during games.
“The guy just gets even more mad,” the teammate said of Mariota’s tactic. “It’s awesome. When they see it didn’t faze Marcus, it gets them more upset.”
LeBron James does it too.
For all his transcendent skill and athleticism, LeBron isn’t above mind games (remember when he psyched out Gilbert Arenas during the 2006 playoffs).
In 2013 Kobe Bryant told ESPN that LeBron laughs in your face if you talk trash to him:
“I say everything to LeBron. He says nothing back. He just laughs. There’s no banter back and forth. I guess it’s a generational thing. When I first came into the league, the trash talk was downright cutthroat.”
Trash talk is out. Psychosis-inducing kindness is in.
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