Blog Entry

Addition By Subtraction - T.O. vs Kurt Warner

Posted on: March 6, 2009 2:06 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2009 9:27 pm

So most of us have heard this term before.

The term "addition by subtraction", as used in sports, is often referred to cutting a player to make the team better. The most recent example is Terrell Owens. The idea is that by cutting T.O., you are ridding yourself of distractions in and out of the locker room. It's no secret that T.O. gets a lot of press coverage. Everybady wants to hear what he's going to say next. While I don't agree with most of the things that come out of T.O.'s mouth, I can comfortably say that some of his conversations have been misconstrued by the press and blown way out of proportion. Still, right or wrong, he's a distraction. So by cutting him, the Cowboys feel that they move on without the circus act distractions that go along with him. Many analysts feel that this was the wrong decision...that the Cowboys will now suffer without their star receiver. I disagree.

The Cowboys have a solid foundation in place. We've seen T.O. cause disaster to the 49ers. So much so that the team went 2-14 the following year. But this was a team with an assortment of issues (ranging from ownership on down). So the dropoff in performance cannot be directed at the loss of T.O. In contrast, we saw the same disaster happen with the Eagles when T.O. tried to hold out and eventually was shown the the door. The Eagles bounced back from a 6-10 record during a T.O. "distraction" year to 10-6 the following season. It should also be noted that the Eagles had the #2 offense the year after T.O. was released. So life goes on without T.O. The Eagles had a solid foundation in place. They had a franchise QB (McNabb), a playmaking RB (Westbrook) and a "not so stellar but respectable" defense. The 49ers didn't have any of this after T.O. left. But if you take a look at the Cowboys. They have a franchise QB (Romo...still learning, but can make some impressive throws), a solid RB duo (led by Barber), a stud TE (Witten) and a solid defense. The Cowboys will play better as a team for 2009...and that's with or without Roy Williams (receiver).

The reason why I started this article was to talk about Kurt Warner. You're asking yourself "How does this apply to T.O.? Warner is still with the Cardinals and he's not a distraction". Good question. I merely wanted to show the two faces of "addition by subtraction".

This past week, we saw a spectacle of a show which started with Kurt Warner not signing the Cardinals original offer, and then sending his agent to San francisco which led to a visit by Warner himself and ultimately the power of god telling Warner to get up 45 minutes into Coach Singletary's speech and fly back to Arizona. Well everything is happy-land back in Arizona but the whole episode caused a scene here in San Francisco. Local radio shows and newspapers criticize the 49ers for creating speculation on Warner and sending mixed messages to the current QB's and fans. There were several questions asked - Why bring Warner in and let him walk away without a deal? Where does Warner fit?

I'm with the rest of the general populace in believing that this was a leveraging tactic by Warner's agent. From start to finish, I never suspected Warner would sign with the 49ers. I aslo firmly believe the 49ers felt the same way. So why bring him in?

In my opinion, this was a calculated risk. What if you knew that you could potentially cripple your division rival by taking away their greatest asset. Would you do it? I would. That would be 2 easier wins during the season. And we all know that professional sports is all about winning nowadays. Let's be realistic here. The Cardinals aren't the same team without Warner. Leinart has already shown that he can't make the same decisions and throws that Warner can. So by signing Warner away from the Cardinals, you harm the team in a way that can't be resolved through this year's free agency or the draft.

But what if Warner did sign with the 49ers?

Simple. Shaun Hill has not been guaranteed the starting job. There will be competition. Let's say Warner came in and had a stellar camp and preseason. So he starts. Two things can happen afterwards. 1) Warner performs horribly the first 2 or 3 games and Hill is inserted and capable of managing the offense through the rest of the season. 2) Warner performs stellar and keeps the starting gig the rest of the way. It's really a win-win. We already know Hill can win games in the current system so Warner failing doesn't hurt uthe team. The 49ers are cap-healthy. So even if Warner rides the pine for 2 years, it wouldn't have a considerable negative impact on the team. But the Cardinals would be without Warner for 2 years. It was a calculated risk, and it didn't work. The 49ers are not worse off now than before the Warner speculation started.

But if it did work, the Cardinals wouldn't be the same team for 2009.

...addition by subtraction...the other way.






Since: Aug 12, 2008
Posted on: March 9, 2009 12:44 pm

Addition By Subtraction - T.O. vs Kurt Warner

Nice Thrash. IMO, addition by subtraction = distraction. Sometimes warranted and sometimes puzzling to fans and media alike. TO can still perform on the field, and so can Kurt Warner. While the Cowboys dumped TO, the Bills took a serious risk in their usual building process within their organization. Owens goes to a squad where the spotlight is not so bright in western New York, which is maybe something both squads need. TO is wearing #1 for the Bills this year and might make this team better. He is used to being in the playoffs (without much success; during the last 5 of 8 years, he has been to the playoffs but hasn't faired well. His last and only win came back in 2002 with the 49ers).

Warner and his agent had their own agenda. This ismy distraction comment comes into place. Was it a distraction? Sure was. Wining and dining Warner all day was not the best move for this organization (IMO). The 49ers have been through some serious crisis years as of lately. Coach Singletary will do his best with what he has to work with and I hope he succeeds. I believe that Shaun Hill will prove himself. Now is his time to start performing well in practice!! Without Warner around, I feel the 49ers will be just as good as they finished off last season. No big pieces of the puzzle have been lost through FA, only pieces added. 

This was the first time that the Cardinals had won a playoff game in decades. Its time the 49ers add some W's to the win columns and by your formula's findings would mean subtraction of the loss column!

Good post.. Go 49ers!

Since: Aug 4, 2008
Posted on: March 7, 2009 8:55 am

Addition By Subtraction - T.O. vs Kurt Warner

Stew, its funny your bring up all those guys because they all had something special instilled inside them that most players dont today: A true understanding of what it means to play football to go along with the love of the game. They all also kept their bodies in immaculate shape to have played as long as they did. Those guys are much much different than the guys we get today in terms of "personalities" and the reason for that is the expectations revolve around two narrow parameters: talent and how much $ does that commend? rather than lockerroom culture and a player's character.


My personal thoughts is that a player's love of the game and personality have to be there along WITH the talent to make them a desirable pick. Ie Andre Smith isnt necessarily a guy I want on my team regardless of his talent.


Since: Sep 16, 2008
Posted on: March 6, 2009 11:31 pm

Addition By Subtraction - T.O. vs Kurt Warner

Good blog as always Thrash.  I too did not see the harm in the 49ers investigating Warner and giving the Cardinals reason to pony up the money.  I know that Warner had a very slim chance of coming to San Francisco and realistically he never slighted us because he made a good faith effort to show interest ie brought his wife, took the medical exam, etc.  We did offer him more money then he received in Arizona but for a guy at the end of his career money wasn't all he was after.  He wants to go back to the Super Bowl and right now his best vehicle to do that is the Cardinals over the Niners.  Give us a couple of years and maybe it changes but Warner doesn't have a couple of years.  He watch Boldin get drilled in the head by the Jets defensive back and I think that gnaws at him in the back of his mind that his career could be over quickly.  He made the best choice for him to get the most money and best chance to return to the playoff picture. 

NFL is a business and this transaction was kept at a business level.  He never promised us anything and we never guaranteed anything back.  No disrespect to either party.  People just want to humanize this industry.  Make it have feelings which it definately cannot have.  Your example of cutting T.O. was a business decision.  Nothing personal, but the positive actions of TO on the field did not exceed the negative results off of it.  Nothing about loyalty, purely business baby.  If you cannot perform to the level required then you have to go and we'll find someone else to do the job.  Niner fans should understand this better then anyone else.  Montana, Rice, Lott, Craig, all finished up somewhere else in another uniform when they didn't meet the level required.  Anyone who thinks differently needs to open their eyes. 

Since: Aug 4, 2008
Posted on: March 6, 2009 6:48 pm

Addition By Subtraction - T.O. vs Kurt Warner

War of attrition.... great blog Thrash. Completely agree here. We all knew here though as Niners fans that Warner wasn't signing here, lets be honest. 100% a marketing leverage ploy by Warner's agent. Almost makes me lose a little bit of respect for Warner for deliberately doing this just to squeeze money out of the Cardinals.

I don't buy this "God told me" stuff for a second. Call like it is, Warner is stocking up on all the $ he can before he ends up potentially bagging groceries again. The guy's approaching 40 and he knows nothing but how to throw a football. I don't fault him for wanting a payday, but I do fault him for his misuse of character and playing the God = Money card.


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