Danny Woodhead is a short guy from a small college…and yes, a white running back. That, combined with the fact that he was cut from the Jets, only to emerge as a key playmaker for the rival New England Patriots, makes him a nice underdog story – and Pats fans are enjoying every bit of it.
They’re enjoying it so much, in fact, that the supply of Woodhead paraphernalia at New England sporting goods establishments can hardly keep up with demand. In fact, at Modell’s stores, Woodhead t-shirts are outselling those of even Tom Brady. Modell’s exec Jed Berger credits Woodhead’s popularity to the fact that “The Patriots haven’t had a new hero in a long time,” so Woodhead’s emergence provided “someone fresh to cheer about.”
It’s a good point – the Patriots pride themselves on continuity, and though it can’t get old to watch Brady play well again and again, year after year, it’s nice to have something new. But what about other new contributors, like productive rookie Aaron Hernandez, who’s from New England, for crying out loud? Why not him? Patriots Pro Shop manager Michael Periello explains Woodhead’s allure thusly:
“Woodhead is one of those scrappy, hard-working players that appeals to New Englanders.”
Emphasis ours, because…he went there. There’s that word. Truly, the best way to be identified as “scrappy” and “hard-working” – be short. (You can add “white” to that as well – and being white definitely won’t hurt your “scrappy” chances – but it should be noted that a “scrappy” favorite in baseball is Juan Pierre, who is black.) Of course Woodhead works hard – you’ve got to, to succeed in the NFL. But he’s got a lot of successful teammates who work hard, too.
Woodhead has worked hard to maximize his natural gifts, as has most every one of his peers. Certainly, buy his jersey if you want to buy it – he’s a key contributor on what is currently football’s best team. But it gets a little old to hear every smaller-than-usual athlete get labeled with an essentially meaningless term like “scrappy,” to hear them talked about as though they have some natural advantage in character to overcome their tragic lack of a few more inches in height.
I don’t know If Danny Woodhead is any “scrappier” than average, whether he truly works that much harder than everyone else. But I do know he’s a fine football player. And that’s more than enough to make his jersey purchase-worthy.