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Originally published Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Jerry Brewer

It's Stevens' fault his image takes hard shot below belt

Only in Jerramy Stevens' bizarre world could something like this happen. Only he could take a knee to the groin and wind up a villain. The NFL fined the...

Seattle Times staff columnist

KIRKLAND — Only in Jerramy Stevens' bizarre world could something like this happen. Only he could take a knee to the groin and wind up a villain.

The NFL fined the Seahawks' troubled tight end $15,000 Wednesday, ruling that Stevens provoked Oakland defensive lineman Tyler Brayton on "Monday Night Football." Meanwhile, Brayton was hit with a $25,000 fine and spent the day apologizing and turning less evil.

Somehow, the knee-er is garnering more sympathy than the knee-ee.

Stevens attempted to take the high road Wednesday by declining comment. Considering how his jabbering often leads to dropped passes, silence was a good decision.

After all of Stevens' infamous blunders, it would be foolish to think this mishap might forever change him. Some lights just never turn on. But he needs to spend more than the time it takes to write a check to ponder his odd predicament.

Because of his reputation, Stevens will never get a break. Gene Washington, the NFL's director of football operations, said Stevens tried to kick Brayton in the groin before Brayton nailed Stevens. After reviewing the incident, I just don't see it. If that was Stevens' intent, it was the lamest kick attempt ever.

But he's Jerramy Stevens. He must be up to something, you know.

Sunday

St. Louis @ Seahawks,

1:15 p.m., Ch. 13

It's his fault, however, for creating that perception. He should want to change it, but he's too busy fostering it.

Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson talked of how he couldn't stand Stevens when he played for San Francisco. He didn't think his tight end deserved a fine, but his insights make you understand how mischief is expected of Stevens by everyone. It's not just the media picking on him. It's not just the public misunderstanding him. It's his NFL colleagues, too.

First, the combative Warren Sapp defends Brayton, his teammate, and calls Stevens a "punk." Now Peterson admits Stevens would try anything to get inside an opponent's head. And coach Mike Holmgren says he's tired of all the unnecessary antics.

Holmgren addressed the team about excessive trash-talking and bad sportsmanship. He said he might talk to individual players (read: Stevens, at some point this week).

"I ranted and raved a little bit," Holmgren said. "I think they know why."

Holmgren gets especially upset when macho football stuff causes penalties. Stevens was involved in two Monday. A taunting call, probably cost the Seahawks' a touchdown (they settled for a field goal). A stupid play like that could cost them a victory against St. Louis.

And Holmgren also thinks engaging in these personal rivalries distracts Stevens from doing his job. It was evident during the Super Bowl. And it was evident when Stevens dropped a pass in the end zone Monday.

"My way of looking at it is, they're kind of selfish," Holmgren said of players using such behavior.

What a week it has been for Stevens already. First, he took a knee to the groin, then a knee to the wallet and now a knee to the ego.

Meanwhile, Brayton, who hasn't been involved in any other controversies, is repairing his image with ease.

He appeared on Dan Patrick's ESPN radio show and read a prepared apology. He said he was sorry to his family, the Raiders, the Seahawks, and the entire NFL. He did everything but pray for Shaun Alexander's foot.

"My actions were inexcusable," he said.

Stevens' actions were indecipherable, at best. But he's the one with the reputation, so he's the one who must have turned Brayton into a very bad boy.

"We're trying to sling each other around," Brayton told Patrick. "He tried to kick me, and I just lost my cool and went after him pretty hard."

Stevens provoked Brayton but not with a kick. Still, he's guilty for even engaging in such bravado. He's returning from a major knee injury and has only three catches this season. He should have greater concerns.

His team needs him if it wants to find its offensive verve. Holmgren, who is patient to a fault with troubled players, still believes in Stevens, and the tight end must live up to his coach's faith. All those things matter more than figuring out cheap shortcuts to gain an edge.

Only in Stevens' world does trash-talking outweigh receptions. It's a costly miscalculation.

Stevens' base salary: $1.025 million. His fine: $15,000.

Getting the benefit of the doubt: Priceless.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com

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About Jerry Brewer

Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
jbrewer@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2277

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