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Don't lose your dignity

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Sometimes, just winning, baby, isn't good enough. Sometimes, winning really isn't the only thing.

Huh? When is winning not good enough? When do you need to achieve some more than victory? Here's the answer: When your dignity is at stake.

What we saw on our TVs Monday night was a crime against everything for which professional football stands. What we witnessed in the form of the Baltimore Ravens' emotional meltdown was the loss of professionalism.

We saw a player throw an officials' penalty flag in an ugly tantrum that announced that player's disrespect of authority and the rules. We saw a player charge an official and have to be restrained from physically attacking the official. We saw a kind of wildness and uncontrolled rage that should never be expected from any person who calls himself a professional.

This was a shameful night for a once-proud football team. The same team that rose to the ranks of Super Bowl champions seven years ago charged into the ranks shameless also-rans, on a night that otherwise distinguished them as a team of honor.

The Ravens played so hard and so valiantly on this night that they could've turned a lost season into a night of personal triumph. That's the shame about all of this. The Ravens' pathetic behavior erased their courageous effort.

Make no mistake about it, this past weekend was a real downer for Mike Pereira's men. It seems that every NFL season has at least one nightmarish weekend for the officials and last weekend was this season's example.

Yeah, it's exasperating. Yeah, it makes you wanna scream, but should it make you want to lose your dignity?

Some people call it the greater good. I like to call it the big picture. Simply put, wins and losses and how they were achieved are quickly forgotten, but ill behavior is something we often have to carry with us the rest of our lives.

My high regard for Tony Dungy has nothing to do with his ability to coach. Heck, there are great coaching minds everywhere. There aren't, however, a lot of men who possess Dungy's calm and graciousness.

I'll never forget the sight of Dungy walking across the field to congratulate Bill Cowher following the Colts' home playoff loss to the Steelers a couple of years ago. It was supposed to be the Colts' year. They were poised to win two at a home and go on to Detroit for another dome win and the Super Bowl title, and then it all turned sour. You'd never have known how much it hurt, however, by the look on Dungy's face.

He was a picture of grace. He was a month removed from the loss of his son, yet, on possibly the worst day of his football life he was still able to manage a smile. Great stuff.

This is how we should want to be remembered. This is how we should want our favorite teams and players and coaches to be remembered; not for the wild display that was the Ravens on Monday night. You don't build a solid foundation for the future on that kind of garbage. You build your team on character and dignity.

The loss of dignity is occurring too often these days. Fans are becoming too frustrated; players too flustered. Believe it or not, we can live with defeat, but can we live with ourselves if we lose control of our emotions and show what we really have inside?

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