You Want Me on that Wall

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Last updated: 11/05/2012 12:11 PM

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Football
Monday Morning Hangover: You Want Me on That Wall

By Brandon Castel

“My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.” – Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, A Few Good Men

There was a very famous scene in the movie A Few Good Men in which Tom Cruise’s character, Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, has an intense back and forth with Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, who is played by Jack Nicholson.

Kaffee is the protagonist in one of Cruise’s most famous films, and on-screen moments, while Nicholson plays one of the best antagonists in recent cinema history. Jessup is a smug, self-righteous Marine officer who belittles Kaffee for serving in the Navy and justifies his illegal order, which leads to the death of a Marine, because it was in the best interest of the country.

That scene is both powerful and memorable, and for some reason it makes me think of Nathan Williams. After committing not one, but two personal foul penalties against Illinois on Saturday, Williams will apparently have a nice little chat with Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer this week.

“Silly penalties on defense by one guy in particular that – I'm going to evaluate that,: Meyer said after Ohio State’s 52-22 win over the Fighting Illini.

“We're going to have a chat, because you lose a game in a tight situation if you do that. And it's not acceptable.”

Meyer is 100 percent right, in the same way Lt. Kaffee was right for prosecuting Nicholson’s  character to the fullest extent of the law, and yet there is a part of me that thinks maybe Meyer would be better off not facing the truth.

That’s not to say he should let Williams run around unchecked and unquestioned. While his late hit penalty was extremely questionable, his tripping penalty on Travis Howard’s interception return was just plain dumb.

It wasn’t the kind of play this team needs from Williams, but what they do need is something no one else is capable of providing. Deep down in places they don’t want to talk about at parties, the Buckeyes need a guy who plays with reckless abandon out there every time he takes the field.

Nathan Williams
Photo by Jim Davidson
Nathan Williams

The need someone who strikes fear in the heart of opposing quarterbacks, and while John Simon certainly makes opposing offenses take notice of where No. 54 is at all times, there is just something violent about the way No. 43 plays the game.

It’s not fair to call it dirty, although I’m not so sure that tripping penalty would escape that label, but there is also a reason Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase curled up in the fetal position when he saw 43 coming around the corner unblocked.

Nathan Williams making the tackle. Nathan Scheelhaase entering the fetal position.
Photo by Dan Harker
Nathan Williams

Football is a violent sport. While there is no room in the game for blatant cheap shots, helmet-to-helmet missile attacks or guys who are out there trying to end people’s careers, I don’t see any of that from Nathan Williams. What I see is a guy who plays through the whistle, and then some.

He has taken Meyer’s plus-2 mentality and made it a way of life between the white lines. That doesn’t mean the Buckeyes can survive a poorly-timed late-hit or roughing the passer call against Williams on their trip to Madison in two weeks, but if you take away his aggressive style, you take away what makes him different than all the other guys on Ohio State’s defense.

There is no place in the game for dirty players, but in the case of Nathan Williams, Ohio State wants him on that wall, and they need him on that wall.

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