National Football League
Mike McCarthy's guarantee of a Cowboys win sparks debate: Is trash talk helpful?
National Football League

Mike McCarthy's guarantee of a Cowboys win sparks debate: Is trash talk helpful?

Published Dec. 11, 2021 4:48 p.m. ET

Trash talk and competitive sports go together like peanut butter and jelly.

It's often the game within the game, and if it's done properly, it can give such a mental advantage that it can impact the final score.

And many times, the war of words can start the battle long before the actual competition commences.

The latest example of that fact came earlier this week, when Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy vehemently guaranteed that Dallas would win its divisional face-off with the Washington Football Team on Sunday.


McCarthy's prediction was blunt and brief: "We're going to win this game. I'm confident in that."

His explanation behind the forecast was a bit more in-depth.

"I mean, what am I supposed to say?" he said. "Yeah, I fully expect to win every game I've ever competed in. That's what sports is all about. That's what the NFL [is all about]. Trust me, I understand how hard it is. They're working hard. We're working hard. But, yeah, we're clearly planning on going to Washington and winning the game. There's no doubt about that."

There's a stark difference though, between expecting to win, and flat-out guaranteeing it.

McCarthy's troops, however, were all for his pre-game predilection.

"It doesn't put us in a bad spot," Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said. 

"Obviously if you're preparing for this game, you're a Dallas Cowboy; if you're a fan, you expect to go in and win each and every game, so I don't think he's said anything different than everyone in this building's thoughts. He just voiced it. Now we've got to make sure we're accountable of our words. And I think that's all that is, is a coach setting the tone for the week."

That's not how the opposing side took it.

"I think that's a big mistake, because as far as I'm concerned, you do that for a couple of reasons," WFT head coach Ron Rivera told reporters after hearing McCarthy's comment.

"One is you want to get in our head. And so I've told our players, 'That's interesting, it's not important. What's important is our preparation, getting ready to play on Sunday.' Secondly, he's trying to convince his team. So, again, I think that's another mistake. Because he's now made it about him and what he said, it's not about his players anymore. So I think that's a big mistake. That's why to me, you don't do those things. What you do is you focus in, you get ready, and you play football. We show up on Sunday, and we'll see what happens."

Emmanuel Acho's opinion aligned with Rivera's side of the debate.

"I have an issue with it man," Acho said Thursday on "Speak For Yourself." "I don't think I hate anything more in life than this: When someone writes a check that somebody else has to cash. Mike McCarthy just wrote a check with a big lump sum: Beating a red-hot Washington team that's won four straight. The Cowboys have lost three out of five. These Cowboys have to go out and cash it, they don't have a choice. I hate big-mouth McCarthy saying this, because it was unnecessary, and he can't back it up. Washington is trending upwards, while Dallas is sputtering, and McCarthy you just made a bed that you might now have to lay in, and it will not be comfortable."

Emmanuel Acho: 'McCarthy wrote a big check, Cowboys players are going to have to cash'

Emmanuel Acho spoke about the appropriateness of Mike McCarthy's guarantee ahead of the Cowboys' important divisional showdown against WFT.

Marcellus Wiley on the other hand, had no problem with McCarthy's vote of confidence.

"What McCarthy said isn't reckless," Wiley stated in retaliation.

"This is our intention. This is what we came to the club to do: To whoop up on Washington. What is so wrong with that? This is a muscular move. Sometimes in life, you've got to cause attention to bring intention. Like every boxing match I've ever seen. In the pre-fight, they're talking plum noise about the opponent. That's what the sweet science is built on. Football is a combat sport, a violent one just like boxing. What do you have to lose from this?"

McCarthy's comments could gain his team immeasurable benefits should the Cowboys win. But if they lose, he'll be the undisputed focal point of criticism.

Will his comments be the fuel to Dallas' fire, or the bulletin board material that Washington needs to pull off the upset? That question will be answered Sunday. 

Washington vs. Dallas kicks off Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.


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