TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin laughed
off the negative reaction to his nationally televised run-in with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, calling it "hilarious."
Boldin's shouting match with the coach on the sideline came as Arizona drove for the winning touchdown in Sunday's 32-25 victory over Philadelphia in the NFC championship game.
Boldin didn't stay on the field in the postgame celebration, making a quick exit through the locker room. He said Wednesday that he did congratulate his teammates and left quickly only to avoid questions about the Haley incident.
Instead, he acknowledged after Wednesday's, his abrupt departure
"made it worse."
"For me it's hilarious," Boldin said of the criticism he's received. "I mean, I don't want to sit here and dwell on it because for me it's in the past, but that's something that goes on every week in the NFL whether people know it or not.
"Every week, somebody on the sidelines gets into an argument, but it's in the heat of the moment, it's part of football and once it's done, it's dead on all sides."
Team leaders Adrian Wilson and Kurt Warner strongly defended Boldin.
"I think people are making a lot out of nothing," Wilson said. "That stuff happens all the time. Q is very dedicated to this team, very dedicated to the players. I think it's a non-issue."
Warner said it was "crazy" for people to define Boldin's personality by this one incident after "everything that guy's done all year and the character he's displayed all year long."
Boldin acknowledged it was a lesson in how things are magnified when a team reaches this point.
The attention has grown," Boldin said. "Do you have to be careful? I guess so, but at the same time you can't alter who you are. You can only be you and let the rest take care of itself."
He added: "Guys in the locker room know what kind of guy I am and they know exactly what went on."
Boldin said he was upset that Haley had gone to a personnel group that didn't include him.
"I was mad because they took me out of the game," Boldin said. "I mean, I think any competitor would have had the same reaction.
A game of that magnitude, how close the game was, potentially
driving to score a touchdown, I wanted to be in there. That's just
the type of guy I am."
He was back on the field for the winning touchdown, serving as a decoy when Warner faked an outside screen, then threw up the middle
to Tim Hightower on an 8-yard scoring play.
Haley also has downplayed the run-in as a "heat of the moment" thing. The offensive coordinator has a fiery temperament and Shouting matches are not uncommon for him. He had one with Warner in the first quarter against the Eagles.
"Like I said, it's normal," Boldin said. "He gets into it with Kurt, he gets into it with defensive players, he gets into it with tight ends, other coaches. It's common around here. ... Everybody blowing it up and making a big deal about it, it was funny to me."
Boldin has long been considered a leader of the team and was a co-captain in the 2007 season. However, at the start of this season's training camp he accused Cardinals management of lying to
him by failing to follow through on what he said was a promise for
a new contract in the offseason.
Teammate Larry Fitzgerald, on the other hand, got a four-year, $40 million contract with $30 million guaranteed.
Boldin, who has two years left on his contract, said then he would never re-sign with Arizona.
He brought the subject up again once during the season, but has vowed it would not affect his attitude in the locker room or play
on the field.
Boldin injured his face on a brutal hit from Eric Smith of the New York Jets. Smith was suspended a game and fined $50,000 although Boldin said the hit was "just football."
Boldin had seven plates and more than 40 screws inserted to repair multiple facial fractures. But he missed only two weeks. In all during the regular season, he caught 89 passes for 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns despite missing four games with injuries.
He sat out Arizona's 33-13 divisional playoff victory at Carolina with a strained left hamstring, but returned for the NFC championship. He said his hamstring felt fine and he was able to go through a full practice Wednesday.
When asked immediately after Sunday's game if he had changed his
mind about staying with the Cardinals, Boldin said, "Next question."
On Wednesday, he said that reaction came because he felt it was
an improper time for such a question.
"We just won the NFC. I mean, we're going to the Super Bowl,
and a guy brings up that question `Are you coming back next
year?"' Boldin said. "First of all, that's out of my control. I'm
playing in the Super Bowl."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)