Cubs’ Samardzija on Pinkett comments: `just an excuse’

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Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija joined the list of ex-Notre Dame football players denouncing this week’s controversial comments made former Irish running back and current radio analyst for the team.

“I don’t agree with those comments whatsoever,” Samardzija, the former All-America receiver, said Thursday. “You definitely need guys with a chip on their shoulder, for sure, especially to play at that level.

“But clean records help, too,” he added with a smile, “in case you need to get a job afterwards, you know? … It’s just an excuse. It’s just an answer for someone that doesn’t have an answer.”

Discussing Notre Dame’s recent struggles during an interview on WSCR-670, Pinkett said the team needed more “criminals” and “bad citizens” to help team chemistry to compete with the top teams in the country.

Given a chance in the interview to back off the “criminal” comment, Pinkett said, “I absolutely meant that,” excluding, of course, “mass murderers and rapists.”

“You have to have a couple bad guys that sort of teeter on the edge to add to the flavor of the gys that are going to always do right because that just adds to the chemistry of the football team,” Pinkett said. “You just look at the teams that have won in the past, they have always had a couple criminals.”

Said Samardzija: “I guess everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Freedom of speech. … The thing is Notre Dame holds itself to a certain standard. You’ve got to have good grades. You’ve got to be a good student. That comes first. Obviously, you’ve got to be a good kid, too, to go there. They don’t accept just anybody. That’s how it’s always been there as long as I can remember. …

“Recruiting’s recruiting, man. You’ve got to get good athletes. Youv’e got to get good talent. But obviously character has to become involved, too, because you’re representing the school; you’re representing something other than yourself. It’s no different than playing for the Cubs or playing for any team: You represent not only yourself but them and that organization as a whole. It’s got to come into account, at least a little bit.”

As for having so-called criminals in the program when he played, Samardzija grinned. “We had a couple guys that had some run-ins. But nothing too serious. I don’t think we had any felonies.”

Samardzija said Notre Dame’s reputation as an academic institution has always come first, as it should.

“And if you’re not a good student or a good citizen, they’ll kick your butt out,” he said, emphasizing the importance of integrity in the program.

“One dude’s comments are not going to change that,” he said.

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