San Francisco 49er coach Mike Singletary was clear with the team's new receiver Michael Crabtree. "There will be no balloons, no parties when you get here," coach is quoted as saying in the Press-Democrat.
Turns out there wasn't even a San Francisco 49ers helmet for him. He was however allowed on the sidelines for Sunday's humiliating loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Perhaps another form of punishment.
Crabtree has now spent the good part of a week practicing as a 49er. All of his reps have been with the practice squad, and he has not been issued a standard 49ers helmet. He's been given a generic gold helmet with a strip of masking tape that says "Crabtree" on the front instead of the "SF" logo on either side.
Should we read anything into that? Are the 49ers trying to humble Crabtree for his holdout, or sending him a message by not giving him the logo that every other player on the team has on their helmet?
"If it's not there today, a definite message is being sent," Santa Rosa Press-Democrat beat writer Matt Maiocco said on his Twitter feed. Maiocco posted that early Thursday morning. Crabtree was still practicing with a generic, no-logo helmet at the end of Friday afternoon practice.
If this is Mike Singletary's version of probation or morning detention, don't worry that Crabtree will become disenchanted with the team. Back when Singletary ripped Vernon Davis a new orifice and sent him to the showers during a game, people like me thought it was the beginning of the end for Vernon Davis and the 49ers. "Can't coach with 'em! Can't win with 'em!," Singletary bellowed after the game.
But now Vernon Davis is a team captain, a red zone monster, and toeing the company line like a guy who just missed getting a pink slip. Sometimes Singletary's bad-cop haranguing is just the right medicine to get his players to focus.
NFL.com just posted a brilliant "Singletary miked up" compilation video that shows how hard Singletary rides his players. I'm just sitting at a computer watching it, but hearing Coach Singletary yell "Come on, son! This is the NFL, now!" makes me want to go hide behind a Gatorade jug, too.
Crabtree is still banished to the practice squad, but Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee sees him showing some unique talent and asking all the right questions in practice. "Those who take part in fantasy football keeper leagues might want to take note," Barrows writes.
Take note indeed, fantasy owners. But don't start Crabtree this week. He's not going to play because the 49ers have a bye, and he might not even have the right helmet.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who wishes Mike Singletary a happy birthday from his hiding spot underneath the Gatorade table.