The best part of this story can’t be printed.
Instead, one has to imagine the trash-talk players say to one another when they are in the pile.
“It’s just having fun out there,” Missouri safety Nino Williams II says.
“The one thing you have to do on the football field is be relaxed, and to me, if you can talk to somebody and still be able to play your game that shows how relaxed and focused you are.”
Unlike other aspects of football, trash talking is hidden from most fans. It can’t be heard on television or from the stands. It can only be experienced on the field.
So how far do players push trash-talk? What do they say, and how in-your-face do players get?
“It’s not to the point where you’re telling them, ‘Oh, I’m going to get this on this play. I’m going to get that,’” Williams says.
“I just like to let them know that I’m a player that gets around the field a whole lot, and no matter where you are I’m going to be there also.”
Williams, who attended John Marshall High in Oklahoma City, says he was especially vocal when MU played Oklahoma on Oct. 18.
“I had a couple of friends out there that I played against in high school and junior college,” he says.
What did he say to them?
“I just told them (things such as) ‘Hey, yeah Renaldo (Works) I’m here.’ Or J.D. Runnels the fullback, he dropped the ball. I said, ‘Man … you not supposed to drop any footballs.’
“It was just a little bit you know, ‘Hey, what’s up?’
“Underneath the piles I was laughing and talking and saying I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that. It was all fun out there.”
Wide receiver Thomson Omboga says players talk because of the competitive nature of the game.
“I say this DB can’t stop me no matter what he does,” Omboga says.
“He can let his tongue run. He just can’t stop me.”
Omboga also says talking trash is a part of who he is.
If I’m being loud and vocal and talking trash, then that means I’m confident in what I’m doing, and I’m confident that I ain’t going to make no mistakes,” Omboga says.
“The time you catch me being quiet means I’m having a bad day.”
Omboga’s words raise an interesting issue about trash-talk. If everyone is talking trash on the field, then how does it affect another player? Shouldn’t a defensive back’s trash-talk get into Omboga’s head?
“There’s been a lot of people that talked trash to me,” Omboga says.
“I don’t let too many people get inside my head because the more they talk trash and succeed, then what they’re doing is working.”
Strangely, Omboga says he has gotten in the heads of the players that have covered him.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there that I talked so much trash to (that) they can’t stand me,” he says.
Wide receiver Darius Outlaw plays down trash-talk, saying it has no real affect on him or other players; it’s part of the game.
“It’s more of a getting to know the other players,” he says.
“You got big-time players out there that like to talk, and you got players that just like to play.”
Outlaw describes himself as one of those players who just likes to play, but he says he might “talk a little trash every now and then.”
He offers the example of the Oct. 11 Nebraska game when Husker cornerback Fabian Washington talked trash to him through all four quarters.
“Mr. Washington, their DB for Nebraska, he was talking a lot,” Outlaw said.
“It’s just a tendency. He was talking to me. I might have talked back a little bit, but you know, I didn’t say anything that degrades him or anything.
“He was just talking like we didn’t have no chance, and we’re slow, we didn’t have no opportunity to beat them. You know, just trash-talk.”
So with the win against Nebraska, did Outlaw feel as if he had gotten into Washington’s head?
“I can’t say that,” he says.
“I don’t think I ever really got into any player’s head.”
If trash talking is only part of the game like the players say, how big of a part does it play?
Missouri defensive tackle Russ Bell says trash-talk is a constant in football.
“If (players) are in the pile, they’re trash talking,” he says.
Bell said he was not expecting the tidal wave of trash talk when he returned to football last season after a two-year break.
“I was not prepared last year at all,” he says.
“My first game in Illinois, I go out on the field and after the tackle, just all of a sudden I hear everybody just talking back and forth.”
For a moment Bell, who was an All-State offensive lineman for Jefferson City High, reflects on his introduction to the symposium of smack known as college football.
“Yeah,” he says. “I was not ready for that at all.”
Missouri safety David Overstreet, who is so loud on the field that Outlaw says “you can hear him from like two miles away,” says he believes his trash talking has its effects.
“I say something to (the other team) they really won’t say anything back,” he says.
“Then we start winning the game and taking over. They’re really real quiet, and I’m still talking to them.”
Ultimately though, players better back their talk with play.
“The better you do, the more trash you talk,” Bell says.
“You know, you tackle someone for a loss, and you give them, you know.”
He hesitates for a moment.
You give them what? When you tackle someone for a loss what do you give him?
He shakes his head and smiles.
“Not printable,” he says.