Arizona Cardinals 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 the Eagles in the NFC championship game.
Boldin did not stay on the field during the postgame celebration, making a quick exit through the locker room. He said he congratulated his teammates and left quickly to avoid questions about the Haley incident.
Instead, he acknowledged, his abrupt departure "made it worse."
"For me, it's hilarious," Boldin said of the criticism he has 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.
Warner said it was "crazy" for people to define Boldin's personality by this 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.
"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."
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 of the Eagles game.
Diplomatic Big Ben. Ben Roethlisberger did not consider Ken Whisenhunt a whiz when the two worked together on Pittsburgh's offense.
They won a Super Bowl together three years ago, Roethlisberger as the inexperienced quarterback and Whisenhunt as the offensive coordinator who mentored him. But their relationship was about as smooth as Heinz Field's bumpy playing field.
So far, Roethlisberger is saying nothing that might stir up the Cardinals or Whisenhunt, their coach.
"It just makes it fun to play them and see them across the field," Roethlisberger said of Whisenhunt, assistant coach Russ Grimm and the other former Steelers coaches on Arizona's staff. "Coach Whis is a great coach."
Roethlisberger was not that complimentary two years ago, when Whisenhunt said the quarterback's June 2006 motorcycle crash may have contributed to his down season that year. The Steelers started 2-6 after winning the Super Bowl and missed the playoffs.
"I don't agree with Whis. There were a lot of things I didn't agree with Whis about, and that's another one," Roethlisberger said at the time. "I had a bad year. I'm sure Whis had a bad year once in his career."
Before the Steelers and Cardinals played early in the 2007 season, Roethlisberger said he felt restrained in a Whisenhunt-coached offense that he said limited his passing, especially his downfield throws.
Broadcast team. Tony Dungy and Mike Holmgren are going from the sidelines to the broadcast booth.