Is cocky poppycock?

Or is there something to be said about being cocky, this way of life, this state of mind? For however many cocky jocks there have been — Deion Sanders, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, every boxer named "Sugar" — there have been the humble heroes who've similarly succeeded — Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Tim Duncan, Jimmy Chitwood. Does being cocky change a player, fuel a player, propel a player? Conversely, can this confidence on steroids break a player, who is suddenly too big for his britches?

(Also, do people still say "too big for his britches?" I think my grandpa once said that about Milt Plum.)

What made me think of all this was a chat I had with Montee Ball, the Broncos running back. It's quite possible that next season Ball will be THE Broncos running back, if Knowshon Moreno signs with another team (I can see some team splurging). I've always liked talking with Ball, who's been humbled and blessed by the opportunity to play the same position for the same team as his boyhood hero, Terrell Davis. Ball improved during his rookie campaign, but I was somewhat surprised to hear him in the Dove Valley hallway last week, when I asked about wanting the ball as much as possible, regardless of Moreno's situation.

"Of course, obviously I have no idea what's going to happen with him and this organization, but I do want to be a starter, and yeah, I want the football every time," Ball said. "I think I'm going to have a great offseason, and I'm going to have a better season next year for sure."

Wait, was that cocky? Or just honesty? Or both — can it be both? It was definitely some more Ball brashness than we heard in August. But I'm fine with it. I'd want my running back yearning for the ball. He's not saying anything disparaging about the other backs, per se (I like saying per se, it makes me seem smart); he's simply saying that if he's the back, he feels the Broncos will be in good hands.