Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Miami Zoo Hosts Poop Exhibit: No word if a Jay Mariotti column will be on display.


Going to be in Miami any time soon? Here is something that looks fun to do. All you ever wanted to know about dung. You can even smell flowers that mimic the aromatic pleasures of manure to attract flies for pollination. And, there are video clips of members of the animal kingdom doing there thing! Super! Heck, you might even learn something. Did you know that hippos spread their own droppings around to mark their territory? And here, I always thought Jay Mariotti spewed shit just for the hell of it!

Hall of Fame Induction: Michael Vick

So, let me get this straight: Michael Vick had a great game, and now he has reached his potential. He put together a fantastic day passing the ball and running the offense. And now, all the concerns about his accuracy, touch, decision making, setting his feet, ability to make reads and run through his progressions without giving in to his basic instinct to take off…all these things are out the window, right? Vick is now THE man? His potential is finally reached. One afternoon. That’s all it took?

The media sure seems to think so. Seems his entry into the pantheon of great QB’s is now uncontestable, based on this week’s game against Cincy. Now, there is no disputing Vick’s talent. No underestimating his potential. However, there is also no avoiding the fact that his inconsistency precludes him from being indoctrinated as a premier QB. At least at this point in his career.

Vick has moments. He has games. There are periods of time in which his potential is unleashed full throttle and all the moons are aligned. And Vick looks amazing. This is not even in question. What is in question; is the coronation of Vick based on one of these moments or games. Let’s face it, there are two hallmarks to great QB’s: consistency and winning. You have to perform to a high level the overwhelming majority of the time and you have to WIN, baby. You must do these things, or there is no way you can be considered “elite”. Talk about any of the greats of the game that stepped under center, and these two things characterize their performance. You can pull out stats from specific games and you can measure his potential and tout his athleticism and his game breaking ability. But you can’t honestly call Vick a consistently high level performing winner. You may argue this, and even point out specific awe inspiring plays or tremendous games. For every one you point out, there is a counterpoint; a lousy decision or a lousy performance. Consistent is still not a term that can honestly be applied to characterize Vick’s play, at this point.

When Vick puts together a few 16 game seasons in which he has 10-12 high level games. Then his place among the elite QB’s can become a relevant discussion. Until then, there is a new QB in Dallas that just had his first start and looked good. Let’s get on his bandwagon and put his jersey up on the Ring of Honor next to those of Staubach and Aikman. I’m sure someone in the media is already suggesting it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Merriman's Excuse....

"You know I sort of believe Shawne Merriman’s half-baked denial about knowingly using steroids." - from Jason Whitlock's recent NFL truths (click quote for column)

Certainly, young guys make mistakes. Sometimes just taking things at face value and accepting advice and direction without question. Maybe that is what happened to Shawne Merriman. Maybe he did take something that was tainted, or follow some bad advice. Only he knows for sure. But, I don’t know that we should be so willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The steroid that Merriman tested positive for was nandrolone. Commonly referred to as deca (deca-durabolin). This steroid is an injectable. It isn’t an orally administered steroid. So, the idea that he somehow ingested it unknowingly or it was an ingredient in an over the counter supplement he took….well, it’s a little far fetched. If Merriman truly wants to clear this up, he needs to come clean with the specific supplements he was taking. The generic excuse “I was taking over the counter supplements and they were tainted” is meaningless if you don’t specify what over the counter supplements you were taking.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

3 Things I Think I Thunk While Peter King Sipped A Quintuple Maple Mocha Chai Frappacino Latte During His Colon Exam

1) “…I will call them idiots, because they have neither spoken to me, nor any one of my teammates or any of my coaches,” Barber said. “Yet all they do is criticize me for being a distraction with this retirement thing.”
“And that includes (The Daily News’) Gary Myers,” he said. “That includes Tom Jackson on ESPN. That includes the ultimate character guy, facetiously speaking of course, Michael Irvin (ESPN). Please get a clue on how to be a journalist.
“Don’t make blanket assumptions about it (retirement). And obviously, as was evidenced (Monday) night, I am a huge distraction to the New York Giants.”

I think Tiki Barber has a point. Last year everyone LOVED that Jerome Bettis announced his retirement. The dudes on ESPN weren't popping off about Bettis being a detriment to the Steelers. In fact, didn't Bettis' retirement become a rallying cry for the team? But news of Tiki's impending moving on is something that will distract this team from its goals? Please. If a team can't stay focused on the season, they don't deserve to win anyway. As for Irvin calling Tiki a quitter; I am convinced The Playmaker lacks that filter that most of us have. That thing that exists in one's mind that tells your mouth to stop making sounds that don't make any sense.....I think it is called common sense. Anyway, the Giants sure haven't looked distracted in the 2 games they have played since the announcement.

2) Ocho Cinco decided it was time to have fun again. The old CJ would be coming back. This announcement (coupled with Spoop Jackson's proposition that the reason the Bengals' offense was not producing at last years level was because CJ hadn't been allowed to be CJ this year) certainly didn't bode well for the Falcons. I mean, according to Spoop's reckoning, a running at the mouth CJ is unstoppable. Forget the other existing issues with the offense (still recovering QB, shakey O line, etc), when the mouth of CJ roars, huge numbers follow. Well, CJ got on the board with his second TD of the season. His line read six catches for a team-high 78 yards. Respectable. But, for all the tongue wagging prior to the game, I'd say this falls short of backing it up. Recap: the return of CJ; per Spoop this should make the offense exciting and lead to big numbers; respectable production, if not on par with the pre-game verbosity; OH.....and a Bengals' loss because the offense couldn't hang with ATL. I think we can chalk another one up for Spoop.....in the WRONG again column.

3) Charlie Weiss claims he is "befuddled" with the current ranking of the Irish. If you look at Texas' ranking and examine their schedule and results; you can see his point. The Longhorns have only two wins over teams with winning records (OU and Neb) and Nebraska has certainly been exposed as not being a real high quality win. Additionally, the 'Horns got hammered at home by Ohio St. Looking at ND's schedule, the quality of ND wins compares favorably, with the only true patsy being Stanford and the rest of the teams having winning records. As for the loss, it was very similar to UT's: a beatdown at home to a team ranked near the top. Based on this comparison, I'd say I agree with Charlie. BUT, if you compare ND to Boston College, which is ranked below ND....you could look at the BC schedule and come away thinking ND is over rated. I think my point is: the whole process is "befuddling" and whether you are a coach or a fan, you will drive yourself crazy if you try to rationalize the rankings.

Travel Note: If you are ever in Tampa for Guavaween (a giant Halloween Street party) make sure to stop in at the "Boneyard", a bar in Ybor City. Nice atmosphere, just enough local drunks to be colorful but not intimidating. And the bartender wore a wonderful costume that tastefully accentuated her amble bossom, in a slutty bar wench kinda way. She may or may not have been drop dead gorgeous. Although, through eyes that were under the influence of 10-12 Makers and ginger ales, she was a dime.

Coffeenerdness (Alcoholic's edition): If you are like me and LOVE a nice Crown Royal and coke, consider making it a diet coke. No, not for the reduced calories. But for the reduced sweetness. The diet coke allows the taste of the Crown Royal to really shine through.

Just checked my watch. Time for my Flexible Sigmoidoscopy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Say it ain't so, Spoop

Just finished reading the latest insightful Spoop Jackson look into football. His latest submission, as far as I can tell, seems to be a piece detailing that the Bengals’ offense has become a boring version of its former self. Pointing out that Chad Johnson has apparently been reeled in by Marvin Lewis. According to Spoop, Lewis has asked CJ to become “a one-dimensional receiver, one who catches the ball with no after effects, no cause for effect. No special effects.” I guess he is implying that CJ has not had the season all had anticipated him having this year (so far), because he hasn’t been allowed to be a showboat. Somehow, this has affected his performance and as a result of this, the offense is boring also. Basically, Spoop ponders how the team can get the mojo back and become exciting again.

All well and good, but who cares? The bottom line is wins and losses. And while the team may not be as exciting as last year, Spoop doesn’t mention that part of the reason the offense has been “bored-ed” up, is that the QB is still not a bonafide 100% , the team is not an up and comer catching folks by surprise this year and components of the O-Line are suspect (rookie LT and a pretty mediocre C...you think maybe, just maybe the passing game is suffering in part because you have a still not 100% QB not feeling real confident behind that line?..i digress, to bring up such things would be analysis, and Spoop don't play dat). Determining what the problem is with the Bengals’ O is something that can be seen many different ways. Anyone following them will compare this year’s version with last year's and find differences. So, Spoop deciding that the problem is CJ not being allowed to be the “straw that stirs the drink” is a fair shot at IDing the problem. However; in citing the stifling of CJ’s emotions and individuality as being a large factor in the lack of excitement and performance of the O, Spoop misses a chance to SLAM us. Has anyone noticed that since Whitlock’s “bojangalization” of Spoop….Spoop’s “voice” has changed.

Spoop missed his chance. He clearly states the problem is that the coach has virtually forced the free spirited CJ to change. Spoop even commented that he predicts the blond Mohawk will be gone soon. Instead of making a right turn into “race town”, Spoop just keeps driving straight on down the road. WHAT?? Here we have a young black, rich and fabulous superstar: Chad Johnson. A man that has become synonymous with excitement and celebration. A black man who expresses himself through his flamboyance and on field exuberance. Remember reading articles explaining that the reason many young black athletes are so demonstrative on the field is because that is part of their culture? That is how they express themselves and how they motivate themselves to perform at high levels? Well, here Spoop points out a case of a young black athlete being asked by his coach to stifle his emotions. To ignore his culture. To be something he is not! Folks, this is the epitome of racism. Essentially, CJ is being forced by his coach…..to not be black! I am outraged and YOU should be as well. How dare Spoop not militantly point this out. How dare he. If ever a racist act were so open and plain to see, it is here. Yet for some reason, Spoop doesn’t comment on this. He doesn’t mention that a young black man is being asked to modify his behavior and step away from his culture. I can’t imagine why Spoop is not condemning this as being unfair to do to a black athlete. Any coach that would force a player to act as if he is not black should be raked over the coals.

For whatever reason, Spoop let the coach behind this off the hook. You should feel very lucky, Marvin Lewis, I’m sure next time Spoop will chastise you for your racist ways.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The John Hinckley, Jr. of Big Time College Football

Two of the most infamous would be assassins of the past quarter century.


Several weeks ago, football factory pipeline to the NFL, University of Northern Colorado was under the microscope as the quest to get playing time (and exposure before the plethora of scouts that are a fixture around the program) took a dramatic turn as the backup punter attempted to disengage the kicking leg of the starter from the rest of his body, allegedly with a kitchen knife. After initially letting a deadline pass, the backup punter is now charged with attempted murder and being held on half a million dollars bail. And he faces the possibility of 48 years in the can.

This is yet another example of the pressure exerted on the malleable minds of the young men that are swallowed up by big time college football. As if the examples of guys like Maurice Clarette, model young men that are brought into these athletic factories and virtually forced to make horrible decisions, was not illuminating enough: now we have the UNC example (the other UNC). A young man probably promised the world. The chance to be the starting punter at Northern Colorado dangled in front of him, all he had to do was sign on to commit to the program. Alas, the young man gets there, and the promises of glory and fame never come to fruition. Standing in his way, the right leg of another student athlete. As a member of a storied football team, you are taught the tradition, the never say die attitude, the mantra of never quitting and doing whatever it takes to win. How can we be surprised that the backup punter came to the conclusion that the only way to win was to destroy the competition? To kill the snake, you cut off its head. The logical jump: to unseat the starting punter, you cut off his leg. Couple the win at all costs attitude exhibited by those elite programs, like Nor Col, with the potential million dollar contracts dangled before punters….and clearly you have a recipe for disaster. Honestly, is anyone surprised?

The final chapter to the story will be decided in court. But an ovation must be given to the prosecutor. Boldly standing up to the power and might of North Colorado’s rich football history, he has chosen to not just charge the backup punter with assault. To the untrained eye, an attack to injure the leg of the other student athlete would probably qualify as aggravated assault or something along those lines. The untrained eye would see it as an attempt to certainly do physical harm to the other party, but probably just enough to keep him off the playing field. And that is where the trained eye of a seasoned prosecutor sheds clarity on what the REAL intent of the attack entailed. The backup, clearly driven by the monster that is jealousy, obviously decided that all the riches and fame that awaited the starting punter were rightfully his. Obviously, he tried to kill the starter. Not just kill, but assassinate. Now, all we can do is wait for the trial to see how the jury sees the facts.

One thing is certain. Colleges need to reevaluate the pressure cooker that is big time college football. Too many examples preceded this one. This isn’t the student athletes fault. What happened here was all too predictable: The attempted assassination of a starting punter by the John Hinckley, Jr. of big time college football. We all saw it coming; we just choose to look the other way.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Athlete-Orator

Julius Peppers accepts the trophy as this years recipient of "Toastmaster of The Year"

Said Peppers: "All the rules changes they make, they're always aimed at helping the offense. But you can't [legislate] against speed. It's the great equalizer, and defenses are just getting faster now. The game always evolves. It's still early, but maybe this is the year the evolution has come on defenses, fueled by all of the speed we're seeing right now."

Reading the above quote from Carolina Panther defensive end Julius Peppers brought to light something that I have often wondered, but had no first hand reason to fully question: Do sports journalists fabricate and “airbrush” (so to speak) statements athletes make? I’ve read quotes in newspapers and on websites attributed to athletes that I have heard speak in interviews, and I have thought, “No way. Those words on the paper DID NOT come out of so and so’s mouth.” After reading the above, I am 100% convinced that some sportswriters upgrade the words that come out of some athletes mouths in an effort to show the athlete in a better light.

You may ask why the Peppers quote makes this clear to me. I attended UNC during the time Peppers was a student athlete there. I can tell you. Of the many positive qualities he had, well spoken was not one of them (and I don’t mean that as an indictment of his intelligence, he just does not exhibit the ability to relay his thoughts effectively through the spoken word). I worked in various clubs and bars in the area and had conversations with him both in his college years and when he came back to visit Chapel Hill. I can say with profound certainty: The words attributed to him (above) could NOT have come out of his mouth. No WAY.

Have you ever heard him interviewed? I can remember watching a UNC basketball game at which Peppers was seated right behind the bench. During halftime of the show, the sideline reporter decided to interview him, as he had also played hoops back in his college days. I was watching the game with several friends from UNC that had played football with him….as SOON as he opened his mouth there was a collective GASP and someone said, “NO PEP! Don’t let them interview you!” All fears were realized. It was a horribly awkward and labored interview. You would have thought that Peppers could barely speak English (again, I am not claiming he is stupid or questioning his intelligence, I’m just saying he is poorly spoken).

Now, this wasn’t meant as an effort to rag on Peppers. It just makes me wonder: How often do reporters do this? If they write words and put quotes around them, the implication is that those words were verbatim out of the mouth of the speaker. I’m willing to bet every dime I have that Peppers never spoke in terms of evolution being fueled by speed.

The bottom line of my gripe is this: the sports writers are ROBBING us. They are depriving the reader of the joy of feeling superior to the athlete. What is more fun than reading a quote and saying to your self, “WHAT A DUMBASS!” What is more fun than the hilarity of athletes using broken grammar. Using words incorrectly. Mangling idioms and expressions. We need sports journalists to reexamine the ethical aspects of their work and undertake a renewed effort to ensure honesty in reporting. We don’t want the cleaned up verbiage of star athletes. We want them exposed in all their unintentional comedic glory. We can’t be better at sports than they are, but damn it, we can speak without sounding like a kindergarten dropout who just couldn’t understand the intricacies of hooked on phonics.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Michael Irvin is America's Conscience

Michael Irvin modeling the U's school colors.

I was just on espn.com and they have a vid clip of Michael Irvin being asked his thoughts on the brawl this past weekend. Of course The Playmaker didn't pull a Lamar Thomas, but he was forgiving of the players, deferring the poor behavior to a youthful lack of understanding. Not an outright indictment, but he certainly didn't hold them accountable, either. He seems willing to let the players off the hook because "they don't understand the totality of it". He went on to say that he felt they were frustrated and didn't understand that kids are watching and they can't do that. Asked about what should happen to Larry Coker, The Playmaker said this should be his last year because Miami has standards and Coker isn't meeting them. Standards being the team's record.

Listening to Irvin let the players off the hook, one has to wonder: can these kids take care of themselves? Are they capable of personal responsibility? To say that these kids don't understand the situation is to absolve them of any personal responsibility for their actions whatsoever. Am I wrong, or were the Hurricane's not involved in 2 major incidents in their prior 6 games to this? You mean to say NOBODY learned a thing? Excuse me, and I may be generalizing, ANYONE who has ever taken the football field knows it is wrong to turn the game into a gang fight. You don't need special training or positive reinforcement or a powerpoint presentation or a special envoy of the university assigned to stand next to you on the sidelines every game to tell you that fighting on the field is WRONG. Does Larry Coker deserve some blame? Of course. He is the general, and when the troops screw up, the general is ultimately responsible. But it is very telling that Irvin's first words about Coker were a criticism of his record for the past few years and not the 3 incidents in the last 7 games.

After I finished digesting what Irvin had to say, I realized: WHO CARES! This is Michael Freaking Irvin. A pimp by blood! Why on earth would we care to be subjected to his views on behavioral matters? Behavior is governed by an innate or learned application of the understanding of right and wrong. This is MICHAEL IRVIN talking! When it struck me as such, I had to go back and watch the vid again. NOW I get it! This is COMEDY. Have Michael Irvin step in front of the camera, look serious and postulate on behavior and rolemodels. Good one ESPN! You had me going for a minute. Tomorrow they are going to have Maurice Clarett on to explain how student athletes balance athletics and academics.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Spoop Jackson: I see dead people (and racists)

“How did two of the game's greatest players at their positions (or any position) and ambassadors of baseball -- and their influence on the influx of minority contributions to the game -- get so conveniently overlooked? How does this happen to those two particular players who are larger than life, bigger than the game, but doesn't happen to the only other one?
The one who meant the same to one set of people that the other two meant to their people? "

Spoop Jackson’s latest witch hunt for racism (also known as his ESPN Page 2 submission) yet again exposes his tunnel vision and simple minded outlook on sports, and certainly, life. Spoop lambastes SI for not including Satchel Paige and Roberto Clemente in their All Time All Star list. In of itself, it is fair criticism, as both players have stats and legend that rival those of many of the “includees”. But, critical diatribes directed at any “all time great lists” should be tempered with the reality that: ONLY A CERTAIN NUMBER OF PLAYERS CAN BE INCLUDED. Now think about that. If only 25 players can be included, that means the REST can’t. Follow so far, Spoop? If the rest can’t, that means some that might well be on par with those included may well be left off. I’ll wait for you to catch up, Spoop…..Ready? Ok…..Now, the other reality of “all time great lists” is this: they are OPINIONS. What does that mean, Spoop? Well, that means that the folks that were asked to participate submitted a listing of players that THEY felt should be on the list. Ok, Spoop….here comes the next part. Whenever people give opinions, other people (in this case YOU, Spoop) often have different opinions. To recap: limited space on “all time great list”, some deserving souls will be left off, selectors base choices on opinion, other people have different opinion. So far, everything makes sense and seems normal. Spoop read the list, and he had a difference of opinion. I’m sure ALL of us that read the list will have a gripe or two, or would trade someone on the list for someone left off….it’s the nature of such a compilation. No problems with that.

The problem arises with the above quote from Spoop’s submission. Clearly, the primary inference is that race is the reason that Paige and Clemente were left off. The secondary inference is that, in deference to the proposition that Paige and Clemente may be (or in actuality, may not be) as revered and held in the same esteem and significance as Babe Ruth within the Black and Latino communities, they should have been included. And that is where Spoop’s tunnel vision and unfailing ability to turn anything and everything into a riptide of racial bias rears its head. Almost on cue. Predictable to the minute. I mean, if you were told that Spoop was writing about SI’s “all time great list” for baseball, what would you guess he would write about? I bet 99% would guess he wrote about a black guy left off the list and said it was racist. GOOD GUESS! Of course in an effort to conjure up his rock solid case of bias, he included Clemente. Clearly cementing his proposition that the list ignores the icons of not one but TWO racial groups. Well done, Spoop!

The more Spoop I read, the more I become convinced that he tries too hard. In his efforts to spark debate and discussion on race, he finds racial issues in areas that they really don’t exist. In actuality, HE creates them. SI didn’t bill this All Time Great team as the definitive HISTORY of baseball. Yet, in his column, Spoop wags his finger and scolds that “You should feel a slight sense of illness and disgust at how the game of baseball and those that tell its story still refuse to make the story complete.” Where exactly did the folks that put this All Star team together claim it was a comprehensive account of the history and story of baseball? Spoop, in his efforts to confront and identify racism at every possible juncture, has affected his OWN presumption of what constitutes an all time great team on SI’s list. He has caste his own presumption of what the story of baseball is upon SI’s list. And therein lies the problem, as well as the complete exposure of Spoop’s inability to see past the color of his own nose: The list is what it is! A LIST. Compiled based on the opinions of “experts”. Submitted for the enjoyment of readers to debate. That someone read it and somehow determined that it was a concerted effort to denigrate the contributions of not only two people (Paige and Clemente), but TWO races is mind-boggling.

I will give Spoop credit though. He can find racial bias in things the rest of us only find fun. And if his goal in life is to roust the racial boogeyman out from under every bed in the country, he should understand: Sometime people mistake shadows for boogeymen.

I think Spoop is afraid of his own shadow.