It seems like every year, starting with November, the damned wheels fall off for Chelsea. It’s been baffling. This November wasn’t the Greek tragedy that the last couple have been, but it wasn’t awesome, either. The Blues kicked this season’s chokefest off by losing to Newcastle. They tied West Brom, and in the Champions League found a way to lose to Basel. (In fairness, they’d lost to Basel before November, too.) So not a complete disaster, but that’s five points dropped in the league that a legitimate elite side simply doesn’t drop. Continue reading
US drawn into the toughest group in the 2014 Copa. You heard it here first.
FIFA held the draw for the 2014 World Cup this morning, and I was really disappointed to be proven right. I predicted back in November that the US national team was screwed. Today we got official confirmation, as the USMNT was drawn into a group with Germany, Ghana and Portugal.
At the end of the 2010 World Cup I predicted that the 2014 final would feature Germany and Ghana. Continue reading
Hopefully this will be an example to all those corrupt professors responsible for NCAA football cheating.
Our friend Otherwise called this one to my attention.
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — A former professor at the center of an academic scandal involving athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been charged with a felony, accused of receiving $12,000 in payment for a lecture course in which he held no classes. Continue reading
Shortly after yesterday’s epic Iron Bowl – I don’t use that word “epic” very often, but they’ll be talking about this one a century from now, assuming American football is still being played – I heard a pundit opine that Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron’s Heisman Trophy hopes were now dead.
Seriously? Continue reading
Fishing on top of the old Smokies
In an entry written not too awfully long ago, I confessed to one of my great passions and pleasures in life: fly fishing for trout here in my native North Carolina mountains. As you might guess, on my bookshelves reside books related to that passion. Some, like The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide, might reside on the shelves of any serious angler. But some are specific to the sort of trout angling I do here in NC.
Such a one is the book in this review, Don Kirk’s exhaustive look at trout fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (and nearby environs), Smoky Mountain Trout Fishing. Kirk does a fine job of offering suggestions to anglers about where to find trout, stream sizes, casting difficulties that might be faced by anglers (especially important to fly fishers), and the remoteness of streams as well as the strenuousness required of fishers for reaching them. This is all great info for any angler interested in pursuing that beautiful and elusive creature, the Southern Brook trout, affectionately known to mountain natives as the “speck.” Continue reading
- We began with a World Series where both teams had new managers, and one of them had never been a manager before at any level, if I understand correctly. This is unusual.
- Then we had a WS game end on an interference call for the first time in history. Continue reading
Before the season began, I fully expected my Red Sox to finish last in the AL East. (I wasn’t the only one.) I figured Ellsbury and Petey would be solid, but past that there were so very many discouraging things to consider:
- New manager: there was reason to be hopeful about John Farrell, but still, new guy at the helm means uncertainty.
- Big Papi isn’t getting any younger, and he was already too old. Continue reading
As explained to me by my 14 year-old daughter, Chloe.
So, the St. Louis Rams had their star QB Sam Bradford, who is majorly hot, go down for the season with a knee injury? And word is Tim Tebow was thinking here was his chance – an NFL team needs a quarterback and he’s an NFL quarterback? But the Rams didn’t call him? No, they called Brett Favre. You know, 44 year-old Brett Favre, who hasn’t played in like three years? Continue reading
The Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC), the governing body of football in Italy, just broke bad on AC Milan over its supporters abusive behavior. Gab Marcotti at ESPN FC explains.
The Italian FA charged Milan for the fact that some of their fans engaged in racist abuse during Sunday night’s match against Napoli. In accordance with the regulations, the stand from which the abuse originated (San Siro’s Curva Sud) will be shut for one game. (Individual supporters who are identified can also be charged under separate statutes. Had the abuse been reported as more widespread, Milan could have been forced to play behind closed doors. And had it been noted by the official, the game could have been suspended.)
As you probably know, we’re not fans of racism in football at S&R. Not at all. Nor are our guest posters. So the idea that FIGC is finally getting off its ass and doing something about the appalling behavior of it fan base is welcome news.
Except, well, except that this isn’t exactly what’s happening here after all. Marcotti continues:
But here’s the thing. Of the 14 Napoli players who played that day, 13 were Caucasian. The other, Juan Camilo Zuniga, is mixed race. And he wasn’t being targeted. In fact, the songs had nothing to do with race as in skin color. They were all about Naples and Neapolitans. And apart from striker Lorenzo Insigne, none of the players were from Naples.
The song in question talked about Naples being dirty, about Neapolitans not using soap, having cholera and stinking to high heaven. Another chant implored Mount Vesuvius to erupt and clean up Naples, presumably by killing all the Neapolitans.
It’s offensive and tasteless, sure. But is it the kind of thing that should be barred from football stadiums?
Let’s venture a bit deeper into the weeds, shall we?
The Italian FA is not just taking its cue from UEFA’s new disciplinary code and specifically Article 14 (PDF), which deals with “racism, discriminatory conduct and propaganda.” And in doing so, it’s basically acting as a test case for possible future legislation.
Article 14 punishes those who “insult the human dignity of a person or group of persons by whatever means, including on the grounds of skin color, race, religion or ethnic origin.” Read it closely and you’ll see that while racism, ethnic abuse and sectarian abuse are specifically mentioned, it’s actually about insulting the “human dignity” of a group or individual. That can easily include other forms of discriminatory abuse, such as homophobic abuse.
But what they’ve done in Italy is to specify what constitutes an insult to “human dignity” and, unlike UEFA, they specifically cite (in addition to sexuality) territorial origin.
Ummm. Listen, I’m all for dropping the hammer on racism. But…this isn’t racism, is it? Is it legitimately “ethnic abuse”? Well, if you dig into Italian history, yeah, the South and the North have somewhat different ethnic histories, sort of. Of course, the diffs probably aren’t as pronounced as the gap you’d find between the North End in Boston and the cracker neighborhood I grew up in.
I don’t know. I’m ambivalent here. There can be fine lines in cases like this, and I won’t deny that sometimes Northern Italians speak about their Southern countrymen in ways that feel a bit like racism. Still, I’m not at all sure that FIGC hasn’t overreached.
Part of me says lighten up – this is basic smack talk. It’s often insensitive, I suppose, but are we going to ban fans for hurting the feelings of their opponents? (Read the rest of the article – Marcotti is on his game here.)
This one troubles me, not the least because I have earned a rep as an accomplished purveyor of the trash myself. And my beloved Rocky Mountain Blues have been known to sings songs that are, ummm, potentially hurtful. For instance, we hate the Scousers (Liverpool FC), and the article notes a certain cultural stereotype pertaining to property crime. We like to sing this one, to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine”:
You are a scouser
A dirty scouser
You’re only happy on Giro Day
Your mum’s out thieving
Your’s dad’s drug dealing
Please don’t take my hubcaps away…
And there’s “In Your Liverpool Slums”:
In your Liverpool slums
You look in a dustbin for something to eat
You find a dead rat and you think it’s a treat
In your Liverpool slums
In your Liverpool slums
Your mum’s on the game and your dad’s in the nick
You can’t get a job ’cause your too fucking thick
In your Liverpool slums
In your Liverpool slums
You wear a shell suit and have got curly hair
All of your kids are in council care
In your Liverpool slums
In your Liverpool slums
There’s piss on the pavement and shit on the path
You finger your grandma and think it’s a laugh
In your Liverpool slums
We also love to sing in honor of Manchester United hero Ryan Giggs. To the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In”:
Oh Ryan Giggs (oh Ryan Giggs)
Is fucking sheep (is fucking sheep)
Oh Ryan Giggs is fucking sheep
He’s fucking sheep, sheep and more sheep
Oh Ryan Giggs is fucking sheep
This one works equally well for Gareth Bale, or for matter any Welshman with the right number of syllables in his name. The Welsh are whiter than I am – is this racist? Ethnic abuse? Or is it simply nationalistic, tribalistic, etc.? Am I describing a difference that makes no difference?
We even have at our own. Referencing the infamous scandal involving Blues captain John Terry and the girlfriend of former teammate Wayne Bridge, there’s this one to the tune of “London Bridge”:
Mrs. Bridge is going down
Mrs. Bridge is going down
On John Terry
Of course, this is personal, not collective. I just wanted to throw it in because it’s my favorite.
Frankly, these are some of the nicer ones. There are lyrics in a few songs I’ve heard that you wouldn’t repeat in a crowd of drunken sailors.
Perhaps you get where I’m going. There’s no excuse whatsoever for racism, but there’s a line, right? It can’t be illegal to be rude, can it? Sure, it’s primitive and juvenile and frankly, we already knew that I’m a terrible human being.
I mean, if you adopted these kinds of rules in the US, that would mean I could no longer point out, when the Broncos are getting ready to play the Raiders, that Oakland is the world’s largest open-air latrine. When the Avs go to play the Devils, I can’t crack that the New Jersey state bird is the housefly. That Nebraska’s football team plays on natural grass so the cheerleaders will have a place to graze. It would probably be hurtful even to snark about what a high percentage of Bengal players wind up in jail.
Or are these things okay because there is no twinge of the ethic about them?
We’ll be watching as things develop in Serie A. Like I say, I applaud any and all efforts to scrub racism from the game. But it would also be a mistake to overcorrect, I think. I’ve had some opposing fans say nasty things to me through the years, and I’d hate to see them punished over a weak-ass attempt at cleverness.
It’s bad enough that their teams suck and their children look like the mailman, don’t you think?
Last weekend I was near despair. As I wrote Sunday, I had marched forth in search of a Chelsea FC community here in my new city only to come up empty. Given the vibrance of the Rocky Mountain Blues supporters club in Denver, I was not exaggerating when I explained the emptiness and disappointment I was feeling.
Within a couple hours of posting my lament, I heard from Jason Smith, the man in charge of Shed End Seattle, the city’s main (and perhaps only – the existence of the Northwest Blues is very much in question at present) CFC group. Turns out the problem wasn’t with the club, it was with the pub – the George & Dragon has decided that it’s better for business if they show games on replay so they can space out their customers during the day. Ummm, yeah. If management is reading this, give me a call. There are some fundamental marketing principles that we need to talk about.
SES was working on the problem and has found a new place – the Market Arms in Ballard – that shows the games live. They were going to be there today. I signed up for the Facebook page and traded some comments with various members of the club, and it was with borderline frantic enthusiasm that I set off this morning to meet them in person and watch the Blues take on West London rival Fulham.
I try not to be wrong any more than I have to, but last week’s post was wrong, and as a result I’m as happy right now as I was despondent then. Jason and the rest of the crowd (pictured above, and bear with me – I’m terrible with names but I will get them all down eventually) turn out to be fantastic. (Since all they had seen of me was my current FB profile pic, they were surprised that I’m bald.) Knowledgable, enthusiastic, and they went out of their way to make the new guy feel welcome. I’m already looking forward to the next match (although since it’s a 4:30am start and the Arms seems unwilling to get up quite that early, we’ll probably be watching on replay).
The Arms, for its part, is a legit pub (the full English is recommended).
While I was wrong last week about the existence of a CFC community here, the rest stands. The RMBs are a special group and I hope they never lose sight of how great they have it. With luck I’ll find the same kinds of friendships here.
Oh yeah, and John Obi Mikel scored the capper today. For you throwball fans, Mikel finds the back of the net about as often as your average backup offensive tackle gallops 99 yards for a touchdown. I predicted that this was the year it would finally happen, though, and to celebrate I stripped and streaked down Market St. I’m not sure if anyone got video, but if they did let me know and we’ll post it for the entertainment of the RMBs and beefcake-loving women everywhere.
We do have this video, though.
UEFA (the governing body of European football) has given its tentative approval to moving the 2022 World Cup to the winter.
The prospect of a winter World Cup in 2022 took a step forward after European football chiefs agreed a summer event could not be played in Qatar.
Summer temperatures in the Gulf state can reach 50C, sparking health fears for players and fans alike.
Uefa’s 54 member associations backed the switch at a meeting in Croatia.
Yeah, I can see that.
“The World Cup cannot be played in Qatar in the summer,” said Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce. “Everyone was certainly in agreement about that.”
Right. Everyone was in agreement. And I do feel sorry for FIFA. When they awarded the Cup to Qatar back in 2010, there was no real way to foresee that there could be problems. For instance, since meteorology hadn’t been invented yet, there was no way for the committee to understand that daily high temperatures in Qatar average 106F during the summer months. Average.
Otherwise, the deal made perfect sense. With a population of 1.69 million, the emirate would rank as the 38th largest metropolitan statistical area in the US, right alongside Providence. Sure, there was the fact that when they hosted the Asian Cup they managed the lowest attendance since Lebanon around the turn of the century, but you know, things change.
And as for the weather, that wasn’t going to be a big deal. Nor was the fact that they don’t actually have, you know, stadiums. The plan was that they were going to build several new ones and spread them out around the nation’s major metropolitan markets. Also, they were going to air condition them. No, not domes. They were going to AC outdoor stadiums. In the fucking desert. In fucking July.
That huge-ass seething spot you can see with the unaided human eye from fucking Mars?! Yeah, that’s the blackest carbon footprint in the history of the universe.
(Notice how so far I haven’t said anything about the potential cultural issues surrounding a rampaging month-long drunken orgy descending upon an Islamic village? I’m proud of how I didn’t go there.)
So, you’re probably asking yourself – self, how the hell did Qatar get awarded the World Cup in the first place? Good question. Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, said “The Arabic world deserves a World Cup.” He did not say “those of us making the decision deserve this suitcase full of unmarked bills.” But I’m pretty sure he thought it. He thinks all kinds of interesting stuff.
I will admit to not being 100% objective where Bladder is concerned. When he proposed hiring Henry Kissinger to “clean up” FIFA a couple years ago I wrote this:
What kind of narco-voodoo horse tranquilizer is Sepp Blatter injecting directly into his anal glands, anyhow? Enquiring Rational minds want to know. I mean, maybe he wants Kissinger to bomb the FA? But if he does, can he be trusted not to ramp up covert bombing of the Scottish FA and the FFF?
Seriously, what could Sepp be thinking? I can’t find any concrete evidence that he’s a deranged neo-fascist (although the fact that he’s Swiss and born in the mid-’30s raises obvious questions). He’s never been institutionalized that I can tell, although he’s bound to be prone to neo-liberal sex dreams. I did find this bit, which is curious:
In the early 1970s, Blatter was elected president of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders, an organisation which tried to stop women replacing suspender belts with pantyhose.
No telling what a TSA search would shake out of that underwear drawer, yo?
Anyhoo, the collective geniusosity that is the world football braintrust has finally admitted that it would be bad to stage the biggest competition in global sport in an environment where the players’ cleats might melt. Better late than never, huh?
Now all that remains to be figured out is how to do this without completely disrupting the regular seasons of the world’s top leagues. And the Champions League. And the holiday season. And by the way, will we be doing this in January 2022 or December 2022?
Periodically friends will accuse me of being “pure evil.” I cherish these moments, and am proud of the fact that my mind goes where no demented mind has gone before. But it can be something of a plague, because there’s this part of me that thinks if I’m that sinister, other people must be, too. This quality has not rendered me the most trusting of people, I fear.
Anyhow, if you follow football (not throwball, but football of the global variety, or “soccer,” as you Yanks insist on calling it), you know that one of the protracted dramas of the summer transfer season was Chelsea FC’s pursuit of Manchester United’s star forward, Wayne Rooney (aka ”Shrek”). The Blues needed a proven presence up top, and Rooney was disenchanted both with ManUre in general and with incoming manager David Moyes in particular. Shrek played for Moyes back when he was at Everton, and apparently is not fond of the man.
Rooney made clear that he wanted out, Moyes and the club made clear that he wasn’t for sale, and along the way the manager uttered some words in a presser that he insists were taken out of context, but that nonetheless were interpreted by the English football press as indicating that Rooney was to MU’s plans as horse droppings are to work shoes.
And the game was afoot.
Of course, in the end, when nothing was really moving, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho put it out there that in order for the deal to get done Rooney needed to step up and put in a formal transfer request to force United’s hand. Rooney didn’t, and CFC wound up with Plan B, Cameroon’s is-he-over-the-hill-or-not striker Samuel Eto’o instead. For American football fans who are having a hard time following the implications here, this is kinda like you were hoping to land Drew Brees and wound up with Donovan McNabb.
All summer I wondered aloud whether Mourinho, a consummate mind-gamer, actually wanted Rooney or if he was simply fucking with Moyes’s head. Or a bit of both.
Tonight I found myself in pure evil mode, wondering the very opposite: what if it was Mou being played like a four-Euro banjo?
Here’s the scenario. Moyes takes over at MU from Everton. He’s been around the block and knows that Mourinho, taking the helm at Chelsea, is a) in dire need of a new top-tier striker, and b) as noted above, a world-class agitator. So he goes to Rooney and says a) you’re critical to my plans and I want you here no matter what, and b) let’s fuck over Mourinho. Shrek says … well, he probably asks if Moyes’s grandmother is dating anyone at the moment, but that’s another post for another day.
So Rooney suggests, within earshot of a reporter, that he is not entirely enchanted with the idea of playing for Moyes, whom he considers to be a sheep-shagger of the first order. Mourinho sees an opening and dives in.
And the summer-long drama unfolds, with Roo sending out regular come-get-me signals and Chelsea making increasingly lavish offers for his services. United has a bit of sport with the whole thing, not only rejecting the various offers but at one point demanding not only outrageous sums of money, but also Chelsea’s best players in return. (Yes, you can have Brees. For Peyton Manning, Von Miller and three #1 picks.)
Meanwhile, Chelsea swallows the hook and goes all-in. Instead of hedging their bets by lining up a deal for another top-flight striker, should the Shrek deal tank on them, they convince themselves that it’s as good as done and forego the groundwork necessary to land a respectable Plan B.
In the end, Rooney wusses out and decides to stay, leaving Mourinho standing in the rain holding his nutsack (aka Eto’o, who was hell on two legs four years ago but after pissing away the last couple of years in Siberia is, ummm, on the back nine of his career).
That’s the conspiracy theory.
Now, let’s be clear – I have zero evidence that this is what happened. As I said before, I’m occasionally just evil enough to pull some shit like this and it makes me paranoid that others might be, too.
So, you’re wondering: is there reason to believe that this isn’t at all what happened? Yes. A couple things leap to mind.
First, the timing. If you were going to pull this, you’d wait until the last possible second to pull out, making sure that your trollee had no time at all to react. That isn’t what happened. It became clear a few days before the transfer window closed that Rooney wasn’t going to go through with it, and had Chelsea not had all its eggs in that basket they might have been able to get in for a suitable alternative.
Second, there was the whole Ander Herrera debacle, where the Yes Men apparently showed up at Athletic Bilbao to “negotiate” on United’s behalf. You can’t possibly think the people behind one of the sport’s greatest Keystone Kops episodes was also evil genius enough to shank the Special One.
Verdict: probably not. Still, it’s never a bad thing to remind yourself that there are scheming, evil motherfuckers out there looking to screw you to the wall. Assume that they’re at least as smart as you are and plan accordingly.
Meanwhile, Mourinho has to figure out how to turn the combination of Fernando Torres, Eto’o and Demba Ba into something resembling a real strike force. Whether he got played by Moyes or he played himself, he’s now got his work cut out for him.
When my marriage fell apart in 2010 I quickly realized just how much of my social life was tied to my wife’s friends and family. I had friends of my own, of course, but most were married with families, or they lived way the hell out in the ‘burbs. Very few were of the “let’s go grab a quick beer” variety, so the result was that I spent a lot of time alone.
Let me amend that. I spent all of my time alone. And given the upheaval that divorce represents, not just in your routine, but in your soul and in your psyche, it’s probably safe to say that I have never felt quite so totally alone in life. Her family had become my family, and all of a sudden my family was taken from me. No family. No tribe. No community.
In some respects alone was helpful. I needed to reconnect with the guy I had lost over several years of dysfunctional marriage, and time with my thoughts was important. But I’m a social person and I needed human contact, too.
Then I stumbled into something. I’m a huge Chelsea FC fan and I started looking around for a place to watch the games. Some were on cable, but a) not all, and b) that channel wasn’t in HD. A bit of snooping online revealed that the British Bulldog carried Chelsea matches and was only seven blocks away from my new apartment.
I pulled on my strip, biked down the hill, and walked in…to a sea of blue. I believe it might have been the FA Cup semis, and the place was packed with Chelsea supporters. So packed it was all I could to find a place to sit and order breakfast.
I didn’t know it yet, but I had just found some community.
I sought out the leader of the operation, Peter Wohelski, got signed up on the Facebook page, and began meeting other members. And over the coming weeks and months, as I became more integrated into things, the Rocky Mountain Blues became more than a group of people to watch the games with. Many of them became friends. People I could talk to. People I could grab lunch or a beer with. People whose importance in my life went well past game day.
I was a bit less alone.
Fast forward to my move, three weeks ago, to Seattle. I hated the thought of leaving the RMBs, and just as a new season was starting, no less. I had invested a great deal in the community and it hurt to leave it. But at least I was moving to a city famous for its football culture. And Seattle had not one, but two CFC supporters groups. While they would never be the RMBs, at least I had a point of interest where I could meet some new folks.
Shed End Seattle meets at a place called the George and Dragon, and they’re the independent club up here. I decided to start there. I checked the G&D Web site Friday only to see that the game apparently wasn’t being carried live. I called and was told no, they were showing it on replay in the afternoon. The woman I spoke with indicated that they liked to spread the games out for business reasons.
Ummm. WTF? The game was this morning and we all know what happened, but let’s get together and watch the replay at 3? You can’t be serious.
So I then called Fado, home of the Northwest Blues (the local affiliate of the vast Chelsea in America network). Yep – game will be on live. Okay, there we go. So I arrive downtown, park, walk a couple blocks, and head into…this:
Wow. Well, I’m here and I’m hungry, so I parked at a table and had breakfast (the corned beef hash was excellent, btw). I talked with bartender a bit and he said that the Chelsea crowd hadn’t been very good lately. They had a few in for the first game of the season, but he doesn’t know what’s happened. Maybe their leader left or something.
So here’s the situation. In the most vibrant soccer culture in North America, a place where the MLS team outdraws the baseball team (by something like 2-to-1), it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a Chelsea community for me. I might go up and check out the Shed End crew, but I can’t imagine how you can build much of an emotional connection to, you know, watching a replay. And as for the Northwest Blues…well, you can’t build a community with empty barstools.
And so, here I am in a new city, and the process of finding a tribe begins afresh.
To my RMB friends back in Denver: I don’t know that all of you fully appreciate what we have built there. If I live to be a million I’ll never forget the 2012 Champions League final, which may have been the most exciting moment in my sports fan life. I’ll remember 20+ of us in the Dog for a 5:30am Sunday kick. I’ll remember waking up Ronan MacScottie and driving up to Boulder to watch the Blues in the Club championships in Japan last year at Michael Leaves’s shop. I’ll cherish the chance I was afforded to serve on the executive board.
Sure, I’ll be on the Facebook page and online for the games each weekend. But it looks like I’ll be doing that from my couch instead of from a local pub with my new friends.
It goes without saying that it won’t be the same.
Last night, for the first time this year, the Patriots played without Tim Tebow. For the first time this year, they lost. No, they didn’t lose. They got pounded, 40-9. Humilated. Embarrassed. Noogied. Brady and Mallet were awful, exactly as the S&R sports desk predicted would happen.
Remember, you read it here first, Brady is at the peak of his value, but his best days are past. The Patriots should sell him now, since GM’s in the NFL are always willing to overpay for over-the-hill quarterbacks (Favre, Palmer, Manning) and the Pats could probably get an entire team for Brady, who has the third highest QBR of all time. Think about it–New England could get a top receiver or two, shore up their porous secondary, AND have three draft picks left over.
Let Timmy play! He’s a winner. There’s no doubt at all, none, that the Patriots would have won last night had he played.
The coach of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick, is a football genius. His secret is simple: value. He sells overvalued older players, like Richard Seymour, who are on the downside of their careers, and buys undervalued players, e.g., Randy Moss, whom others have discarded. Sometimes, as in the cases of Seymour and reciever Wes Welker, the separation is painful, with the player feeling unloved and underrespected, and grumbling his way out of town. Doesn’t matter. Belichick is deaf to sentiment. When it comes time to make player decisions, he is Big Blue, an unemotional super-computer, computing all the odds and deciding who can best help his team win.
Which is why you can expect Belichick to trade Tom Brady and start Tim Tebow.
1. Brady is overvalued. Brady has been a solid quarterback for the Patriots. However, he’s on the downside of his career. His QBR (passer rating) dropped from 106 to 99 last year, and plummeted to 85 in the playoffs. His rushing yards were down, as were his touchdowns and completion percentage. Tebow is undervalued. New England doesn’t need to worry about other teams trying to poach him.
2. Old vs. young. Brady is old. He just turned 36. He’s increasingly injury prone. After missing almost the entire 2008 season, he now has problems with a knee injured in this preseason. Tebow is a young stud, in superb shape, who like all football players has had injuries, but not missed games because of it. In college, Tebow broke his right thumb and played the entire game. He is a warrior, he could probably break his left (throwing) arm and his accuracy would be the same.
3. Tebow was a better college player than Brady. When Brady was at Michigan and that team won a national championship, it did so with Brady on the bench behind journeyman Brian Griese. Tebow won a national championship AND a Heisman.
4. Tebow is a winner. Since New England got caught illegally taping competitor practices, New England has not won a Super Bowl under Brady. Tebow won at Denver, and would have won at New York if allowed to play. During this preseason, he’s led New England to two victories despite predictions they’d struggle after the loss of key team members in the off season. In the first game, Tebow threw for 55 yards and rushed for 31, and in the second, he completed a pass in only seven attempts, despite playing with the second team, for only a one yard loss. He also rushed for 32 yards, an astounding 8 yard per carry average.
5. Tebow is a leader, Brady is not. Tebow is famous for his leadership qualities. At Florida, Tebow mentored Aaron Hernandez and kept him eligible for all four years. Indeed, at Florida, Hernandez only committed assault and an alleged shooting. Under Brady’s mentoring at New England, Hernandez is believed to have committed three murders. Brady is not respected by his teammates. Randy Moss once said Brady had hair like a girl. In the macho world of football, being compared to a girl is not a compliment.
6. Tebow is a better athlete. He’s shorter, but weighs almost ten pounds more. Also, at the NFL combine he ran the 40 yard dash in 4.7, nearly as fast as the top defensive tackle prospects, while Brady only managed 5.2 at his combine tryout.
7. It will be easier to replace Brady with a popular player. As we saw with Brett Favre, it’s always tough to replace an older player who’s become a fan favorite. The replacement comes in under a barrage of criticism, with their every move being picked apart and critiqued. Tebow is wildly popular and would be immediately accepted by a significant portion of the fan base. Were he to struggle, which he won’t, his fans have shown a willingness to look past performance and facts and focus on the big picture.
8. Tebow is a better role model. Tebow is a practicing Christian. Brady is Catholic. Tebow is a virgin. Brady has had a child out of wedlock (with actress Bridget Moynahan). Brady is married to a foreigner. American girls apparently just aren’t good enough for Tom Brady.
Crisis reveals character, they say.
I hope you read Otherwise’s piece on Riley Cooper the other day. It’s truly an exceptional example of the kind of honest, intelligent thinking I’ve come top expect from my colleagues here at S&R.
But while I agree with most of the principles underlying Otherwise’s reasoning, I’m not sure I’m convinced that they apply to Cooper specifically. Before I make my case, let’s review the video that touched off the whole firestorm.
I guess the question of whether to condemn Cooper or, as Otherwise suggests, give him a break, hinges on whether or not we believe what he has said since the video went public. True, he has in fact said and done a great deal that you’d ask someone who was genuinely contrite to do. No argument about that.
The thing is, I don’t believe him. Let’s begin by examining the timeline. The video broke on July 31, and the apologizing commenced shortly thereafter. But the incident happened on June 9. that’s over six weeks where he did nothing. He didn’t apologize publicly. He didn’t tell the club or his teammates and apologize to them. It doesn’t sound like he told his parents about it. You know, the people who didn’t raise him that way and who are now in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Six weeks. He. Did. Nothing. Despite his mea culpas and his insistence that this isn’t a word he uses and it isn’t the kind of person he is, he did nothing.
Okay, you may be saying, but if he made this horrible mistake and was this embarrassed by it of course he wouldn’t say or do anything. He probably hoped it would go away, and no way in hell he actually wants to draw attention to it. Think of the most embarrassing thing you ever did, Sam. Did you go public with it?
No I didn’t, and this is a great point. It’s not only possible, it’s plausible.
But it isn’t consistent with a couple of things. First, you don’t have to go public to apologize to the security guard. You can find him, apologize, maybe even try and make it up by doing something nice for him. Cooper didn’t do this.
What else? Oh – the team says he’s now receiving counseling, and if we’re to believe what he says he’s probably grateful for it. He asks us to believe that this outburst represents behavior that is out of character for him, and if so, he had to be shocked to hear that word coming out of his mouth. I can empathize with that. If I was pissed off and all of a sudden heard myself using that language it would rock my self-image to the foundation. I’d absolutely be seeking counseling of some sort because I’d be in need of it.
If Cooper sought counseling to address this horrid new self-revelation we’ve heard nothing of it, and rest assured, that’s precisely the sort of information that he and/or his agent and/or the team would be making a big deal of.
Finally, Cooper is emphatic in asserting that this is not a word he uses. Is this claim plausible? Well, Otherwise relates an incident where he got so worked up that he blurted out something that was utterly out of character. Do I believe that this happens, that people get mad and say things they don’t mean, that they call people names that they know will hurt?
Yes, I absolutely believe this. But I’m also really intuitive and I have this nuclear powered bullshit detector. I have been known to use a foul word or two. I’ve said things that would make a sailor blush. My vocabulary is a large one, and there are many, many wicked words that I have experience with. There are also words that I never use. My suspicion is that when I crack off a profanity-laced rant featuring my chosen epithets that they roll somewhat elegantly off my tongue. I imagine I might sound less fluid were I to try out new words mid-conniption.
So the question is, when you watch that video and hear Cooper in context, when you admire his rage in full flight, and then he says that isn’t a word he uses, do you believe him?
I don’t. To my ears the word sounds very much at home in his mouth. I grew up in a place where that word was common daily usage and Cooper isn’t the first Southerner I’ve heard bust it out in anger. When I watch that video, I am reminded more of that world and the people in it than I am of people who do not have that sort of racist language in their vocabularies.
I may be wrong. Otherwise may be right. I don’t know Riley Cooper and he may be telling us the straight-up truth in his recent public statements. If he is, I hope the counseling helps and that he learns from this mistake and goes on to be an example for a society trying to claw its way up out of an unspeakable history of prejudice.
I may be wrong. But I doubt it.
Riley Cooper is the Philadelphia Eagles football player who on June 9 at a Kenny Chesney concert said “I will jump that fence and fight every nigger here.” Someone got it on video and it went viral. Cooper has apologized profusely, but the criticism has been unrelenting. Now he has left his team to seek counseling. It’s not clear if he’ll ever be able to return.
I’m usually the first one to call out racism, especially southern racism. Cooper is from Florida so he fits the meme. You’d think I’d be the first to excoriate him. You’d think I’d be dancing because right now Cooper is being pilloried–he’s being shunned by his teammates (70% of the NFL is black) and criticized by every talking head. Even Chesney, a country music star, has piled on.
But I am not calling for Cooper’s head. I feel sorry for him. And I think we should give him a break for three reasons.
1. He used a word. He didn’t murder someone for racial reasons like George Zimmerman. Jesus, he isn’t even accused of murdering someone period. Remember Ray Lewis? He was indicted for murder, but somehow that was no biggie. There was no outrage. None of his teammates went on the air saying they didn’t trust him. Advertisers didn’t shun him. The media didn’t pile on. Look, I think the “n-word” is a terrible thing. I am all for punishing people who use it, and particularly those who use it in a nasty way like Cooper did. But at the end of the day, it’s just a word.
If the NFL can make room for murderers, for drug dealers (Sam Hurd,) rapists and a man who tortured dogs, surely it is thick skinned enough to handle the “n-word.”
2. He took responsibility. He didn’t say, “I was drunk,” although he was. He didn’t try to blame the person who took the video or the security guard or argue he was simply standing his ground or say it was a different time or accuse people of being too sensitive or go on Rush Limbaugh and whine about reverse racism. He didn’t laugh it off like Kerry Collins did when he did essentially the same thing a few years ago. Instead he came out, faced the cameras and here’s what he said:
“I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, to Jeffrey Lurie, to Howie Roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences.”
He also apologized to his parents, because he said they raised him better than that.
3. And my final reason to give Cooper a break is because I understand. And I’m deeply ashamed to admit, so ashamed that I didn’t want to write this post.
When I was 19, a bar girl in Africa started ragging me. I called her a “black bitch.” You got it. When I got mad and drunk and my inhibitions went down, I went straight to race and sex.
I was horrified. I had marched against racism in the South during days when the other side had bricks. Later, I’d gotten maced because of it. I supported women’s rights. I was in Peace Corps for goodness sake. Peace Corp are to the socially righteous as Jesuits are to Catholics. We weren’t racists and sexists, I thought. But when push came to shove, we were. Or at least I was.
I could see the words floating through the air and wished with everything I had that I could grab them and stuff them back in my mouth. I had opened a door into my heart, and instead of the good person I expected to see there, was an ugly little nasty toad of a bigot. I will guarantee you that Cooper is nauseated with what he found behind the door.
But I learned from it. What I learned that we all have some racism deep down inside, even politically correct liberals like me. I learned that it can be very deep and hidden and you can not even know it’s there. I learned that knowing it’s there is a good thing, because years later when I was in charge of hiring and promoting people of color and a different sex than myself, I learned to watch myself and others for inadverdent stereotyping. I learned, and I think I became much better for it.
I know I am still a racist and a sexist, and while no longer homophobic, I’m still a little too quick to stereotype gays or roll my eyes. I try to correct for it, but I don’t tell myself it’s not there. And if you look back at the dozens of kids of color and women and gays I hired, mentored, and promoted, I think some of them will tell you I was a positive influence in their lives. I did some good, even if I’m not as good as I’d like.
Look, I don’t know Cooper. He may be an asshole of the first order. But I do know what it’s like to disappoint yourself in such a profound way that you lie in the dark because you’re just too embarrassed to come outside and face the world.
Hey, it’s fine for us as a society to be pissed off about Zimmerman, but let’s not take our national self-disgust out on Riley Cooper.
I know how he feels. And it’s worse than you can know.
Dee Liner, a four star defensive lineman who will be attending Alabama in the fall, has created a firestorm by posting a pic on Instagram of him holding a huge wad of cash and saying his struggles are over with.
No one knows how Mr. Liner got his money, and frankly, no one should care, even if the obvious suspicion proves to be true. Under the table payments to players like Terrelle Pryor, Reggie Bush, etc, etc. have always gone on and always will. In the old days, it was boosters stuffing hundred dollar bills into the chain link fence at games in Texas. Now it’s loaner cars, cheap apartments and free tattoos. As long as there are rich boosters with no morals and poor kids with talent, there will be a transfer of funds. The NCAA can assign a full time enforcement person to every kid in America and it won’t matter. One thing we should know by now from trying to stop cocaine, illegal immigration and prostitution, and that’s economics always wins. Period.
Not only that, but the players being paid are right. They’re risking their health and their futures, and are expected to enter into a binding commitment to do so for free. The school, meanwhile, has no commitment. It can yank a scholarship any time it chooses and there’s an awful good chance that the coach that promised them he’d work with them for the next four years will be on the first bus out of town if another school offers more money. (Ask University of Florida, who let Urban Meyer out of his contract because of health reasons, only to see him jump at a bigger payday in a soft conference.)
No, the real outrage is because most suspect that Mr. Liner reneged on a deal with Auburn. Most outraged are the fans from Auburn, a school Mr. Liner had promised to attend until he changed his mind in January.
As anyone who follows southern football knows, lots of schools can defeat Auburn on the football field, but few can compete with them in, ahem, “player acquisition.” Only a few years ago, it was Auburn who ended up with Cam Newton, whose father called various schools trying to auction him off. Indeed, other SEC schools have a long-standing joke about the Plainsmen/War Eagles/Tigers (when you are Auburn, it helps to have a few aliases handy.) It goes: “If they’re winning, they’re cheating.”
But now Auburn’s lost a player and suddenly that player shows up with fistfuls of cash.
Life’s just not fair, I guess.