Monday, February 27, 2006

Bobby Hurley's Championship Gardening Tips

I suspect that most Americans don’t remember where they were and what they were doing when they didn’t care that J.J. Redick broke the ACC scoring record two days ago.
No hard feelings, Bucko, but that’s an asterisk record, anyway.*
(* - accomplished with the benefit of the 3-point arc in a watered-down conference with only a cursory understanding of defense …)
Context, people … context …

Wow, EspyTime gave me so much wall-to-wall basketball this weekend, jeez … I’ll need a week just to decompress.
Actually, the Sunday-to-Monday-overnight SporkCenter condensed for me what I’ll need to de-program from my brain during the decompressurization.
One priceless, quickie nugget was provided by coll. b-ball studio pencilneck Doug Gottlieb, who thumbnailed U-Conn with: “When they want to play, when they defend, when they rebound, when they take quality shots, they are arguably the most-talented team in the nation and probably the No. 1 team.”
Or, as the vanilla rhymesters say in the Chronic-(What?!)-Kulls of Narrr-nee-yuhh rap: “Double true!”
(Please don’t sue me, SNL)

Anyway, “Leebs” (as I call him in our Yiddish, street-cred vocab) was a 20 percent 3-point maker at Okie State and he was a 43 percent foul shooter (look it up, America … it’s “double true!”). And, maybe Leebs didn’t get around to reading my blog from a few weeks ago when I stated in no uncertain terms that the ONLY keys to every b-ball game ever played in the history of the universe (of all-time, EVER!) are: 1) D up 2) Box out 3) Minimize turnovers 4) Don’t take crappy 3’s which are beyond yer range.
Leebs doesn’t want you to know about the 20/43 component, so don’t tell anyone. Okay? Lock it in the vault where ya keep the knowledge that he spent the entire first half of that Big Monday game back in ’00 or ’01 with his shorts on backwards.
Oh, that nutty Dugster.

That’s the thing about b-ball – it always delivers when it comes to putting a smile on the faces of American citizens. SporkCenter proved that when it spent the 90-minute tilt-o’-whirl of goodness dealing with the key topics such as: A) A Harlem Globetrotters feature story B) The Mediocre Life of The Mediocre Kenny Mayne C) The Shuh-Sheff-Skee Sit-Down and D) My fave: Greece Athena High Holds A 50/50 Raffle For That Little Boy In The Hospital Who Is Dying Of Autism.

Don’t get me wrong … the Globetrotters piece was outstanding. It was well-packaged and watching Curly Neal drain two roof-scraping, 35-foot chest passes for baskets, well … it’s better than watching Pittsnogle and his tatts square up from 19-9.
And, for those of us who wondered what ever happened to the gigantic ‘fro of Arizona Wildcat Eugene Edgerson … yes!

Edge is a 'Trotter.

The thing about the Globetrotters is that when they took the floor, they were TRYING to be funny. And, Meadowlark shooting a hook shot from 25 feet will always go into the basket more times than J.J. Redick spotting up from 19-9.
Double true!

Speaking of which, Coach Krzyzewski offered some priceless moments when he had that sit-down with EspyTime stiff (reporter John Barr, I think his name is).
I, like most of America, was transfixed when Coach Mike was asked to give a clear-cut example of how his wife or daughters allowed him to look at coaching with a “different” perspective.
Coach Krzyz offered the anecdote about how Mrs. Krzyz, years ago, opined “something’s bothering Bobby Hurley” when Coach couldn’t see anything wrong at all.
Mike was building up to how Mrs. Duke-Sheffsky prodded Coach to have Bobby Hurley come in for a meeting, just to see what the problem was.
Coach Krzyz: “And I found out that there WAS something wrong with Bobby Hurley.”

In the land of Those Not In The Employ of ESPN, the next question is, “So, what WAS wrong with Bobby Hurley? Did he oversleep and miss a mid-term? Was there a death in the family? Did he have car trouble? Did he need a few bucks to get a burger at the Student Union? Had he just broken up with his girlfriend? Did he forsee himself sucking in the NBA?”
Yup, I know that’s actually seven questions – but that shouldn’t excuse Reporter EspyTime from going into a shell when Coach said what he said.
Barr's follow-up question was: “We understand you have quite a flower garden. Is it YOUR flower garden?”

Was the “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” ending to the Bobby Hurley anecdote edited out by Mike himself? Does Duke-Sheffskee have some sort of a God complex wherein we’re watching the footage of an opposing player driving to the basket and, subsequently, getting bludgeoned by Shelden Williams five feet from a ref who cannot seem to operate the complicated whistle matrix of blowing to activate the tiny wooden ball rattling inside the chamber to produce a tweeeeeet sound … well, Coach Mike wants you to know that accusations of Duke “getting the calls,” well, you aren’t only hurting Duke University, you’re hurting the game when you make those accusations.
Okay, swell.
But, when you called Bobby Hurley into your office, what did you learn was wrong with him?

Interviews with Coach Kzyz-Kid-Gloves-ski always end up like this mostly because we eventually end up talking about what grows in Mike’s flower garden because reporters who can’t grow any ‘nads can’t seem to bring themselves to ask Mike about anything other than the awesomeness of Mike’s awesomeness.

Since EspyTime Theater doesn’t have anyone qualified to do more than lob softballs at ILoveDuke, citizens who are Non-Cameron Crazy should send someone who would engage in more “biting” dialogue.
That’s right … send in Triumph The Insult Comic Dog.
“Coach, you’re team looks very good this year. Good for me TO POOP ON!”
Triumph, no!
Don’t go poopies on the Dukies.
Let them go poopies on themselves in the Sweet 16.
(Note: Coach Duke-Sheffskee is the only coach in America exempt from answering questions when CBS shoves a microphone in his face as he walks off the court at halftime. That’s because, well … “Keep that mike away from Mike. Mike don’t wanna see the mike.” Double true!)

Finally, America has spent the past several days connecting with that autistic kid from Greece Athena High after seeing what he did in the final 4:17 vs. Spencerport.
I feel especially connected since the cigarettes I smoke come from the Tuscarora Indian Reservation next door to Lewiston, NY – and it’s only a 70-mile trip east along Route 104 from the Tuscarora Indian Reservation to the sleepy Rochester suburb of Greece (note: you can drive the same distance along Route 31 from the Tuscarora Indian Reservation to get to Spencerport).
Still, if I was the coach of Spencerport, I’d work on getting myself into Tues. nite’s sectional semifinal in which Greece Athena is participating.
“Say, Coach Johnson, good luck tonight. Wait … I see that your best shooter is on the bench in street clothes. Why isn’t that kid starting? I watched him scorch us for 20 points and drain six treys in the final four minutes … and he’s not starting? What’s that all about? Is he injured? Is he sick? If he’s hurtin’, pump him full of meds and get him out there. It’s every player’s dream to win a sectional championship. Please tell me that you didn’t let him play his final home game to exploit autism at the expense of my team.”

Hey, I don’t hate the kid.
I hate that EspyTime pissed all over every other “unfashionable” or “inconvenient” disability. For every “He’s One Of Us” feel-good stories, there’s several dozen autistic kids or kids w/ cerebal palsy or muscular dystrophy who are viewed as some sorta freak show by kids their own age.
Let’s hug Jason McElwain because, well … he's non-threatening and, besides, that weirdo over there, that dude’s retarded or something.
Oh, and don’t forget to look right through every person in a wheelchair.
They can’t ball.
They’re losers.
Wanna go to the mall?

Get over yourselves, amputees and paraplegics. When you can stick the three like J-Mac, maybe EspyTime Theater can milk every drop from your story.
So, stop throwing your wheelchairs at the TV.

Stop actin’ all crippled and start accepting autism into your hearts.
It can’t be about you and your damn access ramps all the time …

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Autistic Statistic

Here we go again ... stuck between a rock and a hard spot. In this case, "the rock" = ESPN’s Throwdown Thursday and "the hard spot" = Bracketbuster Saturday.
Alas, 'tis all part of Judgment Week (presented by Cisco Systems).
The inner-conflict shall percolate.

Some salvation, however, was achieved a few nights ago when ESPN offered another textbook example of re-establishing itself as EspyTime Theater (emphasis on the "Espys," which emphasizes throwdowns and the three-run jimmy jack and emphasis on "theater," which depicts that which is theatrical and may be more melodrama than actual drama).
So, it's necessary to ask: "Why did ESPN feel the need to use Jason McElwain to scratch its melodramatic itch?"

Everybody's seen the video clip by now ... the one where the autistic kid in Rochester, NY (Jason McElwain) comes off the bench and wins our hearts by sinking six 3-pointers in the final minutes of that high school game.
The next day, some of us recalled that poignant moment and then wept quietly at our office cubicles.
Well, some of us didn't.
And that's not solely because we don't work in an office cubicle.
It's because most of us iconoclasts see right through melancholy and melodrama.
As a full-fledged iconoclast, it's essential to spot the "con".

The truth is, America's acknowledgement of autism evaporated the very moment that EspyTime returned to its regularly-scheduled programming ... y'know, the hard-hitting issues such as: “Sunday Conversation: Should Roger Clemens pitch in the WBC?” … or the poll: “Will Roger Clemens pitch for the Astros this season?" (log on and vote now!)… will the Clippers make a run in the Western Division? … does Roger Clemens like the Clippers chances? … Carmelo missing a dunk … a breakdown of why Carmelo missed the dunk … Day 3 of Barry Bonds taking BP and shagging flies at spring training and trying to look natural and “not noticing” the cameras … more, more, more pf Sean Salisbury violating your TV space and, thereby, violating you.

EspyTime Theater is adorable the way that it provides one of those "Jeepers, that's swell" stories just to show “how much we really care” (sniff).
It’s so fashionable.

While those highlights were EspyTime Theater's version of "Autism Week In Review," a few questions spring to mind. Such as:
--- Did EspyTime acquire that video clip of Jason McElwain because the network dispatched its “Today’s Autistic Athlete” correspondent to the game?
--- If the kid’s good enough to drain six treys in the final minutes of a ballgame, then why didn’t he start the game?
--- If his team wasn't winning by 20 in those final four minutes, what then?

Seems to us as though maybe, earlier in the season, Jason McElwain's autism might've "gotten in the way."
So, the kid was allowed to do something safe ... such as handing out towels during timeouts. Then, once the timeout was over, he could go back to "staying out of the way" with his pesky autism.
A few weeks ago, America didn't need Jason McElwain as a prop for "theater."

America has allowed EspyTime Theater to lead it down this path before -- to yield to "feel-good stories" which are extremely misleading. And, the knee-jerk reaction is usually, "Jason McElwain -- whose name I didn't know 15 minutes ago -- was living out his dream."

For the record, EspyTime Theater returned to earth two days after airing the heroism of Jason McElwain by devoting as much time (less than one minute) on late-Friday’s SporkCenter to the winner of the “Hairy Back” winner at an NBA game.
Yup … Fatso with the fur all over his shirtless torso … posing topless at midcourt of an NBA arena … sure brings tears to your eyes, don’t it, Jeremy (or whatever your name is, Forgotten Autistic 3-Point Maker)?
(Note: It can’t ALWAYS be about the autistic kids because, dammit, flabby freaks with hair all over their backs have dreams, too)

Sensitive creature that it is, ESPN aired a BETTER piece on its Friday 6 o’clock SportsCenter ... Chris Connelly narrating a 5-minute piece about the Pop Warner Challenger League in East Greenbush, N.Y.
The league is for kids with disabilities who want to play football and who face everyday challenges which are greater than coming off the bench to pop six treys.
Those kids' stories/situations will rip yer guts out.

Not that Jason McElwain isn't challenged -- it's just that EspyTime gave America only a 15-30-second peek inside Jason McElwain's world.
Thus, EspyTime gathered material for an Espy Awards show without twisting our arms to either recognize or understand autism.
That's your autism snapshot, America -- less than 30 seconds of warm n' fuzziness to recollect for when you forget the kid's name next week.
For a lot of us, we learned everything there is to know about autism in "Rain Man."

"Five minutes 'til Wapner."

Maybe there are guys out there who are prepared to take this Jason McElwain thing to the next level ... such as Sharpie-ing the initials “J M” on the left sleeve of their dress shirts, then, while out at happy hour, brazenly approaching a 36-24-26 so that they can point to the sleeve and say, "That’s
for my little buddy, Jeremy McElroy ... the guy you saw on SportsCenter the other night ... that little dude who demonstrated a triumph of the human spirit when he was singlehandedly leading his basketball team to the city championship. That little kid is autistic. Here ... it's on my ESPN Mobile phone, check it out. I don't work with autistic kids right now, but I plan to. Y'know, someday, they’re gonna invent a cure for autism or pass legislation that'll outlaw autism, but, until they do, all we can do is keep praying as we fight the good fight."
(Heavy sigh for melodrama and ... five ... four ... three ... two ... one ...)
"That is soooo sweet. You're very sensitive."

With the proper Owen Wilson softness and inflection in your voice, yes, you can play "Autism To Win" and bed that little feminita who you plied with margaritas.
It's called "raising awareness."
Best of all ... it's for the kids.

Once we're done "fightin' for the cause," we can go back to bashing T.O. and hatin' on Bonds -- because those are concepts we understand.
Now that Jason or Jeremy or whatever has served his purpose, when someone asks us about autism, we can shrug and say, "Yeah, that's the thing that Boomer Esiason's kid has."
Oops... cystic fibrosis, whatever ...
If Boomer's kid is so special, why ain't he poppin' in six treys in the final minutes?

Maybe we'd all feel a little better if the coach of Johnny McElray's allowed a wheelchair-bound teen to play the final five minutes of a non-league game next season.
Then again, wheelcahir b-ballers are losers for one very specific reason.
They can't dunk.
And that doesn't fit into the EspyTime Theater paradigm of "Trendy Diseases & Afflictions."

Besides, do you have any idea how difficult it is to pick up a wheelchair b-baller (in his wheelchair) and carry him off the court on your shoulders after he sinks the game-winning three?

People with real, everyday struggles ... what a pain in the ass ...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Fallen Heroes, Flaming Heteros

While surfing for some Curt Gowdy data the other day (after learning of his passing less than an hour after I had included his name in that day's Pitchfork pontification), I stumbled across a site (which shall remain unnamed) and scrolled through the thumbnail high points:
Born: 31-Jul-1919
Birthplace: Green River, WY
Died: 20-Feb-2006
Location of death: Palm Beach, FL
Cause of death: Cancer - Leukemia
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Radio Personality, Journalist
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Voice of the Red Sox
Military service: US Army Air Corps

For a lot of us, Curt Gowdy will remain as that inimitable voice in our minds ... that friendly, folksy narrator of our favorite Rose Bowl, our favorite Super Bowl or our favorite World Series.
So uncluttered.
To others, Curt Gowdy will be remembered as the Straight White Male US Army Air Corps Voice of the Red Sox Radio Personality Journalist who was born in Green River, Wyoming and died of leukemia in Palm Beach.
Notice how "straight" was listed first.

Curt Gowdy's passing makes a lot of us (well, me n' Smitty, anyway) ponder our own immortality in conjunction with the epitaph slated for our own grave plates.
It's very important to make sure that the paperwork at the county clerk's office is typed up professionally and adequately.
Y'know, delicate matters which extend beyond the Page 9 obit -- "sexual orientation."
My worst fear is the day when Mrs. PF7 is walking out of the county clerk's office with the urn of the Former PF7's ashes tucked under her arm and then, when she gets to the car, notices that there's a misprint or two on Line 15(c): "Sexual orientation: N/A."

No one wants to die as an "N/A."
But, that's the burden of every dead hetero and every soon-to-be-dead hetero (I mean, if I keep wolfing down cigs at this rate) ... ensuring that the S.O. Paradigm is adequate and operational.
Curt Gowdy did -- and now, most of us Americans who viewed him as somewhat iconic, can sleep at night.
Quality announcer ... respected outdoorsman ... digs the ladies.

Still, ya can't help but wonder if when it comes to submitting paperwork to That Big Processor In The Sky, if maybe you can't distinguish varying degrees of straight-ness.
I'm shooting for an upgrade from "N/A" to "undeniably straight." That would definitely contradict the reports from my college days when those gals' assessment reports graded me out with remarks ranging from "borderline straight" to "clumsily hetero" to "hard to say ... he always sings along to that 'Rio' video by 'Duran Duran.' "
What can I say? It was a jaunty, light-hearted song that didn't get all preachy and ...

Hey, we're talkin' 'bout Curt Gowdy, not me.
And, when it comes to sportscasters' sexuality, I usually leave such matters to CNN's Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room" (sitting in for Wolf today: Kitty Pilgrim).
It's refreshing that somebody out there has addressed the public's right to know in matters of Curt Gowdy's sexuality. It takes too much time to research whether he was a good husband and a proud father and a reliable friend, so, at least the nuts n' bolts were listed.
Kinda makes me wonder that if I go surfing for data on, oh, let's say another sportscaster, such as Marv Albert. What will I find in his S.O. Paradigm.
Answer: Straight.*
(Note: The asterisk means "extenuating circumstances," circa 1997)

Sorry ... I'm not interested in learning if Mike Tirico is gay or straight, but that ESPN book from a few years ago didn't paint him in a good light.
Sexual innuendo aside, America's 2006 Monday Night Football audience is going to absolutely adore the manner in which Tirico has an orgasm every time a running back breaks into the clear and HE'S AT THE 30! THE 20! THE 10!
For us college football diehards, we've been earwitnesses to such broadcasting.
Tirico ... good for golf, but ...

Personally, I care a lot more if a sportscaster is a straight-shooter who likes his whiskey straight rather than the knowledge of whether he's gay or straight.
But, in the name of fairness, it's good to be thorough when completing the bio.
On the other hand, when Curt Gowdy was calling Super Bowl VII, he could've watched that botched Yepremian field goal/fumble-pass unfolding and, without getting into hot water, could've said, "That was one queer play, Al! But, the Redskins are back in the game and they sure look gay."

As you would expect, I can incorporate Curt Gowdy into a "What does this have to do with the Steelers winning the Super Bowl?" since, after all, it was Curt Gowdy who was doin' the play-by-play for NBC in Super Bowl IX when the Steelers won their first. And, he was there for Super Bowl XIII when the Steelers beat Dallas, 35-31.

One of Tom Landry's Dallas assistant coaches back in those days was Ernie Stautner, who -- I'm sexually at ease with myself to say -- was a handsome, silver-haired man with firm, square jaw and the broad shoulders even though Landry, back in the day, had all of his assistants wearing those powder-blue sweaters.
Probably just as many people who didn't realize that Ernie Stautner passed away last week also don't realize that Ernie Stautner is the Hall of Famer who spent 14 years (1950-63) playing for some god-awful Steeler teams.

And, Ernie Stautner's jersey #70 is the only one that the Steelers have officially retired. I've often thought about retired Steeler jersey numbers every time that I think about Antwaan Randle El wearing John Stallworth's #82 and Matt Kranchick (yeah, THAT Matt Kranchick) being the most-recent of many to wear Swannie's #88.
It seems as though Bradshaw's #12 is unofficially permanently off-limits ... same deal with Franco's #32, Lambert's #58, Ham's #59, and Mean Joe's #75.
Scott Shields (yeah, THAT Scott Shields) was wearing Mel Blount's #47 a few years ago and Willie Parker was wearing Bobby Walden's #39.
How dare he!
When Rod Woodson gets into the Hall of Fame a few years from now, will Deshea Townsend still be around wearing #26? And, will that jersey number, too, be unofficially off-limits?

It's times like these when I wish Steve Sabol would toss me the keys to the NFL Films warehouse and say, "Go nuts."
Just so I could track down some archived Ernie Stautner footage.
And a few of the A-list games which Curt Gowdy announced.

In case you're keeping score at home re: Ernie Stautner:
Born: 20-Apr-1925
Birthplace: Prinzing-by-Cham, Germany
College: Boston College
Occupation: Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle, Dallas Cowboys assistant coach
Sexual orientation: Does slamming QBs STRAIGHT to the ground count?
Years played in NFL: 1950-1963
Hall of Fame: 1969

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Jekel & Hide Weekend

That wasn't much of a Bracketbuster Saturday, EspyTime!
You're to blame, Jekel Foster.
Here's why:
I'd already hosted the dedication ceremony for a "Fabulous Foster February" when the Ohio State guard sank 7 of 8 three-balls against Minnesota on Feb. 4, drained sank 5 of 6 trifectas against Michigan on Feb. 9 and buried 6 of 8 treys against Illinois on Feb. 12.
In this, the United States of 37 Percent 3-Point-Makers, I viewed Foster's 18-of-22 spurt as a ray of hope for those of us who'd like to see the U.S. strive to become more than a land of 37 percent 3-point makers (which'll lead to the U.S. outsourcing 3-point shooting to overseas markets).
Foster broke my heart on Thurs. when he went 1 of 5 on 3-balls vs. Wisconsin and then compounded my agony on Sat. when he was 0 of 6 vs. Northwestern.
There went my "Pick To Click."

Bracketbuster? About the only bracket which got busted over the weekend were the ones in offices across this great land which had Lindsey Jacobellis winning the gold medal in that funky, new made-for-Americans X Games moto-cross snowboard event.
Other than that, Roundball America still has (and will continue to have) Duke and U-Conn in its NCAA office-pool bracket.
Those two teams, I've heard are super! scintillating! sensational!
(Sidebar, Your Honour: I'm hoping that Egghead Vitale, who was recently nominated for the basketball Hall of Fame, gets elected when the announcement comes down on Apr. 3. Let's face it, Egghead revolutionized the game by stringing together catch-phrases such as "super! scintillating! sensational!" and "Diaper Dandy" and "PTP'er" and "bay-beee!" at the end of dunks ... not to mention that keen insight such as "So-and-so needs to shoot better" and "So-and-so has to avoid the turnovers" ... if I had a vote, I'd vote for Egghead five times, possibly six. And Smitty sez if he had a Hall of Fame vote, he'd vote for Egghead seven times because of the pioneering manner in which he added "Windex" to our lexicon. Smitty sez it doesn't matter that the guy couldn't play and couldn't coach, he invented PTP'er, bayyy-bee ... )

Anyway, Jekel and Lindsey really ripped my heart out this weekend. Thank goodness EspyTime's "College GameDay" bailed out America out on Saturday morning. Wait ... I can't watch that (not unless they resurrect the Wazzu Flag which made autumn Saturdays worth living). So, instead, I completely immersed myself in what EspyTime Theater aired in the time slot immediately following College GameDay -- the replay of the college football skills competition which EspyTime has replayed about five times since it originally aired two Saturdays ago.
That's a winner for me on three levels: 1) No 37 percent 3-point shooters to clog up my colon with their 37 percent 3-point shooting 2) A chance to reunite with my boy Charlie Whitehurst of Clemson and 3) Erin Andrews in that green sweater.
When Erin Andrews smiles, my brackets get all smudgy.
Same deal for Smitty.
Lindsey has no effect on us whatsoever.
Not even if she was snowboarding nude (which she will be when that becomes an Olympic event in 2014).

By the way, Costas had Lindsey on the hot seat on Friday's NBC late-night show, but Bob and his L'Oreal dye job didn't give me much insight.
For one thing, Bob & His Dye Job didn't ask about whether Lindsey's zooming-downhill thoughts might've drifted toward imagining her VISA Card getting stolen.
Anonymous N.E. Patriots Lineman-In-Full-Game-Gear-While-Seated-At-The-Restaurant-Table says, "Metaphors ..."

By the time I was done cursing the Patriots and wondering why Costas wasn't asking Lindsey about what she thought of the Steelers winning the Super Bowl, bingo! ... I found myself watching 5 minutes of Olympic action on Sunday and there he was, sittin' across from Costas in a big, comfy chair.
"J-Bet" (show me where it's written that we HAVE to call him "Bus" all the time).

Bettis is in Torino and since America couldn't get enough of The Bus at the beginning of February (and since none of us has any interest in visiting "" or what the status is of Lindsey's stolen VISA Card), B-Cost was almost giddy when telling America that J-Bet will be visiting American living rooms this autumn when NBC unveils its "Football Night In America" show on NBC.
Once America sees wall-to-wall Bus on the 53-inch plasma, America will reach into its pocket (the pocket opposite the one where the Terrible Towel is stuffed) and pull out a mini American flag to wave furiously while chanting, "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"
(Sidebar, Your Honour: B-Cost was asked J-Bet if he could relate to Lindsey's wipeout, since it was like his fumble -- but The Bus missed the bus and didn't respond with something witty such as, "Lindsey sure could've used someone like Big Ben out there to tackle the girl who was boarding past and taking the gold medal which belonged to Lindsey.")

The point is, NBC ... the network which gave America the voice of Curt Gowdy and Dick Enberg during all of those memorable AFC games way back before the '90s (and which gave us the Red Network, the White Network and the Blue Network as part of the Triplecast Olympic package) ... is back in the NFL biz.
Of course, NBC also gave us Bryant Gumbel, but, don't despair. He told me to stay away from the Olympics because it, apparently, ain't ghetto enough, so, when it comes to gold medalist Shani Davis, nope ... never heard of him.
I'm sure I must've been watching BET at the time.

Yeah, I heard that there were other big-time events worth checkin' out during the weekend, such as the Daytona 500 and the NBA All-Star Game. I didn't see the restrictor-plate auto race, but I did see something on one of EspyTime's SporkCenter segments which America might never see again -- Chris Fowler with his hair un-gelled.
The morning Florida breeze left Fowler's hair uncharacteristically tossled -- to, which, no doubt, he returned to his trailer, applied the product, looked in the mirror and said, "Oh, you are so gellin'. And, I am cuter than Herb Kirkstreit, I am cuter than Herb Kirkstreit, I am cuter than Herb Kirkstreit ... "

There you have it: A weekend which was a little jumbled and disorganized, sports-platter-wise.
Funny thing is, Mrs. PF7 and I had every intention of watching "Knight School" at 10 o'clock Sunday night as part of EspyTime Theater's "original programming."
Then, we forgot.
Maybe Smitty TiVo'ed it for us.
We might've lost our focus once I took over the clicker and surfed over to Comcast to peek in on five minutes of UCLA and USC and then felt short-changed when 'SC's Abdoulaye Ndiaye didn't dunk over Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and talk smack with, "Cameroon sucks!" which would've led to Mbah a Moute returning the favor by dunking over Ndiaye and screaming, "Senegal sucks worse!"
So, I think I might've clicked back to BET to make Gumbel proud.

Back to the gospel according to "Knight School" ... he's that guy who coaches at O'Reilly Auto Parts Tech, right? I've seen that guy before. His team plays its home games in an arena wherein the O'Reilly Auto Parts logo is on each player's chair, the O'Reilly Auto Parts logo is on the floor not too far from the chairs with the O'Reilly Auto Parts logo and another O'Reilly Auto Parts logo is on a large display in front of the scorer's table.
What I don't see is O'Reilly Auto Parts in the rankings, not to mention very high in the Big XII standings.

LUCKY FOR YOU N' ME, Smitty (and Roundball America!) O'Reilly Auto Parts is on EspyTime's Theater's "Big Monday" package tonight.
O'Reilly Auto Parts will tangle with the Sooner Schooner as part of EspyTime's "Judgment Week."
(Sidebar, Your Honour: My preliminary judgment: "Weak.")

Anyway, what intrigues me about O'Reilly Auto Parts vs. Sooner Schooner is, ummm ... these are football schools. What business have they playing basketball?
If nothing else, viewers will get a healthy dose of Patrick Knight doin' a formidable job of assistant coaching by doing what he does every game: Fastening his elbows to his knees, keeping track of the timeouts remaining and wearing Kevlar ear plugs to block out Daddy's profanity.

I don't want to give it away, but I've seen this game a dozen times. A sneak preview follows: A lot of standing around by O'Reilly Auto Parts players and a lot of sitting around with a far-away look in the eyes of Patrick.
On the flip side, here's your Sooner Schooner teaser: A lot of mediocre kids doing a lot of mediocre things. I see OU shooting anywhere from 35-38 percent on 3-balls (y'know, somewhere in that 8 of 22 range ... that is, if they assert themselves).
Final: 73-66.

Now, that I've spilled the beans, there's no reason for Deadspin to commission me for a running blog.
Okay, America ... let's get out there in the snow and see if we can find Lindsey's stolen gold medal and stolen VISA Card ...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Hoosier Hundred Cloak (& Dagger) Room

The reason why many of us found Mike Davis objectionable was because, in the “Pantheon of Memorable Mike Davises,” Mike Davis was only our third-favorite Mike Davis.
And, that was because we couldn’t think of any other Mike Davises to rank ahead of Mike Davis.
As it was, we remembered that Mike Davis was the Oakland Raider DB who made that end-zone interception of that Brian Sipe pass intended for Ozzie Newsome in the waning moments of that AFC playoff game in Jan. ’81 … the pass which broke Cleveland’s heart and secured the Raiders’ 14-12 victory en route to the world championship.
And, we never forgot that Mike Davis was the Oakland Athletic who coaxed a walk from Dennis Eckersley before Kirk Gibson’s “I-don’t-believe-what-I-just-saw!” homer to win Game 1 of the ’88 World Series.
So, while there was a Mike Davis who was either saving Oakland or sinking Oakland, there was never a Mike Davis who won the hearts of Bloomingtonians.

The only reason that I care is because Mrs. PF7 is an Indiana alumnae, which means that she was there for the championship run in ’87 and she was in the gym the night when Knight slid the chair across the court in her direction.
The Mrs. has plenty of dandy behind-the-scenes stories, not the least of which is when she told me about Lawrence Funderburke’s recruiting visit and how he wouldn't go out to dinner with the fellow b-ballers, instead opting for an evening in with a bowl, possibly two, of Sugar Smacks cereal.

While such an anecdote may paint Lawrence Funderburke as someone who was anti-social or aloof, that’s not the mission here. Truth be told, I’d like to reach out to Big Funder (if that is, in fact, what anyone called him) get his thoughts about where he was and what he was doing the day when Sugar Smacks and Super Sugar Crisp became "Honey Smacks" and "Golden Crisp," respectively.
Of course, leave it to Kellogg’s to keep its Sugar Smacks mascot, Dig ‘Em (the cartoon frog), and Post to retain the rights to Sugar Bear to pitch their puffed-wheat cereals.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know … you can’t have cereals with the word “sugar” in the name because sugar became the anti-Christ sometime in the early ‘90s (when America started to go into full-blown denial, as demonstrated by putting a shotgun in its mouth by electing Preisdent Bubba to two terms).
Look … I’m not saying that Bush is appreciably better – it’s just that I don’t think sugar should be stigmatized to the point where parents are psyched out into believing that the cereals they’re buying are either “Crack Smacks” or “Crystal Meth Crisp” just because the word “sugar” appears in bold letters on the box.

Which takes us back to our third-favorite Mike Davis. He definitely seemed to have sugar-sweetened, puffed wheat for brains when it came to various basketball concepts, not to mention b-ball concepts as they pertain to IU.

And, it wasn't the color of skin that seemed like a problem. More like the "thickness" of his skin.

From what we've seen and heard, Mike Davis is a thin-skinned, troubled individual who says things which sugar-smack of paranoia and hypocrisy.
Or stupidity – such as those two gems he had from early in the ‘02/’03 season, less than eight months after he led Knight’s recruits to the NCAA title game.
Davis said, “I think that understanding the pro game is half the battle.
To compound our confusion, he said, “I want Indiana to have more players in the NBA than any other school.”

The first inclination is to laugh and say, “Okay, Coach … that’s a good one. You crack me up.”
Then, when you see that he's serious (well, "serious" in the Mike Davis sense), you want to host the intervention that gets Coach Davis to kick the floor-wax-huffing addiction for good.

The fact that he used the terms “pro” and “NBA” less than one year after those yokels Coverdale and Fife and Odle and Hornsby (along with the mostly-ordinary Jared Jefferies) were the best players on the roster he inherited, well … it was reminiscent of the basketball scene in “Cuckoo’s Nest” [which is the greatest basketball scene in the history of cinema, sorry, Jimmy Chitwood … your elegant jumper for Hickory High can never measure up to Martini (Danny Devito) taking the inbounds pass from McMurphy (Nicholson) and, in one, hot-potato motion, happily and psychotically flinging the ball against the chain-link fence … 30 years later, there’s remains nuthin’ better than to hear Nicholson’s high-pitched ranting and raving in what SHOULD have been the way Davis reacted any time one of his 31 percent 3-point shooters decided to jack one up from 22 feet and hit nothing but chain-link fence].
Yup ... Coverdale, Fife and Martini in a stylish NBA, three-guard offense. Nice guys...scrappers...NBA?

Oh, definitely...

Through the years, Davis’ comments (like the ones above) were usually vapid and his body language was always wrong. For example, it’s almost impossible to forget the expression on his face when, during the final seconds of his upset win over Duke in the ’02 Sweet 16, Fife fouled (Jayson Williams, I think) as he was making a 3 when IU had a 4-point lead w/ :04 or :03 on the clock.
On the replay, the CBS cameras captured Davis’ reaction as the foul was being whistled and the ball was going through the hoop, etc …
Davis acted with such oh-my-god-what-are-you-doing? incredulity at the horror he was witnessing – as if Dane Fife was either committing some act of high treason or, possibly, holding a kitten’s head under water in the bath tub.
Alright already, we know he wears his heart on his sleeve, but that "I'm-about-to-explode-into-tears" look, ummm ... how is that any worse than Knight barking expletives at Fife?
Fact is ... it isn't.
So, settle down, Coach. Remain stoic so as to instill confidence in the lads.
After all, Martini didn’t mean to throw the ball against the fence …

Mike Davis led us to believe that there was a lot of “pressure” to live up to Knight's legacy. With an annual salary of anywhere between $500K and a mil, seems as though Mike should've heeded the words of Inspector Callahan when he slid off his slacks so that the doctor wouldn't have to slice up the pant leg to treat the gunshot wound.
Doc: "It'll hurt."
Harry: "For $29.50, let it hurt."

Mike Davis wore trousers priced higher than $29.50, although that didn't stop him from standing in his pleated pants, gesturing and orchestrating a team which, like Knight's final five teams, was marginally-talented and mostly-disorganized.
What's so pressure-packed about that?
“Pressure” is goin’ to work every day in a coal mine or grinding out a living in a blue-collar job, not putting on a $500 blazer and shouting directions to players who might've tuned you out a month ago.
There's a word for a job like that.
It's called "cush."

I read something recently about how, in terms of the ’02 run to the title game, yes, those were Knight’s players in theory, but it was Davis who coaxed Jeffries, Newton and Moye to come to IU and it was Davis who somehow made Coverdale more than a bench-warmer and it was Davis who got that pretty flower Dane Fife to become more “Dane-gerous.”
What a bunch of B.S.

For anyone who watched Coverdale or Newton or Fife back then (and later Bracey Wright and George Leach), what you saw were guys who could offer anywhere from 15-23 points one night and in the next game, provide two points, no rebounds, five turnovers, no assists and three fouls the next night.
The best case in point came during that ’02 tourney when IU fell into a 16-point hole against Duke and then Coach Shuh-Sheff-Skee said, “Carlos Boozer seems as though he’s scoring too easily; let’s allow our Hoosier opponent to get back into this game by NOT getting the ball to Boozer for the next 15 or 20 minutes.”
When IU beat Kent State in the Elite Eight, the good times rolled when the H-Men sank 15 of 19 from 3-point range (I seem to recall a pass ricocheting off of Odle’s elbow, caroming off Hornsby’s forehead and bouncing off of Fife’s shoulder and into the basket for threeeeeeeeeeee!!!!)

That ’02 tournament run was classic because it was a textbook example of how coaches can out-stupid one another. In the Final Four, when IU went up against Oklahoma, Sooner coach Kelvin Sampson – forgetting that he had four players on his team who were 80 percent foul shooters – figured, “okay, let’s shoot ill-advised 3-balls instead of getting IU into foul trouble.”

Well, some normalcy was established in the title game when the team with the best talent and the best chemistry (Maryland) defeated the team which could not locate its 15-of-19, three-ball mojo.
“Understanding the pro game is half the battle ...” – which is pretty much why Jarrad Odle inked a contract to become the NBA’s next Vanilla Von Dunkenburg immediately after the postgame show.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Jarrod Odle or Patrick Ewing, Jr. … the college game isn’t about living up to someone else’s “legacy” … it’s more about about developing game-to-game teamwork and a level of consistency. The Davis recruits which had no attachment to Knight were not, from what anyone could see, appreciably better than when they arrived in Bloomington.
And, if Davis was so keen on the NBA game, why didn’t he pattern his team’s style of play after the Spurs or the Pistons?
Answer: Because he’s not much of a coach, a judgment which was the sum of his in-game X’s and O’s and the unit on the floor which seemed to accomplish little in practice (except maybe shooting indiscrimate threes).

To wit, two years ago, after the Hooters lost to Illinois in the Big Ten tourney to finish 14-15, Moye said, “It hurts because it comes down to pride. If we were 14-15 and we gave it everything we had this year, I’d be OK with that. But we didn’t.”

Giving it everything you have?
Can Coach help with those principles?
Right … if the team actually has a coach.
And not a bellyacher.

Seems as though matters of pride and lack of intensity – nearly four years after Knight’s departure – would fall squarely in the lap of Davis. The H-Men, as Moye implied, didn’t “give it everything they had” because Coach found it easier to accuse the pressure of high expectations as to why his team was sloppy … or why the low-post players looked lost in the low-post … or why the offense had no flow and took questionable 3-point shots … or why his players couldn't hound the opponent on the defensive end ... or why they would get beaten on the boards …

Mike Davis was run out of town, figuratively, before he ran out of excuses. He could’ve told the Knight Faithful to cram it, taking the offensive with, “Hey, I went to as many Final Fours as Huggins did” or, better yet, he could’ve played the race card and said, “Was Branch McCracken the racist that people like Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson said he was?"

It’s funny, but when referring to those final games of the ’04 season, Davis allowed bench-warmer Mark Johnson to play in the final two games. In the win over Ohio State and the loss to the Illini, Johnson – who had scored 31 points in his IU career – was 7 of 15 from the floor (all 3-point attempts) and was 8 for 8 from the line.
Now, THAT actually was a move which made some sense ... inserting a benchwarmer because the stars weren’t delivering.
Sure, maybe Johnson was playing with a nothing-to-lose mentality, but maybe he would’ve been that way a lot earlier in the season if someone had given him a chance.
And, if Patrick Ewing, Jr. had transferred out sooner.

Aside from the fact that he was a sub-par coach and an inadequate recruiter, Mike Davis actually DID live up to the standards of Knight in the final five years in Bloomington – having a team look out of sync and playing like crap in just about every road game.
All while wearing the peppermint-striped warm-up pants.

Of course, those IU elitists who hang their winter coats and jackets in the Hoosier Hundred Cloak Room (I laughed my ass off when I saw where IU's finest hang their cloaks when the Mrs. took me to my one IU game in Assembly Hall ten years ago) are becoming Nervous Nellies because they're seeing what has happened at Purdue and how swiftly an elite team can become the Big Ten doormat.
Now, they're looking to Steve Alford as the savior.

Alford’s tele-conference on Friday was a real hoot. Every question was met with Alford’s pre-written reply of, “My entire focus and energy is helping my team win a Big Ten championship and get ready for the N-C-Double-A tournament. This is my only concern.”
“Hi, Coach, ummm … Sugar Smacks becoming Honey Smacks and Super Sugar Crisp transitioning to Golden Crisp, ummm … your thoughts?”
“My entire focus and energy is helping my team win a Big Ten championship and get ready for the N-C-Double-A tournament. This is my only concern.”

The situation is interesting for the H-Men of B-Town. Through it all, though, the lingering question lingers still: “How can we give the IU b-ball matter a Steelers’ Super Bowl victory tie-in?”
That’s pretty easy once you consider that, on the front cover of this Indiana Hoosiers Media Guide & Yearbook ‘99/’00 (Knight’s final season) is A.J. Guyton (the Mrs. and I loved that kid) and, on the inside cover (lower left corner) there’s a color depiction of No. 10 D-ing up against Ball State … ANTWAAN RANDLE EL!!!

Antwaan Randle El can tell Mike Davis a thing or two about pressure at Indiana, although, in ‘Twon’s case, it was the pressure of being chased by a Buckeye or Badger or ‘Boiler linebacker and then getting pulverized by the Buckeye or Badger or ‘Boiler linebacker.
‘Twon didn’t say, “Maybe Indiana needs a quarterback more like what they’re used to … y’know, like a Trent Green or a Babe Laufenberg.”
‘Twon just kept pluggin’ away and makin’ magical plays.
When he wasn't running for dear life.

His knack for playmaking did not go unnoticed, which is funny to think about once you rewind your mind to the ’02 NFL draft. After the Steelers spent their first-round pick on guard Kendall Simmons out of Auburn (a perfectly-acceptable selection), the team braintrust raised a few eyebrows by drafting Randle El as a receiver with the 62nd pick in the draft ahead of Pittsburgh Panthers wideout Antonio Bryant (who was chosen by Dallas with the next pick) and Louisville’s Deion Branch (who was taken by New England three picks later).

It seemed like a head-scratcher at the time ... like some sort of crazy ploy to replace Kordell Stewart (a.k.a. "Slash") with "Slash II" or "The New Slash" or "Second Slash" or "National Lampoon's European Slash-cation."

Sorry … my bad.

Although he was in his Indiana jersey at the time, Antwaan Randle El was not eligible to play (a freshman non-qualifier) when the Mrs. took me to my only IU football game (a 37-0 loss at home to Michigan in Sept. ’97).
All I remember about that game against the eventual national co-champs is that by the time the Mrs. and I were hitting the apparel racks inside the Big Red Gift Center, Michigan had pulled starting QB Brian Griese in favor of the garbage-time QB.
Some sophomore scrub named Tom Brady.

For the IU diehards, they remember the ’97 football season as a time when the Hoosier defense had two performers with great talent and great names – Adewale Ogunleye and Kywin Supernaw – but little else.
Of course, that ’97 season marked the first year for a new head coach who made a bold statement when he played God by switching the school colors, thus replacing crimson helmets and crimson jerseys with black helmets and blood-red jerseys.
All that was missing, in the minds of the Hoosier Hundred Cloak Room, was the peppermint-striped pants.

Either way, by referencing the ’97 season, we’ve ended our search for “Who’s Replacing The Guy Who Couldn’t Replace Knight?”

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back “one of our own” … MALCOLM “CAM” CAMERON!!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Smitty's Under The Bus

When Count Dan-ula (the EspyTime Radio host, 6 o'clock SporkCenter anchor and wanna-be vampire who sometimes flip-flops his weak dye job between "chestnut" and "darker chestnut") was wasting a perfectly good Monday by putting Michelle Kwan on trial, I asked mysef the obvious question:
"What does this have to do with the Steelers winning Super Bowl XL?"

When my friend Smitty berated me for hangin' onto SBXL memories a week after the fact, I explained my hard-line stance by reasoning that America pours its energy into two weeks of creating momentum and buzz for a Super Sunday and then, three days after the event, the game plan is to move on to a quickie peek at the Pro Bowl before and we hurry up to wait around for pre- and post-Draft Day posturing re: the Terrible Towels going "back-to-back."
Does this make sense? I asked Smitty.

Smitty asked me to repeat the question.

I told Smitty that I was instituting a new policy which I was penciling into my day-planner:
"If we need TWO weeks of Steelers build-up, then we need THREE weeks of Steelers recapitulation and decompression.”
That's my policy.
When Smitty asked if the policy was iron-clad, I offered two of my fave Y2K05/06 cliches and said, "It is what it is. Let's not throw it under the bus."

OKAY ... so I don't actually have a friend named "Smitty."
And, now that I look around this dump, I don't really have a day-planner, either.
Or a pencil.
And I don’t even know The Bus.
More to the point, Smitty is that best buddy who lives inside us all ... that voice inside the head of each of us (although the voice inside Coach Cowher's head is actually that of Ken Whisenhunt coming through the ear-piece inside the NFL-approved Motorola headset).

Simply put, Michelle Kwan's groin is none of my beeswax for two reasons: 1) The minute we start talking about girls' groins, pretty soon we're moving up the food chain to the inner thigh and ... well ... 2) What does Michelle Kwan's inner thigh have to do with Kristi Yamaguchi, the greatest Olympic gold medalist skater there ever was?
Riddle me that, Smitty.

EspyTime and Dracula Dan Patrick can’t see that Yamaguchi can skate circles around Kwan, but that’s mostly because Dan-ula is L’Oreal and he’s worth it.
So, imagine how EspyTime, the TV version, surprised the bajabbers outta me Monday when I accidentally stumbled into "NFL Films Pre

sents ... " - - and, son of a biscuit, I’ll be damned if what was on my screen wasn’t the highlight presentation of Super Bowl 40.
As long as EspyTime Theater maintains its alliance with NFL Films, there'll always remain that one tiny sliver of respectability.

And what a presentation I saw, one week post-facto. While the victory nine days ago was gratifying, “official” gratification is not fully achieved until NFL Films takes a triumph like that and cross-breeds the slo-mo, the multitude of camera angles and, of course, sprinkles in the rich, orchestral textures of the French horn, the cello and those big, bold, booming bass drums (my untrained ear might’ve heard an oboe or a contra bassoon, but don’t quote me on that).
Either way, once the engineering is complete, it sure reminds ya of when you were a kid and you’d watch something from NFL Films then you’d go out in the yard and have your brother throw you a pass in slo-mo as you made the catch in slo-mo, lowered your shoulder in slo-mo, banged into the hedge in slo-mo, rolled out of the shrubbery’s tackle in slo-mo and landed on the neighbor’s lawn in slo-mo.
Wait for it …

Slo-mo spike coming up …

For the record: Ed Sabol and his son, Steve … frickin' geniuses.

The SBXL recap was everything that I might've hoped for (and more, probably) -- with one possible exception. Since the NFL Films microphones provide sound bytes which are revealing, sometimes the viewer wishes that he could have helped out by scripting dialogue.

Case in point: When Coach Cowher had some of the boys gathered for the final mini-pep talk before they took the field, he barked, "You play smart, you stay focused and, above all, you play physical."
If me n’ Smitty are co-directing that scene, we likely would've had Cowher reading from the cue cards as he prepped the boys for battle with: "Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be ... and it will be so. Hold the line. Stay with me. If you find yourself alone riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium ... and you are already dead!

"Brothers ... what we do in life ... echoes in eternity."

Smitty's right, though ... something that prolific is less like Cowher and more like Cowher's mentor, Schottenheimer ... someone more given to quoting Maximus Decimus Meridius.
Then again, Marty would rather be Marty, as NFL mikes once told us.
“There’s a gleam, men. There’s a gleam …”

Smitty and I agree that, although the storylines are quite similar, the good part about Super Sunday vs. "Gladiator" is that, after overpowering and fatally wounding the wussy, effeminate, emotionally-crippled Seahawks, our Maximus didn't have to die.
Funny how NFL Films edited out the part where Jerramy Stevens looks at Joey Porter and says, “Are we so different you and I? You take life when you have to, as I do” – to which Porter fires back with, “I have only one life left to take. Then it is done.”
Stevens, leaning forward, whispers, “Then take it now!”

Yeah, Smitty and I wish they’d kept that in.
Nevertheless, NFL Films captured the sights and sounds brilliantly of everything else, namely the goal-line situation following the 3rd-and-28 conversion.
Polamalu, sized up the situation, and said to Cowher, “I’ll take it over the top, Coach.”
Apparently, Troy was volunteering to be the short-yardage back.
Then, as the Big Ben "TD or No TD?" was under review, Roethlisberger admitted on the sideline that he didn’t think he got in … and then when Randle El was debating with Larry Foote whether the ball broke the plane, Foote said, “I think the little tip of the ball touched it.”
Good eyes, Lare.
The ruling on the field stands!

Cowher definitely served up some interesting revelations.

While heading to the locker room at halftime: “We’re up … I’m not exactly sure how …”
Then, only moments before the Randle El reverse-option pass: “Hey, Wiz, we gotta keep playing. Don’t put the handcuffs on.”
Finally, as the final moments were ticking away, Cowher shook hands with Duce Staley and said, “Sorry I couldn’t get you a carry. I got you a ring, though.”

Hey, wait a minute, Smitty and I thought ... why didn’t Duce get a carry?
We're not going to get to the bottom of this as long as Count Dan-ula remains pre-occupied with shopping for Miss Clairol products (he, honest to God, said on the Monday show, “Gag me with a spoon” – and he wasn’t doing it for laughs), he’s probably never going to get to the bottom of why Duce didn’t get a carry or why we all forgot about Kristi Yamaguchi.
Like, I am so sure ...

And, as I’ve said before, if/when America wants the truth, NFL Films has all the answers.
That is, if/when America is ready to handle the truth ...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Wazzu Flag (On A "No Charlie" Saturday)

College GameDay blew it.
The setting couldn't have been more ideal.
Agreed: It is odd how EspyTime Theater's College GameDay for b-ball is in something like its fourth show of its first season ... trying to replicate the success of the College GameDay phenomenon for college football which EspyTime has used to rule this nation with an iron fist for something like the past 14 or 15 years.
By "rule this nation," I'm talking about the days before the show became a vehicle for the USC Trojans.

Anyway, as the basketball triumvirate of Rece, Digger & Bilas was in Spokane on Saturday making another futile attempt to capture the nation's imagination the way that Fowler, Corso and Herb Kirkstreit have (before they became mouthpieces for the USC Trojans), it dawned on me what was missing.
The Wazzu flag.
Look ... the only reason why I tuned in for college football's Game Day in '05 was just to see the maroon flag with the Washington State Cougars logo waving in the background (not to hear 15 weeks of Fowler & Co. map out the logistics of "Can Texas beat 'SC?").

By my as-official-as-it-gets count, that flag with the WSU logo shaped to look like a cougar was present for EVERY GameDay show.
Whether they were "on campus" in South Bend or Austin or State College, PA or camped out next to the L.A. Coliseum, that daggone flag was flapping back n' forth in the background.
That's right ... Fowler would be telling me why USC was unbeatable and one of the cameras would pan the crowd - - and there was that flag.
Herb Kirkstreit would be telling me why USC ranks as one of the greatest teams of the past 247 years - - and "heads up!" There it is! The WSU Cougar flag!
Corso would be telling me why Reggie Bush is the greatest player of all-time ever in the history of the universe (I'm talkin' all-time ... "ever!") - - and that damn Wazzu flag showed up in the background.

I don't know the whys or the wherefores -- and maybe it's better that way, just to keep a little bit of mystery in my life. I didn't need to know how that flag got there every week and I didn't need an up-close-and-personal on the network of masterminds who were behind the harmless-yet-original prank.
Naturally, when the b-ball GameDay'ers were inside "The Kennel" in Spokane, well ... the simple logic was that Spokane, Washington is practically Pullman, Washington, so keep your eyes peeled, everybody, because that flag WILL make an appearance.
All we got was Digger with that damn highlighter pen which matches his necktie.
Which, as we've learned, is mindless schtick to replace substance.

I needed that Wazzu flag to divert my attention to the fact that college basketball "break down" shows are sad, sorry affairs. Seriously, every b-ball game basically revolves around four issues -- and four issues only.
1) D up 2) Hit the boards 3) Take care of the ball 4) Hope/Pray/Wish/Pretend that any one of your so-called five or six "perimeter" players can drain more than 38 percent of his 3-balls.
Notice how I didn't mention "post play/attacking the paint" or "transition offense/transition defense."
Show me a game where those are factors.
It's not happ'nin'.
Which is why college b-ball is mostly banned from my household.

But, that doesn't keep me from enthusiastically engaging in one of my favorite hobbies -- scanning the college b-ball boxscores to see who sucks the worst when shootin' the rock.
To of my personal favorites this year are UCLA's Arron Afflalo and Michael Roll. What sets these teammates apart is that when one of them is having a bad Saturday, the other one picks up the slumping guy by having a WORSE Saturday.
And, believe me, these guys hate Saturday b-ball more than I do.

Ever since the calendar flipped from '05 to '06, Afflalo has turned Saturdays into his own personal black Sabbath.
Including games when he was 4-of-11 and 4-of-10 marksmanship on 3-balls, Afflalo is only 10 of 47 (21 percent) when hoisting the 20-footers in Saturday games.
Vitale or Digger would have you believe that Afflalo maybe has trouble "getting into the flow" or "establishing a rhythm" when the real-world answer is, "Dude can't drain a 3-ball because 19 feet, 9 inches is kinda sorta totally out of his range."
Wipe that smirk off your face, Michael Roll.
Since going 5 of 6 on 3-balls in a loss to U-Dub on Sat., Jan. 14, RarelyOnARoll has spent the past four Saturdays going 0 of 6 ... 0 of 3 ... 1 of 3 ... and 0 of 2 on 3-balls.
1 of 14 is, ummmm ... better than 0 of 14.
Take it to the bank: A 3-pt. FG % of 7 percent.
Oh, excuse me -- 7.14285 percent.
And, if next Saturday, Roll gets on a roll and misses 12 of 13 threes, his Saturday percentage will jump UP UP UP from 7.14285 to 7.4074.

This is how my Saturdays go when I don't have college football to cuddle with. I embark on fact-finding missions which, in the end, have the medicore getting steamrolled by their own mediocrity.
Maybe I'm just lonely without Charlie Whitehurst here for the third Saturday in a row.
Two Saturdays ago, the Clemson-QB-preparing-for-the-NFL knocked our socks off when he went 5 for 5 while engineering that TD drive in the Senior Bowl.
Didja see that TD pass to Joe Klopfenstein? As far as TD passes to Joe Klopfenstein are concerned, I can't recall a better one.

Last Sat., Charlie and I met up again when he was in that EspyTime college skillz competition. Charlie was the leader in the QB Scramble (obstacle course) event -- that is, until Vince Young set foot on the field and put the ball in the net from 40 yards and finished the course by rocketing his short pass through the hole which the other QBs turned into a clank job.
Seeing Charlie lose like that wasn't so bad because InVinceAble was money. It's just that EspyTime's Erin Andrews had to talk to the winner and, well ... Charlie wasn't the winner.
Then again, Anyone who gets a microphone shoved in his face by Erin Andrews is the real winner.
She is soooooo under-utilized by EspyTime.

Notwithstanding her loveliness-blending-with-total-professionalism, a Saturday without The Charlie Whitehurst Bonding Experience leaves me feeling a sense of estrangement. It reminds me of what Red said after Andy left Shawshank, y'know ... the bit about "some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But, still, the place that you live in is that much more drab and empty now that they're gone.
"I guess I just miss my friend."

Friday, February 10, 2006

THEY HATE WE (Steelers Postscript)

It wasn’t so long ago when we all enjoyed a hearty chuckle when that player who we didn't know, playing for a team we couldn't remember in a league we didn't understand or care about made a nation know him, remember him and understand him, all because of a unique name on the back of his game jersey:

We later came to learn that the player's real name is Rod Smart and, to date, he's done enough to stick around as a quality kickoff return guy in the NFL.
Many of us still don't remember which team Rod Smart played for in the now-defunct XFL, but just thinking about seeing HE HATE ME on the back of his jersey still makes us smile.
My personal postscript to that story surrounds the time when I was watching 15 minutes of a game in which HE HATE ME was playing -- and a player on another team which I can't remember had a cool name on the back of his jersey:
That … is some great hate

Classic stuff.
Then again, when we look inside ourselves, we find that WE LIKE HE WHO HATE HE WHO HATE HE.
Got that?

We can simplify this complex equation -- but, we'll need the help of the dismayed Seahawk fans who felt that the refs betrayed the 'Hawks in SBXL.

Dismayed and betrayed, Seattle fans are getting their game jerseys re-personalized with the name: THEY HATE WE.
Well, that is … the people who wear Seahawks jerseys which aren't #129 … which don’t already have the name “IL” on the back.

True, it is everybody's Constitutional right to bitch about the reffing, but a trick which has proved to significantly reduce F-bomb dispersal is to allow Greta Van Susteren (and Greta Van Susteren’s Facelift) square off against Nancy Grace (and Nancy Grace’s Super-Annoying Drawl/Twang) in a national debate.

Hey, they're the ones who sent Scott Peterson to The Big House, so this is right up their alley.

Anyway, every time I hear/read that SBXL was one of the worst-officiated and poorly-played SB’s of all-time, I maintain my even keel and remember: 1) 'Tis better to win ugly than to lose artistically and 2) When somebody else calls out the Beloved Black N’ Gold for bein' ugly, I’m obligated to mock each source.
And that’s not very difficult.

Addressing the "lack of glamour" angle first: Ya had people like Dan Patrick and Tony Kornheiser, among others (probably Skip Bayless, too), nitpicking at the so-called ugly nature of SBXL. This happens when you lack “context” - - or when you can’t grasp that “context” is remembering something which happened more than 15 minutes ago.
Well, if you saw Dan Patrick during that Super Bowl special last week, you recoiled in horror as you saw D.P. standing in a dimly-lighted L.A. Coliseum, an effect which highlighted his Bela Lugosi widow's peak which, working in concert with his hair dye, gave us a “SoThat’sWhatEddieMunsterLooksLikeNow!” look.

Now, if you've ever watched "PTI" (the question is: “why?”), you’ve noticed that dreamboat Kornheiser combines all the elements of jagged bottom front teeth, scraggly beard and disorganized baldness (and that's to say nothing of the pasty-pale skin tone).
Just thinking of their combined creepiness makes me wish that I could clear my mind with “The Sports Reporters” allowing Bill Conlin to give us his opinions as he sits nude in his swivel chair.

With his legs uncrossed.

The problem with those affiliated with EspyTime is that most of the talking heads there are still so very peeved that Kilborn was taller, blonder, funnier and hunkier than them. So, it’s only natural that their frustration and resentment would have a spill-over effect (and Patrick struts around like he’s cock-of-the-walk only because Herbstreit is a seasonal hire and, therefore, not threatening his Dracula action until autumn).

Speaking of hunk-a-licious beefcakes, I read recently where The Famous Dr. Z. nitpicked the bejeezus out of SBXL … somehow failing to tap into the inner-beauty of that game.
Again, I never take any "W" back to where I found it because I’m probably not going to get a cash/credit-card refund and I may not even get store credit or an exchange.
By the way, Dr. Z mentioned on that
”neiither quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Hasselbeck, was much good. Oh, they made plays every now and then, but there was no consistency to their game. Neither one of them could get the ball to go where they wanted it to go. You were just as likely to see an interception in a big moment as a turnover."

Powerful ... insightful ... crisp ... did he type "neither quarterback was much good"?
What does “you were as likely to see an interception in a big moment as a turnover” mean?
No wonder WE HATE HE.

Here’s the scoop: SBXL had many hidden charms, but if you don’t have the world-renown Dracula Dan, Jaggy-Tooth Tony and Dr. Zzzzz hittin’ ya over the head with a two-by-four (or instructing you what to believe and when to believe it), you coulda missed it.
Not me.
It was picturesque.
No complaints here.

Although I preach “maintaining gap responsibility” and “putting a hat on somebody” and “wrapping up” as I remain low-key and possess inner-calm and quiet confidence, yup … Antwan-to-Hines made me chuckle and prompted me to share a fist-punch with my viewing co-pilot, Mrs. PF7.
In Dr. Zzzz vernacular, we call this the outcome “very much good.”
The only drawback, as far as I can see, was that the Steelers didn't shut out the Seabirds.
That one TD was gift-wrapped.
Which hurt about as much as allowing the Rolling Stones to perform at halftime instead of opting for the sensible, family values preached by Led Zeppelin.

Make no mistake, Super Bowls always seem to expose the over-analytical side of every over-analyticizationist. But, if everyone is so worked up about X's and O's, why not give a Super Bowl MVP to an offensive lineman? To quote one of my previous rants, it's because the NFL too closely mirrors the real world and the process becomes: stat-collection, quote-gathering and opinion-offering.

I don't spend very many games ridin' the emotional roller coaster which goes from giddy high-five-dom to rage-filled, F-bomb-ism and back again. That’s because I like to set a good example for my super-pup. Mostly, though, I remain composed and stress-free because I really don't know the 3-inch-tall people I’m watching on my non-HDTV.
Which isn’t to say that I’m immune from getting a lump in my throat when it finally hits me that the Cowher Family is up on the midfield stage and Hines is holding a toddler and there are confetti cannons going off all over the ballpark.

It may sound funny, but I was happy as heck for secondary coaches Ray Horton and Darren Perry. Horton was the Bengal CB who got beat by John Taylor on that last-minute TD pass from Montana in Super Bowl XXIII - - and that was shame because the Bengal DBs who punked up that day were Fulcher and Billups and the mighty Solomon Wilcotts more than Ray Horton.
Perry, on the other hand, was a safety for the SB XXX Steelers, so, what the hey … good for both of them.

Now, as to choppy play and uneven officiating in SBXL? Actually … choppy and erratic is what the Steelers were in that Green Bay win. The win over the Bears was less slick than it was sledgehammer.
The win over the Vikes wasn’t too glamorous, and the win over the Ravens was a little touch-n’-go throughout.
And when I hear/read goofs saying Big Ben had a bad game … or was overcome by the enormity of the Super Bowl … c’mon, that’s sports-psychology psycho babble.
We can’t really know what’s on someone's mind or in someone’s heart … unless we hook them up to an EKG.
Or one of those other heart/brain machines.

If Tom Brady shows the wherewithal that Ben did while making a shovel-pass to Hines … or while converting that 3rd-and-28 with that tap-dance along the 40-yard-line stripe … or while performing the designed rollouts or QB draws … jeez, if Brady does that, America is dropping trow and saluting Tom Terrific (that is, the America which isn’t booing him during the pre-game coin toss).

To reiterate: It’s about “context.” After the way he performed in Indy and in Invesco, Big Ben could’ve thrown three picks on his first three pass attempts and I still would NOT have jumped off the BenWagon.
Indeed, the INT which led to a 76-yard runback was a daffy toss, but, whaddya want, America? Should the Steelers have brought in Kordell to conduct the goal-line offense? Was it too late to activate Tomczak or Brister for a perfectly-placed pass floated to the proper spot to the open Cedrick Wilson?

Benny threw a bad ball … not necessarily because he was nervous, not necessarily because he’s only a 23-year-old kid, not necessarily because he’s got some ball-gripping issues with the injured thumb and his protective glove.
Sometimes QBs make bad throws for reasons other than nerves or youth or mechanics, isn’t that right, Neil O’Donnell?

Now, if anyone is interested in the complete list of “QBs Who Forever Tarnished Super Sunday,” we can begin with then-NFL MVP Rich Gannon (five INTs, three TD passes to the wrong team) and work our way down the list.
Then again, in what order do we rank the collection of counterproductive, non-threatening QBs who we KNEW were going to melt down right from the get-go? Tony Eason? David Woodley? Boomer Esaiason? Joe Kapp? Chris Chandler? Craig Morton? Stan Humphries? Kerry Collins? Ron Jaworski? Jim “Out ‘Til 4 In The Morning Of The Big Game” Kelly?
Where do we put Hassebrick?
Seriously, you’re just asking for trouble if you march into Super Sunday with those Bubby Brister equivalents.
So, in conclusion, I can rattle off 30 Super Bowls off the top of my head which had a greater “this sucks” variable than what we saw Sunday.

As per alleged questionable refereeing, again … this is a matter for Greta Van Susteren (or maybe Wolf Blitzer in “The Situation Room”). An aspect of sports which probably never gets addressed in Holmgren’s 100-hour work week is one which pre-dates, ummmm, the acknowledgement that Holmgren is some sorta super genius.
Y’see, whether I'm watchin' the NFL or playin' rec-league softball, it’s often necessary to budget into the game plan that there will be five blown calls. It's human nature for guys in stripes or for guys calling balls n’ strikes to muck up five calls in a few hours of game action. Officiating/umping is tougher than it looks - - and anyone who doesn’t believe it should go out and try it sometime.
Hence, a player/team has to factor into the equation that five calls will go “the wrong way.”
So, if less than five register on the “bad call meter,” hey … you’re playin’ with the house’s money.

Since the Seahawk cultists can’t cope with their inability to do the basic mathematics exercise of The Five-Against Factor, they ran to Mommy whining about matters not going their way. Hence, Steeler Nation is supposed to feel regret, guilt and inner-conflict because a third party acted in some sort of duplicitous, underhanded manner (if only I knew what those two terms meant).

A girl who I used to work with was givin’ me the you-oughta-be-ashamed-of-yourself biz about a tarnished Super Bowl victory. But, in the (sub-titled) words (grunts) of the boss caveman in the FedEx Super Bowl commercial:
“Not my problem.”
She’s not to blame. She’s merely another victim of Prof. Billick, Inventor of the Game, performing a lot of heavy petting in an attempt to steal her cerebral cortex before she realizes that it’s missing or before she realizes that Kyle Boller is not (and never will be) a valid NFL QB.
On the other hand, maybe it’s a chick thing - - y’know, only caring about games in which Tom Brady’s playin’ or PMS-ing about games in which Tom Brady isn’t playing.

Another thing about chicks: Except for the sweet petunia that I married, they don’t exactly grasp the goodness of Cowher finishing No. 1. They see the jaw and then add to the list of 1,000 jaw jokes because that’s easier than looking deeper to see his relationship with either his players or his three daughters.
Definitely true: Bill can get a little kooky out there on the sideline … and he has those moments when he might surrender to emotional whims over a more-rational approach (i.e. he did get a little giddy and giggly before the clocked ticked down to :00 a few times in the postseason, which, for my money, is less-preferable than the way that Noll was always so stoic … but all of this is nitpicking, that’s all).

It seems as though, through the years, football scholars (Dr. Zzzzz, et al) maybe don’t appreciate the coaching acumen of Cowher when compared with the “brain power” of a Holmgren or a Shanahan or a Belichick. If it’s true what Bum Phillips said about “he can beat your’in with his’in and he can beat his’in with your’in" (translation: he could perform a “coach swap” and beat you with your players more easily than you could win with his), I think that Cowher could lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl before Holmgren could lead the Steelers to one.
It’s only a hunch, but I think that Cowher’s players have always responded to that fact that since Coach played in the NFL, maybe they’ll give that 113 percent in the ya-gotta-give-110-percent arena. Another factor is that Cowher has seven assistant coaches who played anywhere from eight to 15 years in the NFL, which, in a lot of ways, goes against the norm of NFL coaching staffs which have at least seven pencilnecks on staff whose only NFL experience is breaking down 5,000 hours of game film.
It stands to reason that an ex-NFL’er knows what it takes to compete/survive/prosper in the NFL because an ex-NFL’er – with apologies to The Mighty Inventor Of Football, Brian Billick – actually played in the NFL.
That means actually enduring two-a-days during an insane July heat wave, not just watching two-a-days and breaking down 5,000 hours of game films.

Of course, the Circle of Life dictates that next year’s Super Bowl champion will feature the offensive coordinator who’s spent 5,000 hours breaking down game films and, gosh … what a mind, what a skills set.
Still, my heart continues to ache because when Butch Davis was fired by the Browns last year, along with him went his quarterbacks coach who was in my 10th-grade geometry class. The sad part is that I’m pretty sure that I got a higher grade in that class than he did, so when the Browns axed that guy, it was as though they were axing me.
And, now – because the NFL has systematically blackballed me – no NFL teams are phoning me to come in and interview for the position of “offensive quality control.”
Not that I’m not qualified.

My sob story aside, let’s suppose that it is true that the refs, Tagliabue, higher powers, etc. wanted (or needed) the Steelers to triumph. Then, shouldn’t the Seahawks be a little more gracious that they were allowed to play a part in this coronation?
They sure as hell didn’t earn the right to be there.
The Seahawks played six scrimmages within their own division, then looked pretty iffy in two home playoff games against two wild-card opponents. The Steelers hit the road, ran a few stop signs and T-boned the jack of diamonds, the queen of clubs, the king of spades and the ace of hearts.
They tore up some asphalt.

I heard someone say recently that the Steelers were left for dead when that 3-game losing streak put their record at 7-5 with a month left to play and the Bears (ridin’-an-8-game-win-streak) coming to Heinz.
Dead? At the time, it didn’t take much more than some 10th-grade geometry to see that the Bears had no offense and that the final three games of the regular-season were against opponents (Vikings, Browns, Lions) who were just begging to have the Steelers put them out of their misery.
An 11-5 record or a 10-6 record was gonna do just fine when the main competition was the always-chasin'-their-tails Chargers and Chiefs as the main wild-card competitors.

Therefore, I remained calm and confident and assisted negotiators with talking stressed-out Steeler fans from off of the window ledge.
Sure, enough … on the Sunday when the Steelers body-slammed the Bears, the Chargers lost at home to the Dolphins and Chiefs lost a winnable game at Dallas … and I was being hailed as the new messiah.
Four regular-season wins … four postseason wins … we’re not re-inventing the isoceles triangle, people.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, want us to respect them (except when they’re sea-squawkin’,“We don’t want your respect!”), but, honestly … what exactly is their appeal?
I mean, other than the cool neon-green racing stripe on the collar-sleeve-pantleg of those difficult-to-appreciate metallic-blue, metallic-gray, metallic-whatever-coloured jerseys and the helmets with the big scary bird profile on the side, there simply isn’t enough there for America to risk accepting that big, scary bird as part of its “Super Bowl Memories” just yet.
Who knows? The Seahawks just might make it back to The Big One – that is, if Holmgren is half the coach that they say he is (which, in truth, would make him twice the coach that he was last Sunday night … cue laugh track).

What people beyond these steel walls of SteelTown need to do is to stop disgracin’ and start embracin’. America didn’t get its Brady Brokeback or Peyton On Parade , but, again …
“not my problem.”
As for the girl who gave me the “what-gives-you-the-right?/how-dare-you!” ‘tude, well … I had to set her straight about contract laws. I did this by explaining to her that the plot of land where she currently lives was once the property of either the Cherokee or the Chippewa or the Navajo or the Arapaho or the Sioux or the Shawnee, but that land became “her” land after the white man stormed in during the 1700s and the 1800s and introduced tribal elders to the new-sheriff-in-town methods of genocide and deforestation.
You gonna give it back to the Indian, Sister?

No doubt, it’s a brutal lesson in the game of finders-keepers, losers-weepers.
Perhaps our truest sense of “words to live by” comes from the band which was frozen out of the he SBXL halftime -- Led Zep.
They told us that: “Cryin’ won’t help ya / Prayin’ won’t do ya no good …”
Strange thing is, that the lyric comes from “When The Levee Breaks” … which, in an odd way, became an underlying theme for the NFL season.

Seahawk fans, though, they so hate we that they wish that the Monongahela would rise about 15 feet and overflow, etc ...
If they can't erase the hate, can they at least sign some sort of a neutrality agreement?

Greta? A little help?

Monday, February 06, 2006

When The Whip Comes Down

Well, this is a fine kettle of fish.
Since John Facenda is no longer available -- and since I don't know Harry Kalas' contract status with NFL Films -- someone's going to have to make a hard decision as to who gets to narrate the Pittsburgh Steelers '05 highlights package and/or the Super Bowl XL recap and then utter the line which always crops up in those pieces:
"Great teams aren't always great ... they're just great when they have to be."
You can practice it in front of the mirror, but be mindful of cadence and inflection so as to properly honour the memory of Facenda.
If you're trying to pull off a Harry Kalas version, have a cigarette or two beforehand.

Speaking of that familiar voice you've known for more than 30 years (since the days when you watched a slo-mo shot of Jim Hart throwing to Mel Gray ... only Ken Houston breaks it up!!!), it was Harry Kalas who welcomed us in for Puppy Bowl II ("live from downtown Silver Spring, Maryland ...").
Yeah, I know ... the aftermath of SBXL is that everybody and his step-brother will whine about the lack of alleged crisp play or the lack of coherent officiating ... what-evvvv-vuhhhh.
The real crime on Sunday may've been the way that the white poodle was never flagged for a lot of mischief.
I'd've thrown her out.
The spaniels, Cha-Cha and Disco ... well, can you ever go wrong with a spaniel, let alone two from the same litter?
I think not.

Seahawk fans ... they're gonna be bitchy for a few weeks -- and not because the Stones didn't play "Bitch" at halftime.
Great chuckle material is always provided by Berman when he tries to act hip by being "Mr. Rock N' Roll Wanna-Be" or "Mr. Jock Wanna-Be."
Y'know, alluding to the more-popular Stones song titles such as "Satisfaction" and "Under My Thumb" to effectively marry the rock n' roll and the football.
It's a standard trick ... when your only strength is schtick.
Sometimes, it's not easy to see that the better choices are something from the "Steel Wheels" album ... or something semi-mainstream such as "Paint It Black" ... or tunes which may not apply at all, such "Get Off My Cloud" or anything from the Stones' only good album, "Some Girls."
Right ... "When The Whip Comes Down."
Or "Shattered."
"Far Away Eyes" may not be applicable here.

Better than Berman's schtick is how the Stones agreed to have some of their lyrics censored.
The NFL or ABC (i.e. the Tagliabue-Disney Empire), apparently, wasn't too bothered that The Big Game promos featured the Stones' "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" as background music for the video montage/TV commercials.
The Tags-Diz Empire maybe isn't familiar with that song's lyrics ... y'know, good wholesome stuff about how the cops in New York City, in a case of mistaken identity, shot a boy right through the heart.
Don't forget about that 10-year-old girl on a street corner ... sticking needles in her arm ...

There ya have it: Unless you have bubble-gum rockers like Journey warbling about "don't stop beeee-leeee-vinnn," it's a total crapshoot with material/artists which Rev. Lovejoy may classify as, "Rock and/or roll."
Did someone say "roll"? Shooting craps?
Like "Tumbling Dice," Berman?

Hey, back off on the Berm-Man! He suffered a lot of brain damage from those occasions 15 or so years ago when he'd show the ESPN viewing audience himself on-stage with Huey Lewis & The News.
We suffered a lot of brain damage for watching it.
Can I get some sports highlights there, Big Vanilla?

EspyTime Theater was in full bloom Sunday night. EspyTime showed multiple sets, a multitude of formations. On my scorecard, I had 23 (count 'em ... twenty-three) EspyTime worker bees who descended on Detroit -- everything from "moderators" like Van Pelt, Everett, Patrick, Stooge Scott, Linda Cohn (flown in directly from the Winter X Games) and Wingo in the RenCen lobby to in-stadium groupings such as Berman-Young-Irvin-Jackson ... Jaws and Hodgee in the purgatory between "in the stadium" and "on the field" ... on-field reports from Mort and Sal Pal ... the in-the-lobby, ex-player monologues from Salisbury, Schlereth, Woodson ... sideline reports from Michelle and Suzy ... Andrea Kremer scrounging up interviews ... Mike & Mike on the radio ... and, finally, Mike III (Tirico) for the trophy prez ... and didn't we have guest-star appearances from Ed Werder and John Clayton?
About the only thing missing was Hines Ward's MVP Escalade being driven to the 50-yard line and, presto! The driver's-side door opens and Craig Kilborn steps out!
The passenger's-side door opens and ... it's Fred Edelstein, everybody!
Somehow, in all of this over-analysis bludgeoning, EspyTime couldn't work its old Sunday-night troika (The Other Patrick-Theismann-Maguire) into the mix.
Jeez ... people hate Theismann THAT much, huh?

And, in the immediate aftermath, all the kings horses and all the king's 23 "reporters" ... all they could get was another Bettis interview. Or another Cowher feel-good story. Or Hines Ward sound bytes.
Which are all fine ... if your news-gathering organization sent only two reporters.
"Back to you in Bristol."

Damn straight ... EspyTime offers up more confusion than the new Gillette Con-Fusion Razor.
Five blades!!!
And a sixth blade for those "tricky areas."
If only it had a seventh blade for when I need to slice open the stomach of my puppy for when I need to smuggle H into the Puppy Bowl.

They're sayin' that it wasn't a great Super Bowl, which is what happens when the sex is pretty "iffy" on a one-night stand. In time, it'll prove to be a memorable roll in the hay.
Everybody wants it hard n' fast like Texas n' 'SC gave us one month ago. But, now that we realize that no defense was played in that game, a 41-38 game isn't the best sex ever.
C'mon ... where was the romance in that game?

I loved last night's game. Because it lacked the perceived "artistry" of a Tom Brady masterpiece, I'm 'sposed to hate it?
The Randle El pass to Hines was one we'll be talking about for years -- unlike one of those Brady TD passes where, "ooopsie daisy, who forgot to cover linebacker Mike Vrabel who's lined up as a tight end? You rascals!"

(Forget) Tom Brady.
And the little pony he rode in on.
Sometimes, it's about drinking like a champion today ...