Thursday, May 25, 2006

Richie Renard Gets The 4-1-1 On 619

Few of us proud Americans can forget the scene where Gil Renard was taking his son Richie to the S.F. Giants game and, as the Stones’ “Start Me Up” blared through the van’s speakers and a bet-up bobblehead bobbled, Gil was telling his son how great Mick and the boys are.
Richie to Dad, “Jason Pelligrini’s dad says that Mick Jagger is gay.”
Gil (scoffing and snarling): “Jason Pelligrini’s dad takes it up the ass.”

Clearly, Gil Renard was not mentally stable – which accounts for why he fatally stabbed Primo in the sauna (so that Bobby Rayburn would no longer have to wear his Atlanta Braves #11 shirt under his Giants #33 shirt) and why, during that ballgame monsoon later in the season, Gil, dressed as the home-plate umpire, slashed the throat of #46 Jimmy Lanz.

Look … I would have Sharpie’d either an “11” or a “46” on my softball cleats, but then I said a prayer for Primo (Benicio Del Toro) and one for Jimmy Lanz (John Kruk) and then I hugged the Mrs. and confessed what she already knew:
“ ‘The Fan’ isn’t merely the biggest piece-o’-crap sports movie of all-time, but probably the biggest waste of celluloid in the history of the universe.”
Worst … movie … ever!
Of all-time.
Which is why we still fire up that DVD from time to time.
Just for kicks
If only Joel, Crow and Tom Servo could watch it with us.

As with “Cobra” (which got special props yesterday), the bobblehead was the best actor in the movie.

Without a doubt, the Reggie Bush #5 Saints jersey fallout – first with the ruling by the NFL competition committee to disallow Bush from wearing #5 and then Bush’s decision to have a big “2” and a “5” on his Saints shirt – definitely is remiscent of the movie conflict between Bobby Rayburn #33 and Primo #11 (with Krukker uttering his only line of the movie – “Now we ALL get to wear the number” when the Giants honored their slain-in-the-sauna outfielder with a #11 on the sleeve).

The Haystack already addressed the #25 issue as it pertained to the Phillies and Del Unser/Milt Thompson/Gregg Jefferies/Jim Thome/David Bell … but this Saints #5 issue is HUGE, vis-à-vis the “Non-Traditional Running Back Jersey Number Paradigm.”
On the federal level, the NFL’s ruling is as much about idealism as it about being prudent. In the NFL, there is only ONE #5 – and he plays QB in Philly.
Why else do ya think the league has shipped #5 Kerry Collins and #5 Jeff Garcia all over the landscape? It’s to confuse the consumer and snag #5 jersey sales in Carolina, New Orleans, the Meadowlands, Southern Cal, Northern Cal, Cleveland and Detroit.
A kid would be better off buying a Dieter Brock #5 L.A. Rams throwback or a Terry Hanratty #5 Steelers model.

Now, we all know that, back in the day, Paul Hornung continued his #5-wearin’ ways when he went from Notre Dame to the Packers. Actually, when we were kids, we all remember how the Chiefs had a running back wearing #1 (Mike Adamle) and a running back #14 (Ed Podolak).
Since we were kids, we weren’t sure whether we were more impacted by the jersey numbers worn by those white running backs or the fact that they were, in fact, white running backs.

The NFL put and end to all of that in the mid-‘70s (kooky numbers and white running backs). It was a necessary move … a ruling of great vision. The NFL didn’t want to become a freak show like The MLB with relief pitchers named Wild Thing wearing #99 or a catcher like Benito Santiago wearing #09. The NFL couldn’t afford the bad publicity of weirdos from other sports, center-icemen named Gretzky and Lemieux expressing individuality by wearing non-traditional numbers on their sweaters such as 99 and 66.

The NFL wants order and tradition. The days of Hall of Fame quarterbacks wearing #60 (Otto Graham) and #42 (Charley Connerly) and Hall of Fame running backs wearing #77 (Red Grange) and #3 (Bronko Nagurski) … finito!
Those guys, obviously, were anarchists.

Forcing Reggie Bush to abandon his #5 in favor of something in the #20 thru #49 genre sends the proper message to our children, which is what Tagliabue’s NFL is all about (despite what the 47 different guys scattered about wearing “BARBER #21” jerseys in the Giants Stadium parking lot might tell ya).

Besides, if the league HAD ruled in favor of Bush, we would’ve seen chaos ensue as a handful of players would have no doubt filed for some sort of retroactive reinstatement of their college single-digit identity.
All hell would’ve broken loose in Phoenix. Edgerrin James wore #5 at The U … Larry Fitzgerald wore #1 at Pitt … Anquan Boldin wore #4 at FSU …
It’s about “tradition,” lads.
Besides, would Edge As #5 really want to erase from our memories the Gary Hogeboom #5 days when his tightly-spiraling passes filled the endless desert sky?

From a Steeler standpoint, the “traditional RB number” matrix helped eliminate almost-certain fist-o-cuffs such as what would have ensued when Jerome Bettis and Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala arrived in Pittsburgh at the same time (summer ’96). Thinking of those two behemoth RBs wrestling over the same # each wore in college (Bettis #6 at Notre Dame; Foo #6 at Utah), jeez … a more-peaceful mental image is of them arm-wrestling for the last pork chop in the dinning commons at mini-camp.

The NFL avoided the bloodshed.
And, it’s a good bet that Bush’s #25 jerseys will sell briskly (the eye-black decals with “619” … probably wiser to put those in a basket close to the register as an impulse buy).

If Bush feels a little skittish about #25 as the absolute solution to an identity crisis, perhaps he should order a Heath Shuler #5 retro Saints jersey to wear under his #25 Reebok-manufactured game shirt.

If nothing else, at least it’ll save me the trouble of stabbing to death Heath Shuler in the sauna …

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