Rumors have been circulating for a while now about the future of future NFL Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning. We all know the situation; his neck has been surgically rebuilt twice, and there are serious concerns as to whether he can ever or even should play football again. Coupled with the fact the Colts have collapsed so completely they seem to be a lock for the first pick in April’s NFL draft, a pick certainly to be shackled to Andrew Luck, the most-coveted college quarterback since John Elway, Manning finds his future to be very uncertain.
Today, our guest columnists will debate the future of the four-time NFL MVP. Mr. McGrath will be taking the “Manning must go” position, while Mr. Aykroyd will be taking the “Peyton should stay” position.
Editor’s Note: Mr. McGrath has long and storied history in the management of professional sports franchises, most notably as the general manager of the Charlestown Chiefs of the now-defunct Federal League. Oh, and this is probably a good time to mention that Mr. McGrath’s views are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Dubsism, our staff, or anybody else whose house you might want to burn to the ground.
Manning Must Go
It is time to face the facts. Stick a fork in Peyton Manning; he is done. I know nobody in Indiana wants to hear that, but it is a hard dose of truth Colts fans need to accept.
Even if Manning proves able to play at a high level again, even if doctors clear him for the skeletal re-arrangement playing in the NFL promises, there’s no guarantee that Manning isn’t one shot to that surgically-rebuilt neck away from being a potted plant Colts’ fans visit at the home twice a week to water.
If that weren’t enough, look at what sort of team he’d be leading. If you think this team is 0-11 simply because of the absence of Manning, you likely can’t read the top line of the eye chart.
The the best adjectives for the defense are “old” and “bad.” Granted, the Colt offense has never really been a factor, but now that the offense has completely fallen apart means this team is due for a complete overhaul.
The offensive line is shaky enough to be considered a rival to the San Andreas fault, and it isn’t going to bet any better with Jeff Saturday and Ryan Diem likely to be gone. As far as the receiving corps is concerned, Reggie Wayne is likely leaving for his last decent contract elsewhere, Austin Collie and Dallas Clark are now too injury-prone to make a significant difference, and Pierre Garçon may be the most over-rated wide-out in all of the NFL. If that weren’t enough, the Colts have no realistic running game to fall back on.
In other words, it is time to start over in Indianapolis. Much like you have to knock down some walls when you remodel, the pillar known as Peyton Manning needs to come out of the Colts’ house.
Cutting Manning loose frees up money for such a remodeling project. If Manning’s contracts is jettisoned before June 1, 2012, the Colts save against the salary cap, losing close to $90 million in future commitments for Manning’s haeavily back-end loaded deal, owing only $3.4 million in salary and a $3 million roster bonus in 2012. The rest of that money can go into the piggy back the Colts need for winning the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes.
The bottom line: Peyton Manning is the past, not the future.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Aykroyd was the station manager for the news division of Saturday Night Live, particularly it’s Point/Counterpoint segment in which both sides of a current story were debated. This is exactly the role Mr. Aykroyd will play for us here at Dubsism. Again, Mr. Aykroyd’s’s views are those of the fictional newsman he portrayed, not those of the actual Dan Aykroyd (if he is even still alive), do not necessarily reflect those of Dubsism, our staff, or anybody else you might be thinking of suing.
Peyton Should Stay
Joe, you ignorant slut. When you said “Suck for Luck,” I thought you said “suck for a buck.” That would make more sense since you seem to be willing to swallow more than just words that get put in your mouth.
If you got off your knees once in a while, you would realize Manning isn’t finished. He’s just recovering from a serious injury. Manning told reporters Sunday that he’s set to have another X-ray on his surgically repaired neck today, but gave no further information on how his rehab is progressing.
I think we can safely assume that the Colts and Manning know a lot more about this situation then they are telling us. There’s a reason why the Colts have refused to place him on season-ending Injured Reserve, and there’s a reason we keep hearing about a December return. Today’s check-up for Manning might just mean thye comeback is on; after all, tomorrow is December 1st.
Manning represents hope; Colts fans believe Peyton gives them a chance to return to the winning ways. Who are you to take that away from them?
Who makes a better mentor for the young Luck than the veteran Manning? Don’t give that twaddle about money; there’s ways to get around salary cap issues.
You speak of bottom lines, but you miss the obvious one. If Manning proves to be healthy, given the current state of NFL quarterbacks, he has value that you seem to ignore.
If this injury does in fact prove to be the end for the four-time MVP, then so be it. But there is no way arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game should be forced out based on the whim of some dried-out old boozebag of a general manager.
What We Learned From This Weekend in Football 11/26/2011 – The Up-To-The-Minute Coaches’ Death Watch Edition
Lots of stuff has happened since we originally started this Coaches’ Death Watch a month ago. Some of it we saw coming, some of it we didn’t, and some of it is simply inexplicable.
There’s the guys who bought it before we ever published the inaugural death watch issue. Granted, we messed up when we listed New Mexico”s Mike Locksley as a certainty to be fired when in fact he had already been fired two weeks before hand. But what difference does it really make? New Mexico is firmly rooted in the “Who Cares? conference.
Firings We Didn’t See Coming:
1) Joe Paterno, Penn State
Let’s be honest…nobody saw this coming a month ago. We need not get into the details here, we all know them.
2) Ron Zook, Illinois
Captain Coke-Machine Head Butt was 6-0 to start this season, and the Illini are going to a bowl game. Zook was the first coach to take the University of Chief Illiniwek to the Rose Bowl in about a bazillion years.
Trouble is they finished 0-6, going 2-6 in B1G conference play and that’s includes a season-ending 27-7 debacle at Minnesota.
3) Bob Toledo, Tulane
We’ll be honest…we really weren’t paying attention to Tulane football. They are in the same conference as New Mexico.
Firings We Totally Saw Coming (with Breaking News):
1) Houston Nutt, Mississippi
Houston, you have a problem. The million-dollar question: Is their really a difference between getting fired and being asked to resign? Not really, because for a coach, there’s still a contract buy-out involved.
2) BREAKING NEWS #1 – Rick Neuheisel, UCLA
As of right now, CBSSports.com is reporting Slick Rick is as gone as a cool breeze after the Pac-12 Championship.
UCLA was blown out 50-0 by USC on Saturday night to finish the season at 6-6 and 5-4 in the Pac-12, but thanks to some NCAA sanctions currently in place at USC, the Bruins will be playing in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship against Oregon on Friday. Which means that there’s a chance the 6-6 Bruins could end up playing in the Rose Bowl.
Though it doesn’t seem that is going to be enough to save Rick Neuheisel’s job at the school. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Neuheisel will meet with UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero after the game to discuss his future at the school, and the report says the chances Neuheisel will retain his job are “bleak.”
Neuheisel is a dead man.
2) BREAKING NEWS #2 – Paul Wulff, Washington State
Again, it’s CBSSports.com as the bearer of bad news for at least one guy on the Pelouse…
Washington State head coach Paul Wulff is expected to be dismissed according to a local report, possibly as early Sunday or Monday.
The Seattle Times, citing sources close to the situation, report Wulff will be dismissed in a meeting with athletic director Bill Moos “barring a last-minute change of direction.” The Cougars finished their season with a 38-21 loss to Washington in the Apple Cup on Saturday.
If the reports are true, Wulff will finish with a 9-40 record in four years as the head coach in Pullman. His .184 winning percentage is the worst in college football, and the worst in Washington State school history. Moos has been WSU’s athletic director for 18 months, and reportedly has big plans to refresh and revive the football program. With an $80 million stadium remodeling project and new football offices in the plans, it’s not surprising they want to make a change to help encourage donations.
Wulff is a dead man. That end-of-season meeting with the AD is never a good deal.
2) BREAKING NEWS #3 – Dennis Erickson, Arizona State
CBSSports.com hits the Pac-12 trifecta, this time in Tempe.
Black Sunday in the college coaching ranks continues, with the latest coach on the verge of losing his job reportedly being Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson. Multiple sources have confirmed to CBSSports.com Arizona State Rapid Reporter Craig Morgan that Erickson will be fired this week with a news conference coming as soon as Monday.
Erickson still has one more year left on his contract, and if he’s fired he’ll receiver half of the $1.5 million he was due in his contract. Though it’s also possible that both sides will work out another agreement.
Arizona State had a disappointing end to its season in 2011, as the Sun Devils began the season with a 5-1 record but limped to the finish line losing 5 of their last 6 games. Losing out on a golden opportunity to play for a Rose Bowl berth in a very winnable Pac-12 South Division.
While we don’t see a meeting with the AD yet, this can’t be a good development.
Guys Who Saved Their Asses
1) Mark Richt, Georgia
Richt’s survival in Athens is a combination of getting the Bulldogs into the SEC Championship combined with having a $7 million buy out. It will be forgiven
if when Georgia gets crushed by LSU, but the Bulldogs really could stand to make a good showing in their bowl game.
2) Jeff Tedford, California (probably)
Like I said before, Tedford is like a Bay-Area version of Mark Richt. He’s a nice, well-tanned guy who started out strong, but has a bit of a “what have you done for me lately?” problem. Since 2006 when Tedford led the Golden Bears to 10 wins and a share of a Pac-10 title, Cal hasn’t repeated that success, even in the light of USC’s troubles. Tedford was the most 50/50 guy on this list, and I think going 4-2 in his last six in Strawberry Canyon gets him off the hook, at least for one more year.
Guys Who Are Still Under The Sword of Damocles
- Turner Gill, Kansas
- Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins
- Neil Callaway, Alabama-Birmingham
- Mike Riley, Oregon State
- Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Steve Fairchild, Colorado State
- Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams
- Frank Spaziani, Boston College
- Mike Sherman, Texas A&M
- Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs
- Luke Fickell, Ohio State (those Urban Meyer rumors just won’t go away)
- Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
- Lezlie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
- Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts
- Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
The Unkindest Cut of All
A tweet from Pete Thamel of the New York Times sums it up.
Man, there are some stone cold mofos in this world.
For the third January in a row, we here at Dubsism will be handing out our coveted awards for various acheivements in the world of sport. If you are unfamiliar, you can check out the two previous Dubsy awards here and here. But the one thing we are doing differently this year is opening the floor for nominations for you, the blog-reading public who clearly has nothing better to do than read this dreck.
If you have time to read this, you likely have read a lot of other sports stuff, and therefore likely have a better idea of to whom to give this awards than our drunken bunch of keyboard droolers does. You can always check out our previous awards should you have any questions as the reasons for which the awards are given. You can also Google the people for whom the awards are named; both are telling, but most are pretty self-explanatory.
Having said that, here is the Dubsy award nomination ballot. Simply fill in your nominees (be sure to include pertinent facts; links to supporting evidence are always welcome, and depending on the reason for nomination, may be required by the Dubsism legal department), then copy and paste your ballot into an email addressed to email@example.com .
There are very few criteria for submitting a ballot:
- One nominee per category per email.
- Nominees must come from the world of sport, and they must fit the category in which they are nominated.
- You do no need to nominate a winner in each category
- Nominees should have a national presence – as much as your local high school coach might be a perfect nominee, if the rest of us never heard of him, it doesn’t do any good. However, we are willing to make exceptions for awesome stories which have links to back them up.
We also will be giving honorable mentions to the best nominees which are pretty damn good, but didn’t win. For those, we will post your name and a link to your blog/webpage if you wish. If you don’t wish, then don’t give it to us…
The 2011 Dubsy Award Nominee Ballot
Your Blog/Website/Facebook Page so people can worship your brilliant nomination:
The Mickey Klutts Award for Unfortunate Naming
Previous Winner: Gregor Fucka
The Bobby Knight Award for Achievements in Dramatic Public Meltdowns
Previous Winner: Former Cubs manager Lou Piniella
The Bevo and Ralphie Award for Mascot Buffoonery
Previous Winner: Alphie the Wolf (University of Nevada)
The Budd Dwyer Award for Excellence in Career Suicide
Previous Winner: Former Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins
The Ed Hochuli Award for the Best Call
Previous Winner: A guy holding a sign at a hockey game which said “Are you preganant, Ref? Because You’ve missed two periods!
The Jason Sehorn Award for Being Completely Overrated
Previous Co-Winners: Tim Tebow and LeBron James
The Clinton-Nixon Award for Cover-Up Futility
Previous Winner: Former USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett
The Charles O. Finley Award for Achievements in Cheap
Previous Winner: The Pittsburgh Pirates
The Joe Kapp Award for Being Run Out of Town
Previous Winner: Former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen
The Bobby Layne Award for Best Performance While Drunk
Previous Winner: Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee
The Kyle Orton Award for Achievements in Partying
Previous Winner: San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum
The Vasily Alexseyev Award For Plus-Sized Achievements
This is a new award named for the recently-departed greatest superheavyweight weightlifter the world has ever seen. While many of his records have since been broken, he remains the only competitor to set 80 of them. Despite his 50-inch waistline and proclivity for 36-egg omelettes, Alezseyev is one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen, and this award will be given annually to another big guy whose done big things.
The Vinko Bogotaj Award For Epic Failure
Previous Winner: Xavier guard Dee Dee Jernigan
The Gene Mauch Lifetime Achievement Award
This award is given annually to somebody who has been around forever, but never won anything.
Previous Winner: Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant
Nominations will be accepted until 3 p.m. Eastern (U.S.) time on January 6th, 2012.
Let your voice be heard, Dubsists. There’s close to 400,000 of you out there, so let’s really make these awards mean something…we simply cannot let the ESPYs stand as the standard in sports awards. Who gives a shit about what “30 by 30″ movie was the best? Let’s make sure we are giving award for things we care about.
After all, aren’t we as the fans make sports matter in the first place?
RIP, Vasily Alexseyev.
Vasily Alexseyev never looked like Mr. Universe. He didn’t even look like one of those Nordic strongmen you see on ESPN9. He didn’t have the sculpted, rippling muscles nor did he have those six-pack abs that look like you could grate cheese on them. Instead, in his prime in the 1970’s, this Russian goliath sported a 50-inch waist and 23-inch biceps while packing somewhere around 350 pounds on his 6’2″ frame.
Yet in his time, Alexseyev was the strongest man in the world.
People my age might remember spending Saturday afternoon parked in front of the television taking in Wide World of Sports. This was where my first lesson in the power of the vast waistband was learned in the form of the walking spheroid known as Vasily Alexseyev. The Russian super-heavyweight was a hero to bigger gentlemen everywhere; he was living proof that it isn’t what you look like, it’ s what you can do.
Alekseyev, the son of a lumberjack, was born January 7, 1942 in the village of Pokrovo-Shishkino, Ryazan Oblast, Russia. By the age of 12, he was chopping down trees and man-handling the logs for exercise; by 14 he was man-handling woodsmen twice his age as he was already near six feet tall and 200 pounds.
But Alexseyev was more than braun; he graduated the Novocherkassk Polytechnic Institute in 1971 as a mining engineer.
Alexseyev’s formal training as a competitive weightlifter began a decade earlier in 1961 while he was enrolled at the Soviet Forestry Institute. From there, Alekseyev trained at Trud Voluntary Sports Society with coach Rudolf Plyukfelder. Alexseyev developed his own exceptionally rigorous training regimen which involved, amongst other Herculean tasks, diving into a pool with a full bar of weights, then pressing them out of the water.
He burst onto the weightlifting scene in 1970 when he shattered four world records at the 1970 Soviet junior championships. This was the beginning of a series of 80 world records he would set between 1970 and 1977. During that time, Alexseyev was never beaten in competition and he both the World Championship and European Championship titles for those eight years. He also took home the gold medals in weightlifting from the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich and the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
It was at the 1976 Olympics where Alexseyev truly put on a display, snatching a then-Olympic record 407 pounds of barbells into the air. He followed that with a then-world record 561 pound clean and jerk.
If that weren’t enough, Alexseyev cemented the claim to being the greatest superheavyweight weightlifter ever by being the first to Clean and Jerk 500 pounds and the first man ever to total over 600 kg in the triple event.
In 1999, in Greece, Alekseyev was acknowledged as the best sportsman of the 20th century. He was also awarded Order of Lenin (1972), Order of Friendship of Peoples, Order of the Badge of Honour (1970), Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1972). In 1993 he was elected member of the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame.
And he didn’t do all that by eating salads.
До свидания и удача, Vasily.
Editor’s Note: This article is a collaborative effort between Dubsism and Ryan Meehan from First Order Historians. Ryan also has his own blog, East End Philadelphia, which is featured in our BlogRoll and it is well worth the read.
Normally, Dubsism doesn’t write these sort of preview posts. The reason is there’s already 10,000 other lousy hacks doing it. So, when Meehan approached us about a collaboration for a Thanksgiving edition, we originally told him to hang it in his pink, Irish ass.
But then he gave us a sob-story about how he will be drunk that weekend, and while an Irish guy being a booze-bag is delightfully stereotypical, at least he was being honest. And to be fair, since J-Dub is a black guy, we all know the stereotypical holiday at his house involves some chunk of a pig decent people consider inedible and lots of cheap malt liquor in 40-ounce bottles. That is if he isn’t in jail again.
So, to keep this festive, we’ve decided to keep this themed as things common to the Thanksgiving weekend.
The NFL Matchup: Green Bay at Detroit
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: A beautiful, perfectly cooked turkey vs. One of those shitty cafeteria-style turkey loafs
- What Vegas Says: Packers (-6)
J-Dub: Six weeks ago, this may have been Butterball vs. Jennie-O turkey, but since then the Lions slid down the poultry food chain into the mechanically-separated, solution-injected meat-debris category. Meanwhile, for what Aaron Rodgers has done for my fantasy football team, I may very well let “Mr. Discount Double-Check” gravy up my wife.
FOH: Mmmm…gravy. The Lions don’t stand a chance here. I do understand that it’s a holiday tradition for the Lions to play on Thanksgiving, but it’s also been a tradition for them to never go the distance in the playoffs since the 1960’s. So I’ll go with history and the better team here. (Editor’s note: Usually any food that’s name is a compound word with “loaf” at the end of it is not very good).
J-Dub: Packers cover easy, don’t be shocked to see this line move north before kick-off
Meehan: Packers 31, Lions 15
The NFL Matchup: Miami at Dallas
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: Turkey necks vs. Stuffing made with celery
- What Vegas Says: Cowboys (-9)
J-Dub: You know who eats turkey necks? That strange uncle that you never leave alone with the kids. Would you leave Tony Sparano alone with anybody you didn’t want something to happen to? There’s a reason they call it the “accidental dolphin.”
Do you know what celery is for? It’s for being the green shit only chicks eat from an order of buffalo wings. There is no other acceptable use for a vegetable shaped like a wood gouge and which tastes like crunchy cat piss. You know who makes stuffing with celery in it? The same people who think Tony Romo can win something meaningful in the NFL.
FOH: From a consumption standpoint, I’ll take a turkey neck over a turkey beak almost any day of the week. Thankfully since the majority of my family is very well educated, I never have to worry about making that choice because everything my mother puts on the table would be considered edible by any normal individual. The Dolphins are looking better in recent weeks, but the Cowboys just might be the hottest team in the NFL on both sides of the ball.
J-Dub: Forget about Miami’s recent resurgence. Forget about Romo’s inconsistencies. this is the game Dallas wins so we can have at least two weeks of talking about them as a “playoff contender” before they fold. But for now, fish the damn celery out of your stuffing and be thankful you aren’t eating what looks like a foot-long roasted alien penis. Take the Cowgirls straight up, but not to cover.
Meehan: Cowboys 28, Dolphins 20
The NFL Matchup: San Francisco at Baltimore
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: Bickering relatives
- What Vegas Says: Ravens (-4)
J-Dub: Tell me you can look at Jim and Jon Harbaugh and not picture the brothers who are more than willing to spend the entire holiday cock-punching each other over a drumstick.
FOH: Who doesn’t enjoy a good cock-punching match around the holidays? Is this one of the weeks where the Ravens actually play or just stare blankly into space? We really need to develop some kind of logarithm that can figure this out. They won last week, so I’m expecting a disappointing showing ffrom Baltimore.
J-Dub: Meehan is right. This is the perfect game for the Ravens to show us their gag reflex.
Meehan: 49ers 26, Ravens 16
The NFL Matchup: Minnesota at Atlanta
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: The short half of the wishbone vs. A slice of pumpkin pie without Cool-Whip
- What Vegas Says: OFF
J-Dub: What’s more useless than the losing end of a wish-bone? The Viking offense. Even with Adrian Peterson, the Vikings use the ball about as well as your grandfather without his Viagra. Meanwhile, the Falcons are still pretty sweet, but there’s just something missing.
FOH: Blame whoever went shopping last for the Cool Whip thing. It’s all their fault, and they’re usually the first one to complain about it not being there. If it was me, I would just bolt out of the house and go to the grocery store and grab some then sneak back into the house. Then if anybody asks tell them you just went for a smoke break. (If you don’t smoke, you’re on your own here.) And as for J-Dub’s mention of Adrian Peterson, I don’t think he’s going to play so I can’t see a scenario where the Falcons blow this one.
J-Dub: Vegas is afraid to post a line until they know what the deal is with Peterson. I don’t think it matters. Vi-queens lose by double-digits.
Meehan: Falcons 34, Vikings 10
The NFL Matchup: Cleveland at Cincinnati
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: Cranberry sauce vs. Finally being able to sit the “big people” table
- What Vegas Says: Bengals (-7.5)
J-Dub: Much like the Browns, somebody needs to explain cranberry sauce to me. I just don’t trust that menses-colored toxic waste which retains its can-shape longer than Play-Doh. Frankly, I’d rather eat the Play-Doh from a day-care that’s been up forty little snotty-noses. Meanwhile, suddenly the Bengals don’t suck, but for some reason their sudden non-mediocrity feels like finally not eating your Thanksgiving dinner from some rickety card table, but only because Grandma blew a brain-hose and now gets watered at the home a couple of times a week.
FOH: Dubs is hating on cranberry sauce? Good Lord, what are you going to go after next, space heaters? I always liked cranberry sauce, but I’ve never liked the Browns. On the other hand I have a couple close friends in the Hamilton County area, so I’ve never really been anti-Bengals at any point in recent history. But they absolutely have to have this one if they want any shot at the postseason, as it’s one of the only winnable games left on their schedule. It looks to be another rockin’ twelve point outing for Cleveland.
J-Dub: The Browns would get more use out out Peyton Hillis if they roasted him at 350 degrees for 10 minutes per pound. Bengals roll.
Meehan: Bengals 31, Browns 12
The NFL Matchup: Tampa Bay at Tennessee
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: A Centerpiece vs. Green Bean Casserole
- What Vegas Says: Titans (-3)
J-Dub: The Buccaneers are like the centerpiece of the NFL table. At first, they look good, and they make you interested, but after a while you realize they just take up table space that could have been spent on something edible. Meanwhile, there is nothing better to describe Tennessee than that green bean casserole nobody ever makes except for at Thanksgiving. It can either be incredible (like when it has those crunchy french-fried onions on top) or it can be horrifying (when it looks like the Jolly Green Giant’s sperm sample).
FOH: I’m kind of on the other spectrum of things here because I can’t stand either the Titans or Buccaneers, hate green bean casserole, and am impartial to centerpieces of any kind. I have to agree with Dubs on the crunchy french-fried onions though. If my family served those separately I would likely dump half the can on my mashed potatoes. (which already contain sour cream, loads of salt, and unspeakable amounts of butter) The Buccaneers could be great in about two years when Josh Freeman is less spastic, and the Titans will be great in about three years, right after Matt Hasselbeck’s 51st birthday. I’ll take the Bucs here because they did come within less than ten point of the best team in the NFL last week.
J-Dub: Matt Hasselbeck turned 51 five years ago. But he can still beat the Bucs at home if he’s healthy.
Meehan: Buccaneers 27, Titans 25
The NFL Matchup: Carolina at Indianapolis
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: A dead pilgrim vs. A dead Indian
- What Vegas Says: Panthers (-3)
J-Dub: There’s only one way to watch this terrible game. Get jacked up on firewater, wrap yourself in a smallpox-infected blanket, then burn yourself at the stake for witchcraft.
FOH: Finally, a game that Cam Newton can take control of and run up some impressive statistics the same way he did in the first couple of weeks. I have a really, really horrible joke about the Thanksgiving equivalent but I’ll save it for when I lose a bunch of money at a casino. Carolina racked up 35 points last week against Detroit, the NFL’s most overrated defense in recent history. The Colts remind me of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. (“Oh, I guess we’ll show up and kick a couple of field goals…OK…)
J-Dub: The fact Carolina is only a 3-point favorite should be cause for an investigation. Forget about Cam Newton, a Fig Newton could roll up the Colts alleged defense. Panthers by a ton.
The NFL Matchup: Arizona at St. Louis
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: The mystery vegetable dish that no one eats vs. The mystery Jell-O salad that no one eats
- What Vegas Says: OFF
J-Dub: There’s never been a Thanksgiving in history that didn’t include at least one of these. The usual suspect is a fat aunt whose size and affinity for horrible floral-print dresses make her indistinguishable from the old couch in the basement, and that includes the monkey-butt aroma foam-locked into the cushions. I really can’t tell which of these teams are more unappetizing; the one that has three overcooked vegetables and one unidentifiable one, or the one that looks like a frozen aquarium with shaved carrots on it.
FOH: The irony here is there shouldn’t be any mystery dishes at Thanksgiving because it’s a very traditionalist holiday to begin with. You got your turkey, your mashed potatoes, your cranberry sauce, the cotton candy machine, your standard dunk tank, your every-day run of the mill fire-breathing contest, and as always Grandma loves the annual demolition derby. There’s no need to get wacky here. In the first meeting between these two teams, we did get wacky and ended up in overtime. The Rams lost, but the real loser was America.
J-Dub: The Rams can at least run the ball. I’m not sure what Arizona can do. Rams win; Vegas won’t touch this because I don’t think they want to set a precedent of an over/under bet less than 23 points.
Meehan: In lieu of picking this game, I will instead pick my nose.
The NFL Matchup: Buffalo at New York Jets
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: Cold turkey sandwich vs. The drunk guy they trot out as Santa Claus
- What Vegas Says: Jets (-9)
J-Dub: The beauty of turkey is the endless supply of leftovers. First you stuff yourself during dinner. Then there’s that first turkey sandwich you make later that night. Perhaps you make another before bedtime, but you notice it’s not as moist and delicious as it was earlier. This slide continues, until you are making turkey hash or feeding the dog with it. This year’s Bills are about two sandwiches away from being hash. We couldn’t get enough of those undefeated Bills, but the aluminum foil just won’t hold the line much longer.
As for the Jets, tell me Rex Ryan isn’t a quart of scotch and fake beard away from being a pretty damn convincing mall Santa.
J-Dub: If there was ever a week for the Bills to make a statement, this is it. If there was ever a week for the Jets to lay an egg, this is it. Even if the Jets win, there’s no way they cover nine points.
Meehan: Jets 22, Bills 17
The NFL Matchup: Houston at Jacksonville
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: Sweet Potatoes (without the marshmallows) vs. Mincemeat Pie
- What Vegas Says: Texans (-3.5)
Some people love sweet potatoes, and some people hate them, but the dish they are left with in Houston without Matt Schaub takes the sweet out no matter which side of the table you are on. Meanwhile, there’s nothing as nauseating as mincemeat pie, unless it’s watching Blaine Gabbert in his futile belief that passes thrown straight into the ground should count as completions.
J-Dub: Matt Leinart vs. Blaine Gabbert. I’d rather be waterboarded with Oprah’s under-boob sweat than bet on one of these dogs.
Meehan: Texans 23, Jaguars 17
The NFL Matchup: Chicago at Oakland
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: That fat aunt who always pinches your cheeks vs. The drunk uncle who always put who in a headlock
- What Vegas Says: Bears (-3.5)
The Bears are a fat aunt, but not the one we already discussed. This one is more like the one who wears a lot of cheap polyester and is married to some fat peckerwood who wears way too much Brut, and thinks “nougie patrol” is hilarious. If they weren’t your mother’s favorite sister and brother-in-law, you would have socked him in the coin purse years ago.
FOH: “Nougie patrol” has never been hilarious, especially not for anybody who marries into the family. Plus, nowadays any kid could take a video on his iPhone of said action if it happens in another room and edit that shit in Windows Movie Maker so that guy won’t be able to live within a thousand feet of a school for the rest of his life and definitely won’t be coming to anymore family functions. The Bears were for real before Cutler got hurt, and the Raiders don’t need to worry about having to be. Look for this to be a very sloppy game.
J-Dub: If the Bears really are the team they’ve led us to believe in this five-game winning streak, the defense carries the day and the loss of Cutler doesn’t matter that much for this game. Yet, we already know what kind of team the Bears are. This is the kind of game the Bears would lose with or without him.
Meehan: Bears 29, Oakland 21
The NFL Matchup: Washington at Seattle
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: Leftovers you find 3 weeks later
- What Vegas Says: Redskins (-4)
J-Dub: Let’s face it. Both of these teams are something you find in the back of the refrigerator, and once you open the container you find a layer of green slime which resembles a diorama of the East River.
FOH: I bet the Seahawks wish that they hadn’t played so awful at the beginning of the year, they might have been able to get a wild card berth over someone who deserved it a lot more. The Redskins have lost seven in a row. I like Seattle to have the upper hand here but just by a hair that’s in those very same leftovers.
J-Dub: I’m not going to insult your intelligence by assuming you give a damn, because I sure as hell don’t.
Meehan: Seahawks 21, Washington 20
The NFL Matchup: New England at Philadelphia
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: Your rich uncle who is getting old who shows up with his “new” bimbo girlfriend, except she has a really bad boob-job
- What Vegas Says: OFF
J-Dub: The Patriots are so exactly your old, rich uncle. Whatever he did to get rich happened years ago, and while he may have another trick in the bag to pull it off one last time, its obvious that promise and whatever he’s got in the bank are giving him unfettered access to the nether regions of some silicone-enhanced hump-toy who knees hit the separated-and-locked position at the scent of cash.
Let’s talk about the Eagles as that bubbled-out bimbo, shall we? Everybody fell for the gaudy sexiness of this team back in August, but it didn’t take long to realize those luscious, albeit fake boobs were the cheap kind that squeak like a styrofoam beer cooler when touched. It also didn’t take long to realize their wasn’t much tread left on the tires, if you know what I mean.
FOH: When the schedule for this year came out, this was probably one of the games I was looking forward to the most. I even had this as my early Super Bowl matchup. Now, I’m nowhere near as concerned with who wins this. Yes, the Eagles beat my Giants at home but it wasn’t due to them being overbearing – Big Blue dropped a lot of easy passes and Vince Young isn’t as good as the Giants made him look. Michael Vick will be back for this game, but the Patriots are on a roll.
J-Dub: The Eagles only hope is to knock Brady out of the game and don’t let any Patriot receivers get behind them. Short of that, expect the Patriots to keep rolling.
The NFL Matchup: Denver at San Diego
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: The Thanksgiving prayer that goes way to long vs. The Tofurkey people
- What Vegas Says: Chargers (-7)
J-Dub: I think we all know where we are headed with this. As a big-time college football fan, I have lived through this “Timmy Rah-Rah” stuff for six years now. Yeah, I get that he looks like a tight end playing quarterback. Yeah, I get he looks like a guy throwing a wet Nerf ball. But he keeps giving his team a shot to win, and the Bronco players have bought into him, so I may have to endure a few more years of this stuff.
If you aren’t familiar with Tofurkey, its fake turkey made of tofu. From far away, it kinda looks like turkey, in much the same way the Norv Turner looks like an NFL head coach. Now, don’t get me wrong, tofu has it’s place – like in the hot and sour soup at the all-you-can-eat Asian buffet – but if you show up at Thanksgiving with it, I will shove it into your lungs in fist-sized wads until you turn blue and stop moving.
FOH: If anybody needed the above explanation as to what tofurkey is, stop reading this immediately and jump off of the largest building in your respective city. Now that those people are all out of the way, let’s discuss the possibility that Denver could sneak into the playoffs. San Diego is lounging again, so if the Broncos beat the Jets it’s not too crazy to assume that they could also win this one. And the Raiders do play the Bears this week, Denver could move into a tie for first place easier than you think.
I would agree with Dubs about the way Norv Turner looks but I would also add “in January” given the Chargers’ recent struggles in the playoffs. I’ve never had tofurkey before and if someone did try to feed it to me their fate would simply be determined by the height of the elevator shaft I’m shoving them down.
J-Dub: I’m never picking Norv Turner for anything ever again.
Meehan: Broncos 19, Chargers 16
The NFL Matchup: Pittsburgh at Kansas City
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: Mashed Potatoes vs. The couch-based food coma
- What Vegas Says: OFF
J-Dub: Much like there’s no such thing as a Thanksgiving dinner without mashed potatoes, there is no such thing as the NFL without the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even when they were perennially lousy (for those of you under 50, yes, those days did exist) like those spuds-in-a-box that were invented by communists and perfected by the typical, joyless curler-wearing housewife, they were (and always will be) a staple.
As for the Chiefs, tell me watching them play doesn’t remind you of your 85-year old grandfather napping on the couch after dinner. Every once in a while, you have to look extra close to see if he is still breathing.
FOH: The Steelers are mashed potatoes unless you’re a Ravens or Bengals fan, in which case you probably don’t get to celebrate Thanksgiving because God doesn’t love you. And since the matchup here is the Thanksgiving staple versus the tryptophan induced sleep you succumb to after consuming so much food, it’s very easy to predict who will triumph.
I guess I’m confused here. I thought my 85-year old grandfather played safety for the Chiefs.
J-Dub: After what you saw of the Chiefs on Monday night, do I really need to say it?
Meehan: Steelers 31, Chiefs 8
The NFL Matchup: New York Giants at New Orleans
- The Thanksgiving Equivalent: The damn dog that’s always under the table and/or sniffing your junk vs. Somebody’s brand new screaming baby
- What Vegas Says: Saints (-6.5)
J-Dub: This is a match between two items found at almost every family holiday since the concept of civilization forced us all to pretend we give a turkey’s gutted-and-stuffed ass about people just because they fell out of the same vagina we did.
To that end, the Giants have no other reason to exist but to make something lovable out of the table scraps of the NFL. Tom Coughlin is an inedible piece of gristle, or a gizzard, or something else respectable people will have nothing to do with. But the dog loves it, and the dog is cute and cuddly, so it works.
As for the Saints, we get it already…your city got hit by a hurricane. But you’ve been nursing the sympathy tit for six years now. If the Saints really were a baby, they clearly crossed the line where breast-feeding becomes incest.
FOH: As a Giants fan, I suppose if I had really thin skin I’d be offended by any of the analogies made above, but I’m not and he’s right.
Although the hurricane was a horrible tragedy, the way it’s constantly overstated when the Saints get any national airtime is getting a bit old. I understand that certain players were very helpful when it came to rebuilding the city, but certain players (take Joe Horn for example) bolted when they couldn’t squeeze any more money out of a franchise that desperately needed to cut payroll. This is also similar to the screaming baby in the sense that while a few babies here and there are cute, most of them make noise contstantly and are very difficult to deal with on all levels.
J-Dub: As an Eagle fan, I’m supposed to have a seething hatred of the Giants, but I don’t. Largely because ever since the Parcells era, they’ve never given me a reason to. That’s not going to change this week; Saints cover easily.
Meehan: Saints 38, Giants 25
This Thursday, let’s all remember the first Thanksgiving when we get together. Let’s be very civil and put aside our differences, because that’s what the Pilgrims and Indians did. Believe it or not, that’s exactly how it happened. That’s also the way they would have wanted it to stay for the past four hundred years if they hadn’t decided to kill each other.
But in all seriousness, here’s hoping your holiday finds no need for the use of the Heimlich Maneuver.
-J-Dub and Meehan
1) This Year, the Entire BCS Argument is Moot
Name a team outside of the SEC that can beat Alabama, LSU, or Arkansas…I’m waiting…
2) We Sort Of Forgot About Miami
I think we all know why the scandal that gripped Hurricane football dropped off our collective radars. But now,for some reason, the University of Miami has decided to at least give the appearance of trying to do the right thing.
Despite qualifying with Saturday’s win over South Florida, Miami has made the decision to remove themselves from bowl consideration this season in response to the ongoing NCAA inquiry into the Nevin Shapiro allegations. The school has informed both the NCAA and the ACC of its decision.
“We understand and share the disappointment that our student-athletes, coaches, staff, supporters and fans are feeling but after lengthy discussions among University leaders, athletic administrators and outside counsel, it is a necessary step for our University. The University of Miami has not self-imposed any other penalties. “
Athletic Director Shawin Eichorst and head coach Al Golden addressed the decision briefly in a teleconference on Sunday afternoon. Eichorst informed Golden of the school’s decision early Sunday afternoon, and further meetings with the coaches and players followed.
Naturally, the fact that they were headed for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl had absolutely nothing to do with this decision.
3) Teams we can start the “Death Watch” on right now
San Diego Chargers
It’s not just the five straight losses, its they way they’ve lost them. They have no offensive line. They are without Malcolm Floyd and Shawn Phillips. They rely entire too much on Philip Rivers since they have a marginal running game, and there is the matter of the Human Handicap, otherwise known as Norv Turner. Turner could screw up a grilled cheese sandwich, and the Chargers will never win as long as he is on their sideline.
Like the Chargers, it’s not just the six straight losses, it’s the way they’ve lost them. Nobody defines “inconsistent quarterback” play like the Redskins; they got the “good” Rex Grossman against the Cowboys and still lost. In fact, despite the sideline weakness present in Mike “I never won shit without a guy named Elway” Shanahan, you really can’t fault the offense. While the Redskins defensive line has proven to be improved and often more physical than the offensive lines they’ve faced, the back seven gives up far too much on pass plays.
New York Jets
It’s official…I’m off the Mark Sanchez band-wagon. This guy sucks swamp-water. This guy saves his job once every six games or so. This guy has to go.
Look at the pattern. When the Jets were on a three-game skid last month, Sanchez led them to a win over then-winless Miami. This is just like 2009, when the Jets came back from a 4-6 record to make the playoffs at 9-7.
Now, Jets fans are stuck hoping history repeats itself again. This time, the Jets are 5-5 after dropping their and a suddenly-remembers-they-are-supposed-t0-be-lousy Buffalo team is coming to town. But none of that accounts for the dirty Sanchez secret.
Sanchez has chucked pick-sixes in each of the last two games. He’s tossed three total this season. He also has lost two fumbles that were returned for touchdowns and had an interception returned to the 1 by Dallas on opening night, and the Cowboys scored a touchdown two plays later. That’s 42 points the Jets have allowed, almost all because of Sanchez.
To be fair, the Jets offensive line isn’t helping matters. They’ve reverted to their early-season ineptitude. They allowed four sacks on opening night 11 in the first four games. Sanchez has been dropped eight times in the last two games.
4) Teams I Want To Like, But…
The Bears are the photo negative of the Chargers. The Bears have won five straight. They don’t win pretty and they depend on the running game. But when do they get Jay Cutler back?
The Bears’ Achilles’ heel on defense is the deep pass. If you can set it up, you can you can hurt the Bears on deep passes, something that will be a test for them when they play Oakland this week. But after that, the Bears get Kansas City, Denver and Seattle. In fact, after Oakland, they won’t face a team with a passing game to speak of until week 16 with the Packers.
Carson Palmer and Michael Bush might just be what the Raiders needed. Palmer has yet to be dominant, but he is efficient, doesn’t make mistakes, and gives the Raiders the ability to move the ball against anybody. Michael Bush can be flat out dominant with his bruising running style. Plus, all they have to do to make the playoffs is win the AFC West. But can they do it? They’ve already lost to the Broncos once.
5) …And in what promises to be an on-going saga…
That whole bit about the Raiders brings us to the ever-present Tim Tebow story. His heroics against the Jets only serve as another chapter in what I fear may be a story that won’t be ending for a while. You can say all you wan’t about how he is a “terrible” quarterback…don’t look now, but this guy is winning games, and with every win, he gets more fans. If Tebow isn’t careful, he’s going to be one of the biggest stars in the league because his appeal transcends football. Watch it it happen if the Broncos make the play-offs.
Don’t scoff at that thought. Like I said about the Raiders, all that is required to do it is to win the AFC West, and the Tebow-led Broncos have already bested the Raiders. The Broncos would be in the “Teams I want to like, but…” category, but my “but” on the Broncos is more of a belief question. Do I believe that Tebow’s winning ways are due to him, or due to the fact nobody in the NFL has seen an option offense in 40 years?
Last night, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski became college basketball’s all-time winningest coach, notching his 903rd career victory. This is a accomplishment worthy of note, and Coach K deserves the accolades being heaped upon him today.
But before you think I am one of those willing to put him on a pedestal, you might want to consider that my view of what Krzyzewski has created at Duke has changed immeasurably five years ago. For all his success on the court, Krzyzewski has been guilty of a major failure; one that has many similarities with scandal currently embroiling Penn State.
The scandal that enveloped the Duke lacrosse team a few years back served as a very nice “preview of coming attractions” for what’s happeing at Penn State today.
Walk through the following steps if you don’t belieive that.
Mike Krzyzewski himself. I get that he is a disciple of Bobby Knight, but there is a major difference. It is one thing to be an asshole; it is an entirely other thing to spend thirty years hiding you are an asshole. Naturally, resident ESPN analyst and personal Krzyzewski fellatrix Dick Vitale just can’t understand why there is all this Duke hatred out there. Let’s see if I can clear this up for Dicky V.
Raise your hand if you are tired of watching Coach K scream unrepentantly at officials until every call goes Duke’s way. Raise your hand if you wonder why the media has never exposed Krzyzewski for being every bit the abusive tyrant his mentor Bobby Knight was. Raise your hand if you don’t get why nobody has ever noticed the Paterno-like ring of sycophants willing to lay down their lives for Coach K. Raise your hand if you wonder when Coach K and Dick Vitale are going to pick out a china pattern together?
Crushing Hypocrisy. How easy is it to dislike someone who exemplifies the most human characteristics of a rat all while being a two-faced elitist scumbag? This is Krzyzewski’s major contribution to Duke; he is the titular head of the Hypocritical Douchebag Committee. At once, the Duke athletic culture (led by Krzyzewski) has developed a drum-beat, party-line rhetoric about creating scholar-athletes at a private university, which Krzyzewski seems to believe is the sacred ground for all that is holy in college athletics. This becomes more important later.
Complete Elitism. Duke pretends it is a great place to send your sheltered, privileged kids all while it is located in an exceptionally dangerous neighborhood. The aforementioned hypocrisy not only feeds this faux elitism, but allows it to grow into the worst possible kind of elitism, the kind that has no ability for introspection and no proclivity for perspective.
What Duke and Krzyzewski simply don’t get is that they have created a culture which mirrors all of the false idolatry which has gotten so many other people into trouble, yet stick their collective heads in the sand clinging to the “can’t happen here” mentality with the false belief that Duke’s ivory towers have some sort of shielding capability.
Krzyzewski created a culture of false idolatry and denies he did it. Duke and Krzyzewski in many respects have built each other. The Duke campus is rife with things named for Krzyzewski, there’s a tightly knit culture in the program funded by wealthy donors and protected by an unwritten code about “keeping family business in the family.”
Now for the punch in the gut for you Dukies…re-read the previous paragraph and replace the word “Krzyzewski” with “Paterno,” and replace the word “Duke” with “Penn State.”
Now before you take pen to paper and write some sort of bile-spewing invective to which you Dukies are prone telling me how the Penn State and Duke athletic departments have nothing in common, consider the following points:
Krzyzewski said it himself. In his 2007 book To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever, Will Blythe quotes Coach K as saying “Let’s say at Ohio State that we did what we have done at Duke. There would be statues. There would never be anybody looking for anything wrong with what you did.”
In retrospect, that’s a chilling statement. While he uses Ohio State as his example of a large, public university with a brobdingnagian athletic department where a “Penn State” style problem can exist, there’s no denying that Penn State completely fits the description he offers. Even worse are the suppositions hidden in that statement. Krzyzewski believes himself, and wants you to believe that such idolatry can only happen in a big, public-school setting, and that it is only because of private-school envy that people begrudge him in his success.
It gets even worse when you stop to consider the timing of these comments. These comments were made in the wake of Duke’s own scandal surrounding the men’s LaCrosse team. Granted, those allegations turned out to be false, but nobody knew that at the time these comments were made, and regardless of the veracity of the allegations, all kinds of Duke dirty laundry got publicly aired, and lots of people’s lives were ruined.
In other words, Dukies and Krzyzewski got lucky their accuser was lying. Despite that, nobody at Duke took this for the warning sign that it was. Nobody in Durham seems to want to remember the first few weeks of the lacrosse scandal played out pretty much like the current situation at Penn State. For months, you couldn’t pick up a newspaper without seeing a new sordid detail in Durham, and State College will be no different.
Duke ignored it’s warning sign, and Penn State ignored its warning sign as well. This isn’t Penn State’s first go-round with a sexually charged scandal. Back in 2005, the Nittany Lions athletic department fell under scrutiny when a women’s basketball player accused longtime Lady Lions coach Rene Portland of sexual discrimination by running the player off the team for being perceived as a lesbian.
Naturally, an internal investigation followed, and in 2006 the university found against against Portland. The university issued a written reprimand, a $10,000 fine and a warning to cease a pattern of sexual discriminatory behavior or risk being fired. But on the same day the university announced its actions, Portland responded to the results of the investigation at her own press conference, calling the university findings “flawed,” and that she would return the next season.
Incredulously, the university let her get away with that, and she held on to her job before resigning following the next season. It shouldn’t really surprise anybody that despite the announced resignation in 2007, rumors abounded that Athletic Director Tim Curley and President Graham Spanier had actually forced Portland out. So, not only did Penn State bungle the handling of that situation, they replicated it again a few years later, the irony being the same people willing to throw an anti-lesbian under the bus had no problem protecting a pedophile.
To see the similarities with Duke, all you have to do is look at the culture. University presidents, athletic directors, and players come and go, but when you get facilites and statues named after you, there’s no denying that you control the culture of the athletic department. Paterno built a culture that allowed the protection of a child-raping monster, and Krzyzewski built one that closed ranks in a similar fashion given a similar scandal.
Denying the vibe that allowed the Penn State situation to happen is present in the Duke athletic department is pure denial. Not only have we already seen it in action with the lacrosse situation, its just plain to see if you are looking for it. Check out the irony in this comment I made about Krzyzewski in an article I wrote a year ago about programs I suspected of being dirty.
“I don’t care how much hate mail I get for this, but I’m convinced Mike Krzyzewski is like the church minister who secretly likes little boys. He’s got all the respect of the people who could out him, but none of them do because, after all, he is the minister. Besides, he’s also that hypocritical asshole who preaches about character and discipline, then stomps around on the sideline like the biggest petulant shithead out there.”
In all honesty, this is the part that tipped me off to the whole connection. I can’t deny I’m a Penn Stater, but in light of recent events I refuse to be one of those who is a blind apologist for Joe Paterno. I see in retrospect the warning signs I glossed over, and there’s no way I’m not going to point out these things when I see them.
Paterno used to stomp around on the sidelines in the same way Coach K does, and he never once got called out for it because he had been elevated to an immune status. That immunity allowed him to create and control a culture which eventually digested itself, and the same culture exists in Durham.
Krzyzewski and the “Cameron Crazies” enable each other, just like Paterno and the Penn State fan base did. On the surface, this may be the most obvious reason America hates Duke. Frankly, it always seemed so self-evident. It doesn’t require Jim Rockford or NASA supercomputer to figure out why. All you have to do is watch Duke play, watch Coach Krzyzewski on the sidelines, and watch their fans. They are all obnoxious in their own way.
This leaves us with the upscale rabble known as the ”Cameron Crazies.” Somehow, they’ve become the gold standard in fandom over the years, and it’s the most annoying Duke myth of them all. Duke fans are the worst kind; they are impossibly loud, they disappear if the team isn’t winning, and most importantly, what they actually know about basketball you could squeeze into their ass and have plenty of room left for their brains. You know the type; the people who love sports just because it’s an excuse to get dressed up and yell, but don’t actually understand the game (think Minnesota Viking fans and you get the picture).
Rather than being basketball fans, Duke supporters tend to be pompous elitists who love to roll in the delight of their own feces and are hopelessly ultimate superiority. All one has to do is quote the following Duke fan confronting Elton Brand about his decision to leave Duke after his sophomore year, the first underclassmen to leave early during Krzyzewski’s tenure at Duke.
From: Taylor, Jennifer
Sent: Friday, April 16, 1999 2:55 PM
To: Brand, Elton
Subject: Leaving Duke
I graduated from Duke last May and just wanted to express my disgust for your decision to leave the Duke program after only two years. As an alum, not only do I hold the school in high regard, but the basketball program as well, especially since both have deservedly garnered such a great deal of respect for their accomplishments.
As part of our basketball program, you represent Duke as a whole. We are first and foremost an academic school, you clearly did not belong at Duke in the first place if this was the extent of your commitment to Duke and a college education in general. You have not only insulted the current students who are putting in four years at a school they love, but also the thousands of alumni who have realized the value of a Duke education and what an honor and privilege it was to be there for four years.
If you do not realize the opportunity you have in front of you to play for Coach K and at the same time attain a Duke diploma, then that is certainly your loss. I just wish that you has spared us the notion that you were continuing in the tradition of being a Duke student-athlete, in emphasizing excellence in both academics and athletics. You will not be considered part of the Duke family, in my mind as well as many others. You have by no means proved yourself worthy of that title.
Now, never mind that Elton Brand was the best player to come through Duke University since Grant Hill. Forget that he was selected first overall in that year’s NBA Draft. It isn’t even important that it took a lifetime of dedication and hard work for Brand to get to that point. What matters is the attitude of this snotty little bitch who is all pissed off because he left her school. To Duke fans, it’s never about great players like Brand; it’s the system that made them successful.
Now compare that to this quote from an anonymous letter I received from a Penn State fan who doesn’t believe I should be criticizing his beloved Coach Paterno.
“You are probably to stupid to realize this, but you are the reason a great university lost a great football coach. You call yourself a Penn Stater, yet you are amongst the ones who forgot about loyalty to the Penn State family. It is at a time like this that families stand together and protect each other. Instead, you chose to take the coward’s route and point fingers at your own kind.”
The rest of that letter becomes both profane and deranged, and ultimately ends with a death threat. But that quote speaks volumes to the mindset of the respective fan bases. Everything is about protecting what is “mine” and how the situation in question affects “me.” Both have such a complete inability to see a larger picture that both need to be summarily dismissed. In other words, the people who are willing to remain blind always add to the damage caused strictly to protect the idolatry in which they feel personally invested.
Two weeks ago, I was one of those people. I thought Paterno was above reproach, and I was wrong. But there is no amount of loyalty to a sport that will make me obviate right and wrong. Paterno was an unquestioned ruler, and when the court became corrupt, it was incumbent on him to do something about it, and he did not.
Krzyzewski is also an unquestioned ruler, and we’ve already seen that Duke is not immune to scandal. While it is too soon to see what Penn State will learn from this, it is clear that Duke did not heed the wake up call they recieved five years ago. As the lord of the athletic department manor, it was up to Krzyzewski to show the leadership needed to change the culture he created, and he did not. Much like Paterno, no amount of wins can change that.
1) OK, We Get It – Aaron Rodgers is Crazy Good
I’m trying to make sure all you media people understand this. You can all stop with the stories telling football fans how good Aaron Rodgers is. We get it. All of the people you are telling this to are in fantasy football leagues in which they either a) curse his name because he spends every week flame-broiling your team or b) laughing uncontrollably as he scores yet another bazillion points for team Dubsism.
Please don’t tell me I need to explain which side I’m on.
2) I Never Want To Hear Another Word Out Of Boise State Until After November
November is the 11th month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars and one of four months with the length of 30 days. It is also the month when Boise State annually ends all its blue crapola about having a claim to a BCS title game. November retained its name from the Latin novem (meaning “nine”) when January and February were added to the Roman calendar, and Boise State keeps thinking it deserves a shot after the BCS was expanded to include a #1 vs #2 Championship Game.
Don’t misunderstand me…we all loved the Fiesta Bowl “Statue of Liberty” win over Oklahoma. We even loved it when you crushed them after that in a regular season game. Not to mention you beat what may very well be a participant in the SEC Championship Game this year. But when the rest of your season contains ten Roast Beef States and one seminal moment – and you blow the seminal moment – it is time you quit whining about respect.
See, the key thing you have to understand is while wins in September are nice, losses in November are season-killers. If you want respect, make those field goals when it matters against Nevada and TCU.
3) The Detroit Lions are Punk-Ass Bitches
What else can you say? This team acts like a junior-high team with a bad coach every time it gets challenged. Is it time to realize that perhaps this stems from the fact their head coach is a complete pussy who can’t take a “handshake” he didn’t like?
I can’t help but notice that a month weeks ago, writers were ready to annoint this team as the best in the NFL, and since then, the head coach got into an on-field incident which made him look like a third-grader, the team has lost three of its last four, and the team is getting a reputation for being “dirty.”
It seems nobody in Detroit gets that when your star defensive player gets called on the commissioner’s carpet, then he proceeds to keep ripping helmets off people, the “dirty” tags are going to start flying.
But there’s more to it than that. Just look at this past week – there was Kyle Vanden Bosch’s clear late hit on Matt Forte, Cliff Avril attempt to rip Forte’s head off, Nick Fairley driving Cutler into the turf, Matthew Stafford’s assault of D.J. Moore, and my favorite, the Dominic Raiola’s deliberate chop-block – it’s hard to ignore all that.
This team is going to draw some serious “street justice,” and they strike me as the kind of punk bitches that will cry about it when they get what they deserve.
4) What Is To Be Done With Tim Tebow?
I’m going to save all the arguments for you in the comments section. Here’s what you can’t argue with – dude is 3-1 as a starter this season. Discuss amongst yourselves.
5) The 49ers Are The New Team We Can Be Premature About
Up until now, this week’s win against the Giants is their signature accomplishment. Sorry, but I don’t buy them yet. I don’t buy Alex Smith as an “elite quarterback,” I don’t buy a banged up Frank Gore carrying this team, and I don’t buy Jim Harbaugh…yet. I may not buy Harbaugh as an NFL coach yet, but I’m starting to reach for my wallet.
If you want to see the cash come out, Jimbo, show me something when you play the Ravens in Baltimore, then host the Steelers.
I think we all know this has been a tough couple of days in the world of sports. I think we’ve all had enough scandal and death lately. I think we’ve all had enough lockout talk. But out of all the sorrow we’ve seen this past week, I deliberately waited for a few days to tell this story because I didn’t want it to get lost in the firestorm that broke out around the subject of my last post. But out of the sadness of losing one of the great heavyweight champs of all time comes the chance to share my own “Smokin’ Joe” tale.
Picture it…the desolate prairie of North Dakota in the late 1980’s. A college age J-Dub is working toward his matriculation, and takes a night off for some inebriation. The reason for the break from the books is this particular night was a special event. It wasn’t every night you could attend a full-on championship fight in a remote town of 50,000 people within sniffing distance of the Canadian border.
See, back in the 1980’s, North Dakota had a favorite son named Virgil Hill who won a boxing silver medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games. After that, he went on to capture the WBA world light heavyweight title. Hill often would defend his title in front of the hometown North Dakota fans. Needless to say, a world championship bout in a town of 50,000, in an entire state with less than 700,000 people is a major event. Hill’s title defense against Tyrone Frazier was no exception.
That’s Tyrone Frazier, up-and-coming light heavyweight, and nephew of Smokin’ Joe himself. Naturally, being a boxing aficianado, not to mention a duty-bound uncle, Smokin’ Joe takes the wagon train into town and puts himself up in one of the local hotels. Perhaps it was his days in North Dakota where he picked up his affinity for cowboy hats. Or perhaps a cowboy hat is the hat of choice when you are drinking a horse trough full of bourbon…not Joe, me.
The fight was on a Saturday, and Joe came into town the day before. The hotel where Smokin’ Joe was staying had a bar which was a favorite of mine. Remember, I’m a college kid at this time and this bar had a full-on cheap appetizer buffet and 2-for-1 drinks, and nothing attracts broke-ass college kids like a cheap booze-up complete with chicken wings and a taco bar.
Now, me and my drinking buddy are busy downing round three and getting ready to answer the bell for the fourth when the bartender shows up with another set, courtesy of “that guy in the corner.” The room by this point to too dark (and my vision a bit too blurry) too make out the shadowy, albeit generous figure in the corner. So, we aim a thankful wave and tip of the glass in the general direction, happy to return to our imbibery.
However, during the remainder of the evening, this happens two more times. Nobody ever approaches us, and we aren’t exactly sure where in the darkened corner of the bar the complimentary drinks are coming from. So we repeat the “thankful wave/glass tip” move, and continue sailing to Cheap Drunk Island. Don’t forget, the only reason we are in this joint in the first place is for a cheap happy hour, and now an anonymous benefactor has extended our collective 45 bucks far closer to closing time then we had ever anticipated (don’t forget, 45 bucks sailed a lot farther 20-some years ago).
We managed to stretch out our cash to that magical part of any full night of bar duty; the part where the bartender says “last call, gents.” Except with us, he hands us two more drinks and motions to the aforementioned corner of mystery. At this point curiousity is slugging it out with free booze, and free booze is winning. But then we hit the other magical part of any full night of bar duty, the part where the lights come up and the bartender says ” you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”
As the lights are coming up, curiousity takes over; my drinking buddy and I are intently staring into the corner of that bar, wondering who was the patron saint of our drunkeness was.
If you’ve ever been in a bar at closing time, as the lights come up, there’s always that one guy in the corner who is waaaaaay more drunk than anybody else. Well, in this particular bar on this particular cold night in a prairie town in North Dakota, that guy was Smokin’ Joe.
Once the light knocked out the the dark, behind a table covered with plates full of chicken wing bones and empty glasses, not twenty feet away from us was the Champ himself. His tie is undone, there’s probably more wing sauce on his shirt than in his belly, and the drunk he’s on didn’t come from punches. But it’s still Smokin’ Joe, and he’s waving us over to his table.
Again, if you’ve pulled enough bar duty, you know there’s a special language spoken by drunks which is only understood by drunks; the only language on earth other than that African tribal clicking language which contains no consonants. It was kismet that at the moment Joe Frazier spoke that language to me, I was perfectly fluent.
“How are you boys doing tonight?” the Champ asked us.
“I’m a little drunk, your honor,” I slurred. “I’d like to thank you for the drinks, sir.”
“All the traveling I do, I love hotel bars. I always pick out guys to send drinks to because I hate being the last guy out of the bar, and when I spotted what looked like two broke-ass college guys taking advantage of this place’s cheap-ass happy hour, I knew I’d found my boys,” the Champ said.
With that he grabbed my hand with a handshake that to this day convinced me even in his wobbly, past-his-prime condition, even though I was larger than him in physical stature and in the peak of my prime; he still could have turned my lights out without even putting down the last chicken wing he was eating.
“Thank you, your honor. They didn’t go to waste.”
“I can tell. What-cha studyin’?”
“We’re both majoring in applied physics.”
“Shit, son, I don’t even know what means. I’m just gonna guess you are a couple of smart drunks.”
“I’d sure like to think so, your honor, said the Champ as he released my hand, gave my buddy the same handshake, and made his way toward the door. After all, he just told us he hates to me the last guy out of the bar. Smokin’ Joe left that honor to me and my drinking buddy.
To this day, I have no idea why I called the former world heavyweight champ “your honor;” my only defense is the aforementioned fluency in drunk-ese at the time. But what I will never forget – as I’m standing there in that hotel bar, awash in the “Holy shit, I just shook hands with Joe Frazier” moment – my buddy taps me on the shoulder and gives that moment a “can’t-be-saved-by-the-bell” 12th round knock-out.
“Who the hell was that guy?”
“Don’t worry about it,” I said, deflated. “Even if I told you now, you still wouldn’t know tomorrow. Let’s go.”
“If we as a society cannot protect our children, then we are pathetic.” – Matt Millen, Penn State DT 1976-1979
So…this is how it ends. As I wake up today; the first day in my 43 years in which Joe Paterno is not the head coach at Penn State, I can’t help but ask myself how the hell did this happen?
The whole point of this blog from its inception has been to provide a unique view of the world of sports. More often than not, this has been done with a sense of humor, sometimes a thick sense of satire, and sometimes by being completely absurd. However, there are times where I abandon all pretense and speak in a very blunt and direct manner because of the seriousness of the subject matter.
Obviously, my discussion of what happened at Penn State will be one of those times. Frankly, this has been a time of great personal angst for me; it doesn’t take long reading through the archives of this blog to discover that I have a connection to the university and that Coach Paterno has been a revered figure in my life. Most obviously, this will be one of those times because there is nothing funny about the sexual abuse of children.
In much of the conversation throughout the media I have seen, there has been much debate over Paterno’s role in this matter. There’s one school of thought that wants to hold Paterno accountable for the entire situation, while another feels he did what he was supposed to do and therefore still deserves the adoration of the fans who have appreciated the two national championships he won in 46 years at the helm in State College.
Both sides have passion for their position, both sides have argued vehemently for their position, yet both sides are missing a terribly important point. In other words, if you are bent on arguing one side or the other of this discussion, feel free to take that discussion elsewhere. I’m not interested in your soapbox rantings, your righteous indignation, or whatever else you may have to offer that is off the real point of this blog: How do we stop this from happening again?
Stopping this from happening again is the only facet of this discussion in which I’m interested, and it renders all the other aspects of the discussion utterly pointless, with the sole exception of examining them in order to understand the pathology of such horrible events.
That’s really why I didn’t write this piece on Monday as the real ugliness of this story was breaking. But today, I feel compelled. Once I saw the grand jury report come out, I knew my personal feelings about Coach Paterno no longer mattered in this affair. I knew nobody’s personal feelings mattered anymore, but I also knew those feelings were going to drive the debate. This was going to cause a massive outpouring of those emotions, which I knew would need to be avoided because to get to the bottom of why things like this happen, we as a nation have to take a hard look at our methods of organizational management.
Collectively, we are looking for one figure at which to point a finger so that we can all roll over and go back to sleep. It is so much easier to point at one factor and say “if for that one thing, event x wouldn’t have happened” than it is to say “perhaps we need to take a hard look at how we handle these situations.”
That is exactly why I don’t want to hear anymore of this pointless argument “who should have done what when” argument. Besides the fact that it doesn’t solve anything, it frames the entire discussion in terms of blaming somebody who wasn’t the one abusing the children.
Not to mention those fingers might end up pointing back at you. I’ll come back to that later…
Until we re-focus our collective anger over such issues back to the appropriate targets, this problem will continue to exist. Penn State is not the first organization to have a problem like this, and it won’t be the last. Paterno isn’t the first middle-manager to have something off-putting reported to him, and he won’t be the last. Penn State senior management isn’t the first such group to bury the report, and they won’t be the last. All because Jerry Sandusky isn’t the first child-raping monster we’ve had to deal with, but he should be the last.
The trouble is he won’t be.
No matter how you want to frame the discussion, today finds Joe Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier cleaning out their offices. The two former PSU officials currently under indictment (Curley and Schultz) will be facing their own legal consequences, and Jerry Sandusky will soon enough be in prison getting a daily diet of what he was handing out.
Not a single one of those facts – not a single goddamn one – will prevent another child from being abused due to an organizational cover-up.
In other words, this whole incident should be about Sandusky being a degenerate pederast. If you can’t bring yourself to blame the obvious, if you feel the need to widen the debate, then at least have the balls to do it in a productive manner. The damage in this case has already been done, so as I’ve said, there’s no point to the “Who knew what and when did they know it?” debate.
Instead, we as a society need to address the following:
First of all, we need to at least get a grasp as to why human nature draws us to the cover-up. There is almost no better subject than the abuse of children to draw the prototypical “tough-guy” talk; you know, the kind that starts with “if I were the one who saw that” or “if that were my kid.” That sort of talk belongs in the same sort rubbish bin as the Joe Six-Pack in a bar who has a few too many beers and thinks he could take on an MMA fighter.
You don’t want to believe that. In fact, you are reading this and thinking that I’m not talking about you. Right now, you are constructing an argument that will let you believe I’m wrong, that somehow you are different; that somehow the laws of human nature which have remained unchanged since the days of wooly mammoths and cave drawings do not apply to you.
While you are constructing that argument, consider this: blowing the whistle is the decided exception to the rule. If you are taking the grand jury testimony to heart, then you know the Penn State employee (Mike McQueary) who witnessed an act of abuse in 2002 was an assistant football coach. Without knowing anything about the man’s personality, I think we could all agree that any coach at the big-time college level is no shrinking violet. He’s a tougher guy than you are, but he didn’t spring into the “tough guy” reaction.
Then there’s Paterno. It’s obvious Paterno is a tougher guy than you. He was running out on the field with his team into his late 70’s; it took a hit from a Wisconsin tight end that would have crippled you to stop him. The fact that he can deal with the rigors of being a big-time head coach at an age when most men his age are in a box speaks to “Chuck Norris level” tough.
Paterno is a guy who has been the gold standard for football coaches for close to 50 years, and the fact that he blanched upon getting the news of what Sandusky was doing speaks volumes to the fact that the reaction to this sort of news is not predictable.
If you don’t want to believe that, ask yourself this: Even if you want to hold Paterno’s feet to the fire, do you really think Paterno made a conscious decision to allow the raping of children? Let’s be honest, Paterno made a terrible mistake, but not the one everybody thinks he made. At the end of the day, nobody really believes Paterno is an evil man, in fact it is quite the opposite. All the great things Paterno has accomplished in the past 60+ years didn’t suddenly evaporate.
Don’t misunderstand me…this is by no means a defense of Joe Paterno. It is literally killing a piece of me to say this, but this incident showed that it was time for the Paterno era in State College to come to a close.
I beg you to follow along closely to understand where I’m coming from with this. Go back to my original question about Paterno. Before you answer that, stop to remember the whole situation, and more importantly stop to view this not as somebody reading grand jury testimony (which was produced at the end of a lengthy investigation which produced information you would not have been privy to at the time), but in the light as it was presented to Paterno.
According the grand jury testimony, Paterno was told that Jerry Sandusky did things of a “sexual nature” to a child. The make-you-want-to-puke details don’t come out until later. Meanwhile, consider that Sandusky was Paterno’s colleague and friend for over three decades.
In order to believe Paterno made such a monstrous conscious decision, you have to believe that a man who spent 63 years as a football coach at the same university would turn his back on a decades-long friendship. Say what you want to about Paterno, but the man exudes loyalty.
So, let’s go back to your “if that was me” argument. Are you certain – absolutely certain – that if somebody approached you and said your friend of 30 years was raping a kid in the shower, would you believe it? Would you even want to believe it?
Even if you did believe it, what would you do?
Option number one is to call the police, but remember an important legal point here…you didn’t see it happen, somebody only told you it happened, and didn’t even do that until the next day. That means even if you called the police, they aren’t going to act because they can’t do anything based on third-party information.
Option number two is to confront your friend…Oh, except you can’t in this case, because your friend is also your employee. Don’t forget for purposes of the Penn State organizational chart, Joe Paterno was a middle-manager and the accused Jerry Sandusky as the defensive coordinator was his direct report. That means there are all kinds of rules about how you address such allegations.
Option number three is to tell the Penn State employee who reported seeing the abuse to call the police…Oh, except you can’t do that because because the employee already fulfilled their organizational obligation by informing you.
In other words, you can’t go to the cops, you can’t confront your friend, and since the person who reported the incident also is an employee, you really can’t tell them what to do after they’ve told you about the incident in question.
In other words, Paterno did the only thing he legally could do. So, the argument becomes not what Paterno knew and when he knew it. Rather it becomes a matter of why do we force people in this country into positions where they need to worry more about legalities than moralities?
In other words, when did we become a country of such gutless wimps we worry more about covering our own asses instead of doing what’s right?
The bottom line here is this: Only Sandusky, Curley, and Schultz have criminal responsibility in this affair, which is why they are under indictment. The rest of this fiasco is a result of organizational mismanagement, an astonishing lack of leadership, and the fact that this country has too many “if that were my kid” people.
It isn’t difficult to see this if you break it down. The Penn State situation is horrifying not only for the heinous nature of the crimes alleged to have been committed, but it illustrates the gutless, soulless, and borderline-criminally negligent management we’ve allowed to exist in this country. Think about it. At no point in this this process did anybody show the leadership needed to stand up and scream from the top of Old Main “EXCUSE ME, WE HAVE A CHILD-RAPING MONSTER ON OUR HANDS! WHAT THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT!”
Instead, a collection of football coaches – guys who pride themselves of instilling qualities into young men such as leadership, accountability, and courage – showed absolutely none of those things in themselves.
This is the part that’s tearing my guts out. Of all the people I held as heroes, one thing they all represented was being that “tough guy leader;” the guy that would stand up and say “THIS IS WRONG AND WE ARE GOING TO FIX IT!” For 43 years of my life, Joe Paterno was one of those guys.
Today, it is clear he no longer is. And he must go.
I mention this only because if we have a situation where something so monstrous is allowed to exist in a place that prides itself on leadership, accountability, and courage; in a place led by a living legend who exemplified those qualities, then it is incumbent upon EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US to understand that this can happen anywhere, and that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US to see that it doesn’t.
Look at the organizational management structures we use in this country. Just about every organization you can think of (Penn State included) has rules about reporting wrong-doing, and several of them (Penn State included) has rules about who is allowed to contact external entities. Clearly, the rules are in place at Penn State; so much so that a graduate assistant coach didn’t immediately call 911 when he saw a sexual assault in progress.
The fact that nobody – NOBODY – stood up on the several opportunities which presented themselves to take the lead in this matter is an indictment of those individuals only so long as you are willing to contemplate the complete picture. The fact that so many people chose to “pass the buck” suggest they had a reason to do so; that the terms of not “toeing the company line” are grave enough to make them turn a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children. In other words, you must ask the question why did the organization put those individuals in a position forcing them into such a decision in the first place?
Now, back to the “if that was my kid” guy. First of all, why does it have to be your kid? Does that mean you wouldn’t do anything if it weren’t your kid? Don’t recoil at that question; after all, it wasn’t Mike McQueary’s kid getting raped in the shower, and he did nothing.
Stop and think about why he did nothing. Suppose he breaks up the assault and beats the crap out of Sandusky in the process. The child victim then refuses to testify that he was in fact being raped. Now, McQueary is in the spot of facing a assault charge of his own, and he beat up a guy higher on the food chain than himself. He did the right thing, but now he’s looking a jail time and the loss of his job. He didn’t risk that for somebody else’s kid.
You’ve got to understand that lately we have a track record in this country of people almost always choosing to cover their ass and protect their jobs and friends rather than do the right thing. If you can read the grand jury report of the Sandusky allegations and a) not get a vivid mental picture that makes you literally sick to your stomach and b) not want to blow his junk off with a 12-gauge, you may be as must of a monster as he is.
But what that rage, bloodlust, and thirst for justice hides is the equally-as-important concept that monsters like Sandusky live with the system we’ve built, and they live there because “good” people can be forced to make decisions that ring more of self-preservation than “right” and “wrong.”
If it can happen to a man like Joe Paterno, it can happen to you.
It makes you feel better to think you would have the balls to do the right thing when faced with such a seemingly obvious choice. The truth is, you might not, because when push comes to shove, you are really being forced in such a situation to choose between legal and moral. If you aren’t willing to take the risks, then it does in fact have to be “your kid.”
Matt Millen is right. As a society, that makes us pathetic.