Saturday, March 14, 2009

Does This Story Make Me Look Fat?

The other day, I was listening to Dan Patrick’s podcast and he was talking about breaking some exclusive news story that LeBron James was going to be on an “Entourage” episode with Tom Brady. I thought that it was mildly interesting, but since it’s not uncommon for athletes to have cameo appearances in TV shows or movies I didn’t think much of it. Then he went on a sort of tongue-in-cheek farcical tangent, asking if anyone had called about his breaking news, or as he calls it, “spraining news.” As if being the first to say something meant more than the actual event itself (e.g. LeBron appearing on “Entourage”). That got me thinking, does it really matter to anyone outside of the media industry who breaks the news? Because once the story, whatever the story may be, is “out” then all news outlets will cover it and cover it ad naseum. I understand that information guys (news, sports, entertainment or otherwise) need to constantly be searching for fresh stories and breaking news in order to prove their worth to continually to keep their network, newspaper (crossing self, pouring out liquor), or website relevant. But to the consumers of that information, whoever “broke” the story couldn’t be more irrelevant. Who cares?

In a way, the media is analogous to women. What I mean by that is in my years knowing women and being married for awhile now, it’s clear that when women get dressed up and want to look their best, they are not doing so for their husband, boyfriend, date etc. They are dressing up for other women. Sure, their husband, boyfriend, date etc. think that they look good (that is if they do in fact look good, as we know, that’s not always the case), but that’s a byproduct. The intent is to secure the “those shoes are so cute” comment from other women. This will never change. Women want to look good for self-esteem purposes, but the overriding motivation is that they want to look good for other women.

The media and specific media members want to look good for other media members. They want to be known as the reporter that got the scoop on whatever story is big that day, such as Selena Roberts breaking the Alex Rodriguez uses steroids story. It looks good for that reporter to land that story. Some non-media people may remember who broke the story, but more likely than not the story is the story, not the person who broke the story. The only people who care about the “who” are those in the media, because we, as a reading, watching, and listening public only care about the information, not who is providing it.

As an aside, I think that the Alex Rodriguez situation is an honest-to-goodness story, worthy of all of the frothiness that it has caused. I do not think that Terrell Owens getting cut by Dallas and subsequently being signed by Buffalo is worthy of breaking news story. The big difference between the two is that the Rodriguez story may never have seen the light of day except for Roberts doing good investigative work. Time could have gone on and no one would have found out unless she unearthed the information. That is not the same thing as the Terrell Owens situation. As time winded down toward the start of the NFL season, we all would have found out if Terrell Owens was going to be with Dallas or be cut; Dallas would eventually let us know. There was no need for reporters to keep asking Jerry Jones the same question over and f’ing over again. Time solves this question. Same goes for the Buffalo angle. Time will tell us if he gets picked up by someone and when. There is no need to have a vigil. There is no need to “break” this story because Buffalo, like Dallas, would have announced it.

I understand that Terrell Owens is an intriguing story to some. He’s a talented player who is so unabashedly starved for attention and will constantly seek the limelight. I’m sure he wants to be remembered as a great player, and he will be, but he’ll always have his detractors because his bravado detracts from the actual plays he makes on the field. But I honestly wonder if he’s really as interesting as major media outlets make him out to be. Would we care if they didn’t report everything that he does? Do they carry this news because we demand it, or do we watch, read, listen to it because it’s pushed to us? There are 1,696 players on the 53-man roster of NFL teams. The NFL draft is around the corner. It’s amazing to me that one person can garner so much airtime without doing much to deserve it. If he retired tomorrow, who would really care? Well, I guess the good people of Buffalo would, but outside of that frozen hamlet, I really doubt that he’d be missed. Luckily for me and others like me, he’s nearing the end of his career and he’ll fade away very soon. Unless, of course, some network decides to follow him around with a camera on a show called “T & A with T.O.!” which stands for “time and access” and not the other, more intriguing usage of T &A, although I’d assume that would be part of the show as well. We’d get to see T.O. walking around L.A. getting into adventures and touching people’s lives, kind of like what Jules wanted to do. Or, more likely, we’d see him travel around the city with a pack of sycophantic types feeding him peeled grapes and telling him how hot he is.

Marko Jaric

First, sexual assault is a cowardly, prison-rapeable offense. Second, I fully understand that these things can be a he-said, she-said thing. However, for a guy to step out, even if he’s just being flirtatious or whatever, on Adriana Lima is so unspeakably moronic that Memphis should be able to void Jaric’s contract for gross stupidity. There has got to be some kind of clause in his contract for that, right? Sort of like a morals clause, “Player’s contract shall be irrevocably voided if Player jeopardizes his relationship with his piping, habaneo-pepper hot Brazilian supermodel girlfriend/fiancĂ©/wife by even looking lustily in the direction of a another human, animal, magazine or computer screen.” In other words, Jaric deserves to lose millions of dollars for screwing this up. He was in a stratosphere above his head anyway, or to use a word my friend, Jay, uses in these instances, he was “treeing.”
[Update] I just read here: that Jaric won't be charged, but as I said above, risking going from a Lima-existence to a non-Lima existence is moronic.

Byron Leftwich & Seahawks Generally

Sign him, Seahawks. I don’t know what kind of offense they will run in Seattle, but I do think that if he’s willing to be a backup, then he’s certainly worth it. He’s a huge upgrade over Charlie Frye and Seneca Wallace. I do like Wallace, and he has played very well in Hasselbeck’s absence, but if Seattle has a chance to bring in a guy who could and should definitely be a starter in the NFL as a backup, I think they’ve got to do it. I’d feel very comfortable with a QB situation of Hasselbeck, Leftwich, and Wallace. I never felt comfortable with Charlie Frye.

I have an illogical belief that the Seahawks are going to be good next year. I say it just about every year because I convince myself that because I know their team and their players then it means that I can predict that they’ll be good. Forget the fact that every single one of their offensive line ended up on the injured reserve before the season was over. Forget the fact that every one of their wide receivers was injured during the season or coming off of an injury before the season. Forget the fact that their Pro-Bowl-caliber QB ended up sitting out nearly half of the season with a bulging disk in his back. Forget the fact that their defense was atrocious and could not get off of the field. I say forget all of that and focus on this one nugget: from a karma perspective, that conveyor belt of beaver traps can’t happen again to this team. It just can’t. The NFL gods were telling Holmgren that he should have left after 2007. No one ever stays with just one year left on their deal. As much of an awesome dude Holmgren is, and by all accounts he was, he still couldn’t get past the fact that he was a lame duck coach. Players do not want to be terrible, but when there is someone else to shoulder the blame, it makes things a little easier. Subconsciously it’s impossible for players (employees, essentially) not to let off the gas a little in imperceptible ways if the guy making decisions and riding these players is not going to be around. Just think about what it’s like when there are simply no consequences to what you do. Would you still work as hard as you had been if there were no penalties associated with your behavior?

Andre Smith

This guy is taking a beating in media. However, no matter how terribly he’s performed in the days since he left Alabama’s program and declared for the draft, none of the negatives about him have anything to do with his ability to play football, which is what he’s going to be paid millions to do. Last we saw of Mr. Smith on the field, he was putting together a season that earned him the Outland Trophy, awarded to the best interior offensive or defensive lineman. Past winners include guys like Bruce Smith, Chad Hennings, Russell Maryland, Steve Emtman, Will Shields, Jonathan Ogden, Orlando Pace, Chris Samuels, John Henderon, Bryant McKinnie, Joe Thomas, and Glenn Dorsey. Those guys range from Hall of Famers to young players who may be great, but are in the very early stages of their NFL careers. Some guys who also won it recently and who have not played up their potential include Rien Long, Robert Gallery, and Jammal Brown. Notice how I snuck Steve Emtman in the first group? I have a soft spot for the guy since he is in the conversation for the best defensive player in modern college football history. He was an incredible beast and wore a half shirt as a 290 lb white dude. You have to respect that—or respect the ‘roids, whichever.

My point is that everyone needs to remember that the NFL draft and the NFL, generally, is all about misinformation. The people running NFL teams are not idiots. We may think so from time to time when teams like Detroit keep drafting wide receivers with their first pick or when teams like Washington pay exorbitant amounts of cash to free agents for very little return. But on the whole, NFL front office guys are acutely aware that every word they say around draft time will be scooped up by some media source and be dispersed within seconds. The fans demand it from the media because they are hungry for NFL news. The NFL teams know this so they use it to their advantage.

Even if a “scout” remains “anonymous” it doesn’t matter so long as the message gets out there. “We think Andre Smith is a horrible football player with a bad attitude” or “We won’t touch him, he’s not worth the trouble.” Two words for you: B and S. I don’t buy it. Not for a second. I understand that Andre Smith has cost himself a shot at being drafted high in the first round, but it’s not as if he’s not going to get a chance and that he’s not going to be a first-round pick and a multimillionaire. It’s ludicrous to think otherwise. During the season, when they were actually playing football, Andre Smith was being tabbed as possibly the number one pick in the draft. Number One. To even suggest that he’s fallen out of the first round or, as some people predict, out of the first day is patently ridiculous. He’s a hugely talented left tackle who dominated at Alabama, who, last I checked, was a pretty damn good football team, in a conference that is clearly the best in the country, and the number-one-ranked team late in the season. Everything that has happened to Smith since the SEC Championship Game against Florida has been negative. But again, none of what he did had one thing to do with him being able to play football.

Teams are starving for talented offensive tackles like Smith. He won’t be the first pick in the draft, but he will go in the first round. That’s a guarantee. He’s too talented and teams need his ability. It’s been written many times that teams factor in “character” when considering who to bring in to their franchise, but remember that teams will always, always, always choose talent over character because they believe that with the right system, the player will behave for them and be successful. There is a laundry list of guys who you wouldn’t want bagging your groceries let alone paying millions of dollars to. For every Adam “Pacman” Jones and Odell Thurman, who may be completely ostracized from the NFL by now, there are several players who have been given numerous chances despite their reprehensible behavior and remain employed by NFL teams. An admittedly non-comprehensive list: Larry Johnson (woman beater), Marshawn Lynch (hit-and-runner), Chris Henry (a string of DUIs and assaults), Matt Jones (cocaine possession… I didn’t know people still did cocaine, I thought that went out with pegged pants, feathered hair, and sport coats with rolled-up sleeves), Jerramy Stevens (drunk-driving menace), Bryant McKinnie (felony battery), Gosder Cherilus (bar brawler), Cedric Benson (DUI and BUI), Marvin Harrison (gun issues), Tank Johnson (gun issues), Jared Allen (three DUIs), Charles Grant (involuntary manslaughter involving a pregnant woman), Rocky Bernard (domestic violence), James Harrison (domestic violence), Plaxico Burress (general idiocy, shooting self in night club), Koren Robinson (multiple DUIs), Ricky Manning Jr. (felony assault), and the Patron Saint of Horrible Humans, Drunk Driving, Mother Killing, Leonard Little.

While Andre Smith seems to not have a good grasp on putting forth a professional appearance, he has not been in any legal trouble that I’ve seen. Perhaps he shows bad judgment that may lead to legal troubles down the line, but do people really think that NFL teams are going to collectively teach guys like Andre Smith a lesson by not drafting him? They’d be fools to do that. If an NFL team thinks that he’s a good player, then they are going to draft him and pay him money to play football. If he’s good at that, he’ll last in the league a very long time. If he’s not good, he’ll be cut, whether he’s a “good guy” or “bad guy,” it doesn’t matter. If he can play, he’ll get paid, and that’s that.
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