In an effort to ignore the painful two weeks of Super Bowl build up that helps put another wing in Chris Berman's house, I'd like to share a few random thoughts and give a quick response to Jon's post on Joe Paterno.
- I agree completely with Jon that Joe Paterno got what was coming to him when Penn State fired him. However, I don't believe that Joe Paterno simply "wanted to be treated as more than just a football coach, as a leader of men, as an educator, as a football coach who transcended football." Joe Paterno was more than that by virtue of being a college football coach. Their role at such a crucial point in young men's lives means that college football coaches, and high school football coaches to an even greater extent, are always going to be more than just coaches. College football does not operate under the NFL's employee-employer structure, where players are constantly reminded that the game is a business. The NCAA is undoubtedly a corrupt organization with the singular goal of squeezing every last dime they can get from young, mostly poor, athletes. However, college football coaches, despite their weasely tendencies (see Saban, Nick; Petrino, Bobby; Leach, Bobby), are typically the reason that young poor kids get to lead a better life, if only for four years. Regardless of their motivation, be it genuine in the case of Joe Paterno, or not in the case of a mercenary like Nick Saban, college football coaches give young kids guidance, a role model, and most importantly the chance to achieve a better life. Joe Paterno by being a college football coach was the most formative person in thousands of kid's lives. The model of football coaches being molders of men to quote Jon's elegant phrase is not something created, but a fact. College football coaches, even if there sole motivation is winning games, provide structure, guidance, and opportunity to young men at an essential point in their lives. They might not want to be more than coaches but their role is inescapable.
- On the B.S. Report today, The Sports Guy actually said that no one holds the title for best living quarterback at the moment. Now I understand that he was having a "free flowing conversation" and might not have thought out this particular point, but what the fuck? If the Saints didn't let Alex Smith go down the field twice against them at the the end of the game, would anyone be having this conversation? Simmons and Mike Lombardi, who agreed with him about the uncertainty, fell victim to the instant feedback era we are currently in. Aaron Rodgers had arguably the greatest statistical season by a quarterback and won a Super Bowl one season ago, but he plays a bad game and that erases his accomplishments during 35 other games over the past two seasons? It's one thing for a talking head on ESPN to say words because they have to fill 24 hours with something, but for a respected columnist and a former NFL General Manager to say something so stupid was appalling.
- Ryan Braun's failed steroid test exemplifies everything that is wrong with our culture. If Ryan Braun came from the Dominican Republic or did not get along with the media, his appeal would have been mocked as yet another player trying to lie his way out of a test. But Ryan Braun is White, well-spoken, and blossoming superstar coming off an amazing season for a Milwaukee Brewers team that hadn't won a postseason series since I was -7. Amazingly, the same sports writers who are keeping Jeff Bagwell out of the Hall of Fame because he played with players who took steroids and had big muscles, want to exonerate Ryan Braun who actually failed a test. This level of hypocrisy shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who pays close attention to the sports media, but his failed test is a great example of the media crafting a narrative depending on their view of a player. In all likelihood Ryan Braun will be suspended 50 games, and even if the test is overturned -- something unprecedented at the Major League level -- if Ryan Braun wasn't Ryan Braun, we would be having an entirely different conversation.
- Mike Brown coaching the Lakers is a perfect example of repeating the past but hoping for different results. Brown could not control Lebron or build a system to exploit his full strengths and as a result the Cavs lost to inferior teams in the playoffs year in and year out. Now this same failed coach cannot control Kobe Bryant and is allowing him to play selfishly at the expense of his team's greatest strength: the post combination of Gasol and Bynum. The Lakers have the talent to make the Western Conference finals but they will lose before then unless Brown takes on a new personality and figures out how to control his superstar and build a system that maximizes his team's potential.
- The emerging story about Billy Cundiff's confusion about what down it was at the end of the AFC Championship is going to raise the usual conspiracy theories about the Patriots. And for now I'll resist because the debacle points out to me the idiocy of the NFL. The NFL should be responsible for maintaining the clocks in a stadium, not some dumbass who doesn't know that you can't advance a fumble in the final two minutes. The NFL generates billions of dollars in revenue, yet they can't hire 16 people a week to serve as an official timekeeper? How does that make any sense? Jim Harbaugh should have called a timeout, Billy Cundiff shouldn't have been wearing sweatpants, and the down should have been correct on the scoreboard.
- Where is everyone watching the Pro Bowl?
- Was Serena Williams better at tennis when she was flabbier? Is Venus half-horse? I'll answer these questions next time.