Archive for November, 2007

29
Nov
07

Blown coverage

TaylorAs I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Washington Redskins’ safety Sean Taylor was gunned down in his Miami home earlier this week.

(Thoughts and prayers are with Taylor’s family, especially his fiancee and his young child.)

I’ve thought about this for a couple days, and not to be overly dramatic, but the coverage of Taylor’s death was borderline infuriating.

I can’t even imagine a teammate – let alone a family member – of Taylor’s watching what I watched.

Originally, there were no details about what went down. All we knew was that Taylor was shot and was in critical condition. But ESPN – perhaps still with a bit of a Vick hard-on – decided it was necessary to read off Taylor’s arrest record.

The Leader also must not have found the shooting of an NFL star very sexy, because they opened SportsCenter with a Celtics highlight before informing of Taylor’s condition. Thinking that someone was actually hired to make news-related decisions in Bristol makes me shudder.

Now, Taylor’s past is a factor in the story, don’t get me wrong, but it shouldn’t have been used to BLAME him for what happened.

And if ESPN hinted that Taylor’s lifestyle was the reason for his death, Washington Post columnist  Michael Wilbon, just straight out said it:

I know how I feel about Taylor, and this latest news isn’t surprising in the least, not to me. Whether this incident is or isn’t random, Taylor grew up in a violent world, embraced it, claimed it, loved to run in it and refused to divorce himself from it. He ain’t the first and won’t be the last. We have no idea what happened, or if what we know now will be revised later. It’s sad, yes, but hardly surprising.

Now, Wilbon wouldn’t stoop to speculating about Taylor’s life, as he pointed out earlier in his chat:

we obviously will start with Redskins safety Sean Taylor, shot after midnight this morning at his home in South Florida, now reported in critical condition. … There’s a ton of speculation about the details of his condition and the details of the incident, but this isn’t a blog and we’re not going to get into wild guessing and speculating here…

Obviously, only a blog would suggest to know things (like someone’s personality or intentions) without actually knowing or talking to that person.

Interestingly enough, three days later, Taylor’s childhood friend (and fellow NFL player) Antrel Rolle, said the former Redskin was truly trying to change his life for the better, stop running with the wrong crew.

So here’s a guy, about the same age as me, trying to turn his life around before it’s too late. He gets taken down in a terrible tragedy, and all we hear about from ESPN and Mike Wilbon (which are really one in the same) is what a horrible troublemaker he was.

What was it you said about Taylor and the gang life, Mike? Oh yea, he “embraced it, claimed it, loved to run in it and refused to divorce himself from it.”

Because you would know.

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21
Nov
07

‘Let’s win this one for Stacey Peterson’

Drew Peterson“Alright team, for weeks now we’ve been lost, missing, even presumed dead… But does that mean we quit? Hell no! Is the family of Stacey Peterson quitting on her despite the eerily similar circumstances that they’re in? No!”

“And how about all them Indians back at wounded knee? All the odds were stacked against them. The White Man had better weapons, more man power, and horses, oh did they have horses. Just like Auburn’s got some horses in their backfield. But I’ll tell you what guys, those Indians, they never stopped fighting ’till every last one of them was dead. And that’s what I expect outta all of you.”

Go go Power Rangers “What’s that boys? Still not motivated? Well I’m sure a lot of you recall a little cultural phenomenon called ‘The Power Rangers.’ Well boys, the challenge that faces us this week brings me back to a historical moment when all the other rangers presumed the Green Ranger had died. And believe me, I thought the same thing myself. And you know what? A lot of people are taking us for dead, too. But you know what happened? Tommy came back as a whole new, even more powerful ranger… The White Ranger. With that in mind, all I have to say is: Let’s show these Tigers what this Megazord can really do.”

To Nick Saban and every other coach that uses history, movies, make believe or anything else other than sports to motivate their teams… Give it a rest. The Twin Towers ain’t gonna win you football games. Neither will 300, Jarhead or Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Balanced offense and sound defense will.

So why don’t you stick to coaching football, and leave the 9/11 references to Rudy Giuliani.

20
Nov
07

What a Rush

storm it

Sports reporting is a pretty cool gig. You get a comfy seat, free food, an unobstructed view, more free food and stats galore. Oh, and some drunk dude with a mullet does not spill beer on your brand new jersey. And when the game is all said and done, you even get to rub elbows (among other body parts… which we’ll save for another post) with the star athletes themselves.

But there is one aspect to the game, especially in college sports, that a lot of journalists like to talk about, but in reality, they can never, ever relate to. And that’s the sheer madness that ensues after a big win.

Storming the floor. Rushing the field. Whatever you want to call it, a lot of people like to talk about it, but few have truly experienced it from both ends (that’s what she said).

That’s why this Fynal Cutter is here to say, fresh off a field frolic of my own in Bloomington, that unleashing hoards of college kids onto a playing field is definitely not a bad thing (yes, that’s me under the bucket).

It seems like once a year this becomes the big debate in sports: Whether or not students should be allowed on the field/court after an upset or historic win. And a lot of pundits like to say it’s unsafe, or that there is an invisible barrier that’s not supposed to be broken. Well I say bologna to that barrier.

Try telling IU quarterback Kellen Lewis that none of the fans that lifted him up and carried him off the field should have been allowed down. Better yet, try telling any number of the thousands of regular college Joes and Janes that they should never have been allowed to forge a memory that will stick with them forever.

Speaking personally, I’ve been on both sides of this story. I’ve sat in a press box while madness spilled out before my very eyes. I’ve also gone stark-raving mad and burst through that invisible barrier to jump around, shoulder to shoulder with my heroes like we’re equals. Because in those moments, there is no division. It’s not a matter of athletes and students, it’s just a bunch of college kids, all wearing the same colors, collectively reveling in the same glorious moment.

So for every instance of legitimate danger (and all things considered, there are only a very, very select few) there are thousands and thousands of students who experience something that will never, ever leave them. And aren’t the fans the reason these events take place in the first place?

So sports reporters can go on and on with all their reasons why colleges should do more to dissuade that sort of behavior, but after this past weekend I feel like I have a better idea why those guys all say that. They’re just jealous they’re not the ones getting to kiss the bucket. Cuz it’s one of the very few instances where it truly is better to be a fan.

14
Nov
07

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s….coming for your kids!

Soulja BoyThis, friends, is the first Google image result for “Soulja Boy.”

I have no idea what Soulja Boy actually looks like, so I’m going to assume this is him.

And, since the Cut is the only sports blog yet to post about the dance that swept the sports world what seems like years ago — but somehow continues to be a fad — I feel left out.

So, when I saw the song “Crank That” addressed in the pages of Sports Illustrated, I knew the jig (note: new editor, my great, great Irish grandfather) had officially become part of popular culture.

But SI, as they usually do, brings up a point not many have been discussing. Soulja Boy’s anthem has been blasting from the speakers of stadiums throughout the country, but is anyone actually listening to the words? Yea, they aren’t so…uh, PC:

…but do normally conservative sports officials, who have been hypersensitive to decency issues since Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, understand what’s behind the fun?

Apparently not. It’s widely known among younger Soulja Boy fans that Superman, in the context of the song, is slang for a sexual act that cannot be described in the pages of SI.

In case you are curious, and do not yet know, this is what “Superman” means (Note, if you look at this at work, you will probably get fired. If you look at it at church, you will probably be struck dead.)

Pablo S. Torre, who wrote this piece, hits the nail on the head (between the lines). How can David Stern tell players how to dress and fine them in order to remove a “hip-hop” feel from the NBA, but then allow this song to be Cranked from PA systems across the nation?

Now, I’m not calling for pulling the song because of the lyrics. Songs with raunchy lines (that have been edited for radio) have been featured as team anthems for as long as I’ve been watching. (Remember Trick Daddy’s “Let’s Go” a few years back?)

But how hypocritical is this for the leagues? Players, you can stereotype as gangsters, pimps and thugs by the way they dress…but naughty music? We can let that slide. As long as the fans in the seats love it.

Most telling of the SI piece was the last line:

“(NFL spokesman Greg) Aiello told SI that its question about the rapper was the first time he had heard of Soulja Boy.”

Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

12
Nov
07

Colts Rhymes With Bolts

Shawne MerrimanWhat a weekend.

First, I had to watch my poor Hoosiers get edged out in Evanston (that’s Northwestern, folks).

Then the Colts assemble their C- squad (no Dallas Clark, no Marv, no Vanderjagt), fall down by 23, then miss a field goal for their greatest comeback ever.

And after all the great football, I sink into the couch to catch up on some NFL happenings…and I can’t help but critique.

Best line by someone who went bat-shit years ago: Chris Berman, on the Browns-Steelers “rivalry.”

“To beat a team that has your number, you almost have to be better than that team.”

Usually, being better than the other team IS key in turning around a lop-sided rivalry. Thanks for the analysis gold Boom.

Best observation during a game: This one goes to Ms. FynalCut.

“Why do the guys on this team (the Chargers) celebrate every time they do anything?”

Well, dear, they are douchebags. And they overcompensate for never winning anything.

Best Hail Mary attempt at creating some publicity for yourself, Peter King, “Monday Morning Quarterback”:

I’ve got to take on Barry Melrose here. Keep in mind I’m part of a New Jersey Devils season-ticket group, so I have a vested interest in the team and the new arena — the Prudential Center in Newark, where I saw the Devils and Penguins last Monday.

Melrose has since backtracked from his gratuitous line about the arena and city, but here it is: “It [the arena] looks great on the inside, but don’t go outside, especially if you’ve got a wallet or anything else, because the area around the building is so awful.”

I am in Newark quite a bit, unlike Melrose, who admitted he hasn’t been to the arena yet. And what’s happening there is the hockey arena is the centerpiece for some badly needed downtown development. The area around the building right now is not nice. But is it unsafe? Absolutely not. The place is crawling with cops. The parking areas are as secure as the ones at any stadium or arena I’ve been to. It’s a simple in-and-out place if you’re driving, and not quite as simple but no less safe if you take the train to Newark Penn Station, a three-block walk away.

Sorry for that gigantic block quote, but you probably get the point. Peter King…calling out Barry Melrose…for calling out the new NEW JERSEY DEVILS ARENA. Another dose of excellent football analysis. Anyone else think maybe MMQ is getting a bit too long?

Speaking of hate, we love feuds. Some blog start a feud with us. We hate you (fill in your blog name). We hate everything you do. Let’s fight through our words.

Phrase that made me want to be Adrian Peterson’s knee: Every outlet discovered — Genius! — that the word Colts, does indeed rhyme with the word Bolts. With the exception of the actual calling of the game, I’m not sure I heard the word “Chargers” this weekend. Tip: If the only rhyme you can come up with is the one you used the last 435 headlines in a row, just use the team names. Spare us all.

Until the next week of awful coverage, live it up people.

06
Nov
07

tom brady beats aids

Just two days removed from toppling the previously undefeated Indianapolis Colts, The FynalCut has received exclusive information that Tom Brady has become the first human being in history to conquer AIDS. Brady, at the tender age of 30, is now the only quarterback in NFL history to defeat 31 NFL teams and an incurable virus.

“I have all the respect in the world for AIDS” Brady told The FynalCut. “That virus has had its way with more than 25 million opponents, but I just stuck to the game plan and gave it my all.”

It is unknown how Brady contracted the virus, but some are speculating that it may have had something to do with a goat handling expedition (pictured) Brady took part in in Fort Wayne, Ind., immediately following Sunday’s game. The two-time Super Bowl MVP began feeling slightly under the weather on his flight home. After consulting with a team physician, Brady learned the true extent of his condition sometime late Sunday evening.

“It certainly scared me a bit at first, but in the end I knew I just needed to treat this one like any other game,” he said.

Brady spent all of Monday with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick watching film of AIDS, picking up on it’s tendencies and vulnerabilities. Then, sometime late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, Brady handed the virus its first-ever taste of failure.

“I just don’t know what to say,” the acquired immune deficiency syndrome said in a press release. “I take my hat off to Brady and the rest of the Patriot organization. I’ve had a lot of success in my career, but I have to admit: He’s just flat-out better than me.”

The unheralded victory doesn’t come without its own dose of controversy, however. Reports have already begun to surface about several men in New England attire spotted with video cameras in India, South Africa and several other underprivileged nations.

It’s unknown exactly how much assistance this video could have provided Brady in his battle with the merciless disease, but several bloggers and T.V. analysts are already calling into question Brady’s three previous victories against influenza along with a supposed defeat he handed to the chicken pox in fifth grade.

“No comment,” Belichick said regarding the matter.

02
Nov
07

The Bledsoe Factor

Colts. Patriots. Patriots. Manning. Brady. Colts. Colts. Belichick. Dungy. Peyton. Brady. Colts. Patriots. Sean Salisbury.

Sweet Crimmity, I’m sorry. I got stuck there. Ahem. Moving on…

Two professional football teams are playing this week, and after busting out my abacus I’ve arrived at the conclusion that they are both half-way decent. Sliding a few more colored pegs around, it’s also dawned on me that the respective quarterbacks of said teams are also above average flingers of the football. But these are all trivialities that our beautiful colored, TV boxes have been sharing with us for some time now.

But amongst all the hoop-la and rabble rousing done by our favorite sharers of sports information, you hear the words “greatest” and “best ever” a lot. And, to be fair, it’s hard to argue in this instance. Especially pertaining to the quarterbacks.  Tom Brady and Peyton Manning… They put up good numbers.

Numbers. They empower a lot of Manning and Brady arguments — Peyton’s already creeping in on the Top 10 and Brady’s on pace to break all sorts of single-season marks.  But those same numbers can also be swung to work in the other direction. Why?

Drew Bledsoe.

If you actually take a look at the full list of all time touchdown leaders, passing leaders and completion leaders you’ll find a lot of consistent names in the three, but one of them is Bledsoe. In fact, his rankings of 13th, 7th and 5th would place him ahead of players like Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Dan Fouts. Those guys have busts in Canton. I’m not expecting the same for Drew.

This is not to say that numbers don’t matter. They do. But they don’t paint the whole picture. Neither do Super Bowls. Nothing does. And I guess, that’s kind of my point. Arguments about greatest this and best that are really frugal and staged more for effect.

Now I’m aware that this is no big news. [Dateline — Chicago. Man discovers that T.V. arguments may be a waste of time.] All I’m hoping is that if we, as fans, viewers and third-party participants, can become slightly more educated as to what is and isn’t productive and beneficial discourse, perhaps, maybe, possibly we can begin to see the same from the media. For every pointless argument you get into with a co-worker over impossible-to-decide circumstances, you’re only encouraging more “Budweiser Hot Seats” or “First and Tens.”

The stupid argument-based talk show only occurs because stupid arguments happen in the first place.  

So next time you overhear some Joe and Jim in a heated exchange over whether Brady’s Super Bowl rings place him ahead of Manning, just chime in, “Yeah, but what about Drew Bledsoe?”

***Now Back to our Regularly Scheduled Broadcast***

Patriots. Colts. Colts. Brady. Bob Sanders. Bruschi. Belichick. Colts. Colts….