Monday, January 17, 2005

Don't Believe the Hype

Don't worry Peyton. Real grass is much softer than astroturf.

Despite the fact that they are a bunch of millionaire mercenaries hired to play a kid’s game, I do love those New England Patriots. They are not heroes, or supermen, or even particularly suitable for emulation as role models, but they did the sports world a huge favor on Sunday by silencing Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 20-3 in the cold and snow of my beloved New England.

As the white stuff piled up in my dooryard I watched in quiet satisfaction (it wasn’t one of those yelling, shouting games) as the Pats iconoclastically ripped up all the stupid hyperbole spewed all season by second rate sports hacks without an original thought in their heads about the ‘greatest living quarterback ever ever ever.”

Here’s the deal about Peyton Manning. He plays in a rec center on plastic grass. He plays in a division that seemingly was cobbled together with an eye to showcasing his narrow range of talents. He plays for a scab team that deserted its loyal fans in Baltimore. He’s probably a Republican. He has a gigantic head that is probably full of crawdads and barbeque sauce. He has a last name for a first name. His dad is a smug douchebag. His little brother is a crybaby whose only saving grace is helping his NY Giants lose. The previous single season touchdown pass record holder Dan Marino, of the evil Dolphins, at least played outdoors for most of his games against notably tougher opposition (he still looked like a cheese steak on rusted roller skates when he tried to run, but that was the game then).

My favorite Peyton Manning story isn’t particularly tasteful, but to my mind it’s very funny, especially after a few beers. My great friend Boss Hogg is from Georgia and used to be a regular attendee at University of Georgia football games with his friend “Mr. X”. One year Boss Hogg and Mr. X attended the Georgia vs. Tennessee game and happened to be seated behind the Manning family who were in front of the famous hedges on the sideline. After the game (a Georgia victory) Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning came over to visit with his family. At this point a rather liquidly relaxed Mr. X started yelling in a thick hick Georgia accent “Hey Peyton! I fucked your mama!” over and over. Archie Manning then tried to leap the hedge to fight Mr. X, got tangled up, and turned puce and swore his head off. Stadium security removed Boss Hogg and Mr. X to the cells below the field. Brilliant art terrorism or pathetic hooliganism? You be the judge.

Of course, in truth, my beef isn’t with Peyton Manning, however over-rated I feel he might be. As in all things, it is with lazy and unthinking journalism. The lads at “Fighting Words” (see links bar) did an excellent job dissecting this disease around the death of former Green Bay Packer star and virulent homophobe Reggie White. It is the acme of contempt for your audience and your craft when as a journalist you take the easy, uncritical herd position around an athlete, Hollywood star, or politician. To my mind, it is the job of the journalist in a democracy to challenge your audience to think, to be the gadfly, the skeptic, and contrarian. After all, the apathy and flummery that begins in the sports pages and the hagiographic Hollywood rags trickles through to the front page soon enough, and the public discourse finds itself dangerously denuded by a torrent of personality based profiles and press releases as unchallenged news.

Not every season produces a hero. Not every election produces a champion. Not every event follows the pre-determined script.


Listmaker said...

i don't pay attention to football and i haven't for years. but i am happy that the colts are finished. a student of mine from last year (an obnoxious 3rd grader now an obnoxious 4th grader) has been stopping me in the hallways over the past few weeks to tell me that the colts were going all the way. like i could give a shit. this is the same kid who told me all october how great the yankees were and who was completely insufferable until the red sox shut his fucking mouth. because of this, i found a rooting interest this postseason- root against the fucking colts.

weasel said...

One of the great joys of working with kids is realizing that its ok to admit that you intensely dislike some of them, just like with any other age group of humans.

There are a couple who come to the organization I work for that I just want to scream: "You are stupid, the teams you support have no merit, shut up- your politcal opinions are unformed and uninformed, and you have terrible personal hygiene."

Maybe I should explore working with younger kids...

Mondale said...

Just a teacher tip (imagine Mr Lockwood cornering you in Lincoln hall and offering you some 'advice')
I have also suffered from the Bosnians attacking my spelling. This is annoying but there is a cure. it's a bit laborious but it works. I assume you transplanted a word dco to your blog. i find that when i do this it throws up wierdness. I then have to sift through the entry replacing all the affected bits -normally punctuation marks- at the editing blog stage. Often just deleting a " from the word version and adding it again on the blog format. laborious but it works.

jamie said...

nice work - i have been thinking many of the same things recently. in fact i've been working on this thing about a parallel connection between Herm Edwards/Paul Hackett and George Bush/Donald Rumsfeld. but nothing was more annoying than the exuberant fellatio being performed by the media on Manning & co. they played 11 games indoors this year (incl. playoffs) and went 10-1, while going just 3-4 outdoors. granted the Vikings also sucked outdoors yet still won at Green Bay, but to hear most people tell it, a Colts victory was all but assured.

i promise that Fightin' Words will get some updates soon, but work has been a total bitch recently and internet access at home/time to write is spotty.

Anonymous said...

Aggh- Alex, where are the spelling mistakes? You can't leave me hanging like that and my brain hurts to much to search for them.

Jamie- you are a scholar and a gentleman.