Friday, August 28, 2009

Is Brett Farve the New Roger Clemens?

This isn't the first time we've seen star athletes past their prime that refused to go quietly into the night of retirement. Muhammed Ali would probably slap Don King if he could keep his right hand steady for about thirty seconds. Roger Clemens pimped the Houston Astros to the tune of 22 million dollars. He could pick the days he wanted to pitch and he avoided the bulk of spring training. He could fly in off vacation and pitch the next day, promptly leaving for another rendezvous with Mindy Mcready. Sound familiar and ain't life grand?(I'm not suggesting that Farve is having an affair)

The last two years Farve has been able to use "retirement" as the scapegoat for not wanting to attend training camp and OTA's. Farve has been given special treatment throughout his career. John Madden helped to soldify the Brett Farve myth. Farve is known as a "gun slinger" with a strong arm. Some of that is true considering Farve has produced several seasons of throwing 30 or more touchdowns and keeping his interceptions in the mid teens. In 1993, Farve threw for a then career worst 24 interceptions. He's had a few seasons where he's topped twenty plus interceptions. In fact he has done that 6 times out of his 18 year career. He did it last season as well throwing 22 interception against 22 touchdown passes.

In the 2004 season Farve threw 29 interceptions against 20 touchdown passes. Most guys would've been run out of town after that type of season. Most analyst would've called for any other guys head after that type of season. Surprisingly the national media and most fans didn't think so. We gave him a repreive considering some of his stellar seasons in the past that netted him 3 MVP's. At this point in Farve's career, Aaron Rodgers was still waiting in the wings. Luckily for Farve Rodgers wasn't some hot shot coming out of college. Pro scouts loved his skill set but that didn't stop him from sliding in the 2005 draft to 24th overall.

The Packers finally got a chance to catch a glimpse of what Rodgers could do late in the 2007 season against the Cowboys in a Monday night game. Farve responded by valiantly leading the Pack to the NFC championship game, falling short against the Giants by throwing one of his signature interceptions. Since that game we've been allowing Farve to hold us hostage. First in New York and now in Minnesota. We've all been holding on to the glory years of Farve. So we're all partially responsible for this circus that he's been putting us through. Yes, Fran Tarkenton blame us!!!!

Some of his New York Jets teammates didn't necessarily embrace him. All was forgiven while they were winning. But the chickens came home to roost when the Jets lost multiple games down the stretch. Thomas Jones spoke out about how there was trouble in paradise during the 2008 season. Once again Farve's image didn't take that much of a hit. The Jets and Farve went their separate ways. The Jets drafted Mark Sanchez and Farve waltzed off into "retirement". Never mind that he and Brad Childress were still communicating about him playing in Minnesota.

That never happened right? Childress also "closed" the door on Farve possibly playing for them after he failed to show up for the start of training camp. He even promised a an open competition for the job between Rosenfels and Jackson. Did you know that Minnesota Vikings owner Ziggy Wolf owns a private plane? O.J. Simpson and A.C. Cowans were jealous of that entrance that Farve made two weeks ago.

Most Farve apologist cited his rotator cuff injury for Farve's lack luster play down the stretch. Injuries are apart of the game and they're apart of the legend of Brett Farve. Farve has been one of the most durable and toughest quarterbacks to ever play this game.(Some may argue thanks to his bout with painkillers skewed that) If any other quarterback, young or veteran showed this type of lack luster leadership in the locker room, poor performance on the field and cried wolf (pun intended) this much about retirement he'd receive much more criticism than this. Not so for teflon don Farve.

Still don't see the comparison to Clemens? Both decided when they were going to play. Contrary to popular belief, Clemens 22 million for playing part time did cause some stink in the Houston clubhouse. Secondly, Farve is up to his old tricks again in Minnesota. He got ten million from the Jets last year and he's getting another 12.5 mil from the Vikes with an option for another year. There's been some rumblings about a "schisms" that are already happening amongst the rank and file of the Vikings. The players and Farve's rebuttal to the rifts amongst the team is that they all have no idea about what the word means. No wonder people think that most major college programs are football factories.

Sure the Vikings players will give us positive feedback when the cameras are rolling. However lets not be naive here. There has got to be some players that played with Tavarius Jackson last season are pulling for him and think they don't need Farve. They've witnessed his development up close and personal. For what he may lack on the field, he has proven that he is willing to be apart of the group. Secondly Jackson played very well down the stretch of the 2008 season. All he's gotten for his hard work was the drafting of John David shake yo Booty. Coupled with the acquirement of a 3 million a year Sage Rosenfels who is more unproven than he is. He's handled it a lot better than a lot of guys would have. If he pulled a Jay Cutler I wouldn't be mad at him.

Several Jets described Farve as "distant". Sage Rosenfels was brought in to compete with Jackson. Some teammates may feel that Sage is equally capable as Jackson. This segment of the team may have feelings that Rosenfels and Jackson were doing just fine by competing for the job. Plus they were both at all of the OTA's and in training camp. They have both been paying the price with the other guys.

Strangely enough analyst are saying the Farve gives the Minnesota Vikings the best chance to play in the superbowl. Yeah right. Before the 2007 season the Packers had missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons. The oldest quarterback to lead a team to a Superbowl championship was John Elway at age 38. Steve Deberg, Warren Moon, Vinny Testeverde, Steve Grogan, and Joe Montana are notable names in the superbowl era to have led their teams deep in the playoffs. Elway was largely supported by the dominance of Terrell Davis.

Rod Smith and Shannon Sharpe were reliable targets. The Vikings have Adrian Peterson and Bernard Berrian. Berrian had a stellar season last year but can he do it in back to back years? Is Farve willing to accept a reduced amount of passing attempts to feed Peterson the ball? Has his arm fully healed? Is Bobby Wade going to emerge has a dominant slot receiver? Farve is going to be 40 this year. Is he willing to return to the years where he made less mistakes while being supported by work horse backs like Dorsey Levins and Ahman Green? The NFC north isn't going to be a cake walk.

The Bears are better and so are the Packers. The Vikings and Packers will be must see TV twice this season First in Minnesota on October 5th and again on Nov 1st. Farve the wrangler man gets to prove that his game is still as tight as his jeans. We shall see. Strangely enough even after my rant I will be watching.... Ah opinions and Football season.. Doesn't get any better than that!!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is playing in the NFL a right or a privilege?

The recent criminal cases of NFL players has caused American society to reevaluate our celebration of public figures. Michael Vick's recent partial reinstatement to the NFL has sparked a huge debate with a litany of opinions. Donte Stallworth's recent suspension hasn't had the same reaction though it resulted in jail time and a year suspension from football. Some have argued that Stallworth's vehicular homicide of Mario Reyes is much worse than Vick's cruelty to animals.

The underlining theme that caught my attention in both their public statements was that playing in the NFL was a privilege and not a right. That statement in itself is an oxymoron considering some key words that I rediscovered. The Declaration of Independence has a powerful statement in it that I believe is the antithesis of the public sentiment among most media experts and American football fans.

Does the idea of people being endowed by the creator with unalienable rights to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness fall on deaf ears in 21st century America? Or is it more convenient to be inconsistent with deciding who should be the rightful heirs to this sacred promise? The latter is really the pulse of the public fascination with celebrity and privilege. How is it that a guy can kill a human being and get a thirty day sentence while a man kills animals gets only two years?

The answer is the hypocrisy of celebrity and the appearance of justice for all. Justice in America no doubt can be bought. Average citizens would in most cases spend much more time in jail than Stallworth for the same crime that he committed. In a cruel sense of irony, some average citizens that have been convicted of dog fighting like Vick has gotten less time. Honestly, trying to equate our everyday lives with NFL players by questioning their right to be employed by the NFL is not only absurd but its largely dehumanizing. Further evidence to this is how Vick has now become more of a symbol in the cause of animal rights rather than a human being, desperate to reestablish his sense of his humanity while navigating through the mine field of American society.

Everyday people have the same sense of entitlement that they accuse sports stars of having. After all, it is the fan base of major sports that creates the atmosphere for this monster of privilege in the first place. Let's be honest, most sports fans covet the money professional athletes earn. It explains why some people want to see NFL players pay an even steeper price than what they would want to pay themselves if they were in the same position. It also explains why we are fascinated with seeing the "fall from grace" and a subsequent "comeback story".

This sense of entitlement is on display in everyday American life both in civic and public life. How many discrimination lawsuits are on the books from various groups? Why is affirmative action a federal law in this country? Why do some people feel the election of Barack Obama hails the total destruction of "their country"? How is that any different than an NFL player's right to play pro football considering he has met all of the qualifications? Isn't pro sports a little bit more pure in regards to people getting a fair opportunity based on their own merit? Does America resemble sport in that regard? The answer is a resounding NO..

Criminal behavior on any level should not be excused but when a disgraced citizen serves their time then they are automatically restored back into the rat race of pursuing life, liberty and happiness. So the falsehood of playing professional sports isn't a right is but a privilege is complete hogwash. Privilege and the right to pursue a human endeavor are interchangeable. Money, justice, prestige, privilege and celebrity is something that the common sports fan will never understand. We are more likely to have dinner with a martian than gain acceptance into the country club of sports celebrity.

The alienation of the common man from elite status creates the great divide between the sports fan and the athletes we cheer for. In reality, we're just a pawn in the grand scheme of why professional sports exist in the first place. Professional sports leagues will give us the occasional sacrificial lamb to appease public outrage in order to keep the dollars flowing. Plain and simple. Our obsession to witness celebrity athletes have some sort of remorse and contrition is beyond comical. It's actually sick. Some would rather see Vick work in construction than continue his football career which gives credence to this argument.

Football season is upon us which is always our saving grace. The field of struggle is what buys the NFL time from the insanity of managing public persona in the off season. It's the reason why they have to nail the selection of the artist that performs during the halftime show opening weekend. We as American sports fans must separate ourselves from the expectation of sports stars bearing the total responsibility for the pedestal we put them on. In other words, most of us need to get a life. September 10th where are you?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why Louisville didn't Fire Rick Pitino.

Rick Pitino falls in a long line of public figures from all walks of life that fall prey to beautiful women. My problem isn't with the juicy details of the romp in the restaurant. What's so funny is how the public is buying into that he only "slept" with her on one occasion. Sure it may seem wrong to speculate but its highly unlikely that a one time chance encounter has caused the amount of stress in the life of Rick Pitino.

The handwriting was on the wall. Athletic director Tom Jurich, stated that Pitino had been truthful" about the affair. Louisville President, Dr James Ramsey followed up with a statement expressing shock of the recent details surrounding his legendary coach's extortion case. So what we have is a three ring circus that mounts a strong legal team against the wolves of public opinion. Pitino would have us believe that he would drop 3,000 dollars for health insurance for someone he hardly knows. I guess he's in favor for universal health care.

Slick Rick would also have us to believe he's the real victim in this case because he hasn't been brought up on any charges. Sorry but I was born at night and not last night. The press conferences of the A.D. and Dr. Ramsey resembled a classic case of misdirection. It's the academic version of the stop snitching campaign. I'm going to be consistent. I do believe Rick should be fired for his personal indiscretions. It's not like he's Jim Harrick or Todd Bozeman. (As far as we know) However we should make fun of him for not using that million dollar contract to buy some condoms.

Plus he needs to start listening to hip hop to learn how to lie a little better. Its absurd that he would have the public believe that he had just laid eyes on her the first time that night.

What I find ironic is that sexual assault cases involving high profile public figures take on a different angle in the court of public opinion. Some people like their heroes "perfect" and unblemished. While others empathize with scandalous behavior considering they don't TMZ cameras trying to capture a Mike Price moment. Steve McNair's untimely death reminded us just how fragile hero worship really is. WE only know our sport heroes for what they do on the field battle.

The harsh reality is that some national sports columnist felt compelled to discredit McNair's charity work due to his infidelity. Strangely enough these same columnist didn't have the same indignation for a man who clearly has the same issues while he yet lives. The University of Louisville aren't that embarrassed considering Pitino had just led them to another 30 win season. Louisville enjoyed a season where they dominated the Big East, made a deep run in the NCAA tournament and had two players get drafted in the first round in the NBA draft.

WE don't fire those type of guys in America. The more wins and autographed copies of their books they give us the more likely we are to turn a blind eye when they behave badly. We actually demand players transfer if they get caught humping in the student center. Of course he's not the starting tailback either. What do we do about a successful coach that could probably make a gubernatorial run after his coaching days? Let him pass. George O'Leary can lie on his resume and get another job but a player can get kicked out of BYU just for going a little to far with a coed. Ah the sweet taste of hypocrisy. Guys like Gary Barnett and Rick Neuheisel can lose their jobs at the college level not for scandal but for not winning enough games to keep that postseason revenue coming in.

Larry Eustachy feels me if you don't. Tic Price, former Memphis Coach may want to chime in too. Winning cures adulterous casual sex like penicillin does for most STD's. (Just so you know I wouldn't know anything about that)

Pitino knew that coming forward in early July would help to cement some of his reputation. Consider it damage control at this stage because now his public persona is at stake. The civil case was brilliant considering that his would be baby mama didn't put a gun to his head to extort him. Maybe a boob and some fish nets but never a 357 magnum. That would've been to messy. We may never know how she got him to keep quiet about her alleged extortion for a period of six years. However it's not so hard to believe that he devised an escape plan better than most dishonest CEO's.

Coaches plot their escape for greener pastures all of the time. Memphis can definitely attest to that. Calipari sold them down the river by convincing R.C. Buford that the firestorm of academic fraud would blow over after the season. 3 months later he's holding a press conference reminiscent of Jimmy Swaggart's confession of loving Jesus more than the ladies of the evening. Jurich and Dr. Ramsey now have something to hold over Pitino's head. Can you imagine the guilt trip they'll lay on him if any other school comes knocking? They will play the tape of their three stooges impression that diverted the public firestorm from the University and most noteably him. As long as he continues to be competitive in the Big East, contends for a national championship and slaps Calipari around every year on the court and in recruiting, he can bang girls in the locker room like Magic used to do.

Winning is the core reason why public sports figures are allowed to get away with things that average citizens never will get away with. That's the real reason why the Louisville administration is standing behind Pitino. Nothing more and nothing less.