Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Time For Me To Re-Memorize How To Spell Wojciechowski

I can only refer to him as "Gene" so many times in a row in any given post. I need some variety, you know? On the whole, the following is far from his worst. But I'm picking on it because of its dangerously high concentration of cliches. I mean, there are lots. And lots. And lots. Of them. Read with caution.

This is ESPN's "Senior National Columnist." By my estimation his articles are linked on their front page more often than anyone's except TMQ's or Simmon's. I understand that most Super Bowl-related story lines have been pretty much beaten to death by this point in the season, because the Patriots have been at the center of a media firestorm since week 1 and the Giants play in New York. But really? You're a Senior National Columnist, and this is what you come up with? Basically one big article that can be summed up as: "the Patriots are great because of a bunch of shit that doesn't actually mean anything." Really? What the hell is wrong with you?

Granted, some of the cliches aren't Wojciechowski's. They're quotes. But he's the one who chose to include them, so he's still responsible.

This is the greatest team of all time? This is the team that's going to have its team photo bronzed for posterity? The team that's supposed to make us forget about all those other great teams: the '72 Miami Dolphins, the '27 New York Yankees, the '01 Wilbon and Kornheiser?

The short answer is yes.

The correct answer is no. We're not supposed to forget about anyone else, much less a team in a different sport, if New England finishes out their season with a win. This reminds me of the time back in 2003 that Barry Bonds said he wanted to get to 715 home runs so he could "wipe out" Babe Ruth. "Don't talk about him no more." said Bonds at the time. Actually, I personally wouldn't mind if we never talked about those self-fellating asscocks on the '72 Dolphins again. That would be the one and only unshitty aspect of a New England victory. But it's not going to happen; they're not going anywhere, regardless of the game's outcome.

The longer answer is that the 2007 New England Patriots are one game and one victory from the kind of perfection that no team, including those undefeated Dolphins of 35 seasons ago, has ever experienced.

Which kind of perfection? The kind of perfection that happens when you win all your games? Cliche #1.

Win Super Bowl XLII -- and they will -- and the Patriots will have no peer, no point of comparison.

Same song, different verse. #1a.

One more win, said New England's football Yoda, linebacker Junior Seau, and they'll be "part of ever."

What does that even mean? I guess it's close enough to "part of forever," which is close enough to "part of history." We'll call it #2.

"Separating is key in history," said Seau, who has spent 18 seasons in this unforgiving league.

The amorphous concept of "separat[ion]" has basically nothing to do with comparing events that happen in different eras. They're already separated. I guess that's obscure so I can't count it as a cliche. That doesn't make it not painfully stupid.

And fuck you and your concerns about my double negatives, firelarryb.blogspot.com.

"We have a chance."

Thanks Junior. I hope you guys just go out there and play your game, try to make plays, and believe in yourselves. #3.

The Patriots have more than a chance. They almost have an obligation to finish what they've started.

The Giants, as far as I can tell, are also out there to finish what they started. Unless they're out there for some other reason. Maybe they just want to collect their roster bonuses and try not to get injured. But I doubt it. #4.

Anything less would be like forgetting to wear pants with your tux.

That is definitely not a cliche, for good reason. Are you sure it's really not more like forgetting to get rice in your sandwich? Thanks Gene.

Step No. 18 of their 19-step self-help program took place at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon. This time, it was the San Diego Chargers who had the misfortune of being between the Patriots and another AFC championship. And for more than a little while, it looked as if the Chargers might somehow pull off a second consecutive playoff upset.

But the Patriots aren't like the Indianapolis Colts, the team that blew its home-field advantage a week ago against these same Chargers. The Patriots aren't like anybody else.

The Raiders aren't like anybody else, either. Nor are the Calgary Stampeders. Or the Philadelphia Soul. Or some sad sack team from that 2nd tier Arena League. Everyone is special. My mom told me so. #5.

NFL MVP Tom Brady threw three interceptions … and the Patriots won. Randy Moss caught exactly one pass for 14 yards … and the Patriots won. The Chargers had two first-and-goals and a first-and-10 from the New England 13 … and the Patriots won. In fact, they didn't give up a touchdown in the 21-12 victory.

"The Patriots of old," is how linebacker Mike Vrabel described it.

"This is what we consider Patriots football," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said.

None other than the man himself delivers #6! Bruschi! He's a golden goddess! A man made out of nothing but marble, steel, diamonds, and courage! Our only real chance at ever solving the D.B. Cooper mystery! You might not know, but Barbaro lived about 6 months longer than expected last spring because Bruschi was giving him blood transfusions! He's man who wants you to know that not allowing the other team to score is a style of football unique to his team!

Patriots football isn't the 52-7 air show of Oct. 28 against Washington or the 56-10 humiliation of Buffalo on Nov. 18. It's what happened here in the late January cold, when the Patriots were forced to revert to their past championship DNA, which is to grind, to adapt and to prevail.

In other words: beating the fuck out of inferior teams is not Patriots football. Beating a team that matches up with them pretty well by nine? THAT'S Patriots football.

Canton isn't going to request the game film, but that's not the point. The Patriots did what they had to do. "[J]ust kind of hang around," is the way Vrabel put it.

#7 (what Gene said, not what Vrabel said).

Instead of giving up TDs, they gave up field goals. Instead of relaxing when Chargers star running back LaDainian Tomlinson and his injured knee became permanently attached to the bench, the Patriots played harder.

Let's throw some anecdotal bullshit in there for good measure. Personally, I don't think they played any harder. It's just that the Chargers played softer, so the Patriots looked relatively harder. Go ahead- try to prove that wrong.

Patriots football is what coach Bill Belichick said to Bruschi when they hugged just moments after the game.

You can only hope Bruschi was able to understand the indecipherable mumblings coming out of Belichick's mouth while he was trying to make his point. As an avid Patriots hater, here's my favorite example of what Bill sometimes sounds like after a game.

"Great job in the red area,"
Belichick said.

Not, "We're going to the Super Bowl!" Not, "18-0, baby!" But, "Great job in the red area."

It's the red zone, you hoodie-wearing wife stealer. But wait, didn't Gene just say Belichick said "Patriots football?" Whatever. If he actually said something meaningful, then that's awesome and more power to him. Thanks for the non-cliche you asshead. Even if it contained a horribly mangled football term.

This is Belichick in a nutshell. This is the Patriots' celebrated culture in a nutshell. There is no "I" in New England.

Wow. #8.

The Pats somehow have conditioned themselves to suppress their feelings about their football legacy.

Sure, it bubbles to the surface on occasion. Bruschi felt the pressure of an unbeaten season before the Patriots played the New York Giants in the final regular-season game.

"I think you could see it on our faces a little bit before the game," he said. "We knew [it] was a huge game and history was on the line," he said.

Bruschi with two more humdingers! That's #9 and #10! "Huge game!" "History!" Fortunately, he has actually turned an old DeLorean he fixed up into a time machine! So if the Patriots had lost, he could have gone back and found a zany and bizarre way to change the outcome! Not that they were going to lose... because he's Tedy Fucking Bruschi! (But I mean, if they had, he could have fixed it.)

Do you have any idea how many times he's already used that DeLorean to change world history for the better? Let's just say that if it weren't for him, we'd all be speaking German and Japanese!

Also, Gene, basic journalism- don't place two sentences which both have a quote followed by "he said" back to back. It reads like something out of a high school yearbook's rundown of a club no one cares about.

History remains on the line. Once again it is the Giants' turn to try to avert what seems to be inevitable. They got last crack at the Patriots in the regular season. Now they get last crack at them in the postseason.

Good luck. That's because the Patriots are the ultimate ant colony. Everybody works. Everybody has a role.

Really? Everybody has a role? Go figure. That must be why the Lions have been wallowing in crap for the last decade. If only Shaun Rogers and Boss Bailey had roles! And what is John Kitna going to do next year? Play quarterback again? Who knows! Also, what's this about everybody "working?" Hey, Earth to you, 49ers. Maybe if you all got together every once in a while and did some sort of "working" together, you wouldn't be such a joke. That's #11.

Christ, if you're going to bounce all over New England's knob, at least do it for the right reasons. They have a fantastic coaching staff. They make brilliant salary cap, draft, and trade decisions year in and year out. Consequently their team is full of great players who are well coached. It has nothing to do with everyone having roles and working. That describes every professional sports franchise ever, except whoever happens to be employing Zach Randolph, Ricky Davis, or Bartolo Colon at any given point in time.

Belichick is the droll football savant. Brady is the extension of that genius. Seau is the emotional center. Bruschi and Vrabel are the cornerstones. Moss is the suddenly selfless receiver who knocked Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo out of the game on a clean block. Kevin Faulk is the third-down specialist.

"That's the money down," Seau reminded everyone in his postgame comments.

"That's the money down," Seau reminded everyone who has never watched football before or has suffered a major head trauma injury recently. #12.

Faulk wore a long-sleeve blue T-shirt in the locker room after the game. On the front, in white lettering, was: We're All Just A Brotha From Another Motha.

Translation: "The family," said Faulk. "The Patriot family, that's all."

"Brother from a different mother?" Ha! I can't wait to tell all my suburban friends that one! It rhymes! We're going to sound so hard and tough. Our parents are going to be soooo mad! And wait... you mean this team considers themselves some kind of variation on a "family?" Never heard that one before. Someone fill the Houston Texans about that concept. There's their problem. Not enough famililityness. #13.

That's all? That's everything. It's why Seau left retirement, his surfboard and his San Diego beach two years ago when Belichick himself called and said, "Listen, I got a position for you." It's why Moss doesn't say a peep after a one-catch day. It's why Brady would run through two brick walls for these guys.

These guys would do anything for each other. Anything. Even things that are impossible unless you're a superhero, or wearing a robot suit that hasn't been invented yet. Now that's dedication. At least Wojciechowski didn't say "he'd go to war" for his teammates. Still. #14.

The expectations and pressure will grow exponentially in the next two weeks. If ever there was a team capable of handling them, this is the one.

Expectations... pressure... yawn. Take those two sentences and apply them to basically any team that's ever prepared for a championship game/series. Besides the fact that whether or not any given team can actually deal with pressure is pretty subjective, it works, right? Guess what that's a sign of: an article that didn't need to be written. And #15.

After all, the Patriots have the most practice.

Granted, this characteristic is pretty unique to the Patriots (assuming he's referring to their three Super Bowls in the last 6 years), so it somewhat validates the previous two sentences. But the general subject of "the pressure is mounting but [team] is ready!" still induces about the same response in me as the Hallmark channel.

Like I said in the intro, I understand that it's going to be hard for sportswriters to put out much of anything interesting about this game during the next two weeks. Basically every story has been beaten to death. But Gene isn't just some regular hack at ESPN; he's their Senior National Super Duper Pooper Columnist. Is this really the best he could do? Point out the fact that New England considers themselves a family, and that they like to play "Patriot football?" Pop off 15 cliches in a 750 word article?

Christ, I'm ready to go back to Simmons after this. At least it looks like he's trying most of the time.


Tonus said...

"Separating is key in history," said Seau

Um... the only way the Pats can "separate" from the '72 Dolphins would be by losing the Super Bowl, wouldn't it? Otherwise they'd "separate" from the '72 Dolphins by finishing a season undefeated.

Or did I read his statement wrong?

Chris W said...

we are part of ever?

i'm trying to decided if that's seau talking like a 5 year old or seau talking like the author of chicken soup for the soul

Jeff said...

My nominee for the worst sports cliche that is over-used and conveniently applied is "there's no I in ______".

I'm sure it was mildly clever reminder to a bunch of pop warner 8 year olds when the first coach muttered it, but it needs to end.

There's no I in New England. Does that mean they are more unselfish? Well, there's an I in Patriots. Did Gene Wojesfuckski not realize that or did it ruin the convenient cliches being thrown out. There's no I in New York either. But there is in Giants. Sounds like these teams are dead on balls equals heading into this game, based on the "I" factor. I'd set the betting line at zero.

Also - how the hell didn't the Green Bay Packers beat the Giants, what with the Pack's noticeable lack of "I's" and therefore obviously more unselfish culture? Shit, the New York Giants have the following:

"I" - as in, stop being so selfish!
"INT" - Throwing interceptions
"Newark" - for reminding you that you're not really from New York.
"Tan" - as in thinking about the beaches in the offseason while you should be playing.
"Torn" - as in torn muscles will result from trying to hard.
"Snarky" - Snarky teams don't take games seriously enough.

I forget my point....I guess I'm saying that this is not football analysis.

Anonymous said...

you missed some cliches at #12:
a successful quarterback is the extension of the coach, an average player is the emotional center

pnoles said...

Don't forget about Carl Pavano! He's pretty much at the top of the list for not working for a living.

Richard Dansky said...

But there is an "I" in Rhode Island. Or Connecticut. Or New Hampshire. Or Maine. My God, most of New England is full of "I"! Will that percentage of the Patriots devolve into raging egomania while the rest hold steady to the altruistic ideals of team?