Just to clarify, this is about Gregg's column from allll the way back on Tuesday the 19th. Yeah. Two TMQs ago. So he's talking about games that happened during week 6 of the NFL season. Yup, I'm posting this that late. Fortunately I can get away with it because I'm so handsome. Kind of like how I cut in lines outside of exclusive clubs and never have to wait at the emergency room.
First, a special celebrity guest appearance by onetime semi-quasi-sorta-regular FireJay blogger Jarrett, who has a bone to pick:
Give him a hand(job?) folks. Moving on to the rest of the column: Gregg, like every single other fucking journalist on the planet, thinks he has some novel and original thoughts about the recent outbreak of concussions in the NFL.
The sports media need to change, too. Most football announcers either avoid discussion of neurological danger, laugh it off as getting "jacked up,"
That was the best ESPN bit ever. It gave Michael Irvin something to do that he didn't suck at.
or pretend not to see what's directly in front of their eyes.
It's not like a big hit is obvious neurological damage right in front of your eyes unless the person who got hit ends up lying motionless in an awkward position. If they're moving at all, and especially if they walk off the field under their own power (which often happens after a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit), celebrating the hit isn't exactly an insensitive showing of total ignorance.
When Cribbs was hit in the head by Harrison, Kevin Harlan of CBS, calling the game, said, "Wow what a hard-hitting rivalry the Steelers and Browns have," not mentioning head trauma.
The reason that's a dumb comment isn't that it was a bad thing to say from a concussion awareness standpoint; it's because the Steelers and Browns don't have much of a rivalry. I think the Browns have won like 3 of the past 30 meetings or something.
When Massaquoi was hit in the head later in the same game, Harlan said with enthusiasm, "He was drilled, Harrison was really laying the wood!" To young viewers -- and the 95 percent of football players who are high school boys -- this kind of commentary makes helmet-to-helmet hits sound cool.
I'm pretty sure watching the hit happen is about 100 times "cooler" and more influential in the minds of kids than what Kevin fucking Harlan has to say about it. Complaining about how a hit was called by the announcers is like complaining about the way an actor smoking in a movie was blowing his smoke rings.
Making helmet hits sound cool to the young is doubly worrisome because while most orthopedic injuries heal, some neurological injuries cannot be treated.
Again, watching the hits happen: responsible for 99% of how impressionable youngsters react to them. Hearing Kevin Harlan say it was a big hit: responsible for 1%.
After Joseph Addai took two deliberate blows to his helmet -- first a helmet-to-helmet hit from Kedric Golston, then a forearm-to-helmet hit from London Fletcher -- and collapsed in the Indianapolis-at-Washington game, Cris Collinsworth of NBC said, "That is a perfectly clean hit, blows to the head are allowed on running plays."
Really -- it's "perfectly clean" to slam your forearm into another player's helmet?
Yes. I can't tell if the question is worded this way because Gregg thinks Collinsworth was wrong, or because he can't believe Collinsworth was right- I hope it's the latter. Because Collinsworth was right.
Existing rule 12, 2, 7g bans "using any part of a player's helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/hairline parts) or facemask to butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily," and also states, "violent or unnecessary use of the helmet is impermissible against any opponent." Any opponent, including the ballcarrier. So it's not legal to ram your helmet into the ballcarrier's helmet. But many in the football world think it is -- a reason the rules must become clearer.
Collinsworth (MORE LIKE COLLINSWORTHLESS AM I RIGHT. Actually he's pretty decent in the booth) didn't say that helmet to helmet hits were legal. That straw man is in pieces on the ground, though. Good for Gregg.
ESPN deserves blame, too, for poor coverage of neurological harm. On Monday, the noon Eastern edition of "SportsCenter" showed both the vicious hits in the Pittsburgh-at-Cleveland game as highlights, without context about helmet-as-a-weapon fouls or concussions. "That James Harrison is a dangerous player, you better account for him," Merril Hoge said, as if young players should emulate dangerous tactics.
I actually think kids somehow probably care less about what Merril Hoge says than what Kevin Harlan says. Hard to imagine but I bet it's true. Really, if ESPN were being responsible in the way Gregg expects them to be, it wouldn't show any clips of these hits or discuss them at all. Mmmmmm hmmmm. I'm holding my breath too.
Most important, Rodney Harrison said on NBC that players guilty of deliberate helmet-as-a-weapon hits should not just be ejected but suspended.
Ah, Rodney HGHarrison- champion of all that is good and wholesome in professional sports. Now THERE'S a role model kids can look up to, and who can steer them away from making decisions that affect their long term health.
This week is a critical moment for football as a sport, and as a business. If the league really does crack down in a meaningful way -- and if sportscasters, including on ESPN, start being honest about the risks and downsides of football -- then the game will become safer, and a good example will be set for high school players. If the league is just blowing smoke, or the sports media return to boosterism,
Or trying to make money, the business they've been in since they came into existence.
then Congress should step in and regulate the playing standards of professional sports.
Jesus H. Christ, Gregg. No. Congress has about 500 more important problems to tackle (PUN INTENDED) and they're lucky if they get through ten or so in any given year.
Stat of the Week No. 1: Tom Brady has won 26 of his past 27 starts at Gillette Field, including playoffs.
He's also lost 7 of his last 11 road starts. The one home loss was also in a playoff game in which he threw three picks and averaged 3.7 yards per attempt.
Cheerleader of the Week: Liam Carter of Fort Collins, Colo., nominates Jocey of the Tennessee Titans who, according to her team bio, is a lawyer who works as a public defender. If you had an NFL cheerleader as your criminal defense counsel, here is the closing argument the jury might get:
Two, four, six, eight Whom should we exonerate? My client! My client! Aaaaaaaa-CQUIT!
Yep. He's still trying to do this kind of bit. I think he tries it about twice a year. Sad.
Sweet Play of the Week: New England ran a "flip" reverse -- a risky action in which a tailback chucks the ball into the air -- to Brandon Tate for a 22-yard gain, setting up the Patriots' first touchdown in what would become an overtime win. But the sweetest play of the game, if not of Week 6, was 5-foot-9 undrafted free agent Danny Woodhead, out of Division II Chadron State, picking up Ray Lewis on a blitz block.
The sweetest play. Of the week. Was a small white guy making a relatively inconsequential block. Maybe Gregg has a little more Patriots fan in him than he'd like to admit. DANNY FACKIN' WOODHEAD! I NEED HIS JAHHHH-SEY!
Sour Sets of Plays: With Detroit trailing 21-10 at Jersey/A in the fourth quarter, Calvin Johnson caught a go route and both defensive backs on his side fell, leaving nothing but green for an 87-yard touchdown. Johnson began waving the ball in the air at the Giants' 45!
And would go on to score a touchdown just a few seconds later!
Not only did Johnson risk blowing the touchdown with a self-inflicted fumble,
That's a risk in the same sense that it's a risk to take a commercial flight because the plane might crash and kill you. Calvin Johnson can probably palm two basketballs simultaneously with the same hand.
not only did he show poor sportsmanship by mocking the home team,
It's really more of a celebration of your accomplishment than a mocking gesture. Going out to their logo at the 50 and slamming the ball down, a la T.O.? That's mocking the home team.
not only was Detroit riding a streak of 23 consecutive road losses --
which isn't really that much to strut about -- but after the touchdown, the Lions were still behind.
I'm getting sick and fucking tired of this presumption on the part of Gregg and other stuffy commentators that all celebrations are automatically tacky/classless/horrible/WORSE THAN GENOCIDE. Look- in some circumstances they are the first three of those things. Like if they result in a fumble and reversal of the course of an ongoing play, draw a penalty in a close game, come after a really inconsequential play (see: the defensive linemen who pose for the camera after a 2 yard sack on 1st and 10) or aggressively and personally insult someone on the other team. Everything else is fucking fair game as far as I'm concerned. If you hot dog it on your way into the end zone and there are no consequences (besides the ever-unquantifiable “Oh he totally fired the other team up!!!!”), I say go nuts. The players might as well have fun- last I checked we were all watching sports for a little escapism.
Houston got sour payback when, with 36 seconds remaining, the Chiefs allowed Andre Johnson -- one of the league's best players -- to get open in the end zone for the winning touchdown. On the play, Kansas City had seven defenders dropping back to cover four receivers -- yet one of the league's best players got open.
And maybe, just maybe, the fact that he got open in that situation has something to do with the fact that he's one of the league's best players. It's so crazy- teams continue to let Albert Pujols hit game winning home runs, even though he's one of the best players in the league!
Creep alert! It was a particularly lame week for that item.
Tam Tran of Kansas City reports, "On a business trip to New Orleans, I read a newspaper story about the Gulf oil spill and how it might affect the restaurant business of the 'quickly approaching' Lent season. Lent begins March 9, 2011."
And maybe, just maybe, the Gulf ecosystem won't yet be back to fully healthy at that point.
Jon Frosch of New Orleans reports, "Walking to school at the University of New Orleans, I spotted a car in the parking lot of Ben Franklin High School, which shares the same campus, that had written in the windows, 'Congrats, Class of 2011.' New Orleans Public Schools do not graduate for another eight months."
Pretty much every high school has cars painted with windows celebrating the current senior class at all points during any school year. This is the least creeping instance of creep ever.
Thomas Bender of Chicago writes, "I just received an e-mail for the U2 concert in Chicago at Soldier Field -- on July 11, 2011. Tickets on sale now."
What? They want to sell out the event as far in advance as possible to get paid as soon as possible? (Something snarky about the time value of money)? MADNESS.
Erik Kneebone of Genoa, Ill., writes, "Henry Kravis just donated $100 million to Columbia to expand its business school. Not only is Columbia Business School's main contribution to society the Wall Street sharks who caused the 2008 financial meltdown --
Yeah let's go ahead and single them out. Good plan. Harvard/Stanford/Chicago/Every Other Business School grads, you're off the hook! Also- no Columbia Business School grads have ever done anything good for society with their degrees. (Note: I have no affiliation with Columbia or Columbia Business School and I think NYC is a hole.)
Washington countered with the Times Square defense -- the front seven milling around at random, like tourists in Times Square.
Ohhhhhhh. IIIIIIII get it.
Manning couldn't predict where the front seven would be because the defenders themselves didn't know; they were instructed to move randomly. Manning wasn't fazed, burning this defense for 469 yards.
But let's just remember that Manning went to Division I Tennessee, was drafted first overall, was never cut, and has an enormous contract and a pretty sizable ego. Gregg conveniently doesn't mention these things when a player like Manning succeeds, but OH MY GAWD DID YOU SEE DANNY WOODHEAD ON THAT 3RD DOWN BLITZ PICKUP IT WAS THE CAT'S MEOW
Eternity with Rachael Ray -- the Third Circle of Hell: The autumn edition of the Rachael Ray promotional vehicle "Everyday with Rachael Ray" declares in its main headline "Recipes you'll keep forever!" Like 'til the end of time?
Taking things literally makes them easy to pick on! (I try to only pick on people who do this when they actually say literally, like "I'm so hungry I could literally eat a horse.")
GOD: I command that the temporal world cease.
THE LAST MAN: Wait a sec while I grab my Rachael Ray recipes.
Last week's column proposed that giving players in Division I football and men's basketball (the only college sports that don't lose money) stipends of a few thousand dollars per year would remove the temptation to take cash from agents while treating players no differently from college newspaper editors, stage crew and graduate teaching assistants, who also receive small stipends.
It's a novel idea, and I hate the NCAA and its retarded rules, but I don't think a few grand a year is going to remove much temptation. Not that I'm saying a football player's contribution to his university is 10 times that of a newspaper editor- I'm just saying that monthly $300 checks aren't really going to stop the agent-to-player cashflow.
Back to Saban. He proposed that any agent who causes a college player to lose a year of eligibility should lose his agent's license for an equal period.
Nick Saban is a legendary asshole who has exactly zero room to talk about who's exploiting who when it comes to college football.
This is a fine suggestion. The agent can't claim not to know eligibility rules; it is his business to know. Saban is correct to say that agent behavior will not change until agents receive the same punishments as NCAA athletes.
Yeah, I'm fine with the suggestion, as long as we also have a policy that coaches who graduate like three players a year are suspended without pay for the next decade.
If Alabama football, or any similar big-deal program, were pure and academics-focused, Saban would be justified in saying the agents and NFL scouts should stay away from his student-athletes. But Saban himself, and many other football-factory coaches, takes advantage of his players by pressuring them to concentrate on football above classroom work. Saban knows he will be rewarded with money for wins but never penalized if players don't get an education.
I hate agreeing with TMQ. I HATE IT. But at least he's vindicated himself here somewhat.
Many college football athletes enjoy a four- or five-year dreamworld of going on to the NFL and cut classes with the coaching staff's tacit or even active approval. When their college days end and the NFL doesn't call, and they haven't earned a diploma, they are shafted. Don't blame agents and scouts for this. Blame colleges and coaches.
Hooray! This could have been presented without giving Saban any credit for anything, as he deserves none (except for exploiting NCAA recruiting/discipline rules and putting solid FOOTBALL teams on the FOOTBALL field on a yearly basis). (Note: I am in no way affiliated with LSU, Auburn, or any other SEC school and have no team-based bias against Alabama or Saban. He's just a cunt.)
As for Saban's pimp analogy, he said of agents who hand out money, "How are they any better than a pimp? I have no respect for people who do that to young people. How would you feel if they did it to your child?" This from a coach whose football program graduates only 55 percent of its players. (Look up any Division I graduation rate here.) Saban uses up young people's college years to win games and big paydays for himself -- then graduates barely more than half of them. To use his own words, how is he any better than a pimp?
Look at Gregg, bringing the noise. Well alright then.
Cowboys' Low Football IQ: You're trailing with less than three minutes remaining -- Why are you punting? That's what Dallas did, if for no other reason than to shift the blame away from Wade Phillips, who would have been denounced if a fourth-down try had failed, and onto his defensive players.
And then he had to go and say something like this.
When will I post about this week's TMQ? (The one that came out today.) Honestly, who knows or cares.