Monday, December 26, 2011

Something something something Jon Gruden THIS GUY

First of all, in regards to my last post, what are two of the eleven front page main sidebar stories on ESPN right now? "Ryan confident in Sanchez, Schottenheimer" (which sounds kind of like "Hitler confident in Final Victory" in a German paper published in March of 1945) and "Giants' Tuck: I still hate the Cowboys." Let's run down my checklist again: 1) nope, no substance whatsoever 2) obviously the Tuck article is nothing but manufactured drama 3) yep 4) yep and yep 5) admittedly, whether or not Sanchez is the Jets' QB again in 2012 requires a little speculation; as for the Tuck article it can go straight to hell and 6) yyyyyyyyyup. Thanks for staying consistent ESPN--please never change. I don't know what I'd do without you.

The real reason I'm writing this and not a legitimate post is because I was busy watching Saints/Falcons all night. Besides the whole Brees record thing, the game had major implications for the fantasy league I run. Wouldn't it be fucking fascinating if I told you in gruesome detail what those implications were and who stood to win or lose money? Of course not; fortunately for you, I have self-awareness than 80% of fantasy football players lack. Anyways, eventually Brees and the Saints did their thing and the record fell. Which led to a funny/sad sequence of analysis from Gruden and the special needs children with whom he shares the booth.

First they heaped praise on Brees. They'd been doing it all game though, so they needed to move in a different direction after the first 45 seconds. They noted that Marino's record was great and stood for a long time. Then they noted that Marino told them before the game that he was happy for Brees (aw shit, you think? of fucking course he said that). Then Tirico noted that while the game has changed and become more pass-friend since Marino set the record, Brees' yards/game is higher above the league average this year than Marino's was in 1984. At that point it was almost like they were talking more about Marino than Brees. Then they cut to commercial. When they got back, Gruden spent a good two minutes talking about how great Marino was at everything and how "No one can throw like he threw." It really progressed pretty quickly from "Let's celebrate this!" to "Whoa, not too much! Let's make sure we didn't hurt the feelings of the multimillionaire and HOFer who set this record when Brees was in kindergarten but also Brees is good too!"

I say this sequence was funny because I legitimately enjoy Gruden. His overwhelming positivity can get old but it's a harmless flaw, not something that ruins a game he calls. It's more of a "oh great, here he goes again" thing than a "I'm about to put golf club through the TV" thing. Along with Collinsworth and a handful of guys (and one lady who does college games for ESPN) whose names I don't know but whose voices I can recognize, I feel he's one of the few color commentators who adds to the game rather than taking away from it. He explains things without sounding like a moron or a blowhard. He's also self-deprecating despite being a Super Bowl winning coach and I appreciate that. So listening to him carefully cover everyone in the booth's tracks and make sure America knows how great Dan Marino is, when everyone knows Marino is great and also that he retired more than a decade ago, was funny.

At the same time, it was sad. What the fuck, you know? Why? Marino doesn't work for ESPN. He didn't recently die. He's not some amazing super charitable person who deserves flawless respect and adulation every time his name comes up. He's a guy that held a sort of significant record for 27 years. It was broken fair and square by a guy most fans like. While my point is certainly not that Gruden and Co. didn't give Brees his due--they absolutely gave him his due throughout the entire game--their tiptoeing around the good name of Marino was obnoxious.

I mean I understand that Gruden is connected to Marino in two ways- they're both in broadcast media based around the NFL (or as I call it, the snake oil business), and they're both former participants in the sport. So obviously one of them is going to watch out for the other pretty intensely. I just don't think this was the time or place to do it. Saying "Marino was great, and played under a different set of rules, but the record now belongs to Brees and it's his night" would have been enough. I really didn't need to be reminded that Marino had a quick release or hear about how all the young QBs Gruden has interviewed for MNF are in awe of Marino's abilities. Those would be good subjects for, you know, a pregame segment about how good Marino was. Why insert that into the moment, you know? Fucking media types.

Of course, at least the moment the record was broken Tirico and Gruden and Jaws got excited. The only thing worse than a misguided ode to the former record holder is something like Joe Buck's call of the final out of the 2008 World Series. With all the energy of someone working behind the desk at the DMV: "And the Phillies... are World Series champions." (Couldn't find it on Youtube, I hope Bud Selig gets hit with a meteor someday soon.) At least THAT didn't happen.

Real post coming... soon? Who knows. Man I'm lazy.

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