Yesterday I got a frantic call from my friend Plowjock.
“You’ve got to help me man!” he yelled. “I’m trapped in Scottsdale, Arizona. The details aren’t clear to even me yet.” His voice was hurried. They must have been closing in.
“Get a grip you poor fool.” I reassured him. “Now what the hell is going on, and what am I supposed to do about it?”
“My girlfriend surprised me with a weekend trip to Scottsdale. She said I need a relaxing weekend, but now I’m trapped in the city.”
“Jesus God. That’s like a relaxing weekend in Afghanistan. No peace, no quiet, just an endless cavalcade of jarring nightmarish scenes.”
“Yeah and don’t forget all the fake tits and affliction t-shirts. That is two things Orwell forgot. It’s like a couple of Jesus freaks got together and constructed their ideal society. It’s an odd mixture of severely dogmatic religiosity and abject materialism. Everyone here has a punch card for the plastic surgeon and a very clear and decided role call for heaven and hell.”
“I take it you are not relaxing.”
“I was pretty much hog-tied and thrown in the back of an airplane! What person in their right mind would purposefully come to place like this?”
“Well no one in their right mind.”
“Exactly, now get to airport in three hours and pick me up. You owe me you crooked f*cker, after that incident with the dog’s blood!”
I sighed. He was right about the dog’s blood. “I’ll be there. Don’t worry.”
“Good. Make sure of it. I’m trapped in the engine room of the 4th Reich here! It’s what the world would be like if Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian had written the Bible.”
The airport pickup is a trying gig, and becoming embroiled in people’s personal affairs isn’t something to make a habit out of. I got in the car and turned on the radio. At least I could listen to Monday Night Football on the long drive. “Welcome to Westwood One’s presentation of the San Diego Chargers versus the Jacksonville Jaguars….”
“F********************ck!” Nothing is worse than Scottsdale, but a few things cause you to pause and reconsider.
Redzone Sponsers?
There is plenty of bull sh*t to wade through from Monday Night’s catastrophe. Do you remember the days when Monday night was the marquee matchup? Now we get the Chargers against the Jaguars, and next week we’ll see the Rams play the Seahawks. At least it’s one solid sign that ESPN isn’t turning into a massive twisted bloc of cheap fixers and shiftless confidence men. Although the whispers are growing, they can’t even get a decent NFL game on their network.
But let’s stay on track here! No time for crude digressions and soft minded conspiracy theories. We’ll leave that for the experts in Scottsdale.
Monday unveiled to me a disturbing trend. There has been a concerted effort in collegiate football, and increasingly in the NFL, to affix a sponsor to the red zone. This way, every time a team gets past the opponents 20, some announcer can say “The Chargers have just entered the CDW red zone! CDW, the dirpa dirpa dirpa dirpa dirp that matters most!”
Not only does this break up the flow of the game, and not only is this vastly annoying and insulting to the intelligence of every viewer/listener with a pulse, but it’s a dangerous precedent. Soon Phillip Rivers will drop back into the FedEx pocket and handoff to Mike Tolbert on a draw brought to you by Nissan. Tolbert will slip past the Madden 2012 line of scrimmage and will be brought down just short of the State Farm first down. Oh, but wait, Norv Turner will throw the challenge flag brought to you by McDonald’s, “I’m lovin’ it!”
Capitalism and the Jacksonville Jaguars
As Greg Easterbrook notes, every dime a team doesn’t spend on players goes into the pockets of ownership. As Easterbrook writes, it is actually more profitable to lose a lot of games with a cheap roster than it is to win consistently while using all of your resources. We won’t get into the dangerous implications this has for worldwide economic theory, but it helps explain the personnel moves of several teams, most notably the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Right before the season they cut David Garrard. While 30 NFL teams could cut Garrard without so much as a second thought, a season of Luke McCown and Blaine Gabbert has shown that he was clearly the best option in Jacksonville. Last week, after a change in ownership and the firing of Del Rio, the Jaguars cut receiver Jason Hill, who leads the team in touchdown catches and yards-per-reception. Again, not a great player, but one of the better players the Jaguars have. It’s clear the Jaguars aren’t too serious about winning, and every owner they get seems to be much more concerned with how big his bonus check is at the end of the year.
The NFL’s Pipeline
If anyone has any doubt about the NFL enhancing their broadcasts with added crowd noise just watch Monday night’s game. By the beginning of the fourth quarter there were only 500 people left in the stands, but somehow there was still a decent crowd noise on third-downs and other noisy situations. I would normally be upset about this, but something had to be done to clean up that nationally televised mess in Jacksonville. Although the phrase “polishing a turd” does come to mind.
Zombie Nation
Speaking of piping in sound, every NFL team plays the song Zombie Nation in their stadium. On TV you get the impression that everyone in the stands is chanting the chorus line, but in reality it’s just the chanting on the actual track. It would be a jarring and ominous scene to behold, 80,000 Americans packing themselves into a stadium to chant the chorus lines from German techno songs. Luckily I have never seen even one person actually do this.
It’s Over, Act Like It
We spend a lot of energy making sure our reporters are as objective and uninvolved in a story as possible. Unfortunately the world of sports journalism will twist its standards for some. There has been a sudden increase in former players becoming commentators, and some of these players don’t quite understand their new role yet. Two ex-Giants in particular, Michael Strahan and Antonio Pierce, don’t know that being a reporter means they are no longer members of their respective teams. I’m not saying they need to cut all ties with their former employers, but they can’t go around making inspirational speeches to their former teammates, admonishing them to beat certain teams (Strahan) or use their position in the media to call out players from their former team in a way they would never do to another team’s players (Pierce). They are members of the media now, and if we are to believe in their objective opinions they must leave the life of a football player behind.
Seriously, It’s Over
We make a big stink when Jerry Jones or Arthur Blank wanders onto the sidelines of their respective teams. We ridicule it as some sort of brainless show of power, and a cynical reminder to the employees that the boss is watching. Strangely John Elway hasn’t received quite the level of criticism for doing this very thing. His presence is almost worse because it is public knowledge that Tebow hasn’t entirely impressed Elway. So Elway makes a big public show of wandering onto the sidelines to give the guy a little more pressure to perform under. Hey Tebow, it’s not enough that you are the NFL’s Frederick Barbarossa, but now you’re going to share the sideline with your boss, one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, and he doesn’t like you that much, and at the end of the year he might get rid of you. No pressure.