Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's funny to see the way professional sports franchises operate sometimes. The Celtics sinking ship let Sebastian Telfair go because his off court behavior gave them a convenient excuse to drop him without much fanfare. The Patriots reversed field on their operating mantra during this season's draft weekend, forsaking the traditional high character guys fans have grown accustomed to over the last decade and a half for riskier, sketchier players. The NBA equivalent of a chicken running around with its head cut off is trying to take the high road while the NFL's shining city on a hill is suddenly trying to recycle bad citizens. Funny, indeed.

Of course, we all learned recently exactly how significant the decision to cut Telfair is. Bob Ryan emerged from his lair and wrote yet another piece to kick a man while he was down. Anotine Walker, Butch Hobson and Nomar have all merited this treatment in the past, and now it's Telfair's turn. The only thing that amazes me in all of this is that it took an eminent basketball mind like Bob Ryan nearly 10 months to see the flaws in Sebastian Telfair's game.

I suppose I am being somewhat unfair to Mr Ryan and not presenting his entire argument, but this is my blog and I can say what I want. And anybody who has read any of my past material probably can anticipate where this post is heading. Cutting Telfair is just one more in a long line of spectacular personnel failures in this Celtic regime.

The Sebastian Telfair catastrophe is one more step Ainge has taken to step out from under the albatross that was the Antoine Walker trade. Ainge didn't like Walker's game, so he traded him to Dallas for Jiri Welsch and Raef LaFrentz. Jiri added very little value. And Raef's contract was such a nightmare that Ainge unloaded him for a glass menagerie of failure and helped enable Portland to pull off a draft day coup and land Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy.

In the end, I am somewhat disappointed that the Celtics have let Telfair go. He was paid too much, produced too little and served to remind the last few people that really care about the Celtics that the team was in the hands of incompetent morons. Every time he took the floor for the Celtics he was a walking dilemma. He either embodied the fact that the people running the team have no practical conception of how to assemble a basketball team or that the people running the team are deliberately assembling a bad team. Either way, it suited me.

And now the Patriots are rolling the dice with Randy Moss, who has promised to revert to the Randy of old. People can take that one of two ways. Randy Moss will either burn up the league, catching passes, scoring TDs and delivering in big situations or he'll burn down Gillette Stadium. I am more inclined to believe the latter than the former, although the fact that the CHB has thrown down a gauntlet on this deal makes me far less certain of that than I was at this time last night.

I am not now, nor have I ever been a Patriots fan. And even though reports have Moss wowing the assembled luminaries by clocking in at an impressive 4.29 in the 40, I do not find myself convinced that the Patriots are the prohibitive favorites in the AFC. I remember the old Randy from his days with the Vikings. Nobody could run like he did, catch the way he did or terrorize defensive backfields the way he did. But there was always something missing. I think it was courage.

At least, by that I mean the courage to go out and put everything on the line to win a big game. Say what you want about Terrell Owens being a miserable, selfish cancer. But let's not forget that he came back from a broken leg in a month and a half to play in the Super Bowl, signed a waiver and outplayed eventual Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch. And let's not forget that there is no moment like that in the Randy Moss highlight reel. There are no postseason moments in there at all.

That's the Randy I remember. As I talked to my man who is a Patriots season ticket holder, I couldn't help but think of the Randy moments I will never forget. And none of them involved that famous Monday Night game where he punished the Cowboys for passing on him in the draft.

No, when I think of Moss, I'll remember the day a dreadful Giants team earned the right to be destroyed by the Ravens. They shut out the Vikings 41-0. And in all of that, rumor has it Randy sulked all game and didn't perform because he was upset that the powers-that-be in Giants Stadium wouldn't let his kid on the sideline. Truly that is the heart of a champion.

Then there was the tail end of the 2003 season when the Vikings needed to beat the Bears in Chicago to clinch a playoff spot. The Vikings drove down into the red zone, in a goal to go situation, and they looked to Randy Moss on a corner route. The TD would give the Vikings the lead, which would have put them in prime position to make the playoffs. And what happened? Charles Tillman, an unheralded rookie at the time, took the ball away from Randy, who didn't put up much of a fight for the ball and the season, in the end zone. The Bears won the game, the Vikings got a jump on the offseason.

Maybe all the optimism is warranted. Maybe the Patriots can awaken in Moss the fire that never seemed to be there when it really, really, really mattered. Or maybe his production over the course of the regular season will be enough to get the team in prime position for a first round bye and home field throughout the playoffs, so it won't matter if he disappears in the playoffs. Or maybe he won't enjoy playing in balmy Foxboro in November, December and January. Not to mention trips to Buffalo or New York in the dead of winter.

If he is so fragile that he coasted through two dismal seasons in Oakland because he wasn't happy, what will Randy Moss do if he experiences any adversity in New England. Will Stallworth be able to play a full season and be productive? Will Kelley Washington play up to his potential? Will the fact that the Patriots did nothing to shore up a weak offensive line come back to bite this team when they have to play the Colts again this year?

Only time will tell the answers to those questions, and the other fascinating conundrum... can Teddy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel combine to form a serviceable linebacker since they have lost very nearly two steps at this point? And before any Patriots fan reminds me that Matt Light contained Shawne Merriman and was a Pro Bowl alternate last season, think back to how that line held up against the Bears and Colts last season. I think I have a better chance of smiling at the end of this season than Patriots fans do.

This draft was very compelling, and not just because of Brady Quinn's humiliating Green Room experience. It seemed to me like a group of teams got together to see who could make the most spectacular mistakes. Kansas City may very well have pulled it off, passing on Joe Staley to take a wide receiver when they desperately needed to replace Willie Roaf and Will Shields more than they needed a wide receiver. But I think Philly took the cake, trading down to the second round to take Kolb, who looked to have a big future in Canada.

Let's not leave Miami out of this, either. Going with Ted Ginn Jr. will come back to haunt them. They faced a similar situation as the Radiers did this season. Both teams made the wrong QB decision last season, Oakland passing on Leinart and Miami signing Culpepper over Drew Brees. This time out, Oakland owned that mistake and took Russell over Calvin Johnson. Miami didn't own that mistake. In fact, they made it again. Instead of taking Quinn, they took a college receiver who will have more impact returning kicks than catching passes and went with the Mormon Chris Weinke in Round Two.

We also have a tool of note segment or three before I wrap up tonight. First, to Chicago fans who are enjoying the fact that Pat Riley gave them an easy victory in their opening round series, here is an action shot of the broadcasters of the second team in Second City performing the song "Summertime Blues" at a benefit concert. I get the feeling that this song probably made things worse for any one who found themselves feeling any blues, regardless of the season.

There there is this ____________ on Myspace. I really don't know which insult out of my vast store of insults to apply here. This tool transcends words like spaz and dork and tool and fist magnet. Maybe it's because he's Australian. Maybe this is considered cool Down Under. Either way, you'll have to supply your own insult for him, I am just too baffled.

And finally, there is this loser having a go at the eating of meat. Apparently eating meat is not eco-friendly. Apparently it takes too much energy and produces too many carbons. Just for the sake of argument, I wonder how many carbons it takes to produce the synthetic protein supplements that vegetarians often take. Not to mention the fact that there would be a bunch of cows running around once people like me stop eating them. And chemical castration is ever so much more humane and natural than killing them outright and feeding them to people like me.

Orwell himself had very little esteem for vegetarians, whom he deemed "food cranks." In The Road to Wigan Pier, he wrote:

"This kind of thing is by itself sufficient to alienate plenty of decent people And their instinct is perfectly sound, for the food crank is by definition a person willing to cut himself off from human society in hopes of adding five years on to the life of his carcase; that is, a person out of touch with common humanity."

Eating meat is part of what it means to be human. My ancestors scratched and clawed and invented their way to the top of the food chain. And they didn't do it so I could eat lettuce and pop protein pills. And I wonder how much energy and how many carbons will go into caring for generations of vegetarians living to be 100 when all the meat eaters like me have kicked off from coronary thrombosis at age 60.

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