Thursday, September 06, 2007

I must apologize for not posting in the last few days. I've been feeling a little depressed, what with Notre Dame collapsing against Georgia Tech and the Red Sox temporarily returning to form after the sweep at the hands of the Yankees. I had been looking forward to this evening and the beginning of the NFL regular season, but then I guess I'm too much of an optimist for my own good.

First, I must confess, I now spend about 2 minutes a day looking forward to a time when America can experience an important event in the realm of popular culture without the immortal John Cougar Mellencamp. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe his music did somehow improve as though by magic because his politics are acceptable to a large enough segment of the populace. Perhaps I ought to give up my reluctance to discuss political issues in this blog and embrace an anti Bush stand in this space.

I don't know if I heard things properly, between the waste of time that was the concert and the disappointment I felt as they unfurled the Indianapolis Colts World Champions banner. But I could swear that I caught the strains of "Won't Get Fooled Again" by the Who. Now I enjoy the song as much as the next person, I just think people ought to choose songs more carefully. It will serve the Colts right if the song jinxes their campaign to defend that championship.

Tonight has also made it clear that I have to spend more time and more space ripping the NBC studio show for its dreadful NFL coverage. Even tonight, with an understrength booth and a show mercifully shortened for the affront against good taste that was the concert, the show managed to fall short of mediocrity by a wide margin. It seems like every personality and every segment the producers add takes things away from the table with an almost mystical capability to make bad worse.

Keith Olberman is now back into sports broadcasting in a very small way. He has adapted his Worst Person in the World segment from his show no one watches on MSNBC to the context of the NFL. So every time we tune in to the NFL on NBC we will be subjected to Keith Olberman's version of the Worst Person in the NFL. I guess it could be worse, we could have the "Cris Collinsworth Introspective on How to Bear up Under the Strain of Being the World's Biggest Douche" segment.

Tonight, Keith Olberman pronounced himself the Worst Person in the NFL. Interestingly, I had considered using that as a joke because I assumed that he would pronounce some other deserving tool as the worst person in the NFL. I was going to dismiss the notion out of hand because Olberman really isn't in the NFL. He is only tangentially connected to the NFL. Apparently his ego didn't see it that way.

I think it would be nice if some concerned soul in Olberman's inner circle could take ten or so seconds to point one salient fact to the anchor. Just as Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, Keith Olberman left whatever small glimmer of relevance and legitimacy he had behind when he left ESPN. Maybe Keith is so insulated in his own ego that he hasn't noticed that his subsequent career ventures haven't exactly been unbridled successes, or even bridled successes (if such a thing exists).

I don't want to give the impression that I am one of the legion of tools who rhapsodize about the Olberman-Patrick era of Sportscenter the way Donovan sang about Atlantis. I'll leave that to Bill Simmons and his disciples. I thought they were adequate, very average. They told me what the out of town scores were, but I could have done without the affected, cynical ennui repartee they used to charm the masses. Maybe if I were the sort of person who cared more about the personalities behind the curtain, I would have gone into mourning, but that's just not who I am.

I might be wrong in this, it's not something that I cared enough about to research. But I blame the Olberman-Patrick era of Sportscenter for the abomination that was the Aaron Sorkin show Sportsnight. Even though the world was crying out for a vision of what a sports highlight show produced by hipsters for hipsters, I think the world would not be a better place if it were still on the air. Nor would much have been lost if it had never seen the light of day.

All that on the NFL on NBC, and we haven't even mentioned Tiki Barber's latest cloying, attention seeking cry for help. As I may have mentioned, I don't like Tiki Barber. Nor do I like Tom Coughlin. As much as I like seeing Coughlin criticized, I don't like to see ungrateful frauds reposition themselves via revisionist history.

It seems almost universally conceded that Tom Coughlin is not a very cool guy. Most people don't like playing football for him. However, there is a substantial body of empirical evidence to show that he had a profound effect for the better on Tiki Barber's career. Before Coughlin came to the Giants, Tiki was an inveterate fumbler. It was his trade mark.

Under Coughlin's reign of terror, whatever else might have happened, Tiki fumbled quite a bit less than he did previously. I don't know how much of that was directly due to Coughlin's intervention, but it doesn't seem like a simple coincidence. No matter how you look at it, Tiki was not mentioned as any kind of Hall of Fame candidate in the Jim Fassel era. It was only in the Coughlin era that Tiki blossomed into a very, very, very marginal candidate for the Hall of Fame.

We all could have done without Tiki Barber's memoirs. We all could have done without Tiki Barber bashing Tom Coughlin for triggering his early retirement. FOr my part, I have believed that Tiki's retirement was a calculated ploy. Not just a career change to the lucrative and far less physically demanding world of the TV journalist, but his only shot at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His numbers were good, but not really great. His early fumble troubles were always going to haunt him. He never really excelled in the postseason. The only way he'd get in to Canton is if he had a mystique attached to his name, like Lynn Swann with his amazing postseason performances trumping subpar regular season numbers or Gayle Sayers with his impressive highlights and lamentable injury history killing a promising career. So walking away before his perceived time was the only way for Tiki to become a Hall of Famer. Too bad for him this negative notoriety is murdering that slim chance as we speak.

In other news, a game was played and, alas, the Colts won. So much for the Saints as a Super Bowl contender. I was impressed by their run last year. I never thought they could duplicate it, though. First, their schedule is a lot harder. And they had a lot of breaks go their way, and I don't see it happening a second time. The blocked punt TD against Atlanta in their Monday Night home opener last year was a big catalyst for the magic season. That atmosphere will not be replicated, though.

I stil hate Peyton Manning. I do applaud Sprint. In their new commercial series, they have stumbled on something I believed to be as rare as a Jurassic Era remnant still walking the earth - Peyton Manning's mind. Between the Manning omnipresence in every commercial under the sun and the teethmarks John Mellencamp will leave on this reincarnated fame he enjoys when it too disappears, I foresee dark times for Sedition in Red Sox Nation.

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