I am Tired of Pooping

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I started a new job last week and I had to poop. This was a big deal for me.

Let me back up a little bit.

I have said this a million times, but I’ve never written it. Our service culture is based heavily on the idea of prostitution. The idea of the bordello, or the call girl is that no matter how many ‘clients’ there were that day, that you are special, and you are the only one, and no matters but you. That favorite restaurant of yours? People sit in your spot all the time. Your plate, your silverware have been used thousands of times. Everything that you touch, that you use, was not made specifically for you. We just act like it has been.

And that’s the problem with the toilet.

I can only function with the public toilet if I lie to myself and believe that it exists and it has only existed for me. But sometimes that illusion shatters, sometimes there’s a horrible stain, or a malodor, or God forbid, some poor wretch in there making sounds like someone getting ketchup out of a mostly empty bottle and I realize the sheer horror of what I must do.

I had a reached a decent comfort level with the toilet at my old job.  It took time.The whole public toilet thing for me is just an unspeakable violation of my dignity. I want to be alone in my shame. I don’t want to be somewhere in a stall that only covers 3/4s of me, as various strangers burst into the room and make loud noises. When I’m in my bathroom at home and I poop, I flee like I committed a bank robbery in the Wild West, and the alarm has sounded and the Sherriff’s posse is coming.

Don't look back, boys!

Don’t look back, boys!

So I’m at my new job and the toilet seat is a little loose, and I’m not comfortable. Its like pooping during a mild earthquake, but I was desperate.

The lid slipped and I almost fell. Instead…

Instead….

My penis somehow got caught between the bowl and the seat. I felt like I was going to rip it off. The only reason I didn’t scream is that there were other people in there, and they wouldn’t have any context for the new guy in the stall caterwauling.

As I sat there, blind from the pain of my damaged undercarriage, all I could think was, ‘how did I get into this mess?’

I believe in God. I believe that we were hand-created. I believe that humans were formed and engineered like the most intricate and spectacular machinery you could ever imagine. I think that most of the human body is a product of unfathomable workmanship and genius. I can’t believe that three pounds of Jello behind my eyes has near infinite storage. I can’t believe that I have enough glycogen in my legs to run 30 miles, and that I am the most efficient long distance runner in the animal kingdom. I can’t believe that my heart never stops beating.

But this digestion system was the best anybody could come up with? Its like after a few thousand years, God handed off the work to a incompetent cousin to finish. Its a debasing, humiliating process that guarantees that even when I’m not actually pooping, I’m belching, farting, or some variation thereof because the entire system relies on me swallowing air to work.

I now make you in my image. Except for this one thing....

I now make you in my image. Except for this one thing….

You might think that I’m overreacting. But this is a bedrock of our culture.

If you work for a company of any size, you’ll notice that the executives have their own bathroom. Do you know why? Because they know that you cannot maintain any respect for someone when they have to poop and you’re trapped near them.

I don’t care if Bill Gates walked into your office. If you had to sit in the stall next to him the day after he went to Chipotle, he would lose respect for him. I don’t care if Sofia Vergara wanted to go to dinner with you, if you stopped at her place before you went out and she had to make a pit stop and it sounded like she was playing some sort of diabolical woodwind, it would take the edge off of your passion.

Papi I will be right back. I just have to do ONE thing right quick.

Papi I will be right back. I just have to do ONE thing right quick.

I don’t know why I have to be subjected to this anyone. I’m tired of running and hiding. I’m tired of asking my friends if they have an upstairs bathroom and seeing that look of terror on their face. I’m tired of disappearing at my job and coming back to my desk, trying to wipe the sweat off my brow, while my co-workers shake their head knowingly. I’m tired of wanting to go on vacation, but having to research if they’ll want me to squat over a hole, or let a water fountain touch my hindquarters. I’m tired of having baby wipes when everyone knows I don’t have any children.

I have no problem with peeing. Peeing is a lot of fun. Pooping is like writing a check, but you open your wallet and you’re out of checks and you’re in the grocery store trying to remember if you have a starter check somewhere and the people behind you are getting antsy. Peeing is like swiping a credit card.

You can pee on anything. In the winter, you can pee your name, or try, at least. Why can’t I have a system like that for the other thing that I won’t even name?

I am tired of pooping.

The NFL in Rebuke: Week 7

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AP MANNING SPORTS ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL S FBN FILE USA CO

This week’s column is dedicated entirely to my favorite team, and the team that I’ve ignored all season, the Denver Broncos. This week, Peyton Manning broke the all-time touchdown passing records, and honestly, I didn’t know how to feel about it.

I’ve been a Broncos fan since I was a kid, so it’s very odd to see them named as America’s team. I’ve got a Nike Drench Peyton Manning jersey, and this year, all of the sudden, everyone likes it.

Last year this was tacky. But I had matching shoes!

Last year this was tacky. But I had matching shoes!

I’m not used to all the new fans. We’re supposed to be the underdogs.

I’m from the Philadelphia area. People always asked me why I rooted for a team that was so far away from me, because apparently our loyalty should be based on our region and nothing else.

When I was a kid, I was maybe the smallest kid in the schoolyard. I had terrible asthma, and thick glasses. I wore hand-me-downs, and read books every night. I didn’t watch television or play video games, so I couldn’t relate to other kids, because I had no idea what they were talking about. I played all the other sports everyone else did, I just wasn’t particularly talented at them.

I got by through sheer determination. If you got into a fistfight with me, you were going to have to dedicate serious time and effort, because I was going to take a beating and keep on coming. If you beat me in a race, you were going to have to do it every day to infinity. And that’s what  the Broncos were like. There was Elway, with his imperfect team, rallying them to furious finishes in nearly every game, it felt like. The Broncos were the first team I ever heard of where the starters voluntarily took a paycut, so that the organization could sign new players. They did it multiple times. They wanted to win.

Yeah that looks right.

Yeah that looks right.

They were the most winning underdogs you can imagine. This was a team defined by a Super Bowl pasting by the San Francisco 49ers, but looking at Elway’s career, he made it to the big game SIX times.

After he was gone, they tried to replace him, which wasn’t fair. There was poor, sad Brian Griese who made a career out of two throws and whose drinking reduced him to wheeling shopping carts home from the grocery store because he wasn’t allowed to drive. There was Jake Plummer, who had the drive to win, but couldn’t control his passion enough to make good reads when it counted. There was Jay Cutler, who should have been the one, but then the coaching staff imploded and Cutler was shipped to Chicago.

This is the face of your franchise.

This is the face of your franchise.

In the ultimate coup, Elway plucked Payton Manning out of free agency and the Broncos became his team. The move made sense, but I was always disappointed that we couldn’t beat our playoff tormentor. Signing him felt like a concession. Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join them.

They built a great team around him, although they lost the most gifted coach on their roster to their divisional rivals, the Chargers. Watching the team now is the exact opposite of what they used to be. Instead of scrappy competitive underdogs, the Broncos are part of the NFL’s elite, and when you need them the most, they fall apart the fastest, as an outmatched and inflexible coaching staff dumps more and more responsibility onto their quarterback, who is getting worse under pressure despite having more comebacks than anyone except for Dan Marino. (Yes, Dan Marino.)

It messed up when they forget about the great ones.

It messed up when they forget about the great ones.

The touchdown record belonged to Brett Favre.

It’s only now that you appreciate Favre. He was the last old-school quarterback to play in the NFL, and there will never be his like again. He played in the days when the wide receivers and cornerbacks had a wrestling match down the field, which is why he didn’t have video game numbers.

He didn’t miss games, and he took shots that would have killed modern quarterbacks and bounced back up without screaming at his offensive line. When there were contract disputes with his offensive players, he told them to shut up and play football and then he went straight to management and fought for them.

He felt like he could win every game, he played, and the guys with him learned to believe it too. There was no feeling like when Brett winded up to throw the ball deep, and you knew something, SOMETHING was going to happen, but you didn’t know what it was.

They talk about the interceptions, but they don’t remember the comebacks, and there were a lot of them. Most importantly, he loved to play football. He didn’t want to do anything else. He wasn’t trying to build a brand, or sell shoes, or be on magazine covers. I don’t know what kind of headphones he liked, and he got too excited to have a ritual celebration. He just played football. I miss guys like that.

Peyton Manning is a cerebral experience. Manning is like a supercomputer, analyzing and downloading his opponent. He is rarely beaten, most of the time he loses, it just feels like the download didn’t finish and had there had been a little more time he would have won.

Its weird having him on our side.

I should be happy, right?

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But I remember the old days. I remember having an entire defense that no one recognized or appreciated except for us. I remember scrappy Karl Mecklenburg and his six Pro Bowls, and every time he’s on a Hall of Fame list, I know that no one else knows who he is. I remember that our safeties were Steve Atwater and Dennis Smith and that you didn’t run that down and in if you wanted to keep living. I remember Shannon Sharpe bailing us out when our receiving corp was kinda of iffy.

We had the poor man’s Eddie George, Rod Bernstine at running back and then we had Glyn Milburn (the middle class man’s Eric Metcalf) set the all around yards record in a game and then lose his job to Terrell Davis. That worked out.

There was undrafted Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey at wideout. McCaffrey was so concerned about his perceived lack of speed that he cut the padding out of all his equipment, went out there and played on the shells.

I still love the Broncos. But I don’t know who all these new fans are. I’m not used to people paying attention to us. Its nice having Peyton Manning, but it feels strange.

We’re the favorite team in the NFL. And I have no idea what to do about it.

NFL Week Six: The Week in Rebuke

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I can tell you the exact moment that I knew I didn’t have what it took to be an NFL player.

It was January 7, 1995. I was 15, which explains the youthful optimism. The Cleveland Browns were playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in a divisional playoff game. I remember this as being one of the most brutal games I’ve ever seen, and as those running backs took those shots, I knew that if someone hit me like that once, I would die on the spot.

Big backs were in vogue then.

The Browns had Earnest Byner, Leroy Hoard and Eric Metcalf as the change of pace back. (The head coach was Bill Belichick, his defensive coordinator was Nick Saban.) On defense they had Pepper Johnson, Carl Banks and Michael Dean Perry. Conversely, the Steelers had Bill Cowher, Dom Capers as the defensive coach, with Dick LeBeau and Marvin Lewis as position coaches. The running backs were Bam Morris and Barry Foster and the defense, good God.

Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland, Greg Lloyd, Rod Woodson, Kevin Greene, Brentson Bucknew, Jason Gildon and Carnell Lake. (Why yes, the Steelers did have Tom Modrak and Tom Donahue handling scouting and personnel! How did you know?)

So when the Brown ran the Steelers out of the building this Sunday, I smiled. When both teams are competitive, this is one the great rivalries that the NFL was built on. This is old school football. This is what we needed in a year of reality show drama, scandal, public relations nightmares.

browns

Its worth noting that Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen got a sack against the Falcons. Allen had the flu, recovered partially and had seven tackles last week. People asked him why he didn’t have a sack yet this year. Aye Carrumba.

Also, don’t look now, but the Chargers are 5-1 and on top of a division that includes the mighty Denver Broncos, except they have one tenth the talent the Broncos have.

I tend to beat dead horses, but when Mike McCoy was offensive coordinator for the Broncos, he customized one offense for Tim Tebow, and a different one for Payton Manning. That’s an incredible job of adjusting your system for your personnel. Suddenly people are talking about Phillip Rivers as an MVP candidate, and Malcolm Floyd is better than he has been in years. This is not a coincidence.

Chargers

Also Kirk Cousins has lost all seven games he’s started the last two years for the Washington Redskins. A few weeks ago, Robert Griffin III was all but dead and buried, and now people are hoping that he will heal like Wolverine.

I’m going to say it here first, Griffin’s contract is up in 2016, but the team option is up a year before that. If you’re RGIII, why would you want to stay in Washington? The line is flawed, the coaching staff has been in turmoil, the fans turned on you the moment someone else showed up, and all you can look forward to is taking a beating in the future. He has a career passer rating of 91.8 and the Washington Post just published an article asking if he was competent enough to be a starter.

If you’re Cam Newton, why would you stay? The Panthers only have him for another year. He lost his receiving corps and they didn’t even talk to him about it, and he lost his line. The general manager invested in running backs only, because apparently he was a fan of San Francisco’s ‘Million Dollar Backfield,’ except they’re all like two hundred years old and no one can stay vertical for more than four yards.

It didn't work then either.

It didn’t work then either.

The same fans that think Johnny Football is ‘passionate’ when he’s snorting coke in the bathroom, or throwing a tantrum onfield, think that Newton lacks poise, when sometimes he looks stern as his team is imploding. They only got him decent quarterback coaching last year, with Ken Dorsey. They shelved the team’s top pass rusher as a public relations move, so now they can’t rush the passer and the Panthers need 30 points a game to win…throwing to Jason Avant. Why would you stay?

That's passion right there. Right up his nose.

That’s passion right there. Right up his nose.

If you’re DeMarco Murray…well nevermind. Look, he always passed the eye test, people just weren’t looking before, but he’s averaged 4.9 yards a carry over his career. The problem is that Tony Romo and Tyron Smith have devoured the Cowboys salary cap like Galactus, and Dez Bryant has a new deal coming.

We all know Adrian Peterson is coming next year for less money than Murray would want. Now we have to see who is willing to overpay Murray.

I end this week simply. The Titans played the Jaguars. Although there were probably was a victor, let’s be honest, no one actually won.

NFL Week Five: The Week in Rebuke

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As a Philadelphian I have to talk about the Eagles, because for some reason people want to know what’s ‘wrong’ with LeSean McCoy and Nick Foles. Nothing is wrong with either person.

McCoy has lost a couple of linemen in front of him and defenses are able to crowd the line of scrimmage because the Eagles receivers are average if we’re being generous (although Jordan Matthews has shown flashes). Foles is having the same problem. Without Desean Jackson, no one is making the defense back up, and Foles is used to having wide open guys to throw to. Last year he was playing like Kurt Warner, but that wasn’t going to last forever. He’s a system quarterback, but most of them are, look at Alex Smith or Tom Brady.

The Eagles have the same problem with Chip Kelly that the Patriots have with Bill Belichick, they don’t seem to be that great at personnel decisions, but they’re great coaches. Any mastermind that decided to get rid of Jackson and keep the waste of a roster spot that is known as Riley Cooper has a blind spot.

How long do we have to endure this guy?

How long do we have to endure this guy?

Another blind spot is Rex Ryan of the Jets. They were destroyed 31-0 by the Chargers, in one of the least compelling games imaginable. Ryan pulled quarterback Geno Smith in the second half for Michael Vick, and both posted ugly numbers, Smith went 4 for 12 for 27 yards and a pick, Vick went 8 for 19 for 47 yards. The numbers don’t tell the real story though. Vick never left the pocket and made some good throws, but most of them were dropped. Smith was terrible.

It’s really hard to look at Geno Smith and understand why the Jets didn’t give Tim Tebow a shot. Smith is cursing out fans, missing meetings, engaging with the media, getting thrown off airplanes, and he’s a turnover machine. He posted a 7.9 Qb rating. You mean to tell me that Tebow couldn’t give you better than a 7.9 QB rating? You mean to tell me there’s nowhere in the NFL for a Tim Tebow or a Kerry Rhodes?

(Also, the NFL welcomed Michael Sam, a marginal defensive lineman, because he was gay. But the NFL shunned Kerry Rhodes, a Pro Bowl safety, because he was gay. What am I missing here?)

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I’m happy for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Before this week, I actually saw some people asking if the 49ers were better off keeping him instead of Colin Kaepernick. I don’t agree with that logic, but for a man considered a ‘bust’ or a ‘game manager’ at one point it’s nice to see him get some respect. As far as quarterbacks I’ve personally been around, Smith and RGIII work harder than anyone I’ve seen to prepare for games.

It’s also nice to see Chiefs tight end Anthony Fasano, a Parcells pick from Notre Dame, still in the league and still contributing. He was never a big name player, but if you were paying attention he made a lot of plays for the Cowboys, Dolphins, and Chiefs and he did it again this week with a touchdown catch. He reminded Bill Parcells of Mark Bavaro, but Jason Garrett didn’t want him. You tell me which football mind you trust.

In two years in Dallas Fasano had 28 receptions for 269 yards and one touchdown. The next year in Miami he caught 34 balls for 454 yards and 7 touchdowns. Because we tend to measure receiving tight ends by forty speed over everything else, players like Fasano get missed out on while Eric Ebron gets overvalued.

http://www.kcchiefs.com/media-center/videos/Anthony-Fasano-Circus-Catch/dc290c91-46d9-422f-b7c2-57958db250cc

Teams are also catching on to running to control time of possession and not expose questionable defenses. Dallas figured it out quickly, and the Colts won with it this week. They had a 17 and a ½ advantage in time of possession which let them survive four turnovers. (The Ravens had three. This does not make for great viewing.)

I’m happy for the Browns and the Bills, and I don’t really feel like a genius for not trusting Detroit to finish strong, because, well, it’s Detroit. (Seriously Robocop was a satire based on how bad Detroit would get in the future, and it ended up being too optimistic.)

But I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t controversial.

This has been the year, more than any other year, where football wasn’t a refuge from real life, but it reflected our society and it’s depressing. We have a culture of outrage, based on a small minority of people that cannot be placated, but insist on being genuflected to. They rush to condemn people, without researching or looking into anything. The moment they hear something their mind is made up, and no other data gets in.

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These people were always out there, but the NFL ignored them, and rightfully so. But for some reason, they are running the NFL and it sucks.

Let’s put it out there. Just because you’re a good athlete doesn’t mean you’re a great person, but when you compare them against every other person they get into trouble less than we do. And the standard we have in this country when you get in trouble is that you’re innocent until proven guilty.

This year, our Commissioner Roger Goodell has introduced a new idea, the idea that the moment you’re accused of anything, you can’t play, you get deactivated. That’s insane. How would you like to potentially lose your job the moment you were accused of something, no matter how credible the witness, or how absurd the situation? Don’t you deserve due process?

What about the teams? Is it fair to the Minnesota Vikings to lose their top offensive player on a charge that he already beat in May? Will anyone care a year from now that the Vikings weren’t able to fully compete because of this, or will these professional agitators have simply moved onto another issue?

Right now, Adrian Peterson’s charity has been shut down, and now is being raked through the coals of the media. At first, there were charges of corporate malfeasance, charities that never received money, and Peterson using the credit card for his own ends. Except no one did any actual research. Once Peterson found out about the problems with the charity, he fired the accounting company, hired a new staff, and kept up with the foundation personally. He didn’t take money, he put in $1.2 million when they needed it.

Maybe him beating his kid with a switch doesn’t feel right, but does this really sound like a guy who didn’t care about his community? A Community that condemned him without the benefit of a doubt despite the years he worked to earn its respect? And how does any of this help the kids that were the whole point of the charity? Are we surprised when athlete don’t want to give back anymore?

I have a dog in this fight. I admit it.

I was beat with a switch when I was child. My grandmother did it, not often, but it happened. I didn’t even remember. You would think it was this horrible traumatic event, especially because it looks so awful afterwards, but a lot of us who had Southern parents or grandparents got the switch and I’ve never met anyone who was too agitated about it. Peterson just has the extreme misfortune to play in Minnesota, a state that has literally no context what he’s talking about, because a Texas jury already refused to try this.

I don’t think anyone should be beat with a switch anymore. But where you might see a monster or a bully, I see a dad who was trying, and made a mistake.

I’m a large, black man. We don’t get the benefit of a doubt. Everything we do is uglier and more horrible than everyone else. The same people that find Adrian Peterson’s liaisons repulsive, find Charlie Sheen’s amusing. At least Peterson’s encounters were consensual. (Sheen is a long-time proponent of the casting coach, BTW, which is sexual harassment and intimidation at its foulest.) And to his credit, Peterson did change his life and get married.

I know what it likes to be accused of something horrible, and be condemned for it, even though you didn’t do it. All the positive things you did for people don’t matter. The credibility of the accuser doesn’t matter. The facts don’t matter. To some people, you are always that awful person, who did that terrible thing, and it never goes away.

Right now Adrian Peterson is getting ganged up on. And a lot of it is coming from his own ‘fans.’

If you don't agree with us, we'll take our ball away. So there.

If you don’t agree with us, we’ll take our ball away. So there.

This is going to end predictably. He already was a Cowboys fan, DeMarco Murray is outplaying his contract every second and you’d be a fool to think he’ll be that good anywhere else. Peterson is going to the Cowboys with a year of rest, a fire in his belly, and the best run-blocking line in the league. But what about the other guys?

You could believe that a cackling Greg Hardy threw a girl on a bed full of guns, or you could wait and see how it plays out. You could believe that Jonathan Dwyer went psycho over a couple of days, or you could have an investigation and then mete out punishment.

But for some reason, that just isn’t enough anymore.

 

 

Is it Really a Dealbreaker?

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I was waiting at a doctor’s office and they were playing Everyone Loves Raymond, which I was barely paying attention to. In it, Raymond’s brother finally finds the perfect girl. She’s pretty, has a great career, gets along with his family, displays charm, intelligence, and somehow is utterly enamored with Brad Garrett.

Hello ladies?

Hello ladies?

However, at one point a fly interrupts dinner (which she disposes of) and Raymond surreptitiously sees her eat the fly.

Dealbreakers 3

No one believes him, but when he goes to her place for coffee later (totally not coffee) he realizes that she LOVES frogs. She has frogs as pets, she has frog dollies, you get the idea. Garrett climbs out of the window into the rain, and then she steps into the bedroom.

Dealbreaker 7

When he finally addresses the issue, she looks at him and says, “You know, we all descended from frogs.”

He flees immediately.

Sure she's smart and pretty but she likes frogs. Frogs.

Sure she’s smart and pretty but she likes frogs. Frogs.

At this point I was called over by the attendant who asked me what had happened as he had missed the episode.

“That is not a dealbreaker,” he said. “I’ve dated some crazy women.”

I agreed. Its not a dealbreaker.

Let’s be fair, if it was me, and that woman ate a fly, I would be alarmed. But I would not storm off without an explanation. There are a lot of crazy women out there. At least I know this woman’s crazy and it’s not hurting anyone. There’s  room to negotiate. Maybe we could cut out the fly eating, and maybe 60% of her animals, in exchange for me tapering my weekly comic book haul, and riding my bicycle more.

It’s a result of getting older, I suppose. I understand that most people need a lot more understanding than they ever did. Also as a result of getting older, I need more understanding than I ever did.

I had an acquaintance that was a wanna be rapper (he was actually pretty good). We went to a party and he showed up with his girlfriend, an attractive Latina that seemed pleasant, but a touch shy. She was cold, and had her hands buried in a baseball jacket.

Actually, no.

I went to shake her hand, and as my fingers wrapped around her hand, my subconscious started to tell me that something was very wrong. She had a flipper. There was this part of my mind that completely freaked out, but outwardly I was calm. (You cannot just drop that on a person. You have to let me prepare for that. Seriously.) The rest of the night, she was completely cool.

It was kinda like this.

It was kinda like this.

My co-workers were weirded out, but I didn’t know how to call it. Is a flipper a dealbreaker? What if she’s a great person? Is it wrong to reject a person because of a flipper and no other reason? Aren’t there other people out there with problems at least as bad as a flipper?

Let’s say you’re in a relationship, and she has kids, and the kids are badly behaved. Or their dads are in your life, and there’s a lot of drama. Is that better than a drama-free girl with a flipper?

What is a deal-breaker then, you might ask. For me, sometimes its mental.

If I was on a date and the girl was a serious 9/11 truther, I’m out. We reached the point in society where white people are more paranoid about the government than we are, and crazy white people are scaring me.

Look 9/11 happened because the entire government was on vacation the month before when all the intel was released about the attacks. Maybe everyone shouldn’t go on vacation at the same time if you run the most important country in the world.

There’s no conspiracy. The government is lumbering, its a series of understaffed fiefdoms. Sure we have the ability to monitor phone calls and use spy satellites but some government agencies and at least part of our nuclear arsenal are still using floppy discs. There is no Illuminati. We can’t get 30 billionaires in any sports league to co-operate, do you really think there’s a silent international conspiracy of governments?

If you gave me the choice of, say, someone with a bizarre form of Tourette’s syndrome…

or someone who really doesn’t believe that the President was born in this country…

I will work with the Tourette’s.

In the end, we all have stuff we cannot stand. But as we get older and wiser, hopefully we learn to evaluate people for who they are, and not for what they couldn’t control. There are not that many real dealbreakers out there.

Then again…

I'm weak. God, I'm weak.

I’m weak. God, I’m weak.

NFL Week 4: The Week in Rebuke

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I keep forgetting they time these things.

I keep forgetting they time these things.

Another week in the books, and we are starting to realize that the Patriots are falling apart as they were bullied by the Chiefs. As shocking as it is to say, the Pats were out-coached by Andy Reid, and Reid still can’t manage the clock. Years of bad drafts, weird personnel decisions made for ‘the future,’ and just plain age are catching up to the former champs.

After a stunning 2007 season where they proved that they were perhaps greatest team ever (think about it, the 1972 Dolphins also went 18-1 over a 19 game stretch if you start at the beginning of 1972) the wheels began to come off. We just gave Belichick the benefit of the doubt for way too long.

Ya got me and Chad Jackson in the first round instead of Maurice Jones-Drew and Brandon Marshall three rounds later!

Ya got me and Chad Jackson in the first round instead of Maurice Jones-Drew and Brandon Marshall three rounds later!

The 2008 Draft landed just one player (Jerod Mayo) that stayed on the team. 2009 yielded Sebastian Vollmer, who is still a starter, and Julian Edelman. 2010 had FS Devin McCourty and Rob Gronkowski. 2011 had Shane Vereen and Nate Solder. 2012 yielded Chandler Jones and Don’t’a Hightower. 2013 has so far produced nothing, and it’s too early to call the rookie class.

But the Pats lost Donte Stallworth, Asante Samuel, Kevin Vrabel, Jabar Gaffney, Ellis Hobbs, Rodney Harrison, Larry Izzo, Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, Randy Moss, Deion Branch, Aaron Hernandez (*clears throat), Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead, Brian Waters, Brandon Lloyd, Logan Mankins, Aqib Talib, Brandon Spikes, LeGarrette Blount and Matt Light. Yikes.

Belichick obviously is having a tough time rebuilding through the draft, although there are some promising defensive picks lately, and his coldblooded frugality has ravaged the offense. The AFC East is getting competitive and looking to the future isn’t going to work anymore, especially with drafts like this.

The Bengals and the Cardinals are the best teams in the NFL. It’s a strange feeling and I don’t know what’s happening anymore.

There was a great article from Greg Cosell on yahoo this week. (http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/greg-cosell-s-film-review–arizona-s-creative-and-very-aggressive-defense-211735655.html)

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In it, he describes Arizona defensive co-ordinator Ray Horton’s defensive approach, a blitz crazy scheme grounded on controlling the space between the guards and the center. This approach is devastating since quarterbacks have to step up after bouncing on their back foot, and its harder to throw accurately or run without being able to step forward. It also forces the run game outside, where it can be pursued by the outside linebackers, who now have the angle.

The NFL has gotten trendy, and nothing looks cooler than a complicated corner blitz. But like you’re seeing with the Saints or the Packers, it’s a mixed bag. Control the middle of the field.

The Lions tried to control the middle of the field with their front four, without blitzing which is an even sounder concept, but they couldn’t keep Cliff Avril, the wheels fell off of Kyle Vanden Bosch, Nick Fairley ate until he was completely immobile, and Ndamukong Suh is sick of the whole thing and is ready to leave for New York. (Which New York? Next to Jason Pierre-Paul or in between Super Mario and Kyle Williams or with Muhammad Wilkerson?) They are leading the division, but we’ve been here before. Let’s see if they fall apart at the end of the season.

It’s rare this season for something to happen just the way everyone thought it would, but the Carolina Panthers got rid of Steve Smith Sr. and replaced him with a decent rookie and a bag of chips. When they played the Ravens, Smith made them pay, especially now that he can be put in the slot. Shame no one else thought of that. D’Angelo Williams reminded us that he is now our generation’s Fred Taylor by getting hurt the second he got any sort of positive running yardage (dooming my fantasy squad for the third straight week).

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Thankfully, the Raiders still suck, and they fired their coach four games into the season when clearly general manager Reggie McKenzie is the greater problem. I don’t know how firing someone a quarter of the way into the season does anything. All is right with world as long as the Raiders suck.

Also, J. J. Watt is the MVP. Just call it. It’s over. Having a quarterback win this year is like having Miss America come from New York again. He’s in a 3-4, being schemed against every game and he defenses more passes and get more knockdowns and sacks than most teams do. We are seeing a once in a generation player here, and that might be understating it.

He's 300lbs folks.

He’s 300lbs folks.

 

The NFL Week in Rebuke: Week Three

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Sorry the column is late this week. For some reason after I entered my dotage, and my concussions started to fog my mind, I decided to go back to college. I spent this summer squinting at miserable sadists who have the nerve to call themselves ‘professors.’ And I got behind on my column.

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Guess I’m dead then.

This is it. The year I quit fantasy football forever because I can’t take anymore. The 49ers stopped running, The Cardinals stopped throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, five running backs pulled up lame, most of the TEs in the league aren’t getting the ball, and the Bengals are undefeated.

The Bengals.

My implosion aside, the NFL had a great week of football.

As much as it pains me, I want to highlight the Pittsburgh Steelers. Before the season, someone asked me about Ben Roethlisberger, because we were discussing ‘elite’ quarterbacks. But any statistical argument about Big Ben is irrelevant because he has the single most important quality you need in a gunslinger.

Regular Ben doesn’t look like he could read a menu, much less a playbook, but when that play breaks down, he breaks two hundred tackles, throws across the field on his wrong foot and gets the ball into a two inch window in between three defenders with time running out and you can’t even get mad because this play happens all the time.

Yep. It happened again.

Yep. It happened again.

Also Pittsburgh was smart enough to pick up LeGarrette Blount. For some reason the league has completely undervalued Blount, despite a career rushing average of 4.7 yards a carry. I know he had a ‘slow’ 40 time of 4.59, but running with fresh legs in track shoes in no way approximates real speed. If you want to know how fast someone is going to be, put them in cleats, with 15 pounds of armor on grass.

It is worth nothing that Blount, at 250lbs had a better broad jump than Jacoby Ford, Riley Cooper, Ed Dickson, Antonio Brown, Jermaine Gresham, Brandon LaFell, Brandon Spikes, Earl Thomas, and Alterraun Verner, all of whom are much smaller than him. In the first ten yards, Blount clocks in at 1.58 seconds, faster than Von Miller, Justin Houston, and Aldon Smith. Blount’s speed might technically taper off after 20 yards but he’s hitting holes in the line very quickly and once he’s in the open, he doesn’t get caught a lot.

He got bounced from the Bucs because he wasn’t a ‘Schiano guy’ which is the highest compliment you can pay someone because Schiano is a coach with a career 79-88 record. You don’t want to be a Schiano guy. Then he tore it up for the Patriots in the playoffs and Bill Belichick turned him loose, because Belichick loves getting rid of talent for absolutely no reason. The Patriots lost Wes Welker, Blount and Logan Mankins, and suddenly Tom Brady is having the worst year ever, after having shed offensive talent every year since Randy Moss left. Good job, Coach Hoodie.

This guy coached an NFL team. This guy.

This guy coached an NFL team. This guy.

So it’s good to see him do well for somebody. Also James Harrison is coming back to the Steelers and he fits more to their identity. This could turn out well for them, because they haven’t looked particularly tough.

The Broncos were able to compete with the Seahawks this week, but in the end, it came down to coaching, and when it does the Broncos will never win, because Jon Fox and Jack del Rio can’t make quick adjustments. The Seahawks overtime drive was a thing of beauty, with Russell Wilson’s runs and short throws to backs simply destroying the Broncos defense.

There was no adjustment coming. The linebackers that were supposed to cover Wilson were too slow to get there, and del Rio didn’t pull anyone out of coverage even though he had extra defensive backs.

Sigh.

Dallas is showing a lot of heart this year, and I think they figured out that dominating the run game and winning time of possession is their key to winning this season.

Also, there was a gorgeous old school NFC East battle between the Redskins and the Eagles. I was interested in this matchup because Chip Kelly made a huge mistake and let DeSean Jackson go and got no value for him. He indicated that it would have no real effect on the offense, but LeSean McCoy is down to 2.7 yards a carry from last year’s 5.1, and his career average of 4.7. Hmm.

DeSean had a good day with a 117 yard and a great TD, but Chip Kelly is a really exciting coach, who might be the best at making adjustments in the NFL right now, and that was the difference in the game. But if you’re an Eagles fan, the fight was the best sign for your team imaginable.

Nick Foles threw what looked like an interception at the time, and he was trotting off-field when Redskins lineman Chris Baker absolutely levels him. Baker maintains that it was a legal hit, that he couldn’t distinguish the quarterback from any other player, that he was simply throwing a block on the play. But he ran behind Foles to give him the hit, meaning it wasn’t a split second decision. Foles had no intention of interfering with that play and shouldn’t have been within a mile of it. And I will tell you, after a whole game where you are fighting and clawing to get to the quarterback, you will use any excuse to hit him. It’s in a lineman’s DNA.

Head on a swivel there, Nick.

Head on a swivel there, Nick.

Baker goes to the sideline to celebrate the hit and Eagles left tackle Jason Peter savagely attack s him.

And that’s what should happen.

If your quarterback gets leveled by a cheap shot you want your offensive line to furious about it. If they indifferently step over the quarterback, you have a chemistry problem…and I’ve seen it happen.

And finally I have to end on Ray Lewis, who has no sense of irony. Commenting on Ray Rice he said that there were some things you don’t cover up, when of course, he obstructed justice on a murder, which is the most grievous charge there is.

But I do not believe that Ray Lewis stabbed anybody himself. I have solid reasons based on facts, but this is the Internet, so I went with the funniest.

Ray Lewis did not kill anyone because he was wearing a white suit.

That is the player suit. You have to have white shoes and a white shirt to go with it. You’re constantly paranoid about something getting on that suit because if you get a stain on an all-white suit, you immediately look like an idiot. If I was wearing a white suit, and Christina Hendricks wanted to ravish me on the spot, I’d say no because I’d be paranoid about something getting on my suit. If somebody wanted to fight, I would let it go. There is no insult you could say that would be so bad that I would risk ruining my suit, or scuffing my white gators.

You never heard of Frankie Beverly getting into trouble, have you? White. Outfit.

You never heard of Frankie Beverly getting into trouble, have you? White. Outfit.

You know why it’s such a big deal?

When you get a stain on your lapel in all white, it’s all anyone can see. You could be robbing a bank teller at gunpoint and they’re not going to be able to take their eyes off of the coffee stain on your chest. You look like an idiot with a stain in an all-white outfit, like you gave in to some baser instinct and ate a taco in the car.

Anyone that thinks that Ray Lewis was hanging out with eleven other guys, two of whom had knives they bought the day before, and that he decided to wade into the fight himself with his white suit on  when he could have easily outsourced that beating is an absolute idiot.

 

 

I am Not Running

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Recently, a girl I go to school with asked me if I will be willing to volunteer at an event that benefitted veterans. The event was a BBQ competition. If you know me, BBQ is serious business and I am reasonably fond of veterans. This is something that I’m inclined to do. After I established that we were not, in fact, BBQing the veterans themselves, I started to make plans to at least attend.

Conversely, I get a lot of invitations and notices about walks or runs for one cause or another. I want to be clear on this.

I’m not running.

If there were a zombie apocalypse, and my life depended on me running, then I would die eaten by zombies. I’m not happy about it. My fight or flight response has been replaced by a fight response. Flight is not an option.

When people ask you to run they immediately stop speaking English. They saunter up to you and ask you to run ‘a 5K.’ Whoa. This is America. We use miles. Why did you suddenly switch to the metric system? Are all bets off once we start talking about running? Are we like, “Runner 26, is five hands high, and is moving along at 12 knots, which is a nice little clip?”

We use miles, you commies.

Plus, the concept is insulting. Most of the time, its a walk for lupus, or a run for cerebal palsy. Well, guess what? Those people can’t walk! Its like helping the blind,by teaching color theory classes, and then telling them about it.

“Guess what Timmy? Everybody walked for you today! Hundreds of people walking together, wearing pictures of you and your withered legs in your wheelchair. Isn’t that great?”

I am not walking either. Running is near impossible, but walking is death by a thousand cuts. There’s this point where I start getting warm, and then there’s this spot on the back of my neck that I can’t get dry and I keep thinking there’s a spider on me, but its just sweat. But its too late. Once your brain goes “Spider!” that is it. You just keep thinking there is a spider on you.

My underwear relocates to one side of my groin and rubs me raw, and by the time I quit mentally, I realize that my journey is only half over…because now I have to walk back.

My wife likes to walk, so the whole time we do it, she’s smiling and looking at stuff and chattering. Its like being in a concentration camp and having a cheerful guard.

Just so you know, when I ignore your Facebook invite, its not personal. I’m not running.

 

NFL Week Two: The Week In Rebuke

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So far, this has been an amazing year of football in terms of parity. Unless you’re the Raiders, you have the potential to win every game. The teams that are supposed to be good are absolutely terrifying.

Green Bay has looked very beatable, and the defense has been downright hospitable. They beat the Jets on a referee mistake, although, honestly, had Rodgers gotten the ball back with the score tied, it still may have been a Jets loss. Denver has let a lesser team compete with them for the second straight week. You only have so many goalline stands in you. San Francisco gave up late scores to Chicago, and the Seahawks lost on the road. New Orleans lost to the Browns, and the Bengals beat the Falcons who looked so impressive last week. I have no idea who is supposed to be elite anymore.

I do know that I feel great for the Texans, Cowboys, Ram, Cardinals and Browns to at least be competitive. You get tired of the same teams being bad all of the time.

I would just like to add that Rolando McClain led his team with 7 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception. For some reason, this guy got roundly mocked for taking time off to deal with his issues, but more people need to do that in the NFL. (See Rice, Ray.) Also he was presented as a bust, but everyone forgot how formidable he was when he was playing for the Raiders. In a rough year for players in the media, it’s nice to see some redemption.

Yeah, this happened.

Yeah, this happened.

If you are the Raiders, it took you so long to clear the dead wood from the team that the GM and coach are going to get fired before Khalil Mack and Derek Carr pay off. Then again, Derek’s brother David was thrown onto a lousy Houston team and ruined for life, so maybe throwing him into the fire isn’t the best idea. Oakland lost promising lineman Jared Veldheer to Arizona, (Oh look, randomly Andre Ellington looks great and the Cardinals are winning with their backup QB!) and then the ghost of Al Davis appeared, the Raiders panicked and started spending money like Wes Welker at a racetrack.

They found 29 year old LaMarr Woodley, whose last great pass rushing year was 2011, and who was just cut by the lousy Steelers defense and they were like, “Hey, do you want $10 Million dollars for no reason, what-so-ever?” Ditto for Justin Tuck, who was part of a pass rushing unit that hasn’t been as effective since Michael Strahan retired, and for wide receiver James Jones, because signing Green Bay receivers whose worth has been inflated by Hall of Fame quarterbacks has worked out for everyone. They got Donald Penn who was too average for Tampa Bay, which is saying something and the utterly unimpressive Matt Schaub.

The Raiders are hopelessly bad, after a couple of years of trying to recover from being hopelessly bad. Somewhere Al Davis is smiling as he files a lawsuit. This week they played the Texans where J.J. Watt caught a TD pass, sang the national anthem, and stayed late to clear the field of debris, because there is literally nothing he can’t do.

In 2011, there were ten people picked before J.J. Watt. Normally, this is where you make fun of teams for blowing the pick, but only two teams did, the Titans picked Jake Locker and the Jaguars picked “Blame” Gabbert. The other players?

Cam Newton, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, and Tyron Smith. Robert Quinn and Ryan Kerrigan were off the board pretty soon after Watt. Muhammad Wilkerson came near the end of round one. Wow. What a draft. Do you know how badly you have to suck as an executive to come out of 2011 with nothing?

Speaking of the Jaguars, they can’t cover. For some reason, people think that there’s a quarterback controversy in Washington, because sticking pocket passers behind leaky offensive lines works out well. This Kirk Cousins thing is stupid.

Kirk Cousins started in 2013 and lost every game with a passer rating of 58.4. RG III posted an 82.2 on the same crappy team, playing on a bad plant leg. Cousins has a good day against a terrible Jags pass defense and everyone loses their minds. Fine. If your subtly racist Northern Virginia fan base wants RGIII to move on, he should pack his bags and move on from this train wreck of a team to a better situation, instead of getting the stuffing beat out of him for fans that are inclined to pick him apart for any perceived transgression. (For the record, Cam Newton is sulky and lacks composure, but Johnny Football is passionate. Gotcha.)

The San Diego Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles won. Both teams have the greatest asset a football can have…coaches that make adjustments. They don’t have the most talent in the world, but you can always compete if the coach can think on the fly.

And finally…Adrian Peterson.

adrian peterson

This is the subject of a great racial divide from what I’ve seen. If I were to use sweeping generalizations, I’ve seen white people condemn Adrian Peterson as an abuser, and I’ve seen black people offended by the breach of privacy for his family.

Spanking is not as offensive among minority communities, and if you’re over 30, you were probably spanked as a child. From what I’ve read about Peterson, he is fantastically strong, something he doesn’t quite seem to realize (apparently he’s crushed many a hand doing handshakes) and I don’t think he should be using a switch to beat his children. I don’t think anyone should be using a switch, frankly.

What alarms me is that he already figured that out. When the media covered this, they didn’t highlight his text conversations. Peterson’s private texts show a thoughtful, disciplined person (who can’t spell). After the spanking, he acknowledged that it hadn’t gone the way he intended, that the switch had wrapped around his son’s thigh which he hadn’t realized, even that a stroke had gone astray and hit the child in the testicle…which if you’ve ever endured corporal punishment sometimes accidentally happens. (Also, having been beat with a switch by my grandmom, the wound don’t immediately show up. You swell up afterward. You look terrible, but it doesn’t really hurt once the spanking stops.) He then said he had stopped spanking the child after that, and instead put him in ‘time out’ for the rest of the summer. He also said that he explained to child what he had done wrong and what he expected both before and after the spanking.

I’m sorry, but this doesn’t sound like an enraged abuser. We habitually see athletes neglecting their children, and not supporting them. Peterson sounds like an engaged dad that was trying to raise his children. Maybe he didn’t do it the best way by non-East-Texas standards, but he was trying and he’s getting treated like Ray Rice.

Well…

Speaking of Ray Rice…

When I saw him punch his fiancee I felt sick to my stomach. Ray Rice did a horrible thing, and I find it hard to believe that that was the first time he’s done something like that. Also, he spit on Janay, which I find worse in a way. You spit on people you just don’t care about, that you have no regard or respect for. But it think it’s a little to linear to simply call him a wife beater.

When I watched the video and saw them argue, what struck me is that Janay Parker was not afraid of Ray Rice. In cases where a man is physically abusive, usually the wife and children are afraid of him, but I did not see the least bit of fear in her. Afterwards, she has been his most vocal defender. Maybe it’s just bluster, but I really believe she doesn’t know why people are so upset.

It made me think that their dysfunction went somewhere beyond the typical model of domestic abuse that we think of. They sound like two people that are in love but probably bring out the worst in each other. They got drunk, went to casino, and things got ugly, and they get ugly a lot. They don’t need to be with each other and until they can work their issues out, they don’t need to be with anybody else either.

I also find it quite interesting that the media focused on this case but did not assign the same notoriety to Oscar Pistorius, who not only killed his girlfriend after an abusive relationship, but will do no jail time and is free to race again. For some reason there is just not the same intensity of outrage from anyone.

It’s hard to see Week Three topping this level of drama, but we’ll see. What happens next? Will we suddenly think about creepy Robert Kraft’s and Belichick’s girlfriends are? Will we wonder what else the NFL swept under the rug? Will the Bucs be even mildly interesting? Stay tuned.

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Desert Island Disc: My Rebuttal

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It pains me to discuss Tom’s list, because music is intensely personal and no one’s tastes match, nor should they. It feels kind of like a cheap shot to criticize someone’s choices.

Also, I was amused how much of a populist list this was from someone with Tom’s music industry background. I was expecting a rare song from an Aborigine group that only used instruments made of coral reef and shark bones.

Or this.

Or this.

He went with Sade, Marvin Gaye and Genesis. Thanks for making me look like a hipster. Then again, there are no black hipsters.

There are some high points on this list, you can’t go wrong with Marvin Gaye, I could listen to “Love Ballad” on a continuous loop and never get tired of it, the Sade song isn’t my favorite one by her, but it’s Sade. I loved the inclusion of David McCallum, because the whole crime jazz thing is pretty cool.

Lauren Hill is a heartbreaking talent, just seeing her on the list is hard, because she was so great. Kool and the Gang is an underrated band, so it’s good to see someone rep them too. I’m sort of intrigued with the idea of Wu-Tang Clan’s “Triumph” as being the pinnacle of hip-hop. He used Sister Nancy as his reggae representative, my first list included Slim Smith. I don’t mind that.

Also he included James Brown. If there’s anything that pisses me off about black people its that we are disinterested in preserving our history or memories. James Brown is a musical giant, and people are forgetting about him and the idea that kids would grow up and not know who he is is intolerable.

Here’s my problem with his list.

Remember when Britney Spears did the Michael Jackson comeback concert, and she looked phenomenal? Just super hot?

And then remember when she fell apart, gained weight, went completely crazy, started walking around barefoot, and then moved on from her backup dancer to a guy she met in rehab?

Britney Spears wanders around a rehab facility in LA after checking in for an undisclosed treatment

Tom did the musical equivalent of picking crazy, bad weave Britney.

There were two Phil Collins, the uncanny power pop guy (In The Air Tonight, Just a Job to Do, Against All Odds, etc), and the guy that would ride a dull melody into the ground (Follow You Follow Me, Two Hearts). Tom picked bad Phil. I think I’m probably on a desert island just to get away from “That’s All.”

And one bad Phil Collins song wasn’t enough, the whole column ends on “Take me Home.” The last song we put is going to be the first thing anyone remembers. His list will be remembered for Phil Collins “Take me Home.”

I risk my man card here, but Coldplay has made some good songs.

Rats. I was afraid of that.

Rats. I was afraid of that.

This is not one of them. “Trouble” combines boring, with sad, with kinda long. Also, Tom said my list was depressing. Pot, meet kettle.

Daft Punk just made an incredible album with Nile Rodgers and Pharell Williams. Really exciting stuff, it sounded retro and fresh at the same time. Tom ignored Random Access Memories and picked their old, unambitious house single “One More Time.” Yikes.

The Bee-gees are associated with disco, but they were uncanny songwriters beginning with their Beatle-esque single “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (which they wrote as teenagers!) or the touching “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” or “Emotion.” Tom picked “You Should Be Dancing,” from the most dated part of their musical catalog.

Ray Charles was a tremendous talent, but “Lonely Avenue” is only two minutes and thirty seven seconds long and it feels like ten, mostly it is built on one riff that is beaten into the ground every two seconds. You want great Ray Charles? Try “I’ve Got News for You.”

In short, I can’t argue with his artists, but I don’t understand some of his picks. But it is his island. Just stay off of mine.

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