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Friday, January 19, 2007



Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Before I proceed with a more traditional sports event-related post, let me begin by marking for posterity the following back-and-forth I enjoyed with a good friend of mine who is probably the most ardent Colts fan I had the pleasure to know during my tenure in Indianapolis. Call him BigSlick.

He sent along an
article appearing at CBS Sportsline dot com, that … well … disparages the character of a particular NFL Quarterback while trumpeting the supremacy of another. The article's author appears to be that CBS Sportsline's answer to ESPN's BostonSportsGuy, who tends to be loved by Boston sports fans and disdained by everyone else. Incidentally, Sportsguy provides a nice piece which appears to account for Mr. Travis' recent work, asking When Did Hate Take Over Sports?

Back to Travis, though. He thinks it necessary to lump together every anti-Tom Brady rant ever published – i.e. metrosexual, overrated, hip facial hair-donning poseur, etc. – and adds a few new ones that most Patriots fans would be surprised to know were out there, i.e. that Brady runs "effortlessly" as some kinda mobile quarterback type.

The author, some guy from Tennessee named Clay Travis, proceeds to cast all Patriots' fans as "those extremely deadly vampires from Coppola's Dracula," which will not die until you "climb into the casket, chop off their heads and burn their bodies while chanting incantations." In doing so, he establishes this asinine Red State Blue State analogy, hinting that Peyton Manning is the savior of Republican America.

The author also apparently misses the irony of his own claims to being some standard bearer for
The American Redneck. This from 1) a writer, 2) who employs the communist-sounding/Frenchie term "apropos of nothing," 3) talks knowingly about Cashmere sweaters, and 4) himself, muses ponderously about irony. Sounds like somebody has something to work out on his own before he starts casting stones from the heartland.

But I disgress …

The article put a little jaunt in my step, inspiring me to respond with a minor diatribe of sorts to my Colts Fan buddy. Because it includes so much of the stuff that I would otherwise be forced to distill and/or condense, and that means work, I figured it might be more appropriate merely to post it as a Point Counterpoint – a model employed so well by The Onion that it's long been a favorite of mine in that austere publication.

One more tangent. The Onion provided two fine pieces this week related to the
Colts versus Patriots match-up. The Manning hatchet job is pretty predictable, but the shot at Belichick was truly solid – "So-Called Genius Bill Belichick Stumped By Non-Football-Related Question." For instance, this bit about a non-football question throwing the coach off balance:
… Belichick, obviously attempting to dodge the question in what onlookers called a "humiliating moment of mere mortality for the acknowledged genius."

"I don't know if Keynesian theory is what I want here, but … A football game is a service, I guess, in terms of Keynesian market concepts … No, wait, I think I'm thinking of Thorstein Veblen. You know what? Any questions on how we're planning for the Colts' passing game?"

Nice.

Now then, in the words of
Mr Doggy Dogg sayeth, back to the lecture at hand

1. Initial Salvo – BigSlick represents:

Here is something that is really getting under my skin, and I would like to hear your take. I do not dispute that Brady has the ability to perform well under pressure, that he has been involved in a remarkable number of playoff wins and that he is the leader of a team that is on the type of dominating run that wasn’t supposed to be possible after the salary cap. However, the guy has a horrible game over the weekend and was extremely lucky that, among other things, one of his interceptions was fumbled to set up a Patriots score (not mentioning all the other SD turnovers, the foolish challenge by Marty, the foolish 3 yard pass by Rivers with about 40 seconds left and no timeouts, and ultimately a missed kick by SD), yet all I hear on TV is how Brady always finds a way to win, and what a great clutch player he is.

Then you have Manning who goes 30 of 38 against KC for 300 yards and plays an extremely patient and conservative (some would say smart) game, but throws 3 interceptions (2 of which were clear miscommunications between Manning and Harrison, and Ron Jaworski and Chris Collinsworth both say that after watching the film it was Harrison that made the wrong read), yet the Colts win "despite another poor playoff performance from Manning." Again this week against Baltimore, I must admit Manning looked as bad as I have seen him in the last 2 years, but he has 2 interceptions to Brady’s 3 and he made big plays to get Indy from their own 1 all the way to field goal range, and also to keep a drive alive that basically sealed the game. Yet there is no talk about doing enough to win, making key plays at important times, consistently moving the ball against the best defense in the NFL, etc.

I know you have to win big games to be considered a big game QB and Brady has earned that.
It just sickens me that not only does Brady always get a free pass, but is actually glorified every time the Pats win, even when it was in spite of him and not because of him. I don’t know if sportswriters are just so intent on developing story lines, or if they are just lazy and only interpret new information in a way that is consistent with their prior perceptions or what, but it is amazing how differently they report similar performances.

To a large extent I wouldn’t care, but not only does it annoy me, but I think Peyton may get caught up in it a little bit. I am very concerned that he is going to be so scared to make a mistake that he plays too conservatively and gives up the chance to make big plays. I am the first to tip my hat at what our defense has done the last 2 games, but I am the last to feel comfortable calling a conservative game and relying on them to win a third for us!

2. Response – Rikki kinda agrees

I agree with you, and most discerning fans do too. Your only mistake is listening to national pundits. Everyone out here has been writing and saying what you said -- that Brady had a sketchy game yet fortune shined on him and his team. And moreover, the smarter talkees up here maintain that Manning is the most gifted and most explosive quarterback in the game. The only positive that remains attached to Brady, despite the picks and the average numbers, is that he performed on the most important drives of the game. For some reason, he has this uncanny knack for closing out every first half he plays in with a touchdown. Read the box scores. I haven't but I feel confident saying that he wins every key game in which he leads his team to a score in the waning seconds of the first half. And then, he does the same thing -- performs best -- during the last 7 minutes of the game.

And let's not forget to take this weekend's performances by both QBs with a grain of salt. Peyton played the number 1 ranked defense while Brady played the number 2 (I think). Moreover, how much worse would both be if they didn't play behind such great offensive lines? But for Matt Light (hold for Boilermakers to "Boiler-up" as it were), Brady would have suffered countless sacks on Sunday. With Light, Shawn Merriman became an afterthought.

What's my point? I almost wish the Pats will lose this weekend just because it kills me to hear this all the time from other Colts fans who don't think their way through it the way you do and just knee jerk, "Brady sucks," etc. Stop comparing Manning to Brady. He's better pure player in so many ways, and comparable in all of the glorified ones. Just so happens that the details of certain games happened to favor the other team.

And ESPN only writes that crap because they're too lazy to write good Xs and Os stuff. Other than Jaworski, those clowns are mailing it in and will continue to mail it in. The easiest piece to mail-in is the same one that's been written to death -- who's the better QB?

That said, I
blogged some of these same thoughts the other day. Brady's history is rife with game where he seems to be underperforming as the game goes along – INTs, 3 and outs, etc. Yet, as I typed, "he seemingly always drives to a touchdown in the waning minutes/seconds of the first half, leads to 1-2 key touchdowns in the middle of the second half, and takes advantage of golden opportunities teed-up by the opposing side.

True to form, Brady threw two picks as the clock ticked-along, missed Ben Watson on a sure score opportunity, and seemed unable to get anything going for long stretches, while Philip Rivers and LaDanian Tomlinson seemed to be moving the ball continuously. All the while, the Patriots' defense bent without breaking. A few scores eeked through, but all while San Diego appeared to lose all of the composure they displayed in amassing 14 regular season wins.

3. Upping the Ante – BigSlick Forwards Hatchet-Job Article

Since you have spent so much time in Indy, you will definitely appreciate this.

http://www.sportsline.com/spin/story/9937011/1

4. Return of the Rikki or The Rikki Gripes Back (in three movements)

You know, the thing that makes me shake my head while reading this is that every Pats fan I know – all of whom do indeed think that Brady walks on water – think that Manning is pretty damned good, too. I don't know anyone who rips him. They only say that, if given the choice, they'd take Brady because he continues to pull rabbits out of hats and you never turn down a sure thing.

Ask the Yankees and their fans if they still think Jason Giambi, A-Rod, and Randy Johnson are better performers than Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, and Andy Pettite. Bottom line is they haven't won since they dispatched the latter three in favor of the former three.

Granted, I'm the extreme exception ... as I continue to proclaim that "I root for the Colts in every situation where they aren't playing the Patriots."

But I am not alone among Pats fans – including the northern rednecks heavily populating my area – who, while they wouldn't give up Brady for anybody, think Peyton Manning is both an amazing quarterback and likely as good of a guy as somebody could be while earning crazy cash and being as good on the field as he is.

I was even listening to Boston's nitwit radio – WEEI, 850 am – the other day and all but the most asinine of the four guys who host the most asinine of the station's call-in shows agreed that Peyton is something special, and the only reason he has failed in the past is because of some weird cocktail of Belichick scheming and Peyton's lack of a supporting cast.

And don't EVER suggest that a Pats fan would EVER rip Adam Vinatieri. That guy will always own the hearts of NE fans. Kinda like when Bobby Orr played his last season, constantly limping, in a Chicago Blackhawks uniform. When the hawks played the Garden, Orr was reportedly cheered more loudly than any Bruin on the ice or off the ice.

Oh yeah ... according to the Tennessee writer, Peyton fans probably don't understand what this means because it involves ice skating. Just take it on faith. No one in New England, with the sad exception of the Connecticut residents who were dumb enough to be born to New York leaning fans, would ever or will ever do anything but cheer Adam Vinatieri.

And I like the Manning commercials ... except the one where he wears the dumb wig and p0rno mustache. That's got to go . . .

Incidentally, the more I think about this the more I suspect this is one of those blue state/red state arguments -- just dumb, and probably ignores the 45% in applicable states who strongly resent being lumped into the category of those who make up the opposite 55%. Read: the comment in the article about people from Ann Arbor. He might as well have added "Bloomington, Madison, Champaign-Urbana, Minneapolis-St. Paul," and ...god forbid, "Chicago."

Then again, I'm not sure why rednecks would rip Brady. Because he wears weird clothes sometimes and (shares lovemaking moments with) movie stars and models? (you see the Giselle thing? Nice upgrade, eh?)

What does that have to do with how he performs on the field? He's tough as hell, never avoids a hit when he can pick up extra yards, and performs as an on-field leader by leading by example (i.e. don't rip your boys in the media, dish off credit when you can, and take the blame when you can). This seems like exactly the kind of ideal that redneck guys would find creditworthy, i.e. "guyish"

I guess the bottom line is the very thing the article's author is trying to incite – the idea that, if you think Peyton Manning is cool, then you have to hate Tom Brady. And that's stupid.

Both players are the kind of athletes who play the game right, who take care of their teammates, and avoid doing all the kinds of things that put their teams' ability to win at risk. There is no rational reason to rip Brady if you respect Manning for these reasons. And maybe that's the crux of it -- it's irrational. It's about fan resentment . . . which, I'd bet if you asked Peyton, he'd say was stupid and to get over it. . . .

Oh yeah, and just to feed into the guy's characterization of Brady … here's his
new girlfriend. I find it hard to question his taste, or her tastes for that matter.


5. BigSlick Recoils or Finding Common Ground

Truthfully, I only skimmed the article. I thought you would mostly find some of
the Manning fan stereotypes funny… like that they obviously never pay more than $10 for a haircut.

I think I am in the majority in the way Colts fans feel about Brady. We all acknowledge that he is definitely a great QB, and I think most of us really appreciate anyone who approaches the game the way he does.

The few thuggish Colts or Pacers there have been are quickly run out of town. Brady always says the right thing, prepares and works hard, and doesn’t appear to have a huge ego. If I [held the hand of] even one as hot as his typical woman, or if I had even one Super Bowl ring, I would probably be so full of myself that even my Mother would hate me…so we all do recognize that.

The reason we seem so bitter and hateful is because Brady and company have won 3 Super Bowls that we think we could have won. I won’t even go as far as to say that the Patriots weren’t the better TEAM in those years. However, I think the teams were much more evenly matched than history and the media remember it, and that if we switched defenses then Manning has the rings. I firmly believe that in 2 of those years the Colts would have won if playing in the Dome instead of on a snowy, windy field.
I also recognize that the Pats EARNED that right to play at home (even if one was because the Colts couldn’t score on first and goal from the 2, and Fat Willie faked an injury to stop the clock and get the D settled). That said, it isn’t that we are truly bitter and hateful of Brady, it is more frustration and jealousy. The pathetic fools in the media really add fuel to our fires with all of their extreme statements and worship of Brady. I also realize that we are hyper-sensitive to criticism of Manning, but to hear endless babble about how Manning can’t win the big game (even at Tennessee, who will never have the recruiting advantages that Florida has), it was Peyton’s fault because HE couldn’t win the big game against Florida.

Football is truly more of a team sport than basketball or baseball, yet everyone wants to put all of the blame or credit on one or a few individuals, typically on the offensive side of the ball.

I think a good analogy is if some nice, likeable guy "steals" your girlfriend. Although it isn’t truly rational, it takes a huge man not to have bitter feelings toward that guy, and not to project bad characteristics on that guy. It is easier to think bad thoughts about the ex, or the guy that stole her than it is to look in the mirror and realize that there were probably many opportunities to have listened more, been more concerned with her needs and desires, or to have done countless other things that would have prevented her from going to a guy who likely did nothing wrong toward you.

Similarly, it takes a unique Colts fan to admit that the Patriots have continually made more plays than us. They have adjusted to the way the game is being called, the elements, the other teams’ game plan, etc. better than we have. Further, the Pats took care of business better than we did during those regular seasons and didn’t think the better team could automatically show up and win.

Being rational, I know the Patriots and Brady deserve all of those rings and deserve to get the increased adulation and the benefits of all doubts that come with being the Champion. I get very frustrated by the media and on the record, I will continue to say that Brady gets more credit than he deserves and that there are 20 QB’s that could have done what he has done. But then again the SOB has stole many of my girlfriends and has consistently whacked the Colts!!!!

6. Afterthought

As I told BigSlick, soon after I shipped off my three missives last night, I opened some spam from a fool up this way named Fuggaboski. It was a dumb-arsed joke about Peyton that deserves to be ignored. Anyway, sufficed to say, I spoke too soon in saying that everyone up here respects his ability. Let me revise that to "everyone except the dummies" thinks that Peyton is pretty damned good, too.

Ultimately, it's fair to assume that whoever wins Sunday, it won't quell the urge of writers like Tennessee Clay to write things like the CBS Sportsline piece. After all. the Red Sox 2004 World Series victory hasn't done a thing to cut into the Red Sox writing cottage industry. Let's just hope that what follows is an improvement over Tennessee Clay's output.

4 Comments:

Blogger B said...

This blog needs more cowbell… But concerning the issue at hand, this much analyzing is not only moot due to its relative unimportance, but it’s begins to confuse itself and show that there’s no clear side to take or believe as fact. While yes I do live in Indy and root for the Colts above all others, I’m not alone in that I can respect a team like the Pats. But there are two very specific things I’m not surprised you asserted, but that I do take umbrage to.

“And don't EVER suggest that a Pats fan would EVER rip Adam Vinatieri.”

We went over this before – while there was a tribute upon his return, it was overshadowed after that by booing and jeering that was vastly louder than any cheers whenever he stepped on the field. If that isn’t a rip from the Pats fans at the games, then I don’t know what is…

“Brady always says the right thing, prepares and works hard, and doesn’t appear to have a huge ego.”

Brady does prepare and work hard, but he has put his foot in his mouth and he has an ego. How he introduced himself to the Pats owner once he was drafted shows not only an enormous ego, but also an indifference to their current quarterback (Bledsoe) who very probably could have led the team to the exact same things because the surrounding team was built well by both Belichick and Parcells before him.

I actually wrote a lot more about where the Colts have gone wrong, and why it will be Manning’s fault if the Colts never win a Super Bowl. But it doesn’t really matter. It is just a game, and it obviously entertains. Enough for so many to get not only irrational but even borderline hostile… It’s realizations like this that I’m gaining a strong distaste for all professional sports. The only thing bringing me back from time to time is the fond memories I have for the game (from playing it) and desire for things in general to exist in a black and white manner as professional sports are supposed to be. You know… Easy to understand rules that make it so the best man wins.

But the rules aren’t easy and the best man doesn’t always win. No matter what happens on Sunday, so many will always say that the best man / team did or did not win…

10:04 PM

 
Blogger Rikki said...

Contrary B is in effect.

But ...

a. I didn't say Pats fans would never "boo" vinatieri. I said they would never rip him. Booing is a gesture of foolishness. Ripping a player is a personal attack that undercuts any previously respected/beloved elements of the player's legacy. Think Clemens after he put on pinstripes after promising to fans that he wouldn't. He was (is!) ripped.

The folks at Foxboro that night booed the new uniform, but largely in a joshing/self-mocking smirk, and ultimately rooted in sadness for his departure but mixed messages of good tidings ... against every other team but the Patriots. If you watched Vinatieri before and after the Press Conference, he too was smirking about it. Why? Because he knows he could run for Governor of Massachusetts in four years and win without being able to locate Worcester on a map.

Surely, Vinatieri was booed at points in the game you describe. But, don't ignore the hubris that followed among the fanbase for weeks thereafter. There is some accuracy in what you say, but put your net aside and pull out a fishing rod.

Dumb guys (see my "Afterthought" in the initial post) sadly rank in large numbers among ticket-holding sports fans in every market, including the Patriots' fanbase. Any fan who earnestly booed Vinatieri with ill feelings during that game is an idiot, ungrateful, ungraceful, and scorn-worthy. Fortunately, enough other fans publicly attacked those idiots in far more colorful tomes than I can emit. The record is clear - see the Letters to the Editor, TV newscast footage, embarrassed comments by the public at large, etc. That message was made clear -- smarten up or shut up: Vinatieri was/is all about class and did as much to bring football success into your otherwise meaningless lives as any other player on the Patriot teams of recent memory.

For this reason, I doubt that you'll ever hear even a joshing-type boo toward Vinatieri again in the future.

b. I never typed the thing you attribute to me. That was BigSlick's comment. Even still ...

c. You're nitpicking. Do you disagree with the overall tone, or merely find it disconcerting to read because it doesn't reach any definitive conclusions? I think that was the point. The whole "rivalry" thing is blown way out of proportion, and perhaps all of the ridiculous talk is enmeshed with more mutual appreciation than either side would admit ... short of an "I love you, man!" moment after beer six.

d. "moot due to its relative unimportance"?!?! Relative unimportance? Jesus. What should I be wasting my time typing about if not football? Movies? Are they relatively less unimportant? Come now. In the words of Michael Stipe, "Should we talk about the weather?"

If you ever find me blogging about something important - illnesses my children contract, ways I can be a better husband, difficulties brought on in life due to high tax bills, etc. - do me a favor - shoot me.

Cut out the goofy talk/type. Nobody listnin'.

11:01 PM

 
Blogger B said...

"I didn't say Pats fans would never "boo" vinatieri."

No you didn't, you said disrespect. And booing was just that. DISRESPECT. Joshing? Come on... In any other city, when any opposing kicker is announced - there aren't boos. Just an indifference for another opposing player coming onto the field doing what their skill position calls them to do, but not boos. They may cheer to try and produce enough crowd noise to disrupt the players, but taking the shape of boos only happens in very specific instances. You've been to enough football games to know this. Therefore by having more fans in attendance booing, that is a specific display of disrespect each time his name was announced for him coming onto the field to perform his taks. Disrespect. That's what you said, and that's my point.

I'm sorry if I attribute anything to you that should be attributed to someone else. But like many, I get confused with the length of your posts and what is attributed to who. Therefore if you're taking the time to post something not in block quotes, then I attribute it to you... Nevertheless...

Am I nitpicking? Maybe... There are specific comments that I disagree with... So what. Are you saying you never get caught up in minutia? If it's getting you this upset then why take swipes right back at me. Because by saying "What should I be wasting my time typing about if not football? Movies?", that's exactly what you're doing.

I've never made any illusions to the fact that anything I do online is that important. I've made fun of the fact that what I write about is not only unimportant, but moot. So I write about a movie and get lucky if five people ever see it, or one person even takes the time to say a few words about it. I specifically went through a time when I decided to blog despite the fact that no one reads it or cares that I was mostly trying to open up alternative methods of communication to those I don't see or talk to much anymore out of circumstance. Since my initial plan didn't work, I'm doing it for myself because writing such things helps me sort my thoughts - and why not post them. It's my online forum where I can open a little of my life up via the things I choose to write about.

I only brought up the unimportance because spending a while composing a response in the area of thousands of words seemed overly excessive. Spending that much time and space composing would mean I'm taking something more seriously, or attributing more importance than it deserves. Who really cares who wins a football game? And you know I'd say that regardless of who won yesterday.

9:18 AM

 
Blogger weasel said...

Let's Go Bears.

Yours
Disgruntled Patriot fan who might not boo Vinateri but wishes he's gone to ply his mercenary trade with the Jags or the Seahawks or the Giants, just anyone but the Colts where his awesome foot could well have come back to bite NE in the ass too easily.

PS: What tweaks me about Peyton- setting aside his obvious and awe-inspiring talents- is that he was raised to the manor born by that preening over-rated peacock twot of a man, Archie Manning.

Bitter? Moi?

9:48 AM

 

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