Friday, January 13, 2006

 

Um, Yeah, They're Worth The Money

So, the injury suffered by Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was "devastating and potentially career-ending", but the doctor thinks he can fully recover.

It happened on the Bengals' second play of their home playoff game against the Steelers. Just like that, the Bengals best player's season was done and whatever hope the team had against Pittsburgh ended almost before it began.

That is the risk all professional sports players have -- that the awesome opportunity that their physical skills have given them could be gone in an instant.

That's why the players work to get every cent they can, while they can. They know that their pro careers are limited. At best, they will be able to last into their early '30s.

The average career of an NFL player is 3-4 years. Yes, quarterbacks can stick around longer. But for every Doug Flutie, there's a
Joe Theismann whose career ends upruptly with a broken leg on a sack.

Believe that Carson Palmer is happy that he signed that
contract extension as the season ended (though, like all NFL contracts, it is not guaranteed).

And, the fact is that they are in an entertainment industry that rakes in billions of dollars.

So, even though the athletes often come across as selfish, it is understandable why they don't necessarily feel that they should just be "happy" to play games that many observers think they can do just as well in their backyards or on public fields.

Lesson: You're in dreamland, if you think that's the case.


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Thursday, January 12, 2006

 

Diversity Comes To The Klan...

...sort of.

A black former Colorado cop reminises about his
undercover investigation of the local KKK:

About 25 years ago, Ron Stallworth was asked to lead the Ku Klux Klan chapter in Colorado Springs.

Problem was, the outgoing Klan leader didn't know that Stallworth is black.

"He asked me to take over the lead because I was a good, loyal Klansman," said Stallworth, who had been in constant phone contact with the Klan leader while leading a yearlong Colorado Springs police investigation into the Klan.

Stallworth later moved to Utah, where he recently retired after nearly 20 years as an investigator for the Utah Department of Public Safety. He says he's amazed that no one ever caught on to the investigation he led starting in 1979. After he was offered Klan leadership, he quietly disappeared.

Amazing! I tell you, if he had heard about it, Clayton Bigsby would be outraged!


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FUNNIEST REPORTER ON THE PLANET

In New York City tonight?

Come drop by The Laugh Factory as various journalists -- including yours truly -- show off their stand-up chops!

The $10 admission goes to benefit the
Comedy Cures Foundation.

See you there!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

 

Tramps Lke Us...

...were born to prosecute government corruption OR become Supreme Court nominees.

Bruce Springsteen apparently inspires New Jersey boys across the map.

This Times story focuses on the
Justice Department career prosecutors going after Jack Abramoff and the connection one has to The Boss.

And,
as has been widely-noted, Samuel Alito also enjoys the operatic rock and complex character tales of Bru-u-u-u-ce -- who clearly doesn't have the reciprocal passion for George W. Bush that the judge has.


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SHOCKING News On The Alito Front

Actual AP headline: "Alito Pleases GOP Senators, Not Democrats"

Really? Who would have guessed?

Future headlines: "Tax Cuts Outrage Democrats, Exult GOP"; "Men & Women See Relationships Differently"; "Sun Rises In East, Sets In West"...

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

 

Boehner-Blunt Battle

GOP leadership race updates are being kept here.

Make of it what you will.


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2005: My Favorite Things...

Talk about procrastination! Everybody else did the "In-Out"/"Best Of" lists nearly two weeks ago.

So sue me!

Rather than run off a list for every little category, I thought I would just give a relatively random list of about 20 things or so that entertained/amused or in some way intrigued me last year. Believe me, the order is truly random.

"Since U Been Gone" -- Kelly Clarkson (song): Gwen Stefani can do all the "holla-in" back, girl, all she wants. Kelly's the one who produced the real up-tempo anthem that had everyone screaming along.
Brokeback Mountain (film)
U2 (live in the Meadowlands & Madison Square Garden)
Batman Begins & Sin City (film): Two movies that restored faith in the minds of comic book fans everywhere that good big-screen adaptations were truly possible (besides the X-Men).
Walk The Line (film)
Hot Fuss -- The Killers (CD)
Paul Mooney (stand-up comedy): From Richard Pryor to "In Living Color" to Dave Chappelle, Mooney has always been around the most cutting-edge black comedy. He definitely has to be experienced live -- though he's not, as they say, for the faint of heart. Keep an eye out for him when he's touring. If you're in New York, you can catch him at least once a month at Caroline's on Broadway!
24 (TV)
Real Time w/Bill Maher (TV): It took him while, but he has managed, post 9/11, to strike the right balance in discussing politics in the context of a comedy show. Maher still gets outraged, but is able to convey his point in a way that even Republicans (well, this one, anyway) can find hilarious.
The Boondocks (TV/comics): Oddly, the Cartoon Network's "
Adult Swim" show finally got me to go out and by the compilation trade paperback, A Right To Be Hostile)
NCIS (TV): It's an odd mutant cross-breeding of my late, lamented fave, JAG, and the C.S.I. franchise iterations, but it somehow works)
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (film): So, Heath Ledger & Jake Gyllenhaal may have the straight-guys- playing-gay market cornered, but Val Kilmer acquits himself only too well in this film noir flick that is often hilarious. Robert Downey's pretty damn good too!
Commander-In-Chief (TV)
Numbers (TV): The is a cool schtick, but the relationships between brothers (played by Rob Morrow and David Krumholtz) and their father (Judd Hirsch) make this more than just another crime-science drama.

Green Lantern (Comics): Written by the best comics "historian-author" today, Geoff Johns. The
"Rebirth" miniseries iterally brought the power-ringed Hal Jordan back to life and removed the stain of his being an insane, homicidal-suicidal mass murderer where ill-advised earlier plot devices had rendered him. The ongoing series -- with Hal once again a jet pilot! -- keeps the momentum going.

Infinite Crisis (Comics): One hopes that this
DC miniseries -- a sequel of sorts to the best-selling two-decade old Crisis On Infinite Earths continues through March -- will, ahem, "restore honor and dignity" to a DC Universe gone astray. The company's attempt to "out-Marvel" Marvel has had decidedly mixed results. In terms of sales, it can't be denied. But, having certain iconic heroes actually kill bad guys? Sorry, that's just wrong! If anything can pull this cosmic, complicated, story off, it will be the aforementioned Mr. Johns. He's already off to a good start with the amazing return of...heh, heh...

Soul Asylum (live at Bowery Ballroom)
New York Giants 36-0 win over the Redskins in the Meadowlands (first NFL game I've seen in person in many years)
Four Brothers (film)
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (Kuaui, Hawaii) -- um, you hadda be there is all I can say.


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King Forgets A Key Subject

Sports Illustrated's Peter King is in high dudgeon over the Herman Edwards/New York Jets/Kansas City Chiefs flap.

After raging about the inappropriateness of Edwards getting to weasel out of his contract with two years left and the Jets lack of backbone in holding him to it, King concludes:

3. Why is the league sitting idly by and basically allowing coaches to be traded for draft choices? Is it in the best interests of the league for a coach with a perfectly valid contract to be traded? And to be traded for the absurdly low price of a fourth-round draft pick? Do you honestly think the value of a coach who has led his team to the playoffs in three of his five seasons is worth a four? That's absurd enough. But the NFL, in letting a trade like this to happen, is prolonging a practice that is slowly but surely become a sordid, greedy part of the NFL.

What's to stop Houston owner Bob McNair, who has more money than he knows what to do with, from nudging Bill Belichick's agent, winking and saying: "You know, I really like Bill. He's such a great coach.'' All of a sudden, Belichick tells Bob Kraft after the season: "I don't want to work here anymore unless you pay me $9 million a year.'' We'd all be naïve to think something like that would never cross Belichick's mind if he thought he could have a better deal somewhere else.

4. Why didn't the Jets charge the Chiefs with tampering? Could it possibly be because Chiefs president Carl Peterson is the mentor and former boss of Jets GM Terry Bradway? Bradway, in this case, is the steward of an NFL franchise, not eterson's pal. It is absurd and borderline irresponsible that the Jets got a fourth-round pick as compensation. They could have gotten more by charging the Chiefs with tampering.
King makes reference to earlier precedents such as now-retired Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil and Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden before finally concluding:

Edwards had a valid contract, and somehow he engineered his way out of it. Shame on him, the Jets ownership, Bradway and the league for allowing it to happen. The question now is not whether another team will be torn asunder by a coach who feels he's underpaid. It's when.
What's the problem?

Well, how does King manage to go on this half-("Monday Morning Quarterback") column rant without ONCE mentioning the name Bill Parcells? He is the one (along with the Jets) who
first started this head coach-sundering-of-contracts/draft-pick-compensation tango.

King didn't even have to resort to the hypothetical he used above in talking about Kraft and Belichick: BOTH men were involved in the earlier precedent: Parcells and the Jets wormed Parcells out of his Patriots' contract with one year left on it in 1997. If Kraft wasn't willing to let Parcells go, the Jets were going to name him "head of football operations" NOT head coach to get around the contractual obstacles (and using Belichek as the "placeholder" coach).

Then, three years later, Parcells wanted to run the Jets front office and step down as coach, handing the reins over to Belichick (for real this time). BB thought about it for a day -- and then promptly resigned
"as HC of NY Jets" (as he famously hand-wrote in his statement to the media). Kraft then swooped in, took him from the Jets and Parcells -- giving up some draft picks to boot -- and the rest is history -- three Super Bowls and counting.

So, King can certainly criticize Edwards (though some people feel that the Jets didn't exactly conduct themselves honorably in this episode either) if he wants, but to ignore the Parcells-Jets-Kraft Belichek precedents is just plain sloppy.


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Monday, January 09, 2006

 

Tiki Tosses Tom From The Train?

Well, that didn't take long.

After a regular season where the New York Giants were getting along famously with their tough-as-nails head coach Tom Coughlin -- the source of unconcealed contempt
one year before -- the team is now demonizing his coaching following Sunday's disastrous 23-0 drubbing at the hands of the Carolina Panthers.

Most surprising though is who was doing the leading the condemnation. It wasn't Michael Strahan -- who was one of the early people in Coughlin's doghouse in the previous season. It wasn't even tempermental wide receiver Plaxico Burress -- who didn't catch one ball in the game (and was only thrown to once by quarterback Eli Manning); it wasn't the equally mercurial Jeremy Shockey.

No, it's Tiki Barber -- the last person from whom one would have expected to hear such critical statements. Barber has always been such a "company" guy that it seems so out of character for him to the be the one making the following comments:



"(Carolina head coach John Fox) is a great defensive coordinator and they had a great scheme and a great plan for us and we couldn't adjust to it."

...."They kept the safety down in the box constantly and we weren't able to
exploit it in other ways, getting the ball downfield. I don't think Plaxico had
a catch. That's just a testament to our game plan not being the right one."

...."I just think they had a good scheme. I think in some way we were
outcoached. They had more intensity than we did."

One wonders if his especially close relationship with recently deceased owners Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch affected him some way.

Bottom line though -- and perhaps (as the Daily News' Mike Lupica notes) Barber is ungrateful given that his same offensive coordinator was partly responsible for Barber getting 1800 rushing yards and 2300 all-purpose yards during the regular season -- HE'S RIGHT.

Sure, he only gained 41 yards and Manning stunk up the joint in the second half. But how come there were no reverses using Burress out of the backfield -- just to stop Carolina from stacking up the defensive line to stop Barber? There's no reason the Giants couldn't have done with Plaxico or speed-burner Tim Carter exactly what the Panthers did with Steve Smith. Or, how about some no-huddle offense to throw the defense of its stride? Manning just got totally desperate by the the fourth quarter and was hurling it up for grabs.

Conversely, there is NO excuse for the Giants atrocious defense. All that non-tackling and repeated third-down loss of containtment of DeShaun Foster!?!? Injuries are understandable, but I swear it looked like the Giants had been replaced by the same Kansas City Chiefs defensive squad that gave up 200 yards to Tiki three weeks ago.


A sad ending to what was otherwise a wonderful, surprising, season for Big Blue.

UPDATE: Tom hauls Tiki into 'woodshed' to look at game film! Tiki backtracks on comments! So, even without the Panthers defense around the Giants have managed to fumble and lose yardage! This will be a LONG off-season.

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