Saturday, September 30, 2006


Open Thread

Open Sesame! "Thread", Sez-A-U!

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Friday, September 29, 2006


Terrell Owens: Truth or Consequences

The whole Terrell Owens suicide story stinks to high heaven, and his denials of a suicide attempt are not convincing me.

Over at the
Dallas Morning News website, there is a revealing interview with Terrell's trainer, James Primm.

While Primm does try to confirm Terrell's story, he also gives some insightful comments which might lead one to see how Owens might have tried suicide:
"Primm said Owens underwent two traumatic events Monday involving his 7-year-old son and his fiancée, a woman he has dated for three years.

Owens' son, from a previous relationship, celebrated his birthday Monday, Primm said. Owens was distraught, he said, about not being able to be see the boy, who lives in California.

"He wanted to get together with the boy," Primm said. "But the boy could not come here, and Terrell could not go there."

Then hours later, a woman whom Primm described as Owens' fiancée broke off the relationship. Primm declined to give the woman's last name but said she and Owens had been dating for three years. She also lives in California.

"That's been coming on forever," Primm said of the breakup. "She's not a bad girl. She's cool, she's fine. He said, 'Can I take a break from the engagement?' And she said, 'No, let's just put a stop to it.' And that was a complete surprise to Terrell."

For you amateur psychologists out there, here is the meat of the story:
"...Primm says that [he and Terrell] have forged a father-son-like bond that Owens seems to need. Growing up in abject poverty in rural Alabama, Owens was raised by his mother and grandmother and, according to Primm, has long been in need of a dominant male figure in his life.

...Owens "doesn't have many friends," said the trainer, who contends that the public and news media have long misperceived a man he considers "a gentle soul" and a "caring, highly sensitive" individual with a fragile psyche.

"He's a good person," Primm said. "A very good person."

The other side of this is Kim Etheredge, Terrell's publicist, who first found him during the incident in question. During Terrell's press conference Wednesday, Etheridge denied it was a suicide attempt (although everything she told the EMT's the previous night would lead one to believe it was), and added, "Terrell has 25 million reasons why he should be alive," a reference to Terrell's contract with the Cowboys. So the only reason Terrell has to live is his money? Or perhaps that is the only reason Etheredge sees for him to live, especially since he is her only client.

I don't know if Etheredge is exemplary of the rest of Terrell's entourage. If so, you have a man who is "highly sensitive" with a "fragile psyche", and is surrounded by people who love him strictly for his money. That has "Mike Tyson" written all over it.

Even if Etheredge is not exemplary of the rest of the people in Terrell's life, you have to wonder why she was there for him and others weren't. It may just be a coincidence. Or it may be that she carries a high status with him, in which case I feel sorry for him.

When you consider how many people stand to lose a lot of money if Terrell Owens doesn't play football, including Etheredge and Drew Rosenhaus, T.O.'s infamous agent, and you consider that a suicide attempt could cause the Cowboys to cut strings with T.O., then you can imagine how Etheredge went from trying to save T.O.'s life to denying it was a suicide attempt within the span of 24 hours.

The conspiracy theory goes like this: Etheredge comes upon what she thinks is a suicide attempt by T.O. Etheredge knows she has to save her "cash cow", otherwise she goes back to being a nobody with nothing. Ok, she saves him. Then she realizes how a suicide attempt could impact her client's career, and the spin begins.

Normally, I don't go in for conspiracy theories. But something has always struck me wrong about Terrell Owens. People don't become complete jerks for no reason. Terrell Owens strikes me as someone who is looking for love, but doesn't know how.

Terrell Owens has trouble with women because he had no fatherly role model from which to draw experience. Because of that, he mishandled the relationship with his fiancée, and lost her. Then he took it much harder than anyone expected.

Until Terrell Owens faces the truth about himself and his own inability to give love, he will continue to pay the consequences for his inability to get love.

But this is all speculation on my part. I could be wrong, and T.O. may be the completely selfish jerk he seems to be.

UPDATE: Apparently, T.O. is not as close to his trainer, James Primm, as Mr. Primm would have you believe. At least not anymore, according to a Dallas Morning News report today:
"James "Buddy" Primm, Terrell Owens' personal trainer, said Thursday that the Cowboys wide receiver had relieved him of his services and was no longer speaking to him.

In a telephone conversation with The Dallas Morning News, Mr. Owens acknowledged as much and said Mr. Primm "had no business" discussing details of his private life with the news media.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006


Gingrich On...

1) ...George W. Bush. In an interview from his new book, Ryan Sager interviews Newt.

...Bill Clinton and the "blow-up" on Fox. He's interviewed on Good Morning America.

I think Newt is generally correct on the Clinton issue. Whether Clinton went "too far," I'm not so sure. One of the great failings of Republicans in the 1990s was their failure to understand the public in the way Bill Clinton did.

The most vivid example was the tactical disaster of releasing Clinton's videotaped grand-jury testimony in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The belief was the public would recoil when they saw the president discussing his affair with Lewinsky and the whole "meaning of word 'is'."

Didn't happen. The public instead recoiled on Ken Starr and the Republicans for releasing it.

Ben Smith notes a recent poll that shows a majority of Americans blame Bush more than Clinton for bin Laden being on the run. Now, this is something of a silly poll. How can a president who has been out of power for six years have much "responsibility" for a terrorist being alive or free?
ABC asks if this debate will backfire on Democrats? Bill Clinton is a remarkable wildcard. When he was president, he managed to confound whatever the conventional wisdom was. A question could be asked: Are the Republicans spending too much time on Bill Clinton -- and not enough on themselves (at least at the national "macro" level)?

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Jeremy Shockey was right

Robert George brought up an interesting point to me: Have you noticed how the New York Giants offense doesn't seem to move until they go into a two minute/no-huddle offense, when the coaching staff has the LEAST impact on what they do?

As I pointed out earlier in September, I don't think Eli Manning will ever be a great quarterback as long as Kevin Gilbride is his quarterback coach. The only decent quarterbacks Gilbride has ever coached were Mark Brunell and Warren Moon, and both of them were well-coached before Gilbride ever got his hands on them.

Perhaps we should look at John Hufnagel, the offensive coordinator? According to the
Giants website, Hufnagel is responsible for "devising game plans and calling plays".

Hufnagel spent most of the 90's coaching in the CFL, where he got to coach Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia. Impressive resume fact, but it was the CFL. So what has he done in the NFL to warrant becoming an offensive coordinator?

Hufnagel has extensive experience as a quarterback coach. His first job as a quarterback coach was in 1999-2000, where he got to develop Tim Couch, who is currently...not playing.

In 2001, Hufnagel got to coach Peyton Manning, who had already been in the NFL for three years prior. After that, Hufnagel left for Jacksonville in 2002, where he coached Mark Brunell. Hufnagel moved on again in 2003, to the Patriots, where he got to coach Tom Brady, who had already won one Super Bowl by then.

I have to give Hufnagel credit. He has worked with some pretty good quarterbacks...who were already pretty good by the time he got there.

Of course, I am curious why Hufnagel seems to have a problem keeping his job? Before coming to the Giants, he had four consecutive quarterback coaching jobs with four different teams within five years. Why is this guy qualified to be an offensive coordinator?

Based on the Giants offensive performance the last two weeks, I feel confident saying Hufnagel is NOT qualified. I also think Jeremy Shockey's initial impression of Sunday's game against Seattle was right on the money: "We got outplayed, and outcoached."

Especially the "outcoached" part.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Stick A Fork In Her

The collapse of New York state Republican Party continues apace. Attorney General candidate Jeanine Pirro is under criminal investigation.

It was an uphill race anyway. But this seals it. Andrew Cuomo can start fitting the drapes in his office.

(I hate it when Bill Barker turns out to be right. Perusers of the Comments section will know of which I speak.)

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Terrell Owens: Suicide?

Associated Press writer Jaime Aron is reporting that Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens' hospitalization for an "adverse reaction" to pain medication may have actually been a suicide attempt by the controversial player:

"Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens reportedly tried to kill himself by overdosing on pain medication, even putting two more pills into his mouth after a friend intervened.

A Dallas police report released Wednesday morning said Owens told his friend "that he was depressed." Details of the report were first released by WFAA-TV.

The friend, who is not identified in the report, "noticed that (his) prescription pain medication was empty and observed (Owens) putting two pills in his mouth," the police report said.

The friend attempted to pry them out with her fingers, then was told by Owens that before this incident he'd taken only five of the 40 pain pills in the bottle he'd emptied. Owens was asked by rescue workers "if he was attempting to harm himself, at which time (he) stated, `Yes.'"

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Who Is George Allen?

Self-hating Jew -- or racist hick?

Not exactly a great option either way.

(And having a
"name" academic say that they've heard you use the "N"-word is really bad form. Though, I do have to ask how it is that Sabato -- the leading national political analyst living and working in Virginia -- never managed to reveal this rather interesting tidbit of political information until now.)

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Two faces of Wal-Mart

These two stories illustrate why both liberals and conservatives need to consider their automatic ideological reactions to Wal-Mart.

1) Liberals have to take note of the retail giant's decision to offer generic prescription drugs at a
rock-bottom affordable price. If the pilot program is successful and Wal-Mart takes it national, this would obviate the need for drug reimportation from Canada. This is the virtue that comes with the ability to set prices by being able to order in massive bulk quantities.

2) On the other hand, the average conservatives might want to temper any tendency to gloat considering this story: Wal-Mart is threatening studios if they follow Disney's lead and start
license movie downloads to Apple for use in Ipods. The chain is sending a powerful message to other movie studios considering the same idea that there will be "serious ramifications."

To me, this shows the downside of "big business" dominance. Should Wal-Mart want to maximize its profits? Yes. However, it shouldn't be at the potential harm to consumer choice. By engaging in a sort of economic blackmail, Wal-Mart is helping to strangle a new form of entertainment distribution. That's not something that anyone who champions the idea of a free market should support.

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Monday, September 25, 2006


Bubba Speakxx

For those wondering exactly what it was that managed to keep former President Bill Clinton and I nose to nose last week, herewith is the explanation. (Sorry, for the lack of blogging lately. I've been dealing with a nasty cold over the last few days and am beginning to get my energy back).

At a press reception for his
Global Initiative, Mr. Clinton prepared to depart. A handful of journalists gathered at the bottom of the stairs, including yours truly.

I simply introduced myself to Mr. Clinton and mentioned that Mr. Murdoch was participating in the Initiative (as were Laura Bush, Bill Gates and many others). Mr. Clinton noted that Mr. Murdoch was working with him on "climate change."

That was enough for him to jump fully into an exploration of that issue. What is below is verbatim, except for some minor linguistic edits (and figuring out appropriate paragraph breaks). The only thing this reporter said during this outpouring of details was, "Oh right, Woking..." about two-thirds of the way through.

Otherwise, this was full, unvarnished William Jefferson Clinton (Links are added only for further reference -- not to denote agreement with the individual or item to which Mr. Clinton makes note. Furthermore, this is not an endorsement of anything Mr. Clinton said, but is included here for the historical record):

Thirty-two of the forty biggest cities in the world joined this. But it's really something every conservative ought to be for because our whole deal is we're trying to prove that you can have a market-based response to this that cuts costs, increases profits, reduces greenhouse gases and generates jobs. And if you reduce your reliance on foreign energy, you also improve the national security of the country.

So that's why it's the perfect issue to bring the left and the right together if you really think of it in terms of how it is done. There are a lot of conservative petroleum geologists who don't agree with the Saudis and Exxon that we got a 100 years of oil left. There are an increasing number of petroleum geologists who think that the recoverable oil resources may be more in the range of 35-50 years.

Now, if there is an economical way to import and use less oil, we're foolish not to do it, because it will be almost impossible to take civilization around the world -- and the United States -- off an oil platform within 35 years. But we could be into a hydrogen economy within 75 years.

So this is an issue in which we ought to all just sort of look at the evidence and follow the reason, because there is a confluence here of economic opportunity, environmental responsibility and national security if we do it well.

Doing it with the cities makes sense because, while 70 percent-plus of our oil is used in transportation, it is only about a third of our greenhouse gas emissions. About a third is in electricity generation, manufacturing, about a third is in buildings. So, in the aggregate, of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, 75 percent comes from urban areas. So if we can prove that we can have substantial reductions in these larger cities in the world -- as I said, we have 32 of the 40 biggest in our consortium already -- then, obviously, every smaller place can do the same thing.

There's a little village in England -- since you guys have ties to the British press -- you oughta see if you've ever done anything on it. It's called Woking -- W-O-K-I-NG; it's about 20 miles from London. They reduced their greenhouse emissions by 77 percent. And the guy who did it is an
Englishman named Allan Jones who has now been hired by the city of London to help to see if it can be done on a grand scale.

But anyway, what I'm trying to do is to find ways that enable us all to do stuff together that actually has an indisputable benefit.

And if you believe in the so-called
Precautionary Principle -- you got a guy like Matthew Simmons, who was a big supporter of all the Bushes [garbled]-- he believes we have 35 years of recoverable oil. OK, so you got the Saudis and Exxon saying its 100 and almost everybody else somewhere in between. But in the 35-50 year category, there are growing numbers of people and they're not all Greenpeace guys.

There IS a guy who wrote a book called The Empty Tank, who used to be a petroleum geologist for a petroleum company, who actually went to work for Greenpeace because his companies made fun of him for his honest scientific analyses. So, he didn't convert and then change his analyses; he had his analyses and converted. Now you've got more and more petroleum companies looking at it. That's why BP and Shell and lot of these others are taking a different look.

You know, I'm excited about it. But
I'm grateful to Rupert Murdoch for doing this. And I'm grateful that we're able to not make it just another Left-Right fight. This is something that we have no chance of dealing with in an appropriate fashion unless we can build a broad-based core.

Post-script: The only previous time I can recall being in the presence of a poltician with such a grasp of disparate facts and minutiae -- and having the ability to extemporaneously share them for an extended period of time -- was when it was my former boss.

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Quarterback intangibles

In my post "The best quarterback of all time", I received a lot of positive feedback from a lot of you, and I truly appreciate it.

I got one comment, from my buddy Myrhaf, which deserves a full response:
"But seriously, I'm sure your statistical analysis is sound. However, I wonder how you measure intangibles, such as will to win, work ethic, intelligence, etc. Do those traits show up in statistics? What if a great quarterback is on a bad team? And what about charisma, fame and overall impact on the game, as in the case of Joe Namath, who became a cultural icon? Should that be a factored in? Broadway Joe probably got more women to watch football on Sunday than anyone else in history. Isn't that important? Is there a difference between importance to the game and greatness as a quarterback?"
A great quarterback's intangibles will show up statistically IF the rest of his team is good enough. Football is a team sport. Unlike golf or tennis, greatness at any football position has to be viewed within the context of the team. Objectively viewing quarterbacking greatness can only be accomplished through statistics, including but not limited to championships. It is there that we view the meeting of ability with opportunity.

Consider "will to win". No matter how much a quarterback wants to win, he cannot do it if his receivers drop his passes, the running back fumbles a lot, and his team's defense is a sieve. On the other hand, a quarterback who is surrounded by a great team, but is otherwise not very capable, may not win despite his desire.

How about "work ethic"? Ask Billy Volek how important work ethic is. He went from being named the Titans starting quarterback in the preseason, to being demoted to second string, to being traded in the same year. From what I hear, it was all because he took the starting job for granted. In the modern era, quarterbacks HAVE to have a good work ethic. We could say Peyton Manning has a better work ethic than Tom Brady, but does that mean Brady is a slacker? No.

"Intelligence" is one of the odder intangibles. Clearly a certain amount of intelligence is required to even be able to play quarterback in the NFL. Beyond that, what does greater intelligence gain a quarterback? Consider the following two Wonderlic scores (which measures intelligence): Dan Marino - 16, Ryan Leaf - 27. Or how about Terry Bradshaw vs. Roger Staubach? I think Staubach would have given up a few brain cells to have won the two Super Bowls he lost to Bradshaw.

The "great quarterback/bad team" (otherwise known as "The Archie Manning Dilemna") is the hardest part to quantify. How much does a bad team detract from a great quarterback's statistics?

Imagine if you were the world's best accountant, but you were working for the world's worst company. While your work would be perfect, you would continue to receive no recognition, all because the company was awful. But you stay there year after year, doing perfect work, but accomplishing little in your career. Whose fault is that?

At some point, a quarterback has to realize a team will not help him win. Sometimes, your decision about where to work can be every bit as important as how well you work. In Manning's defense, the free agency rules of the 70's made it a lot tougher to change teams. But Manning never tried until he was already past his prime.

"Charisma, fame, and overall impact on the game". This is the style-over-substance factor. But this also comes into direct conflict with the "great quarterback/bad team" factor. Joe Namath clearly had more charisma, fame, and overall impact on the game than Archie Manning. Ironically, they both played 13 seasons, with almost the same number of pass attempts (Manning had 3,642, while Namath had 3,762). Statistically, their career numbers are very close (Manning's numbers are first):

Completion percentage: 55.2% vs. 50.1%
Average gain per attempt: 6.57 vs. 7.35
Touchdown percentage: 3.4% vs. 4.6%
Interception percentage: 4.75% vs. 5.85%
Super Bowl championships: 0 vs. 1
Average rush yards per carry: 5.7 vs. 2.0
Passer rating: 67.1 vs. 65.5

At the very least, the statistics prove that Manning belongs in the same class as Namath.

But what about that Super Bowl? The "guaranty"? The first AFL victory over the NFL in a championship game? Namath's importance in the history of the NFL is unquestionable. But by any objective measure, he cannot be named the best quarterback in NFL history. He was immobile and threw too many interceptions. By today's NFL standards, he would be lucky to make a team. Don't believe me? Consider Ryan Leaf, who is considered a failure by modern standards. Leaf's career interception percentage of 5.5% is better than Namath's.

Looking back at Namath's career, the Jets won IN SPITE OF Namath, NOT BECAUSE OF Namath. Even if you look at that one Super Bowl, what did Namath do? Heck, running back Matt Snell, with 30 carries for 121 yards and the Jets only touchdown, deserves more credit for the win than Joe Namath does. All Namath did was NOT throw an interception.

While Namath has become part of football folklore, I would actually give the Chiefs credit for sealing the AFL legitimacy argument. Their victory over the Vikings in Super Bowl IV gave the AFL two wins out of the first four Super Bowls.

Namath is proof that importance to the game and greatness as a quarterback are two very different things. Namath is proof that historical importance is subjective.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006


Open Thread

Thread the needle. Needle the thread.

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