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Super Bowl Preview: Battle of the (Potential) Inspirational Sports…

I generally save this blog for stories of comedy struggles, comedy complaints and the occasional defense of President Obama or Lebron James.  But, as a huge fan of movies and sports, I cannot help but see the amazing potential for inspirational sports movies out of this coming Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX (that is 49 in letters apparently).  If just one of the teams in the Super Bowl had made the game it would be enough to inspire a Disney movie 20 years from now, but both the Seattle Seahawks AND the New England Patriots provide blueprints for at least  half a dozen new sports movies.  So here are a few I thought some screenwriters should get working on ASAP:

The Man Behind The Sweatshirt – Bill Bellichek is one of the greatest coaches in NFL History. And he has a secret that could ruin his career.  He has a thing for extremely handsome quarterbacks (this was inspired by a bit on Adam Carolla’s show last week).  Everyone knows Tom Brady.  But how about his back up quarterback Jimmy Garappolo?  Matt Damon and a beefed up Zac Efron to co-star? But imagine the Oscar worthy performance of coaching brilliance and unrequited love that someone like Brendan Gleeson could turn in as Bill Bellichek.

My #1 casting choice to play Bill Bellichek

 

Mat Damon and Zac Efron would co-star.

Alien and Predator – This movie would focus on the Christian robot of quarterback humility and cliches Russell Wilson and his relationship with Richard Sherman, Stanford grad and wearer of hairstyle from 1987’s Predator.  Tag line for the movie: “One plays offense… the other is offensive. But together they might just win it all!”

The Rejects – This movie would be a traditional sports movie, focusing on all of the Seattle Seahawks, many of whom were low round draft picks and the goofy white savior coach who believed in them (and basically let them do whatever they want), Pete Carroll.

The Unnatural – This would be a movie focused on 5th Round pick Kam Chancellor who thanks to supplements would become a safety the size of a linebacker leading the terrific secondary.  This movie would almost follow a Stand and Deliver (inspiration, but not a sports movie) where about 2/3 of the way through the movie he would fail a drug test… but then eat the drug tester so he could continue playing.

Crotch and Gronk – In the spirit of movies like Radio, not only do crowds like inspirational movies about special needs people, but so do the Oscars.  And in this Super Bowl we have not one, but two people with prodigious talent and prodigious special neediness. Marshawn Lynch can run through a brick wall, but enjoys touching himself in public and has difficulty speaking to reporters.  Rob Gronkowski, statistically the greatest tight end in NFL History is possibly the dumbest happy go-lucky man in the NFL. Just imagine the comedic possibilities when his coach asked how many concussions he had after failing the concussion protocol and Gronk answers “None. I am just not very good at tests.”

The Anti Sports Movie – Yes this would be the hipster, alt title to the movie and it would focus on the New England Patriots (based on a brilliant comedic bit by a comedian named J-L Cauvin).  Sports movies always provide us certain templates – e.g. white guy saves a bunch of black guys who work hard and don’t have a chance because of racism and/or lack of resources.  But how about a movie about an angry white coach who makes heroes out of small white guys in a league full of formerly poor black guys?  And they are led by the least likely (and least likable) sports movie hero of all time – a pretty man named Tom who wears Uggs, hair plugs and is married to a super model.   Possible break out comedy hit of 2020.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!

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New Movie Shows How TMZ Sports Brought Down Ray…

The Ray Rice-Roger Goodell-NFL scandal that rocked the sports world has predictably gotten a cinematic treatment.  In the spirit of the classic All The President’s Men comes this generation’s great saga of intrepid journalism conquering corruption in power.  Check out All The Commissioner’s Men:

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!

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PICK 6 and Nine Other Sports Terms to Describe…

Over the last few weeks I have been muttering to comedians in the back of comedy clubs the term “pick 6.” What it basically means is that when a comedian lays out a joke whose punchline is so easily telegraphed that if it were a football pass (something half of today’s popular comedians only pretend to know the meaning of for the sole purpose of a well timed Super Bowl tweet) it would be picked off and taken to the house for a defensive touchdown.  There have been jokes recently that literally made me want to grab the microphone from the offending comedian and yell “You come at me with a weak ass punchline like _______!” Richard Sherman style.  And because the status update/tweet I posted about it turned out to be fairly popular, I wanted to codify the pick 6 term, as well as 9 other passive aggressive sports analogies in the blog that speaks the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about comedy (seriously if Pick 6 become s a “thing” I want evidence of where it started). So enjoy this one folks:

1. Pick 6 – Already explained in the intro, but as my buddy Nick D offered as an example,”Hey, Republicans want to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out…”  Any comedian/defensive back with a full compliment of chromosomes can see “Who is going to build it” a mile away.  A crowd should groan at that point, but if they are comedy newbies, then a comedian in the back should scream “PICK SIX!” and high step out of the room like Deion Sanders.

2. Luke Walton – Luke Walton had no business getting drafted in the NBA. But he came from a big program and had an even bigger name legacy so he got drafted by the Lakers and shock of shock, after 7 years of practicing with Kobe Bryant and NBA championship level players and coaches he became an NBA level player.  This of course ignores what other people might have done with his draft spot.  This is what I think whenever I see managers or clubs gassing up their talent as if Luke Waltons in comedy were born of the Virgin Mary with comedy powers.  Eventually, if you do enough spots that your connections earned over your talent, your talent will begin to approach the opportunity, unless you are completely brain dead.

3. NFL Commissioner – Sometimes the NFL can use their leverage for good (like thinly veiled threats about moving the Super Bowl if the anti-gay legislation were passed) and other times to extract exorbitant fees from cable providers, etc. but either way its power is undeniable.  So next time you see some new jack headlining a club with 26 minutes of material you might want to shout – “WE GOT GODELLED!” because chances are that club got a two-for-one deal with a higher profile comedian.  But rest assured, after a few years of Luke Walton headlining… he or she will be a real headliner!

4. Anti-Cliff Levingston – Cliff Levingston was a solid NBA player, but I will always remember him as the guy who got fined by the Atlanta Hawks for waving his towel in admiration for Larry Bird torching his own team!  Now this may seem stupid, but in a way I respect it.  Bird was putting on such a vicious and virtuoso display Levingston dropped all pretense and just enjoyed it.  In comedy, there are a lot more anti-Levingstons: cheering for all the wrong reasons.  Maybe the guy making the joke is “hot” right now (social media or in real life) or maybe the chick making the joke seems DTF – any number of reasons, other than funny make all these people Anti-Cliff Levingstons and should have thrown in their towel instead of waving it.  (begin watching the Bird video around the 4:00 mark and just watch the Hawk’s bench):

5. Bill Simmons a/k/a Sports Guy – a few well timed analogies or references to childhood pop culture are fun, but building an entire empire on it (or even a 7,000 word blog on Grantland.com) can tax one’s patience (even from a guy analogizing comedy to sports).  I think once a comedian starts clocking in at a rate of one 1980s or 90s movie/TV show/song reference per 50 seconds of stand up time someone needs to shout SPORTS GUY and log off of the microphone

6. Bob Cousy No-Look Pass – Bob Cousy was one of those “play-making” NBA point guards of the 1950s that you watch video of now and go, “THIS GUY SUCKED!”  He would throw those kind of no look passes that had all the magic of tapping a child one shoulder so they would look the wrong way. Very simple.  This is saved for the comedians (often, but not exclusively, ladies) who set you up with the nice set up – DIRTY PUNCH LINE so often that you start to anticipate where Cousy is going and his head fake is no longer fooling you. In fact, you want to steal the ball and dunk it harder just for thinking he could work a bullsh*t head fake on you a fifteenth time in a row.  (e.g. “My boyfriend is really into Jesus… because we have threeways with our gardener.”)

7. Hockey Fight – this is for the ranter or the person who thinks they are speaking truth to power, but are just ruining the vibe of a comedy show with a diatribe.  Just start yelling “break it up!” when you see this happening. Thankfully I have only seen one of these atrocities on a late night set in my life.

8. Advanced Metrics.  Although this kind of work yielded some positive results (see Moneyball), this is basically what I think of when I see some comedian being labeled “daring” or “genius” that makes me and many other people go “I don’t get it.”  If you need too many metrics and explanations to show why someone is talented, and laughter is #14 on your factors of why the person is great, maybe you are trying to hard to justify them.   This in no way is a defense of the Jeff Dunham’s of the world, but I also refuse to see Andy Kaufman, or his more recent iterations, as anything above mildly amusing strange person.

9. Jack Haley – This guy was a player who barely made a dent in the NBA, but was Dennis Rodman’s good friend so when a team wanted to get the talents of Rodman, but have someone who might keep him semi-sane, Jack Haley had a roster spot.  But just like Jack Haley, who was annoyed and insisted he had earned his roster spot (bullsh*t) in comedy, so many Jack Haleys know for about six months that they are Jack Haley, but after enough re-tweets and bookings-by-association they start talking like they are Dennis Rodman.

10. Jay Glazer/Mike Wilbon-ing – This is the “journalist-as-friend/fan-of-subject” phenomenon that permeates sports journalism.  In comedy, to hear any truth about the business you have to read Facebook accounts or blogs of the five or six comedians who are not wholly consumed with climbing the ladder of shaft stroking and ass-kissing. Every other comedy site generally appears to be a portal to becoming a super fan.  Which is fine, unless you pose as a quasi-journalistic source because then you shroud your fan agenda in a cloak of journalistic integrity.

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Top 10 Teams Likely to Frame Players for Murder

The Aaron Hernandez saga has gripped the sports world and has almost made some people realize that, even if Lebron James is still the worst human being alive for leaving Cleveland, there are other athletes who are almost as bad.  Aaron “Not one murder, not two murders, not three murders…” Hernandez has raised the football player/murderer game to a whole new level.  Rae Carruth and Ray Lewis were merely Magic and Bird to Hernandez’ Jordan (for this analogy OJ will be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).  As the stories and details roll in, let us not forget that the Patriots cut Aaron Hernandez, which I am sure sent shock waves through the fantasy football community.  This got me thinking, what other teams might see the murder-charge-as-way-to-cut-player way out of some bad situations?  So here are my (relatively East Coast centric, I don’t know much about hockey contracts, etc.) top ten teams likely to frame a player for murder list.  Enjoy!

1. NY Yankees – A-Rod.  At this point the Yankee fan base and organization has turned on him so hard that they would be willing to believe this.  Plus his contract might come up in the 2016 Presidential Election ahead of social security in terms of saddling the nation with long term debt.  Good news is Yankee Stadium is just a few blocks from my old stomping ground – the Bronx Criminal Court (or the Bronx Hall of Justice as it is actually called-  not sure which 9 year old or NYC comic book-loving comedian won the naming rights).

2. NY Knicks – Amar’e Stoudemire.  His contract sucks. His knees suck.  And he is a nice guy which means Carmelo Anthony is constantly fearful that teammates will pass him the ball for shots.  Those three factors make Amar’e a prime candidate for set-up.  Now his recently discovered Jewish roots might get him a family discount on some top notch legal defense work, but by the end of a trial he might be in a wheelchair anyway.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Delonte West.  Watching Lebron James win a second title reminds the Cavs of 2010 when Lebron magically forgot how to play basketball.  The big rumor was that Delonte West banged Lebron’s mother.  So instead of blaming “The Decision” blame “The Ejaculation.” Besides, as a tattooed, shotgun-wielding, bi-polar pro athlete, Delonte West makes the perfect target.  Hell, if you prove he is mentally retarded and in Texas or in Georgia they might execute him!

4. Boston Bruins -Tuukka Rask and Zdeno Chara .  A disappointing Finals for Chara and a crushing 17 seconds by Rask make these two the Bill Buckners of their time.  So expect a murder of Chara to be pinned on Rask or they may just go the murder -suicide route.  Rask, disappointed by Chara’s defense offs Chara, but then feels guilty and offs himself. 

5. Dallas Cowboys – Tony Romo.  Secretly Jerry Jones knows he messed up putting so much faith in Romo, but he cannot admit failure.  Instead, pin a murder on him and cut him right away. Simple.  Save face (not literally – all the plastic surgery has ruined that for Jones) and get rid of Romo at the same time.

6. Los Angeles Angels – Josh Hamilton.  I’m thinking a vehicular manslaughter (try to get Hamilton behind the wheel and claim a relapse to substance abuse) or you just throw a criminally negligent homicide at him next time he throws a ball to a fan who dives for it and dies.  Otherwise Rangers will be stuck with his horrible contract and the next A-Rod.

7. Phoenix Mercury – Britney Griner.  Forbes lists a WNBA franchise as slightly less valuable than a Subway franchise, but assuming the Mercury have insurance on Griner, pinning a murder charge on her might trigger a provision that yields far better financial results than a giving a bunch of day camps free tickets to WNBA games.

8. NY Mets – Jason Bay. Sure he is off the team, but the Mets are a sad franchise and probably still harbor ill will against Bay who stunk up Queens.  Besides Bay is Canadian I believe so maybe you can mix in some enemy combatant charges along with a murder charge and just know that he will disappear forever.

9.  Brooklyn Nets – Joe Johnson.  With a Russian owner I would simply call this move Eastern Conference Promises.  Nets Owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, knows where the bodies are buried and to free up cap space to get the Nets into a top 3 seed to challenge Miami he will need to pin one of those bodies on Joe Johnson.

10. Charlotte Bobcats – Entire Team.  Michael Jordan is the meanest man in sports and probably looks at Aaron Hernandez’s growing body count the way he watches Lebron collect Finals trophies: “Nice start, but not close.”  So with a horrible team what is stopping Jordan from pulling a move out of Unbreakable and sending the whole team plane down.  “They used to call me Air Jordan…”

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!

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Is This Question Intolerant?

I already wrote humorously on Jason Collins and the black jockey in the Kentucky Derby this week, as well as a humble-braggish post yesterday about the week I am having, but after listening and reading to a ton of coverage of the Jason Collins story (the pro basketball player who came out as gay this week, if you have been living under a rock or camping out for good seats to Iron Man 3) I realized that I have not heard a question/answer that I am curious about: what would be wrong with a heterosexual athlete not wanting to shower and be naked with a gay man?  Now on its face this might seem like a bigoted question, but in the same context I would ask why is that men and women have different locker rooms? 

I raise that because the argument always goes to the extreme right away after a question like that, like by suggesting a heterosexual man might be uncomfortable with a gay man seeing him naked you are suggesting that the gay man is some sort of uncontrolled beast who will begin getting aroused or will initiate sexual contact.  Is this why women and men have separate locker rooms at gyms and at colleges?  Because there is an implicit understanding that without that barrier men will simply begin to masturbate, flirt and perhaps sexually assault nude women in their presence?  I don’t think so.  I think there is just a desire for a sexuality-free zone in what is otherwise a very intimate setting and I am not sure why it would be wrong, even if impossible to implement, for a heterosexual athlete to want the same feeling around same-sex teammates.

And put this in the context of pro sports.  These are men who are physical specimens – the most well built and physically fit humans on the planet in American professional sports.  They are exaggerations of masculinity when compared to the general population.  So it is no shame that a gay man would find this appealing.  This, in no way, is suggesting some lack of control on the part of Jason Collins or other gay athletes.  But from the perspective of the heterosexual athlete, why is automatically a hateful point to be raised that someone does not want to shower with people that are sexually attracted to them (or could conceivably be), for whom they do not reciprocate?  I am not endorsing this point of view, but I am endorsing it as a somewhat reasonable feeling that some athletes might have and it should not immediately render them a pariah in the enlightened avenues of modern society.

Now, unfortunately, many professional athletes are not articulate or intelligent enough to convey what might be a more nuanced discomfort with having a gay teammate.  And some are outright homophobes and bigots (or uncomfortable with their own sexuality).  And on the other side of the spectrum are erudite athletes who either have no problem with it or are too smart to say that they have any issue with it.  But there is no doubt in my mind that if an athlete tweeted “I have no problem with a gay teammate, but I don’t feel like being naked around him.”  he would be bashed, criticized and called ignorant, stupid, a homophobe and a lot of other things while  his team and league would have to apologize for him.  But why is that a completely unreasonable position or feeling?

My basic question is why does fully accepting people of different sexual orientations have to mean that you must be 100% comfortable with their orientation in the most personal moments of your own life?  I only raise this because I would be much more interested in hearing a debate on this more specific question than the usual “are you okay with a gay teammate” or “do you have a problem with gay people” generic questions.  Now it already appears that many teammates of Collins (and other closeted gay athletes) have no issue with this.  And that is great.  But I don’t think a different viewpoint on this somewhat specific question is as pernicious as I am sure social media would treat it.

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Can Skin Color Be An “Image Problem?” The NFL…

Yesterday on ESPN.com there was a poll asking, “which sports league is has the most damaged image?”  The poll results of over 60,000 respondents were as follows:

  • NHL (hockey) – 2%
  • MLB (baseball) – 6%
  • NBA (basketball) – 33%
  • NFL (football) – 60%

Now I agree that football must be number one, but the 33% that selected the NBA make me curious, especially when compared to the 6% that thought baseball had the worst image.  Baseball is of course the sport that has been/is rife with drug abuse and performance enhancement that prompted congressional hearings.  But perhaps people just don’t care that much anymore, but having your entire league called dirty would seem to be pretty damaging.  And it cannot hurt when 90% of your league is Latino and White (a/k/a not black).

Hockey can be dismissed as statistically insignificant since the only people who picked it had to have been hocky-only fans or people just goofing around.

That leaves the NFL and the NBA accounting for 93% of the image problems.  The NBA has had its image problems, but only two incidents stick out in the last decade – the Kobe Bryant rape allegations and the melee in Detroit a few years ago.  Both bad, but the Bryant allegations stemmed from a willing sexual partner, who went to his room and then alleged unwanted forms of sex.  If true, then Bryant is still a rapist, but there is a boatload of reasonable doubt there.  As for the melee in Detroit, Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson are batsh*t crazy, but they were assaulted first (via soda cup).  And who can forget Jermain O’Neal’s sliding punch during that melee – it would have made Jackie Chan proud!

But that is really all that has made headlines for the NBA recently.  Sure 10 years ago there was the “Who’s My Daddy?” story in the NBA about paternity issues and that still is a major issue, but is it more prevalent than the NFL?  Other stories from the NBA recently have been aboutgreat superstars playing great basketball.  Allen Iverson struggling with alcohol addiction would probably seem sadder if did not look like people’s image of a gangbanger. 

Now I am writing this not about the 40,000 people that answered that football was having the biggest image problem, but the 20,000 random ESPN.com visitors who picked the NBA.  How can you pick the NBA as having a worse image than the NFL (and with the recency effect I would expect these numbers are actually higher, given that the NFL has the more recent scandals, than they would be if the timing were equal)?  Here’s some “evidence”:

Who’s My Daddy

The reigning king of paternity is Travis Henry with 9 kids by 9 women by the age of 28. The New York Jets new cornerback  Antonio Cromartie had to get an advance on his salary to handle several alimony payments.  Even if the leagues have identical problems, the NFL’s have made the more recent headlines.  And while we are here, Tom Brady seemed to avoid any scrutiny for knocking up his girlfriend and then leaving her for a model.  I guess it’s cool if you are Tom Brady. Perhaps because Tom Brady is a ladies’ man.  If he were Donovan McNabb he might be “shirking his responsibilities.” Or maybe not, but that is just one case. Let’s continue looking at the total body of information.

No real image problem here. Why?

Rape & Pillage

Ben Roethlisberger has turned out to be a possible serial rapist.  Even if he and Kobe did nothing wrong – what is more lacking in character from comparable stars – consensual sex in your room that goes too far, or banging drunk girls in bars while your bodyguards prevent the girl’s friends from entering?  You’re right – being black. (I am not defending Kobe, obviously).

If you'd been arrested in Georgia then we'd have a really interesting debate.

Murder Was The Case That They Gave The NFL

Murderers – Ray Lewis, Rae Carruth, Donte Stallworth (this season) – one alleged, two convicted – all NFL.  And on a related, but lesser note – Dog killing – Michael Vick, the ASPCA’s Hitler.  I don’t think it is the same level as the things above, but let’s not pretend that it did not tarnish his image and the NFL’s a little.

Male Enhancement

Performance enhancing drugs – I only know that Rashard Lewis was suspended for an over the counter (allegedly) substance.  There have been a lot more Shawne Merrimans and Bill Romanowskis in the NFL.

Two Tickets To The Gun Show

Pac Man Jones – punches strippers in the face – his entourage paralyzes a bouncer at a club with a stray bullet – he is the poster boy for bad character in sports.  Marvin Harrison – gun incident.  The worst the NBA has had – Gilbert Arenas – who turned out to be the worst practical joker (or the best if you think like me).

My favorite picture, perhaps of all time. A jerk? Yes. A criminal? Yep. As bad as Pac Man Jones or Marvin Harrison? Not even close.

So the NFL has the NBA trumped on felonies, paternity superstars, animal abuse and performance enhancement drugs, so the question is, what does the NBA have that the NFL doesn’t:

A higher percentage of black men. And those black men have lots of visible tattoos.  In the NFL the only black divas are the wide receivers, but in the NBA they are all divas, except for the occasional smart, hard working, scrappy white guys.

Give me a break.

Isn’t it clear that the 33% are either stupid or prejudiced?  This is the response I got on Facebook to that question:

So wait, nothing even resembling a majority number in a bullsh*t espn.com poll is supposed to make a statement about what people think about black people?
Travis Henry? Sheee-it Shawn Kemp invented that shit.
As far as I know, Ben Roethlisberger’s accusers aren’t fairing too well…and lastly, I actually happen to agree that football players in …
See MoreAmerica in a lot of cases are frakking animals (whte or black) and most hoopsters aren’t…buuuut football is a sport that has a much stronger team identity of hardworking guys who get paid SUBSTANTIALLY less than their NBA primadonna counterparts. This stix in the craw of the white people who might-MIGHT be responsible for this socalled 33%
 
Now I agree that the poll has no scientific merit, but I have no reason to believe that it is not an accurate snapshot of the average sports fan in America.  But the person who commentedhas always commented whenever  have made disparaging anti-Republican/Joe Lieberman comments so I am guessing his political leanings are to the right, even if not far right.  And this is instructive – look at the immediatetly defensive tone as if I was calling him out.  Some quick counters:
  • So if racism is not in a majority it is not worth calling out?
  • All People? – no just the 20,000+ average sports fans who see the NBA as a bigger image fu*k up than the NFL
  • “Hardworking team identity” – sounds like Hilary Clinton appealing to the Western PA voters in the 2008 primary
Now I am not casting any aspersions on the commenter, but I do feel the language of the debate is telling (after all he eventually agrees with part of my point that the NFL is worse than the NBA). And I understand not wanting race to be infused where it does not belong because it is such an inflammatory topic, but sometimes it has to be. For every Tawana Brawley there’s a Rodney King; for every Duke Lacrosse Team, there’s the four cops who shot Amadou Diallo.  Just because racism is damaging and touchy does not mean that it can’t be easy to see sometimes.
 
I honestly believe there is no way to say that the NBA has a bigger image problem than the NFL without being prejudiced or stupid.  Image is made by headlines and superstars.  The NBA has almost all black superstars.  The NFL has several white superstars and they are basically the front men for the band that is the NFL (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Brett Favre).  Now the negative headlines are overwhelmingly with the NFL, but the well known white faces are overwhelmingly with the NFL as well (sorry Dirk Nowtizki and Steve Nash).  And apparently for 33% of sports fans (I’m willing to make that extrapolation, even though the poll does not probably reach more low income, non-computer having sports fans) the faces trump the crimes.
And if you asked me, is 33% of America at least a little racist, I’d probably answer yes, so the poll only shocked me because I thought sports fans would see beyond that in greater numbers.  But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – after all I sat next to a white  guy at a Steeler game last year who called an opposing team’s player a Nig*ger, all while wearing the jersey of a nig*er named Santonio Holmes.  I’d hate to see that guy at a basketball game, but I’m pretty sure how he would answer that ESPN poll. 
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Big Ben, Michael Wilbon & Why I Have To…

It is has been an up and down month in sports for me.  First there was my NCAA bracket and having to root for Duke.  Well, Duke made the Finals and all I need was for them to lose for me to win $1400 and 1st place in my pool or, if they won, they could still help me by scoring a lot of points which would have earned me over $100 and 3rd place in my pool.  Instead Duke, in classic Another-Reason-For-Me-To-Hate-Duke-Basketball form managed to win AND score just enough points to win a WNBA playoff game, causing me to lose the 3rd place tiebreaker and walk away with no money and the pain of a Duke Championship.

Baseball season has also started, with my usual apathy for Goldman Sachs, a/k/a The Wall Street Bombers, a/k/a The New York Yankees.  I’m sure by August I will care again, but right now I just get annoyed at all the people waxing nostalgic about the opening of baseball season like it’s still a team of neighborhood boys made good. 

Then the Utah Jazz caused me great joy and frustration.  My favorite team since the age of 7 provided me with the greatest live sporting event I’ve ever attended with a thrilling 140-139 OT victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Kevin Durant of the Thunder had 45 points, but the Jazz won with  just over one second left.  Then, in classic fashion, the Jazz proceeded to lose their season finale (thanks in part to the sensitive, free agent contract-conscious, former Duke Blue Devil Carlos Boozer’s abdominal strain – never trust a Duke Blue Devil) going from a cozy 3 seed at home against the maligned Trailblazers and a second round match-up with the paper tigers known as the Dallas Mavericks, to a 5 seed on the road with match-ups against their two toughest opponents (if they win in the 1st round) Denver Nuggets and then the Los Angeles Lakers).  The Lakers’ Lamar Odom might as well call the Jazz Khloe he fu-ks them so shamelessly.

But all these highs and lows have taken a backseat to the biggest story affecting a team that I am a fan of – The Pittsburgh Steelers.  Their star quarterback, two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger, and soon-to-be-played-by Peter Stormare in a Lifetime movie has turned out to be at best, a man with a rich frat boy’s sense of entitlement or at worse, a serial rapist.  It of course brings to mind Kobe Bryant, who I think was the last comparable athlete, to be charged with a sex cime of this magnitude.

At best - a rich frat boy sense of entitlement. At worst - a rapist. Either way - not a fan.

Now the Kobe Bryant case seemed to go much farther through the legal system than the Roethlisberger case has.  The rumors around the Kobe case were that he attempted to and may have successfully forced a back door slam dunk on the woman in Denver.  Now I have only met one woman who reacted with good humor (disturbing on many levels when pondered) at unexpected anal penetration, but this is not the time to re-hash my routine, so even considering that the woman went to Kobe’s room of her own free will, her back door is her back door and no is still supposed to mean no.

But Ben Roethlisberger does not even have that benefit (which of course raises the possibility that this is an incident representative of that time honored tradition in America which is the only crime worse than raping a white woman is being black and raping a white woman – not looking to address that here).  He seems to have, in the very least, acted aggressively and inappropriately towards this young woman and with the assistance of security guards.  I am not as troubled by the allegation that his security guards prevented her friends from getting to the alleged victim, because let’s face it – rock stars and athletes have had sex in all sorts of places and she could have been consenting to sex in a VIP lounge with a famous athlete.  Of course, she could have also been raped, which would make the bodyguards unknowing (or knowing) accomplices.

If this were a one time incident, the benefit of the doubt would be with Roethlisberger, but he has been accused of sexual assaults before.  Normally I don’t condone prostitution, but in Ben’s case it is better than the alternative.  Roethlisberger, in the very least, is placing himself in unsavory and compromising positions and deserves to be suspended by the league.  The Steelers have already said they will be suspending him because the organization, maybe worth a billion, still operates with a family business mentality and that is commendable.  It is even more troubling when you consider some of the “offended” fan base of the Steelers (after all, at Heinz Field last year was where I heard Joshua Cribbs of the Cleveland Brown get called a “Nigger” by a white Steeler fan and no one seemed to bat an eye). (Click below link for that Heinz Field tale)

https://jlcauvin.com/?p=1212

So if that fan base is troubled, you know Big Ben is in big trouble.

But as I was saying before, Roethlisberger has a few options to sex crimes – he could have girlfriends in every city, so that he has variety, but with women he can trust a little better than strangers at a bar.  He could hire prostitutes.  Let’s face facts – these high end services cater to men like him and convicted of using a prostitute is a preferred alternative to even the social stigma of being acquitted of serial rape.  Or he could have a meeting with Derek Jeter and forge a discreet vaginal domination mentorship where he learns how to have successful sexual relations without crimes by him or extortion by her being committed.

But with these options available to a man of Roethlisberger’s stature, as well as previous incidents that should have been warnings, one must wonder, perhaps this is what Roethlisberger wants.  Rape after all is a crime of power, not sex.  So if Ben, given his competitive success, is into power and domination, then sexual gratification would not satisfy this lust.  Michael Jordan exhibited his OCD level competitiveness through excessive gambling, Tiger Woods through excessive relations with menstruating waitresses and perhaps Ben really is a man whose drive for success has a criminal and vile manifestation away from the playing field.  I am not a psychologist, but it makes sense to me. 

I think the Steelers’ reaction has been appropriate, especially if they decide to trade Big Ben.  Even if Roethlisberger is innocent of all charges, he is obviously conducting himself in an embarrassing fashion and that alone gives the Steelers and the NFL a right to punish him to protect their corporate image.  But rape is in my opinion the worst crime there is, but perhaps that is why condemnation is coming more cautiously.  I am still surprised that allegations (and subsequent criminal conviction) of abuse of dogs by Michael Vick seemed to generate more outrage than Ben Roethlisberger’s alleged sexual assaults on women. 

And on a side note, as a fan of Pardon The Interruption on ESPN, I have also found Michael Wilbon’s defense of Ben Roethlisberger reprehensible.  I am a big fan of PTI and a big fan of Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser.  But it seems Wilbon, unlike the curmudgeon Kornheiser, has spent too much time cultivating a hybrid existence of serious journalist and Ahmad Rashad-buddy relationships with superstar athletes that he now sees fit to defend, or at least omit criticism, of athletes he favors.  Tiger Woods is a glaring example.  Gilbert Arenas was another to a much lesser extent, but Wilbon’s Roethlisberger commentary has been awful.  He said flat out that he does not think Roethlisberger should be suspended.   He is clearly a Big Ben fan and that is fine, but the lack of a criminal conviction cannot be the only acceptable standard for allowing a player to continue business as usual.  And Wilbon scoffing at Roethlisberger’s loss of a beef jerky endorsement at the end of a show this week was equally insensitive.

Michael Wilbon's commentary has been a huge disappointment during the Roethlisberger coverage.

All in all, it seems like it will be impossible for me to don a Roethlisberger jersey again.  To be fair I do have a Karl Malone jersey and he has not always been a model citizen, but he is a far cry from serial rapist (not to mention my inspiration for pursuing basketball).  And even if Ben is innocent of all criminal liability I’d still rather be associated with a black, redneck power forward than a jerk with a rich frat boy sense of entitlement.

I think I've retired this jersey. And not in a good way.