You Know, We Don’t Really NEED Athletes To Say ANYTHING

A lot of people are wondering what sports are going to look like as we come out of this COVID-19 epidemic, and just generally in the years/decades to come.

The Match II was a popular thing that happened recently. If you don’t know what that is, it was this round of golf played by Tiger Woods against Phil Mickelson; their partners, respectively, were Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. They apparently raised a lot of money for … people who were affected by the virus, I guess. Obviously, with social distancing and all that, it was a golf match with no fans, no caddies, and a limited number of crew people around to broadcast the whole thing. To compensate for this, all four players were mic’d up and wearing earpieces, so they could chat with the announcers and any other celebs who called in and wanted to chat. It was very charming and a fun way to spend an otherwise sportsless afternoon.

I was listening to the Brock & Salk podcast after The Match II, and they interviewed one of the announcers, who talked about the experience, and it was his opinion that this could be a wave of the future, not just for golf but for all major sports. The XFL dabbled in a lot of live, on-field interviews where their sideline reporters had to run around and find players who just did something exciting to ask them about it in real-time (as opposed to after the game, which is what would happen under normal circumstances). I’ve probably talked about that before, but really, WHO IS THIS FOR?! I would argue, only people IN the media enjoy this shit.

Do you know why The Match II was such a rousing success, with respect to the live interactions between media & athletes? Because you had four of the biggest, most famous, most articulate athletes in modern sports history. Tiger and Phil and Peyton and Tom? OF COURSE they’re going to be engaging and interesting to interact with!

Do you know what the VAST MAJORITY of athletes sound like on a regular basis? Dumb as rocks. Boring as dirt. Bland cliche machines who have been programmed over their entire lives in how to “game” the media. Saying something while never really saying anything. It is, by and large, BRUTAL to listen to an athlete being interviewed, whether it’s in the moment or after they’ve had hours and hours to craft a pre-packaged response.

I mean, as you can see from Drew Brees’ recent comments – before he walked them back, of course – you can give an athlete YEARS to come up with an opinion, and he’ll still sound like he has no idea what he’s talking about!

The wave of the future, I’m sad to say, is headed in the direction of more media interactions with players, and it’s going to be to all of our detriment. I dunno, unless I’m just an old man now; that’s possible too. Maybe to keep the younger generations engaged in sports, you need to offer this horseshit to continue to grow and prosper your sport. I would guess that’s probably closer to reality, since there’s so much money involved in this enterprise, it’s not like they haven’t done TONS of market research on the topic.

The thing I can’t tell is: who’s pushing for this? Is it the leagues? Do they like it when their players put their feet in their own mouths? Is any publicity good publicity, as they say? Or, are the players pushing for this, in an attempt to grow their individual brands and introduce new market streams during and after their athletic careers? I’m sure both could be true, I suppose. But, I just keep coming back to the sports media complex trying to create a market for something where there’s really no demand for it!

Athletes saying dumb shit can generate countless clicks and views and scoops and editorials for days on end! You’ve got the dumb shit they say, you’ve got the immediate backlash, you’ve got follow-up stories from other sports people commenting on it, you’ve got talking heads voicing their VERY LOUD opinions on sports chat shows, you’ve got sports radio hosts being handed hours upon hours of content to regurgitate. Then, you’ve got the same athlete apologizing for the dumb shit they said, the immediate backlash to that, the continued follow-up stories, the ever-growing VERY LOUD opinions on sports chat shows, and another full day’s worth of sports radio fodder … until some other athlete says something else dumb and the Baby Huey that is our collective sports media consciousness proceeds to waddle over to the next outrage where he plops his ass down to obsess over the next round of nonsense.

You don’t get ANY of that without constant media/athlete interactions. And, sure, you have to wade through an endless stream of cliches and rote, banal responses. But, once you unearth that little nugget of gold, you’re on easy street for at least another week.

Now, don’t misconstrue what I’m saying here. This isn’t a “Stick To Sports” rant. This is a “Stick To What You’re Good At” rant.

When LeBron James or Richard Sherman or Michael Bennett or Gregg Popovich or any number of intelligent, thoughtful people give an opinion on an issue of the day, I’m more than happy to listen. Or, even if it’s just X’s & O’s talk! Deshaun Watson gives some of the best postgame interviews about certain critical plays that happened during his games! Even Bill Belichick, when he wants to be, can be engaging and insightful on a bevy of different topics.

But, I would argue these people are the exceptions, and you REALLY have to suffer through a lot of mindlessness in the meantime. Not EVERYONE needs to make their voices heard. Sometimes, it’s okay just to shut the fuck up and let the adults have a fucking conversation. If you’ve got nothing interesting or worthwhile to say, then maybe just do us all a favor and keep quiet. You’ll save us a lot of wasted time, and you’ll potentially save yourself a lot of agony by not having to scramble to make up for some faux pas that got out in some interview you didn’t prepare for and didn’t think would come to light to a worldwide audience.

Again, I’m mostly talking to Drew Brees here, but this goes for a lot of you!

My Review of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay

Just so we’re clear:  I’m not a golf fan.  So, don’t expect this to be riddled with insight on the game.  Before this tournament, if you asked me to name all the golfers I could name, I’d be able to come up with the usual suspects pretty easy – Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els – and if you gave me a list of the full field, I’d probably be able to recall another few handfuls of names.  But, I couldn’t tell you where anyone ranks, what their strengths or weaknesses are, or how many tournaments they’ve won.  At best, I’m not even a casual viewer of golf.  Whenever I watch golf, it’s because I’m too hungover to even use a remote control and I just want background noise so I can take a nap.  And, considering I’m a semi-pro in the art of Weekend Warrioring, those types of all-encompassing hangovers don’t happen too often.

I’m writing about golf today because the U.S. Open just took place at Chambers Bay, which is sort of in my backyard.  I live in Seattle, but I grew up in Tacoma, and I still go down there frequently to hang out with my family and friends who live there.  Chambers Bay is about 6 miles from my dad’s house, so it’s pretty cool to think that the elite of the elite golfers in the world were all congregated RIGHT THERE, so close to my childhood home, for the better part of a week.

To backtrack a bit, my disdain for golf doesn’t stop at the boredom induced by watching it on TV.  I also hate the physical act of going out there, schlepping a bag of clubs around, and whacking a little white ball to and fro.  I don’t hate it the way most golfers hate it, but still go out there every week for whatever God-foresaken reason; I hate it in the way that a true American patriot hates golf!  I tried it out a few times, tagging along with my dad to the driving range and a few courses, I sucked DIIIIIIIICK at it about as hard as anyone can suck at anything that you’d think would be relatively simple, and I formally gave it up forever.  Because, as I said before, I suck at it.  And because it’s a stupid game for stupid-heads.

The last time I golfed was for a friend’s bachelor party.  I got sloshed on homemade Jack & Cokes, spent most of the time driving the golf cart like a maniac trying to Tokyo Drift, and even spent one hole trying to see how many “strokes” it would take to throw a golf ball on a Par 4.  I’m more of the Calvinball school of golfing.

I also readily admit that I MUCH prefer watching tennis to golf.  So, yeah, that’s me.

But, when the U.S. Open comes to town, it’s not something as a sports fan I could just ignore.  That’s a BIG deal!  The Pacific Northwest has never hosted a major golf tournament for the PGA!  And now it’s here, just south of Tacoma.

I ended up watching about 2-3 hours of it on Thursday, none of it on Friday or Saturday, and then almost all of it on Sunday.  Here’s what I gleaned as the major storylines:

  • Tiger Woods sucked HARD and missed the cut
  • Jason Day has vertigo and struggled with that for the duration, yet was tied for the lead going into the final day
  • Rory McIlroy made a hard charge on the last day to try to catch up to the leaders, but ultimately fell short
  • Jordan Spieth won his second consecutive Major, putting him on pace to win the single-year Grand Slam
  • Dustin Johnson blew it BIG TIME
  • And, just about everyone has a negative opinion of the course

I’ll say this about Chambers Bay:  it has potential to be one of the most beautiful and amazing golf courses in the country.  The view of the water, the train, the single tree, all the hills and bunkers, the length of the course:  it’s all great!  But, I’m sorry, that grass is a fucking disaster!

As I said up top, I don’t know anything about golf.  I’m sure the fescue is just like what they have in British links courses (whatever that string of words means), but I don’t care.  What I do know is what’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and a bunch of dead looking grass surrounded by taller, deader looking grass is not what I expect to look at when I’m watching ANY golf tournament, let alone a Major.  And those greens?  I have no opinion whatsoever on how they played – though, by most accounts, they were pretty crappy (including that one time where the dude putted and the ball literally bounced up in the air for no reason other than the fact that the green was bumpy as shit) – but the greens LOOKED terrible.  All discolored and splotchy, it was like the greens had fucking lupus!

Photo by Erick Smith ...

Photo by Erick Smith …

Again, maybe that type of grass is supposed to look like that.  Maybe it’s authentic as fuck and golf purists get huge boners over it.  But, to the average fan just watching because it’s a Major, or because they live in the area, it’s grotesque.  Fool us!  Bring in the type of grass that stays green all the time!  Make it look nice!  Don’t embarrass the region all in the name of authenticity.

And, speaking of embarrassing sycophants, the local media should take a long look at themselves for their rampant homerism this week.  Don’t defend that grass!  It’s horrific!  It’s okay to make fun of crybaby golfers like Billy Horschel for acting like a loon out there on the course, but don’t pretend like these guys don’t have a point.  Everyone sees it – everyone with the ability of sight anyway – and everyone thinks it’s ugly as sin.  The ol’ “face only a mother could love” in full effect.  So, don’t pretend you think it’s aesthetically pleasing when it’s so clearly not.

Of course, that being said, it sure made for some interesting game play.  The quality of the greens and the course itself, I’m sure, got into more than a few golfers’ heads.  Watching the cream of the crop rise to the challenge and finish with amazing final rounds was really something to behold and appreciate.  Hell, the fact that Jason Day was even able to finish the four rounds at all deserves a round of applause!

I haven’t seen many tournaments, but I can’t imagine a more exciting finish.  Spieth (with a 2-stroke lead) double-bogeyed the Par 3 17 to fall to a tie for first with Louis Oosthuizen (who’d already wrapped up his round and was in the clubhouse) and Dustin Johnson (who would go on to birdie 17 as he was a hole behind Spieth).  Then, Spieth turned it right around to birdie the Par 5 18 to take a 1-stroke lead (missing a reasonable – though by no means easy – eagle attempt).  THEN, Johnson had an even easier eagle attempt on 18 (though, to be fair, at a slight decline, and of course on the crap-quality greens) to win it outright.  He missed that, then missed the birdie attempt to force an 18-hole playoff, and ended up in a tie for second.  Absolutely electrifying intensity all the way around.

All in all, despite the looks of the grass and the near-constant complaining by golfers and non-FOX pundits alike, I thought it was a great success.  The course itself is different, that’s for sure, and I think it’s something to take pride in.  That having been said, if Chambers Bay ever wants to grab its very own annual tournament (of the non-Major variety), they better compromise on that grass and get something a little more green and professional looking.  Because, there’s one thing even the homerest of homers can’t deny:  if this wasn’t the U.S. Open – if this was just the Taco Del Mar Invitational or whatever – I can guarantee most of the bigtime golfers would’ve skipped it altogether.  They would’ve heeded the advice of advanced scouts, reporters, whathaveyou, and they would’ve said, “No Thanks” to Chambers Bay.

I mean, let’s face it, you’re already talking about a huge challenge just to get people to want to fly all the way up here in the first place.  It’s Washington State!  Unless you’re a golfer who lives on the west coast, you don’t want any part of a cross-country flight to SeaTac.  Then, it’s a buttfuck of a drive from SeaTac to Chambers Bay or anywhere else that’s cool and exciting.  On a good day, it’s taking you about 45 minutes to get there from the airport, and when are there ever any good traffic days in Western Washington?  Then, you want to pile those puke greens on top of it?  I guarantee none of the good golfers would show up and we’d be stuck with the likes of Numbnuts McGee.

Then again, if it means a tournament without Sergio Garcia, could it be THAT bad?

Finally, I’ll end on this:  did the U.S. Open change my views on golf?  I’ll admit, I’m a little more open to it now.  You still sure as shit won’t catch me playing it anytime soon, but I could see myself partaking of more weekend tournaments on the TV.

Especially since my brother and I crafted the perfect drinking game!

  • 1 drink for every birdie
  • 2 drinks for every eagle
  • 1 drink for every bogey
  • 2 drinks for every bogey (and keep increasing drinks for every shot a player hits over par)
  • 1 drink for every time someone says the name of the grass (which would’ve had everyone blacking out for all the times they said “fescue”)
  • Start a “waterfall” (see King’s Cup for the definition of a waterfall) whenever someone in the crowd yells, “Get in the hole!”  You can’t stop drinking until the ball stops rolling.  And, if it’s said on a drive or any shot outside the green – and that shot ends up going in the hole – you have to finish your drink

We’re thinking about doing this next Saturday.  I hope they have golf next Saturday …

2014: State Of Seattle Sports Radio

I imagine it has to be difficult to be a local sports radio talk show host.  Unless something big happens in the market, you’re really just grasping at straws at what to talk about.  These shows do a good job of filling segments with people to interview, but aside from that it’s really just the host talking to his sidekick.

At some point, Sports Radio got the hint that no one wants to listen to the uninformed lunacy from “The Callers.”  Thank holy hell, because if I have to listen to fifteen straight minutes of people like me complaining about shit they don’t really understand, I’m ready to jump off a building.  What was once a cushy job sitting there, pushing buttons, and listening to the masses have their say, now requires more from the hosts.  The conversation has to be engaging and entertaining.  That’s not always easy to do, especially in the middle of a football week, where Mondays are used to rehash what we just witnessed on Sunday and where Fridays are used to preview the game ahead; what are you supposed to talk about on your average Wednesday?  Or, in the middle of a baseball season, where the Mariners have spent the last 20 days going 8-12 in yet another lost season.  With college sports being so polarizing to the general public (either you love college athletics too much, or they don’t interest you whatsoever), and without professional basketball to help fill the void after the NFL season, there’s not a whole lot left over to talk about.

I imagine it would be easier if you’re a political talk radio host.  It’s pretty easy to feign outrage over the latest news of the day.  And, as Seattle’s resident Angry Sports Blogger, I can utilize that tactic in my writing whenever there’s a down moment.  But, Sports Radio hosts generally have to be something of a voice of reason.  It’s what separates them from the frothing-at-the-mouth rabble.  Those people who over-react to every little thing and condone the quick ax of an underperforming head coach or star player.

All of this is just a preamble to what is becoming an annual State of Seattle Sports Radio report.  As a pretty big fan of the genre, I spend more time listening to our three stations (950 KJR, 710 ESPN, & 1090 The Fan) than anyone without a vehicular commute has any right to.  Mostly, I listen at home, foresaking things like SportsCenter or whatever the hell they call their highlight show on Fox Sports 1.  I can’t listen while at work, which is a real shame, because I feel like some of the better shows take place during the mid-day.  I really only have familiarity with the morning shows and the drive-time shows (I get to listen to the others on sick days, or “sick” days).

Morning is still a vapid wasteland.  It would be unfair to rank the morning shows against one another, because they’d all come in tied for last place.  I have completely given up on my erstwhile go-to show, Mitch In The Morning, because his co-host is brutal to listen to.  I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but he’s often uninformed and his opinions have no basis in reality.  His constant interruptions ruin the flow of the show.  With literally ANY other co-host, KJR would be rock-solid in the morning, but it doesn’t sound like that’s going to be happening any time soon.  Believe you me, I’ve given this show (and this particular co-host) every opportunity to win me over after Steve Sandmeyer was ousted, but it has simply gotten worse and worse.  My one bit of advice:  fire the current co-host and give over the job full time to Jason D. Hamilton.  He’s amazingly entertaining to listen to, has informed opinions, and has actual CHEMISTRY with Mitch.  If I’m going to listen to two guys banter back and forth for four hours (or just an hour, or even one segment), it helps when you can picture these two having this conversation about sports even if they weren’t getting paid to do it over the airwaves.

In my desperation to listen to something while in the shower, I’ve taken to going back to Mike & Mike, but it certainly won’t last long.  I can handle those guys in VERY small doses, and only when they’re talking football.  I don’t need to hear them talking about the Yankees, the Lakers, or Tiger Woods day-in and day-out, thank you very much.  The 1090 morning show has Tiki Barber as one of its co-hosts, which is all you need to know.

Moving on, one of the better local shows is Brock & Danny, but again, I almost never get to listen to it.  I really like Elise, but for as much as I like her, I dislike Jerry Brewer, so that cancels out that show.  If I wanted to hear a whiny, nasally voice with absolutely nothing to say, I’d record myself reading my own blog posts.

Tied for first in my Seattle Sports Radio Power Rankings would be the Ian Furness show.  In spite of their being Cougars, Ian and Puckett are the most consistently entertaining duo on the radio.  Of course, I’m working during their show too, so that’s a bummer.

The other show tied for first would be the Steve Sandmeyer show on 1090 in the afternoons.  It has quickly risen to the top of my priorities list, as they’ve gotten into a nice little groove, especially since Jason Churchill signed on.  This show, from 3-6, makes up for all that comes before it on that station.

1090 The Fan HAS given us Jim Rome in the Seattle market.  I’ve only known him from his television talk shows and he’s pretty ridiculous.  He’s this pompous, macho, Alpha-Male type guy who has probably NEVER been able to relate to the common man.  I don’t know what his deal is, or how he was brought up, but all I can imagine is Rome riding around in limos, partying with athletes in only the classiest of establishments, and lighting his cigars with $100 bills.  Yet, he thinks he’s funny?  Mostly by cutting off the balls of his dopey, single-digit IQ listeners.  He’s like a stiff, wooden Howard Stern, who isn’t funny, isn’t relatable, and thinks he’s better than everyone else.  I have no idea how he has amassed this vast media empire, and I don’t know a single person who listens to or watches his shows, and I feel that I’m better off for it.  If you hang out with people who are avid Rome listeners, you most likely get a quarterly Ed Hardy catalogue in the mail and regularly beat your kids with a belt.

I’m going to cut this off here and provide a simple Power Rankings list.  Let’s get to it:

1 (tied) – Steve Sandmeyer Show
1 (tied) – Ian Furness Show
3 – Brock & Danny
4 – John Clayton Show (Saturdays)
5 – Wyman, Mike & Moore
6 – Bob & Groz
7 – Softy
8 – Elise & Jerry
9 – Mike & Mike
10 – Mitch In The Morning

Pre-Season Analysis 2012: Seahawks @ Chiefs

I know this is incredibly after-the-fact, but this is mostly for me than it is for you.

Got back from the camping trip without any limbs lost yesterday afternoon.  So, like any red-blooded ‘Merican who has tore one on for three straight days would do:  I cracked open a Bud Light and settled in for the DVR of the game.  Now, my intention was to leave my phone off, to avoid, to avoid any of my Seahawks-related rss feeds, and any mention of anything on the radio once we got into town.  Granted, it’s only a pre-season game; but the best way to ruin the experience of watching a pre-season game is to know how it turned out.

Long story short, I was passing by the ESPN television channel accidentally and noticed on their little crawl (where they tell you the upcoming stories they’re going to talk about on Sportscenter) the words:  “T.O. Released By Seattle”.  For the record, I both love and hate the crawl on Sportscenter.  I love it because I actually just hate Sportscenter, so it gives me a good idea of what parts I DON’T want to watch (you know, like all of it, because they only talk about the same four things day-in and day-out until the end of time:  Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, the New York Yankees, the New York Jets).

I quickly changed the channel, but the damage had been done.  I knew something about the game.  But, in a weird way, having this knowledge made it more compelling.  What would T.O. do to deserve his firing?  Would he cause a scene on the sideline?  Would he dog it when trying to run-block for someone?  Would he drop another picture-perfect touchdown pass?

If memory serves (and it does), T.O. was targeted four times.  One was a ball where he was perfectly covered and the defender gave him no chance to catch it.  Not his fault.  One he just flat-out dropped.  Since I was avoiding Twitter like the plague until after the game ended, I had to manually write out my Tweets on paper.  After that drop, I wrote, “Owens … sigh”.  And then he made quite possibly one of the best catches I’ve ever seen a receiver make!  Up the right sideline on a go-route, I’m assuming, the ball comes in high, directly over his head.  He falls on his back as the ball lands perfectly in his chest, landing inches from the sideline.  The Seahawks bench erupted in wild applause as I sat dumbfounded.  “Hmm, they’re really going to cut the guy after a catch like THAT?”  Wilson went to Owens quickly again after that for a 1-yard swing pass, but that was pretty much it on that side of things.

I’m going to be a content machine today, so I’ll save my thoughts on T.O. for my next post.

As for the rest of the game, let’s start with the defense.  We REALLY laid the lumber down on the Chiefs last Friday.  44-14, are you kidding me?  I wrote on more than one occasion, “Best Secondary in the NFL!” and it’s the fucking TRUTH!  Richard Sherman looks like a fucking lynx out there, pouncing on his prey as soon as they get near his area.  And Earl Thomas?  Hoo!  He is going to be called The Greatest Safety in the NFL before his career is over.  And not just by sycophantic homers like myself either.  I want more than anything for this secondary to stay healthy for the full season just to see what they can really do.  You know you have a great secondary when your weakest link is still a guy who played in the Pro Bowl last season with six interceptions and over 20 passes defended.

Running through my notes in rapid fire:

  • Great to see Scruggs get a sack early.
  • Braylon Edwards made another sick catch and looks like a lock.
  • Turbin looked great (eat shit national media).
  • Offensive line looked REALLY great (at run-blocking anyway; they still could be better at pass-protection).
  • Bruce Irvin, every time they show a replay, is getting eaten alive by a right tackle on a bull rush … yeesh (eat shit … me).
  • Jon MVP Ryan was up to his old tricks … consistent MVP-quality play.

Few more things.  In the second quarter, KC went on a 17-play drive that resulted in a touchdown.  17 plays, 80 yards, comprising over 7 and a half minutes of game clock.  I don’t know if it’s a sign of things to come, but in the Denver game there was a very similar kind of drive where Manning carved his way through our defense.  Like this week, his drive also took a lot of plays and a lot of time.  I guess what my point is:  it’s really fucking hard to shut people out in the NFL.  That having been said, when teams do score on us, it generally takes them a lot of plays, a lot of third down conversions, and a lot of time off the clock.  In that 17-play drive, the longest play was an 18-yard completion to a running back.  There were four 3rd down conversions, and the touchdown was caught on a 3rd down, so really five conversions.  While it makes me happy that we’re not giving other teams ANYTHING easy; they will have to certainly earn their points the hard way.  I still see this trend on 3rd down.  Not EVERY 3rd down, mind you.  It’s not as bad as it has been the last couple seasons, because I’ve seen more and more 3 & outs this pre-season than I can remember, but it’s still something to notice.  Especially as Bruce Irvin continues to be swallowed up by a single man on the offensive line.

I thought we got a lot of good pressure against KC, but I also saw that we were working in a lot of our blitz packages.  Corners and safeties and linebackers coming at the quarterback from odd angles.  Defensive tackles dropping out into coverage.  Middle linebackers on wide receivers 40 yards downfield.  We mixed it up today and got a lot of pressure, a lot of hits, and even a few sacks on their QBs.  We’re not the New York Football Giants; we’re not going to get consistent pressure by our front four alone.  That’s a shame.  Fortunately, we’ve got a secondary that will be able to give us enough time for our blitzers to get up in there and wreck some shit up.

As for our offense, I’m going to get to that in a bit when I write about Russell Wilson.  No sense in shooting my wad all at once; I’ve got today off of work.  I’ll finish with a couple more points:

  • Every once in a while, Red Bryant will overcome a double team, get around a blocker and stuff a running back for no gain.  He’ll stand up, his head bobbing up and down, and it looks like he’s talking some MAD shit on the guy he just tackled as well as the fools who tried to stop it from happening.  Red Bryant already sounds awesome when he talks; I just want to have him mic’d up one time to hear all the shit he talks on a play like that, if only for my own amusement.
  • Does anyone else feel like the Seahawks are trying to subliminally get us to go out and buy Queensryche’s music with all the times they play it coming in and out of every commercial break?  Furthermore, does anyone else know where I could go to BUY Queensryche’s music?

The Alleged Lawrence Taylor Conundrum

Lawrence Taylor was arrested on rape charges today. Don’t know if he’s innocent or not, but it’s an interesting jumping-off point for a discussion about athletes and their being Role Models.

It’s at this point that most people trot out the old Charles Barkley quote, but in this case I’m not necessarily talking about a “role model” as someone a child looks up to and/or tries to emulate as he grows up. In this case, I’m just talking about regular fans who are not only fans of particular teams, but of specific players ON those, or other, teams.

For instance, I would say that I’m a fan of Lawrence Taylor’s. Lawrence Taylor: Football Player & Video Game God on Techmo Super Bowl; not necessarily Lawrence Taylor: Drug Addict & Dancing With The Stars Participant. About Lawrence Taylor: Actor, I am indifferent; but let’s just say that none of these other facets to his being were really all that detrimental to my being a fan of Lawrence Taylor: Football Player & Video Game God.

The question I pose: At what point in an athlete’s Real Life Transgressions do you stop being a fan of said athlete for the work he did on the field (both real and virtual)?

Opinion is a tricky thing. Take, for instance, Mike Vick. I was never a big fan of his to begin with. I liked to watch him play, I guess, because you never knew when he was going to break a 50-yard run or throw the ball 80 yards down field; but I was never a fan really. I didn’t actively root for him to succeed over others who I was indifferent about (even though he played for the Falcons and I generally like them whenever they’re not playing the Seahawks).

However, after his conviction for running a dogfighting ring (or whatever it was of which he was specifically convicted), it’s pretty safe to say that I stopped being indifferent and generally disliked the guy.

Which is a completely different situation with my regard for Lawrence Taylor, who I would’ve put easily in my Top 10 Favorite NFL Players from my youth. Along with the likes of Walter Payton, Steve Largent, Jacob Green, Joe Montana, Bo Jackson, Ronnie Lott, Mike Singletary, Refrigerator Perry, and Cortez Kennedy. I dunno, that’s just off the top of my head.

As the years went on, my regard for Lawrence Taylor only escalated. For instance, being a huge coke-head yet still dominating the game of football for the better part of a decade. Stuff like that. I think like a lot of kids growing up and watching sports, we’re attracted to the real bad-asses. The guys who can take over a game – especially in a position like Linebacker or Safety, where you’re not just taking over, but taking OUT. See: Joe Theismann.

So, I ask? At what point do I STOP being a fan of Lawrence Taylor? If he’s convicted of rape? If he’s convicted of raping a 16 year old girl (which is essentially taking a horrible situation and throwing a pile of cancer on it)?

Or, is it okay to be a fan of Lawrence Taylor: Football Player & Video Game God while at the same time loathing Lawrence Taylor: Convicted Child Rapist (if he is indeed convicted for this or some other hypothetical future crime)?

I think the way it’s supposed to go is, if the topic of Lawrence Taylor comes up (if he is convicted), you say, “What a scumbag he is … too bad, because he was one motherfucker of a linebacker back in his day.”

Which I think I’m okay with. It would be a lot harder to swallow if I was a real die-hard fan of a guy and then he was brought up on rape charges. I think I’d be a lot more conflicted if it were Steve Largent, Gary Payton, Edgar Martinez, or Ken Griffey Jr. in the news right now. I’m not gonna lie to you, I’d probably be THAT guy who points to all the holes in the case and questions the integrity of the victim.

Then again, those are guys who you’d never think would ever be involved in something like this. Lawrence Taylor … let’s admit it, nobody’s all that shocked right now. He’s not exactly pre-last-Thanksgiving Tiger Woods; hell, this story could replace every “Lawrence Taylor” with “Mike Tyson” and who’d know the difference?