Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quick Takes - Sigmund Newton

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 NFL Rookie of the Year!

I am fascinated by dreams. I think they open a window into the subconscious that nothing else can. But then sometimes I have dreams that don't make any sense; that can't be gleaned for their symbolism to better understand my subconscious. I had one of those dreams last night, and it involved Cam Newton.

I was at a baseball field, "Sandlot" style, with a bunch of people I didn't know ... plus Cam Newton. Cam was on the other team, and he was so much bigger and stronger than everyone else that it almost seemed unfair to be playing sports against him. Should we be playing a game together that involves any sort of physical exercise? Can't we just go toe-to-toe digitally so that I can have the advantage? But no, we were going to play baseball and there was nothing I could do to convince anyone otherwise. But Cam was, as expected, completely unstoppable and everyone quickly lost interest in the game. I decided I'd had enough of his showboating and ... success ... and started to play dirty. I threw pitches at his giant head. I would try to trip him as he ran the bases. I was saying horrible things about him and being a massive douche at every opportunity. There was no explanation for it, other than that I hate losing. But after I'd tripped him for like the 300th time and buried his face in the gravely dirt, something came over me: Guilt? Remorse? A deeper understanding of my own fears and insecurities?

Cam stood up and said, "Man, can't we just play?" And my whole body sunk into a black hole (if it were a real black hole it wouldn't "sink," the gravitational pull would've ... well, you get it) of embarrassment. He turned out to be the nicest human ever (NHE) and I started weeping. Yep, I started weeping. And I was fully grown in this dream. I was current me, which makes this dream even more awesome. I had worked so hard to demonize him and make him look like an idiot, I had worked so hard to try to win, that I had become something I wasn't (damn, I sound like LeBron James right now). He saw me crying and said, "Whoa, it's okay, dude! It's just a game! Just ... don't trip me anymore, okay?" And I rubbed my nose clean like a 6 year old and said, "Okay," and then I walked around the field and shook every opposing player's hand and said I was sorry through tears. The rest of the game was fun, but I don't think I'm going to get invited back to that field ever again.

  • Here's a fun stat for you: Tim Tebow is dead last in the NFL in QBR (ESPN's comprehensive Quarterback Rating system) for the first three quarters of a game. He's also first in QBR during the fourth quarter. Maybe NFL teams should stop changing their defenses in the fourth quarter to try to manage a slender lead and keep attacking like they do in the first three quarters. I know. I'm an idiot. I'll go back to my cage now.
  • Steelers linebacker James Harrison was suspended one game by the NFL for yet another nasty hit on a quarterback, this time for lowering his head and going helmet-to-helmet with Colt McCoy, who had to leave the game with a concussion. Harrison was flabbergasted by the suspension and wrote a note on Twitter to show his dismay: "LOL." He also said that he isn't going to stop playing the way he plays because he tried it once and it "felt awkward," which is a good reason to continue putting peoples' careers in jeopardy.
  • If Ryan Braun's positive test for performance enhancing drugs is confirmed, should his MVP award be given to someone else? I've been thinking about that a lot lately, ever since news came out of Braun's alleged failed test during the playoffs this year. Steroids are obviously still a huge part of professional sports, despite dwindling prevalence in the post-steroid era of McGwire and Sosa, but the leagues are delusional if they think anything less than a lifetime suspension is going to work as a deterrent. The sad fact is that steroids provide results, and results provide paychecks and awards and records and Hall of Fame ceremonies, and if you happen to get caught, people will eventually forgive and forget (unless you're Alex Rodriguez, but that's just because nobody likes him). If Braun did take steroids, part of me says, "So what?" If he's willing to do something like that to his body for the potential benefits of a successful sports career, and I shouldn't have to remind anyone that he's an adult, then why does it matter? (Other than the fact that steroids are illegal, but so is marijuana ... just because something's marked 'illegal' by the government doesn't make it wrong). People have been cheating for years in sports -- there are more Hall of Famers in Cooperstown who cheated one way or another than those who didn't -- and you can do whatever you want to police it and remove it from the game, but players will always find another way to get the competitive advantage. The reward is worth the risk in their eyes. Just look at Ryan Braun. He just won the freaking MVP of the National League. He's got a massive paycheck and he'll be able to take care of himself and his kids and his kids' kids because of that risk. So, personally, I don't care about steroids. There, I said it. I don't care about steroids.
  • Cleveland Browns president (and former Seahawks coach!) Mike Holmgren said that quarterback Colt McCoy was not checked for a concussion after being hit by the aforementioned James Harrison last Thursday night. McCoy came out of the game for two plays and then popped right back in. The NFL would be the worst doctor ever: "Doctor, my chest is on fire and I can't feel my left arm." Hmm, what's your name, son? "Erik." All right, he's cured! And here's the keys to my Porsche, feel free to drive as fast and recklessly as you can with it in that school zone around the corner.
  • Manchester City players dressed up for a Christmas Party. Just bizarre. Also, they call Waldo from the "Where's Waldo?" series "Wally" in England? Who knew! Is that really necessary? Is Wally more approachable than Waldo in Britain? That'd be like us calling Harry Potter "Harlo Potter" in America, just for the hell of it. It's a name, people, I think it can survive the cultural divide.
  • Sports Illustrated photographer Walter Iooss, Jr. wrote about an incredible encounter he had with LeBron James in 2010. Now, I've never been a fan of James, even when he was the golden child in Cleveland. His decision with "The Decision" was absurd and oblivious, and his attitude with the Miami Heat last year were immature and, I think, showed a lot about his true character. But, my word, this story just blows me away: "I've seen a lot of entourages, but none like his. In July 2010 I got an assignment from Nike to shoot LeBron right after his TV special announcing his move to the Heat. We rented the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, where the Lakers and the Clippers used to play, and there were 53 people on my crew -- including hair and makeup artists, production people, a stylist. I had $10,000 in Hollywood lighting. It was huge. When LeBron arrived, it was as if Nelson Mandela had come in. Six or seven blacked-out Escalades pulled up, a convoy. LeBron had bodyguards and his masseuse. His deejay was already there, blasting. This for a photo shoot that was going to last an hour, tops. This is how crazy it was: I wasn't even allowed to talk directly to LeBron. There was a liaison, someone from Amar'e Stoudemire's family. I would say to him, 'O.K., have LeBron drive right,' and then he'd turn to LeBron and say, 'LeBron, go right.'" Is LeBron James Tom Haverford in disguise?

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