Monday night disaster

Monday night disaster
December 18, 2012, 11:00 am
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The Jets-Titans game was the zenith of spastic athletic performance. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Monday night brought one of the greatest moments in television history – well, television sports history, anyway. And Steve Young, of all people, had a hand in it.

Not that Young isn’t good on television, or that that really matters all that much. In many ways, a monkey can be good on television. But Young is not by nature a purveyor of outrage, let alone the dyspeptic spasms of disgust he emitted last night.

And he was the calm one.

He, Trent Dilfer, Stuart Scott, Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and an angry nation was subjected to the New York Jets at their worst – which is sort of like saying being subjected to the North Koreans at their least jocular.

The Jets were ghastly even by their miserable standards in a 14-10 loss to Tennessee, itself a bit of a misery farm. They were so horrible that Dilfer and Young got into a seeming argument over who could be more contemptuous of what they’d seen, who they’d seen do it, and the prospects for a post-apocalyptic future.

Frankly, Dilfer won for sheer throw-weight. That he didn’t actually vomit on Scott in apoplexy was a triumph of self-control. And Tirico basically laughed the game off the air at the end.

But Young worked the scalpel while everyone else used the Gallagher Fruit Mallet. He said the Jets quit, which they had. He said the coaching offices need to be remodeled starting with the users. He supported Mark Sanchez but thought he was no longer of use to the franchise.

And if he could have, he would have grabbed Woody Johnson and slapped him. Over and over again.

They did what British announcers do often when confronted by miserable entertainment. They said it was miserable entertainment. They broke network programming to do, because network programming requires a level of denial, promotion and hope-selling that is simply out of place in our modern somebody-tell-me-something-that-isn’t-a-total-and-complete-lie world of ours.

Indeed, most game announcers are required to do just that, in just those words. They are selling a program, and nobody will watch a program that promises to make people violently ill, as Jets-Titans surely would.

But Jets-Titans exceeded all lack of hopes in this regard. It was the zenith of spastic athletic performance. It made a mockery of all the mythmaking nonsense the National Football League pitches on a weekly basis. It was aesthetic filth with a ball – a ball that neither team seemed to want much.

It was a night where lefthanded euphemisms like “not the start they wanted,” and “they could have done that better,” and “That will hurt them later in the game” would be the order of the day.

Instead, it went slowly but surely toward what became a festival of fury from the entire broadcast crew as each tried to find a new way to call a spade of animal waste a dump truck of toxic landfill.

And it ended with Young, the professional nicest guy in the room, firing with them all. He seemed more sad than angry at first, but he could not suppress his disgust as he eventually piled on with his partners.

A rightsholder telling the truth about three bad hours of programming – finally, a moment of clarity from a planet’s worth of nonsense. Jets-Titans was awful in concept, foisted upon us only because of ESPN’s obsessive need to Tebow the night away one more time, and it deteriorated from there.

And for once, the broadcasters acknowledged it – a lesson for the young larynxes and talking heads of tomorrow. Sometimes the game overwhelms even the happiest of talk.
 
And to their credit, the ESPN crew for once didn’t shun their responsibilities. Though it might have been a nice touch if they’d risen from the set, turned around and flipped off the field while the graphics people put up a legend that read simply, “Good Night, And We Apologize.”

But that’s a truth for another day, apparently.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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