Ranking Alex Smith amongst his peers

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Ranking Alex Smith amongst his peers

The matter of WGIBTU Whos Got It Better Than Us? has taken on an interesting form, when you consider the case of Alexander D. Smith, the Lazarus of quarterbacks.Given up for dead by the wishful thinking crowd, Smiths resurgence as a credible NFL quarterback has been much hailed, though mostly in that What did Jim Harbaugh do to clear up his leprous sores and make him a fully self-actualized human being? kind of way.But there is another factor here, brought home with stark force by the San Diego-Kansas City game Monday night, and that is this:The field has backed up to Smith just as much as he has risen to meet it.Many of these situations are temporary good quarterbacks having bad years, or injuries, or the curse of the howling short-arm, but lets break it down to show you what we mean:ARIZONA
Kevin Kolb has done little to revive the Cardinals, and since he was one of those quarterbacks people demanded be brought in to rid the fan base of the turbulent Smith, his struggles are particularly gratifying. According to the Alex Metric, he is dramatically worse. He may be better in the future, but the futures not ours to know, so for the moment, yes. WGIBTU? Not the Cardinals.ATLANTA
After a scruffy start, Matt Ryan is finding his stride again, but eight picks and 18 sacks have undermined his supremacy. WGIBTU? Ryan will have some better games down the stretch, while Smith is exactly as good as he can be now, so with a wince, the Falcons do.BALTIMORE
They hate Joe Flacco these days in Charm City, absolutely loathe him. And for good reason his completion percentage is under 54, his inefficiencies have gone from oh-well to oh, hell, and the comparisons to Trent Dilfer are flattering to neither man. WGIBTU? Not the Ravens.BUFFALO
Ryan Fitzpatrick just got a 59 million contract extension from Ralph Wilson. I dont know how much better that can be explained. WGIBTU? The Bills, for sure.CAROLINA
The Panthers have so little that Cam Newton stands out all the more, but the truth is on a more representative team, he would be an MVP candidate. WGIBTU? The Panthers, for sure.CHICAGO
Jay Cutler lives as well off Matt Forte as Smith does off Frank Gore, but his own stats are largely Smiths superior. That said, he hasnt made the Bears an indomitable team because theyre not so WGIBTU? Not the Bears.CINCINNATI
Andy Daltons red hair made Carson palmers expendable well, that and the draft choices from Oakland but he relies of safety-first passes as much as Smith does, and the Bengals are still not fully believable. WGIBTU? Not the Bengals.CLEVELAND
The Browns have been to the Bay Area twice in three weeks. Weve all seen Colt McCoy working with no discernible players. WGIBTU? Not the Browns, and not by a long shot.DALLAS
Tony Romo is embracing his new role as NFL tease, and all of his numbers save the interceptions are better than Smiths. But he is also considered the guy the Cowboys have until they get someone good, so this is a tough one. WGIBTU? The Cowboys, though too often that seems not to be true.DENVER
Do we really need to bother here? Quite possibly the worst situation in the league, not only because Tim Tebow is still too raw and inefficient, but because his rally over Miami probably took the Broncos out of the Andy Luck sweepstakes. WGUIBTU? Definitely not these guys.DETROIT
Matthew Stafford when upright is a damned sight better than most. Matthews Stafford on one leg and without a running game to protect him, not so much. Until he gets better, WGIBTU does not include the Lions, but that will change the moment his leg gets better.
GREEN BAY
Please.HOUSTON
Matt Schaub is simply better, and you cant argue it even with Houstons odd collection of results. WGIBTU? Definitely the Texans.INDIANAPOLIS
Peyton Manning begat Curtis Painter who may beget Andrew Luck. Until that moment, though, WGIBTU? Not the Colts.JACKSONVILLE
Blaine Gabbert is injured, but even at 100 percent, the Jaguars so much come out on the short end of WGIBTU it isnt worth serious analysis.KANSAS CITY
Matt Cassel looked pretty brutal last night, and his team won. In fact, his team has won four in a row to move into a tie for first in the AFC West. All that said, Matt Cassel. WGIBTU? Not the Chiefs.MIAMI
Horrifying. WGIBTU doesnt have the words to show how much not the Dolphins it is.MINNESOTA
Donovan McNabb is now Christian Ponder. Another win for WGIBTU.NEW ENGLAND
Sorry, no.NEW ORLEANS
No again.NEW YORK GIANTS
Eli Manning is having an exemplary year in an up-and-down career. This could change, but the Giants win WGIBTU pretty handily here.NEW YORK JETS
Mark Sanchez is more maddening than soothing, which makes him A.D. Smith 1.0. WGIBTU? Not the Jets.OAKLAND
Not even discussable at this point. WGIBTU? Not the Raiders.PHILADELPHIA
Michael Vick is catching hell, but not nearly as much hell as Andy Reid, which means that the fans are okay with him, and his numbers are indisputably better. WGIBTU? The Eagles, eventually.PITTSBURGH
After a feh start, Ben Roethlisberger is quietly but demonstrably having a big year. WGIBTU? The Steelers, and Mike Tomlin could absolutely pull Jim Harbaughs arm off in a handshake.SAINT LOUIS
A.J. Feeley has taken Sam Bradfords job while Bradfords ankle cant do its job, on a team with only Steven Jackson. Need we say more? WGIBTU? Not the Rams.SAN DIEGO
Whatever magic Philip Rivers had, he aint got no more. A snap? He fumbled a snap with the game in the bag? Right now, WGIBTU has it for the 49ers, though Id make a straight-up- trade right now and feel very good about it.SEATTLE
Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst. Move on, citizens. Nothing to see here.TAMPA BAY
Its hard to put the 48-3 loss out of our heads, and Josh Freeman has thrown more picks than scores. That is not a statistic the local fella need concern himself with right now. WGIBTU? Not the Bucs.TENNESSEE
Matt Hasselbecks numbers are comparable, but the Titans win when they defend, not when they attack. WGIBTU? Not the Titans.WASHINGTON
Rex Grossman? John Beck? I think I just threw up on my shoe. WGIBTU? Definitely not the Redskins.In short, Alex Smith, whom you all knew was the worst quarterback ever, is having a better time right now than 20 other starters, easily his best placement against his peers since he began his career. So whos got it better than them? A lot fewer than there used to be.

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

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AP

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

Frank Deford’s death over the weekend did not mark the end of longform sportswriting as we knew it; he had long ago become part of the electronic commentariat that has reduced longform’s place in the public’s attention span.

But there is still longform writing and storytelling to be found in many places, and it is still worthwhile. It has more production value, as the TV folks like to blather, and the words have to fight for their place between the cracks left by the pictures and the mutated graphics, but longform lives, and it should, lest we all agree as one people to further desiccate that attention span like a grapefruit left in the sun.

Deford’s death, though, reminds of when longform was the zenith of the storytelling art. It could, and still can, give you access and depth and breadth that a TV crew simply could not, and cannot. Even extended TV features are by their very nature so contrived by all the equipment that nothing is natural, nothing is a surprise, and the act of writing is almost an afterthought.

Deford knew this. He more than merely dabbled in TV himself, playing the wizened old raconteur who was as much character in his pieces as storyteller. He was also a star and a starmaker with The National, a daily sports network in newspaper form that was long on talent and ideas but short on delivery and distribution. It lasted 17 months, until mid-1991, but it led to grander attempts decades later, and could if you squint your eyes hard enough be the natural parent of Grantland and The Ringer and Vice and SB Nation and dozens of others – all bigger ideas, positioned in the post-typing world. Some lasted, more didn’t, but capitalism is like that – making fuel to keep the fires burning and the engines churning.

Deford could have thrived in such a world, to be sure. He was not, in the hideous phrase, “a man of his time.” Indeed, he was a crossover figure years ago in ways that other longform writers attempt to resist even now. They want to be Deford at the height of his powers at a time when the instruments for their gift are either dying or veering away from anything that hits the 600-word mark.

But his passing did not kill the art of clever writing and incisive storytelling. There are far too many people who can do that still, even if the market for their gifts is neither as pronounced nor as eager for the product as it once was. It did remind us not only that he was a giant, but that there are still giants among us should we deign to take the time to seek them.

Thus, Deford’s death marked his passing but not the thing that made him worthy of our attention. Storytelling, longform and otherwise, remains the heart of why this is still worthwhile to a culture, and when the generation his work spawned starts to die off, I suspect we’ll still be saying the same thing then. Notebooks are smartphones, photographs are streams, but the human eye and ear and hand still remain pre-eminent.

That is, until the robots take over, at which point reading won’t be worth it.

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

You thought you were done worrying about the Raiders. You thought the votes were in, the moving vans booked for three years down the road, and all gnashing and sharpening of teeth was over. You thought you were free.

Then those buttinsky-come-latelies from St. Louis decided to rear their litigious heads, and now you find yourselves slipping back into that desperate-hope world from which no one escapes.

It seems the city and its regional sports authority has decided to sue the National Football League and its 32 semi-independent duchies over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago because, and you’ll like this one, the league allegedly did not follow its own relocation rules when it moved the team.

As you know, there is no such thing as a rule if everyone governed by the rule decided unanimously to ignore the rule. This doctrine falls under the general heading of, “We’re billionaires, try and stop us.”

But all lawsuits have a common denominator, and that is that there is money at the end of the rainbow. St. Louis is claiming it is going to miss out on approximately $100 million in net proceeds (read: cash) and has decided that the NFL and especially their good pal Stan Kroenke is going to have to pay for permission to do what they have already done -- specifically, leave.

Because the suit was filed in St. Louis, the benefits of home field advantage apply, and the league is likely to have to reinflate their lawyers for some exciting new billable hours.

As to whether it turns into a windfall for the jilted Missourians, well, as someone who has known lawyers, I would list them as prohibitive underdogs. But there is nuisance value here, which brings us to Oakland.

The city and county, as we know, did not put its best shoe forward in trying to lure the Raiders into staying or the other 31 owners into rejecting the team’s pleas for geographical relief. By that, we mean that the city and county did not fall all over itself to meet the league’s typically extortionate demands.

But they did play angry enough to start snipping about the 2019 part of the Raiders’ 3-More-Coliseum-Years plan, and they are threatening to sue over about $80K in unpaid parking fees, so filing their own breach-of-rules lawsuit might be a possibility.

Because, hey, what’s the point of sounding like a nuisance if you can’t actually become one?

By now, it is clear that everyone in SuitWorld got what it needed out of the Raiders’ move. The city and county could concentrate on guiding the A’s into activity on their own new stadium. The team could go where Mark Davis has been agitating for it to go for at least three years – somewhere else. The state of Nevada could find a place for that $750 million that was burning a hole in its casino vault. And the league went to a market that it, at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically, decided should be its own.

The fans? Oh, please. Who cares about them? To the NFL, and to all corporations in all walks of business, folks are just walking wallets.

But for some cash? Well, climb on board, suckers. The gravy train is pulling out on Track 3.

Nobody is fool enough to think the Raiders would be forced to return. Hell, even St. Louis isn’t asking for the Rams back. They just want to get paid for the money they probably banked on in the good old days before Stan Kroenke decided to head west.

And that would doubtless be Oakland’s stance as well if. Now the circumstances are slightly different, in that St. Louis worked harder to keep the Rams than Oakland did to keep the Raiders. St. Louis scared up $350 million toward new digs for the Rams, well short of what Kroenke would have accepted, while Oakland said it could get its hands on some infrastructure money and no more.

But Mayor Libby Schaaf complained in her relocation post mortem that the league didn’t follow its own guidelines (yay correlation as causation!), maybe with an eye toward throwing a few lawyers into the fire to see how long it would burn.

There is not yet any indication that the city and county are going that route (and the silence may simply mean that they are sick of the Raiders’ saga as everyone else seems to be), but if they do, well, don’t freak out that the team might be forced to return.

Except, of course, in that place where migraines start. Dragging this back up is a bit like the phantom pain amputees feel -- but hey, people will do a lot for a bit of court-ordered cash. Anyone who has ever watched Judge Judy will understand.