When Stanford didnt do a Heisman Trophy campaign for Toby Gerhart two years ago, it was a very cool notion. Put the man on the field and let his feet do the talking. It was right, and it worked he got more votes not preening than he would have if the school had preened on his behalf. He didnt win, of course he wasnt meant to. He went to the wrong school on the wrong side of the country, in a sport that is dominated in all ways by the southeastern and Midwestern chunk of the nation.So it is again, this time with Andrew Luck. David Shaw, his coach and a man so earnest you can do laser surgery with his sincerity, even went to the length of doing a power point presentation on Lucks behalf, showing how smart and clever and wonderful he is. How he missed the part about pulling the people out of the convalescent hospital while it was burning to the ground, well never know.But for all the 96 Sway Tango Edge Kill Spider 2 Y Banana Z Reno Alert 6 Zeus talk Shaw offered on his mans behalf, his argument suffered from one killing flaw.His guy apparently didnt want it.Even Shaw admitted that when he told his audience, I told him, Andrew, over the next week, were going to talk about you a lot, and youre going to hate every minute. Dont pay attention.Shaw then went on to say, But this is necessary. And the best thing is, none of it is fabricated.In fact, it was only necessary if Shaw was lying about how much Luck didnt want it. If he secretly enjoyed his coach defending his honor even though it hasnt really been besmirched, and if Shaw had deduced that, well, no harm in giving the kid a warm and fuzzy feeling on an otherwise drab Tuesday afternoon.But if he really didnt want a campaign, if it really made his spinal cord accordion up into the base of his neck, well, thats good enough for me. Lucks done plenty for Stanford, and if he wants something other than this in return, thats what he gets.I mean, if your kids been good this year and has a nice prezzie coming for Christmas, if he says he wants an iPhone 4, you dont get him Rosetta Stone.Besides, Shaw seems to have missed the one essential fact about the Heisman its not really a very useful tool for what Luck did, and if it mattered that much, he should have given him a couple of Go ahead, run up some numbers for the audience games.Of course, that would be cynical and neither Shaw nor Luck would feel good about it, so thats off the list. He played as he was meant to play, and thats either good enough or it isnt.But the Heisman is about numbers big, fat, wobbly numbers. And its about locale this matters more in SEC and Big XII and Big 10 and ACC country than it does out here except at USC, of course.And its absolutely not a character study, though some winners have plenty of character.Its about impressing voters, some of whom watch very little football, or have inbred local biases, or prefer running backs to all other creatures, or are prone to loud noisy campaigns. Not all of them, to be sure maybe the Heisman folks have winnowed out the herd to get rid of voters who just mail it in, and as someone whos never been offered a vote or particularly cared to have one, I can only say if theyre happy, Im happy.That said, if Luck didnt want a campaign, that should have been the end of it. Shaw could say, I can scream Andrews name every day between now and next Saturday, but it makes him uncomfortable because hes not about him, and if that doesnt move voters, then it doesnt move voters. Hes going to be bigger than all of us soon enough, anyway.The real point here is, each player should get to choose the campaign he wants anyway, rather than have it done by adults. Adults tend to do things on behalf of the young that make themselves feel good, and if that were such a grand idea, why dont more parents get invited to proms?Since Lucks Amish beard seems to reveal more about his view of fame than a chin ornament normally would, the Gerhart campaign strategy would have been ideal. Or maybe Shaw, in an attempt to right the wrongs of a balanced offense that involved a lot of people and got the Cardinal 11 more wins, should have done his powerpoint with a single legend:If You Really Have To Ask Why, You Wont Understand The Reason.It might have seemed a little snotty to some, but Luck wouldnt have spent Tuesday in full cringe. And isnt that reason enough to do it?Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com
The price of watching Roger Goodell being booed back to the Bronze Age is a subtle but real one, and one that people will feel very dearly soon enough.
The last great cathartic Super Bowl is now done, with the New England Patriots winning the brilliant and decisive battle to be sports’ new evil empire. In doing so, it rendered Goodell a permanent and risible punch line in National Football League history, the mall cop who wanted the death penalty for littering, and in the words of the song “got what he wanted but he lost what he had.”
True, $40 million a year can make the dissolution of your public persona a reasonably decent tradeoff, but we lost the argument about who won his windmill tilt with the Patriots. It’s done, and he is now permanently and irrevocably a figure of ridicule.
But that’s not the only debating point America lost Sunday night, and while you wouldn’t think it given how much time we are willing to shouting at each other, quality arguments are not easily replaced.
We have almost surely lost the mindless debate about the best quarterback ever, because there is nothing anyone can bring up that the words “Tom Brady” cannot rebut except calling his own plays, and since that is no longer allowed in football, it is a silly asterisk to apply.
We have almost surely lost the equally silly shouter about the best coach ever. Bill Belichick is defiantly not fun, but he has built, improved and bronzed an organizational model that is slowly swallowing the rest of the sport. That and five trophies makes him the equal if not better of the short list of Paul Brown, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Tom Landry.
Plus, Belichick locked up the most absurd response to a question in coaching history Monday when he said, “As great as today feels . . . we're five weeks behind the other teams for the 2017 season.” Even allowing for Gregg Popovich in-game interviews, the so-grim-he-could-make-a-robot-cry worship-the-process response has now become a cliché. If 2017 prep was so important, he should have skipped yesterday’s game, and he definitely should have chosen not to waste so much time on the trophy stand after the game when training camp drills needed to be scheduled.
Oh, and DeflateGate died. Dead. No zombie possibilities here.
We do have a meatheaded argument ahead of us about which championship in the last year is the best, which can be settled here.
1. Leicester City, because 5,000-1 is 5,000-1, and the whole world understands that. Plus, there was invaluable three-month buildup that engaged non-soccer fans.
2. Chicago Cubs, because 108 years is 108 years.
3. New England Patriots, because . . . well, I don’t have to explain it unless you have no useful memory span. “Down 25 In The Third Quarter” is the new “Down 3-1.”
4. Cleveland Cavaliers, because they slayed the first unbeatable Warrior team by coming from 3-1 down, and even as a silver medalist, it will always be an internet meme, which is what passes for memorable in our decrepit culture.
5. (tie) Villanova basketball and Clemson football in a tie, because they were essentially the same great game.
7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, because the Stanley Cup Final was devoid of drama or high moments, and only 14:53 of overtime. Feh.
But everything else is settled, and this Super Bowl will not be topped for a long time. Our current cycle of absurd championships is almost surely going to end soon, because “Down 3-1” has happened twice in eight months (three times, if you count Warriors over Thunder), and the bar has now been placed well beyond reasonable clearing.
Indeed, the only thing left is for a championship team to spontaneously combust on the award stand. But if they do so and ignite Roger Goodell along the way, that would be an ending America would cheerfully endorse.
But that also isn’t an argument any more, and yes, that includes Gary Bettman.
The Super Bowl is today, which means the best day of the year is fast approaching.
Namely, the day after the Super Bowl.
At that point, we as a nation can complete the inventory of gastric damage we did to ourselves on what shall be known to future generations as Fried Festivus.
At that point, the people who bombard us daily with news of the game – the least important part of the week-long trade show, as we have come to learn it – will all be on planes and too tired to re-explain what we already saw 37 times on game day.
At that point, nobody will care that Terrell Owens was apparently one of the first of the 15 Hall of Fame finalists to be rejected for induction because of crimes against the NFL state. The Hall of Fame is one of the sneaky ways in which the NFL never lets us escape its obnoxiously shouty profile, and the fact that Owens is right about the flawed process doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be just fine with the process when it allows him passage.
At that point, we’ll know whether Tom Brady is to be deemed a god, or merely maintain his demigod status. At least we’ll hear more about it, because it is easily the most tiresome debate in the football diaspora, engaged in by idiots with no better idea about how to kill time. A note: If you think Tom Brady is a greater quarterback because his team won a fifth ring, or a lesser one because he didn’t, your head is now officially empty enough to be reclassified a dance hall, and you are of no more value to normal society than a papier-mache goose.
And at that point, we can return to the two things we in these parts care to know – where the Raiders are going, and how the 49ers are going to present their new football brain trust.
We needn’t explain the Raiders again to you, first because you’ve heard it all if you’re paying any attention at all. Mark Davis has been trying to cobble deals at a frantic pace in hopes that one will stick, and his 31 fellow owners still have to decide how much longer they want to endure him, while faced with the painful fact that the East Bay is getting out of the exploitative license-to-be-stolen-from stadium business. They also get to know as they go to the meeting in Houston that will ostensibly decide Davis’ fate that they have ruined California as a market by their excessive greed-laced stupidity and deserve every lousy market the state can give them.
Which brings us to the 49ers, and the latest round of Judge Them By Their Press Conferences.
If there is anything worse than this team’s on-field profile, which is why Jed York hired Kyle Shanahan, it is the way it explains itself to the outside world, which is why Jed York hired John Lynch. Both Shanahan and Lynch will be paraded before a braying mobs, probably Tuesday, and York will be there as well for the cheesy photo array and a few unconvincing words of praise about each of them (as a note, Paraag Marathe will be present but only in hologrammatic form).
They will then promise – well, something or other – and Lynch will be hailed as the face of the glorious future because the man he replaced, Trent Baalke, had the public persona of a meth-tweaked hyena. Hard to find, and not worth it when you did.
Then we’ll all remember that the job Shanalynch (or Lynchahan, depending on what part of Ireland you’re from) are being asked to do is a three-year reclamation at the very least, and that the only useful question either can be asked is “Can you fix this before Jed gets embarrassed and angry and cans you both?”
And on Wednesday, there’s the start of pre-draft prep (in order words, The Eighty-Day Slave Market), and the hamster wheel to hell gears up again toward Super Bowl LII.
Only next year, the chances of relocation hysteria and a front office upheaval are that much less, and we haven’t sufficient distractions to make the year go faster.
But enjoy Fried Festivus. We can always look forward to that, even if we change the name back in December to the more traditional "Christmas."