Time catches up to T.O.

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Time catches up to T.O.

I think we have reached the end of the road on the Bring Terrell Owens back saga, if ever there was one.His flameout in Arena Football 2, or whatever the hell it was, was as sad as it was predictable, because that isnt the springboard back to the bigs, but another rung down the ladder. It doesnt mean to be that, but it is.And this, only a week or so after rumors that he might want to make a comeback with either the Raiders or 49ers were swirling about the easier-to-amuse sectors of the Internet.

REWIND: T.O. wants to play for 49ers, Raiders
Now were not here to put the boot in now that hes down. He had a long, productive and weird career in the NFL, and he will be remembered just that way. He had his swings, he took them. Lots of players were gone sooner and did much less.But for you younguns out there as well as you who like to cling to your fandom past, this just in. Athletes get old. They pass out of the game and rarely get back in. Their skills fade, their speed diminishes, their strength wanes. There is a point at which they just cant do it any more.This seems elemental, but now ask yourselves how many times you wanted Barry Bonds to make a comeback. Or how many times you think Randy Moss can be invigorated with new surroundings. Or how many times you thought Alex Smith or JaMarcus Russell would have been helped by a motivated T.O.RELATED: Maiocco -- Moss, T.O. run different routes
You fell in love with their skills at the height of their powers, and thought they would never fade. You thought that their attitude would preserve them in ways that their muscles might not. You thought they would always be as young as your memories.(For those of you who, on the other hand, hated them and wanted them gone right away, you had other players you did like for whom you imbued just that power, so if it helps at all, change the name).But that isnt either the normal progression or the even the abnormal progression. Most careers are bell curves. You rise from nothing, you arc as high as you can, and then you ease back down. There is the occasional spike here and there, but they are rare. You always think your guy can beat the odds, but the odds are what they are because they reflect reality.And if you still cling to the notion that politics is keeping Owens from making the comeback he so richly deserves, well, youre mostly wrong. He used those cards already, most recently in Cincinnati. Yes, there are some coaches and general managers and owners who wouldnt touch him under any circumstances, but he found five who would. Five, including two painfully conservative operations in Buffalo and Cincinnati.Now its done, and for those of you who still carry his torch, thats just the way it goes. Time moves on. Its okay to cling to your past old folks do it all the time but it is the past.This may be of help to you all as Moss goes into his 14th year and fifth team. Maybe he has more to go, and maybe he doesnt. Well find out soon enough, and if he is on E, Jim Harbaugh will not hesitate to move him along.All athletes are not the same, you see. Maybe Moss benefits from having 2011 off; maybe he doesnt. Maybe hes got more Minnesota than Tennessee left in his legs and arms and head. Maybe hes gone through his Oakland phase and doesnt want to end it that way. Maybe he looks at the odds and spits, with both accuracy and distance. But if its done, then its done, and his career will stand on what he has done, good and bad. It wont be a tragedy, or the man keeping his foot on the neck. Itll be time, and truth, that got him. Just as it has surely and finally gotten Terrell Owens.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

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Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
 
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
 
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
 
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
 
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
 
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
 
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
 
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
 
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
 
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
 
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
 
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.