Monthly Archives: July 2013
LOS ANGELES — If “Varsity Blues” taught me anything about Texas it’s a) waffles dipped in peanut butter and washed down with maple syrup sounds amazing but looks disgusting, b) when your parents go to the Gun Club is a good time to have a sundae, and c) if you are extremely talented at throwing, running or hitting someone with a football you’re treated like a god. And rightfully so. I mean, who needs high school Sex Ed class when you can have show-and-tell with the teacher at the local strip joint?
Here’s what I know through observation about Johnny Manziel: he is famous for playing football in the state of Texas. That’s what happens when you become the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, compile 516 total yards and 4 touchdowns in winning your bowl game by 28 points, and behave like a rock star in the subsequent six months since. Texas A&M’s quarterback has also become famous for being famous; for showing up courtside at NBA Playoff games, carving up Pebble Beach and being photographed with models at bars. A sports version of Paris Hilton, only with talent and minus a sex tape, so far.
It’s a pretty good life, if you can get it. Manziel even came under fire earlier in July for leaving the Manning Passing Camp in Louisiana early due to “dehydration” and “exhaustion.” Reports, though, had Manziel out partying the night before with Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, among others. Johnny Football also appeared in the same day at SEC’s media day in Birmingham, Ala. and the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. Again, good life if you can handle it.
And that’s where the wheels have come off in the last few months. The “handling it” part. I tend to lean towards the “20-year olds like to act like 20-year olds” camp, and let him figure out his life along the way. Ya know, much like we all did. Jon Voight’s line from VB makes a lot of sense to me: when he’s eating in the diner and asks the cops if his boys are too much to handle; the cops quit complaining and say “no” and go on their way. We need to stop complaining, stop hounding and stop fishing in Manziel’s pond, and all this will go away and he can be just another wildly exciting and talented football player with oodles of potential.
I tweeted this a while ago and stand by it: I’m rooting hard for a fantastic Eff You season from Manziel this fall and then three months of “should he be the first QB taken in the Draft” debate. But mostly, I’m rooting for peace of mind for the kid. He didn’t ask for all this nonsense, but he’s not behaving like he doesn’t like it. In a way, all the great ones do. He needs to figure out what kind of hero he wants to be.
ESPN’s Wright Thompson wrote a pretty brilliant piece on Manziel and his family that posted Tuesday detailing his insane life and what it’s become. I strongly recommend it while at the same time feeling like I’m contributing to his exploitation by reading/writing about it. Alas, an argument for another time. Without giving too much away, I figured I’d run down some of the more surprising reveals in the piece, with some commentary, of course:
- The Manziels have money from oil: not surprising, I guess, but I’m glad this mystery has been solved once and for all. Maybe it was well known, but I always wondered how JF was “rich” in the first place. And how awesome was it that people used to think the family was a) mobbed up (I’m willing to bet back in the day the mob couldn’t pick out Texas on map) and b) the dad described it as “not Garth Brooks money” but still “a lot”? Good to know Garth is still the go-to country reference for some folks.
- Johnny is a golf club thrower/breaker: probably the least shocking reveal in the piece. Oh, you’re telling me this crazy person competitive athlete with a temper problem throws golf clubs and wants to break them after every bad shot?! Welcome to all of our hack golfing lives, buddy.
- JF has a personal assistant: not only is he a college student with a personal assistant but it’s a high school buddy nicknamed “Uncle Nate.” I’ve known a few people with assistants/managers and every time they started a sentence with “Well, my manager said…” I’ve wanted to punch them in the face. So I can see how this would make people believe Manziel isn’t exactly shying away from any unwanted spotlight.
- JF’s parents wanted to get “jffmom” and “jffdad” on their license plates: how awesome is that, that your parents are so proud of you they’re willing to suggest the F-word on their vehicles at all times in your name? I can see BrockmanMary’s yellow whip now: cfbmom. His sister should be ashamed for talking them out of this. They should at least change their Twitter handles to that, right? Or get hats. Something!
- Tiger Woods is an asshole: let’s be honest, that had to have been the least-shocking reveal in the whole piece.
- There’s a Pantheon of Overgrown-Boy Drinks: who knew? I anxiously await the rest of this list to slowly be leaked by Texas A&M this season.
- JF is friends with, and hung out with, Drake: Drake seems like the least-cool rapper I’ve ever seen. Drake should fly across the country to hang out with Manziel to pick up some cool pointers or something, not the other way around.
- The waiter casually asks JF if he wants another beer: this reminded me of the scene in VB when after his first win Moxon puts the bottle of Coke on the counter and the clerk quickly replaces with a six-pack of beer and says, “nice game ,son.” Just completely normal way of doing things, nothing to see here. #TexasForever
- JF is a tickler: so long as he’s not a Tickle Monster, we’re all set.
LOS ANGELES — Paul Pierce has been my favorite NBA player since he entered the league as the 10th pick of the 1998 Draft. Through thick and thin, some losing and a LOT of winning, he personified what Boston Celtics basketball was for the last 15 seasons. He was the Captain and The Truth.His draft-night trade, along with Kevin Garnett and others, to New Jersey was made official Friday, which ended his fantastic and Hall of Fame run at the Garden. Such, I felt compelled to reach out and express my love, gratitude and respect for what he meant to me as a gigantic fan.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for being a true Celtic. Thank you for not giving up on the city and fans when it would have been easy to, especially in the early years. Thank you for always caring. Thank you for always playing hard. Thank you for every pull-up 3 on the fast break, every step back elbow jumper, every spin move in the lane and every fist pump to get the Garden crowd going. Thank you for being the Captain and The Truth and living up to what both of those words actually meant. It was an honor and a privilege to watch you play night-in and night-out, through the grinds of the losing seasons and the supreme joys of the winning ones. Thank you for letting Antoine wiggle and Walter dive on the floor and Scal drop 3s and Rondo drop dimes and Kevin drop 12-letter bombs. Thank you for making it fun to be a Celtics fan again. For making the Garden the place to be in Boston. Thank you for Banner 17 and in your post-Game 6 presser in 2008 for thanking your teammates first. Thank you for making it look so easy and difficult at the same time. Quick anecdote: after the championship, I had to get your jersey (don’t ask why I didn’t have one before, I mean, I’m a grown ass man, we shouldn’t wear jerseys). I just had to. I wanted to wear it around in celebration.
That summer, I went to Atlantic City with my buddies, like we do every year, for our fantasy football draft and one night I wore it out. Wore it to dinner at our traditional Friday spot, Hooters in the Tropicana, and karaoke at Desert Rose, and high-fived every person who said something to me about it because I was proud. The glory had been restored and it meant a lot to rep you. That jersey is still proudly displayed today in my house. Now, I’m a Celtics fan out here in Los Angeles, your hometown, and it’s been difficult at times dealing with the lunacy of fans of that team from here. But we stay strong. And I’ll always stay strong. You’re my guy and it’s been a great ride these last 15 years. You’ll always be the Captain and The Truth and I know you’ll always bleed green. And I’ll be rooting for you next season in 78 games. I hope I’m in the house when you return to Boston for the first time. It’s bound to be a magical moment, and likewise I look forward to the day when “34” is raised to the rafters, where it belongs. Gone but never forgotten, you’re one of a kind.
LOS ANGELES — One theme of this NFL offseason (aside from dudes getting arrested – though that seems to be a yearly tradition) is quarterbacks taking their teams to the woodshed for contract extensions. You can blame Joe Flacco for this. In fact, I’m going to start blaming Mr. Delaware Blue Hen for most of the league’s problems – blackouts, high-concession prices, Jon Gruden. (Maybe I’ll stretch this blame game into my personal life, too, but that’s another column.)
When Flacco decided to play out the the 2012 season without signing an extension it reminded me of Rod Tidwell in “Jerry Maguire” playing out his crappy contract at the behest of his wife, Marcy. She convinced Rod it his only move and the loudmouthed receiver hence told Jerry, “you bet on me like I bet on you.” Flacco bet on himself and cashed the biggest poker chip the table allows. He won the whole damn thing, which forced Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to open up his wallet and Cut The Check (Rasheed voice). Nine figures later the Ravens locked up their Super Bowl MVP quarterback (though probably at the expense of their other free agents).
That was the first domino which has since seen Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers sign monster nine-figure extensions of their own; Matt Ryan should get his soon. Rodgers is himself a Super Bowl MVP, and everyone in the free NFL world can see why he’s max player, but Romo? There’s not enough words to explain why his $100 million man is a bad move, but I’ll let Cowboys fans justify it to themselves all they want. “Look at the stats!” they all say. Sure, Romo might win you a few fantasy games, but he only has one playoff win in his career. That’s it. One.
If one playoff win gets you Scrooge McDuck money, complete with a vault and diving board, then zero playoff wins and a lifetime winning percentage of .378 gets you $76.5 million, which is like a Scrooge hot tub. That’s what Lions doughboy quarterback Matthew Stafford signed for on Wednesday, inking a three-year, $53-million extension with $41.5 million in guaranteed cashola. Add that to the $41.7 million he received when he was the top overall pick in 2009 (the penultimate year of the crazy money given to untested and unproven first round picks) and that puts $83.2 million in his bank.
And do you know how many games he’ won for the Lions in his four-year stint as their starting quarterback? Here’s a hint: Justin Bieber has more speeding tickets and Amanda Bynes has had more nose jobs. OK, now I’m just being silly.
I’ll tell you how many wins: Seventeen.
Seventeen whopping wins in four seasons. Sure, he led them to a playoff appearance in 2011 and even threw for 41 touchdowns that year, but they got shellacked by the Saints. At the risk of sounding like Darren Rovell, that’s $4.89 million per win and $1.04 million per touchdown pass (80 career TDs). Awesome. Now can you please shave, get a hair cut, and stop wearing baseball caps and shopping at Ross.
With the extension, Stafford becomes the 7th highest paid quarterback in the NFL, cashing a check for a little over 15 million per season. Here’s who he trails on that list:
- Joe Flacco 20,100,000
- Drew Brees 20,000,000
- Peyton Manning 19,200,000
- Aaron Rodgers 18,678,571
- Tony Romo 17,071,429
- Eli manning 15,280,000
Here’s a fun game; look at that list: would you take Stafford over any of those quarterbacks? Maybe Romo but definitely not any of the others. Now run through the league and look at each team’s starting quarterback; where does Stafford rank for you? Depending on your personal preference, you could have last season’s standouts Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III ahead of the Georgia bulldog. (It should never be a question if Andrew Luck is ahead; he is.)
By my accounts, I’d rather have 14 other quarterbacks than Stafford (which is different than calling him the 15th best QB in the league). Sure, he has a big arm, but how many times does he throw off his back foot Jay Cutler style? Far too many for my liking. Yeah, he throws for a lot of yards, but Calvin Johnson can salvage a lot of poor throws. Is he ahead of Cutler? Philip Rivers? Romo? Sam Bradford? Eh. They’re all the same player. None will ultimately win because they can’t be counted on with the game on the line. Games are won in the 4th quarter and these guys don’t deliver. If you’re starting a franchise today, perhaps you’d change your tune because Stafford is only 25. Again, another debate.
Notice someone you didn’t see on that list above: Tom Brady. And all he’s done is lead the Patriots to 5 Super Bowls in 11 full years starting for New England (he played 1 game in 2000 and 2008). And while both Mannings and Brees are among the highest paid quarterbacks in the league, those teams chose to reward them handsomely at the expense of letting other pieces to their championship teams go. Brady routinely takes less money so that the Patriots can build around him to continue their winning tradition (136 career wins).
Because in the end, you play to win the game, but unfortunately a lot of these signal callers play to get paid.
LOS ANGELES — When did you first feel like you were a free and independent person? What was that feeling like? Was it when you turned 18 and went and bought cigarettes or lottery tickets or porn at the corner store? Was it when you went away to college and had a boy or girl sleep over in your dorm room? Was it when you turned 21 and bought booze for the first time? Or when you got your first car or learned how to cook or when you finally stopped sharing a room with your sibling? When you got your first job and had your own money? Do you still not feel independent? Does some form of tyranny still rule over your world? Don’t let it.
Thursday is the 4th of July. The biggest party and most important day in our country’s history, when we officially said to Great Britian, “no thanks, we got this from here” and started on this journey of becoming a unified nation; 237 years of work, and counting. We’re not perfect – no country is, but we’re trying (aren’t we?). I mean, look at all the cool stuff we can do and have that others don’t: meatlovers pizzas and 24-hour tattoos parlors, water parks and waffle ice cream cones, and that’s just what I can think of this second while I watch some instant movie on my buddy’s Netflix account. Hundreds of years ago, we needed maps and horses to get around, now there are cars that park themselves and pocket GPS devices that double as telephones and Angry Bird Tweet machines.
Does that make us more independent? Sure, why not. Freedom is a wonderful thing when it’s not abused. Thursday, millions of Americans will exercise their freedom to consume grilled and smoked meat by the poundful, suck down Budweiser and Coors by the gallonful, and argue with friends in the backyard over proper Corn Hole scoring. Apple pie and vanilla ice cream will wash it all down while everyone gathers in front of their flat screens to watch Will Smith and Bill Pullman save the world from aliens.
Today is our Independence Day, and while John Hancock and Thomas Jefferson aren’t walking through that door, if they did, the fathers of our nation might feel a bit lost. And that’s OK. Change is good and we’re becoming more free and independent by the day, which is what the signers of the Declaration would’ve wanted.
Wait, don’t answer that, the Hot Dog Eating Contest is on.
Happy 4th, everyone! Now go watch some fireworks!