What a crazy week. /understatement
Even putting aside the up and down big ticket decisions out of United States Supreme Court this week, and even putting aside that crazy filibuster down in Texas that had us all riveted in a way politics rarely does unless it involves dick pics and/or unruly ejaculate, and even putting aside a bereft Paula Deen trying to rehabilitate her image by lying and crying on The Today Show, it was a crazy week. Even just looking at what's happened in sports, and even just Boston sports, and even just Boston sports that are professional American football.
This is the
story of the sports world this week. I don't care that the Hawks just won another title or that the Heat won another, too, or that Wimbledon has been nutty, or that the Washington Redskins continue to hold onto their logo and name in a way that is nothing short of astonishing. Oh, and I didn't follow the NBA Draft but I hear there was a lot going on and that someone ate some Mike and Ikes.
An NFL player - and a pretty high profile one at that - killed a man. And may have killed others. I know there haven't been any convictions yet, but I'm not willing to dwell on suspicions of innocence when the facts give me none.
Every reporter who covers football should care about this. Every fan of pro football should care about this. If you're talking about the story, there is plenty to delve into: explaining the potential motives, sorting through Hernandez's past, speaking with family and friends, digging for information about that 2012 drive-by. All of this comes with the caveat that "Hernandez as villain" is the story. Hernandez as apart
from the rest of us - the people who haven't taken it upon themselves to take the life of another.
Sorting through it all is an exercise in trying to find an explanation for some terrible fucking things that have happened, and to adequately frame Hernandez as man and as killer.
This is how we get right. We can do it callously or patiently or quietly or any way we really want. We must respect the victim(s), surely, and hold them up in any way we can. But we owe nothing to the man and killer. He owes us - the society with which he had and broke a sacred social contract - everything.
An eventual conviction and sentence will return Hernandez, in a legal sense, to an equilibrium with society. In a social sense, though, our collective "working through it" is how we get that equilibrium to be real.
The accuracy of this exercise is important, too. It's important to ensure, as we sort through the facts and form opinions about the man and killer, that we don't get bogged down with items far on the periphery. That, in reaching our solution, we don't fall into the trap of bringing other issues into our criticism; other issues that are simply too dissimilar to merit comparison with Hernandez's act on equal terms. Indeed, making anything else the story now, and using the Hernandez case as a springboard, is beyond asinine. It is intellectually reckless.
So when Mario Williams instagrammed a "Grand Theft New England"
picture with Hernandez's head photo-shopped on, there is a necessity that those who might comment on it do so in a way that respects the only acceptable frame: Hernandez killed a guy and the rest is just noise in comparison.
What we got, though, was an object lesson in how "journalists" get so wrapped up in finding and creating a story that the words they write are nothing more than alphabetic vomit.
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The Bills are still a football team, which really bums me out. Fortunately I had Boner Shorts Day to look forward to this week and it was a great time. The next day at work? Not so much. As promised, here is my answer to last week's question
: "what's the worst thing someone has overheard you say."
To preface this, my 11th grade history teacher was a total cockbag. He graduated from the school he teaches at, he was popular then, and then in his mid 30's he was still trying to relive his glory days. He loved making us listen to him talk, mostly inane anecdotes he repeated often. I think it was about the third time he launched into his "trip to Paris" story when he paused for dramatic effect and I leaned over to my friend/seatmate and said "Congratulations." Problem: I said this in my normal speaking voice, not a whisper, cue class laughter.
Mr. Cockbag decides that this is a good place to lecture me for my sarcasm and cynicism The joke was on him because he used both of those words incorrectly. I knew he was pissy, so I didn't correct him so I wouldn't get detention.
Epilogue: he goes to my church and the one time a year I see him he never speaks to me or my family, though we sit two pews away. Assclown.
Unless you've been living under a rock today, you know that there's been a few Mike Vick stories to come out. Or, more to the point, a few stories that all came out of a recent interview he gave for Will Leitch in GQ. One, highlighting the disgusting man that Vick is, deals with defense of canine murder as, in essence, a cultural thing. Nothing more refreshing than hearing a person of color use the same justification for his behavior as was used by Southern whites who couldn't help themselves from marching in lockstep with the culture of lynching. Way to go, bud. You're showing that your grasp of history, as well as your grasp of fundamental morality, are both in line with Michelle Bachmann's grasp of, well, history and morality. You should run for President! Now please dip yourself in beef jerkey grease and find the nearest pit bull. I hear Yachter's pup is pretty hungry.
The second story, and the more important one on a sports and, in particular, Buffalo sports level, is the one where Vick is quoted as saying that he was, in essence, steered towards the Philadelphia Eagles by Commissioner Goodell, despite the fact that Vick's inclinations were to sign with either Buffalo or Cincinnatti a\fter re-entering the league, both of whom would have given him a solid chance to be the starting QB. Vick's quote describes Goodell, and other unnamed persons (speculation is that it may have been Tony Dungy), as being helpful in their efforts to get Vick into a situation where he could succeed. And for the guys involved, that meant Philly.
My bet is that it had something to do with the high frequency of horrible human beings in Philadelphia. Blending in with the crowd is key.
Many Bills fans have today made a lot of this story - as I am doing now, in all fairness - as a sign of improper collusion between the head of the league and a player. People are concerned, rightly, with the motivations of a commissioner who is effectively telling a player to go one way, rather than another, and whether those motivations might be purposed towards benefiting one team over another. This concern certainly fits in with the Bills fan diatribe that the NFL is out to get us... which, let's be honest, is sometimes absurd and sometimes not.
Honestly, I think that in this case the "woe is us" meme is sort of moot. Bills fans - the fiercely principled people that we are - would have crucified Vick as soon as he rolled into town, and Vick would not have flourished in any way under Dick Jauron's late tenure at One Bills Drive. How do I know? BECAUSE NO ONE FLOURISHED UNDER SKELATOR. And, if we remember, like it or not, the prevailing opinion at that time was that we fans didn't want him. It's completely weak for the group think to shift to anger and resentment over "what could have been" now that he's suddenly great again and now that we're a few more years removed from those days of the puppy blood for cash scheme. So, let's push aside those feelings, shall we? There are bigger issues at play.
The bigger point, noted by many today, is the appearance of collusion - haing long since been replaced by a free-ish market of player contracts - which harkens back to days where players had little say in where they'd play, and where ownership ruled the marketplace of player talent. And, honestly, this should concern people. The idea of steering players to particular clubs - especially when those clubs are bug market and have a history of on-the-field success and ESPN-style marketability. Fans of small market clubs, especially ones barely surviving on the scraps of an uninspired and unmotivated near-death owner, should be wary of this sort of thing. Goodell, inherently concerned with viability of the league and its stars - both star individuals and star franchises - should not be sticking his nose into these kinds of situations, even if he thinks he's being helpful. Simply put, he is incapable of being fair and balanced in that kind of situation since, quite rightly, his top priority is puting a great NFL product out there. While Vick's comments imply that he was happy to get Goodell's advice (at least in hindsght, now that "all is well"), the power that Goodell wielded, and wields, with respect to these player discipline situations is enormous. He made the call to allow Vick to be reinstated, and you wonder - and only the people in the room know - whether that decision-making authority, and a veiled threat of reversing the decision to reinstate, was used as leverage in pushing Vick towards a team of Goodell's choosing.
While this should certainly concern people, it shouldn't surprise anyone in this case. And, honestly, if it remains an isolated example of this kind of influence coming from Goodell, I'm actually ok with it. As I noted above, Vick would probably not have been successful in Buffalo, and he certainly wouldn't have been successful in playing for the Bengals - the NFL equivalent of Siberia, both in terms of desolation and criminal population. For Goodell, who was taking serious heat for letting Vick back into the league in the first place, making sure that Vick found a successful stepping stone was probably less about Vick and the Eagles, and more about Goodell and the NFL covering their asses. A Vick implosion in Cincy or Buffalo would have meant further bad press for the league and for Goodell in particular. Right or wrong, I can certainly understand the desire for self-preservation, even if it takes the form of relegating the Bills to the kids table while the adults get drunk on port and scotch. There were a host of risks wrapped up in the decision to allow (or not allow) Vick back into the league, and Goodell was rightly conscious of those risks and the need to control the situation as best he could.
That doesn't mean that it isn't a troubling sign of a possble trend. It just means that, to the extent that it's limited to just this situation with Vick, my vote is that we all unbunch our panties and get off of our high, principled horses.
Unless you choose to take umbrage, like the Yachtsman, with the fact that this guy is even back in the league at all. In which case, bitch away. You have my blessings.
So, Bills fans, take a breath. Sure, we can be angry with the league and with Goodell - holding onto those principles for dear life - but doesn't change anything, nor does this news really indicate anything more than a commissioner trying to control the re-entrance of a dynamic and controversial talent back into the sport. Not to mention that, as we stomp our feet about the league's bias against our beloved team, let's not lose sight of the biggest threat to the Bills' chances of success: our odious taint of an owner who has us so far below the cap that we could afford Vick's new contract twice over at this point. Let's not worry too much about the "one that got away," since - if we're honest - that list has way more than just the one.
On an unrelated note, this song has been in my head for days. Enjoy it with me, friends.