Characters In Sports
I know I'm not the only one that looks forward to a particular sports season if not all of them and the cigars that go along with watching the games. I'm a football nut, college and pro ball alike. I spend the days before the games trying to figure out which cigar I'm going to smoke for which game in advance. Once the game starts I can't be bothered with filtering through humidors and fighting with my own indecision. I burnt three grilled cheese sandwiches one Sunday afternoon during the highlights from the game I'd just finished watching. God only knows what would happen to my puros if was rooting around in the box and some bonehead 2nd stringer rookie no name tailback fumbled the ball. I schedule time, cut deals with the wife, whatever it takes to get in a game or two on the weekends, and you can bet dollars to doughnuts there's a cigar hanging outta my head while I'm watching.
I used to even look forward to some pre-game shows and radio interviews before sitting down in front of the TV for the game. Reporters and coaches were always good for a few chuckles. The little bits of wisdom, sideways compliments and unabashed poor mouthing were usually well worth the price of admission. Some were better than others, but all of them had a style and wit that spawned as much conversation around the water cooler on Monday Morning as the games did.
Like I said, I used to enjoy all extras outside of the game, and it finally dawned on me why I don't anymore. The Characters in my favorite spectator sport are all but gone. What we're left with is a bunch of sterile; say all the right stuff, primped and preened wannabees. I mean come on guys, how many times do I have to sit and listen to "This is pretty good football team and we had one of the best practices we've had all year. We should do fine in the game if we don't make many mistakes." Or the ever present "They have a bunch of good players over there and I'm sure they'll show up and bring their A game." Here's a radical idea, have a reporter ask a question that can't be answered with that same tired rhetoric. The only good thing to come out of the BCS since it's birth has been the Texas vs. Michigan Rose Bowl, the split championships, and a season with one BCS team ending 13 and 0 and being left out. At least with that, the talking heads and coaches were forced to say something. Granted, none of it made any of us grab the belly and laugh or raise an eyebrow try to find the hidden backhanded insult. I wouldn't expect anything else from today's politically correct sports personalities. And I use the term personality loosely.
Just how in the hell did Bear Bryant win all those damn National Championships with the worst teams he'd ever seen? Has there ever been anyone better at poor mouthing than Coach Bryant? Pat Dye used to say things before a game against a patsy scheduled for homecoming like "This one's gonna be a blood lettin'." I still say that sometimes. I can remember an interview with Bum Phillips when he was at Houston. Brent Musburger had started a rumor that he was leaving the team. After the Oilers drummed their opponent on Sunday Ol' Brent asked him "How did you get your team ready play like that with all the talk of you leaving?" Bum told him, "Hell, I've told em all along I ain't leaving. All I had to do was convince them that you're a liar and I'm not" You won't get that kind of high comedy today. Not with the PC crowd running the show. Bum couldn't even get a job today unless he hired himself a stylist first. Was there anyone better for giving the media quotes than Lou Holtz? "The difference between them and us is, they go into a game believing they can win. We go into it thinking we'll find a way to lose. By the time it's over we usually do something to prove ourselves right." That was one of my all-time favorites. Bobby Bowden was damn good at keepin us all on our toes when the camera was around, on and off the field. He had enough great one-liners about players to sink a battleship. But sadly Holtz has retired and Bobby is slowing down. The only old school hold out is Houston Nutt, but he'll never be in the league with Bowden, Bryant, and company.
As for the heads, love or hate him, Cosell was the best at what he did. And what he did was make us all talk. Either about the game he covered or about what he said. Dandy Don Meridith needs no description. Just the name says enough. Keith Jackson is calling maybe two games a year now, and it's worth it to tune in just hear him say "Soph-ah-more" one time. Buddy Diliberto (of New Orleans) just passed and he was legendary for calling ownership, players and fans alike on the carpet. He held nothing back, but not many radio or TV folks have the guts to do it anymore. Jimmy the Greek was fired in a fit of PC panic when he made a statement about big parents equaled big kids that grew up to be big lineman. He just happened to mix in the adjective "black" in there we haven't seen him since. Beano is still great, but how much longer is he going to be around. Now we have to settle with the likes of Madden and all that "Pow, Boom and Zap" crap. It was fun at first but Good God Almighty is it tired now. Berman was a ton of fun early on too, and still is to a degree but he's really just become a caricature of himself and seems to be happy with that role. Don't even get me started with Theisman, MacGuire, that idiot Bradshaw, and Howie Long. What stinks in here? Oh yea it's Dan Dierdorf calling a game. And you'd think ESPN could find better than Gotfried and Perkins. Not to mention ABC's love affair with Terry Bowden.
I don't much like Baseball but will there ever be another beer drinking guy in the booth now that Harry Carry is gone?
I'm not even going to go into the players. There's no class left anymore. Convicts, criminals and just plain bad behavior. Am I the only one who can't and doesn't want to figure out that entire body dry heave Ray Lewis does? Good God that crap is spastic.
I think I've made my point here. Even if I have to turn the sound down on the TV and find the AM guys, who, for the most part are still livable, I'll do it. There's still a game to watch, and great cigar to help make the afternoon much more enjoyable. Lord knows the Characters aren't around to help anymore.
With contributions from TommyBB
Todd Crandall (sevenmag) is a husband, father, a self proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades and master of none. He's been a lover of the leaf since the mid 80's and a lover of ales and American Whiskies for even longer. Todd is a former professional water skier, but had to get a real job, so he's been a Telecommunications Tech for the last 24 years.