We can think of nobody more staunchly anti-FACE-PAINTING than Mrs. Out-Takes, and that's saying something, given how universally lame that undertaking has come to be viewed. Frankly, she's got a point. Outside of the occasional DAVID PUDDY reference - "We're the* Devils! Haaaaah!!!" - does anyone not watching *Seinfeld re-runs have a positive association with this quintessence of sports fandom gone a bridge too far?
We bring this up not just in the post-Halloween daze - 'though the timeliness is not lost on us, given our every-five-minutes dole-out of "fun-size" Twix to panhandling Sponge Bobs and Spidermen - but because lately we've been pondering something: Is there a riskier bet than painting one's face in anticipation of a big sporting event? If your team wins, what's the upside? That you had fun, showed über amounts of "team spirit" and stood out in a crowd? That fewer people were able to recognize you at the time of your inevitable post-game puking? That your delusion that others consider you a "Real Fan" who's willing to "take it to the limit" lives on?
More to the point, when your team loses...how 'bout that downside? Walking out of the stadium, surrounded by a hopping cadre of taunting opposition, fans who can't help but track you down for an uptick in trash-talk. (Allegiances, especially with Notre Dame's FIGHTING LEPRECHAUN putting up his dukes all over your face, are often hard to hide.) In the waning moments of any big game - Michigan-Ohio State, Giants-Cowboys and, our favorite, Game 7 of the '04 ALCS - network cameras pan the crowd, capturing fans euphoric or despondent, but often hilarious, no matter which. And every time the losing team's face-painters appear onscreen, it's even harder not to laugh out loud. Because wide-eyed, slack-jawed heartbreak mixed with the preposterousness of a tear-stained DUKE BLUE DEVIL streaking down a grown man's cheeks - well, that's pathetic AND hysterical. Which leads us to...
...BRAD CHILDRESS. For those who haven't heard - or Googled the pictures - a quick recap: On the plane to Pittsburgh a couple weeks back, and in an attempt to amuse his players (or to make a select few feel more at home with their, um..."private lives"), Chill dressed up like a flight attendant. (A jet-black wig, a "Jackie O pink" apron, blue nylons and, we wish it went without saying, some 'round-the-beard lipstick.) According to ESPN's RACHEL NICHOLS, the Vikings "loved it." According to scoreboards across the league, they then went out and lost the game.
It's easy to make smart-ass comments about a dumb-ass move like this, especially with the King (Queen?) of unforced-errors. After all, it wasn't long ago that Chilly started workin' an Aaron's Way *beard. Now he's off on a new narrative - in addition to "Witness* extra" it appears he's taking on the role of "Lady Clown." We haven't seen this many reinventions since MADONNA began her relentless slide toward "scarier BETTE DAVIS-ish-ness." But what must skeptical Viking fans think now? They've just watched a guy - a guy who made a mockery of the off-season's BRETT FAVRE histrionics - don a wig, leggings and lipstick on his way to losing a football game. How are they supposed to feel? Like they're in good hands? Or should it unnerve them to discover something more absurd than the name on owner ZYGI WILF's driver's license?
'Though it may be "all in fun," as Childress spun the story when it broke, what sort of message does it send to young players making their way in the NFL? While every other coach is preaching discipline and maturity - "treat it like a business trip" - Brad drags out his best RuPaul. Can you imagine BILL BELICHICK doing this? (It's painful, we know, sorry.) TOMLIN? COUGHLIN? PARCELLS? Can you imagine REX RYAN doing this? (Okay, bad example.) Bottom line: This may have been a silly prank that ex-Vikes will laugh about, years from now, over beers. But in the short term, it's a risk, the brainchild of a silly, short-sighted, face-painter mindset, and a distraction for a team seemingly on the right track. And it makes you wonder...
Why do this in advance of a game you're likely to lose? (And why, Brad, didn't YOU think of that?) It makes you wonder about the decisions being made by the guy making the decisions. And, maybe more than anything, it makes you wonder, What the hell's a face-painter doing in the locker room? And how soon 'til the BLUE DEVIL starts streaking down his cheeks?
Wrecks Cryin' & the Stagger-licious 53
In the least surprising development of the season, a new round of trash-talk rained down in the run-up to Jets-Dolphins 2.0, the opening salvo coming from, yep-you-guessed-it, HC of the NYJ, Rex Ryan. On Wednesday, pressed about Dolphin WILL ALLEN's season-ending injury, Ryan replied, "We lost a Pro Bowl nose tackle and a Pro Bowl running back, so boo hoo hoo."
"Boo hoo hoo?" Really? Since when did NFL head coaches start acting like six-year old girls? What's next with these people, playing dress-up? (Oh wait...) Anyway, before you could say, "Channing Crowder!" the 'phins other cocky, loudmouthed 'backer JOEY PORTER chimed in that he's "not worried about eating hot dogs on the sideline. I'm worried about how I can get [MARK SANCHEZ] on the sideline, with an ice pack." We'd be tougher on Porter for his macho posturing, but - sticking with our six-year old girl theme - Jets LB BART SCOTT "started it" with "like, totally similar put-downs" of Miami signal-caller CHAD HENNE. "So there."
Upon learning of Porter's comments, did Ryan let cooler heads prevail? Nope. He doubled down: "If they're looking for sympathy because Will Allen is out, well, we've got Kris Jenkins...and Leon Washington out for the season...Pro Bowl players. No disrespect to Will Allen, but I don't think he's going to make a Pro Bowl anytime soon. He's a decent player, but whatever."
Not sure if Wrecks was trying to maintain the conceit with that snotty, grade-school tag-line - "but whatever" - or if he was just caught up in his spec script for the upcoming TV re-do of Heathers. In any case, with that "he's a decent player, but whatever" shot, it looks like the jets may be pushing back against growing speculation that they tampered with one-time 49er hold-out MICHAEL CRABTREE. Here's hoping the Commish doesn't let his boyhood allegiances get in the way of investigating - say it with us now - "Crabtree-gate." Have at it, Roger.
~ FINAL THOUGHT on that Miami-Jets game, a Dolphin victory, thanks to TED GINN and his two 100 yard kick-off returns. According to Ryan - the NFL equivalent of parents who want to be friends with their kids - "We totally outplayed them, but got beat." Ugh. Ladies and gentlemen, Soundbyte Clown's band of gang green trash-talkers, leading the league in PCW's (Press Conference Wins). Meanwhile, 4-4 in real life, and losers of four out of five. "Boo hoo hoo."
~ We've yet to confirm this, but Out-Takes is pretty sure if you look up "chickens coming home to roost" in Bartlett's or wherever, there's a picture of ERIC MANGINI (with a lurking BERNIE KOSAR, poised to can yet another Mangenius confidant). P.S. Hope you liked the laptop.
~ DOUBLE-TAKE OF THE WEEK, Runner Up: St. Louis Ram STEVE JACKSON has exactly as many yards rushing as ADRIAN "#1 pick in everyone's fantasy league" PETERSON.
~ DOUBLE-TAKE OF THE WEEK, Winner: Neither of them has as many rush yards as...Titans RB CHRIS JOHNSON? Wow. Even after last week's 228-yard explosion, we ask..."Really?"
~ Okay, okay, we'll say it: BRETT FAVRE can still play a little. Then again, our issue was never so much with his inability to pull the trigger as it was with his inability to "pull the trigger." Still, however petty the motivation heading into '09, the guy got the job done against his former team and the fans who put him on the map (and his kids through college). Yep, #4 got to show one and all that the man whose word is worth less than the promises of a TARP MONEY RECIPIENT can still play ball. Congrats. (Now go away.) And while we're on "okay, we'll say it" and "congrats..."
~ Never mind the fact that they spent nearly 90 mill more than CHASE UTLEY & CO., THE NEW YORK YANKEES are a true Juggernaut and as worthy a World Series Champ as we'll ever see. Somewhere up there, "Uncle Johnny" Out-Takes is smiling in pinstripes. Here's to him.
~ OUT-TAKES Top Quotation-ers of the Week:
DANIEL SNYDER, initiating what looks to be a trend of owners going all "aw shucks" and hat-in-hand on their fans: "We're very, very appreciative of our great, loyal fan base. I mean, we just feel terrible. We're disappointed and we're embarrassed." (And that's just about JIM ZORN being left to twist in the wind.)
RANDY LERNER, seeing Snyder's apology, and raising him a two-hour sit-down with a pair of DISGRUNTLED BROWNS FANS. (Is there any other kind?) Here's how the *Canton Repository * - "Repository," swear to God - framed Cleveland booster MIKE RANDALL's take on the pow-wow: "[Lerner's] not going to sit there and take this garbage anymore. He is pissed off. He is disgusted." ('Though, we bet, not pissed off or disgusted enough to can Mangini, one year in.)
JASON TAYLOR, who weighed in following the Dolphins's season-sweep of the New York Same Olds: "Some Jets fans take the 'cl' out of class." (Well played, JT. Well played.)
Taylor, take two, offering up a run-on sentence for all-time: "To score a touchdown in New York against the Jets in the last time I'll be in the hellhole they call a stadium up there before they get rid of it and move to the new one...it was outstanding."
John Cockrell is a screenwriter, whose other work has run the gamut from "Sesame Street Parents Magazine" to Playboy TV's "The Weekend Flash." (He figures everything else is pretty much in-between.)