Letting Icons be Icons
On a recent Wednesday, Out-Takes and the rest of the world were treated to a trip down memory lane with a pair of New England icons, name of BLEDSOE and GARCIAPARRA. Youtube clips of Nomar's return to Fenway - that standing O as an Oakland A - were suddenly revived as Boston's former number 5 signed a one-day, "come in from the cold to the warm embrace of Red Sox Nation" contract. Meanwhile, that very night NFL Network and a little thing called serendipity - not to be confused with the '01 Cusack misfire of the same name - offered up vintage Bledsoe, courtesy of their Classic NFL Games series. As we reflected on Drew's not-sufficiently-fantastic finish versus the '94 Dolphins and some guy named Marino, coming as it did in the afterglow of all those replayed Nomahhh moments, we couldn't avoid one fairly obvious conclusion:
Wow. Those guys were really, really effing good.
And they were. (Like we said, "fairly obvious.") No matter how many column inches and hyper-links have been devoted to that thesis, no matter how total the recall of Nomar's rookie stat-sheet, Bledsoe's big arm or his little cameo in the AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh, no matter how reflexively we all say, "Oh yeah, those guys were great..." it took getting hit over the head with highlights and memories to really feel it in our bones; to actively remember, holy CRAP could they play. The reasons for this, we guess, are two-fold: Failure and, oddly enough...success.
On the one hand, it didn't end well for either of these guys - Bledsoe in Buffalo, then Dallas, was less than pretty, and Nomar's post-Chicago breakdown didn't brighten up, even in the sunny climes of California. Then there's the "not with a bang but a whimper" of their final New England chapters. Is there anything sadder than being destined to lead a team to the Promised Land only to wind up feeling exiled upon arrival? (Okay, yes, Darfur is sadder, as are the final moments of Shutter Island and almost every second of Precious, but you get the point.) And while we're pretty sure Drew wouldn't trade in his 2001 Super Bowl ring (or, say, give it to TULLY BANTA-CAIN for safe-keeping in a mall bathroom at Providence Place), it had to be bittersweet for him to watch all that red, white and blue confetti drop from the Super Dome rafters. And imagine Nomar, long-considered the savior of Red Sox Nation, making a critical lapse in judgment in Yankee Stadium just as Captain Intangibles throws caution to the wind and his body into the stands. Cut to: Nomar, months later, gazing from the outside in, his giant nose up against the glass as his old mates shut down 1918 forever, amping up the klieg lights on his new team and 1908. Ouch.
On the other hand, it couldn't have helped that the teams they left went on historic runs, winning multiple championships, about five seconds after each exited, stage right. Sure, Drew played a role in landing that first, improbable ring, but The Dynasty was achieved mostly without him. And, no, it wasn't entirely Garciaparra's fault that he happened to get banged up and traded just as Fate dealt Sox Nation two aces, a Dominican Paul Bunyan and one dramatic bloody sock, but, well...locker room-wise, Nomar was 2004's TERRY GLENN. While "turd in the punchbowl" may meet the technical definition of "chemistry," it's pretty clear DAMON, MILLAR and the rest of the Idiots found theirs thanks largely - some might say directly - to his absence.
But here's the bottom line, and our final analysis: Just because you're not as good as TOM BRADY doesn't mean you're disqualified from being great. Nearly every great quarterback in NFL history is not as good as # 12. And having a bad night in the Bronx, even set against a Jeter nose-dive into the not-all-that-cheap seats, doesn't make you a Scottie Pippen-style quitter for all-time. So, as folks who decried Nomar gluing himself to the visitors bench in old Yankee Stadium, as part of the mob telling # 11 to take a seat, put a cork in it or at least stop throwing off his back foot, Out-Takes invites you to join us for one last "second look." Here's to Drew and Nomar, and to their last impressions not ending up as lasting ones. (But seriously - stop throwing off your back foot.)
*Hurt Locker * cops Academy Awards in BOTH Sound categories. (Told ya.) We'll just skip all that talk about QUENTIN TARANTINO winning Best Screenplay and Avatar taking home the golden statuette for Best Picture. Still waiting on our cut of your Oscar pool winnings, by the way...
Shameless Self-Promotion: The Sequel
As a kickoff to what will be an ongoing series, Patriots.com hereby plugs the inaugural installment of "THE OUT-TAKES INTERVIEW." Coming up in just a few short weeks, we'll hop aboard the coattails of literally the most successful podcaster in the history of the universe. Yes, Out-Takes recently chatted up ADAM CAROLLA, ex- of The Man Show, star of SI.com's top sports comedy of 2008, The Hammer, and just off the set of his new pilot for NBC, in a wide-ranging Q & A that's sure to make our more P.C. readers wince at least once. Stay tuned - you won't want to miss it.
]()~ So...LADAINIAN TOMLINSON to the Jets. Wow. Someone out there apparently wants to test the limits of Patriots fans' hatred of the Jersey Same Olds. From the moment Out-Takes got wind of the possibility that New Yorkers may have a new LT to root for, we couldn't help but think it was nice, at least, to see something resembling efficiency take hold in this economy. Honestly, you already despise the Jets and they add LaDainian Tomlinson? Talk about streamlining. Hey, Jets F.O., how else do you plan to up the hater ante - will you be trading for JAY CUTLER? Taking out ads on SARAH PALIN's Facebook Page? Giving us the old "*Clockwork Orange *Treatment" for a continuous loop of (fill-in-name-of-any-KATE-HUDSON-vehicle here)?
Say this about REX, TANNENBAUM and Co., they make for a bold, exciting off-season. And, hey, anything that pumps up the rivalry - like, say, bringing in a natural born Pats-hater like that guy who pouts from the bench in big games - gets a thumbs up, especially when it downgrades your backfield. (You paid MORE for him than a younger, better THOMAS JONES? Seriously? Looking forward to that MARK SANCHEZ for MATT LEINART swap in a couple years!)
~ Out-Takes is about as far from "on the TIM TEBOW bandwagon" as you can get - we live in a world where the Amish gentleman in charge of constructing that particular bandwagon is too busy witnessing the razing of barns and the thrusting of ice cream cones into Han Solo's cocky mug - but even we were taken aback by Dolphin QB CHAD HENNE saying that Tebow "isn't an NFL quarterback." That said, if anyone knows about not being an NFL quarterback, it's Chad Henne.
~ Reports out of Mississippi earlier this month had Vikings head coach BRAD CHILDRESS - on sabbatical, we guess, from cultivating his latest look (STANLEY TUCCI's serial killer in The Lovely Bones) - en route to on-again, off-again, could-I-maybe-be-on-again-once-more-but-maybe-not quarterback BRETT FAVRE. During this off-season check-in, Chilly told Favre not to worry about his retirement decision and how it may affect the Vikings and their pre-draft plans. (It was at this point that Favre broke into his best ALFRED E. NEUMAN: "What, ME worry?!")
So Brad flew all the way to Hattiesburg to tell Brett Favre to, what...take his time? Really? What other pearls of wisdom is this guy armed with? Did he tell PARIS HILTON she ought to consider "getting into home movies?" Is it true he pulled TIGER aside and said Woods should "try making A-Rod look good by comparison?" (And, if so, did he recently board a party bus to Georgia in hopes of convincing BEN ROETHLISBERGER to "try making Tiger look good by comparison?")
Come on, Childress. Making a big show of flying in for a sham sit-down with Captain "He loves me, he loves me not..." is as phony as it gets. Next thing you know you'll be naming KEVIN FAULK the returner on the Patriots all-decade team just because you didn't have the stones to do the right thing and state the obvious: # 33 - RB of the Oughts, in a shoulda been run-away.
~ That annual BEN-A-PALOOZA shindig Roethlisberger & Buds threw - "party bus to the Lake House!" - gets Out-Takes' nomination for worst idea since the TRAVIS BICKLE PORN DATE.
~ Thanksgiving comes early for Patriots fans, if not for the staff of PFW. Not only do New Englanders get to watch their team play between the turkey and the pie, but it's against the Lions, and not the Cowboys. Is it too early to jinx CALVIN JOHNSON - or at least spike the stuffing?
~ Kudos to THE KRAFTS, BILL BELICHICK, NICK CASERIO and VINCE (& BIANCA) WILFORK for getting the deal done. It's all too rare that we witness both player and management truly going about things the right way. No hold-outs, no negotiating through the Curly Haired Boyfriends of the local Media, no back-channel shots across the bow. Just communication, mutual respect and a hard-nosed, fair-minded meeting of the minds. It ain't sexy, but it gets the job done - it's the lunch lady of NFL contract talks.
Welcome back, # 75. And take notice, remaining 52. (You, too, Asante. P.S. Next time catch the ball.)
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.)