Since You've Been Gone...
The gap bridging our season-ending column and our "Reality TV Trifecta (American Idol, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Amazing Race) meets the Combine" Edition, has been overstocked with storylines. Yes, despite a distinct lack of NFL action or anyone even approaching ADAM LAMBERT or JOHNNY FAIRPLAY levels of reality TV intrigue, we've witnessed Moments Big (TIGER's zombie-like SNL skit of a "Now go hug your Mom" speech, LINDSEY VONN's post-bruise run for Olympic Gold, and the best empty-net goal EVER) and Small (the sudden, shocking appeal of Survivor villain "Boston Rob," the release of fragile, former star running backs BRIAN "Questionable: Ankle" WESTBROOK and LADAINIAN "Doubtful: Heart" TOMLINSON, and whatever the hell JOHNNY WEIR wore on his way to finishing sixth in Vancouver - way to bring home the J.V. Bronze, Johnny!) So, before getting to the whistles and balls that made up last week's pre-draft festivities at Lucas Oil stadium, permit us to elaborate on a few of the forty times we've felt like sitting down and typing up stuff as of late.
The Year without a "Santa" Clause
We're getting a little tired of millionaire footballers, who had been eagerly awaiting the March 5th free-for-all like some pre-spring Christmas Eve, sounding suddenly worried about a potential lock-out in 2011. Neither party in a fight over how to divvy it billions of dollars looks good, nor should they, but it's especially tiresome to hear members of the NFLPA whine, despite being warned - over and over and over - that they shouldn't wet themselves despite hearing the phrase "uncapped" bandied about for months. Some players continue to believe that the league's legion of St. Nicks (the DANIEL SNYDERS trying to keep up with the JERRY JONESES) will be leaving all kinds of presents under the tree. Balloon payments, astronomical signing bonuses and rosters stocked with all-stars from 1 to 53. Sure, some'll make out just fine, but so many more than some continue to believe that the lack of a salary cap will be "good" for them. (Psst, guys - it's not just that there's no ceiling, there's also no floor. Pass it on...)
You Can Take the Boy Out of Boston...
One Olympic highlight with a splash of local color came courtesy of ex-Bruin and NBC Hockey analyst MIKE MILBURY, whose post-game commentary set off a bit of a firestorm following Russia's 7-3 loss to Canada: "I was really disappointed that these guys came with their Eurotrash game." Given that this guy once referred to an underachieving, D.C.-based hockey club as "the Crapitals," are we really surprised? More to the point, WHO CARES? It's the Olympics, for God's sake. Despite all those touchy-feely, Claritin Ad-hazy features from BOB COSTAS and Friends, it's supposed to be about international competition, jingoism at its best - least it was the last time we checked. (Speaking of "the last time we checked," how 'bout that Eurotrash game the Russians came with?)
Bottom line, if the phrase "Ugly American" is going to remain entrenched in the Olympic lexicon - and something tells us Mike's comments won't exactly banish it to the end of the bench - surely "Eurotrash" can keep it company in the penalty box. After all, Cold War-wise, we're already down 13 Days of Cuban Missiles and a graffiti-strewn Berlin Wall. Can we at least hold out for a little Milbury-Ovechkin Euro-trash-talk?
Southwest, Feeling Blue
During football's final Sunday, a non-*Mad Men * Ad man asked, "Do you know why so many people LOVE to fly Southwest Airlines?" and we couldn't help but think, "Um...because it's still the mid-'90s?" Listen, SWA, you had a nice little run. We always loved the "Must Be Football Season" campaign, and that "You are now free to move about the country" tag is top-notch, but let's get real. Off-beat airline-wise, this is a JET BLUE country. Shiny, new planes, each with a fun little nickname ("It Had to be Blue," "Out of the Blue," etc...), bottomless sodas & snacks, "Tebow polite" flight attendants and, oh yeah - EVERYONE GETS THEIR OWN TV. All Southwest has done lately is drag the nation's RottenTomatoes.com-sponsored film geeks toward slack-jawed wonderings like, "Geez...I didn't think KEVIN SMITH was *that *fat." Give it a rest, SWA. You're what was.
An Oldie but a Goodie
Far be it from us to reach all the way back to PRO BOWL WEEK, but we believe it's worth it, given this story's unprecedented nature. For the first time in eons, the BRETT FAVRE Honorary "Biggest Tool on the Vikings" Trophy went to someone other than the guy it was named after. Ladies and gentleman, Out-Takes is proud to present...BRYANT MCKINNIE, whose way of thanking coaches, fans and players for his (not all that deserved) Pro Bowl nod included:
SKIPPING PRACTICE Wednesday (and Thursday) of Game Week and...
...PARTYING the night before and, THEN...
...TWEETING all about it on his way to, and AT, the party, over and over and late into the night!
While this nonsense will likely endear the Left Tackle to legions of renegade, apathetic stoner-types - JUDD NELSON's Breakfast Club's rebel without a clue JOHN BENDER leaps to mind - it apparently went over less well with his NFL brethren. McKinnie was kicked off the NFC squad the day before the game and, after claiming that "my body is hurting" - playing like the keystone cops on your way out of the playoffs takes a toll - a former college teammate who shall remain
WILLIS MCGAHEE Tweeted what we'll present here as a profane, and right on target, version of Mad Libs: "That's bull_."
Bless you, Willis, and your unvarnished, Twitterific candor. We couldn't _-ing agree more.
Blooper Reel: Combine Edition
~ Okay, NFL NETWORK, we get it. TIM TEBOW's really, really nice. He "understands what he wants to be." He "knows his strengths and weaknesses." He's an "unparalleled leader in the huddle," and his "vortex" is a super groovy place to be if you're, ya know...a person. That said, official Craig Stadler Mustache Executor MIKE HOLMGREN recently noted that "the most difficult thing to change for any quarterback" - even a really-really nice one, we're guessing - is the way he throws the ball. It's "particularly hard...in pressure situations," so...perhaps Tebow's hitch-tastic throwing motion is worthy of a yellow caution flag or two.
Look, we're not saying he isn't an admirable fellow, a people-person and a nice guy. Tim Tebow is the GEORGE CLOONEY of nice college QBs. If there were an NCAA football version of The Office, Tim Tebow would be JIM & PAM. We're also not saying he'll fail in the NFL. He may very well succeed. A lot of canny football wonks seem to believe he will. What we are saying is that, however mind-blowingly impressive Tebow's intangibles may be, it's worth remembering what has traditionally been more important. "Tangibles," we believe they're called.
~ Best/Only reason to pick up the phone and bitch out your cable company for not offering NFL Network: The build-up to watching TOBY "Paper Chase" GERRRRRHART run the 40. A lot of these test results are overblown. Most team's draft boards won't change much from now until Goodell steps to the podium in April, no matter how many bench-press reps this year's MIKE MAMULA puts up. But in some instances, certainly in Gerhart's, they matter. So when RICH EISEN, MIKE MAYOCK and the Gang stood up a little straighter in their chairs, it was hard not to cross the room and take a seat. To put it indelicately...everyone wanted to know how fast the white guy from Stanford is; they wanted to know if, Heisman finalist-wise, he's a "DANNY WUERFFEL" (great college player, no shot in the pros) or an "EDDIE GEORGE" (damn good in college, better in the pros). So we sat up and took notice, and forty semi-dramatic yards and a tick over 4.5 seconds later, we learned that the white guy from Stanford is pretty darn fast. Whether he's a Wuerffel or a George remains to be seen.
~ Our favorite little Combine tidbit, first reported on this site by PFW writer, North Providence's own ERIK "V-Neck" SCALAVINO, involved an old friend, CHARLIE WEIS, and, potentially, a new one, Notre Dame wideout GOLDEN TATE. Prior to playing a South Bend down in 2010, Weis and Tate sat together and agreed that, unless the junior racked up 1500 yards and somewhere in the neighborhood of sixteen TDs, it would be unwise to declare early for the NFL draft. The best-named WR in the country then went out and wound up hitting those marks almost on the head. Tate recently explained that "after the season, before I made any decisions, we sat down and spoke. The pros were better than the cons, so we made the decision to enter the draft early."
To paraphrase WILLIAM GOLDMAN's The Princess Bride, "'Twas the 'we' that caught our memory." The spirit of mutual regard, shared responsibility and good faith between prospect and coach struck us as uncommonly collegial and just, well...nice. Ya know...Tebow nice. Looks like it didn't hurt, Karma-wise, either. Tate copped Mike Mayock's GMC Sierra Top Performer of the Day Sunday, following his golden performance in the 40, not to mention the broad and vertical jumps. Weis may not have covered himself in glory over at "Rudy U," but, from what we've seen of Tate and fast-rising QB JIMMY CLAUSEN, he left there having gotten a few things right.
~ Any team that lets FSU safety and Rhodes Scholar MYRON "Perhaps I'll be a Neurosurgeon someday" ROLLE slip out of round two just because "he thinks too much," thinks too little. The kid exudes everything an NFL team should be looking for - world-class smarts, seriousness of purpose, elite leadership and profound dedication to excellence. And - oh yeah - the tangibles: 6'2", 220, hits hard and runs nearly as fast as that white guy from Stanford.
The only shot you have of winning your OSCAR POOL begins with this baseline:
MO'NIQUE, CHRISTOPH WALTZ, SANDRA BULLOCK, JEFF BRIDGES, KATHRYN BIGELOW (Director), QUENTIN TARANTINO (Original Screenplay), JASON REITMAN & SHELDON TURNER (Adapted Screenplay) and AVATAR.
Start from there, assume Avatar cops Best Visual Effects, too, and pick whichever documentaries (short subject and feature) sound the saddest. Oh - and impress your friends by absolutely, positively guaranteeing *HURT LOCKER * in at least one of the Sound categories. Our cut of your winnings can be sent to 1 Patriot Place...
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.)