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Ed Driscoll

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Redskins on the Brain

July 1st, 2014 - 4:08 pm

For the first 13 or 14 years I had Yahoo’s NFL wire feed on my homepage, during the offseason, its headlines were devoted to head coach changes, player trades, and the occasional report of an athlete whose name appeared in his local police blotter, usually as a result of his overly-rambunctious late night activities.

Since last year however, Yahoo’s offseason NFL headlines revolve around two subjects seemingly to the exclusion of virtually all over NFL coverage — the players’ concussion lawsuit against the league (thus transforming highly-paid professional athletes into victims) and the name of Washington DC’s NFL franchise. As  Ben Domenech recently noted at the Federalist, sports radio, which until recent years was an apolitical broadcast repository for those who wished to take a timeout from the news of the day, has become equally politicized:

Of course, in the ESPN age, the realm of sports is often invaded by politics. This is typically in the form of mild irritants, and the more sports-minded hosts will back away slowly from guests who suddenly feel the need to expound on their deeply held and often clumsily constructed theories about politics to troll their listeners. Some guests are serial offenders in this regard: Kevin Blackistone, for instance, has decried the playing of the national anthem at ballgames as jingoistic warmongering, and said the U.S. should boycott the Olympic Games over Israel’s actions toward the Gaza Flotilla. So you learn to avoid those segments and head over to the ones talking about whether the Vernon Davis holdout is justified and what roster moves need to be made if LeBron is going to stay in Miami.

So it is with great irritation that I have experienced the invasion of sports radio over the past few months by a voice I am more familiar with for its meandering conspiracy-theorizing over the rampant influences of the Brothers Koch: Harry Reid, whose funereal nagging about the name of the Washington Redskins has elevated this battle over political correctness from a low simmer to a hot summer topic. No one particularly cared about this fight when the Redskins were horrid (which has been pretty much every year since I was ten), but since they looked like they were getting good again a year ago, the fight is back in a big way, with all Democratic Senators (save Virginia’s Mark Warner and Tim Kaine) endorsing a name change.

Mostly, this is a sideline issue, as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has reiterated that the team’s name will never change as long as he owns them, and as the franchise is one of the NFL’s most valuable and a gigantic money-printing machine, there seems to be no possibility of a financial incentive from advertisers or the NFL to make a change. What’s more, the poll data on Native Americans across the country shows overwhelming support for the name. There has never been a poll showing even a plurality of Native Americans in favor of a name change. Were it 90-10 in the other direction, I think the NFL would be more interested in the issue.

At NRO today, Dennis Prager explores how the left have come to acquire “Redskins on the Brain:”

The Washington Redskins have been in existence for 82 years. For about 80 of those years, virtually no one, including the vast majority of American Indians, was troubled by the name. Yet it is now of such importance to the American Left that the majority leader of the United States Senate has repeatedly demanded, from the floor of the Senate, that the team drop its name; 50 U.S. senators, all of them Democrats, have signed an open letter demanding the same; Sports Illustrated’s Peter King no longer uses the name; other leading sportswriters have adopted the same practice; and the president of the United States has weighed in on the issue.

* * * * * * * *

First, there is a rule in life: Those who do not confront the greatest evils will confront much lesser evils or simply manufacture alleged evils that they then confront. [See also: left's obsession with global warming -- Ed] This has been a dominant characteristic of the Left for at least half a century.

The greatest evils since World War II have been communism and, since the demise of communism in the Soviet Union and in most other communist countries, violent Islam — or, as it often is called, Islamism. Islamism is the belief that sharia (Islamic law) must be imposed wherever possible on a society, beginning, of course, with Muslim-majority countries. These Islamists are, as the British historian Andrew Roberts has noted, the fourth incarnation of fascism — first there was fascism, then Nazism, then communism, and now Islamism.

For many years most of the Western Left was supportive of communism, and after the 1960s, it was simply hostile to anti-communists. The Left was far more concerned with attacking America than with attacking the Soviet Union. So, too, today, the Left is far more concerned with attacking America — its alleged racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and economic inequality — than with fighting Islamism.

Second, the corollary to the above is that those who do not fight the greatest evils invariably loathe those who do. The Left hated American anti-communists much more than it hated communists. The Left today hates traditional America much more than it hates traditional Islamists. The Redskins name is a symbol of that hated America.

Sports isn’t immune to leftwing identity politics disguised as criticism; film and TV criticism got there first; in recent years, reading an assortment of newspaper film reviews would cause one to believe that Hollywood — a much more leftwing environment than the NFL — is a seething hotbed of racism, sexism, homophobia, and whatever other -isms and phobias are being imagined in the fever swamps of the left at given moment. (And yet curiously, few newspaper critics wish to cut themselves off from free screenings, free DVDs, celebrity interviews, and other media junkets when presented by the allegedly racist, sexist, and homophobic film and TV industry.)

As Sonny Bunch writes at the Washington Free Beacon, “There has been a movement in criticism in recent years to catalog the ways in which art fail certain classes:”

One shudders to think of the ways classic cinema would be critiqued today. Imagine our generation of critics being handed a gem like The Godfather. Oh, you’d see an initial wave of rapturous support. Our finest writers—our A.O. Scotts, our Anthony Lanes, our Seitzes—would undoubtedly recognize its genius. But then, after a week or two, the counterintuitive takes would start popping up. Slate‘s Double X would ask why there are no strong female characters: “All we have are an abused wife and an exploded wife and an ignored wife! What, there was no room for a lady-gangster? Has Francis Ford Coppola never heard of [incredibly minor figure who has been blown up to mythic stature in women's studies courses]?” Salon would denounce the five families for their plan to distribute drugs among “the coloreds” as well as critics across the land for failing to properly announce just how despicable they found the Corleones following that scene. Godfather Part II‘s release would see Jose Antonio Vargas given 5,000 words and the cover of Time to lament America’s abandonment of immigrants looking for a better life: “We used to be a nation that took in young Vitos, despite their disease, despite their lack of opportunities. Now we’re a nation that heartlessly turns its back on children.” Et cetera, ad nauseum.

Quoting from Andrew Ferguson’s review of Men on Strike by PJM’s own Dr. Helen, Bunch adds that the left just loves it when conservatives use the same sort of identity politics as pushback; but then, this is Pandora’s Box that the left has opened up by declaring that the personal is political and no form of grievance politics is off the table. (All the way down to names of paint colors!) And yet another reminder that “Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out.”

Related: Fox News’ Jesse Watters “Gets Kicked Out of NOW Conference, Threatened With Arrest.” Hilarious video of Watters trolling the NAGs at link.

Feds Strip Redskins Trademark

June 18th, 2014 - 12:05 pm

“I want you to imagine the federal government eliminating your private property rights due to the interpretation of political correctness by five people, or a very tiny minority of people,” Rush Limbaugh tells his listeners today:

The tiny minority of people are ostensibly, they say, offended by something that you own.  Imagine an agency of the federal government, without any proper adjudication before any sort of court, tribunal, or what have you, just comes along and, on their own whim, decides to eliminate your private property rights.  Because of interpretation of political correctness, because they’re liberals, because they’re statists and authoritarians and assigned to them that kind of sweeping power.

That’s exactly what the Washington Redskins are dealing with today.  The Patent and Trademark Office simply eliminated their right of the Redskins to own that trademark.  It doesn’t mean they have to change their name.  What it means is that if — and there will be a series of appeals on this.  The Redskins will not go down without a war dance.  After all the appeals, if this ruling holds, it means that anybody can use the Redskins trademark and logo for anything, that the Washington Redskins do not own their name. That’s what this ruling means.  They don’t have the right because some people are offended.  It can be spread around. If you, Snerdley, wanted to start selling caps or T-shirts with the word “Redskins” or “Washington Redskins” and use their logo, you could, because they don’t have the right to own it, even though they do own it.

* * * * * * * *

The Patent and Trademark Office stripping ownership rights of the trademark Washington Redskins from the Washington Redskins does not require them to change their name.  It just means they are not the legal owners of the trademark.  And if it stands, anybody can market it, anybody can use it, anybody can make money off of it.  Theory being this would hurt the ownership of the Redskins and the NFL.  They don’t have exclusive ownership rights.  They don’t get the profits from the sale of licensed merchandise.  That would force Snyder to change the name.  That’s the thinking.

Read the whole thing. Sports used to be an escape valve from politics and the real world, but are now increasingly the sole province of the PC left. And increasingly, from my perspective — and I suspect I’m not alone — they can have them.

Update: One possible substitution for the Redskins’ logo? “I say replace it with a hammer and sickle.”

“Chuck Noll, the Hall of Fame coach who won a record four Super Bowl titles with the Pittsburgh Steelers, died Friday night at his home. He was 82,” AP reports:

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner said Noll died of natural causes.

Noll transformed the Steelers from a long-standing joke into one of the NFL’s pre-eminent powers, becoming the only coach to win four Super Bowls. He was a demanding figure who did not make close friends with his players, yet was a successful and motivating leader.

The Steelers won the four Super Bowls over six seasons (1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979), an unprecedented run that made Pittsburgh one of the NFL’s marquee franchises, one that breathed life into a struggling, blue-collar city.

”He was one of the great coaches of the game,” Steelers owner Dan Rooney once said. ”He ranks up there with (George) Halas, (Tom) Landry and (Curly) Lambeau.”

In 1974, Noll’s Steelers assembled what was arguably “The greatest draft class in NFL history,” when they added in one fell swoop, Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster. All four would become NFL Hall of Famers and household names among NFL fans, as Noll’s Steelers became the dominant team of the 1970s.

RIP, Chuck Noll.

Rooting for Laundry

May 27th, 2014 - 3:40 pm

In “The Sporting Lie,” Theodore Dalrymple runs roughshod over the modern sports addict in both Europe and America, and in many ways, I can’t say I blame him:

Since then, my attitude has only hardened against sport, and now I feel a visceral dislike of it. Whether this signifies a change in me, or in sport, I am unsure. Sport is nowadays a bit like propaganda in a totalitarian society: it is inescapable. For example I was recently in quite a good restaurant in Washington D.C. in which, nevertheless, there was a large flat-screened television relaying a baseball game. Someone once explained the rules of baseball to me, but it bored me even after I had fleetingly understood them. The players seemed too fat to be real athletes, and as for the girls waving pompoms and the men dressed in the colors of their favorite team, they seemed archetypes of willing suspension of intelligence and self-respect.

Things are no better in Europe, where it is soccer that is inescapable. People talk about it as they walk down the street together; the newspapers are full of it, indeed fuller of it than of anything else; bars and pubs relay it, seemingly twenty-four hours a day; and most sinister of all, people are afraid to express no interest in it.

A old fellow student of mine, now a distinguished professor, recently gave an interview in a learned journal and was asked what gave him the greatest pleasure in life. He replied that it was when the team he supported scored a goal.

I tried to work out whether this was worse true than untrue. If true it implied a rather sad existence, in which the kicking of a ball into the net of an opponent’s goal by a highly paid mercenary, who would immediately play for the opposing side if offered a few paltry millions more a year or a week to do so, and who had absolutely no connection with the area of the team for which he played, not geographical, cultural, personal, familial, or even national, was the highest imaginable point. But if untrue, why the lie, why did he pretend that a goal scored by “his” team was so important to him?

Which is nicely erudite rephrasing of Jerry Seinfeld’s classic “Rooting for Laundry” monologue:

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Rooting for Laundry from Melel Media on Vimeo

I’m actually well aware that when I watch sports, I’m entirely rooting for laundry. With the exception of an occasional local San Jose Sharks game my wife and I attend in person, the only sport I’ve ever really followed is pro football. As I’ve written before, I became a fan at the peak of the Tom Landry-era Dallas Cowboys’ “America’s Team” hype, when they went to back-to-back Super Bowls and multiple NFC championships, began featuring showgirl-styled cheerleaders, and appeared on CBS and ABC seemingly every Sunday and Monday night.

To borrow from the latest academic cliché, watching the NFL on TV functions as a sort of reverse trigger-warning for me. I put on a Cowboys game and all of the emotions I built up as a kid during the Landry, Staubach and Danny White America’s Team era instantly start to kick in no matter how badly Jerry Jones has mismanaged the team’s current incarnation, and I find myself sucked into the TV screen for a couple of hours “Money For Nothing”-style. I suspect every team sport has a similar effect on their fans – perhaps even more so if they’re rooting for the team of the college they once attended. But for me, that narcotic fix is merely temporary, and once the kinetic action of the game itself is over, it’s back to remembering how intractably politicized the NFL has become, and how the league, headquartered on Park Avenue, Ground Zero of Northeast Corridor Establishment Liberalism, has forgotten its hardscrabble Midwestern roots.

It’s a frequent cliché that pro sports are reflection on culture, but anyone who has watched the NFL over the past several decades has seen how its transformation reflects America’s increasingly coarsened pop culture. In between tossing aside Rush Limbaugh via a made-up Media Matters false quote to ordering sensitivity training to its players in response to openly gay Michael Sam’s draft announcement but not to their mocking of openly Christian Tim Tebow, to looking the other way at NBC politicizing games with Bob Costas halftime monologues on radical environmentalism, gun control, and even the Redskins’ team name, the NFL has worked overtime to alienate fans on the right. This, even as pro sports in general expose much of the ugliness and racism on the left.

As Kate of Canada’s Small Dead Animals blog likes to say, “Pleasing your enemies does not turn them Into friends.” If, as Rush and others have suggested that the clock is ticking on the league’s viability as America’s leading pro sport, their alienation of potential allies on the right will have only accelerated the process.

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)

There is No Hell, There is Only the 1970s

March 13th, 2014 - 9:44 am

Free to be You and Me, the craptacular 1974 ABC special is explored by Kyle Smith of the New York Post:

Billionaire “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg praised “Free to Be” and says she plays the album for her children. Its star and developer, Marlo Thomas (of the sitcom “That Girl”), accurately said last year in a blog post that the show “became a coined phrase — a cultural touchstone — that spoke of the times in which we lived.”

And what times they were! Times of hokey “message” entertainment, singing jocks, humorless cartoons and revolting sweaters.

The show, which is of course unwatchable today except perhaps in states with generous attitudes toward self-medication such as Colorado and Washington, was an hour-long special that meant to tell little girls they could be anything they wanted, and little boys they could be anything they wanted too, provided that what they wanted was to be girls.

The program’s most searing and indelible moment was the horrifying sight of Rosey Grier, a huge man once known as one of the most ferocious players in the NFL, strumming a guitar, smiling like a brain donor and singing “It’s All Right to Cry.”

And that’s the Weimaresque 1970s in a nutshell: every man became Alan Alda for a few years — even Rosey Grier.

The horror. The horror.

Screwed, Blued and Tattooed Man Group

February 6th, 2014 - 11:05 am

The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the ‘Fake But Accurate’ Rock Group, as dubbed by John Hayward at the Breitbart.com Conversation blog:

Great, now the “fake but accurate” ethos has spread to rock bands.  They can’t even just admit to lip-syncing or instrument-syncing; they’ve got to hand us a bill of goods about how not playing their instruments is actually more hyper-real than if they had performed live.  Never mind that a big part of the appeal of live performances is the thrill of thinking, “Wow, I’m actually hearing this song blast out for-real while those guys are gyrating all over the stage under difficult performance conditions, and it sounds great!

Hey, good enough for Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and Beyoncé to phone it in at Mr. Obama’s inaugurations, good enough for the Chili Peppers — but please, no more talk about how “authentic” and “real” rock music is. And Hayward’s take on the shoehorned appearance of these three middle-aged tattooed geezers in the middle of Bruno Mars’ polished set describes my reaction watching the halftime show as well:

I wasn’t a huge consumer of his music before, but I thought it was a terrific performance almost rudely interrupted by the Chili Peppers running on stage.  It looked he was getting mugged by the Blue Man Group, except they didn’t even bother to paint themselves blue.

Super Bowl halftime shows by their very nature are sucktacular, as legendary philosopher Bart Simpson would say. Why not bring back Up With People and call it a day?

Bipolar Bowl

February 3rd, 2014 - 10:44 am

The weird halftime juxtaposition of classy looking pompadour-adorned Bruno Mars (who I had never seen before) and his backup band in their matching ’50s-era gold lamé jackets and black skinny ties, and the filthy, bare-chested tattooed AARP-age members of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, along with lead singer’s Anthony Kiedis’ obscene “stroke me”-style hand gestures seemed to sum up yesterday’s Super Bowl. Which seemed doubly odd as the pregame show seemed to send a message that perhaps the grownups were being welcomed back to the NFL between the beautiful operatic rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by formally-attired Renée Fleming, and Joe Namath dusting off his 1969-era fur coat and symbolically flipping a huge well-deserved bird to PETA.

Only to be followed by the dreadful game itself. For last year’s postgame roundup of the Super Bowl, I dusted off the headline from a 1976 edition of Sport magazine: “Let’s a Have a Super Bowl the Pre-Game Show Can Be Proud Of.” Yesterday’s actual game was massive step back for the NFL, when Super Bowls of the 1970s and ’80s, with rare exceptions of the Cowboys-Steelers shootouts, tended to be narcoleptic blowouts. Peyton Manning’s muff of his opening shotgun snap will live on forever on cable TV sports channels, along with Cowboys tight end Jackie Smith fumbling his end zone catch, they’ll both be shown in near loops come Super Bowl time, and it certainly set the tone for yesterday game. But “Every battle is won before it is ever fought,” a Sun-tzu-quoting Gordon Gekko told Bud Fox early in Wall Street. Even if the Broncos’ safety didn’t happen, Seattle seemed so much better prepared, and so much more physical, in retrospect, I doubt the Broncos ever had a chance.

Sort of like how Bill O’Reilly prepared for his pregame interview with Barack Obama, who was simply unprepared for real questions from an actual non-subservient member of the MSM.

One minor consolation: The NFL Films highlight real of this year’s Super Bowl should be spectacular: They had lots of practice in the 1970s and ’80s pulling out all of the stops to turn four hours of lopsided Super Bowl football into a highly watchable 30 minutes, explaining why the game was one-sided along the way, as I once wrote at Videomaker magazine. Their Super Bowl highlight reels of the 1978 Cowboys blowout over the Broncos, the 1981 Raiders crushing of the Eagles, and the 1986 beating Mike Ditka’s “Grabowski-era” Chicago Bears applied to the pre-Parcells and Belichick Patriots are among their most watchable episodes, between all of the animation, players and coaches mic’ed up, postgame interviews, and other well-executed documentary techniques. If only they could program John Facenda’s legendarily deep basso profundo voice into a speech synthesizer to record the narration.

So what did you think of the pregame festivities, the usual zillion dollar massively overproduced postmodern ironic commercials, and the actual game — if you could call it that — itself? Let me know in the comments below.

Related: Dispatches from the Gleichschaltung Football League: “White House Writes NFL Players’ Pro-Obamacare Tweets.”

Plus in her own effort to add leftwing politics into the Animal Planet’s annual “Puppy Bowl” counter-programming, Michelle Obama suggested that kids be more like their dogs to be healthier.

I’m not sure if that’s a winning analogy for the spouse of Mr. Obama

Is Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll a 9/11 Truther?

February 2nd, 2014 - 2:18 pm

That’s the question that Oliver Darcy is asking at the Blaze:

As the Super Bowl looms over New York City, an old accusation is once again looming over Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll: It’s rumored he’s a 9/11 truther.

In June, Deadspin ran an article — republishing it last week — detailing a meeting Carroll had with recently retired four-star Army General Peter Chiarelli. The conversation, which reportedly started off friendly, escalated when the topic switched to Iraq.

“So did the discussion last year turn hostile? A source close to Chiarelli, one who wasn’t present when he spoke to Carroll, told us that it did,” Deadspin reported. “He said the general had to leave the room because Carroll had rankled him so thoroughly.”

“‘Every 9/11 conspiracy theory you can think of, Pete asked about,’ said Riki Ellison, the former NFL linebacker who now runs the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance and introduced Carroll to Chiarelli.”

I didn’t really have a dog in this hunt, but between the above article and this one, the choice of who to root for today is becoming quite simple.

Post-Game Update: “9/11 truther crashes Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith’s press conference [pic, Vine],” from Twitchy.

He’d be better off solving the real conspiracy: Where was the real Payton Manning and the rest of the Denver Broncos today?

The ideology that calls itself ‘liberalism’ ultimately boils down to creating a sense of superiority for its true believers on the cheap. As Christopher Caldwell wrote in the Weekly Standard in 2002, for many, “liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.” Fred Siegel’s new book, The Revolt Against the Masses, is all about the history of how this increasingly myopic worldview came to be created, as we’ll explore soon in an interview here.

In the meantime, with America’s de facto national holiday occurring later today, at the Federalist, Rachel Lu explores “The 5 Stupidest Myths Non-Sports Fans Will Push At Your Super Bowl Party:”

As America’s banner sporting event, the Super Bowl naturally has its own mythology. Even people who don’t know the difference between a punt and a kick-off will break out the seven-layer dip and pick up a six-pack for the big day. It’s one of those rituals, like Black Friday, that has expanded into a kind of quasi-holiday in the USA.

What to do with non-sports fans at a Super Bowl party? Having made this mistake in the past, I can tell you right now that they do not want you to explain the game to them as it unfolds. If they’ve made it to age 30 without learning what a first down is, chances are good that they don’t care to know and, for many, the real fun of the Super Bowl lies in the moral preening. A few people go so far as to brag about not watching the game at all. Most, however, are content to come to the party, squint at the screen, and make a few dainty remarks about how “it really is such a violent game.” Then they wander away in search of the cheese cubes.

Super Bowl myths are mostly an outgrowth from all that pent-up disapproval, though they also gratify the non-fan’s need to find something to say about football on the one day each year he condescends to watch it. If you don’t want to discuss how the Seahawks’ top-ranked secondary will handle Peyton Manning’s stellar high-octane attack, it can be fun to argue about whether Super Bowl Sunday holds the record for pizza delivery (true), or whether it accounts for two-thirds of the year’s avocado sales (false). But most of the rumors seem to focus on the negative, and so, in the interests of helping fans defend themselves against the onslaught, here’s the skinny behind some of the most pervasive Super Bowl myths.

Read the whole thing.

All that being said, at Reason TV, PJTV alumnus Alexis Garcia explains from a fiscal point of view, “Why No Smart City Would Want the NFL:”

Oh, and one more link: John Elway bravely chooses a day in which he’ll be receiving maximum publicity to out himself to the world. In a harshly judgmental media world, that takes guts.

Update: At Twitchy, “‘Absolute losers!’ There’s an app for ‘sexist ad’ bitching? Check out how libs are ruining Super Bowl.”

And speaking of moral preening

Almond Killjoy

January 26th, 2014 - 12:42 pm

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But of course: “Effete New York Times Asks: ‘Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?’”, as spotted by Tim Graham of Newsbusters:

The New York Times has a very strange sense of morality. Abortion at any time for any reason is never savage. When the Kermit Gosnell case erupted, the Times could only editorialize it was irrelevant: “What does the trial of a Philadelphia doctor who is accused of performing illegal late-term abortions by inducing labor and then killing viable fetuses have to do with the debate over legal abortion?”

But on Sunday, the Times Magazine published a column titled “Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?” Writer Steve Almond, best known previously for resigning an adjunct professorship at Boston College because Condoleezza Rice was picked for commencement speaker, argued that sending men to the NFL was like sending our underclass soldiers off to war in Afghanistan (don’t miss the part about the late Pat Tillman):

After ranting on about professional sports being “monetized arenas for hypermasculinity,” (an accusation that Pinch’s Eloi-staffed New York Times need never worry about receiving) and football as “a distraction from the moral incoherence of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq” — well, that’s one way to criticize President Obama’s feckless Middle East policy, I suppose — Almond goes on to write:

No single episode speaks to this twisted dynamic more pointedly than the death of Pat Tillman, an idealistic N.F.L. star who enlisted in the Army after the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2004, Tillman was killed by friendly fire in a bungled ambush in Afghanistan. His superiors orchestrated an elaborate cover-up that included burning his uniform and recast the circumstances of his death as a heroic charge into enemy territory.

But suppose Tillman had survived, returned to play in the N.F.L. and wound up with brain damage at age 50. Would we see him as a victim of friendly fire? Would we acknowledge our role in his demise? Or would we construct our own personal cover-ups?

The N.F.L. and the bloated media cult that feeds off it rely on fans not to connect the dots between our consumption of football and brain-damaged human beings.

Oh how I pity the person hosting a Super Bowl party next week to which Almond — or anybody who’s read his column to use as cocktail party talking points — shows up.

One person who did read Almond’s column is Ann Althouse, who’s having lots of fun with it:

The question-asker is Steve Almond. Am I supposed to know who he is? (Is it immoral not to know?) There’s no note about the author on the page and the name isn’t a hot link. What’s his moral authority?

Perhaps he wants his ideas judged by the strength of this one text, like an anonymous pamphleteer, but I Google his name and see that he’s a short-story writer and that he was an adjunct professor in creative writing at Boston College who resigned in protest when Condoleezza Rice was brought in to do the school’s commencement address. Moral authority noted.

Here’s a picture of Almond wearing a brown shirt that says “chocolate boy.” Lest you take that the wrong way, his website is called stevealmondjoy.com and he wrote a nonfiction book called “Candyfreak,” about his love for candy and his search for the stories of “the small candy companies that are persevering in a marketplace where big corporations dominate.”

I’d embed the photo, but the photographer, who seems to have just snapped a pic when Almond spoke at a high school in Minnesota, put lots of “not in the public domain” language around it when he uploaded it to Wikipedia. How boring! That photographer lacks moral authority in this world of creative commons. It’s a picture of somebody else, and that someone else was nice enough to show up and allow photographs.

But the photo at the end of Althouse’s post, after an assist from Camille Paglia, definitely makes up for it.

I certainly hope everyone at MSNBC reads Almond’s column on the air and brings in Bob Costas to ask him if it’s immoral to broadcast the NFL, if you believe that the sky is falling so quickly, we all must do this:

Last year’s Super Bowl was broadcast by CBS, whose nightly news anchor Scott Pelley once compared global warming skeptics to ‘Holocaust deniers.’ I wonder if anyone will ask him about the immorality about his network having lavished so much attention on the event?

Speaking of which, the NFL has talked about rescheduling the game next week if sufficient quantities of severe global warming risks negatively impacting the fans in the Meadowlands. (Pete  Rozelle, who invented the notion of the Super Bowl to played in warm weather stadiums as essentially a giant annual press junket for the nation’s sports reporters, must be looking down and laughing his head off over his successors’ decision to hold the game there.)  The league has only one hope for the Super Bowl to air on schedule next weekend: It must keep Al Gore as far away from the stadium — possibly the entire Northeast Corridor — as humanly possible.

Earlier: Interview: Daniel J. Flynn Fights Back Against The War On Football.

North Dallas 420

January 15th, 2014 - 9:42 pm

As always, life eventually catches up with the earlier, funnier incarnation of Saturday Night Live:

Thank you! Talk about a live show! It’s nice to see you, welcome, and thanks for joining us — live! Um… I’m kinda glad that we’re on at night, so that we’re not competing with all the football and baseball. So many, man… and this is the time of year when there’s both, you know? Football’s kinda nice, they changed it a little bit — they moved the hash marks in. Guys found it and smoked them, anyway!

— The start of George Carlin’s opening monologue, in the debut episode of Saturday Night Live, October 11, 1975.

“NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell open to the idea of players using medical marijuana in states where the drug is legal.”

— Headline, the London Daily Mail today.

Clearly, Nate Newton was a man, a van, and a van-sized man far ahead of his time.

How’s That Era of New Civility Working Out?

January 2nd, 2014 - 6:31 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

It didn’t take long for bloggers and political aficionados to draw a connection between Sarah Palin and the shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona, a tragic incident that resulted in six deaths, including that of a federal judge, and at least 12 wounded, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Several outlets like The Trentonian pointed out that Congresswoman Giffords was one of the 20 Democratic candidates Sarah Palin “targeted” for removal from office for their support of the Health Care Reform Bill. Palin had named Giffords and others for political elimination in the 2010 midterm elections, drawing cross-hairs on a map of the United States over the districts of the “targeted” candidates. It was that graphic map and the violent rhetoric Sarah Palin has been wont to use that drew the greatest condemnation and insinuations after the Tucson shooting.

“Sarah Palin ‘Targeting’ Blamed for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Tucson Shootings: Many Were Quick to Draw a Connection Between the Sarah Palin’s ‘Target’ Graphic and the Shooting Incident in Tucson,” Yahoo.com, January 8, 2011.

NFL “experts” appear to be picking the San Francisco 49ers over the Green Bay Packers by about the same margin they’d likely back Mike Tyson in the ring against, say, George W. Bush.

“Packers vs. 49ers: Upset Alert Blares Across Frigid Wisconsin,” Yahoo, today.

If Yahoo is going delve into magical thinking, and believe that mere clip art can cause random acts violence, imagine what actual words could lead to? Almost six years after he left office, why is Yahoo still promoting the notion of violence being committed against former. President Bush?

And in other news from the ongoing politicization of the NFL, why does ex-Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe want to see his former coach permanently barred from employment in professional sports?

“If there’s one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story,” Kluwe writes, “it’s to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level. (According to the Pioneer Press, he is ‘the only in-house candidate with a chance’ at the head-coaching job.) It’s inexcusable that someone would use his status as a teacher and a role model to proselytize on behalf of his own doctrine of intolerance, and I hope he never gets another opportunity to pass his example along to anyone else.”

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Kluwe trashes his former coach Leslie Frazier and Vikings GM Rick Spielman as cowards, and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer as a “bigot.” Priefer denied specific allegations outlined by Kluwe (e.g., the coach wished to drop a nuclear bomb on homosexuals). He notes that the team’s owner took him aside to congratulate him on his public stance and that the Vikings PR staff handled non-football related media requests for him, albeit in a manner he judged inadequate. A specific point of outrage centers around the team’s efforts to compel the outspoken gay-rights advocate to focus on football.

“To me, it’s getting old,” Kluwe reports coach Priefer as telling the press. “He’s got to focus on punting and holding.” Throughout the piece, Kluwe argues that Priefer tried to silence him but instead convinces that the special teams coach had a point about wanting Kluwe to concentrate on football. Kluwe talks about adhering a message of support for punter Ray Guy’s Hall of Fame bid upon his uniform in violation of NFL rules, tweeting out nasty messages aimed toward Pope Benedict upon his retirement, writing op-eds and letters in support of same-sex marriage, playing in a rock band during off hours, and, at the conclusion of the article, referencing the book he published after last season. By including so many tertiary matters in the piece, Kluwe unwittingly paints himself as the scatterbrain Priefer sought to reorient toward the gridiron.

Had Kluwe punted like Ray Guy, instead of merely talked about Ray Guy, he might have a point. As it turns out, Chris Kluwe ranks as a mediocre NFL punter. Twenty-one other punters boasted a higher yards-per-punt average last season, with the average net yardage gain during his punts surpassed by sixteen other specialists, most of whom didn’t enjoy climate-controlled conditions in their home games as Kluwe did.

To paraphrase Laura Ingraham, shut up and play (sans pink shoes in October); sports should be an escape from politics, not an extension of them.

NBC’s Bob Costas to examine the JFK assassination “through the eyes of the 1963 Dallas Cowboys,” Yahoo sports reports. What could go right?

Bob Costas will examine Kennedy’s assassination 50 years later in a program airing Wednesday at 11 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. Costas will tell the story from the perspective of the 1963 Dallas Cowboys during a program titled “No Day for Games: The Cowboys and JFK”, which will feature interviews with former Cowboys players and front office personnel.

“For a league that has no presence in Los Angeles, the Dallas Cowboys are as close to Hollywood as it gets,” Costas says in the opening of the show (via a press release). “But half a century ago for the Cowboys of 1963, it was fear – not football – that was on their minds.

“As symbols of the city where the President was murdered,” he continued, “the Cowboys soon found some of the nation’s anger directed towards them.”

Considering that their NFL coverage is the only thing keeping NBC’s ratings from going (further) into freefall, why does Costas hate this particular team so badly that he continually uses them as a platform to politicize football?

Update: At the Weekly Standard, Joseph Epstein charts out “The Week That Will Be:”

When the scrutiny came it revealed that Jack Kennedy didn’t quite write the book, Profiles in Courage, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. The reality behind those touching photographs of his picture-perfect children cavorting round the Oval Office was their father bonking movie stars, mafia molls, and adolescent interns in the upstairs bedrooms.

The rest of the Kennedy family was scarcely better. The father, the founding father as he was called in the title of a book about him by Richard Whalen, had a dodgy financial past, was a major-league philanderer, and on balance didn’t find Adolf Hitler all that bad a sort. His brother Bobby was a bully who had worked for Senator Joseph McCarthy and, once he had power on his side, was able to make even Jimmy Hoffa seem sympathetic. The youngest brother, Teddy, later to become a great liberal hero, failed badly at Chappaquiddick, letting a young woman drown before endangering his own political career. As for the widow Kennedy, after a decent interval, she did what the cynical Gore Vidal said she was always about anyway, and went for the money in marrying the monstrous Aristotle Onassis. Such was the reality behind Camelot.

None of this is exactly a secret. Yet so little of it seems to have penetrated Americans, who, against all evidence, continue to look upon the Kennedys as our uncrowned kings. We shall all see this vividly on display the whole of this coming week. As for me, until next Monday I plan to read no newspaper, avoid the Internet, keep my television set on ESPN, and pretend I am living in Patagonia.

As the NBC’s Costas demonstrates, so much for increasingly left-leaning sports television remaining free of politics this week.

Terra Incognito

November 9th, 2013 - 12:49 pm

At NRO, Daniel Foster looks at the NFL soap opera involving the Miami Dolphins’ Jonathan Martin and his bête noire, fellow teammate Richie Incognito. If you follow the NFL even casually, you know who these two men are by now; sportswriters have banged out tens of thousands of words on them. If you don’t know who they are, Foster’s intro will quickly get you up to speed on the backstory, before Foster writes:

Acknowledging that maybe Jonathan Martin didn’t act as he should have, and that maybe he’d be better off outside the NFL than in it, is about understanding cultural pluralism, and about having a healthy wariness of attempts to level every American institution into a sedate, aggression-free trust circle of non-judgment and understanding.

Phillips affectingly writes of America as a “nation of gentle accountants and customer-service reps who’ve retained this one venue” — the National Football League — “where we can air-guitar the berserk discourse of a warrior race.” But he says that like it’s a bad thing. On the contrary, this compartmentalization and channeling of destructive impulses into less harmful endeavors — recognized in Freud’s concept of sublimation and William James’s “moral equivalent of war” — is the hallmark of a civilized people. Every institutional order needs it. The Amish need their Rumspringa, Europe needs Amsterdam, and a nation of gentle accountants needs the National Football League.

The violence and untempered masculinity of football is ritualized, highly choreographed, and controlled. There are elaborate rules and a heritable culture that prevent it from spilling into pure gladiatorial combat. It’s hardly perfect — indeed, the concussion epidemic could prove a fatal flaw — but no system is. This is the culture that enabled and even encouraged the Dolphin O-line’s hazing of Martin, and the culture that is critical of Martin for not handling this hazing “indoors.”

It might be true that Incognito went too far, but in relying on the same concept of bullying that applies to the schoolyard, and reflexively condemning any behavior that whiffs of masculine aggression, we risk holding football to a standard that was explicitly never meant for it. And it ignores that an exceptional institution requires exceptional men — that it’s no easy trick to lower the testosterone without lowering the bar.

For some contrast to the PC psychobabble that surrounds the Dolphins’ controversy, let’s flashback to how Jimmy Johnson’s 1992 Dallas Cowboys learned to survive on a daily basis with another crazed player, defensive lineman Charles Haley, who was later diagnosed as bipolar. Haley had been acquired by the Cowboys for a surprisingly low draft choice from the San Fransisco 49ers, despite helping the ‘Niners secure two Super Bowl rings, after a series of insane locker room incidents. Including what would now be described — only 20 years later — as “bullying” his fellow professional gladiators. Haley would go on to secure another three Super Bowl rings with the Cowboys, but not before attempting to test the patience of his new teammates, as Jeff Pearlman wrote in Boys Will Be Boys, his well-written and researched look at the ’90s era Super Bowl Cowboys:

In contrast to the early portion of his career, when Haley largely kept to himself, as soon as he joined the Cowboys he felt comfortable. On his first day at Valley Ranch, Haley arrived in the conference room for a defensive film session dressed only in a towel. “The next thing you know, Charles is lying naked on the floor in front of the screen, entertaining himself,” says Casillas. “Hand on his penis, back and forth.”

When Butch Davis, the defensive line coach, saw what was transpiring, he stopped the tape. “Haley!” he yelled. “Get your f***in’ clothes on and don’t come back in until you’re dressed.” The room erupted in laughter.

On his second day at Valley Ranch, Haley wrapped an Ace bandage around his penis and strolled through the locker room naked, screaming, “I’m the last naked warrior! I’m the last naked warrior!”

On his third day at Valley Ranch, Haley walked past a large hot tub in which offensive linemen Mark Stepnoski, Kevin Gogan, and John Gesek were sitting. “You know what the problem here is?” Haley yelled. “It’s another example of the white man keeping the black man down. Look at the three of you, relaxing as…”

He went on. And on. And on.

At this moment, in the infancy of the Haley Era, Gesek unlocked the key to surviving life with Charles. Instead of bowing to the barbs, instead of slinking into a mound of bubbles or turning the other cheek, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Gesek looked Haley in the eyes and said, “Who the hell are you? “You and I are gonna have to fight,” Gesek continued. “I mean, what right do you have to talk to us that way? What do you know about us? About this team? How ’bout being here for more than a week before you open your mouth?”

With that, Haley shuffled off.

“Charles liked to push buttons and test the waters,” says Kenny Gant, a Dallas safety. “He would kiss you on the mouth and say, ‘Man, I love you.’ He’d just put a big ol’ kiss on your face, waiting to see your response. I’d be like, ‘Uh, Charles, didn’t you just tell me to go f*** myself two hours ago?’”

That seems like the appropriate method for the Dolphins’ Jonathan Martin to handle Richie Incognito. And if he couldn’t push back against a fellow player on the same team, how can he stand up to the opponents who line up against him each week, itching to tear his head off, and pummel the quarterback that Martin is charged to protect.

The fact that the Incognito-Martin incident has fixated leftwing PC sports journalists almost as much as their obsession over injuries caused by the game, and over the name of the Washington Redskins is further proof, as Rush Limbaugh has taken to saying in the last couple of years, that the NFL is doomed. It’s just a matter of time.

Speaking of which, over at the Breitbart.com group blog, John Nolte offers his own take on the Dolphins’ tempest in a fish tank before noting that “Boxing Proves Media Targeting of NFL All Politics:”

Ten years ago, in the wake of 9/11, when the NFL started reading the Declaration of Independence before the Super Bowl, I knew that football had just placed a big target on its back. There was just no way in hell the left and the media were going to allow a wildly popular, culturally conservative institution that celebrates manhood, America, our troops and Darwinian competition to stand.

But if the media and left truly cared about injuries and protecting athletes from bullying and the like, they would have long ago turned their attention to boxing — a sport that is not only much more dangerous than professional football, but as openly corrupt as any institution in America (including the media).

But the media and left don’t care about boxing or boxers because that sport is nowhere near as popular or influential as the NFL, and therefore doesn’t threaten the left’s cultural hold on America.

I think that’s putting things slightly in reverse: the media left don’t need to threaten professional boxing in the same it way they do the NFL, because they’ve already finished that sport off. In its heyday, professional boxing used to be a much bigger sport than the NFL, and men like Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Jersey Joe Walcott were all household names, in the same way that Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, and Michael Vick are superstars today. Once Muhammad Ali retired, and once liberal sportscasters, beginning with Howard Cosell began to turn against the sport, professional boxing lost its national allure. While it still exists on cable TV and in Vegas and Atlantic City, nobody talks about the big fight they watched the night before on television over the water-cooler the next day in the same fashion they did from TV’s infancy until Ali retired. Mike Tyson’s celebrity is as much for his strange offstage antics as whatever he accomplished in the ring (other than ear-biting incident, which further proves my point).

Quick — with Tyson retired, name a current professional boxer.

The NFL could well go this route over the next few decades. Our media culture, which responds to bullying with therapy and psychobabble and creating an ever-growing number of victims will see to that.

First Bum, Now Bud

October 21st, 2013 - 12:30 pm

“Titans owner Bud Adams has died at age 90,” Comcast Sportsnet-Houston reports:

His business interests also took him to farming and ranching interests in Texas and California, cattle feeding, real estate and automobile sales. He also was a major collector of western art and Indian artifacts and maintained a private gallery at his corporate headquarters.

The sports world was where he had his highest profile, however.

His Oilers slumped badly in the years following the 1970 merger between the AFL and the NFL, only to rise to prominence in the late 1970s when Adams convinced Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse to trade him the rights to Heisman Trophy-winning running back Earl Campbell in 1978.

The Campbell-led teams reached two straight AFC title games, only to lose to eventual Super Bowl winner Pittsburgh each time. The Oilers flamed out of the playoffs early in 1980 and Adams reacted by firing popular coach Bum Phillips, a move that permanently alienated him from many fans of the team’s ”Luv Ya Blue” era. Phillips died Friday, also at the age of 90.

Adams further irritated Houstonians in 1987 when he first began complaining about the Astrodome and toured the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville to scout a possible move. Harris County relented and added the 10,000 extra seats Adams demanded.

The Oilers had their longest run of success in the late 1980s and early 1990s but became best known for blowing a record 32-point lead in a playoff game at Buffalo on Jan. 3, 1993 – Adams’ 70th birthday.

Adams again began railing about the aging Astrodome shortly afterward, and this time Houston politicians called his bluff. Adams went ahead with his team’s threatened move to Tennessee, though he continued to live and work in Houston.

Faced with losing the Astros soon after, Houston voters approved use of tax money to finance a new ballpark and — once the NFL granted Houston the expansion Texans — a football stadium.

”We feel like we were the catalyst for three new stadiums,” said Adams, who also caused construction of a stadium in Nashville for the Oilers/Titans.

His franchise enjoyed another on-field renaissance after moving to Nashville and reached the Super Bowl after the 1999 season, only to lose to the Rams 23-16 when Kevin Dyson was tackled at the St. Louis 1-yard line as time expired.

The Titans have made it to the playoffs six times, most recently in 2008 with a second AFC championship game appearance after the 2002 season. Adams was one of only four current NFL owners to have at least 350 wins in his career.

RIP. For our look back at Bum Phillips, click  here.

Filed under: Run To Daylight

RIP, Legendary NFL Coach Bum Phillips

October 19th, 2013 - 3:55 pm

Bum Phillips’ tenure as an NFL head coach wasn’t all that long compared to other coaching legends; five exceedingly memorable years with the Houston Oilers; another five less-than-memorable years with the New Orleans Saints. He never won a Super Bowl, but if ever there was a coach who personified Texas, it was Oail Andrew Phillips, who passed away yesterday at age 90, as Houston Chronicle sportswriter Dale Robertson describes in Phillips’ obituary:

It was as much Luv ya Bum as it was Luv ya Blue in 1978-79 when the Oilers twice reached the NFL’s American Conference Championship Game before losing in Pittsburgh to the Steelers, a storied franchise with a roster full of Hall of Fame-bound players that won four Super Bowls during the six years Phillips was with the Oilers. But such was the special synergy between a town, a team and a homespun, tobacco-chewing, homily-spewing coach that more than 60,000 twice turned out for rowdy Astrodome pep rallies held to welcome Bum and his boys home.At the first one, Phillips clutched his cowboy hat to his chest – he never wore it indoors, you know – wiped away a few tears and, staring toward the rafters, said under his breath, “Gawdalmighty.” He later admitted, “It was a stirrin’ sight.

During the second, he took a defiant tone, nearly bringing the Dome down when he was handed the microphone by roaring, “Last year we knocked on the door. This year we beat on it. Next year we’re going to kick the sumbich in.”

Sadly, it didn’t happen – and still hasn’t. He was gone after the 1980 season ended with a first-round playoff defeat at Oakland. Houstonian John Mecom hired him almost immediately to turn around his sad-sack Saints, but the Phillips Mojo didn’t translate in New Orleans, where the fans became increasingly surly as the seasons passed and the Saints failed to make progress. He turned in his resignation there with four games remaining in the 1985 season – son Wade, currently the Houston Texans defensive coordinator, replaced him on an interim basis – retiring from coaching at 62 to ride and train horses and sharpen his roping skills.

“I don’t want to do something halfway,” Robertson quotes Phillips as saying in a 2010 interview. “That ain’t fun.”

Bum never did anything halfway, and he certainly had fun, as did the rest of his team. His popularity was helped immeasurably by the surge of the Dallas Cowboys in the late 1970s, the period in which the Cowboys’ cheerleaders became stars and the Cowboys were televised nationally by one of the three TV networks seemingly every week,  until they were dubbed “America’s Team” by NFL Films in their 1978 highlight reel. Because they resided in rival conferences within the NFL, the Cowboys and Oilers rarely played each other during the regular season, but the networks played off the Cowboys’ national popularity to play up the folksiness of Phillips and the Oilers. Tom Landry wore suits, wingtips, and fedoras; Phillips wore Stetsons, jeans, and wild custom-made cowboy boots. Landry employed Labyrinthian complex multiple offensive formations and the mysterious Flex Defense; the Oilers’ Earl Campbell simply ran through, over, and on top of rival players. Cowboys fans drove Mercedes and drank Martinis from crystal glasses; the Oilers’ fans drove Ford Broncos and mechanical bulls and drank Budweiser from a can, etc. Landry coached the Cowboys; Phillips was a cowboy.

Perhaps most importantly, Landry was all “bidness” as a coach, particularly during interviews where he rarely said anything for the ages; Phillips was full of endless folksy phrases and homespun Texas wisdom. The Houston Chronicle assembled a whole heaping helping’s worth in Bum’s obit; this is just a sampling:

“Playing Pittsburgh is like eating an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Sometimes before you can get it all in your mouth, it gets all over you.”

“When people say we gotta play Pittsburgh twice a year, I remind them, ‘Well, they gotta play us twice, too.’”

“I like effort and extra effort. If you don’t like my attitude, see your friendly player rep.”

* * * * * * *
Bum on his players:

* Running back Earl Campbell: “Yeah, he gets up slow, but he goes down slow, too…I’m not saying Earl is in a class by himself, but whatever class he’s in, it don’t take long to call the roll…I won’t give him the ball when it’s first-and-a-mile (when asked about Campbell’s difficulty completing a one-mile at the start of training camp)…I’d feel pressure coaching against him (when asked if he felt pressure coaching Campbell).”

* Quarterback Dan Pastorini: “He likes to be good. He really enjoys the big games and all the attention. But the big thing about Dan is he’d always play with pain, and he didn’t do it for show. A tough kid, that one.”

* Receiver/return man Billy Johnson: “He’s one helluva special team all by hisself.”

And Bum was one helluva coach all by hisself. Rest in peace.

As soon as the DirecTV guide said that the Dallas Cowboys would be playing the Washington Redskins on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, I knew Bob Costas would deliver one of his patented Mini-Olbermann monomaniacal monologues on the eeeeeeeevils of the Redskins’ name, despite the fact, as Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom mentioned on Twitter last night, Costas has been a sportscaster covering the NFL for over 30 years now.

I have no idea what Jerry Jones’ politics are (I’ve heard conflicting reports), but if I were Jones, I’d call up NBC before the next time the Cowboys are on Sunday Night Football, and insist that Costas not use the game as a platform for one of his political rants. Otherwise, in November, when the Cowboys plays the Saints on Sunday night, we’re sure some variation from Costas on one of his previous diatribes:

● Costas’ surreal 2007 monologue on the joys of turning out your lights at home — but apparently not your TV, not the lighted sign of your show’s sponsor (Toyota), and not the seventeen million watts of kleig lights at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, when the Cowboys played the Eagles that Sunday night.

● Costas’ anti-Second Amendment monologue last year, during another Cowboys-Eagles Sunday night game, when the big story in the news that weekend involved Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs. Belcher killed his girlfriend and then himself, leaving behind a parent-less three month old daughter. (Curiously, while Costas blamed “the gun culture” for Belcher’s actions, he didn’t blame, at that time at least, the American Indian-inspired name of the team he played for driving him to madness, or its excessive electricity use.)

“I don’t blame Bob Costas.  I blame the microphone,” Rush Limbaugh quipped afterwards. “If that microphone hadn’t been on, nobody would know what Costas said.  If you stop and think about it, it’s the microphone’s fault.”

And now yesterday’s Grand Political Statement, when Costas’ microphone went off yet again.

Back in the 1970s, when I first began to follow the NFL, football was an escape from the day-to-day realities of Jimmy Carter, stagflation, rampant unemployment, and all of the other horrors of the era.

Today, the NFL, as America’s most popular professional sport, is a platform for every leftwing grievance group to blast out their cause-du-jour, whether it’s radical environmentalism, anti-Constitutionalism, or American Indian victimhood.

Between its thugish players and their day-to-day appearances on the police blotter (or worse, in the case of Jovan Belcher), and the thugish journalists who cover the game while wanting to play wannabe political pundit, the modern-day NFL inverts the hoary old motto of the rap and hip-hop crowd.

I don’t hate the game, but increasingly, I’m hating the players, both on the field and in the booth.  And I doubt I’m alone.

Perhaps, given NBC’s pitiful ratings, the brass orders Costas to deliver up his political monologues, when they know that somebody is watching the network for a change. But keep it up NBC, and you’ll kill off this franchise as well, and move Sunday Night Football back to cable, where it originated.

Update: Tim Graham of Newsbusters has video of Costas yesterday, and describes his monologue as “classic, patronizing NBC, and even more classic Comcast-owned NBC — the same sensitive folks who give Al Sharpton a nightly forum. The majority is wrong. Leftist ‘diversity’ cops are kings. Bob Costas thinks he is the wisest, most sensitive man in all of sports.”

Yes, in precisely the same way that Al Sharpton is “smart. He’s entertaining. He’s experienced. He’s thoughtful. He’s provocative, all the things I think that MSNBC is.”

More: “Defensive Costas tries to explain his ‘Redskins’ slam,” the Daily Caller reports.

war_on_football_cover_10-1-13-1

“In 25 to 50 years, football still exists, but it’s marginalized the way boxing is,” Daniel J. Flynn of the American Spectator and his own Flynn Files blog predicts during our interview on his new book, The War On Football: Saving America’s Game.

As Flynn readily concedes, despite the myriad lawsuits that the NFL and related organizations such as the manufacturers of helmets and other safety equipment are being inundated with from former players, as a spectator sport, football has “probably never been better. Our national obsession is watching the NFL and to a lesser extent watching college football,” he says.

But on the other hand, “football as a participation sport is really hurting,” Flynn adds. “Last year, youth football lost six percent of its player population…If youth football loses six percent of its player population next season and the season after, there’s not going to be any youth football left in America.” And eventually, that attrition in young players will begin having an impact on recruiting for both the college and the pro game.

As Flynn notes, while football is indeed a rough game where injuries occur, it’s not the only sport that can result in dangerous injuries and even death. He likens the current war on football, some of which is being driven by MSM sports reporters, to earlier forms of media hysteria, such as the annual shark attack stories that newspapers and TV news shows run every summer, the 1970s reports of looming “killer bee” invasions, and the 1990s Y2K scare.

In sharp contrast to all of the fear mongering, “I want parents to be equipped with facts so that they can form decisions about whether they want to allow their kid to play football or not,” Flynn tells me. “I think right now they’re being guilt-tripped out of signing their kid up for football because of this national hysteria.”

For an antidote, click below to listen, and read the transcript of our interview on the following pages.

During our 28-minute long interview, we’ll discuss:

● How dangerous is football, both on the professional and the amateur level?

● Why former NFL players have chosen en masse to sue the league they voluntarily participated in.

● Are any former pros who have never actually played in an official NFL game suing the league for long-term injuries?

● How has parenting changed in recent years, and how is that impacting the war on football?

● What is the average lifespan is for football players, compared with those who haven’t played sports?

● What is the percentage of former NFL players committing suicide, versus the suicide rate of adult American males in general?

And much more. Click here to listen:

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(27 minutes and 50 seconds long; 25.5 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 7.96 MB lo-fi edition.)

If the above Flash audio player is not be compatible with your browser, click on the video player below, or click here to be taken directly to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip. Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.

Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.

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Rick Reilly Trolls the Left

September 20th, 2013 - 8:02 am

Regrading the hatred for the name of the Washington Redskins by the uber-PC football-hating left, Rick Reilly of ESPN “decided to have a bit of fun with this and point out to the (almost uniformly) white liberals who operate the above outlets that, well, actual Indians don’t have a problem with the name,” Sunny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon writes:

If I can circle back to this post on political correctness, there’s another line from Chuck Klosterman’s essay on Andrew Dice Clay and the reaction that gave rise to him that is worth quoting in this context: “I’m reticent to use the term ‘political correctness.’ I realize it drives certain people really, really crazy. (My wife is one of these people.)” My experiences confirm Klosterman’s point. And the reaction to Reilly’s comment is a perfect example of the phenomenon. It is kind of amazing the response you get as soon as you make the entirely uncontroversial point that opposition to the name “Redskin” is rooted in little more than reactionary, kneejerk political correctness.

I get the sense that Reilly wrote this column just to see what the PC police would do. And they didn’t disappoint.

To mix and match the favorite slogans of Glenn Reynolds and former Redskins coach Vince Lombardi, run to daylight, and read the whole thing.

Related: For more reporting from the toxic battlefield of PC versus the NFL, a few angry San Francisco 49ers fans upset with the roar of the crowd noise at the Seattle Seahawks stadium after the ‘Hawks stomped the ‘Niners 29 to 3 this past Sunday “called on the NFL to establish a rule to set a noise level ceiling. Teams that violate that rule more than three times would give up their home games.”

Wow, normally proud and snobbish 49ers fans as just another leftwing San Francisco victims group. I’ve officially read it all.

Actually though, if they really wanted to get revenge against the Seahawks, they’d call on the NFL to banish their current uniforms. Far more so than the Seahawks’ original (and pretty bad) togs, these things are truly hideous.

Well, that only took nine days. On the 12th, Allahpundit wrote “MSNBC now using ‘R-Word’ in place of Redskins:”

Via the Corner. Is this a network-wide policy or is it just Maddow setting the rules for her own show? You’d think MSNBC executives might want a team huddle to decide before their 9 p.m. host implicitly pronounces everyone else on the payroll who uses the term “Redskins” guilty of “painfully racist” language. Turns out the YouKnowWhatsits play twice in primetime on sister network NBC this fall and I’m pretty sure “R-word” ain’t going to cut it in the booth. Time to boycott “Sunday Night Football”?

Actually, it might be time to boycott MSNBC itself. Oh wait, I’ve been doing that ever since Soledad O’Brien and her digitally animated sidekick Dev Null left the NBC albatross network in the late 1990s, at the conclusion of its first incarnation as a proto-TechTV. Fortunately, Allah and Newsbusters are both willing to take one for the team; Paul Bremmer, blogging at the latter Website spots MSNBC’s Alex Wagner moaning about the three Miami Dolphins who decided to sit out the 1972 team’s photo op with the president yesterday:

ALEX WAGNER: It was one of the few Washington traditions that was above politics, but apparently not anymore. Today the 1972 Miami Dolphins will visit the White House 40 years after their 1972 Super Bowl victory and their unmatched 17-0 NFL record. President Nixon did not host the team at the time because, in typical Nixon fashion, he wanted to snub his opponents. For the record, Nixon supported the Dolphins’ Super Bowl opponents, the Washington Redskins. That’s something Richard Nixon and I could have agreed on. But even the most feel-good White House ceremony seems to be threatened by ideology. At least three ‘72 Dolphins players are refusing the White House invite because — wait for it, Joy — politics. Former lineman Bob Kuchenberg told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, quote, “Mom said if you have nothing good to say about someone, then don’t say anything. I don’t have anything good to say about someone.” Center Jim Langer added, “We’ve got some real moral compass issues in Washington. I don’t want to be in a room with those people and pretend I’m having a good time.” Because it would be impossible to you to pretend to be having a good time when being honored by the president of the United States at the White House.

No word yet on what sort of recrimination Wagner faces for violating the policy regarding “the R-Word” laid down by Maddow, who has several years worth of seniority with the network. But does she have the clout to cause a fellow newsreader to be dismissed for uttering such “painfully racist” language on-air?