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September 15, 2010 2:45 AM

Column Awards of the Week (9/8-9/14)

Column Awards pic.jpgBy updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particularly passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly (though some may become reoccurring).

The NFL has begun and in the eyes of many in the media teams are now Super Bowl-bound or doomed for a horrendous season. There was a lot of talk about what constitutes a catch and pretty much every article about the Jets worked in the 'Hard Knocks' pun. It's do or die for all MLB teams in the playoff hunt and Denard Robinson is being annointed the Heisman already. Let's get to the awards!

Elderly Abuse
Seems odd to be giving an award for elderly abuse but this Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune gives Favre a tongue-lashing: "I thought our timing was a little bit off,'' Favre said.
And why would that be? Why would an offense that sliced through the NFL last year, that dominated two playoff defenses only eight months ago, be "off?''
Because Favre didn't want to do the necessary work with buddies this summer. Because he shirked his duties as a teammate.


Don't you just see Souhan gritting his teeth while he says this and getting progressively louder. That's Favre for you. You gotta live with the good and the bad. You gotta admit though - he IS having a lot of fun out there.

Most Hilarious Analogy
Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated tested out some new shoes that have springs in them and are supposed to increase your vert by a few inches. Ballard compares the programs that promise to increase your vert by inches to something else that's supposed to increase something by inches: With names like Air Alert and Vertimax, these programs are breathlessly advertised in the back of magazines like SLAM, as if they were penis pumps for your calves.

That's the perfect tagline! "Try my jumping program. It's like a penis pump for your calves."


Worst Analogy
Wayne Friedman of Media Post makes a confusing analogy in an attempt to argue that the NFL should abolish its blackout policy: Fewer TV comedies play to live in-studio audiences these days. Should we expect the same from our local NFL teams? 

TV comedies are abandoning live audiences in order have more creative freedom. Shows not shot in front of a studio audience can have a lot more locations, camera angles and have a lot more freedom in the editing room. The analogy makes no sense when comparing TV shows to NFL teams.  It's not like quarterbacks can't throw as far with an audience. The NFL isn't ABANDONING it's audience. Well, unless you count the Jets and Giants pricing long-time fans out of their stadiums with ridiculously high PSL's.

Most Likely to Have Not Gone to High School
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports covers boxing/MMA and does it quite well. It's an amazing story since it seems he never even attended high school: Lee, 23, graduated with a degree in finance from Notre Dame, where he carried a 3.8 grade point average, and could be earning a six-figure living on Wall Street. He's the prototypical All-American boy, an outgoing, handsome, photogenic young man who could easily wind up on the cover of the school's yearbook.

What yearbook has a student's face on the cover??  Aren't they usually just the school logo? Iole had already hammered his point home - why throw in something that doesn't even make sense? Even if he wanted to go the yearbook route he could've gone with "got the superlative 'Most Likely to Succeed.'"


Bill Simmons' Pop Culture Reference Rundown
Simmons was surprisingly subdued in his pop culture references this week. He referenced Mr. Holland's Opus (the lead was a parody on the movie), Jersey Shore (seemingly his new "Teen Wolf"), Dancing With the Stars and Tom Cavanagh. Sadly, with 9/02/10 past, Simmons just didn't seem to have his pop culture 'A' game.

Honest Approach to a Column
Many times a columnist is given an assignment and no matter what happens they must make due. Sometimes the subject matter becomes much more boring than originally thought. But it's their job to write the column regardless. In the 30 for 30 documentary about Michael Jordan's baseball career, a reporter for the Birmingham paper talked about how he had to write a Michael Jordan story after every game regardless of what Jordan did.

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel got just one of those types of assignments: Here I am in Jacksonville.
My assignment: Write a column about a player who had two carries for 2 yards.
And make it good. Make it exciting. Make it bigger than life.
OK, then, here we go:.
Tim Tebow returned to his hometown of Jacksonville Sunday and gained 2 yards -- the 2 greatest yards in NFL history -- to lead the Denver Broncos to a 24-17 near-victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Well, that's about it.
Good night everybody.
What's that, boss? You need 17 more inches?


This approach is so much better than if he were to actually have written this article seriously. What is there to write about? And yet, there were columns out there that did focus on Tebow and never mentioned how insane it is that they have to write a whole article about a player that gained 2 yards.

Glass Half-Full Optimism
Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun had an interesting take on the Ravens' performance from Monday night: The Ravens proved Monday night that a team doesn't need a deep, vertical threat -- not as long as it has a good group of "possession" receivers.

Was Preston watching the same game I was? Sure, the Ravens won 10-9 over the Jets, but they ONLY SCORED 10 points. On their only touchdown drive, 27 of the 65 yards gained were from Jets' penalties. Flacco completed just over 50% of his passes to those "possession" receivers. I know they were playing the Jets who might have the best cornerbacks in the league but to state so emphatically that the Ravens don't need a deep threat after that performance is way off base.

Not Doing Your Research
Jason Whitlock is fine with college football not having a playoff system. He believes the fact that the Virginia Tech/Boise State game was so significant is what's right with the sport. He mentions the current problems in the NFL to emphasize how well college football is doing: The story leading into the NFL season is "blackouts." Multiple cities won't have numerous home games televised because the value of NFL regular-season tickets are declining. Sports fans are getting wiser. They're not going to pay $250 a seat for games that are not all that significant. They'd rather watch at home on their HD flat screens and see all the replays. NFL games used to be the event. Being inside the stadium used to matter. Not anymore.

There are so many things wrong with this. First off, he's assuming that college attendance isn't suffering. Clearly that's not true. He's also comparing the best, most meaningful college games to the NFL games that get blacked out - like the Jaguars, Rams and Lions. Teams like the Colts and Patriots will charge a ton more for tickets than college games and will still sell out their games. They will sell out their games against the worst competition and in meaningless season finale's. The NFL is in fine shape and if college football had blackout rules I'm sure there would be plenty of awful games that wouldn't air.  You can make the argument that a playoff system would hurt college football without making a completely unfair and uninformed comparison to the NFL.

Interesting Logic
Bill Plaschke argued that Reggie Bush should return his Heisman. Bush now has but Plaschke's logic for why he should return it is a bit puzzling:  And, no, even if the Heisman didn't have specific rules forbidding the awarding of the trophy to an ineligible player, Bush didn't deserve it. It turns out that he was essentially paid for his 2,611 total yards while running against opponents who were mostly playing for free. He didn't share their worries. He didn't share their uncertainty. The fight wasn't fair.

So money made Bush a better player? Because he was getting paid he didn't have to worry about his future? Were players on Oregon State distracted by thinking about their 401Ks and it caused them to not be able to catch Bush? What did Bush buy with that money? Stronger, faster legs? Money doesn't change the playing field. The only way this makes sense is if Plaschke is implying that many players were getting paid and thus USC was able to obtain more talent illegally.

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