JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

The NHL: We exist, dammit!

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So I just checked out SI.com, and three headlines down on the right, beside the Ole Miss-South Carolina game and below Adrian Peterson’s injury and the Tigers’ win over Cleveland, there was this: GRETZKY STEPS DOWN AS COYOTES’ COACH.

Now, I know the NHL is a small player in the United States; that the average sports fan could not name more than half the teams or, for that matter, more than, oh, three active players. But is there any greater indictment of hockey’s staggering lack of popularity than the play given to the Great One’s departure? We’re not talking about Mike Keenan or Tony Granato here. Gretzky is The Hockey Icon—the face, the name, the mojo of the sport. Yet he quits as a head coach … and nobody cares? Jarring.

On an equally important note, tonight at the gym I watched the new VH1 Behind The Music—Bobby Brown. Beyond the drugs and the sex and the fame and the tunes, here’s what struck me: Bobby Brown has never been an especially good singer. He was made by the studio; by the beets and beeps and drum machines backing him up. Much of the program was a lead-up to Bobby’s recent comeback on the CMT show, Gone Country, where Brown and a handful of other musical has-beens try to make it as country singers. They spoke of Bobby’s triumphant song in the final episode. And while, indeed, he wrote a nice tune, well, eh … listen. (Especially compared to SisQo’s showing, which, I’ve gotta say, was terrific. Especially for such a short man.)