2011

J-E-T-S. Shut up, shut up, shut up …

When I was but a lad of 8 or 9, my mother offered some advice I’ve never forgotten.

“Boy,” she said, “if you’re ever a mediocre NFL cornerback who gets burned every third play …”

Yes, mother?

“… and if you position yourself significantly too far off the line of scrimmage …”

Yes, mother?

“ … and if slants eat you alive …”

Yes, mother?

“ … and if your last team traded you for being a Clifford-sized mutt …”

Yes, mother?

“ … and if you’ve fathered nine children with eight women …”

Yes, mother?

“ … and if you need your team to front you $500,000 for child support payments …”

Yes, mother?

“ … don’t talk trash about the opposing club’s quarterback. Especially if he’s one of the greatest to ever play the game, and especially-especially if his team humiliated yours, 45-3, earlier in the season.”

Yes, mother.

With that information, I leapt from the couch, anxious to flag down my mittens and launch snowballs at cars as they passed our house.

Mother, alas, wasn’t done.

“Boy?”

Yes, mother?

“If you’re ever a portly NFL coach with a taste for Carvel triple-scoop and nary a second’s professional playing experience …”

Yes, mother?

“ … and your team has no real shot of reaching the Super Bowl, despite your boasts …”

Yes, mother?

“ … and your sweaters look as if they were extras from the Cosby Show …”

Yes, mother?

“ … and much of your ceaseless trash talk has backfired …”

Yes, mother?

“ … and if you struggled to squeak past Cleveland and Detroit …”

Yes, mother?

“ … and if the franchise you’re about to play destroyed you, 45-3, earlier in the season …”

Yes, mother?

“ … and if you cut one of the opposing team’s best players in order to open a roster spot for David Clowney …”

Yes, mother?

“ … and if the world knows you and your wife enjoy playing footsie …”

Yes, mother?

“ … well, if that’s ever the case, Boy, please do your mother one very big favor.”

Yes, mother? Anything.

“Anything, Boy?”

Yes, mother. Anything.

“Shut the %$#@ up.”

Japanese Steak House

Just got the official invitation from my lovely sister-in-law for my nephew’s upcoming 7th birthday party … at a Japanese Steak House.

When I was a kid, I probably went to one of these places, oh, four times. Total. since marrying my wife, I’d say I’ve got at least 10 times. Probably more. I love my sister-in-law, and I love my nephews (who I genuinely view as my own children). But if I never see the flip-the-shrimp-in-the-hat trick again, I’ll be a happy man. If I never see another onion volcano … never have vegetables flipped onto my plate … never pose for the end-of-meal commemorative photo … never hear Happy Birthday crooned in Japanese … well, let’s be blunt. I’m losing my mind. My nephews are great kids. Great, great, great kids. But how about Serendipity III? Or, oh, California Pizza Kitchen? Fuck, I’ll take McDonald’s and those nasty McNuggets. Anything … but please, dear God, no more Japanese Steak House.

I can smell the dressing. I can taste the Shirley Temple. I can feel the green tea ice cream on my tongue.

No …

No …

No …

I am doomed.

Giffords: V

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

In the aftermath of the Arizona shooting, we’ve gone back and forth about the power of words, and whether the mumblings and utterances of politicians can lead people to commit violent acts. If you believe Sarah Palin’s moronic Wednesday statement, the answer is—No. Words are words and acts are acts, and they have nothing to do with one another (Which, of course, leads one to ask: If that’s so, what was so bad about Barack Obama knowing the alleged terrorist dude … hell, can’t even remember his name anymore)

I, however, think it’s obvious—and has been obvious throughout history—that leaders lead, followers follow, and those leaders who lead wrongly can bring about terrible results.

Watch the above video. What do you think?

Two Upcoming Releases …

Two friends and co-workers have books coming out. Haven’t read either yet, but their histories speak for the authors. Great writers, great guys, worthy of support …

The book world

Just returned from Broolyn, where I met with David Black, my literary agent dude.

Upon handing in the first draft of my latest book, I planned on sorta kicking back and relaxing. Well, that’s impossible. A. I don’t really know what kicking back and relaxing entails, and B. I’m a self-employer author without health insurance. That doesn’t allow much time for pina coladas and Erik Estrada film festivals.

The book world is mega-tough right now, because fewer people are reading; because of the digital movement; because Borders is about to close up (That’s true—the chain won’t be around much longer). There seems to be a panic, and editors, agents, publishers, authors are all spinning around, wondering what to do. Personally, I used to dream of one day establishing myself so I could eventually write the book of my dreams, money be damned. Well, now I’m pretty established with books, and I don’t think that luxury exists. I have two kids to feed, a mortgage to pay, a career to sustain. Can I devote two years to, say, Vanilla: My Ice, Ice Story and survive? Probably not.

So I compromise. I stick with sports, but try and find topics that fascinate me. My big mistake with Clemens, I’d say, was that I wasn’t 100% fascinated. I liked the book, felt the topic was interesting and worthy. But was I riveted the way I have been researching Mark Eaton these past two years? No.

OK, babbling over …

Abe Gibron: II

Nothing too deep here. Just found this photo of Abe Gibron, the subject of my latest SI.com column. It’s a little reminder that even the most ridiculous looking among us looked even more ridiculous in ’70s Tampa Bay garb.

Reality (poof) bites

Growing up in Mahopac, N.Y., I was always sorta warned against optimism by my mother, a substance abuse specialist who has seen countless “recovered” addicts inevitably fall back to the bottle/needle/line/whatever. I’d utter stuff like, “Dwight Gooden has really turned his life around!” to which Mom would reply, “I hope so—but I’m skeptical.”

Nine out of 10 times she was right.

I haven’t spoken with Mom about Ted Williams, the homeless guy with the amazing voice, but I’m pretty sure—upon his discovery—she would have said the same thing. “Just watch out. Just watch out.”

According to a depressing AP report from earlier today, Williams is headed for rehab for alcohol and drug dependency after an appearance on Dr. Phil’s (awful, exploitative, pathetic) show. According to the report, it sounds as if Williams still drinks. There was also an incident at the Los Angeles hotel where Williams was staying a few nights ago—police came in response to an altercation between Williams and his daughter. According to the AP, family members said the dispute was over Williams resuming drinking.

As was the case with Josh Hamilton and other rehabbing celebrities I’ve written about, many out there will say, “Screw this guy. He’s given a second chance and he ruins it.” I get the reaction—I get it. But addiction is, genuinely, a disease. Insanely difficult to break and insanely difficult to handle when times are either very high or very low.

I feel for the guy.

PS: The above photo is me shoveling today. Feel free to mock the hat.

Leadership

Wednesday was a planned day of mourning and, to a certain degree, celebration of the lives of those who died in the Arizona tragedy. It was a time, most involved seemed to agree, when politics would be left behind, and the words and deeds would reflect solely on what had transpired. And, perhaps, on how we can better ourselves.

Yet whether we like it or not, politics is politics, and at times like these that reality cannot be avoided.

Early in the day, well before the president spoke at a University of Arizona memorial service, Sarah Palin released her first at-length statement since the shooting spree. Her words, to be incredibly kind, were ridiculous. In much of the world, leadership involves stepping forward and offering people a shining light. It involves bringing folks together; finding common bonds; seeking out solutions and cutting off problems before they arrive.

What leadership does not include is self-preservation at all costs.

Which is why Sarah Palin, aspiring president, failed so miserably with this address:

Mrs. Palin, we all get it—you didn’t shoot anyone; you didn’t inspire the shooting of anyone; words are just words, and come day’s end they render people blameless. Again, we get it. What strikes me as, ahem, awkward is Palin’s need to defend herself on a day 100 percent not about her. Angry at the press? Fine. Upset over perceptions? OK. But you issue this—today? Really?

Hours later, Barack Obama took the stage. And while I have been down on him lately, his words and message—perfect. Perfectly stated, perfectly delivered, perfectly said. Wanna know what it means to lead and inspire? Just watch.

Ever since she emerged on the national stage during the 2008 election, Palin has baffled me. Her knowledge is limited, her speech is terrible, her accomplishments are thin. Yet somehow, the more she screws up, the more her followers cling to her.

Will that continue after today?

Certainly.