Passing for Preterition

Several years ago, I had a Continental flight from O’Hare to Newark after  the annual BIO conference, an event once described to me as “a singles bar for governors and venture capitalists.” It’s very finance-heavy, and a lot of the exhibit hall space is bought by regional economic development groups that are looking to attract investment.

At the gate, the airline called all passengers with Elite Access status for early boarding. As God is my witness, only three passengers remained seated, while the rest of us got on line. “Sorta defeats the purpose of ‘Elite,’ huh?” I asked one of the money-people heading back to NY/NJ.

I was reminded of that this morning when I read John Clayton’s latest NFL mailbag column, which begins with Clayton’s take on the importance of “elite quarterbacks”. He offers up his criteria for “elite” and proceeds to name the FOURTEEN starting QBs who qualify. So, out of thirty-two teams, nearly HALF of them have “elite” QBs?

In case you’re wondering:

The elite AFC quarterbacks are Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer and Joe Flacco. In the NFC, you have Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Tony Romo, Donovan McNabb, Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Warner, Eli Manning and Matt Ryan.

In other news, you are all beautiful, unique snowflakes.

This Week in Oh, No, He Di’n’t!

Last week, I goofed on Sports Illustrated for ignoring ongoing sports in favor of a Tolstoy-length profile of a guy who surfs.

This week’s “SI:WTF?” moment comes in the form of a Dan Patrick interview with Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Football season is, um, around five months away and Mr. Dungy is retired, so who better to interview?(?!)

Mr. Patrick asked Mr. Dungy about the latter’s plans to visit Michael Vick in prison. Let’s join in progress:

DP: What do you hope to accomplish?

TD: I want to go out there as a friend. I met Michael when we played [the Falcons] in Japan, and we’d always talked about going fishing together. I’m just going out there to talk about life and what he’s going to face. Most people are going to be against him, and he’s got to understand that. I’m going to talk to him like I would talk to my son.

At this point, there were three ways Mr. Patrick could have proceeded:

  1. “You do recall that one of your sons killed himself right before Christmas in 2005, right?”
  2. “Are you planning on bringing Andy Reid as support?”
  3. “If you were still coaching, would you take a chance on him?”

Unfortunately, Mr. Patrick chose “3”.

I’m very glad that this blog has such small readership that I can actually make a joke about the suicide of an 18-year-old and not feel like I’m going to get vilified too harshly.

But if you think I’m bad, Mr. Patrick is the one who seems to think Vick deserves a “second chance” because . . . guys with DUI manslaughter convictions are given second chances?

Just to prove I’m not making this up, here’s another excerpt:

DP: You could kill somebody and have a better chance of coming back [than Michael Vick, who bred dogs to fight to the death and, if the dogs didn’t “show enough fight,” killed them by “various methods, including hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.“] . . .

TD: I’ve said that. I agree with you. We’ve seen it. It’s happened.

DP: [Rams defensive end] Leonard Little killed somebody with a DUI, and it’s not brought up. But Michael Vick killed dogs, therefore he doesn’t deserve another chance. [I DID NOT ALTER THIS LINE IN THE SLIGHTEST]

TD: Some people say, “That could have been me; I drink a little bit. So I can have empathy for that, because that could have been me. But I could never kill a dog, so we shouldn’t give this guy a second chance.” It’s a strange mentality. But that’s what Michael is going to be facing. And that’s what I want to speak to him about.

I have no idea what Mr. Patrick’s point about DUI is. If he’s angry that people aren’t complaining that Mr. Little killed someone while DUI, then he should probably get out and protest the opening of every Matthew Broderick movie (as though they could have worse box office). If he thinks that DUI in general is as serious as death, then he oughtta ban Charles Barkley from his radio show.

If he doesn’t have any coherent point, and just believes that athletes should be out on the field, regardless of their legal transgressions, then . . . he’s your standard idiot sportscaster, I guess.

But I’m more interested in Mr. Dungy’s response. See, he thinks it’s a “strange mentality” we have, not allowing a guy to make millions in the NFL just because he spent his money building a dogfighting syndicate and, in his spare time, killing his dogs in brutal ways. I find it interesting that Mr. Dungy strips all the conspiracy, the brutality, the ugliness of Mr. Vick’s actions and replaces it all with “killing a dog.” It’s amazing how far people will relax their standards when a star quarterback is involved.

ANYWAY: all of this brings me to a thought experiment about Michael Vick. A little earlier in this post, I linked to his indictment, which included graphic details of how Vick & his pals brutally killed some of their dogs.

Here’s my hypothetical: How would your opinion of Vick’s case change if they had killed those dogs with the same care and practice that a veterinarian uses when putting a dog down?

That is, how would you feel about Vick if his guys had gently euthanized their rejected dogs with an injection, rather than killing them by hand? Would it make any difference in how “forgivable” his actions are?

(Note: Do not read this heartbreaking SI cover article on the fate of Mr. Vick’s surviving dogs until after you’ve thought about that hypothetical, because this’ll likely redouble your rage.)

Sports Questions

1. Is it better when fans can’t remember from year to year who was in the championship game/series (see NFL, MLB) or when the same two competitors reach the finals every time (Nadal, Federer)?

* * *

2. Is it better that the general public thinks that everyone in your league is on cocaine, or that everyone in your league is on steroids?

* * *

3. Does the 76ers’ roster sound like the lineup of a ’70s funk band?

  • Andre
  • Andre
  • Thaddeus
  • Samuel
  • Willie
  • Elton
  • Lou
  • Reggie
  • Royal
  • Marreese
  • Theo
  • Donyell
  • Kareem