November 2nd, 2004 Comments off

Once Again, Politics Makes Me Ralph

Well, no matter what happens today (for the record, I stand by the prediction at the close of my week eight NFL predictions post on This Football Blog), I can spend the next four years knowing I didn’t vote for the corporate stooge in charge. That’s right, as promised, I cast my vote for Mr. Ralph Nader.

Why? How could I, in such an important election, cast a vote for a candidate who doesn’t represent one of the major parties and can’t win? As I’ve said before, I’m a progressive. And, while others can do whatever they like (and rationalize it in whatever way they choose), I wouldn’t feel like I could call myself a progressive if I went out and voted for a conservative candidate, even a conservative candidate who’s slightly less conservative, considerably more honest, and infinitely more qualified than the other candidate. I know I’m in a tiny little minority here, but I just don’t believe choosing the lesser of two evils is ever going to bring about positive change.

No. Scratch that last bit. I know for a fact that the best you can do with choosing the lesser of two evils is maintain the status quo. And anyone who isn’t blind should be able to see that the status quo in America isn’t working for anyone but the rich and powerful.

Will we get real healthcare reform if Kerry is elected? Shit, no. We’ll talk about it a lot, but nothing will happen, because the corporations that own Bush own Kerry and own pretty much everyone in Congress and they don’t want it. Will rich people be forced to pay their fair share of taxes under Kerry? Come on, now. They may lose the tax break Bush has given them (though probably not), but the bulk of the burden for running our government and carrying out global warfare will still fall on the shoulders of working people. Will the corporations that run this country lose any of their power? Not a chance. They own both of these guys.

How about those Supreme Court nominees everyone is so worked up about? Won’t electing Kerry keep Bush from stacking the court with right-wing ideologues bent on overturning Roe v. Wade and approving school prayer? Yeah, obviously it’ll keep Bush from doing that, since he won’t be in office to do it. But do you think Kerry’s gonna appoint a bunch of liberal justices? And if he does, do you think the Republicans in the Senate are gonna let them make it onto the bench? He won’t, partly because they wouldn’t. So we’ll end up with an assortment of nominees who are as conservative as those named by the last Democratic president. And won’t that be wonderful for us progressives?

So, yeah, I voted for a guy who actually shares many of my values, a guy I would trust to do what’s right for America and Americans, both at home and abroad, a guy who can’t win, largely because he can’t be bought. Shame, shame on me.

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October 22nd, 2004 Comments off

Football Boy Stands In (Hopeless) Awe

Oh, man, I guess I haven’t been here in a while. This promoting a book stuff is time consuming work.

Still, here I am. I wrote this essay yesterday morning thinking I might be able to sell it somewhere. But it ain’t selling and it’s got a terribly short shelf life, so I’m just gonna go ahead and post it here. Like this:

I knew I was inviting trouble, but I had to ask just the same: “Are we gonna watch the game tonight?”

My wife, the baseball fan in the family, rolled her eyes. “You’re not gonna pretend to be a baseball fan now, are you?”

“No,” I said. “But, you know, it’s game seven. Sox and Yankees. You have to watch, right?”

“So we’ll watch,” she offered. Her shrug said “Whatever,” but her raised eyebrows said something more. They offered an unspoken warning: “Don’t go jumping on any bandwagons, football boy.”

She needn’t have worried. I wasn’t about to become any more of a baseball fan than I’ve ever been just because the Red Sox had battled back from 0-3 to force a game seven with the hated Yankees. Nor am I likely to abandon my great sports love, football, now simply because the Sox are in the World Series for the first time in 18 years.

I was born to love football, which has been my favorite sport for as long as I can remember.

My relationship with baseball has been far less solid. I’ve watched from time to time over the years, but mostly passively, catching a game on a barroom TV set here, in a friend’s living room there, rooting for the Red Sox, of course, but rarely feeling as if I had any stake in whether they won or lost.

And I blame the Sox for my lack of passion for baseball.

I grew up in Central Massachusetts, surrounded by Sox fans. My father is a Sox fan. His father was a Sox fan, too. In fact, many of my childhood memories of my grandfather, who died when I was a teenager, involve the Sox. When we’d go to visit in the summertime, I’d look out of my father’s car as it pulled into the driveway of my grandfather’s farmhouse (the farm he’d grown up on and worked for years was long gone by then) to see the old man sitting in his chair by the kitchen window, knowing he’d have his little black and white TV tuned to the game.

The Sox were a religion for my grandfather, as they have been for thousands upon thousands of New Englanders. And I could never betray his love for the team, or my father’s, by backing another. I could never be a Braves fan or an As fan. And, of course, it’s all but a hanging offense to back the Yankees in my part of the country.

Still, I never had the heart it takes to be a true Red Sox fan. Or if I ever did, the first time the team tore it out — losing the 1975 series to the Cincinnati Reds with a huge game-seven collapse after Carlton Fisk’s homer brought about a thrilling 12th inning victory a game earlier — it stayed out. By the time Bill Buckner’s name became forever all-but-unspeakable in Boston in game six of the ’86 series against the Mets, I had come to expect disappointment from the team. When the Sox gave in to the Yankees in game seven of the American League Championship Series last year, it didn’t hurt at all, because I hadn’t let myself hope for even a second that things might work out otherwise. I had abandoned baseball specifically to avoid the temptation to allow such hollow hope to creep in.

So I won’t be tempting my wife’s ire by pretending to be a baseball fan over the next 10 days.

I will be watching the World Series, though, just like thousands of other New Englanders who normally care only minimally about baseball. I’ll be watching with keen interest. And, in spite of everything I’ve learned during a lifetime of peeking around corners at the Sox, I’ll be watching with at least a touch of that hopeless hope folks in this part of the sports fan world hold onto so dearly.

It would have been impossible not to get swept up in the excitement of what the Sox did in their 2004 ALCS go-round with the Yankees. A year after a hard-to-take loss to the villains from the Bronx, the Sox pulled off the most stunning comeback victory in professional sports history. Better still, they put a permanent black mark on the Yankees’ record. The greatest fold, the greatest choke, the most embarrassing tripup in all of sports is now part of the Yankees’ record. And whatever may come of the Sox in the series, whatever may happen with the alleged Curse of the Bambino, knowing the Olde Towne Team made monkeys of their bitter, and almost always better, rivals this time around carries a level of satisfaction that won’t fade quickly and will never be forgotten.

So, just as I had to watch game seven of the ALCS, I have to watch the World Series. I’ll still be going to Foxborough on Sunday to watch New England’s football heroes, the Patriots, extend their 20-game winning streak by beating the despised New York Jets (completing the New York sweep in the process), but I’ll be finding a bar where I can watch the Sox immediately thereafter.

I should know — as should all the real Sox fans (full- and part-time alike) — that the odds remain good that Sox are only setting us up for disappointment. Breaking hearts, after all, is what this team does. They’ve been doing it for 86 years. And no one will ever truly believe that run is over until … well, until the victory parade gets underway — and possibly for some time thereafter.

And, really, I do know that. I’m fully aware of the fact that while it’s OK to get excited about what the Sox did to the Yankees, I’d be a fool to invest any part of my heart or my soul in this World Series. I know I should sit back and watch the Sox just as I always watch the Sox: dispassionately, disconnectedly, rendered impervious to heartache by the very expectation of it.

Only this year, at this moment, that doesn’t seem possible. I’m not on the bandwagon (really, honey, I’m not) but there’s a weird feeling in the air. There’s a sense that the impossible might turn out to be possible after all.

It feels like this year, this time, everything has to be different. It does, doesn’t it?

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September 24th, 2004 Comments off

Peace Activist, My Ass

Can we please, please, please stop referring to this fuckwad Cat Stevens as a peace activist? Peace activist, my ass. This giant turd masquerading as a human being (who, yes, wrote some amazing songs a million years ago), spoke out in support of the Islamic fatwa against Salman Rushdie. This is a death sentence issued against Rushdie by religious fanatics who were offended by Rushdie’s book, The Satanic Verses. Rushdie’s been in hiding for 15 years because of it. So how the fuck is a guy who supports the suppression of speech a peace activist? I don’t care what else he’s done. I don’t care what else he’s said. You say someone deserves to die for writing a book that you disagree with, you’re not a peace activist, you’re a lunatic.

Now, none of this has anything to do with whether Stevens, who is on a government watch list, should have been denied access to the United States earlier this week. He’s on that list for a reason. He’s been accused in the past of providing monetary support to Islamicist extremists. But who knows? Maybe he’s done nothing wrong, and if that’s the case, he should be able to speak about his beliefs just like anyone else. But you know what? The innocent act is a bit much to take, frankly, particularly in light of the evidence he provided back in 1989 (the Rushdie thing) that he’s all in favor of killing in the name of radical Islam. And the bottom line is, why should anyone give half a shit about protecting this fucker’s right to speech? You wanna take speech away from others, Cat, you can’t really go around whining when it’s been denied to you.

Cat has moaned in the past about the ongoing boycott of his music, saying it violates his right to free speech (which, of course, it doesn’t; you’ve got a right to say whatever you want, but you don’t have a right to expect me to listen to it — and you certainly don’t have a right to ask me to pay to listen to it). Now he’s gonna take legal action against the U.S. government for keeping him out? Good. I hope this puts the spotlight back on what a dickhead this guy is, so people who missed or forgot about the Rushdie incident remember not to buy his records. (Oh, and maybe they’ll reissue the Rushmore soundtrack without “Here Comes My Baby,” and I’ll finally be able to go out and buy a copy. I’d like to see Yo La Tengo ditch it’s cover of that song, too, so I could buy a copy of Fakebook.)

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September 2nd, 2004 Comments off

In Northampton? Really?

Henning reports on his visit to Cold Stone Creamery’s newly opened downtown Northampton shop. And I’m stunned. Flabbergasted. Blown away.

My puzzlement isn’t to do with why someone would go to a chain place when Herrell’s (which sells some of the best ice cream you will ever eat anywhere) is right down the street. Henning answers that question.

Nor do I want to get into the whole tipping for counter service thing. OK, well I do, but just a little. I always say I’m not gonna do it, but the thing is you can’t help it. You fell like such a fink if you don’t. I mean, the kind of service one tends to get at counters in Hamp (more on that in a bit) should make it a good bit easier to resist the instinct to tip, but still … . I will say this: I wish there were a way to get everyone to stop tipping for counter service. My theory is that if we all just didn’t do it, shop owners would have to increase what they pay their workers rather than getting us to cover for their cheap asses. Then they’d raise prices to make up for the wage increases. But, get this, those of us who tip would actually end up spending less than we do now, because we’d no longer be subsidizing the cheapness (or, let’s face it, wisdom) of those who refuse to tip for counter service. Everyone would make out better in the deal (except the people who don’t tip now, and, you know, screw them). And the quality of counter service wouldn’t dip any, because, let’s face it, it just can’t get any worse.

What I can’t get over about this Cold Stone place is the idea of the singing. They sing, Henning says, if you tip them well. (Debbie offers some qualifying thoughts on this.) The employees, that is. At a downtown Northampton shop. They sing. Sing. For tips.

Now, let’s set aside how inane this practice is and how annoying it absolutely has to be. (Never mind that this is a chain. Never mind that there’s world-class ice cream around the corner. I won’t go near the place because I’d end up killing the staff.) Let’s set aside, too, Henning’s accurate observation that this has to be degrading for these workers. My question is, where the hell did they find these people? People who sing for tips. Who have come to work in a downtown Northampton shop. I don’t even know what to do with this information.

Now, if you’ve never been to downtown Hamp, you maybe don’t understand what I’m getting at here. The point is, as I started to note above, in most downtown Northampton shops, you can hardly get the workers to take your order. They’re slow. They’re surly. They’re interested in just about everything but helping customers. They’re often too cool to be bothered with helping customers. Of course, they still expect a tip. But they’re not gonna so much as thank you for it. Forget asking them to sing (they save that for when they rehearse with their bands that never play out anywhere, because they don’t have the energy — after a long day of ignoring customers — to go out and book a gig).

So who are they, folks? Where do they come from? And do you think there’s any way to spread their attitude while maybe, you know, axing the singing bit? Any thoughts? Henning? Debbie? Anyone? Anyone?

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August 26th, 2004 Comments off

Hello, It’s Me

Yes, you’re right. I haven’t been around here for a while. Why? Well, I took a vacation, spent a week on Cape Cod. (Yes, it was very nice. Thanks for asking.) And then I’ve been straight out with work and with stuff related to my soon-to-be-released book, This Pats Year.

The Web site,, is up and running. You can find out all about the book, take a look at the press it’s getting (which ain’t much so far, but give it time), and check out my new/other blog This Football Blog. The blog, which is where I’ll be posting football-related stuff from here on in, also includes an up-to-date listing of events — readings, signings and whatnot.

I’ve got some stuff I’m kinda pissed off about and I’ll try to get to it sooner than later, so come back. Meanwhile, if you don’t find me here, look for me over there. It’ll be fun.

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August 3rd, 2004 Comments off

Hey, Asshole, Endanger Lives On Your Own Time.

I’m not gonna get into why it’s a bad idea to drive while talking on your cell phone. It just is. You either get that or you don’t. And if you don’t, you should. (And you would if you weren’t such a complete asshole.) Neither am I gonna get into why the practice ought to be illegal. It should be. And that’s all that needs to be said. But right now, in Massachusetts, it remains legal to drive while looking up your Uncle Ted’s beach house number on your personal organizer with one hand and one eye, talking to your Aunt Millie with a phone you’re holding in your other hand, and scanning a crudely-drawn road map with your other eye. And the fact of the matter is that the Mass. Legislature, while it can ram through an amendment that would write fucking bigotry into the state Constitution over the course of a few weeks, hasn’t the ability to pass something as simple as a driving-while-phoning prohibition (’cause, you know, that might actually prevent some accidents, maybe even save some lives, while banning gay marriage will … will … will … what will banning gay marriage do that’s in any way positive? I forget). So my guess is that you’ll be able to keep on driving and talking in the Bay State until the folks in Washington pass their proposed legislation, which would withhold federal highway money from states that allow cell phone use while driving, at which point the potential loss of a significant source of pork and patronage will spur the boys on Beacon Hill into swift action, and after which point said boys will make big statements about how important it was to them to make the commonwealth’s highways safer. And the beat goes on.

Back to my point. OK, so it’s legal; you can do it all you want and never have to worry about getting a ticket. And even if they make it illegal, you’ll probably do it anyhow, because what’s the risk to you? I mean, let’s be realistic, 999 times out of a thousand you’re gonna see the cop long before he sees you and you’re gonna put the damned phone down for the three seconds it takes to get by him and out of sight. It’s not like the guy behind you in traffic is gonna call the cops on his cell phone to report you for using your cell phone, is it? Yeah, you might kill yourself or someone else because you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing, but that doesn’t matter to you now, so why would it matter to you then?

So, as I said, what-fucking-ever. You’re gonna do what you’re gonna do and there’s nothing I can do to stop you. If there were, I’d be doing it instead of scribbling on my stinking blog. But there are a couple of things you really, really ought to know about yourself, so I’ll content myself with spelling those out for you.

First and foremost, you’re a boob. A jackass. I don’t know who it is you feel like you’ve got to talk to all the way from home to work (or wherever the fuck you go) and back again, but, trust me on this, you don’t really need to be talking to them. You’re not that damned important. How do I know? Simple. No one’s that important. Or if they are, they have this thing called a driver. That’s a guy who drives them around, paying attention to things like whether the car is still on the road, what color the light up ahead is, whether there are pedestrians in the crosswalk, “do not enter” signs and so forth, so the important person can sit in the back seat and review whatever those papers are and make his little calls on his little cell phone. And, you know what? Even those people who have drivers — the vast majority of them — aren’t important. They have money, which they think makes them important, but they’re not actually important. Not to anyone but themselves. But they at least have the decency to think they’re important in the back seat, which means they’re a step or two ahead of you.

Next, and this is really big, you can’t pull it off. There may be some people out there who can actually drive and talk successfully without becoming a nuisance or a danger to everyone else on the road (I wouldn’t know, because I’m too busy avoiding the rest of you amateurs to notice the pros), but you’re not one of them. Nope. Nope. Save your protests. I know you think you’re one of them, but you’re not. You never were and you never will be. How do I know? Because I’ve encountered you in traffic three times in the last few days (in the space of just a few miles) and, believe me, you were fucking up left and right. Remember?

First you were the guy in the black Saturn.(Fucking Saturn, OK? How important do you think you are when you’re driving a Saturn? I mean, it’s a fine car for getting around and all, but it ain’t a luxury sedan.) I was one of the drivers who had to find our way around you while you were parked in the middle of the intersection of Main, King and Pleasant streets in Northampton. You were eastbound on Main Street and you’d got all the way to the light before you realized you needed to turn left. Only you were in the middle lane (the straight lane) and there were already cars in the left lane waiting to make a turn. So what did you do, you jackass? You stopped. Just put on your turn signal and stopped. And waited. And fucked everyone behind you. Because you don’t have to pay for your mistakes (by, you know, going down a block and turning around, or continuing on and making the left onto Market and then coming back out to King — you maybe didn’t know you could do that, but I bet you’re familiar with the technique of going down a block and turning around), we do. Me. And all the other drivers who a) know what we’re doing, and b) are paying the fuck attention to where we’re going rather than jawing on the goddamned phone. Because you’re so important. So, so important.

Next, you were the woman in the blue Chrysler minivan who just pulled off the curb in front of the Vermont Country Deli. Just pulled out of your parking spot and onto the road. And if I hadn’t just slowed down to go through the damned intersection (which you weren’t blocking in your Saturn that day, because you were busy being somebody else), I probably wouldn’t have been able to avoid hitting you. As it was, I just managed to swerve out around you as I hit the brakes. And when I went to give you a dirty look and flip you off, what were you doing? What? Remember? You had a phone in one hand and a coffee in the other and all of maybe two fingers on the wheel. This as you pulled out into traffic on a busy street, you fucking stupid piece of shit. You looked over, probably because my beeping interrupted your phone conversation, and your face told me you were annoyed at me. For beeping? For being on your street? For not just stopping to let you and your important self go ahead? I don’t know. I do know that what I should have done is stop in front of you, get out of my car, walk over, grab your cell phone and your coffee, drop the one into the other, spit in the cup, hand it back to you and leave. I’d have been doing the world a favor. But you know what? I don’t need to be going to court on road rage charges. I really don’t. I just need you to look where the fuck you’re going before you kill someone (maybe me). Which is to say, I need you to stop being such a self-involved fuck. But I’m guessing that’s not gonna happen. Is it?

Then you were the woman in the tan (or whatever the hell color that is) Toyota Camry who was headed for the I-91 southbound on-ramp just before the Coolidge Bridge, then, I don’t know, realized she didn’t want to be on the highway and swerved back out into traffic without looking, forcing me into the left lane (where, fortunately, some other car wasn’t), then started to drift into my lane in the middle of the bridge. Then I watched you in my rearview mirror as we headed down Route 47 into Hadley and I saw you looking at your passenger seat (an address book, I’m guessing) as you made another call. You were most of the way onto the shoulder before you looked up and swerved back onto the road. You never hit anyon
e, but, Christ, lady, what if someone had been riding a bicycle there? What if someone were broken down and pulled off to the side of the road? Does that stuff occur to you? Does it matter to you? Or is it just too important for you to talk to your staff or whomever for you to give a shit about how poorly you’re operating a deadly piece of machinery. I mean, I wouldn’t want you to miss the chance to confirm your 10:15 sales meeting just because some asshole paperboy’s life might be at stake, you know?

So what’s my point? I don’t know. I can’t prevent you people from acting like shitheads. God knows I’d like nothing better. But it’s simply beyond me. Just try not to act like shitheads when you’re around me or the people I care about and we’ll call it even. Just don’t fuck up my life, or my day for that matter, and I’ll shut up about it. You think you can manage that? (I’ve gotta tell you, I don’t have high hopes.)

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July 26th, 2004 Comments off

Ricky Williams: Gone. Gay? Oh, God.

So Ricky Williams, after five years in the NFL, most of them pretty damned spectacular, decides to call it a career, leaving the Miami Dolphins pretty much totally fucked for at least the 2004 season (and ain’t that an awful shame?) and the big question on everyone’s mind, apparently, is, did he quit because he’s gay?

Well, shit, for whatever the hell my opinion is worth, I sure hope not. Look, if you’d asked me that question a week ago, I’d have said the exact opposite. Or maybe not. In truth I don’t hope anyone’s gay or not gay any more than I hope someone’s Catholic, a Rolling Stones fan or a fisherman. It doesn’t matter. But a week ago, I’d have thought it would be a good thing if Ricky were gay. (Just like I’ve always thought it would be a good thing if some other spectacular pro athletes — no, not women’s tennis stars; men playing “macho” sports — who were rumored to be gay turned out, in fact, to be gay.) Because that’s what pro football needs: some undeniably talented, out-of-the-closet gay players. It would be a big, huge, gigantic step toward undoing some stereotypes and doing cutting down on the stunning, miserable homophobia that plagues the sport.

Now, though, I can only believe — knowing what I know, having witnessed the kind of bigotry I’ve witnessed (read my forthcoming book This Pats Year for details), and heard and read the kind of homophobic comments I’ve heard and read from athletes, coaches, team officials and, of course, fans — that if it turns out that Ricky is gay, what you’ll hear is that this is evidence that a gay man can’t hack it in the NFL. And while some in the media will point out that this is only true because the league, indeed the sport, is hostile to gay men, those who want to believe that gay men aren’t “real men” will never see it any other way. If the ignorant listened to reason … well, they wouldn’t be ignorant, would they?

The fact is, all we really know is that Ricky isn’t your standard-issue football player and that something about that, perhaps, caused him to want to bow of the league right away, despite that he’s still in his prime as a player, could have made a ton more money yet, and very well might have earned a spot in the Hall of Fame. Or maybe it just occurred to the guy that a) he’s got a great big stack of money already, more than he (or anyone) will ever need; b) the Dolphins were gonna continue to overuse him as they did the past two seasons, probably destroying his knees, if not his entire body, within another year or two; and c) there are better destinations in life than Miami, Florida and Canton, Ohio.

I don’t know. I guess if you’re a Fins fan you’ve gotta be pretty angry at the guy. I mean, not only had Miami tied its fortunes to the guy for the next few seasons, but the timing, with the best free agents (and most of the middling ones) already gone and camp about to start, is damned rotten. The Dolphins’ season pretty much ended yesterday. So call Ricky an asshole if you like. I don’t care. I’d probably call him that if he were pulling an eleventh-hour move like this with the Raiders or even the Pats. But unless Ricky was chased out by hostility in the locker room — in which case the blame for this lies with his former teammates, the organization and the league — his sexual orientation is irrelevant and ought not to be the focus of discussion.

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July 20th, 2004 Comments off

More Ink

More good ink for This Pats Year. This time in the trade publication Library Journal, which reviewed the book along with along with Rammer, Jammer, Yellow Hammer by Warren St. John, which looks like a good read to me.

Here’s some of what LJ had to say about the books:

“Both books are essentially entertaining romps.”

“Despite all the fun the authors seem to have in their travels, they note some disturbing tendencies among many fans: large-scale drunkenness, racism, and homophobia, and a strong “us/them” mentality.”

“Still, both authors portray a football game as a pretty perfect place to be on an autumn weekend, and both books are recommended for medium to large public libraries.”

So that’s pretty good.

The This Pats Year Web site is almost finished and should be up soon, by the way. I will, of course, post something when it hits. In the meantime, you can get more information about the book, see the cover and find out about upcoming events (like the reading/signing at Barnes & Noble in Hadley Oct. 7) on the publisher’s Web site.

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July 11th, 2004 Comments off

I’ve got a piece in today’s Boston Globe about the Album Leaf and their new record, In a Safe Place. It’s a terrific record. Go read about it.

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June 30th, 2004 Comments off

What a Bunch of Douchebags

I’ve just read three absolutely lovely stories about the charming and upstanding gentlemen who play my favorite sport, and I’m so moved that I feel I must share them.

Let’s start with retired wide receiver Andre Rison, a man who has to have earned a few million dollars during his 13 seasons as a standout player with various NFL teams. Seems Andre’s having trouble finding the dough, or perhaps just finding it in his heart, to pay child supportfor his three teenage sons, a 19-year-old and a 16-year-old by one woman, and another 16-year-old by another. (I don’t know when exactly the 16-year-olds were born, so I can’t say whether they’re a variant on what we call Irish twins or if there’s not quite a 40 week gap between birthdays. Either way, though, Andre was clearly having a time of it back in the early days of his career. That’s neither here nor there, really. Just an observation.) A judge in Georgia has issued an arrest warrant for Rison as a result of his failure to pay. It’s the fourth time such warrants have been issued. Rison, apparently, disputes the amount he owes, just shy of $185,000, according to the story linked above. And, you know, whatever. But for Christ’s sake, Andre, you’re a fucking millionaire and they’re your kids. At least pay what you think you owe and dispute the rest (unless you’re just full of shit and looking to make excuses for your sorry self, which, umm, wouldn’t surprise me, frankly). Take some fucking responsibility, you piece of shit.

On the lighter side, though only figuratively speaking, there’s the story of Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Chris Naeole, who apparently got Tased by a cop and is facing a charge of disorderly conduct after a reported tussle with some bar employees. We don’t know what got Chris going (if I had to guess I’d say he probably didn’t get the VIP treatment he probably thinks he deserves, but I have no idea). My advice to Chris, if I may borrow a line from Animal House, would be this: “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

And in the day’s sunniest story about an NFL player, we have Miami Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael accused of assaulting his pregnant wife. Yup. You read that right. Apparently determined to outdo his peers in the league on the domestic violence front, the guy allegedly went after the woman who is carrying his child. (Thing is, that doesn’t approach the NFL spousal abuse nastiness record. McMichael’s gonna have to work pretty hard if he hopes to best Michael Pittman, who bagged a threefer — wife, child and babysitter — in his most recent act of violent fuckheadedness. Add in the apparent acts of certain retired running backs/car rental pitchmen and you get a bar set so high you have to hope no one ever clears it. Still, assaulting a pregnant wife is a start. And the guy’s only 25, so who knows?) McMichael admits he was drunk when the alleged incident took place. Sweet guy, isn’t he? He faces 15 years behind bars if he’s convicted. Me, I hope he serves every day of it. But he won’t. In fact, I’d lay odds McMichael, like Pittman, finds a way to suffer little more than a short suspension from league play. And, oh, boy, that’s gotta hurt.

Of course, it does no good to look at any of this stuff in a vacuum. You’ve got to consider it against the backdrop of a league filled to overflowing with wife beaters (and girlfriend beaters — and probably a few boyfriend beaters, though you’ll never, ever find out about them), rapists, bar brawlers, habitual drunken drivers, an accused murderer here or there (I count two to date — one cleared in criminal court but held responsible in civil court; the other who pleaded out — but I may be missing some), and, of course, a giant assemblage of monstrously hateful homophobes (this last group comprising players, coaches and owners alike). But never fear, friends of decency, the NFL wants you to know that it is aggressively pursuing all the pot smokers who have crept into its ranks, with hope of rehabilitating them or, if necessary, driving them out of the sport (for their own good, the safety of those around them and the best interests of the impressionable children who look up to athletes as role models). You’ve gotta have your priorities, after all.

I love football. The game, that is. Love it. But the culture that surrounds the sport — at the pro level, the college level (see esp: Colorado, University of) and all-too-frequently the high school and youth levels — has some significant problems to overcome. Or, actually, it doesn’t. Not at the pro and college levels, anyhow. Because chumps like me keep paying for tickets and watching games on TV even knowing we’re supporting one of the biggest groups of lowlifes on the continent. My only choice, as it has been for years, is to stick to loving the game and forget about the assholes who play and coach it. Can’t say how much longer that’s gonna sustain me, though. It gets harder and harder every day.

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