Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Subtle Racism and Other NFL Thoughts

(I'm off work today, so keep checking back. And if you haven't already, scroll down and read my post from Saturday afternoon--the one that explains my brief absence last week)

While watching the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville duel the Saturday before last I fielded a phone call from my buddy Cam that led to other things. Cam wanted to know what sort of off-the-field problems Santonio Holmes had in his past. I thought it was some domestic stuff, I checked his Wikipedia page, and sure enough I was right. End of phone call.

But I decided to read on between plays, and I couldn't believe what I was reading. After breezing through the sections about his 3.4 high school GPA and his excellence as an amateur track & field star and blah blah blah, I found my way to the "Trivia" section and nearly swallowed my tongue.

From Wikipedia...

"He has two sons and a daughter, Santonio III, Nicori and Saniya, but with two mothers."

Read it again, this time with use of italics...

He has two sons and a daughter, Santonio III, Nicori and Saniya, but with two mothers.

But? Really? Why?


Has one word ever been used so negatively?

Wouldn't the following sentence have been one thousand times less KKK-ish: He has two sons and a daughter, Santonio III, Nicori and Saniya, from two mothers.

I can't help myself from writing about this stuff. And yes, I realize any regular Joe Schmoe can write on Wikipedia, but I still found it interesting. And I bet you did, too.

Leftover crap from the weekend...

How is nobody talking about Dennis Northcutt's history of un-clutchness?

The second the Jags' WR dropped the game-tying touchdown late in the 3rd quarter, I couldn't believe how he'd been responsible for two of the most damaging drops in recent playoff history. His most recent drop--the one that would have tied New England at 21, and showed them they weren't going anywhere--effectively lost the Jags the game. A field goal made it 21-17 and the Pats quickly answered with a touchdown. Pats 28, Jags 17. Game over. You're just not catching Tom Brady from more than one score down and only one quarter remaining.

Anyway, Northcutt's drop versus New England has been discussed over and over, on message boards and television shows. But what hasn't been mentioned--and I have no idea how--is Northcutt's history of choking.

Am I the only human alive who remembers his drop in the '02 playoffs, when he was a member of the Cleveland Browns? In the final minutes of the game, as Cleveland (led by Kelly Holcomb!) was leading division rival Pittsburgh (led by Tommy Maddox!), the Browns simply had to achieve one first down to run out the clock. Guess what? Northcutt struck again (for the first time). He dropped a simple 3rd & 12 pass that would have guaranteed the Browns' advancement to the next round.

Why isn't anyone talking (or writing) about this? Even Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who gets fed information all the time, somehow missed it. He even had Northcutt as his Goat of the Week and never mentioned it once in his one-paragraph write-up. How is that even possible? I mean, it definitely happened, so what gives? Maybe I'm just smarter than everybody else...

More stuff about RBs

I wrote Sunday night about Ryan Grant's unexpected rise. I also wrote about the stupidity of drafting RBs high unless they were sure-fire superstars (I used Tomlinson and Petersen as examples). Anyway, one RB I meant to comment upon was Fred Taylor.

I've heard quite a few announcers in recent weeks mention Fred Taylor's first ever trip to the Pro Bowl, and how it was long overdue. I'm not going to get into any of that, but I will say that I've spent a great deal of time thinking about Fred Taylor over the years. Really! You, like me, have probably cursed Fred Taylor a time or two in the last decade. But that's where the similarities (probably) end. You're cursing was fantasy football related, which is understandable because at one point or another Fred Taylor has killed everybody's fantasy team. My anger, however, is only revealed when Taylor is playing great football, as he somehow still is in Jacksonville.

When Fred Taylor darts by an opponent for a 70-yard score--at the ancient age of 32--I get mad. Mad because Taylor will one day be remembered as merely a good back from this era, rather than one of the ten best backs of all time. Maybe it's odd for me to care about such things, but it always bugs me when great athletes see their career's derailed by injuries (Taylor missed 24 games--a full year-and-a-half in his first four seasons, aka "a RB's prime"). And don't kid yourself, Fred Taylor was great, at least when he was healthy.

(Note: The use of the word "was" isn't meant to suggest he's retired and/or dead, but it does mean that--no matter how good he still is--his prime is over, and that stinks.)

But back to his greatness...

Of the backs I closely watched over the past fifteen years, I believe Fred Taylor--again, when healthy--had every right to sit at the head table, along with Emmitt, Barry, Faulk and Tomlinson, and ahead of Bettis, Martin, Dillon, Barber and whoever else.

It's too bad history won't remember it that way. History will remember him as a pretty good player for the pretty good Jaguars, somebody who wasn't in Shaun Alexander's league. Clearly, that's a horse manure.

As for me? I will remember Taylor as the perfect blend of size and speed. A guy who possessed the feet, game-breaking ability and hands of a little guy, with the size and toughness of a big guy. When he was at his peak I can't say that I've ever seen a better, more complete back than Fred Taylor.


(Maybe I'll reach out to Wess from Sons of the Tundra for his take on Taylor's career.)

Keep the change, you filthy animals.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)