Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker

tailSince “Monday Morning Quarterback” and “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” are taken and uninspired, and because I’m preempting my own exhaustion of “Monday“-themed alliterations, ALDLAND’s regular football/weekend roundup will move to Tuesday afternoons, which also permits incorporation of the Monday night NFL game. With week two of college football and week one of the NFL in the books, here goes:

College Football

Pregame:

  • Brendan and Physguy were in Ann Arbor for ESPN College Gameday, and the only evidence is a couple cryptic tweets from Brendan.

The games — No surprises:

  • I was able to find Michigan State’s game against South Florida on television in the Southeast, which may be thanks to USF’s participation in the game, but which also felt like finding a unicorn in the wild. MSU’s defense continues to outscore their offense, and that’s with three quarterbacks! Even Sparta only ever had two kings at once. Michigan State 21, South Florida 6.
  • I also found Vanderbilt-Austin Peay on TV, which is a reminder that it’s week two for the broadcasters as well. VU had no problem with its Middle Tennessee neighbors, winning 38-3.

Why do you hate Johnny Manziel?

After Rice lost to Texas A&M on Saturday, Physguy put fingers to keyboard to write that he hates A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Why? It’s tough to tell, exactly. Physguy doesn’t like the on-field taunting and “trash talk to Rice players,” although he concedes that Rice players “were probably trash talking [Manziel] too but didn’t get flagged for it.” He also didn’t like it when Manziel asked his teammates to make room for him on the bench. (For completeness, I might as well add that Manziel apparently Tebowed too.)

When I saw the reigning Heisman Trophy winner make the gesture depicted above on Saturday, it reminded me of Gilbert Arenas’ guns-up pregame celebration following his suspension for presenting firearms in the Washington Wizards’ locker room. Probably not the smartest thing to do, given the context. But then again, guns and the people who use them kill people; autographs, given for a fee or otherwise, do not.

More on context though: 1) the “money” touchdown celebration isn’t a new one for Manziel or A&M; 2) as the USA Today article to which Physguy linked explains, Nick Elder, one of Rice’s own players, defended Manziel, tweeting that he was the player to whom Manziel was talking, and the message was, “what’s up nick, nice hit”; and 3) to state the obvious about football players, Manziel isn’t even the first quarterback to engage in attention-seeking celebrations.

For more on that third point, consider that Manziel’s celebrations are self-referential, and, as such, perhaps preferable. Former Boise State quarterback and probable Detroit Lions starter at some point this season Kellen Moore favored the “double-guns-shoot-your-coach” touchdown celebration. Nothing really wrong with that, but if we’re being hyper-sensitive to these things, there’s at least an element of violence there. It isn’t directed at the other team, like Tim Tebow’s gator chomp, or disrespecting a team’s stadium or symbols.

Maybe Physguy, a Rice fan, is sore because of Manziel’s success against the Owls– in about 1.25 quarters of play, Manziel had three TD passes and no interceptions, going 6/8 for ninety-four yards through the air and nineteen more on the ground– which is ok (Rice sometimes lets games slip away in the second half), but fans of a losing team can’t really quibble with celebrations that are a (showy, but non-offensive to the other team) variant of pointing to the scoreboard. At least Manziel was celebrating successful plays on the way to a win for his team. Over-celebrating when you’re losing is worthy of a critical blog post (e.g., Cam Newton last fall against the Giants); when you’re winning, such are the spoils of victory.

And if it’s perceived snarkiness that concerns Physguy– he wrote that “my Rice Owls . . . stayed classy”– what does he have to say for his beloved Marching Owl Band, which played to the current controversy at least as much as Manziel by wearing Manziel-autograph t-shirts as their uniforms for the day?

Towards the end, Physguy writes: “But this story, despite the title, isn’t about Manziel. It’s first about the media coverage of him.” The frequency with which the ESPN announcers mentioned Manziel and the focus of its cameras on the temporarily suspended quarterback drew Physguy’s scorn. The controversial return to action of the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy is a hugely appropriate story for coverage, though. If Physguy is disappointed that the coverage of Manziel came at the expense of coverage of his team, he should consider that without Manziel on the other side of the ball, Rice isn’t playing on national television last weekend. Moreover, if he really wanted to take issue with the Worldwide Leader’s treatment of a young Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, he should have focused his critical eye on ESPN’s coverage of the New England Patriots’ decision to release Tim Tebow, which aired to the exclusion of an actually compelling human interest story surrounding NFL preseason roster cuts.

Rather than address Physguy’s final full paragraph, which finds him even further afield from the topic at hand, I’ll end by saying that I hope Johnny Manziel can keep it together on and off the field this season, because I want to see him play. While he almost certainly is headed to the NFL next year, I don’t think he has a lot of professional potential. Let’s enjoy Johnny (College) Football in his element as long as we can. No need to hate.

How Atlanta sees everything: Aaron Hernandez as a case study

This Aaron Hernandez homicide investigation is a serious and developing story in and of itself, but it also provides a chance to examine the way people see the world, as evidenced by the assumptions and choices they make.

Here’s how the Atlanta Journal-Constitution currently is presenting this standard AP story right now on its front page:

ajc hernandez

ALDLAND Archives: Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Our Super Bowl coverage continues with another selection from the ALDLAND Vault. This time, we look back to the day after last year’s Super Bowl, through the feelings of bdoyk. -Ed.

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do

February 6, 2012

You know that feeling when you go through a break up? You wake up the next morning. You feel tired despite hours of sleep. You check your phone hoping for a text that will make you realize that what happened the night before hadn’t really happened; it was just a bad dream. … Read the rest…

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Related
ALDLAND Archives: Why I Hate Harbaugh

Super Bowl XLVII, brought to you by the AARP?

The NFL playoffs is down to its final four teams, and by Sunday night, we’ll know whether Baltimore or New England will be facing Atlanta or San Francisco in the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

lewis-gonzalez-moss

These playoffs have been a Rusty’s Last Call ride for Ray Lewis, whose Ravens somewhat improbably have advanced to the AFC championship game. While their opponent, the Patriots, is a perennial postseason favorite, the Ravens (and not, any longer, the Seahawks) are the hot team of this postseason, and it’s becoming difficult to bet against them– ESPN certainly isn’t. Lewis’ last dance may come Saturday. If not, it will come on Super Bowl Sunday.

If it does, Lewis will share the setting sun’s spotlight with one other notable retiree. If the NFC championship game goes according to the seeding, it will be longtime Chief and current Falcon Tony Gonzalez. The tight end, probably best known for popularizing the crossbar dunk TD celebration, says he’s 95% certain he’ll retire after this season, and while his final act has received markedly less than the gyrating, bionic-armed one of Lewis, the attention he has received has taken care to note just how impressive of a career he’s had.

If the NFC championship game follows the hot hand, as it sure seems like it may, Lewis’ possibly outgoing opponent will one whose superstardom has long since burned low. Randy Moss’ days as the league’s most dominant wide receiver are long gone. His days as an albatross– i.e., his days in Oakland and Nashville– seem to be in the past as well. He’s retired once, and he’s rapidly approaching the end of his one-year contract with San Francisco. There hasn’t been any retirement discussion from Moss (this ambiguous retweet aside), or really much discussion of him in the media at all. Moss’ numbers are way down from his peak-production years, though they’re up over his recent disaster years. It’s tough to know whether the 49ers or Moss will want to sign a new contract for next year– he started only two games this year, the fewest of any season in his career– or if this is it. The only sure bet looks to be that, if this Sunday or Super Bowl Sunday really is Moss’ last game, he’ll treat it a little differently than Lewis will handle his.

Narrow Margin Monday

Excepting the above-depicted forty gambler-point swing victory by Middle Tennessee State University, the Volunteer State’s biggest school, over Georgia Tech, there were a lot of close college football games on Saturday. Michigan State lost by one to Ohio State. Although the internet’s had a lot to say about that game in the way of eye-gouging, taunting, and the pregame game tape exchange, there’s not much to say about the game itself beyond the observation that OSU’s Braxton Miller is pretty good. Even though it was high scoring, West Virginia only beat Baylor by a touchdown in Morgantown. Of course, it was really high scoring. Like 70-63. Big Ten basketball territory. Other top-25 games, though not quite as close, probably were closer than the winning team would’ve preferred. Alabama beat Ole Miss 33-14 in a game that was in reach for the underdogs (underbears?) in the fourth quarter. Washington State put up 26 against Oregon, which is 26 more than Arizona could do. Texas and Oklahoma State went to the wire, and UGA-UT was a one-score game as well. Clemson got back to its winning ways with a 45-31 win over woeful Boston College.

The pros sang a different tune on Sunday, though, at least in part, when Denver found its legs against Oakland (38-6), New England posted 52 on Buffalo, and San Francisco bounced back with a 34-0 shutout of the dead-in-the-water-not-walking-on-water J-e-t-s. There were some close games in the NFL too, as the Cardinals won by three in overtime to inexplicably stay undefeated, and the Saints lost by one to stay defeated.

On the topic of defeats, the U.S. team absolutely melted down on the last day of the Ryder Cup, surrendering a supposedly insurmountable lead. We now return to our regular golf coverage, which, absent Jungle Bird, is nonexistent.

Super Monday

Winner: The New York Giants. They scored first, with a technical safety on the Patriots’ opening drive, when Tom Brady stood in his own end zone and intentionally grounded the ball, and they scored last, when Ahmad Bradshaw carried a little more momentum than he probably expected on a largely undefended running play, to beat New England 21-17.

Loser: The New England Patriots. Despite going down 9-0 early in the game, they took a lead into halftime, thanks for a field-traversing drive on which Tom Brady was 10-10 in passing. The Pats suddenly looked like their old, domineering, mechanistic, enemy-vaporizing selves. And they got the ball to start the second half! I sent a text message to Bdoyk at halftime: “Tide has turned.” Her response: “Don’t say that.” To the hyperstitious greater Massachusetts sports community, I’m sorry if that in-game prediction of victory caused your players to develop stone hands on the final drive.  Keep reading…