So McCain's main moves these past two weeks have been either childish or disgusting, and both times he has signaled he didn't really believe his own message. He doesn't seem like a serious president to me.
I've having an unforeseen creative crisis this afternoon following a run-in with the cops that I'll get into at a later date. Let's just say that I won't be sending in any donations to the Tampa Police awards banquet anytime soon.
But fortunately, with football season only a few weeks away from kicking off, I have some grist for the mill this afternoon. Let's get into this:
1. Kerry Byrne makes an important point about the inherent bias against defenders in voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In the modern era of two-platoon football, 111 offensive players have been enshrined in Canton compared to just 67 defenders. For a league rife with so many silly platitudes, HOF voters aren't doing much to consider the old standard that "defense wins championships." Part of the problem in recent years - and something that will continue to be an issue - is the relative inflation of offensive statistics. There's no real way to measure, for instance, the true value of receivers in today's NFL as compared with guys like Harold Carmicheal who averaged 45 receptions a season.
2. This isn't exactly going out on a limb but here's a prediction: Georgia, ranked No. 1 in the preseason USA Today Top 25 coaches' poll, won't finish at the top. Want to know why? Here's a four-game stretch for the Dawgs near the end of the season: at LSU, Florida in Jacksonville, at Kentucky and at Auburn. Sheesh. Georgia could still be the nation's best team and finish the regular season 9-3. My choice for national champ - for now - is USC.
3. Isn't Central Florida football coach George O' Leary being a little silly here? Ok, a lot silly. In the end, O'Leary is only hurting his players and program with this childish boycott of the Orlando Sentinel, the only daily newspaper that covers UCF.
4. I'm really wondering why Steve Smith is being suspended for two regular-season games after punching out teammate Ken Lucas during practice Friday. Is it because Smith won the fight? Players get into scuffles during training camp all the time. Some coaches are known to encourage them, hoping to create a little energy during those summer doldrums. Of course, to be fair, I'm lacking many of the details of the fight here. I, and the rest of us, only know that Lucas took it on the nose. On another note, Smith is remarkably consistent - two fights with teammates, two broken noses. Note to self - and other Panthers - never mess with Steve Smith. 5. I can't understand Major League Baseball's reluctance to embrace Mark Cuban's billion-dollar offer to buy the Chicago Cubs. Cuban has certainly been a thorn in the side of the NBA's establishment but no one can argue the results: the Mavericks have been consistent winners and consistently entertaining since Cuban bought the team in April 2000. That should matter when all things are considered, right?
The weakening, and dismantling, of unions that began during the Reagan administration (and continued more or less uninterrupted since then) has not served America well. Yes, some unions go too far on some issues (corporations never do though!), but the alternative - a severely weakened and voiceless labor market - is considerably worse for most Americans. The pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Just one example: unions used to provide an effective check on out of control executive pay. Unions would rightly demand a cut of the pie when executives tried to give themselves out of proportion pay raises. It was exceedingly difficult for executives to argue that they deserved multi-million dollar raises, but that there was no money to offer a modest raise for the average company worker. The lack of union controls on this process is one of the factors that has led to vast disparities of wealth in the United States - disparities not seen since the Gilded Age. To simplify matters: economies are stronger, and societies healthier, when the middle class is thriving. Unions can help to create a larger, more robust middle class.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Wal-Mart employees who attended these mandatory meetings in seven states said executives told them employees would have to pay hefty union dues and get nothing in return, and warned that unionization could force Wal-Mart to cut jobs as labor costs rise.
5. Football season is upon us. Yes. More on the coaches' Top 25 poll tomorrow.
And I'm out.
UPDATE: I can't forget to send a word of g'luck to one of my favorites, Matthew Yglesias, as he takes his blog from theAtlantic.com to http://www.thinkprogress.org/yglesias. Ta-Nehisi will take Matt's spot at The Atlantic, so fortunately, the blogosphere won't lose either of them.
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While I can understand Fernholz's and Ta-Nehisi'sdoubts about the efficacy of the "Vote or Die" movement, I can't really see where those sorts of campaigns really hurt either. I'm all for anyone and everyone getting out to motivate folks who otherwise feel disengaged from the political process.
Sure, it might not work. Who really knows how much pull P. Diddy and T.I. and Nas have on mostly apathetic 18- and 19-year-olds? (we've also seen the danger of getting these sorts of guys involved, too, as Ludacris showed earlier this week). And there is an corporate aspect of the campaign that seems to promote the artists nearly as much as the message.
But getting each and every eligible voter out is the ticket, so to speak. If the campaign compels only a handful of teens to hit the polls in November, that might still be the margin that matters in the end - as we've seen in the past two presidential elections.
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The issue isn't misbehaving stars as Bratton would like people to believe. The issue is the general safety of celebrities being chased through the streets by combative groups of tabloid photographers and the resulting chaos that causes for the rest of us motorists.
Bratton didn't help his case by punctuating his comments with a flippant remark about Lindsay Lohan, saying that she's "gone gay." But he said it's OK, noting that he's always supported gay rights and he has a sister who's a lesbian.
On New Year's Eve 2004, I was assigned to cover a bowl game in El Paso. For those who follow football, it was the Sun Bowl, a surprisingly entertaining matchup between Arizona State and Purdue.
While I was in town, I ventured across the Rio Grande into Ciudad Juarez, an industrial Mexican center of about 1.3 million. I had a pretty good time, buying extremely cheap goods from the markets, enjoying a Tecate at a cafe along Avenida Juarez and joking around with the locals.
Sadly enough, I can't see myself returning to Juarez in the near future. GQ tells the story of a city that has plunged into lawlessness and incomprehensible violence. In the first half of 2008, there have been more than 500 murders in Juarez. Five-hundred!
For an imperfect comparison, consider that New York City - the largest city in the U.S. by more than 4 million residents - had only 494 reported murders in all of 2007.
Here's a terrifying passage from Charles Bowden's piece: "I see no new order emerging but a new way of life, one beyond our imagination and beyond the code words we use to protect ourselves from the horror of violence. In this new way of life, no one is really in charge—and no one is safe. The violence has crossed class lines. The violence is everywhere. It has no apparent and simple source. It is like the dust in the air, part of life itself."
Russert is, of course, son of the late Tim Russert, former host of NBC's "Meet the Press" and Washington bureau chief for the network. The 22-year-old Boston College grad will focus on "youth issues" for the Democratic and Republican conventions, according to NBC.
Now, I would never begrudge anyone a professional opportunity or, what I like to call, their "deal." Especially Luke Russert, who acquitted himself extremely well in his numerous media appearances following the sudden death of his father on June 13.
...as I settle in for a long day of doing mostly nothing. I hope:
1. T-Shirt and My Panties On by Adina Howard feat. Jamie Foxx 2. I Want Her by Keith Sweat 3. Survival of the Fittest by Mobb Deep (a weird transition, yes) 4. Gillahouse Check by Redman 5. Wicked by Ice Cube
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I might actually be somewhat prolific on FH today, depending on if I can seamlessly fit in a workout, a much-needed scrubdown of my apartment and about 90 minutes of book-learnin.
Anyhoo, here's a few things to get my mind and fingers warmed up for the ride:
1. This happened to BarackObama during his visit to the Tampa Bay area earlier this morning. I'll have more complete thoughts on this later today but, for now, I'll just say that those protesters must not realize that Barack is running for the president of the United States of America. Not Black America. And that's an important distinction.
2. The Rays, the Yankees and the Angels are among a handful of AL teams that have to be breathing a sigh of relief this morning. I don't know what the long-term implications of yesterday's Red Sox-Dodgers-Pirates trade might be, but I can assure you that sending Manny Ramirez to L.A. knocks Boston from the ranks of World Series contenders in 2008. Unless I'm seriously mistaken, Jason Bay has never played in a game that matters to the pennant chase in his career.
4. I'm not one for predictions but it looks good for the U.S. men's basketball team and its aspirations of bringing home the gold for the first time since 2000. Kobe, as I've always thought, will be the difference. He sure did take a lot of pleasure in shutting down Lithuania sharpshooter SarunasJasikevicius.
5. Few things can beat the company of an alluring woman, a 16 oz. Delmonico, a few cocktails and the dessert room at Bern's Steak House in south Tampa. Thursday, folks, was a good day. Too bad it had to end.
Sorry, folks. Thursday was a bad day for blogging. My favorite copy editor is celebrating her birthday today and it wouldn't be all that cool to spend time in front of the Dell.
But I've got a few seconds before we head out into the night. Let's see if I can get through this before she's ready to go:
1. I would like to see the phrase "race card" officially retired. Especially after today. It should join "Sister Souljah moment," "flip-flop," and "liberal media" in the political news coverage graveyard.
2. I really can't imagine how Ludacris could have thought this would help Obama's cause. Now we know where his name came from, I suppose.
3. The Packers are looking really silly right now. They CAN NOT win this showdown with Brett Favre. I'll have more thoughts on this tomorrow.
A few minutes ago, commentators on MSNBC were discussing whether BarackObama has become "too arrogant."
The seeds of this narrative started last month, when Karl Rove - of all people - referred to Obama as "coolly arrogant" and said that "even if you never met him, you know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."
Of course, Rove said this during a breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club. The delicious irony, no?
But when Rove and others call Obama "arrogant," what they really want to say is "uppity." How dare Obama think of himself as special!
As John Ridley observed: "Arrogant, of course, is a euphemism. In the monochromatic bunkers from which old-schoolers cling to power the true word they use is 'uppity' when hurled at blacks. It's the "B-word" for women."
If Rove and his ilk are going to go there (and we know they will), I hope Obama supporters meet him in the gutter with their thinking caps and swords. That sort of rhetoric should no longer be tolerated.
UPDATE: This column in the Washington Post has renewed all this superficial "arrogance" chatter. As Matthew Yglesias implies, this appears to be an almost willful effort by Dana Milbank to distort Barack's words.
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This is not a bad move, especially if the Rockets are only giving up reserve guard Bobby Jackson, a No. 1 draft pick next season and probably this year's No. 1 pick, Donte Green. That's not much of a loss for Houston.
However, I'm not sure if the trade makes the Rockets a true NBA title contender because they still lack a dependable point guard, a reliable outside shooter and someone to assume the scoring load when T-Mac or Yao are hurt or ineffective, which happens pretty regularly. And, in a way, I disagree with ESPN's J.A. Adande here: the Rockets already had plenty of mettle and grit, which is a fine substitute for crazy.
To be sure, Artest is a tad nuts. And that's a welcome change for Houston. I don't think my hometown has had a legitimately crazy sports star since the days of Carl Everett.
For anyone who followed Sharpe and New Jersey politics in recent years, this was no big surprise: James joins a list of more than 100 state public officials who have been convicted of corruption related to their office in the past five years.
Despite Newark's slide into decay and virtual lawlessness, James won 12 consecutive elections — for council, mayor and state senator — before deciding, amid a heated campaign against Booker and a federal investigation, not to seek re-election in 2006.
James took a lot more than he put back into the city. Booker's win may have finally started the healing process (his first failed attempt to unseat James was chronicled in the brilliant, award-winning documentary "Street Fight." Do check it out.)
Despite this poor record of service and the conviction to prove it, some residents have still resigned themselves to defending a crook. It is here when I feel sorry and frustrated at some of my brothers and sisters, who should know better about these sorts of things.
The recent revelation of Ross' past as a prison guard at the South Florida Reception Center in Dade County (December 1995 until June 1997) is a surprise only to people stupid - or naive - enough to believe the biography he conjured up for himself to land a record deal.
Ross has continued to deny the report, which includes his employment application and finger print card, payroll information (he earned a little less than $26K), a loyalty oath and a Certificate of Appreciation that Ross received due to his perfect attendance record.
Why Ross continues to lie in the face of the obvious is no mystery: so much of his mystique and fame depends on this ridiculous notion that he was a big-time Miami drug trafficker like the man he named himself for (who remains behind bars for running a drug empire in L.A. in the mid-1980s).
It's really pathetic, almost Roger Clemens-esque in its audacity and incredulousness. Ross had nothing to be ashamed about in the first place: he was a one-time college student, law-abiding citizen and gainfully employed adult. Can't we all relate to that on some level? Not to mention, there's not a much tougher bunch out there than those charged with controlling felons.
Instead, Ross appears headed the way of another disgraced and exposed Miami-based rapper - Vanilla Ice. That's a sad fate for a man who once mused, "I know I'm not perfect/But I perfected, what I had to work with."
But what he was working with wasn't enough, apparently. Not even for him.
UPDATE: The real Rick Ross warns William Roberts to keep it real.
One interesting comment from a reader caught my attention, though: "While I feel bad for the employees, really, how many places like this does the world need? With Applebee's, Friday's, blah, blah, blah... They have no soul. I'll stick with locally owned independent places."
That, to me, is such a tiresome and worthless complaint. Are we supposed to punish restaurants for creating a business strategy and replicating their success elsewhere?
I care not much for "soul" with my meal; I'm all about finding good, affordable food. And so should most other folks, especially those of us firmly entrenched in the middle class. Goodness knows what I'd do if, say, Chili's were to go the way of the dodo.
UPDATE: Glad to see I'm not the only person who will miss Bennigan's. But it certainly sounds like that one, situated near the infamous Mons Venus in Tampa, had a little more to offer than overpriced burgers and flat beer.
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It was sort of surprising to hear some of the names that came up: Steve Young, Warren Moon and Jim Kelly, to name a few. I say "sort of" because Favre is a legitimate, first-ballot Hall of Famer but nonetheless has had legendary meltdowns in pivotal games - his most recent pass attempt being one of them.
I love the Stews but they took the easy route out of this one. Anyone can debate the relative merits and shortcomings of mostly similar All-Pro quarterbacks. But, off top, I can think of about five non-pro QBs who I might hand the pigskin to before Favre. And you can't prove me wrong either, holmes.
The list, as follows:
1. Vince Young, University of Texas (2005)- I never saw a better, more dominant athlete with the ball in his hands than V.Y. - in high school or college. And it all came together in his Rose Bowl destruction of the overhyped USC Trojans in 2006 (I have preserved this game on my DVR).
2. Steve McNair, Alcorn State (1994) - My pops took me to see "Air" McNair face Sam Houston State during his senior season. He was a revelation: throwing for over 400 yards and running for 100 more. There was almost no defense that could contain him. Too bad the NFL clipped his wings, so to speak.
3. Tommie Frazier, University of Nebraska (1995) - Frazier led the Huskers to consecutive national titles in the mid-90s and was MVP of three national championship games. Obviously, it goes without saying that he came up huge in crunch time.
4. Fred Taylor, TCU (1996)- "Superman" was a JUCO All-American who came to Fort Worth with all the skills and all the credentials. I just can't help but think he didn't make it because we couldn't understand his thick Mississippi accent in the huddle and, uh, grades were a problem.
5. Joel Anderson, Southwest Steers (1989) - A multitalented QB in the tradition of Vince Young and Steve McNair, Anderson led the Steers to two Texas Gulf Coast Football League titles and a 19-1 record over two seasons. As Plies might rap (terribly), "Anywhere where you put me, I'm the realest (brotha) in the room."
Honorable mentions: Stephen Martone, Houston Strake Jesuit College Prep (1997); Quinn Grovey, University of Arkansas (1990); Odell James, Aldine (TX) MacArthur High School (1996); and Terrance Bennett, Houston Yates (1997).
I would be remiss if I went another day without expressing thanks for all the love shown to The Kid and his little online project over the past couple of weeks.
Trying to reach the hearts, minds and funny bones of an invisible audience can be tough without support. I'm relieved that's not been a problem here.
I won't bother trying to list everyone in the blogosphere choir but a handful of folks deserve mention: Zen, who has been urging me to try this for a year or so now; J.P., who may not even know he's already my unpaid consultant; and UBM, one of the icons in the game and someone nice enough to include me on his prestigious blog roll.
Not to mention the Women In My Life who feed me just the right amount of soul food.
I'm deeply grateful.
1. I've made more than a few inside jokes about my homegirl Angel's foray into the art of column writing. But it's all in fun and shouldn't obscure the fact that she deserves much props for such an insightful piece. It's good to know that there's still some talented youngsters out there who want to be journalists.
2. I haven't had a chance to sit down and watch all of CNN's "Black in America" series from last week. The reviews, predictably, have been mixed. I'll try not to pass judgment until I can watch it in its entirety.
The University of Florida wins another national title. I doubt seriously, however, that school administrators will be trumpeting this latest No. 1-ranking in next year's brochures.
Also, the Southeastern Conference has three of the nation's top seven party schools and five of the top 20. The SEC comes hard in football and parties - it's no coincidence that these schools pull in the nation's top high school athletes, folks.
But we'll see where they rank when the Princeton Review considers things like, um, academics.
No matter how long I go without checking out the latest news updates from Motown, it always seems as if Mayor KwameKilpatrick is embroiled in some sort of controversy or fight for his professional life.
Elected in 2001 as the youngest mayor in Detroit history, Kilpatrick has since endured the sort of graceless descent reserved for only a precious few like Roger Clemens or Eliot Spitzer. In many ways, Kilpatrick might be doomed to create an embarrassing mayoral legacy along the lines of someone like D.C.'s Marion Barry.
You know things are especially bad when one of the local newspapers has a number of links to stories involving your troubles, collectively titled "A Mayor in Crisis."
I can't even begin to presume what keeps the man going in the face of these odds, the endless criticism, this horrific decline. What possibly motivates him to return to his seat in City Hall everyday?
If he indeed has any true friends left, they should be telling him to fade into the background as quickly and cleanly as possible. Kilpatrick is only creating more animus with this lengthy and costly legal fight. He still has enough time for a second act - even Barry overcame images of himself smoking crack in a dingy hotel room with his mistress to retake public office.
Before it's too late (and that may already be the case), the man once dubbed the "Hip Hop Mayor" should take a cue from EPMD: He gots to chill.
Never ones to let the facts get in the way of an opinion, Bill O'Reilly and Bernard Goldberg worked themselves into a lather last week with accusations of liberal bias in the press coverage of the presidential campaigns.
"The folks," O'Reilly crowed, "understand what's happening."
For once, they were right. But for all the wrong reasons.
The center found that the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on the three networks were neutral. But when the network personalities offered opinions on the candidates, 72 percent of the statements were negative for Obama. By contrast, network statements about McCain were 57 percent negative.
"This information should blow away this silly assumption that more coverage is always better coverage," said the center's director, Robert Lichter, a one-time FOX News contributor, to the LA Times.
There's plenty to digest in the center's report and the story from The Times but, certainly, people should take the time to understand that there's no such thing as a monolithic liberal-controlled press.
There's any number of media outlets available for people to consume their news, from blogs to the National Review to the New York Times to The Huffington Post to The Drudge Report to Politico.com. Hell, even the St. Petersburg Times (they, in particular, have my endorsement but certainly not O'Reilly's).
The claims of liberal bias have almost always been ridiculous and based more on opinion rather than fact. But now, armed with the facts, I'm sure this latest report won't do much to sway O'Reilly or Goldberg or a goofball like Glenn Beck.
As Fox News and the like have shown over the years, there's not much to be gained by telling the truth.
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To my deep regret, I had to leave Chicago a few hours before Obama addressed the crowd of about 2,000 at the convention. But watching the speech on CNN later in the day revealed that there were indeed some moments of applause and supportive laughter during Barack's speech.
Secondly, the suggestion that minority journalists need to "behave," according to CNN'sTonju Francois, is a demeaning one. This essentially implies that journalists of color might be willing to check their professionalism at the door, unlike their white counterparts with John McCain. I can remember no such concerns when McCain hosted a barbecue at his Arizona home for reporters (most of them white) during a break in the primary campaign.
Finally, like me, most of the convention attendees were figuratively off the clock. I had no plans to cover the speech or submit a story on the event. I would have been there as an interested observer, someone "recruited from the human race," as Leonard Pitts told the AP.
Is it not possible to own some personal political beliefs and be a journalist? Objectivity is a myth; fairness is the goal. I don't have a problem with a few cheers during downtime as long as everyone agrees to play nice when the whistles are blown.
Wolf Blitzer, showing that he is indeed no Tim Russert, failed to follow up with an important question: What does that even mean?
Is McCain speaking of Vietnam? Iraq? Afghanistan? Grenada? A culture war? What exactly constitutes victory in any of those conflicts? And do we have actual proof that he led or could lead the U.S. to a "win"?
If McCain is going to keep saying this, he should at least produce some sort of title belt or trophy or something.
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"The vibrant girl Chicago seems to be in the summertime is a lure, bait, because if you live in Chicago, sooner or later winter and reality are going to set in," - Ralph Wiley.
And so I came to fall in love with Chicago during four luminous days in late July. It would be hard for anyone to resist the charms of Chi-Town, especially during the idyllic summer and particularly with lots of free time. How cold must those winters be?
I had the pleasure of visiting Chicago for the quadrennial UNITY convention, a wellspring of ideas and enthusiasm for more than 5,000 journalists of color across the country. The convention allowed me to congregate with old friends, network with new ones, summon strength from my mentors and explore a city that defies simple observation or limited analysis.
I briskly walked the lively streets of downtown, enjoyed a fantastic deep-dish pizza, partied at the infamous Crobar, journeyed to Wrigleyville (but, alas, didn't see a Cubs game), talked shop at the Sears Tower and closed out my stay with drinks and dessert on the 96th floor of the Hancock Tower. My friends were there, the air was cool and the conversation was enlightening.
This was offset, however, by the nagging feeling that things were awry here and elsewhere: morale was particularly low among us journalists bracing for more bloodshed in our newsrooms, with the Chicago Tribune at the center of this new misery; the cost of savoring the city eventually took its toll on my meager savings; I wondered how people could afford unleaded gasoline at the price of $4.50 a gallon; some people inside and outside of the convention center seemed to lack any measure of home training; and I was aggressively accosted by homeless men three times, the latter incident forcing me to briefly consider the implications of coming to blows to protect my lovely travel companion - a first for me.
I left Chicago an ambivalent man. Love is not an endorsement. My memories are overwhelmingly positive but I returned to Tampa with the feeling that the winter was soon to come and that I had escaped before the cold swept into the city. I don't think I want to experience any sort of winter in Chicago - I hope Barack has departed by then, too.
"It was in Chicago that I realized I would die one day myself. ... This was where I learned there was no such thing as heaven," Wiley once wrote.
Things can get pretty ugly for the rare Obama supporter lurking around on No Quarter. Sometimes, when these Hillary-backers and Obama-bashers are really trying to elevate the political discourse, they'll throw in an "ape rape" joke about Michelle Obama or make some joke about how Barack's dad should have, um ... well, read it for yourself.
Usually, I'm a guy who's always down for a good "yo mama" joke, you know? But I don't have the willpower to endure that sort of hazing. Glad my man, UBM, has been up to the challenge.
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Cotto, who suffered his first defeat in 33 bouts, is far from diminished with this defeat (literally) at the hands of the rough-and-tumble Margarito. But rarely is a champion ever the same fighter after his first loss. Just off top of my head, I can think of a few who never really recovered from that first real ass-whuppin: Roy Jones, Vernon Forrest, Shane Mosley, Fernando Vargas and, of course, Mike Tyson. Let's hope Cotto can fight his way back to the top. Cotto at least sounded resilient when it was all over.
2. SI's Ian Thomsen reports that Greek pro hoops club Olympiakosfirst targeted Warriors swingmanKelennaAzubuike before signing Atlanta reserve Josh Childress to a three-year, $20 million deal. Thomsen outlines a list of reasons why Azubuike spurned Olympiakos' overtures despite the potential financial windfall, chief among them: Azubuike's dream has been to play in the NBA and not the Euroleague. I mentioned this yesterday, and acknowledged that would be the toughest hurdle for Euroleague teams to overcome. Still, I think Thomsen undervalues the monetary benefits of earning your money in Euros and not dollars. And the NBA has sort of brushed off the whole deal. Typical. Stern and Co. are extremely arrogant about the reach of their product. They'd be smart to heed the words of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who warns against such hubris.
I've even heard the author, Stefan Fatsis of the Wall Street Journal, describe the book as a sort of remake of George Plimpton'sPaper Lion. Maybe. But, as far as I know, I don't ever remember reading searing monologues like this one from Broncos linebacker Ian Gold in Plimpton's book: "This is business. ... Don't hug me, don't touch me, don't call me your buddy, don't tell me you love me, because I know you'll motherf*ck me as soon as I leave the room."