Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Lazy Class

By the time you read this, I may already be drunk. Or getting there.

Today (tomorrow, really) is our local version of Mardi Gras, the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. There will be lots of beer, colorful beads, Port-O-Potties lined up along scenic Bayshore Boulevard in south Tampa.

The First Lady and I really don't know what to expect. Something R-rated, at least. But in my absence (hopefully, a respectable one), enjoy a throwback moment from the days when things were all so simple:

Jerk chicken, coconut rice, plantains and ginger beer sound like a good bet for dinner, btw. Continue Reading »

The racist and the guilty among us

Which works out to the 51 percent of voters who cast their ballots for Barack Obama on Nov. 4.

I'll agree with Afro-Netizen here:

There's a special kind of negro that is so self-hating that even makes the vile likes of Sean Hannity squirm.
See for yourself. No comment necessary:

Continue Reading »

Humor we can't believe in

Assuming he's sincere in his efforts to reach out to minority voters, new RNC chairman Michael Steele is going to have his work cut out for him here in the Tampa Bay area.

The local GOP has been doing him no favors:

Carter sent the e-mail that led to her resignation Friday, the day the Republican National Committee announced the selection of its first African-American chairman, Michael Steele.

The e-mail, with the subject line "Amazing!" read:

"I'm confused.

"How can 2,000,000 blacks get into Washington, DC in 1 day in sub zero temps when 200,000 couldn't get out of New Orleans in 85 degree temps with four days notice?"

Funny, right? And the apology was, uh, similar in tone.

I can't say much because I never know when I'll be called upon to stick a recorder in someone's face down at the local Republican juke joint. But I think it's fair to say that I don't see the humor in this "joke."

Not to mention, in this swing area in the swingiest of states, comments like those can't help the GOP regain its footing amid rapidly changing demographics and attitudes. The ground is shifting beneath them. Continue Reading »

A different sort of Homecoming

It's been a long time. John Forte probably shouldn't have left us.

For those unfamiliar with his case, Forte was arrested in 2000 at the Newark airport after accepting a briefcase containing $1.4 million worth of liquid cocaine. He was later convicted and sentenced to the mandatory minimum 14 years.

But he's home again, released from a low-security federal prison in November following a surprising pardon from President Bush. (Guess he does care about black people, eh?)

Anyway, I'm not going to use this space to talk about our ill-fated drug war or my problem with mandatory minimums or how JF should use his voice - and platform - now that he's lost important years off of his life and career.

No, I'm going to let you all sample his latest joint, "Homecoming" with Talib Kweli. They're rapping over Kanye's beat and song of the same name, of course.

It's remarkable how much JF's voice and style have changed since his Fugee-affiliated days in the mid-90s. Listen here and here and here and here. (I'll never forget his line from "Cowboys": "You talk back, hustlin crack don't make you bigger." Ironic, eh?) He's spitting with a little more bass these days but still sounds good. Surprisingly good, in fact.

Check it:

Continue Reading »

Friday, February 6, 2009

The death of the Garment Renaissance

Everyone can't come up with the blueprint for Sean John. Or Rocawear. Or even Wu Wear.

It's something celebrities and others who are so, uh, celebrated, might do well to keep in mind when they're thinking of slapping their name on a clothing line. Just because we think you spit a hot 16, that doesn't mean we want to wear your draws.

According to Advertising Age, the struggling economy is taking down retailers and the celebrity brands that line their clothing racks. Celebrity lines from LL Cool J, Sarah Jessica Parker and Venus Williams are just some of the few that taking a hit during this downturn (I had no clue that LL Cool J had a clothing line before yesterday, btw).

Even before the economy started to tumble, the market was already saturated with cele-brands. It's almost as if a SAG card or a gold album was enough qualification to start a clothing line. Uh, we should all know better. Everyone ain't that special.

So stay skeptical when you hear that 50 Cent says he's ready to release a line of men's cosmetics (something to go with his manssieres, no doubt), or TI gears up for the spring line of his menswear collection. This ain't the rap game, B. People can see through the gimmicks.

And if you think this post was just an excuse to post a Wu-Tang video, then we're all getting to know each other very well:

Continue Reading »

In Texas, justice is denied and not color blind

Via Ta-Nehisi, a disturbing NPR story that reminds me that all of us are vulnerable when prosecutors play fast and loose with the idea of guilty beyond all reasonable doubt:

But there were holes in the prosecution's case. No physical evidence tied Cole to the crime. Although the rapist drove the car extensively, Cole's fingerprints were not found in the vehicle. Cole also had a solid alibi: At the time of the rape, he was studying in his apartment while his brother was having a card party in the living room. Several young people testified at trial that Cole was in the apartment with them all evening.

... So far this decade, 34 men in Texas, most of them black, have been exonerated by modern DNA testing. They spent 10, 15, 20, even 27 years wrongly imprisoned for rape before being released. No such remedy is available for Cole, a bright, likeable young man who got along well with everyone and who, in the spring of 1985, had his whole life ahead of him.
As I've mentioned before, I had the opportunity - more like, the misfortune - to cover the execution of a condemned Texas inmate in 2000. Even today, I've never come to a consensus about whether I'm for or against the death penalty. I blame this on being raised in Texas.

But stories like the one about Timothy Cole nudge me ever closer to "against." If anything, this case is a reminder that this could have happened to me or any other unfortunate black guy wrongly fingered for a crime. Remember that: it could also happen to you.

Death, let alone a lengthy prison sentence, is an awful, irreversible punishment for an innocent man or woman. Our justice system is designed to border on the line of the first innocent man. But given Texas' penchant - especially Harris County, where Houston is the county seat - for pushing for the death penalty, I'm almost certain that someone has been wrongly executed. Most likely, someone black.

That it took DNA evidence years after Cole's death to exonerate him even though he had an alibi and witnesses, shows that ugly racial bias still remains endemic in the Texas criminal justice system.

I really don't know the right answer, or what anyone could ever say to make things right with Cole's family. But I do know that even in death, Cole deserves the justice that eluded him when he was alive.

Texas, at the least, owes him and his family that. Continue Reading »

Teenage love

South Florida head football coach Jim Leavitt can't help how he feels about a certain teenage boy:
"I want to hang out with that guy. I want to be around him. I want to go get pizza with him or go walk in a park with him. I just want to be around him, that mentality, those convictions."
And when this all gets sorted out, Leavitt thinks he and Ryne Giddins should get an apartment together.

Continue Reading »

Delusions of gridiron grandeur

Lots of coverage and TV cameras are directed at the winners of National Signing Day. It's easy to find the fun and optimism in Los Angeles, Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge, Austin and Gainesville on Super Wednesday.

However, hardly anyone pays much attention to the programs mired in the ghettoes of the recruiting rankings. Not me. I love a good underdog - from a distance. Here's a sampling from the delusional gentlemen who think recruiting rankings are full of shit.'s team rankings showed me the way to the bottom. Be careful. There's a lot of service academies down here:

109. Bowling Green
“We certainly won more battles than we lost,” (Bowling Green Dave) Clawson said. “If you’re going after the right guys, you’re not going to get them all. We held onto the players we wanted to. ... We had a great hit ratio, one of the highest I’ve ever seen."

109. Buffalo
"When you go into Florida and you go into Texas it's not easy because everyone all over the country is down there," (Buffalo coach Turner) Gill said. "Our coaching staff has done a great job building relationships and we'll continue to do that as far as getting those players down there." ... "... this class is strong from top to bottom."

112. Army
Believe it or not, I really couldn't find a written report about the Black Knights' incoming class. There doesn't appear to be a daily newspaper anywhere within earshot of West Point. Or maybe it's just classified information.

112. Temple
"This is the most talented class we've had," (Temple coach Al) Golden said. "If you want to be big, powerful, strong team, you have to recruit that way. This group's height averages 6-2½, and this offensive line averages 319 pounds. They look like you want them to look around here. They're big. They're physical, and the length, the athleticism, and the speed of this group are like no other group we've brought in here."

112. Louisiana-Monroe
“I believe that this is the best class we’ve had since we’ve been here,” (ULM coach Charlie) Weatherbie said. “But that is all to be seen once we get them here running around and learning our scheme.”

112. Utah State
"When kids walked in here, they felt unbelievably good," (Utah State coach Gary) Andersen said. "And of the kids who tripped here with their parents, we got 100 percent of them."
"... We brought in about 28 or 29 kids, I think," Andersen said, "and of those we got about 20 of them."

Notable: The Aggies' top quarterback recruit, Jeff Manning of Logan High, will go on a mission before enrolling at the school.

116. Nevada
"It's a good, solid class I think with some excellent skill (and) very strong front people on both sides of the ball," said (Nevada coach Chris) Ault, who returned to the sideline in 2004 and this fall will be in his 25th year overall as Nevada's coach. "The majority of kids you go after -- you don't get everybody you want -- but this is a real solid class with a lot of kids that are going to be competing (for playing time) next year."

117. Syracuse
"I'm extremely satisfied with this class," (Syracuse coach Doug Marrone) said. "I never put much into the ratings of players (by recruiting services). I care about what my opinion is and the rest of our staff, because what I've been about, and I've been about this my whole life, is I've been about development . . . the development of players. We'll develop football players, and in the end we plan on winning football games."

118. Louisiana-Lafayette
"We want to look in this state first before we go (out of state)," (ULL coach Rickey) Bustle said. "I think this is a heck of a class. The biggest thing you look for besides your athletic abilities is how kids are going to fit into this program. We've been developing this program for quite some time. We're losing some awfully good seniors."

119. Air Force
"We looked at every position," (Air Force coach Troy) Calhoun said. "We're going to have another small group of freshman players, but we're pleased with the quality.

120. Navy
"I think some recruits questioned whether our program would go downhill after Coach Johnson left. Certain other schools told them that would happen," said (Navy coach Ken) Niumatalolo, clearly referring to Army and Air Force. "Those other schools were telling kids that they were closing the gap on us. However, the recruits saw what happened on the field, saw that our program is still very strong and successful."

Get it? Everyone was a winner Wednesday, from Norman to Annapolis. No one finishes 1-11 in February, no matter how many one- and two-star recruits are making their way onto your campus.

The real losses don't start to count until September. G'luck, coaches. Continue Reading »

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Linked Up

As usual, my mind is racing in a thousand different directions. When that happens, I usually pour myself a cool glass of diet Limeade, grab a handful of raisins and start sorting through the links.

Thursdays are nice in that way:

1. One of the reasons I've never quite warmed to the legacy of the Clintons, particularly Bill, is because of his unseemly pride in pushing through the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. Better known as welfare reform.

Well, Mother Jones has a disturbing piece from Georgia's "Black Belt" where hyper-aggressive "reform" - outright lies, book cooking, gross displays of cruelty - seems to have left thousands of women at the very fringes of our society. Here:

Even as it blocks potential applicants, Georgia is also pushing current TANF recipients off the rolls at a rapid clip. Sandy Bamford runs a federally funded family literacy program in Albany where single mothers can get their GEDS. TANF allows recipients to attend school, but Bamford says officials routinely tell her clients otherwise: In a single month, one caseworker informed three of her students (incorrectly) that because they had turned 20, they could no longer receive benefits while completing their degrees. One was about to become the first in her family to graduate from high school. She quit and took a job as a dishwasher. Students as young as 16 have been told they must go to work full time or lose benefits. The employee who threatened to drop the students, says Bamford, became "caseworker of the month" for getting so many people off TANF.
Other places have come up with their own twists on "reform":
Georgia isn't the only state that's found that dropping people from TANF is the easiest and cheapest way to meet federal work requirements. Texas reduced its caseloads by outsourcing applications to a call center, which wrongfully denied some families and lost others' applications altogether. In Florida, one innovative region started requiring TANF applicants to attend 40 hours of classes before they could even apply. Clients trying to restore lost benefits had once been able to straighten out paperwork with the help of caseworkers. In 2005, officials assigned all such work to a single employee, available two hours a week. The area's TANF caseload fell by half in a year.
If Clinton isn't careful, he's going to give "reform" a bad name. In fact, it's already too late. But The Nation set the record straight on his real record when it came to welfare.

2. What if Michael Phelps, America's golden boy, wore dreadlocks and played for the Chargers? Think everyone would shrug at his frat-boy antics? Via TBL, Dave Hyde raises some interesting questions.

3. I'm not calling Bill O'Reilly a racist. But he has some, uh, tendencies. Maybe you already knew that.

4. Rachel Maddow is a lesbian. There, it's all out in the open. But what does that have to do with her brains or personality or success? Nothing. Cerebral Itch is merely a one-trick pony.

5. Joe the Economist is a tad confused. “I don’t believe there’s two sides to every story. It’s black and white,” Wurzelbacher explained. “There’s right and wrong.” I admittedly struggle with math but ... wouldn't that actually be two sides to the story? I eagerly await the day when the GOP is being run by The Head Hockey Mom and Joe Six-Pack, chief GOP strategist and war correspondent. Now isn't soon enough.

6. I'm welcoming this kid to Tampa with open arms. I can't believe he got away from Miami.

7. I always liked Jeff Pearlman when he was at Sports Illustrated. I like him even more now, now that I know he's a little bit crazy. And he can see the craziness in others. I dig that.

8. Joe Klein sonns Dick. Cheney, that is.

9. A.H. Belo Corporation, owner of the Dallas Morning News, is a sinking ship. Just so happens that the rats continue to feed even as the water rises.

And, mercifully, No. 10. No stimulus for "Hollywood," eh? I had a brief response to this during an e-conversation yesterday. Me: As usual, I think Republicans are indeed being knee-jerk about this. And particularly short-sighted. The movie industry doesn't just line the pockets of producers, directors and Will Smith. The people that work on film crews are paid middle-class wages and have benefits. "Hollywood" is also a job creation industry. Ask Shreveport, which was desperate to keep movie studios and execs in town (following the Katrina-related relocation of many movie projects) to provide the sorts of well-paying jobs that are scarce in that region of the country or, well, many places these days. And city officials are thinking in the long-term, coming up with classes, schools and academies to teach locals how to work on movie sets and work in the film industry. It's not just about today. Much like infrastructure. There won't be an immediate payoff. But the key is the job creation and the long-term value of the project. I think, in a way, referring to the motion picture industry as "Hollywood" incorrectly gives the impression of Steven Soderbergh and P.T. Anderson and Steven Spielberg and Scarlett Johansson and rich California liberals to most folks, particularly some of the Republicans who oppose the bill. But they're not thinking of the thousands of people and communities that benefit when movie projects come to their town.

As a parting shot, I must mention that bipartisanship is overrated. Getting things done, the things promised on the stump, the things you believe to be best for the country, are all that matters. Republicans will whine, Dems will back down a bit and then GOP'ers will vote against the stimulus package anyway. Why bother? Get it done. Then let voters decide their preference in 2010 and 2012.

That's plenty. More later. Continue Reading »

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Not fulfilling the dream

Since we're subversives (haters, for short), the First Lady and I have grown weary of people claiming that Barack Obama's election means the "dream has been fulfilled."

In fact, the First Lady has recently taken to pointing out the many ways in which we - the people - are "not fulfilling the dream." Not MLK's dream, not yours, not your mama's, not anyone else's. We've truly got a long way to go.

So consider this new - and hopefully, regular - feature on this blog to be a reminder that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not simply speaking of the ascendancy of one gifted man among us. He was striving for a day when the rising tide lifted all boats.

With that, let me introduce you to Ju. He "been had money":

Sigh. I'm SMH even as I type this down.

Since this idea belongs to the First Lady, she's got first dibs. If she ever follows through on her threat to start up her own blog, this feature belongs to her. In that case, I'll simply refer to this regular item as "Bad Understanding," a phrase my mother uses to cover people like the one you just watched above. No explanation is really necessary.

h/t: EDSBS Continue Reading »

Ready and willing to serve

If any colleges out there – specifically those with top-flight football programs - are interested, I’ve still got two years of NCAA eligibility left. I don’t want them to go to waste.

As of today, I’m an experienced running back who’s a shade under 6-foot, about a month of daily 3-mile runs from my old playing weight of 212 pounds and fully recovered from completely rupturing my left Achilles tendon in the summer of 2004.

On the downside, I’m a few months from turning 31, haven’t run at full speed since about 2002 and haven’t been tackled in more than 10 years.

Anyone got a Letter of Intent that I can sign? Anyone? Or can I at least take all five of my recruiting visits?

Yes, today is college football’s version of Christmas – National Signing Day. This is my first one in Florida, which I’ve going to have to grudgingly admit is the country’s premier producer of high school football talent. From the lowliest one-star recruit in west Texas to the most coveted blue-chipper in Fort Lauderdale, Wednesday is the culmination – and yet the start – of a dream of most teenagers who dare slip on the shoulder pads and cleats in high school.

I’ll be at work, in a quiet newsroom, for much of the day, so I won’t get to experience the hubbub in full. But without even checking out the rankings on, I can imagine that USC, LSU, Florida, Alabama and Texas got their fair share of 18-year-old assassins.

Here’s a few moderately brief - for me – rundown of the recruiting sweepstakes according to me:

Three schools that tickle a young man's fancy. Namely, mine:
1. USC – Hard to beat playing for Pete Carroll and with the Trojans. I went to a couple of their practices a couple years ago and was struck by how different their players looked (like grown-ass men) and how fun all the work seemed. And have I ever told you how much I love southern Cali?
2. Texas – As much as I despise the Longhorns, I’ve got to admit that I almost always have a great time in Austin. I’ve never known a football player – or any alum, really - from there who didn’t get all wistful when talking about their college days.
3. FloridaAsk Tim Tebow what it’s like to be the BMOC in Gainesville.

Three schools where I’d take an official visit with no intention of ever signing:
1. Hawaii – Man, Hawaii is far. But damn, who couldn’t use a trip to Honolulu in the winter? Every year, there’s some top recruit who’ll have a list of recruiting visits that looks like this: USC, Notre Dame, Texas, Michigan and Hawaii. Smart kid.
2. San Diego State – I’ve never been to San Diego. But I’ve heard good things. Why not go? I’m still surprised they stink as much as they do, given the location and proximity to top prospects. And in case you can’t tell, I love southern California.
3. UNLV – What kind of recruiting fun do you think could be had in Vegas? Absolutely.

Three programs that generally defy their limitations but can’t fool me
1. Miami – Could be things are finally catching up with the Hurricanes. They have horrible facilities, a lukewarm fan base and, every now and again, several of their players get killed before graduation.
2. Auburn – Have you ever been to Auburn, Alabama? Right. There’s really no reason to go.
3. Notre Dame – Great school, great tradition, lots of national exposure. But South Bend is really a shitty little town. And winter ain’t no joke up there.

Three programs where no one cares about National Signing Day or, really, football:
1. Louisiana-Monroe – I’m sure there are worse places to spend four of five years. But not many of them. And since my kinfolk is from there, I can say that.
2. Idaho – I imagine the nightlife isn’t a selling point. And really, neither is the football.
3. Wyoming – No way that I’d do that to myself.
* As a bonus, I might add most of the other Sun Belt schools other than North Texas. No one could be excited about matriculating in Jonesboro, Arkansas, or Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Continue Reading »

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tee-vee mood music

Had I focused my mental energy on memorizing the Periodic Table of Elements or reading more Voltaire instead of watching thousands of hours of tee-vee, there's no doubt that I would be able to buy that H3 and south Cali beach house that I really want.

But as it is, I've been addicted to terrible, terrible tee-vee for quite some time now. I realized this while catching up on the VH1 pupu platter of "For the Love of Ray J" and "Tool Academy" the other night.

This reminded me that, like Dave Chappelle, I've got a thing for cheesy music intros for 1980s TV shows. Here's five that have been picking off a few of my brain cells over the past few hours:

1. Small Wonder - Not much to say. The song mostly stinks but it's damn near unforgettable. The show was pretty awful, too.

2. Webster - No upper middle-class white family in the '80s was complete without a vertically-challenged brotha in the fold.

3. 227 - Is it possible that Marla Gibbs actually sang lead vocals on this song? Sounds like it. "There's nooooo place like home. I mean no place, chile. Oooh!" She killed that. For her.

4. Empty Nest - Underrated show, for real. I thought Charlie was a pimp.

5. Amen - Church on a Saturday. I can't tell you how much lil' Blackink loved the hour-long block of "227" and "Amen." And it had my man Sherman Helmsley in this one, too.

6. Fat Albert - I can't believe that I once liked Bill Cosby. "Picture Pages" was off the chain, too.

7. The Jackson 5ive cartoon show - These are the ringers, no doubt. But I loved it all the same.

8. The Dukes of Hazzard - For real. One of my college journalism teachers - a friend of mine called dubbed him "Big Southern Dummy" - was floored when I told him I loved this show and this song in particular. What did I really know at that age? I had no idea what The General Lee was about. All I knew was that I loved Boss Hogg, Daisy Dukes and the idea of jumping into a car through the window.

9. Growing Pains - How decent would this be if Robin Thicke did a little remix of this joint? Maybe even a duet with his pops?

10. And my absolute favorite:

I just can't help myself. I find myself singing this song all the time, usually unprompted at the most unusual times. Nell Carter wasn't to be messed with. Continue Reading »

The right thing, the winning thing

If he never does another thing, Dan Rooney has shown that you don't have to be a Democrat to do the right thing.

Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and lifelong Republican, has been credited with coming up with the "Rooney Rule," which mandates that NFL teams interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching vacancies.

For this bit of ingenuity and thoughtfulness, Rooney and his franchise were rewarded with an NFL-record sixth Super Bowl championship after head coach Mike Tomlin led the Steelers to a title in his second season.

Of course, this was no big surprise given the Rooney family history:

Figures. Dan Rooney was born in 1932. His old man, Art ("The Chief"), bought the Steelers in 1933. That was the same year Ray Kemp became the first African-American to play for the team. Twenty-four years later, the Steelers became the first NFL team to hire an African-American assistant coach, Lowell Perry. And in 1984, the Steelers were the first to hire an African-American as a coordinator. You might have heard of him -- Tony Dungy.
Tomlin, 36, became the youngest-ever coach to win the Super Bowl and did it just two years after Dungy became the first black coach to win the title. That Tomlin is black seemed to have been an afterthought Sunday.

Some might call Tomlin an affirmative action hire. And that's fine. Tomlin is the living, breathing embodiment of affirmative action as it should be implemented. He owns his position due to his skills and his talents, not his ideology or his opinions or his connections.

Tomlin wasn't even the first minority interviewed for the Steelers' opening two years ago. That happened to be Ron Rivera, who's now the defensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers.

"We called Mike in and talked to him," Rooney said. "He was very impressive. We got him back and talked to him on the phone and he just kept showing that he was going to be a terrific coach, which I think is coming to bear. But he definitely was not part of the Rooney Rule."
Given an open door, Tomlin just barged on through it. All he needed was the opportunity. This turned out to be a good business decision for the Steelers, no?

Which brings us back to affirmative action. Starting in the mid-90s, affirmative action became a bright, blinking, neon target of conservatives - then in the midst of the "Angry White Male" revolution. They argued that the accomplishments of people who benefited from such programs were tainted, even devalued, because they were chosen - or "given" - their positions. They argued that some had been denied jobs because of a preference or "entitlements" for unqualified minorities. They even argued that affirmative action prevented racial reconciliation, a movement toward a post-racial America that apparently didn't arrive until Barack Obama was sworn into office on Jan. 20.

Pardon me, but bullshit.

Republicans and conservatives themselves have been guilty of engaging in the worst kind of affirmative action, often going out of their way to reward marginal candidates with jobs - many times with the hope that they'd fail as proof of their manifest superiority. Folks like Clarence Thomas, Sarah Palin and now Michael Steele serve a peculiar purpose in that regard.

In the words of the late, great Ralph Wiley, who was speaking of Armstrong Williams but could have been talking about anyone in the aforementioned trio:

"And then he said some predictable things against 'affirmative action,' not realizing, probably, that was the perfect embodiment of it as it should not (emphasis mine) be implemented. He rented his office due to his opinions ... He said all the right things to the privileged and they opened their burgeoning coffers to make sure he was heard."

Certainly he couldn't have been talking about Steele, who didn't pass the Maryland Bar Exam in his only attempt, once compared stem cell research to Nazi experiments during the Holocaust and defended former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s decision to hold a $100,000 fundraiser at a country club that did not allow non-white members, saying that the club’s membership’s policies were “not an issue” because “I don’t play golf"?

Nah. Probably not.

But given that sort of track record, it's doubtful that we'll see the Republicans - as a party - rewarded as richly as the Rooneys anytime soon. Even today, even after all the evidence, they don't seem to realize that affirmative action doesn't have to be a handout or a means to reward mediocrity

And just maybe that's the difference between holding the Lombardi Trophy and refusing to avail yourself of the process. Is it really any wonder that Matt Millen was on the wrong side of history there? And, thus far, the Republicans?

As usual, the Rooneys have been revealed to be men who are ahead of their times. They've got the glittery hardware to prove it.

It's time his fellow Republicans followed their lead - if they're truly interested in the right thing. And really, the lifeblood of any true political party: victories.

Continue Reading »

The Super Seven

Seven postgame thoughts about the Super Bowl sounds perfect. I'll try to make this brief since I finished this early Tuesday:

1. Ben Roethlisberger wuz robbed of Super Bowl MVP. Santonio Holmes came up huge on the game-winning final drive but, you know, Big Ben was the guy who made it all happen.

2. I'm all ready to include Roethlisberger on the list of the league's top five quarterbacks (and I'm not basing this on one game). The list goes something like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb and ... yeah. You can make a case that Big Ben is no lower than No. 5 and possibly No. 3. He's almost incomparably tough for his position, has a great arm, keeps plays alive with fantastic footwork in the pocket and has the best pump fake in the league. Not to mention, he gets it done behind a porous offensive line and without a top-flight running back or receiver.

3. Speaking of offensive lines, this Super Bowl featured the worst pair in recent memory. Neither team could rush for a first down on 3rd and short to save their seasons. It's the reason Mike Tomlin settled for a field goal on the game's first possession.

4. Because of No. 3, that's why I think this Steelers team is probably one of the worst to win a Super Bowl in the past decade. Below-average offensive line, unreliable running game, no real dynamic threats at wideout and a suspect secondary. I'll rank them because that's what I do: No. 1. Patriots (2005); No. 2 Patriots (2004); No. 3 Rams (2000); No. 4 Ravens (2001); No. 5 Colts (2007); No. 6. Giants (2008); No. 7 Steelers (2006); No. 8 Steelers (2009); No. 9 Patriots (2002); and No. 10 Buccaneers (2003).

5. I wish I'd had someone around other than the First Lady to verify this: moments before kickoff, I joked to her that you need guys named Santonio to win championships. They might not matter much in regular-season games in early October, but when the lights are brightest, they're drawn to them like moths. Kind of like Celebrity on "Tool Academy."

6. Also, Santonio is my candidate for player most likely to be overrated (financially and otherwise, including fantasy football) following a star-making performance in the Super Bowl. This lists includes guys like Larry Brown, Dexter Jackson and Deion Branch. Just watch. I might throw Darnell Dockett in the mix, too.

7. Kurt Warner is a Hall of Fame quarterback. Whether or not he's on the first ballot is irrelevant. Continue Reading »

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Super Finish

There's lots to discuss this week, particularly following a thrilling Super Bowl 43. At the moment, I've got a lot on my plate and a meeting that I'll be covering for work a little later this evening.

A few things worth mentioning but not elaborating upon at the moment:

1. What a great, great game. Tampa looked beautiful last night. I'll offer my postgame thoughts sometime in the next few hours before we all stop caring. As best as I can, I'll try to offer a fresh take on the Steelers' win. I realize the clock is ticking.

2. First on that list of takes is my belief that Mike Tomlin represents affirmative action as the way it should be implemented. The problem with most affirmative action opponents is that people like Clarence Thomas and Michael Steele are generally the ones who get put on. But it becomes tough to argue against the program when folks like Tomlin are the beneficiaries.

3. Rejoice! We're now in the midst of Black History Month. Have you heard anything about MLK or George Washington Carver lately? What about slaves?

4. I find this LA Times article about Dr. Jill Biden to be particularly offensive. Or maybe mroe of a cheap shot. And yes, I mean doctor.

5. A few musical notes, if you will: Erykah Badu gives birth to her third child by a third father. The girl will be named Twitty Milk. Congrats; 50 Cent is in another beef, this time with Rick Ross. Yawn; And DMX is headed to jail for 90 days. Isn't he getting too old for this kind of nonsense?

At the sentencing, the judge tells him: "Mr. Simmons, it's time to do something different. What you have been doing is not working." Amen.

More later. In the meantime, enjoy something from Ms. Badu's first album.

Continue Reading »

Sunday, February 1, 2009

No rings for you

It really didn't take all that long, but "Single Ladies" and all Web spoofs of the song now annoy me as much - if not more - as "Baby Got Back."

It started with this. Then this. And this. And this. And, jeebus, this.

But, thanks to TBL, this might have been the final straw:

Please. Stop. Now. It's enough to make me root for the Cardinals.

Where's Sporty Thievez when you really need them? Continue Reading »

A Steel Lock for the Super Bowl

In a little more than six hours and about 30 minutes from my New Tampa condo, the Pittsburgh Steelers will peel off the top of their can of whup-ass.

By the start of the fourth quarter, the can will be completely open and the Cardinals will be finished. I predict lots of second-half camera shots of Larry Fitzgerald staring off into space, Anquan Boldin silently seething on the bench and lil' Todd Haley throwing temper tantrums all up and down the sideline. I also imagine lots of shots of the Steelers defenders whooping it up after each and every one of Kurt Warner's three interceptions - maybe more.

Honestly, that's what my football brain has been telling me for the past week or so.

I'm going to base my prediction on a very simple idea: I have no clue how a one-dimensional offense (Arizona) will be able to succeed consistently against the league's best defense (Pittsburgh). Most of the people who've sided with the Cardinals base their pick on the relative success of Warner throwing jump balls to Fitzgerald.

That sounds like a Hail Mary strategy to me.

The Cardinals' offensive prowess, to me, has been completely overstated. Unless you truly don't believe the running game isn't a part of a great offense.

In Warner's previous trips to the Super Bowl with the Rams, he was almost always able to mix in a handoff or screen pass to Marshall Faulk - one of the most versatile and unstoppable offensive weapons in NFL history. This relieved him of a lot of pressure, and gave the opposing defense something to think about before they dialed up a blitz. Even then, the solid defenses of the Titans and Patriots were able to significantly slow down St. Louis offenses (in the Super Bowl) that had mostly raced up and down the turf all regular season.

This time Warner is back with rookie Tim Hightower, who averaged 2.8 yards a carry, and the running-on-fumes Edge James, who just cracked 500 yards rushing on the season. You think Dick LeBeau and the Steelers will have any qualms about sending a couple of defenders after Warner on each play given that sort of "production"? Not to mention, the Steelers are a helluva lot more dominant on defense than those teams Warner faced in previous Super Bowls.

And really, that's what it all comes down to for me. I'm not going to make a simple thing too complex. Charles Pierce comes up with more reasons why the Cardinals won't (or shouldn't) win, if you're interested. (If they do pull off the upset, I've got to think Arizona would be the worst Super Bowl champ in league history).

Of course, I could be wrong - I often am when it comes to the art of prognostication. But my football brain (I invented this phrase about, say, three months ago. The First Lady thinks this is silly) has been throbbing a lot this week. I can't ignore it this time.

Not to mention, Pennsylvania is a blue state and Arizona is red. You've got the Rooney family against Bill and the Bidwills. President Obama is backing the Steelers today, while Sen. John McCain is rooting for the Cardinals. I can't stop myself from liking Mike Tomlin.

Michael Tomasky even came up with this nugget:

Add to this the fact that Cardinal QB Kurt Warner lent his name to an anti-stem-cell research campaign in Missouri in 2006. I respect the guy's devout Christianity and all, but jeepers, if anybody ought be for stem-cell research that could help arrest neurological and cephalic deterioration, it's pro football players. Read this.
Yep, it's clear to me who's the favorite in Super Bowl 43. And I don't think it's going to be all that close. I'm not going to give a score, but let's just say that the Steelers will win comfortably this evening.

And after they pop champagne and bathe in confetti, few places are more fun to celebrate than Tampa. To the victors ...

UPDATE: The NFL's best beat writer, imho, notes that the league's No. 1-defense has advanced to the Super Bowl seven times. Their record: 7-0. Look for Pitt to be No. 8. Continue Reading »