I NEVER THOUGHT THERE’D EVER BE ANOTHER PLAXICO by Brad Eastland, The Sports Philosopher

January 10, 2010
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      Well it’s a new year and that means it’s time for the Sports Philosopher to hand out some well-deserved sports awards.   But we do things a little differently here at LaVerne OnLine.   Anyone can muster the intellect and creativity to identify Peyton Manning or Albert Pujols as his sport’s Most Valuable Player, we won’t waste your time with pedestrian stuff like that.   We prefer to concentrate on the accolades that major sports media outlets choose to ignore.   We like to focus on the really important achievements.

      Without further adieu, let’s get right to it.       

      The GEORGE FOREMAN WHO WOULD HAVE EVER BELIEVED THIS GUY WOULD WIND UP THE BEST SPORTS ANNOUNCER ON T.V. Award.   I guess you never know who is going to be good at something he had no right to be good at.   Take George Foreman, the former heavyweight boxing champ.   When he was a young man he was mean, surly, inarticulate, bitter, and about as charming as a yeast infection.   But by the time he became a boxing broadcaster in his 40s he was smart, funny, engaging, shrewd, and more fun to listen to than Ross Perot after a couple martinis.   I was utterly shocked back then, when he became my favorite sports announcer.   In that spirit, the 2009 GEORGE FOREMAN Award goes to former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson.   Remember Keyshawn?   When he was a player Keyshawn was cocky, arrogant, self-absorbed, annoying, and not too bright.   He once wrote a book humorously entitled “Just Give Me The Damn Ball”.   He once got suspended for the whole season by his head coach for continually mouthing off and undermining team morale.   He defined clueless.

      And yet, as an NFL studio analyst, he was nothing short of brilliant in 2009.   Two moments stand out.   First, in February, right after quarterback Kurt Warner piloted the perennially inept Arizona Cardinals to a Super Bowl they almost stole, his fellow analysts were asking the question; does this magical year finally elevate Warner to the status of a future Hall-of-Famer?   Some of the talking heads said yes, some said no.   But Keyshawn, the only truly clear thinker in the bunch, remarked, “Why wouldn’t he already have achieved that?   Why isn’t he a Hall-of-Famer even before this year?   Of course he was right.   Warner had already won two MVPs and a Super Bowl long before he even signed with the Cardinals.   The NFL record book was already littered with his name.   But only the surprisingly clear-thinking Keyshawn Johnson stated publicly that the man had already deserved Hall enshrinement even before his turning around football’s lousiest franchise.   Bravo, Keyshawn.

      And then last month, after the Indianapolis Colts foolishly and stupidly rested their best players and blew their perfect season, thus limping quite cowardly into the playoffs, while most announcers played apologist for the Colts’ actions the dynamic Keyshawn boldly declared, “They cheated the Indianapolis fans and they cheated history.”   Who knew that this guy would become America’s clearest thinker?   Why isn’t he in Obama’s cabinet?   I think the president is missing out on an important voice of reason….

      The GUNTER PARCHE AREN’T I JUST ABOUT THE MOST SECRETLY LUCKY TENNIS PLAYER EVER Award goes to Roger Federer.   Don’t get me wrong, I love Roger Federer.   He’s a great guy and a magnificent player.   But from mid-2008 through January of 2009 it was pretty clear to anyone who knows tennis that Rafael Nadal had surpassed him as the world’s greatest player.   Nadal had just got done beating Fed in the French, Wimbledon, and Australian Open finals in the span of eight months, on three different surfaces.   After the Australian loss, Federer literally broke down in tears.   Nadal has beaten Federer in 65% of their head-to-head matches during their careers.  

      But when Nadal went down with a potentially career-ruining series of knee injuries, Fed was the glad recipient.   He finally won his 1st French Open, then his 6th Wimbledon, breaking Pete Sampras’ record for most “majors” ever won.   He almost instantly ascended from second-best all the way to the generally accepted title of Greatest Player Of All Time.   But only because Nadal wasn’t there.   The simple truth is that Nadal had become greater than Federer.   No one wants to admit it, but it’s a fact.

      It reminds me of a sad situation that occurred back in the early 90s, when Steffi Graf was totally dominating women’ tennis.   She would go on to win 22 majors and be generally proclaimed as one of the three or four best players of all time, in some people’s eyes thee best.   But the fact is, when she was smack in her prime, there was an even better player.   Monica Seles was beating her like a drum in the early 90s, winning eight grand slam titles in less than three years, usually at Graf’s expense.   She had taken Graf’s #1 ranking from her.   She beat Graf in three of four major finals during that time.   She had compiled a record of 55-1 in grand slam matches.    Seles completely owned the game, and completely owned Graf.   Right up until the moment in April 1993 when crazed Graf fan and unemployed German lathe operator Gunter Parche (I love that phrase, “unemployed German lathe operator”….does Germany have a glut of lathe operators?) ran out onto the court and stabbed Seles in the back with a 10-inch knife.   Seles wasn’t seriously hurt, but she had to take a couple years off from tennis and was never the same after that.   Graf’s career profited exponentially.   History places Graf on a much higher plane than Seles in the Pantheon of tennis, even though on merit the opposite is the truth.   Or at least would have been.   Life sucks.                

      The ALLEN IVERSON I HAVE NO EARTHLY IDEA WHAT THE WORD “RETIRED” MEANS Award:   Has to be Urban Meyer.   The once and future Head Coach of the Florida Gators football circus.   His retirement lasted, what, 24 hours?   Talk about indecisive.   Compared to him, Iverson himself projects the resolve of Douglas MacArthur.   I do think coaching has taken its toll on the once-confident-looking Meyer, though.   On the sideline last week, he looked like one of the Stepford Wives.   Blank stare, robotic manner, etc.   He should probably retire again, for his health.   Of course we’d then have to give him the BRETT FAVRE I RETIRE EVERY YEAR BECCAUSE I LOVE ALL THE ATTENTION SO JUST DEAL WITH IT Award as well….which this last year goes to….well, Brett Favre, I guess.

      The BILL CLINTON I CAN STICK MY PENIS ANYWHERE I WANT AND GIVEN HOW WELL I DO MY DAMN JOB HOW DARE YOU SAPS EVEN SUGGEST THAT I AM NOT ENTITLED TO DO SO Award:   Tiger Woods, of course.   In a landslide.   Out of sheer boredom, no more space in this particular column shall be allocated to El Tigre, except to say that the thing I love most about Woods getting caught with his pleated pants down is that it gives me the opportunity to tell any woman I please how moronic I think she is when she starts defending Bill Clinton and starts saying how much she likes and admires and (gulp!) respects him, even though no famous man in recent memory has mocked, objectified, insulted, and disrespected women more….It just proves that something good always comes from something bad, or however that stupid saying goes.

      The A. C. GREEN BEST PERFORMANCE BY A VIRGIN Award:   Tim Tebow.   You know; the thick-thighed Florida quarterback who is a dead-ringer for actor Brendan Fraser.   Seriously, has any athlete ever absorbed more grief for not banging every chick on campus?   And I’m not a religious man, but I wish people would stop accusing this kid of not being genuine with his religious beliefs and practices.   By all accounts his beliefs are genuine, his pledge of pre-marital virginity is not phony, and he is—again , by all accounts—the nicest, most moral, and most character-laden young man in the nation.   Not to mention the greatest college football player of all time.   He leaves college with two national championships, a Heisman Trophy, a hatful of NCAA records, and a well-deserved reputation as a fiery, charismatic leader.   His 482-yard passing performance in last week’s Sugar Bowl was magical.   So please just lay off the young man for not being like every other athlete or politician who can’t keep it zipped up to save his life.  (Besides, think back and be honest….most of your own sexual experiences were nothing to write home about anyway, right?)    

      The WILMER McLEAN MEMORIAL WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME NOT ONCE BUT TWICE Award:   First of all, a brief history lesson on Wilmer McLean. (Gee, I love flaunting my Berkeley History degree; ‘makes me seem worldly and cerebral, huh?   You should hear me at parties.).   Anyway, Wilmer McLean was this guy who lived in Virginia in 1861, and when the Civil War broke out they decided to have the first battle in his front yard.   Literally.   They called that battle “Bull Run”, but they could just as easily have called it “The Battle of McLean’s Farm”, or something like that.   During the battle, a Union cannonball indeed dropped down his fireplace and destroyed the kitchen.   Bad luck.   Anyway, his property was so thoroughly destroyed by the humorless hammer of war that McLean moved 120 miles away to Appomattox County, where, right next to the Appomattox Court House, you may recall, is where General Lee finally surrendered to General Grant.   And the actual house where Lee surrendered to Grant belonged to….wait for it….yep, our old friend Wilmer McLean!   True story.   McLean once famously remarked, “The war started in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.”   And he was right.   And so, in that spirit of sweet, amazing coincidence, the 2009 WILMER McLEAN Award goes to Houston Texans safety Bernard Pollard.   Last year Pollard, while playing for Kansas City, hit New England patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the knee and ended his season.   And then last week, when New England all-star receiver Wes Welker collapsed with a season-ending knee injury of his own, the opposing player who happened to fall right on top of him was….yep, our very own unlucky 2009 WILMER McLEAN winner, Bernard.   Bernard didn’t actually cause Welker’s knee to explode the way he had personally destroyed Brady’s, but you get the idea.   New Englanders must hate this guy.  

      And finally….

      The PLAXICO BURRESS I’M SO STUPID IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR EVEN SMART PEOPLE TO FIGURE ME OUT Award:   Who else but the dumbest guy in the NBA, Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas.   Assuming he’ll ever actually play for the Wizards again, that is.   I swear, guys like Gilbert are so dumb you have to wonder how they manage to get through a single day without being run over by a bus.   In case you missed the story, Gilbert and teammate Javaris Crittendon were busted recently for pulling guns on each other in the Wizards’ locker room (no, I’m not kidding).   Gilbert later claimed that (despite eye-witness accounts saying he did) he in fact did not draw and point his gun at Crittendon and that he moved the guns from his home to his place of business to “get them away from his children.” (Sheesh, have you ever heard two bigger dumb-ass, self-serving lies than that?).   He made things worse by posting a series of flippant remarks about the incident on Twitter (I take pride in still not knowing exactly how Twitter works), and then pointing his fingers like they were guns at all his teammates and gunning then down before a recent Wizards game, on the court, in full view of the world.   NBA Commissioner David Stern was not amused.   He just suspended brain-dead Gilbert indefinitely.   Most experts believe that this suspension will last the whole season.

      Here’s the really dumb part.   This suspension is without pay.   NBA players are paid on a per-game basis, their salaries being thus divided by 82 regular season games and then they are paid accordingly.   Therefore, in Gilbert’s case, for each and every game he misses because he thought it was A-okay to bring four deadly weapons to his employer’s locker room and point one of them at a teammate, it will cost him—take a moment to brace yourself against the ensuing depression—about $147,000 dollars.   That’s $147,000 dollars per game.   Yes, I know.   It’s hard for regular people like you and me to get our minds around stuff like that without barfing.   Sorry.

      Plaxico Burress is in jail and his job is history and his reputation is shot and his lucrative football career is probably over.   All for sneaking a loaded pistol into a New York City nightclub and then accidentally and cleverly shooting himself.   So I guess he’ll probably always be the dumbest professional athlete of all time, and so Gilbert still has some work to do to catch him.   But even if he never actually passes Plaxico Burress on the fast track to dumbness immortality, at least he has captured this year’s BURRESS Award for his trouble.   Congratulations, Gilbert.

      One more thing.   Do you know what Gilbert Arenas’ jersey number is?   It’s 0.   As in zero.   Don’t’cha just love it?   Funny thing, I don’t even remember when the NBA announced that they were going to require that each player’s jersey number match his I.Q.   Do you?    

The Sports Philosopher

The Sports Philosopher


The Sports Philosopher

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, NFL junkie, and sports nut, in no particular order.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written four novels and over 20 short-stories.    Samples of Brad’s fiction work can be discovered within the links below :






One Response to “I NEVER THOUGHT THERE’D EVER BE ANOTHER PLAXICO by Brad Eastland, The Sports Philosopher”


  1. The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER says: “Don’t let the door hit you (or your ‘Plaxico’) on your way out.” by Brad Eastland

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