The airlines (again), a Gonzo night and some football
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As usual, I will answer the rips foist:
To Randy of Tyler, Texas, home of the great Earl Campbell, who writes: "Great Mother of Pearl, how does Martha Stewart get in a football article? You don't secretly write in your wife's clothing, do you?"
I had all sorts of snappy answers ready for this one, basically describing my relationship with the Redhead's wardrobe, but I think it's better to just keep it straight. Every morning she does half an hour on the treadmill. She likes to tune in to Martha Stewart on the TV. Occasionally, passing by, I happen to notice this, especially when the topics of food and wine are discussed. I took note of the Al Forno chef who was her guest one day, and this led us to have a memorable meal at the restaurant, and I thought that, as a service to my loyal readers, who don't, as you do, hoist their skirts and holler eeek! when anything but hard football is discussed, I would mention it. If this makes me less of a football analyst in your eyes, then I truly wish to apologize for having offended you, and I have a full refund package waiting for you to come and claim it.
To ripper No. 2, Randy of Rockford, Ill., and this is more my style ("I don't know how you got that job as a writer but they need to fire you ... your an idiot ... my god ... my 13 month old son knows football better than you ..."). I've said this before. I don't like to answer missives from illiterates, but I'll make an exception here because I detect a note of true passion. A comma called for after "writer" in sentence No. 1. The contraction "you're" should take the place of "your" in sentence, or phrase, No. 2 (even your 13-month-old, hyphenated, incidentally, son knows that). Diatribe should end with "you do," instead of "you." What's this guy's complaint? Doesn't like my assigning Dallas the 31st spot on the roster. Gee, that's tough.
On to airline horror stories, and everyone has one or two or three. Scott of Gainesboro, Tenn., tells of a crackdown by authorities when he tried to hold back the recliner and thereby save his knees from destruction. Steve of Houston gave me a brief recitation of horrors that had me writhing in anger. Mick of St. Martin in the French West Indies drew an analogy between the airlines and the Nixon administration (with a tip of the hat to Hunter S. Thompson). Finally, Joe B. of Eau Claire, Wis., wonders why I don't just fly first class and avoid all the misery. I'll take these in order.
To Scott: First of all, you must remember that you are dealing with the gestapo here, so anything is fair. Secondly, don't ever get mad and lose it, because that's what they are trying to get you to do. Just picture yourself in the court of Lorenzo il Magnifico, and Niccolo Machiavelli is whispering, "Your revenge must be lengthy and well thought out, my Lord." As to the particular problem of what to do when the person in front of you, wishing to recline the seat and failing, calls the flight attendant, who threatens to summon the beloved security forces -- take your fingernail or some semi-sharp object and draw it across your kneecap until it leaves a significant white indentation. When the gestapo, uh, the flight attendant, arrives, tell her/him with utmost humility, "I'm suffering from a post-operative knee ... here's the scar ... and the pain would be intense ... I'm sure you understand." Then start to pull up your pants leg. Usually it won't get that far because the situation would be just too repulsive for them, but you never know, you might have to go all the way. I've done this version of the Heimlich maneuver, oh, maybe four times, and it only got to the knee-revealing phase once. It has never failed, incidentally.
To Steve: I cannot comment on what you've described other than to say that somewhere, somehow, in the natural order of things, these people will be made to pay and pay dearly for the atrocities they've inflicted.
To Mick: The analogy between the airlines and the Nixon administration is perfect. Careful with the Hunter Thompson stuff, though. When the Super Bowl was in Houston almost 20 years ago, I had the opportunity to do the bar scene with Hunter. This is a very long story that I will relate at another time, but all I can say is that if you have a chance to make the rounds with this guy -- don't. First of all, he took me to the toughest bar I've ever been in. Secondly, he got up on a chair and ... nope, it's too long a story. Another time. I promise.
To Joe B., who wants me to fly first class: Sports Illustrated picks up my expenses, and we're not allowed to bill the magazine for first class. So I'd have to pay for them myself, and we're talking about the difference between, oh, roughly $300 and $1,800. One-point-five G's is too much to pay for personal comfort. I've got better things to do with my dough than donate it to the airlines' fat-boy kitty.
Thanks to the above quartet, incidentally, for the kind words about my work. Now on to football queries.
Two missives about Peyton Manning's daddy, Archie. To the previously mentioned Mick: Too early to compare the two. Archie was one of my favorites, but hard to evaluate because he played on such lousy teams and got hammered consistently. To Van Pham of Austin, who has sent me the same question 10 times (he says) and finally caught a break from Jimmy: I don't think Archie's chances of making the Hall of Fame are too good. He'll always be coming up against people with just the slightest edge. I'd vote for him, though. Thanks for the nice words about the Flaming Redhead, but I wouldn't exactly describe her as "cute." "Dynamic," might be the word I'd use. No, she doesn't have a twin but she has a slightly older sister named Gail, unmarried and a knockout, looks-wise.
To Scott, once again: I hate to admit this but I have yet to see Hard Knocks on HBO. Just been too busy hitting the camps. But I will, I promise, and I'll let you know how I feel about it.
Dave of Bridgewater, N.J., feels that the Titans made a huge mistake by letting Kenny Holmes go and trading for Kevin Carter instead. Me, too. Holmes was a semi-finalist on my All-Pro list last year. Carter went belly up. What more can I say? It just doesn't make sense.
Two Bills' questions from Steve of Omaha and Andy of Boston, who finally hit the jackpot on his fourth try. It looks like this is the year they find out about Rob Johnson because he'll count $10 million against the cap next season and they either have to re-sign him or let him go. Doug Flutie would merely be a Band-Aid, and you can't step into the future with him, as appealing as he might be in certain situations. I don't like the whole picture here, because with Jerry Ostroski down, I don't think their offensive line is very good. Johnson operating in a quick drop-short passing system -- , which, based on the kind of protection he'll get, might be necessary -- takes away their primary threat, Eric Moulds going deep. If they leave Jay Riemersma in for max protection, then they lose him as a third-down receiver, particularly in the red zone. Their running game is still an annoyance, rather than a weapon. Do I think Johnson will put them over the top? No. Do I think they have a chance for anything at all? Possibly, because I like Gregg Williams so much and think their defense will be good. Thanks, Andy, for your kind words. Z doesn't stand for Zagat, but I know Tim Zagat and once had an interesting lunch with him in which he laid out the full story about how he was knifed in a downtown NYC movie theater.
To Chris of Sioux City, Iowa, who wants my evaluation of the late Korey Stringer: A good, functional, power tackle. The Vikes were very effective running the right side behind Stringer and David Dixon. Pretty decent pass blocker but always had trouble with Reggie White.
Mike of Tuscaloosa, Ala., wants to know what George Seifert was thinking when he released Steve Beuerlein and settled on Jeff Lewis. I think he was thinking, "Gee, the owner feels that it's time to rebuild, so I guess I'll have to go along with it. Just hope I'm around to see what happens." The tipoff is that when John Elway was nearing retirement, the Broncos didn't feel the need to protect Lewis. Weinke might get a look-see somewhere down the line, but I don't think he's the answer. (Observations such as this one usually come back to haunt me.)
Thanks to Randy, a chef from St. Pete, for your nice comments about food and wine and my work. Thanks, also, for your objection to the term "skill position" as one that denotes anyone who runs fast. I hate it, myself, for the same reasons you do. You'll notice that I never have, nor ever will, use that phrase. I mean linebacker isn't a skill position? C'mon now.
An intriguing question from Corey of Oakmont, Pa. Talk about Baltimore going to a pass-oriented offense now that Jamal Lewis is down leads him to reflect on whether a great defense ever has been successfully paired with a pass-oriented offense. I went down through the list of Super Bowl champs, keeping your criterion -- great defense -- in mind, and no, I couldn't find that match. The '81 49ers had a fine defense, with Fred Dean and Hacksaw Reynolds and the great rookie DBs, and they were known as a passing team behind a young Joe Montana, but if you check, you'll find that their running game, keyed by guys no one remembers (Ricky Ricardo Patton, Earl Cooper, etc.) was functional, too. The great drive against Dallas that got them into the Super Bowl was primarily achieved on the ground. The '86 Giants, who had a great defense, won the Super Bowl on a 22-for-25 day by Phil Simms. Were they a passing team? Uh, no. Guess I'm thinking out loud here, and the answer is that I can't find a great defense that was paired with a pass-oriented offense, resulting in a championship.
Craig of Markham, Ont., wants to know why people are down on the Chiefs, who seem to have improved themselves. Can't put my finger on it. Just something I don't like. Running game? Just OK, nothing more, although I do like Priest Holmes. Passing game? Well, I still think Trent Green has to prove himself and their wideouts don't thrill me. Defense? You like the corners? I'm not sure. Coaching? Another question mark. Too many question marks for me, and to that you can say, "Well, you're supplying those question marks, Z," and I can't argue about that. Call this a hunch.
To cheer me up, Jimmy sent through a series of puffs by Dan of Cincinnati. Didn't actually ask a question, but he was, honest to goodness, quoting my stuff, and yes, Jimmy and Dan, this kind of thing does buoy my sagging spirits, and the Redhead gets a kick out of it, too. I thank you, gentlemen.
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