Sports Corner: Return of the Hunters
by George Ducker
It grieves me to no end that the above photo, featuring the New Orleans Saints trudging through the pastoral density of Northwest London, couldn't be found in a larger size or higher resolution. Maybe my mastery of the internet isn't as far-reaching as I thought. Believe me, I tried, and believe me, you can't find the thing higher than 250 or so. I'll be calling Julian Finney first thing tomorrow morning for a poster-sized image that I can frame and put on my wall.
Sir Linton, "Mary Queen of Scots About to Be Executed..."
Yes, the second annual foray of the NFL into England happened today, and the Saints took the Chargers for a ride 37-32.
Although this game, played at Wembley Stadium to a sellout crowd of 83,226, was notable for higher scoring and more on-field dramatics than last year's soggy, fumbling match-up between the Dolphins and the New York Giants, there was less of the patented ridiculousness that peppered last year's debut on the pitch. There was no streaker in a referee's cap and there was most assuredly no 26-foot Jason Taylor robot scaring the hell out of unsuspecting pedestrians in Trafalgar Square.
Fred McAfee in the Eye
And the NFL isn't pussyfooting around with their aims at foreign pigskin colonization.
The impressed Independent snorted, "If you wanted to organize a small war, there's a chance that America's National Football League could do a better job than the Pentagon."
John Seymour Lucas, "Armada in Sight"
Rather than ravaging sleep patterns and jetting in midweek, the teams spent the whole week, jetting straight over after dreadful losses in the Eastern time zone...Some even had the guts to review those games in flight, as with Brees, who said, "I popped an Ambien and sat there and thought about it for 30 minutes and fell asleep."
Both teams had time for their share of London sightseeing, but San Diego's Antonio Cromartie offered the best, most succinct itinerary: "Man, we've been to T.G.I. Friday's, Angus Steakhouse, McDonald's. That's where we've been."
But what of the weekend's results on this side of the pond?
San Francisco lost 13-34 to Seattle in new coach Mike Singletary's mid-season debut.
The Bengals lost 35-6 at the ruthless hands of the Houston Texans. Now the Bengals and the Detroit Lions should arm-wrestle to see who gets last place, as both teams have yet to win a game all season.
Cleveland took down David Garrard and the Jaguars 23 - 17. More depressing for Jaguars fans was the last second, non-catch that Matt Jones made, securing them the non-win.
Miami moved to 3-4 with their 25-16 win over the hot, happenin' Redskins.
Cowboy cheerleader Abigail Klein
The Elder Bush
And speaking of Presidential figures, you can read all about Barack Obama's stint as ESPN writer Rick Reilly's fantasy football partner here.
This photo of Michelle is deeply mysterious to me
And you can read here about the stink surrounding another ESPN writer, Bill Simmons, and the failed Obama podcast.
There's a new book out on sportswriter and man-about-town George Plimpton. It's title is the heartwarming (at least to me) George, Being George, and it culls together a ton of interviews (Plimpton-on-Truman-Capote-style) with folks who knew him.
In 1963, Plimpton, then the 36 year-old editor of the Paris Review, wrote to six football teams in the NFL, with the hopes that one of them would take him on as a "last-string" quarterback during their summer/fall training season. The Detroit Lions "an older and experienced team, imbued with a lot of the devil-may-care attitude of Bobby Layne, the roustabout quarterback who'd been there a few years before" took the bait.
The resulting book, Paper Lion, which you should most certainly read if you haven't, presents early-'60s pro football through the writerly lens of a fan with all the admitted athletic inadequacy of an Ivy League graduate.
Although most of the book is spent on the gridiron and in late-afternoon locker room sessions with the players, it culminates with Plimpton's one and only appearance as the Lions' QB during a scrimmage, in which he famously managed three plays and lost yardage on each and every one.
He acknowledges that this, while humiliating, was also the best possible outcome: "If by some chance I had uncorked a touchdown pass, there would have been wild acknowledgement--because I heard the groans go up at each successive disaster--but afterward the spectators would have felt uncomfortable. Their concept of things would have been upset. The outsider did not belong and there was comfort in that being proved."
George Ducker is the senior Sports Consultant for This Recording although he defers to A.C. in all matters NBA-related, so don't even ask.
BECAUSE MONDAY IS THE SCARIEST DAY
"Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues" - Bob Dylan (mp3)
"Somebody's Watching Me - Rockwell (mp3)
"Hand of Doom" - Black Sabbath (mp3)
"Ut Oh! It's Mourningtime Again" - Mount Eerie (mp3)
"Needle of Death" - Bert Jansch (mp3)
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING