Monday, February 22, 2010

His Heart Belongs to Daddy

Sometimes the smallest little news items can grab your attention. Such as the AP story today stating that Kevin Gilbride Jr., son of New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride Sr., has been added to the Giants' coaching staff.

This kind of blatant nepotism wouldn't be so bad if Jr. had a competitive resume. I mean, really, isn't making it into the NFL coaching ranks the dream of many a college assistant? Even college head coaches? And what're the odds? Seems like the tumblers have to fall into place, and not everybody can get a sweet "in" like Gilbride Jr.—not even assistants at big-name colleges.

Now, besides being his daddy's son, Gilbride Jr.—who will be the Giants' new offensive quality control coach, whatever the f&%k that means—brings to his position a football coaching background of three seasons as wide receivers coach at Temple. Prior to that, Gilbride coached receivers and tight ends and "did some work on special teams" at Georgetown. Before that, he was a grad. ass. at Syracuse.

Syracuse, Georgetown and Temple. Except for Temple's modest resurgence this year, that program's been terrible for years. Ditto Syracuse. Georgetown? That program isn't too far removed from its club football days. So you can't say Jr. has exactly been distinguishing himself with kickass college organizations. But now he's an NFL assistant.

One more lesson in "It's not what you know, it's WHO you know," and daddy's the best one to know.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Heart Update

Walked 1.2 miles this morning. Day 11, Nicotine Clean.

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Not So Bright...

Poor Tiger Woods. So talented. So rich. So pheromonal.

So messed up.

Media reaction to Tiger’s apologia publica Friday has ranged from astonished praise to outright cynicism. As for me, I’m trying to find the middle ground, though it’s not that easy to do. Like newspaper writer and TV bigmouth Stephen A. Smith, I am tending toward mistrust on Tiger’s mea culpa.

It’s not that I don’t think Tiger wants to be apologetic, or try to put a better foot forward, regarding revelations about his marital infidelity. But the whole 14 minutes, despite a few moments of possible credibility, smacked of theater—and not a very convincing brand, either. More like community theater, at best.

One post-show pundit said, “He’s not an actor,” as if that excused Tiger from his awkwardnesses and helped to affirm the authenticity of his address and the feelings behind it.

But the more I watched—CNN and ESPN showed the “press conference” repeatedly—and with his wife, Elin, thunderously NOT present, the more Tiger’s words became "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" [Macbeth, Act V, Scene V]. Even those carefully scripted crescendos intended to chastise the press for exploiting his wife and kids seemed like somewhat lame attempts to boost his own chivalry despite his obviously most unchivalric situation. Which just made it all look curious.

There was a side of me that actually wondered if Tiger weren’t coming across as sociopathic. Certainly he registered pretty high on the narcissism scale.

Ultimately, I just think this came off as a bad idea that really didn’t work very well. If he had faced a battery of reporters and answered their questions straightforwardly, he’d’ve had a better chance to come off as honest, even if he proved reluctant to answer some questions or even just pled “no comment.”

At a time when Tiger needs to look more human and humble than ever, he came off as robotic and sometimes churlish. (The perfect passive-aggressive cocktail of emotion.)

He made some headway in explaining his situation with Elin—if you believe him, that is—but he still struck out in explaining himself.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Heart Chronicle (Part 5)

So I’m finally at home, rebounding from cardiac surgery and the shock of it all, glad to be within my own four, very dingy, walls. Then my friend, singer Stacey Shaffer-Bishop, calls me, and says she’s coming over with stuff for me to eat. And gosh darn if she doesn’t bring me a big, big pot of homemade chicken soup (no salt used in its preparation), coffee, matzo crackers, salad greens, some Girl Scout cookies(!), and other assorted sidebars. Most all of this stuff is good (or not bad, anyway) for one’s heart.

The matzo crackers, for example, have almost freaking nothing in them: no fat, no trans fat, no cholesterol, no sodium. They are bland to the taste, yeah, but you can put some organic cream cheese on one (Stacey brought me that, too!), and it’s not bad at all.

Then a few days later, my friend Deanna brought over two kinds of homemade soups—the Soup Sisters rule!—plus a box of stone ground sesame crackers and a bottle of sparkling cranberry drink. Fantastic!

And now I’m an oatmeal freak. (No one in my past life would ever believe that.)

As I’ve pointed out previously, I don’t think, pre-heart attack, I would have fallen into the category of horrendous eater, but clearly I wasn’t doing myself any good. Basically I was doing what too many typical American males do: Eating exactly what I wanted when I wanted. That has to change, but complete denial of the goodies can be avoided if I’m smart about it. (And it was very wonderful to learn through my experience that I am not diabetic. Those folks face real challenges.)

With a little help from my friends, I’m already learning things about fat and sodium and cholesterol and trans fats, etc. Watching one’s daily allotment for intake of potentially harmful substances pays dividends, I’m sure, and I can guess that, once it becomes habit-forming, also becomes a little easier to parse through. I say this with all cautious optimism, ‘cause—dammit!—I love to eat sometimes...

Meanwhile, I’ve been investigating some food-biz movies of the recent era, documentaries and docu-dramas like Fast Food Nation and Super Size Me and Food, Inc. Now I’m not going to go all wild-eyed political here on the state of food in this country. You can do that for yourself once you watch these well-known flicks, if you haven’t seen them already.

Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock’s journey through a McDonald’s-only diet, can be viewed in 10-minute increments on You Tube. The other two are available through NetFlix or wherever.

These flicks are only tangential to the personal heart-attack experience—after all, we’re each responsible for our own body, right? Yet they do help shine some light on the culture of food in America, with a special spotlight on the nexus where profitability and health meet and then diverge.

In corporate America’s desire to maximize profits in food, they essentially exploit two things: humankind’s addictive tendency; and poverty. These are huge things for our society to consider and confront. Not to mention where capitalism fits into the whole scenario, where thousands of workers earn their livings from the business of foisting crap on their fellow citizens.

Like many things in America, it’s not really about class or race or education—it’s mostly about money: who has it and who can afford to spend wisely and healthfully on food. Anyway, within this general subject heading, there is much for the average person to learn about healthful eating.

What can I say? I love a Big Mac, too. And the fries. And eating those once in a while isn’t going to destroy my health profile. But really, more thoughtfully, why would you put that stuff into your system when you don’t have to? Something to think about always when the fast-food, or quick-food, decision is before you.

And seriously, if everyone in the U.S. got healthier in their eating, I guess thousands of people at McDonald’s and Burger King and the candy companies and farmers cranking out high-fructose corn syrup and fattening up hogs and cows and chickens in suspicious ways would soon enough be unemployed. (Okay, I’m not getting into government subsidies for agri-products, but that subject needs to be discussed, too.)

Hell, once I get my ticker back in shape, I could very well eat myself a naughty burger. Believe me, I approach all of this stuff with humility. But if my thinking about it gets others to think about it, too, then that’s cool.

The Heart Chronicle (Part 6) is up next: Smoking.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Heart Chronicle, Part 4: Mostly for Men Only

I received three particularly interesting phone calls within a day or two of my surgery. All were from males. All were non-smokers, right around 50 years old. All lived alone. All expressed their concern for my brush with mortality, but I perceived something else behind their words and their cautious attitude.

Suddenly, I was doing the listening. And I guess that was okay because I had endured my crucible and survived and now I could be a kind of father-confessor for these “men of a certain age.” Each guy told me his feelings about his own current health, whether he ate well enough or exercised enough or worried about his blood pressure or had some family health history that gnawed at him.

It was really quite endearing, and I started to see how my heart attack was already serving a broader purpose: it had created awareness among guys who probably would just rather not think about these things.

Hell, I never wanted to think about ’em. I love cigarettes and coffee. I like rich foods. I love sugary citrus drinks. I like salting my French fries. I love a Fat Mo’s burger [local reference]. I like everything with a Reese’s candy label on it. I can devour a box of deluxe LU dark-chocolate cookies in one sitting. I like sodium-rich canned chicken corn chowder. I like to make my own tacos, and be generous with the sour cream. I put butter on everything. The list goes on.

Alas, like boxing, all that is a young man’s game. So, even if you’re a guy who does not smoke, there are things that demand your vigilance. It doesn’t take much time or effort or expense to get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked out, just to see where you’re at—and where you OUGHT to be at. (For the record, my numbers weren’t shockingly bad, but they were elevated, and combined with smoking, well...yeah.)

Making modest dietary adjustments can make a huge difference, and you can still have some of your favorite junky foods often enough. The exercise angle is also not that demanding: Just get out two, three, four days a week, WALKING. You’ll feel better as a matter of course—like a tiger, I hope—but also you’ll be doing ongoing maintenance on your cardiovascular system. (And thus helping yourself to avoid a costly, time-consuming trip to a hospital.)

Such changes can be interpolated pretty easily into one’s weekly routine, without a lot of denial. And here’s the fact: Males encounter cardiac difficulties 10 years earlier than women, on average. By age 45— whether you smoke or not—you are in a risk category, and that’s just the way it is.

Yes, fear is a psychological player in this scenario. Yes, it COULD happen to you. And even supposedly healthy people have heart attacks. But, you know, knowledge is power. Maintenance reaps good results and provides you a feeling of control. And really, the odds are on your side.

I guess, coming from a nicotine fiend like me, it sounds disingenuous, but... living healthy is its own reward. That’s a really good lesson to learn—and you don’t have to have a heart attack to learn it.

The Heart Chronicle (Part 5) is coming soon. Stay alert!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brad Paisley's Crappy Happy Talk

A few words about Brad Paisley’s video, Welcome to the Future, which I continue to see in rotation on CMT, though it’s been more than six months since its release. How about “Yuck”? Or “Ugh”?

Paisley, well-respected as a country artist, has finally jumped the shark. About as "country" as a shopping mall in Minnesota, Paisley unselfconsciously strives to use his considerable podium as a way to “transform” country music, to truly expand its influence to a broader popular market—$$$!—while also attempting to hold on to the things that make the country market “country.”

Paisley wants to have his cake and eat it too: Pretend that he’s the scion of the music of Hank Williams, but also a cool, contemporary (and sexy!) rockin’ cat not too far removed from the teenage concerns of his supposed audience, redneck or otherwise.

But popular music—never mind “country”—is in the shitter, methinks, when we have a song with lyrics like, “I’d have given anything to have my own Pac-Man game at home...” or “I was on a video chat this morning with a company in Tokyo...” Now that’s poetry, man...

All of this is in tribute to the technical age we live in: “Hey, glory, glory, hallelujah / Welcome to the future...” Wow. Brad Paisley meets George Orwell. Or at least hints that he might know who George Orwell is. Or what the future is. Pretty rad for C&W, right?

Of course, this is the good future. Squeaky-clean and upbeat. Where classic country music never necessarily went.

In Paisley’s world, kids with artificial limbs and in wheelchairs smile and look forward to competing in athletic events, the video style of director Jim Shea limning the candy-coated drek of public service announcements ad nauseam. It’s all blessedly One World. Apolitical. Unrealistic. Video crystal meth for ostriches.

Paisley's also got one de rigueur early verse about “My grandpa was in World War II...” Yah, let’s not forget to play the war card, Brad—it’s a country song, remember?—and war SUCKS, but it’s okay to celebrate it if Gramps “fought against the Japanese / He wrote a hundred letters to my grandma / Mailed ‘em from his base in the Philippines...” Those words are devoid of rhyme or inspiration but gol-dang if it doesn’t connect pretty-boy Brad to blood and guts (which he’ll never have to spill, for anyone). In case you didn’t know, this is called MANIPULATION.

Then Paisley throws in two verses about racism—”They burned a cross in his front yard / For asking out the homecoming queen...” plus “From a woman on a bus [Rosa Parks, in case you didn’t guess] / To a man with a dream...” (Doh!) Were those lines written by the “Family Guy” manatees on “South Park”?

Yeah, let’s head racism off at the pass with that one. It’s ALL good, now, folks, ’cause Everyman Brad says it’s so.

Now, I have no problem with our world becoming ever more Paisley Perfect. What I resent is crappy, uninspired, formulaic, warmed-over music with vile lyrics that have no heart and are designed to get the sheeple out to buy CDs and attend concerts. ‘Cause, you know, like, everything’s fantastic!!

Only in your world, Brad. Only in your world.

P.S. According to Wikipedia, "Paisley played the song at the White House for President Barack Obama." That may help explain a lot of things.

The Heart Chronicle (Part 3)

[This is the third installment of a multiple-chapter essay on my recent heart surgery. Scroll down to read Parts 1 and 2.]

In the early morning of Feb. 13, about nine hours before my release from Vanderbilt Medical Center, I became increasingly emotional. Sitting there in the dark, my roommate asleep but snoring on the other side of the partition—my short-term ordeal coming near to its end—I began to weep.

I was overcome by sadness. I had had this physical event and survived, but I started thinking, I guess, about my life—now so much nearer its end than its beginning. I thought about my failures, especially as a husband and father, and about how I’d blown a lot of important personal stuff, including as regards earning a sufficient living—starving artist-ism being all well and good if you eventually make it big and then don’t have to worry about paying off costly medical bills.

I also thought about my bad personal habits, especially cigarette smoking, which I count as THE major contributor to my heart attack. Something I could’ve controlled.

My family history does not tend toward heart disease. I have forebears who lived into their eighties and even beyond. Generally speaking, I appear to be in trim-enough shape. I’ve eaten my share of bad calories, of course, but I don’t think I've been the worst kind of abuser. I have a fairly sophisticated palate, and I can’t eat junk food consistently without running very readily to “real food.” I’d say that my pre-cardiac overall eating patterns were not that un-healthy, in relative terms.

Nevertheless...too much caffeine? Probably. Too many sugared drinks? Yes. (I’m a sucker for flavored lemonades.) Lots of beef and cheese, plus fries, with extra salt? Yes, maybe, but I always pulled back too, with a salad and soup, and usually I have avoided junk food in consecutive meals, on consecutive days. And, despite the generally sedentary nature of my work, I feel I have stayed active enough. (Though maybe not, it turns out.)

Given my general profile, it is my belief that cigarettes alone brought me to the abyss at Vanderbilt. Decades of smoking can precipitate heart attack. You didn’t hear it here first, of course, but as I embark on this new phase of living, it is the mantra I must continue to repeat.

About 25 years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing British novelist Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange, etc.) at a book convention in Manhattan. My own father, a novelist himself and a longtime smoker, had recently passed away. Burgess, born only 33 days after my dad, and hence his living, breathing contemporary, was smoking, and I joined him.

Somewhere amidst our discussion of dystopian literature, social engineering, politics, the age of celebrity and so many other wide-ranging topics that Burgess expounded on with brilliance, I asked him about cigarettes. I remember his response to this day with crystal clarity: “It’s such a delicious addiction.” It is that.

Back in my hospital bed, the tears and sobbing stayed steady for awhile, then were dispersed by a sudden cry in my head of “Fuck!”—as if cursing a heart attack, or all my guilt, could chase them away. Nah, it just makes you feel a little... energized. Though that's not a bad thing to be when your daily life is about to be turned upside-down.

Let the search for new "delicious addictions" commence.

Up next: The Heart Chronicle (Part 4): Mostly for Men Only

Monday, February 15, 2010

Separated at Birth?

Actress Starina Johnson (Stuck!)

NASCAR's Danica Patrick

The Heart Chronicle (Part 2)

[This is the second installment of a multiple-chapter essay on my recent heart surgery. Scroll down to read Part 1.]

Following my surgery, I have some vague recollection of being wheeled somewhere and perhaps even of being on an elevator. (Wondrous sedatives keep the new heart patient in a heavenly guessing game.) By the time I got my mental bearings, and some physical clarity, I found myself in Room 7016, Bed B, in Vanderbilt Medical Center’s cardiology unit, which actually spans several floors.

Before I learned exactly what had happened to me, I was approached by a registered nurse named Heather Jones, who soon enough let it be known that she was not only blessed with good nursing and charming people skills but also—well, how else to say it?—was simply a beautiful angel of mercy walking. She oversaw the work of another very earnest young nurse’s assistant named Brittany (didn’t catch the last name), and the evening and early morning shift was handled by one Rachel Fowler, who was wonderful to me.

The exact sequence of early events remains a tad fuzzy, but at some point doctor(s) came to inform me that I had what was classified as a “mild” heart attack, but nonetheless one with real concerns for the future and potential negative outcomes that demanded forestalling by lifestyle changes.

Like former president Bill Clinton that very day, I’d had a stent placed into a blood vessel in my heart. Let’s skip exactly how this is done, though it is a wonder of medical science, if by now a fairly routine procedure. The stent opens the sluggish vessel and allows blood to flow more freely. Even better for me, the vessel of concern was not a “major” one—all things being equal, you understand—but rather a tributary connecting the heart’s outer wall (left, from my POV) to a major vessel.

I am a lucky one. Well past 50, and having been a heavy, and heavier, smoker since high school, I’m frankly surprised that my heart didn’t give out a lot more. (Really, if I tell you how old I was when I took my first drag on a cigarette...well, it’s just not right, though it certainly is a testament to the essential resilience of the human body.) My two different roommates were facing really serious triple and/or quadruple bypass surgeries, some of the details of which I overheard on my side of the partition. One gent was even going over his will on the phone. Poignant stuff.

Meanwhile, I felt surprisingly and increasingly chipper. Nurses brought me food, which I picked at, mostly because I was too damn excited to focus on eating, though eventually I found my appetite. Then my phone started ringing, as friends and relatives began to call, and things started to feel almost sociable. The fact that my blood pressure kept dropping and all other vital signs were stable certainly improved my spirits, and it crossed my mind that maybe—just maybe—I'd dodged a major bullet.

I had a few important visitors in my first 36 hours in Room 7016, including filmmaker Glen Weiss, sportswriter/radio host Henry Nichols, writer/library official Deanna Larson, theatrical producer Ken Bernstein and actor Ian Jameson. These awesome folks all played a role in elevating my spirits and getting me safely home by early afternoon on Saturday, Feb. 13.

Yet the heavy lifting was still ahead of me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Heart Chronicle (Part 1)

Today is Day 4 in my new life as a heart attack patient.

I entered Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Emergency Room at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11. I had driven myself to the hospital after experiencing strange chest discomfort and increasing pain, of a sort that would make any aware person realize that action was needed. I wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong, of course, but I had a suspicion, and besides, when we’re talking about pain, then understanding exact cause is irrelevant.

Vandy’s ER team rushed into action, and, unlike TV medical shows—where glib professionals preoccupied with their personal lives offer pregnant-with-meaning commentary while dealing with medical challenges—these folks attended to me only, with determination and focus. (Really, I don’t think even one of the medics was thinking about his/her orgasm.)

I am moved when I think about what I witnessed. I wish I had names, but alas the event was a blur of bodies lurching left and right of me, as wires and tubes, laptops, oral medications, monitors, IVs, EKG stuff—you name it—were brought to bear on the case. Whoever you all are, you are simply, indescribably amazing, and whoever taught you your craft should be incredibly proud.

Finally, about two hours into all of this, after a combination of nitroglycerine pills and morphine brought my pain into a manageable state, a Dr. Mark Glazer told me that he was recommending immediate heart surgery for me—to not only isolate the exact cause but also to relieve the problem at the same time. This was the first time in this whole experience that someone had used the term "heart attack."

I am uninsured. I visibly glitched. No one was saying how much any of this would be costing. But I already knew generally how much an ER heart workup costs, ’cause I had one nine years ago at the same place, when I managed to transform a simple anxiety attack into a several-thousand-dollar ER visit, in which I found out that my heart was just fine, thank you. It took me a few years to pay that off. This was different, though. Surgery?

Dr. Glazer appeared slightly perturbed, his face expressively seeming to say, “Well, duh, we KNOW it’s your heart, dummy. Do you wanna try to get it fixed, or should we just send you on your way??”

I can still see the look of exasperation in his eyes, sort of like Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, the moment before Harrison Ford leaps into the waterfall, surely plunging to his death.

Finally, after excruciating seconds passed, a nurse to my immediate left—rather cute and African American, as I recall—chimed in with, “Well, $10,000 versus your, uh...” My what??

I caved. Bring it on.

I was whisked into a surgical unit. I stayed alert enough to experience an incision made into my inner thigh near my groin. Then a kind of twilight-sleep sensation overcame me. Next thing I knew, I had awoken in a surgical holding area, in a most blessed kind of blissfulness. (Damn, those drugs are good. Really. No, REALLY!)

Part 2 of The Heart Chronicle coming soon.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Hattiesburg or Bust: Where the Horny Sports Guys Go

Hattiesburg, Mississsippi: Home of the University of Southern Mississippi, Brett Favre’s college career...and horny disgraced sports figures.

Until today, I had missed the story about former Mets GM and former ESPN baseball guy Steve Phillips’ sex addiction travails. I wondered (sort of) where Phillips was on ESPN hot stove coverage, though I was never a fan of his bluster and I can’t say that I missed him. I always thought Phillips' analysis sounded fake and uninformed, which is saying a lot for a guy who’d GM’d a major league baseball team for six years (1997-2003). (Full, objective disclosure: Phillips was the Mets’ GM in 2000, the year they went to the World Series.)

Anyway, a career dating back to the early ’90s with the Mets, plus six years with ESPN. That’s earning a lot of decent coin, especially for a guy who never played MLB—and a lot more money than the rest of us Average Joe sleazebags have to blow on skanks.

Phillips was accused of sexual harassment in 1998, so there were, uh, signs of his, uh, proclivities, which apparently run toward homely chubby chicks. And get this, Phillips has a degree in psychology from Michigan. (Burp.)

But now he’s joined superstar golfer Tiger Woods as a graduate of the Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services clinic in Hattiesburg, which seems like an odd place for sexed-up, out-of-control sports figures to congregate. Well, it’s Mississippi, so maybe the blues link is appropriate. And Mississippi, in general, is kind of desolate, too, which might keep a guy out of harm’s way. But I’m sure USM has tons of hot, young chicks—chubby or otherwise—to inveigle the Tigers and Steves to sneak out of the clinic at night. Sort of like Jack Nicholson and all the inmates in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. (Road trip!! Woo-hoo!!)

Anyway, now Phillips is unemployed and takes his place in line as yet another poster boy for sex addiction, joining Woods and other celebs in this club honoring a most dubious distinction, which, in fact, probably plagues most all of us guys—if only we had the money and opportunity to work it right.

So here are the pics you’ve been waiting for: [Top] Phillips in Clintonian pose with Brooke Hundley, the former ESPN production assistant (she got fired, too), who went all Fatal Attraction on the Phillips family. (Eeesh!) [Middle] Rosa Rodriguez, subject of Phillips’ harassment case. (Eye roll.) [Bottom] Marni Phillips,

Steve’s wife, who’s been putting up with his shit for years and might be divorcing him.

There’s one thing Tiger and Steve have in common: Apparently they like boinking chicks that are LESS attractive than their spouses.

Must be the easy pickin’s.

Now, if ESPN wants to forestall stuff like this happening in the future, all they have to do is stop hiring women. It’s an idea whose time has come. Otherwise, bookmark that Yahoo Maps page for Hattiesburg. Y’all come down!

Saints, Sinners, Losers, Winners: Super Bowl-ing in Nashville

Nope, I have no problem with the Saints winning the Super Bowl. Good for them, and always cool to see a previous non-SB winner join the esteemed club.

Now let’s get working on the Browns, Lions, Eagles, Bengals, Titans, Texans, Jaguars, Panthers, Falcons, Chargers, Vikings, Bills, Cardinals and Seahawks. (Man, that’s a LOT of teams who have never won a Super Bowl in a supposedly parity-rich league.)

But pardon me if there are lots of things about the event that require correcting. Like bandwagon sportwriters saying how “brilliant” Sean Payton’s second-half-opening onsides kick was.

Things are always brilliant when they work. If it hadn’t, and Manning takes the Colts down for an immediate score, and the Colts go up 17-6, then Payton looks like a complete dumbass who just short-circuited the little bit of momentum his team had built at the end of the second quarter when they got lucky and got a chance to kick a field goal that they should’ve kicked four minutes earlier but didn’t because their “brilliant” coach decided to go for a touchdown on 4th and goal in a very close game—and failed.

If you want to say that Payton’s aggressive stance overall turned the tide in the Saints’ favor, I won’t disagree. But really, it was probably the Saints’ defense that won the game, forcing Manning and the Colts to punt at times when they normally might have put points on the board. The FG miss by Matt Stover didn’t help, either. There’s irony there, too, since Stover was acquired as a fill-in for Adam Vinatieri, and he was never expected, at his advanced age (42), to be hitting long field goals. Stover proved still very good within 40 yards, and he helped the Colts a lot this year, but he’s not the guy you want attempting 51-yarders. Big games turn on little things.

Funny, Joseph Addai was running lights out for the Colts—13 for 77, with a TD and some punishing yards—and one wonders why the Colts didn’t press the game on the ground. It probably never occurs to them actually. Maybe it will next time around.

The Saints’ running stats were lame, by the way—51 yards in 18 attempts. Overall, the Colts yielded 100 fewer yards than the Saints, and their D seemed to be exerting maximum effort. But, like in love and in getting a cool job, timing is everything.

The Saints played well, and when Manning threw the INT—he does do that from time to time, and the law of averages caught up with him—it was over. What happens if Manning drives his team down the field for a game-tying TD, possibly forcing overtime, is a question we’ll never get answered.

On the media front, I was relieved of hearing Jim Nance’s play-by-play due to a glitch with my cable that gives me picture but no sound on CBS. Fine with me. Fact is, I don’t think Nance is any good. Yeah, he’s handsome and has that warm, resonant voice, but truth is, I don’t think of him as a “sports guy.” He’s always filling up the air with personal sidebars and shit that some PA probably handed to him earlier in the week. Then they send Nance-y Boy down onto the field afterwards to pass out the hardware. He’s soft. Like those “legacy” speeches he makes about the Master’s while tinkling piano music plays in the background. (Those make me ill, too, actually.)

So I listened to the radio while I watched the telly, and you can’t beat Marv Albert and Boomer Esiason on Westwood One’s national feed. Marv may be an acknowledged sex pervert—for which I would never judge him—but he sure calls an intense game. He even makes an incomplete pass sound good. And Boomer is not bad as an analyst. Marv just lets Boomer go on his merry way and sticks to the play-by-play, and the effect is great.

Now, as to half-time entertainment, well, I left my house around then to get a burger and some other necessary game supplies. I only, thankfully, caught about a minute of The Who, and I’m here to say definitively that I hate geezer rockers, and that if the best the SB committee can come up with is a 45-year-old non-American band, half of whose original members are dead (Moon and Entwistle), then our pop culture is in really sad shape. Worse still, over the weekend, I heard moron Mike Golic state on ESPN Radio that he was hoping they’d get Kenny Chesney for next year’s SB halftime in Dallas. God help us all.

Allrighty then! See you at the draft in April.

Friday, February 05, 2010