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World Wide Wednesday

January 30, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

At Adweek, Charlie Warzel conducts an oral history on Deadspin:

Excerpt from Leitch’s original pitch to Denton: “The Internet and sports are made for each other. But what has really been missing has been a strong, askew voice from outside the circle jerk of buffet-addled sportswriters interviewing naked athletes. Independent sports blogs are everywhere, but they don’t have any passion. They’re mostly just stat nerds. Sports needs a Wonkette, essentially.”

Leitch: Lock was sold enough that they thought they should do a sports site, but they didn’t want me—they wanted a name. I know a friend of mine was asked and turned it down because he thought ESPN was a safer bet and better money. Lockhart sent me an email that said, “Bad news. Nobody wants to do this. But the good news is, it’s your site now.” I was told I’d have six months to try and make it work, and I thought, that’s fine. I had been answering phones at a doctor’s office only a year and a half before.

Nick Denton, founder and publisher, Gawker Media: I don’t remember ever wanting Will to do another kind of site, but I think I had some hesitation over the breadth of coverage required. I wasn’t really clear that there were sports fans per se—rather, that there were fans of particular sports and particular teams. So I wasn’t sure it was a homogenous enough topic to support a broad site.

In Huffington Post, Ryan Grim and Ryan J. Reilly put together an extremely comprehensive piece on the Obama Administration’s hostile treatment of the medical marijuana industry:

The Justice Department may respond to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado in several ways. One option would be to go after low-level marijuana users as scapegoats and seek a court ruling that would declare federal law trumps state law. One of the more extreme options, which officials acknowledge is currently being weighed by the department’s Civil Division, would be to preempt the laws by suing the states in the same way the feds sued Arizona over its harsh immigration law. Federal authorities could sue Washington and Colorado on the basis that any effort to regulate marijuana would violate the federal Controlled Substances Act.

“The question is whether you want to pick that fight,” a former Justice official said.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson met with Holder on Tuesday, but the U.S. attorney general declined to say whether the Justice Department would fight Washington’s new marijuana law. Inslee said the state will move forward implementing the law.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

January 23, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

In Esquire, Tom Junod writes on the excruciating nature of NFL injuries:

“Fans basically know nothing,” Ryan Clark says when asked to talk about his experience of injury. “They know what they see on the field and that’s about it. They don’t know the work, the rehab, the getting out of bed on Monday morning. A lot of injuries are the ones that don’t get reported, the ones that don’t take you off the field. People always ask me, ‘Are you feeling good?’ No. You never feel good. Once the season starts, you never feel good. But it becomes your way of life. It becomes the norm. It’s different from a guy going to work at a bank. If he felt like I did, he wouldn’t get out of bed. He’d call in.”

“Our perspective is our own pain,” says the veteran who keeps the pain journal, who we’ll call PJ from now on. “What other perspective do we have? We’ve been beaten down since we were kids that you’re never too injured to play. And so when normal people — people who are not associated with football — ask ‘How do you feel?’ for many years it was hard for me to answer that question. It was hard for me to say exactly how I feel, because it would show a sign of weakness or softness. And at the professional level, you better not say how you feel, or the next man will get your job.”

On SB Nation, Kings fan Tom Ziller pens an open letter to the Maloofs:

Dear Joe, Gavin and George Maloof,

How do you sleep at night?

I know the stock retort from the rich and heartless is “on a big pile of money,” but HAHAHAHAHAHA c’mon guys, let’s try to be serious for a minute. You don’t have any money. You’re broke, and pillows made of dimes and nickels just aren’t comfortable. That’s why it’s come down to this: you can’t afford to keep the Sacramento Kings. You’ve run through all the other sources of liquid wealth, and now it’s time to flip the NBA team you said you’d never sell so that y’all can pay for yourvarioushabits. You’re terrible at making and keeping money. You make Antoine Walker look like Warren Buffett.

Y’all have always said that you’d never sell the Kings. Yet here we are. Y’all have continuously rejected claims that you’ve gone broke. Yet here we are. Y’all screamed down anyone who dare express consternation that relocation is your plans. Yet here we are. In a few months, if all goes according to your nefarious plans, you’ll have sold the Kings, and they’ll have been relocated to Seattle. And you’ll still be broke, because you are who you are. Your wealth management skills don’t exactly inspire confidence, y’know?

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

January 16, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Route

For those of you not from the northeast, Mike and the Mad Dog influenced the current landscape of sports talk radio and debate television more than anybody else. For SB Nation, which has recently begun publishing great longform, Joe DePaolo profiles Mike Francesa:

For 15 minutes Francesa fields queries while making an alarmingly small amount of eye contact – that is to say, almost none. His eyes are fixed on CNBC. The Dow is down at this point, although a mild afternoon rally will allow it to close up slightly for the day. Though this information might be highly pertinent as it relates to Francesa’s portfolio, it is not the reason he is focused so intently on the television at this moment. Francesa is sizing up his inquisitor. It’s his feeling out process. This man does not suffer fools. You must prove yourself worthy of his time and attention, hardly a simple task.

Mike Francesa is a difficult man to satisfy. Though he’s a product of the Vietnam era (he was never drafted but chronic knee problems likely would have excused him from service), he conducts himself like one who came of age during World War II. Behind a tough exterior he holds many of the Greatest Generation’s core values dear. Smiles are few and far between.

Until you prove yourself, you get long, meandering answers. The man often repeats himself – a habit, one would assume, attributable to the fact that he must fill five-and-a-half hours of airtime daily. He doesn’t trust you to talk. Why should he? You simply aren’t as good at it as he is. So he’ll do it himself, thank you.

“I don’t lack confidence. I admit that. I know I’m good at this. If I don’t think I’m good at this, why would anyone else think I’m good at it?”

I got published on Outkick The Coverage, writing about attending a wedding during a Packers playoff game:

While the groom twice told me that he’d understand if I skipped his wedding, this was never really an option. Even I know that you can’t miss your close friends’ weddings. There are few things more scarce and sacred than Packers playoff games, but some (though perhaps not all) weddings qualify. This particular one was between two of my best friends from college. They have been together for over seven years and are unconditionally devoted to each other’s unconditional happiness. Their relationship is one of those rare ones where each individual’s close friends and family feel equally connected to the spouse. They have a bond for which we should all aspire.


Now, perhaps the game would have turned out differently if only I were able to focus on it. I’m sure this sounds really stupid to anyone who doesn’t feel the same way about their teams. But, those of us who do have already made an utterly irrational leap of faith. Why on Earth should we care if a group of players who we don’t know and will likely only meet for brief 30-second pockets when we line up to buy their autographs rises and falls in a specific set of laundry? Once we’ve come to terms with this madness and continue to go at it recklessly, the idea that our actions impact the games is not so farfetched.


I have a lucky outfit that I only break out for big games. It involves a cheesehead hat and a sewn Clay Matthews jersey and I swear to Aaron Rodgers that it’s undefeated. (I retired the cheesehead after the 2011 Super Bowl run but brought it back for select games this season after the pain and anguish of last year’s Giants loss.) I know that this IS crazy, but once again it’s really not that much crazier than being a crazed sports fan in the first place.

Let’s assume for a second that my lack of focus and proper outfit did adversely affect the outcome of the game. (I know, I know, but we’ve been over this already.) Even if that were the case, I’d do it again. No regrets. This wedding was more spiritually fulfilling for me than even a Packers playoff victory would have been. Consequently, I am struggling to think of a scenario where I would have been more comfortable with a Packers playoff loss.

Quick Reads

- Gorilla sales skyrocket after latest gorilla attack [The Onion]

-  ”A gun kept in the home was 43 times more likely to be involved in the death of a member of the household than to be used in self-defense” [NPR]

- Is this the most insane NRA ad ever? [Vanity Fair]

- 25 drunkest cities in America [Daily Beast]

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

January 9, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

One of my favorite writers, Drew Magary, profiles Snoop Dogg Lion for GQ:

I must pause here for a moment to point out that we are about to cross the threshold into Snoop’s Narnia. And in Snoop’s Narnia, ideas and concepts that many of us might find dubious, or unscrupulous, feel natural, even kind of innocent. By now, Snoop has joined the ranks of Keith Richards and Jack Nicholson—artists whom we have exempted from the standard rules of society because they’re so widely beloved. So in Snoop’s Narnia, it’s perfectly normal to smoke weed everywhere, all the time, at any hour of the day. In Snoop’s Narnia, it’s perfectly acceptable to look forward to teaching your kids how to pick seeds out of your stash or how to roll a blunt. “It’s not that I would ever push weed on our kids,” says Snoop, who has three children, ranging in age from 12 to 18, “but if they wanted to, I would love to show them how, the right way, so that way they won’t get nothing put in their shit or overdose or trying some shit that ain’t clean.”

The outstanding Nate Silver did a Reddit AMA, which was transcribed by the New York Times:

Q: At the end of the day, what would it take for a 3rd party candidate to seriously challenge for, or even win, the presidency? Was Perot a once in a lifetime phenomenon, or is there a possibility of something outside the 2 party system?

— SEHumphrey

A: Historically, periods of greater polarization are associated with better performance for third-party candidates, so the chances of a successful independent campaign are probably higher than average. However, that still might mean there’s 3 or 5 percent chance of an independent candidate winning the 2016 election as opposed to a 1 or 2 percent chance. You might need a perfect storm where (i) Obama is perceived as really having screwed up and (ii) the Republicans nominate someone terrible and (iii) someone VERY talented runs and takes his campaign very seriously and (iv) then gets a few breaks in the Electoral College, etc. None of those individual steps are impossible, but the odds against the parlay are pretty long.

On The Awl, Bethlehem Shoals writes about breaking up with writing:

This year, I discovered a new form this slippery, if useful, devil can take: advice that is no advice at all. We all want cues, validation, and support as we make our way through that perilous thicket of choices that is adulthood (there’s not much need for it before, when decisions tend to follow the responsible/irresponsible binary). But sometimes, you take a leap without any encouraging shove. You move forward as if you knew exactly what you were doing and why you were doing it, when really, there’s nothing but hot air propelling you. If that.

Enough with the abstractions. In 2011, I became a father; in 2012, I decided to give up freelance writing for an honest job in the world of advertising. It’s not like I surrendered my soul for a cubicle in the nearest accounting firm. I still get to think up weird shit for a living and the place I work is hardly a button-down police state. Plus, I was never an ace with reporting and frankly, coming up with laudatory campaigns for athletes is probably closer to my strengths than that all-elusive “features writer” status was. The fact remains, though, that at the drop of a hat I gave up the only thing I’ve ever been particularly good at, the only gig I’ve ever really known, and the source of pretty much anything I’m known for outside of my immediate circle of friends and family. I don’t have time to write and if I so much as touch the topic of sports, all sorts of potential conflicts of interest crop up. It’s a strange transition to make—one day, I’m working on another book proposal, then suddenly it’s in the rear-view. I helped found The Classical, which specializes in the kind of thoughtful writing about sports I’ve always valued most and now I’m effectively off my own pet project.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

January 2, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Back from my vacation and feeling refreshed! Here are some of the most interesting links I’ve seen the past two weeks:

Deep Routes

On Slate, Tom Scocca writes that when gun nuts write gun laws, nuts have guns:

Yet today, LaPierre got up and described the gun lobby’s vision of our future: “A police officer in every single school.” “Armed security … building design … access control … information technology.” “An active national database of the mentally ill.”

This is the NRA’s idea of a free country. Kindergarteners on lockdown. Federal monitoring of everyone’s mental-health status. Cops in every hallway.

The experts and counterexperts can and will keep arguing about the local and regional crime-rate effects under our ever-expanding concealed-carry and open-carry laws. One trend line, though, seems obvious: The Second Amendment and the Fourth Amendment have been moving in opposite directions. The NRA has racked up legislative triumph after legislative triumph, extending gun rights into airports, bars, churches, and schools. Yet rather than deferring to the armed public, the police have grown ever more militarized, ever less concerned with warrants, ever more willing to respond to disorderliness with overwhelming force. The government is collecting your email and tracking your phone. Drones are flying police missions in American skies. More than 2 million people are incarcerated.

None of that came up in LaPierre’s discussion today, though he had time to denounce video games and the media. An ugly, violent, oppressive world is the world he wants. It’s the world that gun culture thrives in. The only liberty that matters to these people is the liberty to kill.

In NY Times Magazine, Jonah Weiner profiles Jerry Seinfeld:

For Seinfeld, whose worth Forbes estimated in 2010 to be $800 million, his touring regimen is a function not of financial necessity but rather of borderline monomania — a creative itch he can’t scratch. “I like money,” he says, “but it’s never been about the money.” Seinfeld will nurse a single joke for years, amending, abridging and reworking it incrementally, to get the thing just so. “It’s similar to calligraphy or samurai,” he says. “I want to make cricket cages. You know those Japanese cricket cages? Tiny, with the doors? That’s it for me: solitude and precision, refining a tiny thing for the sake of it.”

When he can’t tinker, he grows anxious. “If I don’t do a set in two weeks, I feel it,” he said. “I read an article a few years ago that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down. Reading that changed my life. I used to wonder, Why am I doing these sets, getting on a stage? Don’t I know how to do this already? The answer is no. You must keep doing it. The broadband starts to narrow the moment you stop.”

In Vanity Fair, Ned Zeman puts together an oral history of Blues Brothers:

Everything revolves around Belushi, the most electric and popular comic actor of his time. It would be inaccurate to blame all the movie’s problems on Belushi. He isn’t responsible for the late-developing script or the unwieldy action sequences. It would be even more inaccurate to say Belushi isn’t responsible. He has become a blessed wreck, thanks mostly to his spiraling (and ultimately lethal) addiction to cocaine.

On days when coke gets the best of Belushi, production stalls. And when production stalls, money burns. And when money burns, Lew Wasserman burns.

It begins, as these things do, in a dark bar. The time is November 1973. The bar, a speakeasy called the 505 Club, is in Toronto and owned by Aykroyd, a bizarro 20-year-old with webbed toes, mismatched eyes—one green, one brown—and a checkered past as a two-bit hoodlum and a seminary student.

The club opens at one A.M. because Aykroyd works nights. For the past three years, he has been performing with Second City, the famed comedy troupe based in Chicago but also flourishing in Toronto.

Aykroyd is at the 505, unwinding after a show, when a bullish 24-year-old charges through the back door. This is Belushi, wearing a white scarf, a leather jacket, and a five-point driver’s cap of the sort worn by aging cabbies. Aykroyd wonders whether his guest had somehow mistaken himself for Lee J. Cobb.

The two had met earlier in the evening, backstage at Second City. “We had heard of each other,” Aykroyd recalls. “We took one look at each other. It was love at first sight.”

Quick Reads

- Twitter to offer users a download with all their tweets in a single file [Guardian]

- People have watched 1.2 million years of porn since 2006…on just two web sites! [Animal New York]

- Kurt Vonnegut’s daily routine [Brain Pickings]

- 13 real, not made-up things about Hulk Hogan’s new restaurant [SB Nation]

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

December 19, 2012

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

The Daily Kos published the gun control column that I’m most jealous I’m not the author of:

But all the past massacres had a fraction of the impact of Friday’s. There’s is something so viscerally sickening about young children being harmed in any way, that it can’t help but be different. There’s a coming debate, and it’s not going to be good for the gun absolutists. That doesn’t mean they’ll lose. The gun lobby is strong, and they’re about to mount the mother of all defenses. But it means that they’ll be put on the spot in a way that they haven’t been in … forever.

Part of it is their own short-sighted greed. If they were an organization truly focused on self-defense and hunting, there’d be no need to fight tooth-and-nail for high-capacity magazines, or for armor-piercing bullets, or for assault rifle ownership. Let people own their hunting rifles and revolvers. People somehow made do with those for several centuries. But there’s no need for a weapon with a magazine.

Adam Lanza used an assault rifle to shoot his way past a locked door. He then moved quickly to neutralize the administration office before doing his horrible deeds in two classrooms. He only stopped and turned a gun on himself when police arrived. Take away that rifle, and shooting his way past the front door would’ve required a reload. Attacking the administration would require a reload. Attacking the two classrooms would require multiple reloads. Those reloads would’ve been chances for people to try and take him down, or for people to escape. The time he would’ve spent reloading would’ve slowed him down, shortening the number of victims in the attack before first-responders arrived on scene.

Sports author Jeff Pearlman self-published an extremely candid and well-written profile of his older brother, David, who has Asperger’s Syndrome:

David was an easy target, and kids zeroed in. He was nicknamed “E.T.” by some, “Mascot” by others. I still recall a gaggle of girls taunting him with shouts of “Rain Man!” outside the cafeteria. When David responded with his clumsy version of a karate kick, the mocking only intensified. (Recently, I reconnected with one of the girls via Facebook. When I reminded her of the way she treated my brother, she wrote, “I was hoping you didn’t remember that. I was a terrible person, and I’ve felt guilty for years. I am so sorry for being that sort of person.”) On multiple occasions, I recall him wailing, “I’m retarded. I know I’m retarded.” David was trapped—something was clearly off, only the answer, at that time, did not exist.

My mother insists that I was good to my brother, but I have hard time remembering it that way. Mostly, I observed as others taunted. Once, toward the end of a particularly bad day at school, David and I were sitting in the den, watching the movie “Tough Guys” on cable. I was razzing him about something—maybe his grades, maybe his clothes. David got up, walked into the kitchen, grabbed a knife and yelled, “I can stab myself with this right now! I can kill myself right now!” I was 13-years old and sick of the drama. Why wasn’t my brother like everyone else? Why wasn’t he normal? Why did my parents and grandparents treat him differently than me? “Go ahead and do it!” I screamed. “I dare you!”

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

December 12, 2012

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

On The Awl, Joe Berkowitz writes and Joanna Neborsky illustrates on being newly single:

The first few days of being alone again hit like OxyContin withdrawal. Or, at the very least, like a juice cleanse. Only instead of toxins leaving my body, about a shallow lagoon of Merlot floods into it. All the many things I took for granted about the relationship appreciate in value as they suddenly become unavailable. So many inside jokes and dumb little rituals lined up in my mind like a continental breakfast buffet, wheeled away by an overly officious concierge just as I arrive, famished.

This absence manifests itself everywhere. I’m keenly aware of a certain G-chat window’s negative space on my computer screen all day. Unfortunate coworker fashion choices go criminally underreported. The pertinent details of which falafel place I did for lunch are lost to the ages. My day’s narrative simply loses its primary audience, as though cancelled due to low ratings and frequent profanity. I could continue the broadcast on Facebook, dispatching glossy post-breakup PR or the romantic distress bat-signal of Sade lyrics, but being heard is not the same as feeling known. Nothing can substitute for the presence of an actual human person who knows most of your secrets and still somehow wants to make out with you.

For ESPN the Magazine, Don Van Natta Jr. tries to find details on President Obama’s golf game:

Few details are given to the White House press corps about Obama’s golf game. When asked for the POTUS’ handicap, press secretary Jay Carney likes to joke, “That’s classified.” The president usually decides to hit the links a day or two in advance, weather permitting. Reporters hear about it only as the presidential motorcade, with Obama’s Nike VR S clubs tossed in the trunk, leaves for the first tee. His pals won’t even reveal his favored ball, though a source says Obama eschews specially made presidential golf balls for Titleist Pro V1s.

Just as Obama the president relies on a coterie of White House advisers, Obama the golfer plays with the same handful of people — a tight circle of junior White House aides and advisers, most often body man Marvin Nicholson (a former caddie at Augusta National) and confidential assistant Eugene Kang. When on vacation in Hawaii, the president plays with buddies from Chicago and a few old Hawaii pals. None of those people would comment for this story. The first rule of golf club: Don’t talk about golf club. Understandably, White House and senior campaign officials declined to discuss Obama’s golf in the homestretch of a re-election year. He has rejected requests by senior party officials to golf with wealthy contributors to raise money for the Democratic National Committee, as Bill Clinton had done. Dozens of writers (including this one) have asked to tag along for a round with Obama; the answer is always no. Only once since becoming president has Obama played with a journalist — Thomas Friedman, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. Their round, predictably, was off the record.

Jeff Pearlman writes on how to get a book deal:

1. Think large. When it comes to magazine and newspaper pieces, I try and think small. Derek Jeter’s scar, a third-sring catcher, a Division III cheerleading squad. But publishing companies need to believe a book can sell. So if you go to, say, HarperCollins with the riveting tale of two high school fencers … you’re likely doomed. Now, if you’re Chris Ballard or Wertheim or Mike Lupica, you’ve got a good shot, because track record speaks volumes. But if you’re unknown and untested, no …

2. So, instead, think big. Before pitching ideas, I always head to my local Barnes & Noble and scan the shelves. Literally, that’s how I thought of the ’90s Cowboys. There were all these books on all these huge teams, but none of note on the Aikman-Irvin-Emmitt ‘Boys. It’s a huge franchise with 8 million fans and tons of glory. That’s the only time I *knew* I’d get a deal as soon as I had the idea. It sold itself. So try and find ideas that sell themselves. Big teams, big stories, big athletes—especially if there’s mystery/intrigue remaining.

Quick Reads

- EXTREMELY detailed map of Chicago’s 19th Century red light district [braiker.tumblr]

- Dogs on computers [fuckyeahdogsoncomputers]

- FCC chairman asks FAA to stop making us turn off electronic devices for takeoff and landing [The Hill]

- Free wi-fi will start becoming more common in US airports [Economist]

- Half of all US app. revenue goes to just 25 producers [Mashable]

- If Arrested Development was a series of 8-bit Nintendo games [Buzzfeed]

- Beer and bacon battered deep fried Doritos [Food Beast]

- The typical high school drop-out ends up costing taxpayers $292,000 [PBS]

- Vince Vaughn and Glenn Beck are making a reality show together [Gawker]

Food Porn

Pepperoni and fresh basil at Armitage Pizzeria. This is the best pizza in Chicago.

My friend/reader Andy sends in caramel-covered bacon. WANT.

December 5, 2012

World Wide Wednesday: The Best Links of the Week

Deep Routes

LeBron James is Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. Lee Jenkins writes:

And so, less than 29 months after he sat on a stage at a Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn., and incurred a nation’s wrath, LeBron James is the Sportsman of the Year. He is not the Sportsman of 2010, when he announced his decision to leave Cleveland in a misguided television special, or 2011, when he paid dearly for his lapse in judgment. He is the Sportsman of 2012. “Did I think an award like this was possible two years ago?” James says. “No, I did not. I thought I would be helping a lot of kids and raise $3 million by going on TV and saying, ‘Hey, I want to play for the Miami Heat.’ But it affected far more people than I imagined. I know it wasn’t on the level of an injury or an addiction, but it was something I had to recover from. I had to become a better person, a better player, a better father, a better friend, a better mentor and a better leader. I’ve changed, and I think people have started to understand who I really am.”

He muted his on-court celebrations. He cut the jokes in film sessions. He threw heaps of dirt over the tired notion that he froze in the clutch. “He got rid of the bulls—,” says one of his former coaches, and he quietly hoped the public would notice. When James strides into an opposing arena, he takes in the crowd, gazes up at the expressions on the faces. “I can tell the difference between 2010 and 2012,” he says. Anger has turned to appreciation, perhaps grudging, but appreciation nonetheless. James has become an entry on a bucket list, a spectacle you have to see at least once, whether you crave the violence of sports or the grace, the force or the finesse. He attracts the casual fan with his ferocious dunks and the junkie with his sublime pocket passes. He is a Hollywood blockbuster with art-house appeal.

In Sports on Earth, Mike Tanier blasts the NFL Hall of Fame voting process and evaluates candidates’ chances:

I know several members of the committee, and individually they are knowledgeable and passionate about the NFL and its history. As a group, though, the committee acts like Congress, except with no transparency and bigger egos. Veteran observers of the Hall of Fame selection process know that for players who fall below the Joe Montana level of obviousness, enshrinement rests on uneasy truces among Balkanized fiefdoms of experts fiercely loyal to certain regions, eras, or players.

Grudges linger forever, and idiosyncratic table tendencies linger longer. There are “pet project” players who never fall off the ballot. There is lobbying. There are nutty assertions and backwards attitudes. Worst of all, there is a huge backlog of worthy players, and it is only getting larger.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has been re-running old Packers articles. Here’s a great Bob McGinn profile on Brett Favre’s first training camp with the team:

Brett Favre sat in reflection as the names of some of the great quarterbacks of the National Football League – Dan Marino, John Elway, Troy Aikman and Jeff George – were cited for his consideration. Surely, he was asked, you lack the pure physical talent needed to be included with that crowd, don’t you?

“I can be,” Favre said, and when his startled interviewer looked up, Favre didn’t change his impassive expression. “I can do anything they can do. I just haven’t proven it yet.”

Meet irrepressible Brett Favre, who wants all of Wisconsin to get to know him, support him and ultimately celebrate with him after he leads the Green Bay Packers back to the Super Bowl. Sooner rather than later, mind you.

“I was sitting out there today by myself on the field and I said, ‘This is going into my second year; I’m still a backup quarterback,’ and I was surprised,” Favre said.

“I expect to be a starting quarterback. I’m looking to be a starting quarterback here soon if Mike Holmgren and Ron Wolf feel I’m ready to play,” he said, referring to the Packers’ coach and general manager, respectively.

Quick Reads

- 25 things everybody thinks about hip-hop, but no one will say [Complex]

- 9 great American whiskeys not named Pappy Van Winkle [Grubstreet]

- Musicians’ last words, including Kurt Cobain, George Harrison, Bob Marley, James Brown, and Tupac [Guardian]

Food Porn

Turducken and veal brats from Paulina Meat Market + bacon cheddar, German, red pepper provolone, and apple brats from Superior Meats. These are a few of my favorite things.

Chicken tenders from Lucas Oil Stadium. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do chicken tenders and these ones are done right–seasoned and thick. There’s little worse than ordering chicken tenders at a new restaurant and having them be thin and bland but that doesn’t stop like half the bars in the world from serving them that way.


November 28, 2012

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

A pretty enlightening NY Times Q&A with Fat Joe:

Q. You were a longtime coach at the Entertainers Basketball Classic tournament at Rucker Park in Harlem. And in 2003, your team was set to play Jay-Z’s team in the championship game. But the game never occurred. Can you explain?

A. I had been successful at Rucker for years. I would take the summer off to coach and run a team out there, and then Jay brought a team to Harlem that summer, with Beyoncé in the stands watching. And his team was smacking down everyone they played, so it was inevitable for our two teams to meet in the championship game. On his team for that game, he had Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford. I countered and brought in Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Al Harrington, Mike Bibby, Carmelo, Amar’e, Zach Randolph and Rafer Alston. I had a crew, and he had a crew, and we were about to go at it. And then the blackout hit New York City, so the game was canceled. The next day, the power came back, and the game was rescheduled. And Jay’s team didn’t show up. They forfeited the championship.

Q. Have you ever asked him about it?

A. Never again. I haven’t even talked to Jay-Z again after that incident.

In Slate, Stefan Fatsis writes about the dangers of youth tackle football:

I know that Matt Chaney, who wrote for the roundtable this week about the tackling technique that won’t make football safer, is on board with the idea that tackle football is simply too dangerous for the brains of children, and that a distinction needs to be made between what adult men choose to do professionally and what kids are permitted or often pushed to do by parents and other adults. In his new book, Concussions and Our Kids, co-written with journalist Mark Hyman, Cantu proposes barring tackle football before age 14, or the start of high school. The cutoff is arbitrary, Cantu said at the Washington panel. The more important consideration is an individual child’s physical development: If he’s skeletally immature, if he hasn’t developed axillary hair, he shouldn’t play tackle football.

“Youngsters are not miniature adults,” Cantu said. For starters, he explained, their brains are not fully myelinated, meaning their nerve cells lack the complete coating that offers protection. That makes them more susceptible to concussions and means they recover more slowly from them than adults. Cantu said children have big heads relative to the rest of their bodies and weak necks, creating a “bobblehead-doll effect” that elevates the risk of concussion. They typically play in the oldest equipment, with the least educated coaches, and with little or no available medical care. They are allowed to hit each other in practice—up to 40 minutes per session in Pop Warner football, under new guidelines—to a greater extent than NFL players are in season. And finally, kids are unable to provide meaningful informed consent. “Rarely do they really understand the risk they’re taking,” Cantu said.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

November 21, 2012

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

Letters of Note shares a letter that Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens wrote to his wife, stepson, and future son, to be opened only in case of his death:

I never thought I would be writing a letter like this, I really don’t know where to start. I’ve been getting bad feelings though and well if you are reading this….

I am forever in debt to you, Dakota, and the Bean. I searched all my life for a dream and I found it in you. I would like to think that I made a positive difference in your lives. I will never be able to make up for the bad. I am so sorry. The happiest moments in my life all deal with my little family. I will always have with me the small moments we all shared. The moments when you quit taking life so serious and smiled. The sounds of a beautiful boy’s laughter or the simple nudge of a baby unborn. You will never know how complete you have made me. Each one of you. You saved me from loneliness and taught me how to think beyond myself. You taught me how to live and to love. You opened my eyes to a world I never dreamed existed. I am proud of you. Stay on the path you chose. Never lose sight of what is important again, you and our babies.

On ESPN, Wright Thompson profiles Les Miles’ obsession with beating Alabama:

The bubble minimizes Miles’ greatest weakness: clock management. Even his family makes fun of him; he recently decided that he would never have a meal after 7 p.m., which means there’s often a race to eat at 6:51. So many daily tasks are farmed out that he’s almost pure thought, a free-floating football brain focused on Alabama. A staff member moves Miles’ car to the stadium for home games and to the airport for road games. His secretary picks out suits, attaches the LSU lapel pen. Someone plugs in his cellphone so that it is miraculously always charged.

Taking away mundane decisions frees Miles to use his greatest strengths: joy and a contagious belief. Nick Saban, the coach against whom he is most often measured, chases victory by removing variables, including emotion. Miles needs to transfer his joy and intensity to the players, amplifying emotion instead of removing it. This is a much harder way to win games, trying to ride the unpredictable bulls of desire and belief.

The Wire creator David Simon weighs in on the General Petraeus scandal:

I’m neither an admirer nor detractor of General Petraeus. But I am most definitely a detractor of what journalism has become in this country, of what passes for the qualitative analysis of our society and its problems. And I’ve paid enough attention to the human condition to no longer take seriously the notion that anyone who lets penis or vagina rub against the wrong person, who is indiscreet in doing so, and who then tells the truth about it when confronted by an FBI agent is unfit for either citizenship or public service. I certainly know enough about the human condition to know that all kinds of people — smart and dumb, powerful and powerless — are capable of finding themselves in such a circumstance and shaking their heads at just how far they strayed, at just how indiscreet they were in their very ordinary, human hunger, and how they have hurt those closest to them. Sex, done right, is some powerful shit. And when Americans begin to accept the human condition for what it is rather than an opportunity to jeer at the other fellow for getting caught, then we will be, if nothing else, a little bit more grown up. I remember when Francois Mitterand’s wife and mistress walked beside each other in the French premier’s funeral procession and few in that country thought it remarkable. The French have got their problems, but in some respects, they make our country, our political commentary, seem as mature and insightful as a fourteen-year-old unsticking the pages of his dad’s just-discovered skin mags. It’s a peculiar American hypocrisy that only the worst kind of journalistic hack would readily and willingly embrace as a meaningful metric.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

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