Friday, September 29, 2006

Classic card of the week

* Special Friday edition!
Jerrott Willard, 1995 Superior Pix

Hey, Jerrott Willard…seriously, put some clothes on. And is that a regulation football you’re playing with, or are you just happy to see me? Ha, ha! I kid with Jerrott Willard, of course, but this story has serious roots. Back in 1995, the Cal football program was going through some tough times, mainly due to an NCAA violation involving a potential recruit, a goat, three pints of Johnnie Walker, and a transvestite. Long story. Anyhoo, the program lost some scholarships, and also some other privileges, like full-length uniforms. (You cannot tell from this card, but theses guys are barefoot as well.) Cal tried to compensate for this loss by hiring a pro-bono abdominal trainer for the 1995 season, because, as then head coach Tom Holmoe put it, “If we gotta play half-naked football, we’re gonna look good while doing it, gosh darn it!” This idea seemed to work out well for Jerrott Willard, who could often stuff a third-and-short just with his six-pack. No. 11 on the other hand? Not so much. Contrary to the brand of this card, “Superior Pix,” this is not a superior pic. It is actually a very disturbing and homoerotic pic that makes me not really want to play football anymore, lest I get tackled from behind by No. 11. Other than that though, I think it is nice.

Did you know?
The recruit? A very young Maurice Clarett.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Classic card of the week

Bruce Smith, 1991 Score

The montage NFL portrait was revolutionized by Pablo Picasso, who, before his death in 1973, created the first known montage football portrait of Mean Joe Greene, which many critics described as his best work. Some even marveled at the humanity of the project, which featured Greene in three parts – one making a tackle, one smiling, and one making another tackle (Mean Joe Greene was a tackling machine – Picasso accentuated that fact like no other before him). Many of Greene’s harshest critics were amazed at how Picasso was able to make the fierce lineman appear less mean than his name would indicate. But by the 1980’s, the montage portrait had become somewhat stale. That is, until 1991, when new-age artist Christo decided to try his hand at it. What happened next was only the most culturally relevant football card ever. The subject was the manly Bruce Smith, and Christo was able to capture at least three of the attributes of Smith’s game that made him a future NFL Hall-of-Famer. First, there is the picture of Smith raising his hand in a victorious manner, because his team has just earned to right to demonstratively lose another Super Bowl. Below that, there is an action sequence of Smith getting an ill-advised (and rare!) defensive holding penalty. Finally, on the top right, there is a beautifully painted portrait of Smith taking a snap, on the few rare occasions that Bills’ head coach Marv Levy would actually have Smith play quarterback, so as to confuse the opposing defense. This portrait montage was so influential, in fact, that the Score Co. purchased the rights to it later that year for a whopping $45 million, at which point they mass-produced the image into a series of football cards that are now worth $0.26 cents each. Christo would go on to create the popular “Gates” in Central Park in 2005, a concept that a bewildered Mean Joe Greene described as “too orange.”

Did you know?
You can view the original Bruce Smith piece at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 11am-12pm on Sunday mornings, during the Museum’s “NFL Happy Hour,” where they feature buffalo wings, $2 Bud Light drafts, and abstract artwork from the likes of Merton Hanks.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Take home divorce

This is a warning to all married males. Do NOT – I repeat – do NOT let your wife go food shopping alone! This is a state of emergency! Consider yourself warned!

There is a predator on the loose, and I have seen him in action. His main purpose is to seduce your wife at the supermarket, take her home, make her dinner, and then have sex with her! Yeah, sex! Plus, he is Australian! He is not to be trusted!

How do I know this? Well, I have been watching a new show on TLC called “Take Home Chef,” which is always on when I get home from work. (Yeah, sometimes I watch TLC when I get home – it’s a helluva lot better than “Around the Horn,” so shut the hell up!) The premise of the show is this: metrosexual Australian dude stalks woman at supermarket, asks her “who she is cooking for,” coerces her into letting him make dinner, which culminates in a shocked, distraught husband arriving home from work only to discover his wife rolling around in batter with some tall, spiky-haired bloke!

Seriously, that is the show. Now, the show itself could have some redeeming value, were it not for the obvious sexual undertones – lonely wife, shopping alone, husband works all the time, enter Australian guy who COOKS, divorce ensues. And if you think I’m acting paranoid on behalf of all married men, I urge you – watch the show. For one thing, the “take home chef” only seduces – I mean only – moderately to very attractive women in their late twenties to mid-thirties. You would think the higher-ups at TLC would try and avoid the obvious sexual inclinations by having this guy, ya’ know, every now and then, approach an old lady or something:

Australian dude: Hey, grandma! Who are you cooking for tonight – Grandpa?

Grandma: Oh, my! Heavens no…Grandpa died in 1994. I live at the “Sunrise” assisted living home on Route 35. I’m only cooking for myself and my cat, “Mittens.”

Australian dude: Okay, then. Well, what do you say I buy your groceries, and cook you up a little something nice, ya’ know, for you and Mittens.

Grandma: Oh my, that would be wonderful! We better be quick though – the SCAT bus picks me up in ten minutes. Oh, and I can’t eat solid food.

You see, that would be nice (even though I bet this guy would still try and have sex with her). Or what about a larger woman? They eat! Or hey – how about this guy does something completely insane and finds a GUY at the supermarket! Guys cook too, ya’ know! Of course, that’s not to say I’d ever want this idiot approaching me at Path Mark, and asking me if he could come back to my place and cook dinner. I’d be like, “F-off, dirtbag! And get those cameras out of my face! I just came here for some Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch!” But still, I’m just saying. They could switch it up a bit.

And this guy is shameless, too. For one thing, you don’t learn sh*t about cooking from this show. Basically, the cameras go back and forth between this guy trying to nonchalantly stare at the woman’s boobs, and the woman staring up at him lovingly after taking a taste of his special sauce off of a wooden spoon. Then he’ll say things like, “Okay, so now we’re just going to make a nice creamy sauce. What I need you do is stick your hands in there, and move it all around…yeah, just like that…feels good, right?…you’ve done this before, haven’t you?…Ha ha ha!…creamy sauce, yeah.”

Then the husband arrives home, tie all undone, sweating, briefcase in hand, while his whore of a wife is like, “Surprise!” And he’s like wtf? And there’s a bunch of cameras all up in his grill, and some random Australian dude is in his kitchen, and he has to act moderately enthused about the situation, even though he looks like he’s gonna backhand his wife the second everybody leaves his house. Then, instead of having a nice, relaxing dinner, he has to eat in front of a cable audience, have meaningless, two-word conversations with his wife, while she’s like, “Yummm…this is gooood! Right, hon?” And he’s like, “God, when will this end? I really wanted to take a shower before I sat down. I’m gonna kill her…”

To top it off, they always end the show with individual interviews, where the husband will say something like, “Well, I was surprised, that’s for sure,” followed by an awkward laugh and nodding of the head. Then the wife always, always, always says something like, “Yeah, it was great! I think he was really surprised. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a good-looking Australian guy in the house!” which is followed by some giddy, schoolgirl-esque laughter. I always imagine the couple getting in a huge fight after the actual event, somehow working it out, and then fighting again after they watch the show on TLC, because the wife went and said something like that on national TV.

So yeah, consider this a warning. Unless, of course, you want a divorce, and wouldn’t mind a free meal before the inevitable. Still though, I’d stay away from the sauce.

"I think I like your melons much better!"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tom Coughlin pumps up the blogosphere

It’s difficult enough to get an interview with Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin in the offseason, so you can imagine my surprise when he agreed to sit down with me during the chaos of the regular season! And while the perception of Coughlin is that he has the personality of a mouse pad, you will see – he’s actually pretty lively. It should also be noted that while this interview is 100 percent accurate, it is also equally fake. Anyway, on with the interview…

Me: Welcome, Mr. Coughlin! Have a seat…

Coughlin: Thank you.

Me: Can I tell you something?

Coughlin: Go ahead.

Me: I’ve been sitting here for the past four hours, because last night I was having nightmares that I’d be late for your interview, and that you’d berate me in front of everybody.

Coughlin: Wow…Well, that’s real nice of you, but I try not to berate anyone except my own players. Plus, there’s nobody here to berate you in front of.

Me: Yeah, I know, but it was a dream, and dreams are freakin’ weird sometimes, ya’ know? Like, in the dream, it was YOU, ya’ know, but it wasn’t really you. You were my eighth grade math teacher. But it was you. You were wearing those old school blue sweatpants with the word “Giants” in red down the side of the leg. I miss those sweatpants – I used to have a pair back in the day. Do you remember those?

Coughlin: Maybe we should move on here.

Me: Good idea. Eli Manning…regrets?

Coughlin: Certainly not. Eli is one of the fine young quarterbacks in the NFL right now. He led us to the playoffs last season, and we’re looking forward to years of future success with him running the offense.

Me: Who throws a tighter spiral – Eli Manning or Uncle Rico, of “Napoleon Dynamite” fame?

Coughlin: I never saw that movie, but I’d put my money on Eli.

Me: What?! You never saw “Napoleon Dynamite?!” That is freakin’ crazy! You gotta see it…seriously. I mean, I’m sure the game tape of last season’s playoff loss to Carolina is hilarious, but this movie is even better. Trust me.

Coughlin: Again, we should move on here.

Me: Actually, now that I think about it, you seem like the kind of guy who would be utterly confused by that movie. Maybe you should rent “Cheaper by the Dozen” instead. That seems more up your ally. Too many kids running around is crazy, am I right?

Coughlin: …

Me: Okay. Before the NFL released its schedule for this season, did they call you up and tell you to bend over?

Coughlin: I have to admit, I was fairly surprised when I saw the schedule for the first time. The NFL certainly didn’t give us any breaks this year. But we’re not going to use that as an excuse. We just have to go out there and win.

Me: Really though, how does it feel to be punished by the NFL for having a good season? Usually, the powers that be do everything they can to make big market teams succeed. But in the Giants’ case, they were like, “Hey, great game against Carolina! Just for that, here’s the Colts, at Philly, and at Seattle to start things off! Good luck!” Complete bastards, no?

Coughlin: Like I said, we just have to go out and win the games.

Me: When do you plan on executing that plan?

Coughlin: We’re 1-1.

Me: Barely.

Coughlin: Next question.

Me: Was that your Drew Rosenhaus impression? If so, nice!

Coughlin: It was not.

Me: That was a great comeback this past Sunday by the Giants in Philadelphia. Have you considered asking the team to play four quarters instead of one and a half?

Coughlin: Playing a full four quarters is always the game plan. Sometimes it’s the execution that fails.

Me: Speaking of game plans, are stupid penalties in your playbook? It would seem to me that, yes, stupid penalties are a large part of your playbook.

Coughlin: We are working on the penalty situation.

Me: Are you aware that, during the game on Sunday, Joe Buck called the Giants “undisciplined?” Did you consider that as a slap in the face to all that you stand for? Does Joe Buck need to disciplined, and, if so, how many yards is a team typically penalized for disciplining an announcer? 15 yards? I would take that if I were you.

Coughlin: I do not listen to what the announcers say.

Me: Last season, after the Carolina loss, Tiki Barber went on to pass blame on everybody, and he specifically mentioned the coaching staff. Have you considered going on Tiki’s talk show to confront him about the statement? He has a talk show, right?

Coughlin: We are well past that incident by this point. Tiki and I have a great player-coach relationship. And I do not believe that he has a talk show.

Me: That’s weird. Anyway, one of your offensive lineman, Chris Snee, doubles as your son-in-law. That means he married your daughter, right?

Coughlin: Ummm, yeah.

Me: That is a great story! What a conflict of interest! Have you considered informing some of the game announcers of this little-known fact? I have never heard them mention it before!

Coughlin: It smells like sarcasm in here.

Me: My bad. Tom, for someone who seems so, oh, how should I put this – mean and boring – you really love getting the crowd pumped up during games. Was this your own idea, or did your publicist tell you to wave your arms like that?

Coughlin: I truly believe that the crowd can often be a 12th man on the field, and if I can help them get more involved, then I’ll do it. Anything to help us win.

Me: Many people – like my friend Joe – think that maybe you should spend less time trying to pump up the crowd, and more time telling Jeremy Shockey to stop being such an idiot.

Coughlin: I’ll take note of that. Do you have a pen?

Me: Wow, now you’re dishing out the sarcasm! You are cooler than I thought!

Coughlin: Thank you.

Me: Were you ever called as a witness to testify during Michael Strahan’s divorce trial, in order to confirm his record of staunch heterosexuality?

Coughlin: No, I was not. But if Michael had needed me to, I would have.

Me: If you did have to testify during the trial, would you have pumped up the jury in the same fashion that you pump up the crowd at the Meadowlands?

Coughlin: I don’t think they have juries for divorce proceedings.

Me: That is interesting. Many people have dubbed the NFC East as the toughest division ever in the history of organized sports. However, this division includes BOTH Drew Bledsoe and Mark Brunell. Please explain.

Coughlin: Well, I do believe that we play in the toughest division in the league this year. But that distinction has more to do with the overall talent than just two specific guys. Every team has explosive playmakers, a solid defense, and good coaching. And besides, Bledsoe and Brunell are not bad quarterbacks. They both have big game experience.

Me: True, but so does Joe Namath. Okay, one last question before I let you go. If Chris Snee and your daughter ever decide to have kids, will you take them to see “Cheaper by the Dozen IV?”

Coughlin: We’ll see. As long as there’s no foul language. And no Ashton Kutcher. I can’t stand that guy.

Me: Yeah, me neither. What a tool.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Classic card of the week

Carlos Baerga, 1992 Leaf, “Studio” series

Carlos Baerga only wears his sunglasses on three occasions: at night, during the day, and when he’s in the studio posing for an alarmingly metrosexual baseball card photo. In fact, this very card is often credited with the turn-of-the-century boom of metrosexuality, but back in 1992, this card was only considered to be one thing: totally gay. But if you really think about it, all you have to do is remove the mustache and the clothes, and you’re left with a picture of A-Rod laying out on the rocks in Central Park. And it wasn’t easy for Baerga to become the godfather of metro. It was so cold in the studio that day that Baerga had to cover up his nipples, which were actually poking through his baseball jacket. It took five interns, eight bottles of Paul Mitchell hair gel, and two cases of wine coolers to even get through this photo shoot, which lasted four hours. (Ultimately, when billing MLB, the Leaf Co. chose “uncooperative nipples” as an explanation for the lengthy session, which caused Baerga to miss the first three innings of an Indians game versus the Blue Jays.) That back of the card states that Baerga’s favorite singers are “Michael Jackson and M.C. Hammer.” When asked earlier this year if he’d like to take a mulligan on that, Baerga refused, saying, “I’m too legit to quit those choices.” Nobody laughed. It may have been Baerga’s affection for “the King of Pop” that caused him to name his glove “Ben,” which is also the name of a Michael Jackson song about a big ass rat.

Did you know?
Carlos Baerga had zero errors in 1992. Ben had 19.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Classic card of the week

*Special Friday edition
Todd Philcox, 1992 NFL Pro Set

Sure, the easy joke here, as Todd Philcox lays his hands underneath the crotch area of a miscellaneous 300 lb man, is, “Hey – they didn’t call him Philcox for nothin’.” But Todd Philcox was more than an easy joke – he was a very complicated, drawn-out joke, who, in his two seasons leading up to 1992, had a quarterback rating of 16.3, making him the Brett Favre of his day. Of course, the biggest mystery surrounding Todd Philcox relates directly to this card, and the question that has plagued the minds of football fans for over a decade: Is he posing? Some have speculated that Cleveland wideout Michael Jackson was experimenting with the first “wide receiver cam,” which would have been, obviously, well ahead of its time. However, Philcox does not appear to be calling out any sort of play. Instead, he stares into the camera with a look that says, “I’m Todd Philcox, bitches. Now watch me fumble this snap.” Then again, if one were to pose for a football card during an actual game, a good time to do that would be during the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the fourth-string defense of the Seattle Seahawks, which is when Todd Philcox experienced most of his reps. Or better yet, this card could have been reenacted in an actual studio, with out-focus orange Browns’ fans and a big, prop, white ass thrown in for effect. We may never know the true answer. But lest we laugh at the career of one Todd Philcox, do know this: Todd Philcox, as the back of the card elaborates, filled in for an injured Bernie Kosar in Week 4 of the 1992 season, and subsequently “led the Browns to victory against the Raiders.” After the game, Raiders’ running back Bo Jackson, under the impression that the opposing quarterback’s name was Phil Cox, was quoted as saying, “We couldn’t get our hands on Cox all day long.”

Did you know?
After rushing for a touchdown in the aforementioned Raiders game, Todd Philcox jumped into Cleveland’s famed “Dawg Pound,” only to be tossed back onto the field.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Classic card of the week

Ryan Leaf, 1999 Donruss

Not to defend the career of Ryan Leaf here, but it’s probably pretty difficult to play football when one of the spikes from the Statue of Liberty’s head is shooting up your ass. I’m just saying. Let’s cut him a little slack. Anyway, I cannot recall how this particular play ended, but it was definitely either a) a sack, b) an interception, c) an interception returned for a touchdown, d) a fumble, e) a fumble returned for a touchdown, f) an injured scrotum, g) both a and d, h) both a and e, I) a, e, and f, j) someone in the Chargers’ front office getting immediately fired, k) c and j, l) an incomplete pass that landed 30 yards out-of-bounds, m) f and l, or n) an ill-advised pass that hit an offensive lineman in the back of the helmet, careened into the air, only to be caught by Leaf again, at which point he threw an interception and then injured his scrotum trying to tackle the opposing cornerback on his way to the endzone. Yeah, it was definitely one of those things. And the foreboding of Leaf’s NFL career is definitely evident in this very card. If you look past the random Statue of Liberty head and the dab-with-a-sponge background disaster, you will notice Ryan Leaf’s face. He is, no doubt, squeezing out a turd of incompetence. Then again, it could just be the huge spike up his ass.

Did you know?
The Chargers immediately regret that decision. Oh, and this.