Friday’s Twits around the World of Sports

Mike Bumpus, Seahawks WR: wow, just met Bill Russel. talk aboit being in the presence of greatness! a moment i wull never forget

Dustin Keller, Jets TE: OFF day!!! Going to see G I Joes with a bunch of the guys..I’m in my hyperbaric chamber right now..I feel like the bubble boy

Costanza vs. Bubble Boy

Costanza vs. Bubble Boy

C.J. Wilson, Rangers Pitcher: I think it’s funny when yankee fans send me @ replies about how good the yankees are. I don’t live in a cave!

Nate Robinson, Knicks G: Get n the new madden 10 today can’t wait, shot out to my boy Mardy Collins 25th bday, sup Eddy curry my big bro pause chi town

naterobinsondunk

Bill Simmons: Rule No. 1 of having a daughter: Keep her off the pole. Rule No. 2: brainwash her to like DVD’s that you can watch with her.

Andy Roddick: i love austin! best city in the world. will never leave …. was born in omaha though…. was brought up husker

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Eli Manning Can Shamelessly Moon Critics

 

Eli Manning on draft day, 2004. Now heading into his sixth season and Lions rookie signal caller, Matthew Stafford, signed for guaranteed bread.

Eli Manning on draft day, 2004. The Giants signal-caller is now heading into his sixth season, yet Lions rookie qb Matthew Stafford is still signed for more guaranteed bread.

In life, they say to be careful what you wish for.

Eli Manning took it a step further in 2004, when he was originally drafted by the Chargers with the first pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. With Papa Archie at Eli’s side, the Manning Brand demanded their latest quarterback prototype be showcased to the consumer via the New York Giants.

Five full seasons since his trade demands to the Giants were granted, Eli has quarterbacked Big Blue to 42 wins, two division titles in the meat-grinding NFC East, a Super Bowl Championship, and as of yesterday, he added the label of “NFL’s highest paid player.”

So now the $100 million dollar question in the sporting media debates: Is he worth the money?

Are you familiar with New York City? Or are you under the spell of ether? In case your judgment is impaired, the answer is a firm, Yes.

The unjust New York media scrutiny that has attacked Manning like a pack of dogs on a three legged cat, makes him worthy of the recent contract extension that guarantees $35 million-which is almost seven million less than Lions rookie Matthew Stafford signed for in his first contract.

For those of you who are not from or have never lived in or around New York City during a football season, allow me to share with you a prime example of how difficult it is to please New Yorkers.
eli
I was listening to WFAN a few years back (in fact I’m pretty sure it was the Super Bowl year) during one of those Mike and the Mad Dog days when fans called in as if they were on their shrinks chair trying to figure out just who is Big Blue’s starting quarterback. I’ll never forget one caller in particular (who actually sounded educated, by the way):

Mike Francesca: Tim from Bayside you’re on The Fan.

Tim: Mike, on a serious note here, you’ve been at fund raising dinners and such and have had casual conversations with Eli, correct?

MF: Yes, I have.

Tim: Are all the tools in the shed, Mike? Seriously, cognitively, is he all there? Is there any kind of mental infirmity that you could detect?

Chris to Mike: "Mike, bottom line, Manning is too loosey-goosey for me."

Chris to Mike: "Mike, bottom line: Manning is too loosey-goosey for me."

Of course Francesa assured the caller that Eli was all there. But from my point of view, it was one of those moments where if I hadn’t made sense of what the whole “playing in New York” thing was all about yet, it became loud and clear from that point on. I felt embarrassed for Eli. It’s one thing to have an unfavorable picture of yourself on the back page of every tabloid every time the Giants lost, but I never thought I’d see the day where a committed and assumedly hopeful fan base any team begins to question the intelligence of the franchise quarterback.

And if you listened, read, and saw it long enough, you began to drink the “Eli will never take it to the next level” news that seemed to come off the media conveyor belt 24/7 during the season.

And half the reason why you started to believe it was because Manning’s own teammates began to either A.) buy into the negativity themselves or B.) contribute to the negativity; or even C.) they did both.

Former Giant running back turned NBC analyst Tiki Barber had this to say about Manning during his studio show in 2008:

“His personality hasn’t been so that he can step up, make a strong statement and have people believe that it’s coming from his heart. He didn’t feel like his voice was going to be strong enough and it showed. Sometimes it was almost comical the way that he would say things.”

And lets not forget former Giants fan favorite Jeremy Shockey, and the speculation that Manning became a better quarterback when his emotional, outspoken-and sometimes prone to controversy-tight end missed the 2008 Super Bowl run with a broken leg.

With the exception of Kurt Warner (age), if the other active Super Bowl Champion quarterbacks (Brady, Big Ben, Peyton) signed a deal similar to Eli’s tomorrow, would it be questioned?

Not a chance.

Eli Manning is the most criticized quarterback of our time not named Donovan McNabb. He throws footballs eight games a year in the windiest stadium east of the great plains, yet still manages to put the Giants in contention for the Super Bowl every year.

If not Eli, than who?

USA, Circa 2020: Will Joe The Plumber Finally Have Embraced Soccer?

What does skim milk, carpooling, Cash-4-Gold, Season 4 of Entourage, jean shorts (jorts), and sitting in the exit row on a commercial flight all have in common?

That’s correct! They all have a comparable approval rating in the U.S. with soccer, the most popular sport in the rest of the world that somehow continues to be stuck in the status quo of ho-hum here in America.

It’s not that soccer or it’s aforementioned culture comparatives are all completely dismissible (they’re all practical), it’s just that us Americans staunchly prefer the alternatives, especially when it comes to sport.

Please don’t say Americans and their affinity for violence is over-hyped, or that violence has nothing to do with soccer’s level of obscurity here.

On MMA night in Fargo, N.D., why does the inside of a Buffalo Wild Wings look like the theatre scene from the movie “Gremlins”? As opposed to a televised U.S.A. World Cup qualifying match, in the same restaurant, where the atmosphere feels like that of a retirement home’s multi-purpose center on canasta night? Hmmm…

Reason 1) Why soccer will NEVER become an American National Past Time: Marketing Futility

In order to influence, patronize, and inspire Americans to invest time in your product, your gonna need a party of home-grown, English speaking, charismatic, world-class athletes (all of which David Beckham is not, read further for more on him). Take bowling for instance. It’s accessible, affordable, and fun. Yet, can you name any bowler not named Earl Anthony, Roy Munson or Ernie “Big Earn” McCrakin?

Big Ern, played by Bill Murray, was a three-time Odor Eaters champion.

Big Earn, played by Bill Murray, was a three-time Odor Eaters champion.

Nearly 30 years after Pele unwittingly failed to institutionalize soccer in America, while playing for the New York Cosmos, the U.S. Men’s Soccer Federation attempted to seduce us with a “Chosen One” in Freddy Adu. Remember the hype centered around young soccer phenom?  The Federation marketed Adu, a grassroots prototype, as one who could bring “balance” to the proverbial soccer force in the world. Adu would finally make the Stars & Stripes a soccer power.

In hindsight, there really is nothing satirical or cynical to speak of with the U.S.’s effort in an attempt to foster Adu’s estimated high ceiling of skill. They had to try something. The 1998 World Cup effort was an embarrassment: 0 wins, 3 losses, 1 goal scored. And its not like the attention swelled Adu’s ego. He wasn’t saying, “Cheese” on the face of any lunchbox, or pedaling Gatorade on every commercial break, or squiring starlets around town.

But he couldn’t build a soccer bandwagon the size of Alaska for this country to ride in himself. Michael Jordan couldn’t do it with basketball alone, he needed Magic and Bird behind him.

The answer that Adu revealed to us then and David Beckham is showing us now, walks hand in hand with life: you can’t succeed going about it alone. While you may be able to reach the platform, someone still has to control the lights, and sound.

The best way to describe it: Goosebumps. Chastain became a household name in America after scoring left-footed to clinch the World Cup Championship in a shootout versus China.

The best way to describe it: Goosebumps. Chastain became a household name in America after scoring left-footed to clinch the World Cup Championship in a shootout versus China.

Nobody did this better than the 1999 US Women’s World Cup Soccer Champs. Would Mia Hamm be one of the most recognizable sport figures in the world without Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy and the rest of the elite alumnus’s from that iconic team? That’s arguable. Would we identify Hamm as a World Champion though? No.

In a recent Sports Illustrated feature on Chastain’s, her agent, John Courtright was quoted as saying, “I think Brandi transformed the way corporate dollars are spent on female athletes.”

To become an international powerhouse, the ‘99 U.S. Women’s soccer team were fortunate enough to work on the grandest of platforms while using a combination of great athletes who happened to be marketable.

Compare that to Adu’s situation: One male teen who probably wasn’t even old enough to date, let alone drive a car by the time he scored his first professional goal.

Check in for the next post, with a further explanation of why Men’s soccer will never become as popular to the average American sports fan as football. Keywords: teenage commitment, modification, distinction