Monday, August 21, 2006

The Sports Page


The football season officially began for me about a month ago when I received the following text message from my buddy Don who lives in the Durham-Chapel Hill area and who goes by the practice fields at the schools over there with some frequency.

" They appear to be having football practice out there. Isn't it illegal to hold organized practices prior to official fall two-a-days?"

" Not necessarily. It is not an NCAA violation to have unorganized, unsupervised workouts. As I understand it, the only coach that can actually work with the guys is the strength coach. In fact, it's become kinda the standard thing for guys to stay on campus in the summer to work out together."

" I see a bunch of older guys wearing school colors and holding clipboards and stopwatches. The offensive linemen are pushing a sled with a guy standing on it. Guys are running plays. Everybody else is running windsprints."

" What? I didn't think coaches could be out there."

" Maybe they're not coaches. Maybe they're physics professors. But to my untrained eye this looks pretty damned organized and supervised to me. You know, this isn't exactly what you would call the cradle of football around here. If they are doing this crap here, can you imagine what they are doing at Georgia and Auburn?"

I dunno. Maybe agility drills under live ammunition?

The advent of football 06 has brought with it some exceptional examples of guys acting like knuckleheads. Take the gentleman pictured above. This is Maurice Clarett. Some background is in order.

Clarett played one season at The Ohio State University where he led them to a national championship in 2002. He was suspended by Ohio State for 2003 after he filed a false police report in which he claimed that over 10 grand worth of clothes, cds,cash and stereo equipment had been stolen from a car he had borrowed from a local dealership.

He left the grove of academe shortly thereafter. In 2004, some fool talked him into suing the NFL in order to challenge its rule that nobody can enter the NFL draft sooner than 3 years after graduating from high school. As was widely prophesied, he lost.

Long story short: He never latched on to an NFL team so he decided to give thuggery a try. He was arrested on charges of armed robbery on January 2 of this year. On August 9, he was arrested in the early morning hours in Columbus after making an illegal U-turn and leading the cops in a merry chase. Their attempts to subdue him were complicated by the fact that he was wearing a kevlar vest which kept the cops from tasering him. I think the cops were clement in their use of force. Some cops, when confronted by a powerfully built young man in body armor might have reached for the service weapon first.

Anyway, they confiscated an ax, an AK-47, 3 loaded pistols and bottle of vodka from the SUV our hero was driving. The judge during plea and arraignment reasonably viewed these escapades as proof that Clarett was a menace to society and revoked the bond he was out on due to the previous charge. He now sits in jail awaiting his trial. What a difference a few years make. At one time Maurice Clarett looked like he would play on Sundays. It now looks as if his destiny is a considerable stretch behind bars.

If Clarett is the gold standard of knuckleheads, Arkansas's own Darren McFadden is the zircon standard. Not long after Clarett had led the cops on his merry chase in Columbus, Darren, a pre-season SEC All-Conference selection, got into it with some guy outside a bar called The Palace in downtown Little Rock around 4 o'clock one morning. For some inexplicable reason, he tried to kick his opponent while wearing sandals. This resulted in his breaking the tip of the big toe on his right foot.

Big toes are kinda important for athletes in sports that require running. They had to put a pin in Darren's. The guys up on the hill aren't making any predictions as evidently nobody has ever dealt with this kind of injury before. It's too bad. McFadden is a good kid with no history of this kind of behavior who did something stupid. Anyway, he's also a lucky kind of kid. Suffice it to say, the Palace is not unknown to local law enforcement. Darren is lucky he didn't catch a slug.

Finally, let us turn our eyes to just west of here where the University of Oklahoma's title hopes got pimp-slapped when starting QB Rhett Bomar got kicked off the team for receiving 18 grand from a Norman car dealer for work he didn't perform last year. The shock is not so much that Bomar got a cushy job from a booster. After all, Brian Bosworth once famously claimed to landed a job in which he was paid all day to watch oil wells pump the ground.

No, the shock was the unexpected burst of integrity displayed by the Sooners when they turned themselves in and gave Bomar his walking papers. Think this would have happened if Barry Switzer were still at the helm? OU keeps this up and next thing you know they'll be making the players go to class and stuff.

It will be interesting to see if these enhanced voluntary workouts my friend described actually result in a significant increase in victories. It says here that it won't. North Carolina is to football as Hezbollah is to diplomacy. At least it's kind of nice to know that they care enough to cheat a little for once.















" I didn't think

1 comment:

ALALUCY said...

Um, is there a graph or two left out at the end of this? There's a large blank space, then the beginning of a quote: "I didn't think..."

Observations of NC football practice customs are of vital import for me to pass along to an alum. I don't want him to miss anything - although he might not make it past the analogy of Tarheels/ football and Hezbollah/democracy anyway :)