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From the Press Box: Athletes with Opinions, Jive Talking Turkey Gobblers & Alabama

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From the Press Box: Athletes with Opinions, Jive Talking Turkey Gobblers & Alabama

Hello from Post-Sandy New Jersey.

I'm definitely one of the lucky ones. 80% of my town has no power, but I do. We survived the storm with minimal damage to the area (one trashed garage down the street and trees down all over the place) which is more than you can say for a lot of folks on the east coast.

It's one of those things that makes you reflect on how lucky you are in general.

I know Behnke and Nagler are OK and I hope all of the CHTV family, readership and everyone else is and stays safe.

The one huge piece of damage from Sandy near my house

This Sunday is Veteran's Day and we'll honor those who have served in our Nation's armed forces. Let's also take a moment to honor those first responders who have so often leapt into action to help us during times like these or were, as Jon Stewart put it the other day 'doing their jobs'.

On Woodson, Politics and the Plight of Sports Media when they Collide

Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin reports that this week, injured Packers safety/cornerback/hot dog vendor Charles Woodson spoke at a rally supporting President Obama's re-election, also pledging to donate $100,000 to Hurricane relief on the East Coast.

Some have been less than enthused over Wilde's column, not happy for reasons as varied as 'Wilde isn't covering players for Romney' (he says if one does, he'll do it) to 'Woodson should concentrate on healing and shut up'.

I side with Wilde here in that athletes today are so vanilla at times unless they've got something to shill that to see someone take a stand is refreshing.

Wilde—any reporter or analyst really—is in a tough spot with these types of stories because you're damned if you do, damned if you don't when you write about it. Wilde's twitter feed is rife with people upset there isn't a counter-piece of a Romney supporter, I've been hammered for retweeting Chris Kluwe pieces on marriage equality, and many reporters can tell you stories about similar things they have written or mentioned which caused heat from the left, right or both.

Whether it's Woodson supporting Obama or Kluwe writing about marriage equality, the question is whether it's news and what makes it news.

For years I heard about how it was unfortunate Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods weren't more active in speaking about social and political issues.

Now we have many athletes speaking out in support—and against—a ton of issues which are vital to our society.

Are they vital to the news page though?

As a person on the East Coast, I applaud Woodson's donation. I respect he, Kluwe, Matt Birk, Brendon Ayanbadejo and many more for speaking their minds whether I agree with what they say or how they say it or not.

Is it sports news though?

In this day and age, everything is. Everything a player, movie star, or personality does is news within their sphere.

So don't get on the media for talking about it, because it their job.

And be happy that for once you aren't getting a 'we gave 100%' about something—even if the quote is something you totally disagree with.

Jim Harbaugh is Nuts

Just so you know, at least two of my Fantasy football teams are known as 'Jive Turkey Gobblers'.

How could they not be? If you aren't aware, Niners coach and resident Fraternity President (I have no proof of that, just believe it's true) Jim Harbaugh was asked about Alex Smith losing confidence.

He had this to say:

"I don't think there was ever a question there. I think it's just a lot of gobble, gobble turkey," Harbaugh said. "Just gobble, gobble, gobble turkey from jive turkey gobblers. That paints a pretty good picture of it."

If you say so, Skip.

I want the rest of you to roll that around in your brains for a minute.

Put aside that to suggest Smith is never worried about his job is kind of insane on it's surface—I think the guy lives in a perpetual state of paranoia in a house of cards a stiff wind would blow over—and think about the brilliance of that statement.

If you can't convince them with reason, baffle them with bulls....well you know the rest.

Maybe Harbaugh continues to believe Smith is the guy—which he is if you want to be wholly incapable of coming back from a two score deficit.

Maybe he's tired of running out the same old tired cliches about his quarterback situation.

I love it. I'd like to see more of it.

I can't wait until he goes full jive.

Alabama vs the NFL

College Football is a weird universe.

For example, an undeafeted team will, at times, play up how good their Junior College foe is this weekend as if anyone thinks LSU will lose to some technical college in Idaho. A coach will sit there though, and with a straight face says Boise Polytechnical is a great program and they will surely have their hands full playing BP this weekend. Don't be surprised if, with a straight face again, he suggests that his undefeated power house might just lose this weekend.

So really, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier saying he thinks Alabama could beat several NFL teams isn't as insane as it could have been if, say he had gone Full Monty and named the Packers, Patriots, Falcons or Bears.

Of course, it's still enormously dumb.

Let's look at the facts.

Alabama is a fantastic team, no doubt. They might—MIGHT—have around 25-30 draftable players. Might. That's a lot.

The Kansas City Chiefs, who suck wind this year, have 53 draftable players or more specifically, players who can play at an NFL level.

Now, maybe there are a few guys who don't deserve to be on a roster. However, the vast majority of that roster could start for Alabama. Yes, even the back-ups.

Yes, even Matt Cassel.

Not saying AJ McCarron isn't good. Just saying he's good in college which doesn't translate to the NFL every time.

Maybe McCarron gets the start over Cassel, we can say that because Cassel never started in college, but the point is that every single person on the Chiefs is one of a select group of people who are the best in the world at what they do.

Alabama doesn't have that.

So talent? That check mark goes to the NFL.

What about scheme? Alabama has an incredible defense, to be sure but it isn't perfect and, again, facing the talent they would see against even the worst NFL team they would be hard pressed to shut an NFL offense down. The schemes and set ups, the playaction, the speed of the players would overwhelm them.

Same thing on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line and skill players for Bama are VERY good but even in the fabled SEC, the majority of their games do not see the level of speed and schematic chicanery that NFL teams bring to the table.

Maybe they could cope with a standard Cover 2. But throw in the type of alterations the coaches in the NFL do on a down by down basis and these players, as good as they are, would be lost.

Now, some will point to Steve Spurrier's past as a (failed) NFL head coach with Washington. They will say 'he knows of what he speaks, he's been to the show'.

Sure. Almost ten years ago. When the game, even in the short span of time between, was much different. Ditto, Mike Florio's take on twitter yesterday that they used to have All Star College teams play NFL teams and the NFL would lose.

Yeah, the game in the late 60s and early 70s looks EXACTLY like the game of today.

Listen, Alabama is a very good team. Great team even. They are also a college football team and being good at the college level as we all knows can mean jack at the pro level.

For every guy who has crossed over their success, there are a ton who were great in college and not so much in the Pros.

So let's just put this to rest, OK?

Alabama is good.

The NFL is better.

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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (5) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

MarkinMadison's picture

I would prefer it if sports sites avoided talking about partisan politics. Sports is my escape from politics. It is a place where we should all be able to find common ground. I think when Nagler was running the show he discouraged discussion of politics, but probably not the the extent that I just stated.

I have commented on this over the last couple of years more than once, and I am sure that Brian Cariveau loves me for it. If you feel that you must cover it because it is "Packer related" then I think the only responsible thing to do is to report in it in as factual way as possible, and to be very careful about word choices, including in headlines. Doing that give you the best chance of remaining neutral, which is essential to not risking pissing off a substantial portion of your readership. That's my two cents on the topic. You folks will do what you want.

I also distinguish "partisan politics" from commenting on "social issues." Would it have killed Michael Jordan to comment on Apartheid in the 1980s, when that was a hot topic? Nope. Would it have painted him into a partisan political corner? Only in the view of the most narrow-minded. Yes, everything is connected to politics to some degree, but we all ought to be able to dialog about social issues in a non-political way.

More importantly, I'm glad that you all came through the storm o.k.

andrewgarda's picture

1) Thanks - I think I can speak for the whole NE area site writer base that 'us too'.

2) I agree. I think it's a twitchy and fine line I don't know how to walk all that well. In this day and age, I don't know anyone does.

I suppose the easiest thing is to say 'sports is sports' and leave it at that, but then, as you said, what if Jordan speaks about Aparthied? Where is the line?

Like you said, it's an escape. Sometimes seeing the rest of the world intrude on it is tough.

More than a fair point sir.

Bearmeat's picture

I agree with you Mark. I do think the writers at CHTV write very fairly - but I do not want to hear about Charles Woodson's politics. Or Bart Starr's for that matter.
When it comes down to it, I could care less. Outside football, they are just people like everything else.

andrewgarda's picture

That's the good and bad of the world we live in. we learn they are just like anyoen else. And we learn they are JUST like everyone else.

Thanks for reading. :D

WisconsInExile's picture

While I can appreciate where guys like Mark are coming from, I very much enjoy reading about the character and personality of interesting NFL personalities. Especially when I'm reading about Rex Ryan's foot fetish. That's just quality comedy.

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