Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Hawg considering a career change?

There are times when being a sports fan is just downright aggravating.

I'll give you an example -- I've been a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates since about 1977. There's a team that hasn't had a winning season since 1992 and things aren't likely to change for that horrible club anytime soon.

Baseball season, then, isn't much fun.

It appears that football season isn't going to be much fun, either. I've rooted for the Denver Broncos for even longer than I've rooted for the Pirates. Watching the Broncos in the 1980s was difficult as the team made it to the Super Bowl three times at the end of that decade and got stomped into the ground each time.

Ah, but the team has been more competitive than not through the years and actually won a couple of Super Bowls in 1998 and 1999. Even when the team wasn't having a championship season, the Broncos have typically been in the running.

It appears all that has changed. What the hell is wrong with the folks running that club? Did they -- in a drunken haze -- decide it would be a good idea to fire coach Mike Shanahan? Were they hitting the Coors Light so hard that they figured hiring that kid, Josh McDaniels, to replace Shanahan was the right thing to do? How on earth did they wind up trading quarterback Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears for Kyle Orton?

Kyle Orton? Seriously? Could they have found a bigger nobody of a quarterback than Kyle Orton? He wears #18 because that's how many people have heard of him. I hear Ryan Leaf is working at a parking garage somewhere in west Texas these days. Couldn't they have offered the job to him?

The thing that bugs me the most about all of the alcohol-fueled insanity that has possibly hit Denver was the decision to fire Shanahan then turn around and hire a punk kid to replace him. Now, don't go defending McDaniels. Hiring him was the wrong thing to do. Period. I'm right on this and anyone who disagrees is flat out wrong. That little 33-year-old nobody has done absolutely nothing to warrant being named head coach of a middle-tier college team, much less an NFL club.

Let's take a look at this little zit's resume, shall we? In 1999 and 2000 his daddy got him a job as a graduate assistant at Michigan State under Nick Saban. He spent 2001 getting coffee for people in the New England Patriots organization and was an assistant defensive coach in 2002 and 2003. From there he became the quarterbacks coach and was named offensive coordinator -- a position he kept for two whole years before being named the damned head coach of the damned Broncos.

Apparently, the Democrats ran all of the bums out of Denver when they had their convention there last year. With no bums available to take the job, McDaniels got it. As a bonus, he is also the recipient of the "Luckiest Undeserving Bastard on the Planet" award.

Well, by God, I'm not going to put up with this. I've watched the Pirates go to hell and I'm not going to sit still and watch zippy the wonder kid shove the Broncos down the same path. I'll take that coaching job at Denver and I'll be great at it, too. Here are my qualifications.

1. I like football, like, a lot. That's right. I'm 39-years-old and I've been watching football since before McDaniels was alive. I may not have spent a year running errands for the Patriots and my daddy might not have gotten me a job at Michigan State, but I do know the point of football is to (as John Madden once put it) to move the ball down the field while keeping the other team from doing the same thing. That ought to count for something, right?

2. My sister-in-law is from Denver. That's right -- The Hawg has ties to that fair city. What does Josh McDaniels have? Nothing, that's what. He's an Ohio boy and spent time in Michigan and the East Coast before giggling his way through a job interview in Denver. Compared to him, I'm practically a local. Who wouldn't want to see a local boy guide their team to victory?

3. I played a lot of that Tudor Electric Football as a kid. Oh, you go right ahead and laugh. Laugh, laugh, laugh it up, ace. I can do some strategy, man. Do you know how hard it is to win a game based solely on running plays because the "triple threat" quarterback doesn't work worth a damn? I do, kids. I was an innovator back in my Tudor Electric Football days, too. I developed the "pack two rows of linemen in front of the running back" play, the "move the little dial things so that everyone runs to the right (or left) to confuse the other team" play and the famed "arrange all those players in an unstoppable wedge and march down the field" play. I've got the ability to come up with solutions to difficult problems, see. Who wouldn't want that?

4. Institutional knowledge. While McDaniels was trying to figure out how not to pee his diaper, I was watching the Broncos face the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl. I know full well the importance of that team to the fair city of Denver and will do my best to keep the fans happy. Those Denver fans go nuts, McDaniels. Remember the 1990 season (well, you probably don't, seeing how you were going through puberty and all)? Denver was having a terrible season and the fans took it badly. One radio disc jockey perched on a billboard and said he would broadcast from there until Denver won a game. He was up there in a freezing winter for weeks. One woman in Mile High stadium maced a bunch of fans for the other team and one wife and father was so distraught after a game that he came home from Mile High, held his wife and kids at gunpoint and was escorted away from his house by the cops.

Are you ready for that kind of pressure, McDaniels? I doubt it.

5. Denver couldn't do any worse. The Broncos would have been better off picking someone at random out of a phone book than choosing McDaniels. Why not give the job to a fellow who has been a loyal fan for about as long as McDaniels has been alive? Think about it, Broncos. Do the right thing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Benton and Bryant getting along?

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Folks, I've been a lazy blogger lately.

I've not been following my usual routine of checking up on blogs, making inane comments here and there, generally being a pest, etc. Why? I've been busy lately for reasons (work) that are just too tedious (my job) to go into (work) without boring you folks to tears (job, job, job).

Ah, but I've got a doozy of a post for you good people tonight (that's a "daisy" of a post for you people all wacky about Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holliday in Tombstone). I don't know if it's exactly a doozy of a post, but it's at least not as bad as the junk I typically put up here for people to see and ask, "What the hell was the point of that?"

Take a look at the commercial at the top of the post. Uh-huh. Now, take a look at the one at the bottom.

I saw one of those ads on television last night. They are part of a project -- LiveInBentonBryant.com -- put together by the Benton and Bryant chambers of commerce.

"So what? Cities do stuff like this all the time," you might say.

Ah, here's what's significant about these ads -- Benton and Bryant have always been bitter rivals and most anyone who has lived here in Saline County or is familiar with our little corner of the world can tell you that the citizens of those towns have generally hated each other. I, a Benton boy, grew up not liking Bryant one damned bit.

So it's kind of a shock to see a commercial when the school mascots (a panther for Benton and a hornet for Bryant) are cavorting together in scene after scene. The Benton Panther comforts the Bryant Hornet at Saline Memorial Hospital? The Hornet pushes the Panther on a swing? The two play golf together? What the hell is going on here?

Regionalism, folks. That's what. The reality of the situation is that these two cities are located in a county (conveniently highlighted in red on the handy map here) with 100,000 people in it and have a lot more in common that we'd maybe like to admit. Both cities are interested in economic development in the county as we're sick of being viewed as mere bedroom communities of Little Rock. How do we attract those jobs to this county so that we can keep our folks here instead of shipping them off to Little Rock every morning?

The answer is simple -- we keep building the population of this county in hopes that the economic opportunities will follow the rooftops. Some wise souls decided that we are better able to concentrate on that task as a region instead of individual cities and there is a lot of merit to that idea.

This area, frankly, is in need of a unified, concerted effort to bring some jobs to Saline County. There was a time when the aluminum industry was huge here and the Alcoa and Reynolds plants provided all the jobs we needed. Those were high-paying jobs, too -- about $20 an hour back in 1981 until the plants shut down due to an increase in the cost of mining bauxite, squabbles between the union and management and a host of other things.

So I hope the cities are successful in their goals. Perhaps we can replace a lot of those jobs we lost over two decades ago.

Then we can all get down to the serious business of simply hating Little Rock instead of folks in our own county.

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