“Have ya evah evah been in a NFL control room? How bout a brawdcast boot? Huh? Have ya? Well guess what? I have! I have! Like 8 times!
ASTORIA, NY – When Chris “Mad Dog” Russo was still around, his presence muted the outsized ego maniacal persona of Mike Francesa – to an extent. Just listening to Russo trying to pronounce multi-syllabic words and names made Francessa seem like “the smart one.” Russo’s opinions were often sophomoric and off-base, but they also left the listeners believing that Francessa was the competent Pro of the two. Who can forget when during March Madness, Russo bemoaned the fact that BYU tried taking on Cincinnatti with “… 4 white guys on the court at the same time.” Russo long ago had his MENSA membership revoked but looking back… as a human being he probably wasn’t all that bad.
That’s because in the 5 years since this dynamic duo parted ways, Mike Francesa, to borrow a hackneyed phrase from lightning rod Keith Olbermann, has been the Worst Person in the World. A few of my favorite Mikey condescension moments which Fatso takes time to drop some knowledge on his listeners are when he offers his scouting reports on players that he believes he’s discovered. “You know who’s a pretty good little hitter, Dawg? Jeff Bagwell.” (This was in 1997 after a couple of MVPs for Bagwell). He talks over callers. Doesn’t let his guests get a word in and generally bullies anyone with a differing opinion or the temerity to challenge any of his “knowledge.”
“I worked with Brent Musberger and Jimmy the Greek in the 70s and you know what Greek would call me, Dawg? He’d call me ‘Kid’ – like go get me a pack of smokes kid. So I know stuff, Dawg.” The Bully Pulpit was made for this bully, who actually possesses very little knowledge about things other than the NFL or the Trotters. So while I generally admire and appreciate the deep knowledge and passion of New York sports fans, I have to call bullsh!t on the fact that in the latest Nielsen ratings released last week, Francesa remains the number 1 rated radio show in New York. WTF. SMH.
But even more irritating than a blow-hard radio guy is the athlete who insists on bringing the real world into conversations and our consciousness, when he is unprepared and ill-equipped to do so. Why should we care or value their actions or words? Because they possess unique athletic skills, we’re supposed to be curious about their thoughts? Remember when Metta World Peace was Ron Artest and he had just finished his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls? He was browsing at Best Buy one day when he asked a sales clerk if he received an employee discount on purchases. When Ron Ron found out that all Best Buy associates received a 20% discount on merchandise they purchased, that was all he needed to hear. He quickly filled out an application and even included Bulls GM Jerry Krause as a professional reference. Best Buy called Krause and he told Best Buy he would discuss the matter with Artest. Oh… Artest’s salary during his rookie season was in excess of $6M.
A couple of other beauties:
-Long Time NBA player Drew Gooden: “I’ve had to overcome a lot of diversity to get where I am.”
–Former Met and former MLB All-Star Mike Cameron: “The Sun has been there for a good 500, 600 years.”
These comments and actions are harmless enough. But what happens when these guys insist on treading into the wrong arenas, so to speak? When a ballplayer does or says something egregious and truly offensive, should they be held accountable? What form should this accountability take?
I present Tony Parker as the latest example of Professional Athletes being dumb as bricks and insensitive as hell. There is a “comedian” in France named Dieudonné. There are quotes around “comedian” because the funniest guy in France is usually the guy who throws a pie in someone’s face – like the Life is Beautiful guy… or because Jerry Lewis has long been considered the gold standard for humor in France.
Dieudonne is also an “activist” of some sort, but much of that activism is centered on anti-semitism, and the denial of the Holocaust. He’s not funny, is a raging racist anti-semite and yet somehow athletes in France find it cool to pose with him… while also making the “reverse Nazi” symbol called the “quenelle.” So, now of course Parker has issued the standard, “I’m sorry if my actions offended anyone; it was done in jest and for those who found it offensive, I apologize.” Sorry, Tony. You’re taking pictures and making appearances with Holocaust denying racists and this gets wiped away in a team issued boiler plate apology? Screw you.
More than 10 million human lives were taken during the very real Holocaust, and your flippant attitude and comfort with this sick “comedian” indicts the hell out of you as far as I’m concerned. It would be great if someone – anyone – from the Spurs, from the NBA, would denounce this in the strongest possible way. Until then, au revoir. It’s bad enough you stepped out on your beautiful ex-wife. I hope you don’t run into Jordan Farmar in a dark alley.
Please comment below and come back tomorrow for the best column of 2014, courtesy of Angry Ward.
Happy New Year.