Angry Ward Wednesday: It Doesn’t Take a Genius to Find True Sports Geniuses

Ronda-Rousey-EntourageNEW YORK, NY – It’s amazing how easily we throw around the word “genius” these days. On intelligentsia magnets such as Facebook, you’re a genius if you can figure out a simple math progression or know the difference between “two,” “to” and “too.” You talk to yourself while walking down the street? According to some bullsh!t study, you’re probably the next Thomas Edison. It’s getting to a point where if your kid refuses to wash his hands after going to the bathroom you’d better just let him, lest you’d be stifling a budding young Stephen Hawking. It’s no different in sports, where so many have worn the “G” cape. For instance, if you ever worked for former 49ers coach Bill Walsh, you’re a direct descendant of football Zeus himself and probably crap rainbows. What a crock. There really are no sports geniuses… except these.

Jim Marshall. This Minnesota Vikings defensive end is best remembered for scooping up a fumble and running the wrong way for a safety. But I think he meant to do it. To this day he remains the all-time NFL defensive fumble-recovery leader with 30. You’re telling me he didn’t know his way around a loose football? Smart folks get bored, and occasionally act out. Jim Marshall was looking for a new canvas to paint, and he did so beautifully.

Ronda Rousey. I have never watched a single minute of MMA fighting, yet I (and millions of others) know who Ronda Rousey is. There have been hundreds of big-time female sports stars with names like Serena and Annika and Nadia, but only Rousey has been able to take over a male-dominated sport and steal the spotlight for herself. That’s pretty brilliant.

The Harlem Globetrotters. Dr. James Naismith had a pretty decent idea when he hung up a pair of peach baskets and hosted a nine-on-nine game of what would later become basketball. But it wasn’t until years later that the Harlem Globetrotters perfected the sport by employing ladders and buckets of water and snap-back rubber bands. The Globettrotters also nailed the art of fixed games by finding one patsy, the Washington Generals, and paying them off time and again. Has Michael Jordan or Bill Russell or Larry Bird ever appeared on Scooby Doo? Of course not! Only the Globetrotters had the mental capacity to handle that assignment.

Lanny Poffo. He wrestled. He rhymed. He wore a mortar board cap. He said he was a genius. That’s good enough for me.

Charles K. McNeil. A former math teacher and securities analyst, McNeil is widely credited with inventing the concept of the point spread, on which most of sports gambling today is based. He taught in my backyard at Riverdale Country School as well as in Connecticut, and his students included John F. Kennedy. He gave it all up to become and full-time gambler and bookmaker. He was so good at betting that many Chicago bookies put a limit on his wagers. Later he quite bookmaking when the mafia became enamored of his money-making talents. How has there not been a movie done about this guy?

Matt McCarthy. More idiot savant than genius, MTM CEO McCarthy somehow managed to convince some reasonably-intelligent people (myself excluded from the “intelligent” group) to write for him indefinitely sans compensation. He then topped himself in 2015 when, long past his prime, he succeeded in getting a lovely young girl to say “yes” to his ham-fisted marriage proposal. His existence continues to defy all logic.

I defy you all to come back tomorrow for some other genius that’s still toiling here.


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About Angry Ward 748 Articles
Angry Ward, who has admirers at the New York Times, is the quintessential angry sports fan but for one exception... he's flat-out funny. And the angrier he gets, the more amusing his work becomes. Psychiatrists say, "Angry Ward's 'anger' is a direct result of "Bronx/Mets syndrome: growing up in the Bronx as a Mets fan." As if that weren't enough, his Minnesota North Stars abandoned him for Dallas, forcing him to embrace The Wild the way Nancy Pelosi embraces Mitch McConnell at charity events. And while his Vikings only tease him with success, his Golden State Warriors actually win these days. A-Dubya is MTM's longest-tenured indentured servant, its Larry David and quite simply, "The Franchise." (Junoir Blaber disputes this). Vent, curse and giggle with him on Angry Ward Wednesdays.