Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Mediocre at best"

That's the title of the article written by a gentleman named J. Whyatt Mondesire in the Philadelphia Sunday Sun. He was referring to Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, but upon a close reading of the content, I think it applies to the author rather than the subject.

For one thing - before reading word one - I pause to note that, in 2003, when it was Rush Limbaugh saying that McNabb wasn't a top-flight quarterback, the whole world jumped ugly on him. Ironically, in doing so they supplied evidence in favor of Limbaugh's most explosive point, that people regarded McNabb beyond his skills and results because he is black. Since Limbaugh's comments McNabb has had the best stretch of his career.
Have some numbers:

.Pre-RL 56 _ 969 _ 1721 _ 56.3 _ 10169 _ 5.91 _71/41_ 32-19
Post-RL 38 _ 749 _ 1222 _ 61.3 __ 9264 _ 7.58 _63/25_ 29-9

Rush's assessment of McNabb's performance was credible when he made it; much less so now. But anyway, back to the actual article, which is one long frolic through the catnip.

Yo--Donny! I'm calling you man. Hey, soup guy, over here! Donovan E. McNabb, you hear me callin' you. Will you please pay attention?

Even by the loose standards of sports journalism, this is wretched writing. In fact, it is horribly stereotypical faux-street patois. It only gets worse, as shall be seen.

Well....well...I've seen you Donovan E. McNabb--in your formative years as well as your mid-career development--and one thing is certain. Donovan E. McNabb you're no Doug Williams.

Let's look at Doug's career statline next to Donovan's:

McNabb_ 94 _1718 _ 2943 _58.4 _ 19433 _ 6.60 134/66 _61-28
.Wllms_ 88 _1240 _ 2507 _49.5 _ 16998 _ 6.78 100/93 ..?..

Oooops, you're right. He's no Doug - he's well ahead. Though I can't find Williams record as a starter, I can say with confidence that it was far worse, since from 1978-1982 he played for Tampa Bay. (Those were the pre-pewter, Suckaneer days.) The only thing he has on Donovan is the Super Bowl title...

The Grambling all-star completed 18 of 29 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns, capping it off with 35 points in the fourth quarter alone. He followed that performance with three conference championships in 2000, ‘01 and ‘02.

The stats from the '88 Super Bowl are correct, but it was the second quarter, not the fourth; and the three conference championships are from Williams' time as head coach of Grambling University. Way to fact-check, former journalism major at CCNY. And are you suggesting that McNabb, at 29, should already be toting a clipboard? Quite an endorsement of his leadership (a subject we'll revisit).

Your record is another matter entirely. In fact this whole dismal season so far has really been a testament of fallen dreams and lost opportunities...

Or injuries. The man was playing with a hernia, doofus. He put off surgery to keep playing.

Normally this column talks very little about sports because the games that grown men play pale in comparison to the great issues of racism, politics, social calamities, health crisis's [sic], war and peace, etc. which gives us plenty of fertile territory to explore and pontificate about. However, this week I felt compelled to offer some personal thoughts about your horrific on-field performances this season because at their core there is a lie you have tried to use to hide the fact that in reality you actually are not that good.

Unfortunately, no-one at the Sun is willing to edit their publisher's ponficiations. But their reticence compels me in their stead to consider that your run-on sentences and overblown phrases mask a truth that you can't write for crap.

[Our author compares the stats from Donovan's first four games against his final five this year, and continues.] The sports hernia you suffered after the team's Week 3 win over Oakland clearly is a mega factor in the latter numbers.

Nice of you to notice.

But who can forget your mind numbing fourth-quarter collapse in last year's Super Bowl against New England. [sic (again)]

Wait a minute - the guy went 30-51, for 357 yards, 3 td and 3 int. That is a credible performance in a big game against a team that has won 3 of the past 4 championships. Hell, his Pro-Bowl performance (1-8, 24 yds, 1 int) was far worse. He collapsed? Philly was down 10 points with nine minutes to play and couldn't finish the rally, mostly from clock mismanagement, and that is not wholly the quarterback's fault. He looked gassed at the very end? He ran for his life the whole game, flinging 50 or so passes, and being sacked four times - yeah, what a choker.

...for you to continue to deny we fans (as well as yourself) one of the strongest elements of your game by claiming that "everybody expects black quarterbacks to scramble" not only amounts to a breach of faith but also belittles the real struggles of black athletes who've had to overcome real racial stereotypcasting in addition to downright segregation.

HE HAD A HERNIA. A part of his intestines were STICKING OUT OF HIS ABDOMEN.

College football in the South didn't drop its White Only wall until 1966 four years after James Meredith while trying to enroll at Ole Miss, which went 10-0 that year, even as its practice field was covered federal troops who had bivouacked there.

That is not a fifty-word typo, but an actual attempt at writing.

Earlier this month Sports Illustrated reporting pioneering black players in the vaunted SEC had to endure serious hardships, such as "Fritz Pollard, the black all-America at Brown during World War I, (who) had learned to spin on his back and thrust his cleats in the air when tackled, to protect himself from late hits; how Iowa State's Jack Trice was trampled to death during a 1923 game against Minnesota; and how in 1951, on the first play from scrimmage, an Oklahoma A&M player broke the jaw of Drake running back Johnny Bright, forcing him to abandon football and causing the school to withdraw in protest from the Missouri Valley Conference."* Hey Donny, see any difference yet in your trumped up racial views and those pioneers?

This entire sojourn to Cloud Cuckoo Land is a trumped-up racial view, and McNabb didn't write it. He has the freedom to sit back and play football for serious money, and be a respected national pitchman, AND be a local hero in one of the toughest sports towns ever - on a team whose fans booed him the day he was drafted, in the city that has the last National League baseball team to racially integrate. (Again, you can't be bothered to look things up? Lucky for you the waiting room had an old SI, or you may have had to use Google or pick up a phone or something.) He honors those sacrifices by doing what he's doing; and they paid that terrible price to let him do it.

Taken together, your pretty decent arm, strong desire to win, and your instinctive ability to scramble in the backfield gave you an awesome package. Take away any one of the legs from this tripod, and whole thing falls flat...

So when McNabb was only an average passer, you were publishing nonsensical screeds about him, right? Or were you attacking anyone who suggested that he still needed a little work?

Finally, your failure as a team leader off the field to my mind did as much as anything to exacerbate the debacle that has become synonymous with T.O.'s full name.

That's the sainted Terrell Owens, the model of decorum in San Francisco. The guy who gets just accolades for returning from a bad injury to play so well in the Super Bowl, while you blame Donovan for not ending his own season sooner.

Just think how the whole media circus could have been avoided had you had the courage to offer only a tiny fraction of your bonus this year to Owens and running back, [sic AGAIN] Brian Westbrook.

AHA! Now it's out. You're trying to extort McNabb on behalf of poor, downtrodden Terrell Owens ($7 million salary this year). He should pitch in for Westbrook ($1.43 mil), who signed a contract extension all of five weeks ago, paying him $34 million in salary and bonuses for the next five years.

I realize that it's SOP for you self-appointed leaders of the community to play class warfare, but these are all elite professional athletes, of the same class. But you have to work out your guilt-mongering and ego-driven posture in training for your planned run for Congress. Given that, I'm not sure what to hope for - even a Giants fan like myself isn't cruel enough to inflict you on a whole ward of Philadelphians, but you're clearly not cut out for writing. (I don't care what your bio says.)

*I put this quote in black instead of red because it's the only thing in Mondesire's article with good grammar and cogent thought. Naturally it was the one thing he himself did not write. I wanted to make sure it stood out from its cartoonish surroundings.

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