Friday, January 28, 2005

Return of the Fat Phantom

For some inexplicable reason, I continue to read what Mark Madden writes, and then proceed to refute his dopey allegations. It's a vicious cycle that doesn't look to end anytime soon -- I don't get the impression he'll be writing strictly rational, well-thought out columns, and I know I won't stop making fun of his incoherent rants (as well as his propensity to inhale donuts).

Anyway, he's returned to a theme he last mentioned in August (which when I think about it, was the last time anyone had any gripes with the Steelers ... well until last Sunday anyway) -- namely that Bettis is a disingenuous, me-first guy who has no intentions of staying in Pittsburgh because he wants to go somewhere and start.

My first reaction after reading his latest diatribe was, "why does Madden have it in for Bettis?" And then it occurred to me that Madden's suffering from chubby-envy -- he's jealous of any other successful fat-body (for the record, I don't think Jerome is a "fat-body," especially when compared to Madden; in fact I'm in the fat camp that believes Jerome is just "big-boned").

Anyway, I came to this realization after reading Madden's latest drivel:
On Monday, Hines Ward cried for Jerome Bettis, and for Bettis' failure to reach a Super Bowl.

Ward's tears were sincere. But they were shed for an insincere man.

It won't be long until Bettis is laughing. Laughing last, so to speak.

Bettis repeatedly mentioned this season that he came back to the Steelers for lesser pay, and for a lesser role, because he wanted to win a Super Bowl. Given that the Steelers very nearly did make it to the Super Bowl, it certainly looks like Bettis was telling the truth.

But Bettis really came back to Pittsburgh because he had nowhere else to go. He had not played well since 2001, and no other team wanted him.

...Bettis is going to jump ship. The Bus is going to roll to another team, a team that will give him more money and guaranteed carries, the better to further climb the NFL's all-time rushing list.

That won't make Bettis a bad person. It will make him a typical athlete. It will also reveal all those loyalty pledges to the Steelers, Pittsburgh and the fans as utter BS. But Bettis is a smooth talker. Not only will he bolt Pittsburgh for more coin, he'll have you chanting his name on the way out the door.

The time has come for Pittsburgh and Bettis to part, anyway. Staley deserves an unfettered shot at being the No. 1 back. Having a living legend look over your shoulder isn't easy. If Staley gets hurt - and he probably will - I've seen enough of Verron Haynes to think he can be a capable No. 2.

...When the end comes, Bettis won't cry. He'll have his money, and he'll have his stats. More than anything else, those things are what he got into football for.
I don't even know where to start. I mean, it doesn't even follow logically. And how does Madden know what Bettis' plans are even before Bettis does? Or how does he know that "money and stats" are the reason, "more than anything else", why Bettis first got into football?

All this nonsense gives me an idea: Skip Bayless and Mark Madden should have their own television show. And it should be called, "I Ate All the Cold Pizza" (it's this kind of outside-the-box thinking that I can only imagine led to shows like the "real" Cold Pizza, Around the Horn, and any of the ESPN movies). The premise is simple enough: Madden and Bayless go back and forth trying to out-dumb one another with ridiculously inane comments. Given the current direction of ESPN programming, it's sure to be a success.

... Which leads me to this. Bill Simmons is looking for a new intern (read: lackey) and I thought I would take the liberty to fill out an application for Madden. Plus, who knows, it might actually help accelerate his rise to national prominence.

click on the graphic to read Madden's application

OK, enough with that tomfoolery (and no I didn't really submit the application). Somewhat related to my rant above is this article by Stephen Rodrick taking a look at those print journalists who have been snatched up by The Network and spend more time bloviating in front of the camera than actually writing columns for their newspapers. Not surprisingly, Screamin' A. Smith is mentioned prominently, but here are my favorite paragraphs:
As with many things in sports media today, television -- and more specifically, ESPN -- is to blame. Every night at 5:30, the network allows Washington Post columnists Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser to argue aimlessly on Pardon the Interruption. But at least Kornheiser and Wilbon are bona fide stars. The real apocalypse happens a half-hour earlier on a show called Around the Horn, when four low-wattage columnists scream sports-related slurs while someone named Stat Boy gives them points. (As with most things on television, Fox has a stupider version called I, Max.)

Cranky and supremely talented Los Angeles Times sports columnist T.J. Simers, a former ATH panelist, gave a look inside the sausage factory when he told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2003 that "ESPN will hire you for your credibility, but after a minute, they've had enough of that," he said. He also disclosed that the money he got from the show would "pay for my daughter's wedding." Not surprisingly, Simers was soon relieved of his duties.
Awesome. Whenever you can make fun of Stat Boy and Max Kellerman in the same sentence, you've done your good deed for the day. Anyway, like I mentioned half-mockingly above, given that every dope with a column is getting a national show, I suspect Madden can't be far behind. And given ESPN's track record, I'll expect to see something along the lines of "I Ate All the Cold Pizza" sometime this spring ... unless of course he's interning for Bill Simmons.