Thursday, September 28, 2006

Becoming Men

We all know that sports jocks, like businessmen, speak almost exclusively in cliches. My easy little theory for why that is runs pretty much as such: Sports jocks for the most part don't read, and, especially in today's culture, they end up spending essentially all of their adult lives hanging out with and surrounded by, almust exclusively, other sports jocks. Enlivening their language is not a big priority. Thus, everyone is always stepping up... Anyway. It seems like every football season there's a particular cliche that annoys me more than others, and this year, for whatever reason, I've noticed that people seem to be "growing up" a lot. So, I've decided that I'm going to keep a tally of football players who have become men so far this season. This will include those who've been declared men by sportswriters (who, one would think, since it's their job to play with language, would be less prone to cliche, but actually seem to love the sports cliche even more than most players; which, by the way, is more of the reason that I like FO than their analysis. They rarely rely on cliches. They may have some kind of weird inferiority complex that makes them feel they have to "prove" over and over again why their "objective" statistics are more valuable than subjective analysis, and they may have a further tendency to appear blind to the various points at which their interpretation of their statistics is subjective, as well as to overvalue the predictivity (is that a word?) of their statistics for a game whose data pool is not really large enough to make the value of their statistics quite as much greater than 'subjective' analysis as they want it to be, but they also are, as they claim, outsiders, and so seem to have managed to avoid the indoctrination into sports cliches that most mainstream sports writers have undergone, and really have I think made a decent argument over the past few years of the value of analysts who have never been "inside" the sports world), as well as those who noticed by themselves that they suddenly had hair where there was no hair before.

First up: The Bengals offense. I can't remember where I read it, but I remember somewhere reading/hearing Chad Johnson claim that the Bengals grew up. I'm pretty sure it was after the game against the Browns, but, again, I can't remember. In any case, the entire Bengals offense became men at once, which must have made for an interesting locker room dynamic after the game...

Rex Grossman. He was declared a man last week by Peter King. Congratulations! I wonder if there should be some sort of a ceremony for when an athlete becomes a man, like a football version of a bar mitzvah.

In another case of mass sudden aging: Steve McNair apparently said after the Ravens game against the Browns that his whole team grew up that day. This probably meant the most, however, to McNair, who finally became a man at 33 years old and after eleven years in the league. Of course, Ray Lewis was probably feeling almost as proud, making it to manhood in only two fewer years. Congratulations, men!

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