Friday, September 29, 2006

Rick Morrissey is such a complete tool. It's kind of like he's the little brother of the egotists writing over at the Sun-Times. I'm not sure why the two big Chicago papers have this contest going to see whose columnists can be more worthless, but the Sun-Times has been ahead for a while now with Marriotti and Mulligan, and Morrissey and now Haugh seem to be trying to catch up with them. Morrissey's column today is a perfect example of the pointless whining type of article that all of these guys are so great at turning in. His column is kind of disguised as one of legitimate annoyance at the fact that Ricky Manning Jr. admitted to being a complete asshole--at the very least--to some random guy in a Denny's, and quite probably had something to do with beating him unconscious. Which is incredibly lame, and is an example of why my love of watching football is always tainted by the fact that the guys I'm cheering for are very often not good people. Of course, why would anyone expect them to be good people? In high school, they probably were allowed to get away with more than most other kids because they were good athletes, and then they went to college where there are probably people who are actually paid to make sure that the athletes don't ever have to be held accountable for anything they do because their team is such a gigantic magnet for money and then they make it to the pros where, once again, lip service aside, no one really is all that concerned with making sure they become good responsible people. Stay just this side of felonies, please, and keep your mouth relatively clean when there's a tape recorder in the area, but other than that, you know, there's not really any good reason for you not to be a complete jerk. So, frankly, I think it's a little more surprising that there are ever actually football players who are also decent human beings. Well, not exactly surprising, I suppose, but there's no reason to expect it to be the rule. Anyway, Morrissey's column pretends to kind of be about being upset about Ricky Manning, but actually it's about how it's so dumb that the Bears are defending Benson. He starts out his column questioning why there was no big comedown on Ricky in Smith's most recent press conference, but from there he turns his argument into this: It is outrageous that the Bears defended Benson from media criticism when Ricky Manning Jr is a jerk and John Gilmore probably smokes pot and Tank Johnson got in a fight with a police officer who decided not to press charges. Which is a completely stupid argument in the first place, but also he isn't really portraying the situation correctly. The Bears haven't come to Ricky Manning Jr.'s defense much at all, nor have they publicly condemned him, but really they haven't had to mention it because it's been a complete non-story in the press. Likewise Gilmore and Johnson's things. At best, all of those things will merit a throwaway line or two like they do in this column if someone wants to complain about something, but there has been no campaign at all by the press to get to the bottom of the Ricky Manning thing. In fact, the most in-depth thing the Tribune has done with the story is play host to Manning's defense (although, bizarrely, the content to that article is currently from some article about Notre Dame's stadium, or something about Notre Dame and tickets or something...). This week, Haugh's first "David Haugh" article about the Bears was a big thing about how Benson was pouty after the game, followed by his defense of Manning. So, why exactly would the Bears feel the need to mention the Manning incident? Haugh even devoted the first section of his Q&A this week to defending his assertion that Benson is a whiny teammate who should be kicked off the team before he costs them a Super Bowl with his whining. There was no mention of Manning. And, looking back beyond this week, the Chicago press, or at least the Trib and the Sun-Times, have devoted far more print to condemning Benson than to any mention either way of Manning. So, Rick Morrissey, why isn't the Manning thing more of a story? It's not because of the Bears: it's because of you, the press. If you really want to make a big deal out of the Manning thing: do so. Start dogging the Bears until you manage to get some answers out of them, which you probably won't, and then go out to LA and interview the guy who claims Manning beat him up and go look at police records and then demand an actual interview with Manning and the other guys there and find out if anyone else saw what happened and, you know, basically be a journalist and try to figure out what happened and make it into the story. And then question why it is that as a society we are apparently okay with cheering for psychopaths as long as they are wearing symbols that have significant emotional meaning for us (which is a really good question and I don't have any idea why it is, either, and I am just as capable of doing it as "society" is). There's a reason that the story hasn't been a big deal in the Chicago press, though, and the reason is that nobody really cares. The Columnists don't actually want to get to the bottom of the Manning thing because it doesn't really affect the team: they want to go after Benson because they have invested a lot of time in criticizing Chicago teams and they don't know another tack to take for their columns and they lack the analytical chops to find actual problems that maybe haven't been addressed, and something like "not being a good teammate" is an easy thing to go all apeshit about if there's someone out there who doesn't look like he's quite been able to fit in with the team in general. So, until the press actually does make a stink about the Manning thing, just using it as a prop to back up your argument that Benson is actually a loser and the Bears are dicks for not saying as much is unspeakably lame.

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