Drew Magary writes feature items for GQ Magazine. While GQ is not one of my normal “go to sources” for material for these rants, Messr. Magary did a feature a couple of months ago about the “least influential people in the world”. I would not presume to know enough about the “celebrity world” or the “arts world” in sufficient detail to weave into a narrative of this kind the “least influential” folks in those orbs and I certainly could not create a composite list. However, Messr. Magary included several folks from the sports world onto his list and I do feel marginally competent to comment on those entries.
Let me say from the outset that if one were looking at “influential” in a strict sense of the word, someone like the Chairman of the Federal Reserve would have to be high on the list. One word from the person in that position and interest rates for a few hundred million people change whether or not the people in debt or seeking to become new debtors want it to be so. The list does not appear to take such a level of power/influence into account and that is why some folks from the sports world can possibly make the list. Here are some of the sports world figures on the list in alphabetical order:
Roger Goodell: I think I could agree that Goodell had a very bad year in 2014 but to say he is not influential is rather naïve. The extant CBA between the NFL and the NFLPA grants wide-ranging powers and authorities to the Commissioner – and Roger Goodell is indeed the Commish as of this writing. Simply looking at the world of pro football, the Commissioner of the NFL has far more influence than multiple hundreds of players, coaches, scouts, GMs and whatever. You may or may not like the way Roger Goodell has handled his position in the past year and you may wish for him to lose his job, but until he does lose his job, he is not one of the least influential people in the world. Unless of course you believe that anything having to do with sports is inconsequential ab initio…
Derek Jeter: Unless or until Jeter makes a comeback in MLB or he becomes a manager or a team owner or the next Commissioner of MLB, this nomination is literally correct. Jeter is a retired shortstop who – if the gossip columns are to be believed – has used whatever “influence” he ever had to bed a sequence of hot celebrity personalities. In his retirement days, he will have no sports accomplishments to keep him in the limelight and that may or may not alter the frequency with which he can change his hot bed partners. In the future, he is likely to have little influence beyond his bedstead. Nonetheless, he had a significant influence in 2014:
He convinced me that I had seen enough of season-long farewell tours for players no matter how good they may have been or how well known they may have been in their careers. Hopefully, MLB learned something from the incessant silliness of Jeter’s last year in the majors to the point that we will not have to see/experience another of them again until at least 2024.
Stephen A. Smith: Oh, come now… Stephen A. Smith was a very good columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer whose coverage of the NBA stood out from the crowd. ESPN hired him to do his shtick on radio and TV; in his choosing to do that shtick to the point where the shtick became the reality of his public persona, he ceased to be a reporter/journalist, columnist and became the modern-day version of a clown. As a “clown”, he has little influence for the simple reason that clowns never have much if any influence at all. Should the day come when Stephen A. Smith chooses to return to the ink-stained world of column writing, he will cease to be a clown and his opinions/observations within his writing will again have influence.
Donald Sterling: For a brief moment, he was highly influential as the owner of a major sports franchise in the US who had weathered about a half-dozen publicly known scandalous situations. Then he became embroiled with V. Stiviano while he was in the midst of what would become a “juicy divorce” and he happened to do all of that while there was a new sheriff in town – Adam Silver. Sterling’s “influence” was all in a negative direction/sense and whatever “influence” he may have had is now gone as surely as the need for the Pony Express is gone. If everyone is entitled to 15 minutes of fame (hat tip to Andy Warhol), Sterling probably used 13 of his minutes in 2014 and is now out of minutes.
Should you want to see the entirety of Magary’s list in GQ, here is the link.
When I was a Boy Scout – no, we did not have to worry about attacks by tyrannosaurus rex on our camping trips – we learned that we always had to be prepared. After all, it was not possible to know when or if one would have good fortune or ill fortune. We learned that we had to learn to take the bitter with the sweet because that was the way of the world.
[Aside: For the record, I hated camping as a Boy Scout and I took a solemn oath on the day I ceased to be a Boy Scout that I would never again sleep on the dirt. That vow happened in 1958 or 1959 and I have never slept on the dirt since then. I realize that at some point, I will take a long nap UNDER the dirt, but that is different; it is not ON the dirt.]
I mention the lessons learned as a Boy Scout here only to set the stage for my reaction to breaking news in the sports world this week. ESPN has extended Jon Gruden’s contract to work MNF games through the 2021 NFL season. Anyone who has read these rants for more than a few moments knows that I would prefer to listen to fingernails scraping on a blackboard or the rhythmic stylings of a teenage drummer than to listen to Jon Gruden do the color on MNF. I need to take the bitter with the sweet … I need to take the bitter with the sweet…
I guess that this would be the wrong time for me to suggest that every time the folks on MNF talk about “The Gruden Grinder”, my wish is for them to re-enact the scene from the movie Fargo where one of the characters is fed through a wood chipper. I doubt that I need to fill in the blank here as to which corpse within the MNF family ought to be the one spewing out of the wood chipper and onto the snow.
Finally, here is a cogent observation from Gregg Drinnan form a recent iteration of his blog, Keeping Score:
“The Los Angeles Dodgers, who are undergoing almost a complete makeover, may have one of those rare management groups that chose to keep the manager and fire the players.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………