There is something about the fanboys of bad NFL teams. When their bad team draws criticism or a mild rebuke in the media, they hit their message boards with frothing mouths screaming about the conspiracy that exists in the media to heap scorn and abuse on their heroes. One of the standard arguments regarding these imagined conspiracies is that the media never takes a dump on other teams – - such as the one that won the Super Bowl last year or a team that has been in the playoffs nine of the last ten years. And, the fanboys really do not see the absence of logic in those ravings…
This phenomenon happens to almost all of the bad teams and it seems to be happening in spades to Oakland Raiders’ fans. A favorite cry amongst them is that Al Davis’ demonstrated abilities to find diamonds in the rough within the NFL Draft process back in the 60s, 70’s and 80’s should make him and the team immune to any scornful remarks by some media hack regarding Raider draft picks in the 90s and the 00s. I don’t expect that too many of them will be sending notes of apology today to all of the media critics who opined that JaMarcus Russell was not a good first pick in the draft – - and there were more than a few such writers at the time of that selection.
A few weeks ago, Russell lost his job to Bruce Gradkowski – - a fourth year player with a career QB rating of 65.9. Meaning no disrespect to Messr. Gradkowski, that is below mediocre. This week – - with Gradkowski injured – - the Raiders will put Charlie Frye in charge of the offense. Frye is in his fifth year; he has a career QB rating of 70.5, which is approaching mediocrity; however, he has thrown 16 TD passes and 25 INTs for his career and that is not good. JaMarcus Russell is taking a backseat to Charlie Frye who is the guy that the Cleveland Browns cut two years ago and entrusted that team to the tandem of Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn. And just for good measure, the Raiders just signed JP Losman this week who is coming off winning the UFL Championship with the Las Vegas Locomotives.
I want to make it clear to Raiders fanboys; I am not part of any conspiracy and have shared none of these remarks with anyone else. JaMarcus Russell was a BAD selection as the overall #1 selection – - in the same league with Todd Marinovich as a first round pick by the same Oakland Raiders in the early 90s. Several weeks ago, I suggested a new name for JaMarcus Russell and now that his fate in Oakland seems cast in stone, I believe it is time to refer to him as:
Before I write off Russell’s career in the NFL entirely, please note that another team will probably pick him up if he is a free agent in the off-season. If you doubt that, consider that Richie Incognito signed with Buffalo the day after the Rams – - the RAMS – - decided they could do without his contributions going forward.
In 2008, Tiger Woods suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss half of the PGA Tour. Most of the PGA events saw their TV ratings and their live attendance plummet – - and it was not just the “secondary events”. In the 2008 PGA Championship, viewership dropped more than 50% from the year before when Tiger Woods won the event. I read somewhere that a comparison of about half a dozen tournaments with Tiger Woods in 2007 drew almost double the audiences of the same tournaments without Tiger Woods in 2008. No one can ignore those data and pass them off as a coincidence.
With the recent announcement that Tiger Woods will take an “indefinite hiatus” from golf, there has to be more than a small measure of angst among TV execs, PGA Tour sponsors and PGA execs. Of course you will never hear that from Tim Fincham – - clearly a graduate of the David Stern School of Spinmeistering. Secretly, Fincham has to be lighting candles in church and sending entreaties to St. Jude asking that Tiger Woods resolve whatever he needs to resolve in his life and get back on the golf course in PGA events immediatment.
More than that even, Tim Fincham is praying that the recent stories linking Tiger Woods to a Canadian physician who is under investigation by the FBI for illegally supplying HGH to patients are nothing more than sensationalist nonsense. The PGA just suspended some guy from the Nationwide Tour for a year because he used PEDs. If this kind of charge is hung around Tiger Woods’ neck, how will the PGA finesse it to prevent suspending him for a year?
A significant problem that Tiger Woods faces now goes beyond the whole business of “repairing his image” and his link to this “Canadian doctor”. Tiger Woods is now in the crosshairs of the tabloid/paparazzi media. Meaning no great disrespect here, sportswriters and golf writers more specifically are not exactly the Woodwards and Bernsteins of journalism in 2009. Far too many of them – - not all but more than enough – - would not want to be the one to break a story that would be damaging to Tiger Woods for the simple reason that Tiger Woods’ representatives would be able to isolate such a journalist and keep him from knowing any more about Tiger Woods than his score in a given round of a tournament. Golf writers need even the meager access that Tiger Woods’ representatives allow; they will not put that access at risk. Tiger Woods’ handlers can manipulate that segment of the media to get out the messages they want out.
If anyone thinks that is the case with the tabloid media or the paparazzi, just ask folks like Senator John Edwards or Brittney Spears or any of a dozen other “celebs” who are regular fodder for those publications. If Tiger Woods thinks his yacht named “Privacy” is a safe haven, he also better have hired an air force to keep the helicopters carrying paparazzi out of the sky around the yacht. If Tiger Woods thinks he might have been accosted by fans in an airport before, he has to know that if he takes off in his NetJet tomorrow, there will be paparazzi waiting for him when it lands. Moreover, if he thinks that he can surreptitiously go “Trolling for Trollops” in Las Vegas over the Holidays…
I have a piece of advice for Tiger Woods. I know he will not read this nor would he give a fig if someone put it in front of him and he did read it. Nevertheless, I offer it free of charge:
During your golf hiatus, make absolutely certain that no one can place you in a foursome off the golf course.
Finally, Dan Jenkins wrote a prescient statement about Tiger Woods all the way back in 2001 – - Woods’ fourth or fifth year on the PGA Tour:
“Only two things can stop Tiger, injury or a bad marriage.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…