Two weeks is a long time.
It’s especially long in the news business when you’re being forced to come up with new ways to cover the same story every day. This has been my challenge since the Giants beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. How do I make sure the story is taken care of every day without resorting to the same old cliched angles? That means no interviews with chefs about their favorite buffalo wing recipes. It means no discussions about what commercials we should all be looking for during the game. And, most importantly, it means no stories based solely on finding idiotic Giant fans who yell their support for Big Blue into the microphone.
I think my colleagues and I did a pretty good job. We sent a reporter to take Salsa lessons so he could dance like Victor Cruz. We had the same guy go to Port Newark and ask the truckers to recite Giselle’s email to her friends, asking them to pray for Tommy. We sent another reporter to Jets headquarters, to see how fans there are dealing with a Patriots/Giants matchup. (That idea was actually born of a conversation with SCP reader Beltway Buddy, who is not happy with having the choose between what he sees as the lesser of two evils.) All of these ideas were good. But, for me, one stood head and shoulders above the rest.
On Wednesday, I had a reporter call Tom Brady. Not the QB Tom Brady. I had him call Tom Brady from Staten Island. He’s just some guy who happens to share a name with the Pats star. And, it worked. I got the money quote: ““I’m Tom Brady… and I predict Giants will prevail.”
You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face all day. It was one of my proudest moments in the business. I had an idiotic idea and carried it through. And it came out exactly as I envisioned it.
You can only imagine how happy I was a few hours later when a friend texted me to say Deadspin had written about our story. What did they say? I’m glad you asked:
“I’m Tom Brady, I’m from Staten Island and I predict Giants will prevail,” Tom Brady told some poor reporter at 1010 WINS who drew the short straw. When you’re scraping the bottom of Rick Reilly‘s barrel for Super Bowl week stories, it’s probably time to rethink things.
And it was written under the headline, “This is So Stupid.”
You may think this was discouraging. I disagree. I made my favorite website snark at me. If that’s not a badge of honor, I don’t know what is.
AFTER THE JUMP: Justin calls one guy a dick, another guy a cunt and says a third guy’s writing is unreadable.
In an ongoing effort to improve this weekly feature, I’m making another tweak. It has been brought to my attention that, sometimes, in discussing articles I neglect to explain what they’re about. That means my observations may fall on deaf ears (eyes?) for SCP’ers who haven’t read the article themselves. So, starting this week, I’ll do a better job of summarizing each piece before I dissect it.
We start this week with Dan Patrick’s “Just My Type” column, which features an interview with 49er’s return man Kyle Williams, whose two fumbles helped the Giants win the NFC. (That last sentence had a lot of commas.) I come away very impressed by this guy. He’s a huge goat, but he stands up and takes the criticism. He blames himself. He’s honest about the death threats he received. And he says its an experience to grow from. It’s a very mature attitude from a young guy. There’s no doubt some of that comes from the fact that his father is the GM of the White Sox who has gone head to head with both Frank Thomas and Ozzie Guillen during his time on the south side.
Here We Go Again by Jim Trotter
Here’s your basic game preview article. Trotter talks to scouts, throws out stats and tries to let readers know what to expect come Sunday. And it’s INCREDIBLY BORING. Necessary? Probably. A sports magazine has to do an X’s and O’s preview of the biggest game of the year. But, it’s a bit like eating your vegetables. Just because you have to read it, it doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy doing so.
17-14 Hindsight by Tim Layden
Tim Layden writes what’s essentially a game summary of Super Bowl 42, when the Giants beat the Pats to end New England’s perfect season. Remember earlier when I said two weeks is a long time? Sports Illustrated must have run out of ideas too. I do have a couple of observations, though. First of all, I’m shocked by how many players in that game are now members of the media. Antonio Pearce, Michael Strahan, Rodney Harrison, Heath Evans and Tedy Bruschi, just to name a few. Secondly, Heath Evans is a bit of a dick:
We wanted to run the ball,” says Heath Evans, the Pats fullback who retired in 2011 and now works for the NFL Network. “I called my father the week of the game and said, ‘I’m going to get 40 snaps, because we’re going to run it down their throats. We didn’t do that because one guy couldn’t do his job.” Evans would not name the one guy. (Pierce has a guess: “Mankins. Tuck was tough on him.”)
Don’t call your former teammates out.
Kraftwork by Peter King
For the second week in a row, SI writes about Pats owner Robert Kraft. This time, Peter King lists the 3 decisions Kraft has made in his life which helped turn the Pats into the NFL’s latest dynasty. They are 1) buying the team, 2) hiring Bill Belichick and 3) cutting Drew Bledsoe and turning the team over to Tom Brady. Kraft, once again, comes off as a great person. Belichick, as always, comes off as a cunt. Unfortunately, the latter brings the former down with him. Kraft comes off as an honest and decent businessman who is trying to save football for his hometown up until the point when Belichick shows up, after screwing Leon Hess over. Peter King relegates spygate to a footnote in this article. He talks about it like a minor speed bump that cost the Pats a first round pick they didn’t need anyway. This so-called top notch franchise cheated. Don’t poo-poo that. It’s a big deal.
The First Super Bowl by Richard Hoffer
This is a piece about a game in 1906 between two fledgling professional teams in Ohio. Earlier this week, SI’s Richard Deitsch tweeted a link to Richard Hoffer’s obituary of Angelo Dundee by saying a lot of the magazine’s old guard consider Hoffer to be the most naturally gifted writer to ever work at SI. It made me question my decision to skip right over this article. Not enough to actually go back and actually read it though.
Game, Set, Matchless by L. Jon Wertheim
Here’s Wertheim’s Australian Open wrap up. The Djokavic/Nadal match was played in the middle of the night, so I didn’t see it. From all indications, it was amazing. In fact, it must have done something to Wertheim’s head because this article is so riddled with cliches, it’s almost unreadable.
Under Siege by Thomas Lake and Melissa Segura
This article is a discussion of the November kidnapping of Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who was on my fantasy baseball team last year. I expected, and was actually very interested in, a simple blow by blow of what happened before, during and after the abduction. What I got, though, was a discussion of the shades of grey that surround “the truth” about what happened. I was pleasantly surprised.
Here’s the thing I remember most about the Ramos story. It happened the same weekend that the Penn State scandal broke. At the time, I wondered whether or not the kidnapping would have gotten more play if there wasn’t another major sports as news story in the cycle at the same time. I think that’s probably the case.
Point After by Phil Taylor
As loyal readers know, the intersection of sports and politics is a big topic of discussion on our site. Phil Taylor begs politicians to stop faking sports fandom. It’s a fair request. But, I’ve always been more concerned with politicians who don’t fake it. Especially guys who hold hearings about college football because they think their hometown teams were screwed out of championships.
I read this week that Selena Roberts has left SI. I had forgotten she was with the magazine. I don’t remember the last time she wrote anything that appeared in it.