Keep that weak chin up, Eli. You might have lost the season opener to Romo & Co., but you’re still elite. I do, however, feel obliged to point out that being called “elite” has absolutely, positively zero actual value. It’s just an adjective media types started using when they noticed the first three letters of the word included “E-L-I.”
Somehow, the “elite” has become the industry standard for describing good quarterbacks … but no more. I can’t take it. It’s a virus that’s already made me sick just 60 minutes into the season. There’s a thesaurus full of alternatives. What’d be wrong with using aristocratic, choice, crack, elect, exclusive, gilt-edged, greatest, noble, out of sight, out of this world, pick, selected, super, tip-top, top, top drawer, top-notch, topflight, upper-class, or world-class?
I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon at such an exciting time on the sports calendar -– trust me, I’m over the moon about football being back and the baseball playoffs drawing nigh -– but there are a lot of things I don’t need to ever hear again: the obvious comments passed off as insight, the bogus clichés, the empty rhetoric and just-plain-lame wisecracks.
Yes, it’s interesting future Hall of Famer Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth round … but after hearing it 2.5 million times, I can confidently speak on the world’s behalf: We know!
In other words, it’s high time I update my ever-growing, semi-annual list of “Things I Never Need To Hear Again.”
Since I’m already talking quarterbacks, let’s start with the NFL rookies.
» I don’t need to hear that Ryan Tannehill played wide receiver in college.
» That Brandon Weeden played baseball.
» That Russell Wilson isn’t six feet tall.
» I don’t need to hear that Andrew Luck already looks like a five-year vet. And I definitely won’t be able to stomach headlines after Colts games declaring the team was either “Luck-y” or “Unluck-y.”
» Same rule applies after an NFL game in Tennessee: no more with the “Titanic Win (or Loss)” stuff.
» I don’t need to hear Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard.
» I don’t need to hear that Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham played basketball in college.
» Or that Jared Allen hunts.
» I don’t need to hear that the only statistic that matters is the final score. If that’s true, then please stop showing all those other statistics.
» I don’t want to hear analysts suggest that a soft team needs to “come out and punch someone in the mouth.” If a player took that advice, he’d be given a 15-yard penalty and fined by the league. Besides, it’s just not very nice.
» It’s also quite rude to refer to a featured running back as bell cow. Matter of fact, it’s probably best to avoid comparing human beings to any kind of farm animal.
» We have to choose if teams lose games because A. They don’t know how to win yet, or B. They have a target on their backs. By definition, only one can be true, right?
» No more calling someone a matchup nightmare. Isn’t every good player a matchup nightmare?
» No more saying a player is so competitive, he even wants to win at tiddlywinks. What is tiddlywinks, and has anyone on the face of the earth played it in the last 150 years? Let’s go with “Madden” football ’til otherwise notified.
» And more saying an NBA prospect can score the basketball. We’re sports fans. If you tell us a basketball player can score, we’ll assume you’re talking about the basketball.
» And when we’re watching golf, you don’t need to tell us that a good shot is a good golf shot. That is, unless you’re talking about John Daly at the 19th hole.
» I don’t need to hear that a team would have the top seed in the playoffs if the season ended today. Unless you have some inside information about a league’s secret plans to call off the rest of the season, the point is moot.
» And no more Gatorade baths for coaches. It’s not original, it’s not funny, and one of these days a high-strung septuagenarian coach is gonna drop dead from shock.
» Sorry, The Wave’s gone, too. If you want to persist with things that were cool in the 1980s, put on your parachute pants and pop a Eurythmics tape in your boom box.
» I don’t ever need to hear again that Bob Knight once threw a chair on the floor.
» I don’t ever need to hear that Babe Ruth enjoyed drinking and womanizing.
» I don’t need to hear that a particular football team is very physical. It’s a sport that revolves around 300-pound men intentionally running into each other. Every team is physical.
» I don’t need to hear that fans’ towns with industrial roots have a deep appreciation for blue-collar football. Sure, it’s true, but what fans don’t like seeing their team push the other team around? Are you suggesting people in San Diego or Miami can’t stomach “smashmouth football”? And the opposite notion is just as silly. I’m fairly certain people in Detroit aren’t opposed to Stafford & Megatron’s pass-happy (“white-collar”?) brand of football as long it continues to result in their team winning.
» I don’t need to hear Bill Belichick is a defensive genius. Not only have we heard it too many times, but his inability to exhibit that so-called genius over the past eight or so years -– especially last year — tells us it’s not true.
» Sorry, College Football Player Who Just Scored A Touchdown — when you get to the sideline, no more looking into the camera and extending your index finger to claim your team is No. 1 unless your team actually is No. 1. And by the way, would it kill you to say “hi” to dad once in a while?
» Before a playoff game, no more saying, “This one’s gonna come down to who wants it more.” Since the two teams have already gone through the trouble of getting to said game, I’m guessing they’d both really like to win it.
» And spare me the line about the players on the losing end of a playoff game having nothing to hang their heads about. Yes … yes, they do! After a year’s worth of personal workouts, preseason games, training camp and a long regular season, they’ve made it all the way to the playoffs and lost. If they’re not devastated, they’re robots.
» I don’t need to hear NFL analysts say “National Football League” 37 times in a two-minute segment. “N-F-L” will suffice. Or are they just doing that to fill time because they have nothing better to say? Hmmm.
» I don’t need to hear that small-market teams in baseball can’t win. Great point, except for the fact the Minnesota Twins, Oakland A’s, Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers have all been in the playoffs in the past 15 seasons.
» Save your breath about how NASCAR is just a bunch of guys turning left for 500 miles. That joke was already overused back when the only driver anyone had ever heard of was Richard Petty.
» And speaking of NASCAR drivers, when you’re in Victory Lane, please stop saying, “the car was running great today.” Yeah, the fact that you just won gave me a pretty good idea that your car is superior to my ’91 Geo Prism.
» No more conversations about whether Team A won the game or Team B lost the game. I’m positive the correct answer is C: All of the above.
A Cowboys fan holds up one of those super-clever “D-Fence” signs. (Sharon Ellman/Associated Press)
» Staying with the alphabet, no more “D-Fence,” either. (You know — the cardboard “D” and fence facsimile that shows up in the stands at every football game?) Trust me, Grown Man Who Thought A Good Use of the Limited Time You Have on This Planet Would Be Making This at Home Before Heading Out to Show It Off to 75,000 Strangers: I’m doing this for your own good.
» And can we stop with the nonsense about a team taking on the personality of its coach? I don’t recall Steve Garvey, Fernando Valenzuela or any other player for Tommy Lasorda eating giant bowls of spaghetti and telling stories about Frank Sinatra.
» I don’t want to hear a coach or quarterback say the offense would’ve been great “if we hadn’t turned the ball over.” That’s like a surgeon saying an appendectomy went well except for the part when the patient died.
» I don’t need to hear a losing coach in a postgame news conference say, “I won’t make excuses,” then proceed to make excuses for the next 10 minutes.
» I don’t need to hear from a team with a 3-0 series lead that the toughest game is the elimination game. You’ve pounded your opponent into submission, proved your superiority and broken their will*. Yep, they’ve got you right where they want you. (* Exceptions that prove the rule: 2004 New York Yankees; 2010 Philadelphia Flyers)
» By the way, that team facing elimination if it loses is the only team playing a must-win game. Stop referring to any other scenario as “must-win.”
» No more news conferences featuring prepared statements awkwardly read by athletes who feel legally obligated to apologize. All I’ve learned from the experience is that your publicist has zero ability to write in your voice.
» I don’t need to hear that Ben Roethlisberger (a guy who’s not unfamiliar with scripted press conferences) has a linebacker’s mentality. I haven’t seen him make a tackle since the 2005 playoffs.
» I don’t need to hear Tom Coughlin is the most underrated coach in the NFL. When you sing his praises during every game his team plays, by definition he’s no longer unsung.
» I don’t like hearing a fiery player like Derek Jeter wills his team to victory. If that’s the case, then what gives, Jeter? Why haven’t you willed the Yankees to 12 straight undefeated seasons? Forget about Randy Moss taking plays off; sounds like Jeter’s taking entire games off.
» No more saying a guy “lacks natural ability but does all the little things right.” Please just say what you’re implying: he’s white.
» And no more saying that Anthony Davis runs the floor like a point guard. No, he doesn’t.
» I don’t need to hear a potentially serious injury really puts things into perspective. Who lacked that perspective before the game? I’m guessing all of the players on both teams would take a loss if it meant no one would lose the ability to walk.
» I don’t need to hear that the parents of NHLers Eric, Jordan and Marc Staal must have a tough time figuring out whom to root for when two of their sons’ teams play. I’m sure the six-figure loans they can get from each of their sons help ease the emotional torment.
» I also don’t need to hear that every father would love to have his daughter marry Tim Tebow. Yes, except for Jewish fathers, Muslim fathers, and atheistic fathers.
» I don’t need to hear that L.A. sports fans are too busy surfing to care about their teams. I’ve lived in Southern California for a decade now, and the closest I’ve gotten to a surfboard was watching “Point Break.” (So what if I’ve seen it 27 times? It doesn’t invalidate my point.)
» Going forward, stop referring to this season as being a freshman or rookie’s “coming-out party.” That no longer means what I think you think it means, Mr. Color Analyst in Your 60s.
» I don’t need to hear that when an over-the-hill athlete has some success (see: 50-year-old minor-league pitcher Roger Clemens), it allows every spectator in that athlete’s age range to bask in the reflected glory. By that logic, I should start feeling good about myself when any player in his 30s has a good game. I don’t. Matter of fact, when someone my age does something truly remarkable, it reminds me of my own failures.
» I don’t need to hear that “no one outside this locker room believed in us.” About half the gamblers in Vegas believed in you. And what about the fans who paid to come down and cheer you on? Are they just masochists who expected you to break their hearts?
» I could go on, but let’s cut it off here. Someone might be thinking of referring to Tony Romo as “elite” … and I simply won’t stand for it another second.