Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Five Athletes Who Would Make Fantastic Pro Wrestling Characters

This summer, I came out of the closet. I began to admit publicly what only a few of my closest friends knew.

It took a lot of courage coming out. It's not something that every 32-year-old man wants to disclose, especially when he has a burgeoning career and wants to attract a likewise partner.

However, after some prodding from an influential website and some mentoring from fantastic role models, I feel liberated enough to proclaim this truth.

I watch Raw on Monday nights.

I loved pro wrestling when I was a kid, but swore it off when I got to high school, mainly because I wanted to attract girls, and knowing a ton about Bret "The Hitman" Hart and "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels wasn't helping my cause.

I denied it again in college when WWF/E was at its apex glory with The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H were all in their absolute primes. I wanted to be above the fray. Frat guys liked that stuff, and they also liked Matchbox 20 too. That wasn't my scene so i stayed away, and missed the party.

I lived without cable for many years after college so up until about two years ago, I didn't even know wrestling was still on TV. One night after work about a year-and-a-half ago, I sat down to dinner one Monday night during the summer and turned on my Astros. They were in the midst of getting crushed by the Pirates, of all teams, and I quickly grew disgusted. I started impatiently flipping channels just looking to see if there were any other ballgames on in the middle of summer when there's not much else in the world of sports to see.

No ballgames on. I kept clicking.

"Was that The Undertaker?" I asked rhetorically to my apartment walls. "He's still wrestling?"

Indeed he was, and here I was just like I was 11 years old all over again. I was watching the Undertaker walk across the top rope for the Dead Man Walking elbow drop, and then set up some poor sap for the Tombstone pile driver.




The Undertaker rolled his eyes back into his skull for the victory. I felt so dirty, but I enjoyed the hell out of watching wrestling again. Certainly more than I enjoyed watching the Astros get their asses handed to them by Pittsburgh. So I kept watching the rest of the night more for nostalgic purposes than anything. I didn't want to admit to myself how much I really liked it.

So I denied it and kept it to myself. But when the Astros were suffering on a Monday night, I knew what to turn over and watch. And when Monday Night Football hit a lull or a bad game, I would flip over to see what was going on.

But I still felt pathetic. I'm in my 30s now. What is any self-respecting man really doing watching two grown men pretend to fight?

Throughout that year, though, Aaron Rodgers unveiled his touchdown celebration, The Imaginary Championship Belt.

I, along with millions of other dorks, embraced it. Here was the best quarterback in the NFL pretty much admitting that he was in on the joke too.

So between Aaron Rodgers' influence, and ESPN's Bill Simmons' new website, Grantland, which devotes a weekly column to pro wrestling, it seemed OK to admit that I loved this when I was a kid, and frankly, I still love it now. It's silly, it's fun and they're more enjoyable to watch than the Astros anyway.

But the more I watched Raw, the more it started to color the way I watch other sports. I started thinking of certain guys as heels (bad guys) and faces (good guys), and who did a better job than others at portraying those characters.

So to that end, here are the five athletes that I've seen who would translate best to the squared circle.

5. Brett Favre

What he would be: Heel

Who he resembles: Ric Flair

In many ways, Brett Favre is Ric Flair. Both are good ol' Southern boys who stuck around for entirely too long. Both appear to have had "performance enhancements" throughout their careers. Flair has admitted to steroid use; Favre had a well-documented painkiller addiction. In addition, although it was never mentioned in the media, Favre did have a very peculiar spike in numbers between 2005-2010 when he was in his late 30s. At an age where most athletes should decline in production, Favre threw 51% fewer interceptions in 2007 than he did in 2005, and his quarterback rating jumped from a 70.9 in 2005 to a 107.2 in 2009.

Favre was actually playing the position better at 40 than he was at 35. Perhaps that's because just like every great heel, he might have been using a foreign object to beat his opponent while the referee's back was turned.

Favre and Flair both also seemed to be quite pleased with showing off their crowned jewels. In 2010, Favre's penis was famously captured on his cell phone pictures to Jets reporter Jenn Sterger. In May 2002, Flair was caught "spinning" his willie on a European flight, and the WWE was sued as a result.

But both are undisputed legends of their craft, and any discussion of the greatest of all-time in their respective sports will always include Brett Favre and Ric Flair, no matter how pathetic they may seem.


4. Shaquille O'Neal

What he would be
: Face
Who he resembles: Andre The Giant

Even when Andre The Giant was a heel, and was squaring off against Hulk Hogan in Wrestlemania III, everybody loved him anyway. By all accounts, he was one of the funniest and best guys to be around in the business, and parlayed his good nature into a memorable film role as Fezzik, the lovable ogre, in The Princess Bride.

Shaq never made a movie as good or as memorable as The Princess Bride. Hell, Andre might have been a better thespian as well because frankly, Shaq was a terrible actor (scroll to about 2:35).

But Shaq, much like Andre, was so revered by those in the sports and entertainment community, that even when he was playing the heel role and leaving the Lakers to win a title in Miami, no one could stay mad at him. He was just too good of a guy, and everyone had a great time around him.

Both were huge men with larger than life personalities. The major difference between the two, though? One broke backboards in his prime. The other broke drinking records.

3. Danica Patrick

What she would be
: Heel
Who she resembles: Chyna

Neither one are particularly attractive, although Danica actually looks like a woman compared to Chyna. Chyna looks like something from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, to be honest.

However, both succeeded in a man's world to a certain extent. Danica is considered a mainstream driver in NASCAR. Although she's nowhere near on par with Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch in terms of victories or overall success, she is perhaps the most well-marketed NASCAR driver, especially as a result of her commercials.

Chyna's run coincided with the WWE/F's golden age in the late 1990s-early 2000s, and just like Danica Patrick, she could hang with the big boys. She won the Intercontinental Title twice, was actually the #1 contender for the title in 1999. That same year, she won the Royal Rumble.

One could rather easily argue that Chyna, in her brief four-year run with WWE was way more successful than Danica Patrick has been in her whole career in Indy Car/NASCAR. But this is less about success and more about resemblance, and Danica stands out like Chyna for her willingness to compete in a male-dominated field, and succeed to a respectable degree.

Danica, however, gets the heel tag here for her constant provocation of fights, snapping towels at people, running over her pit crew, and generally acting like a pain in the ass.

However, there's no question as to who I would rather see in a sex tape. (Hint: Not Chyna)

2. LeBron James

What he would be: Heel
Who he resembles: Chris Jericho

It would be asinine to suggest that either LBJ or Y2J's careers have been failures. Far from it, in fact. LeBron has made two NBA Finals appearances, won the MVP twice and won a scoring title. Jericho won the Intercontinental title a record nine times, held the World Heavyweight belt three times and became the first-ever undisputed championship in WWE/F history.

LeBron James is one of the most visible athletes in the world. His Nike marketing campaign has made him one of the world's most recognized athletes. Chris Jericho is one of the most visible wrestlers in the world. Between emceeing the game show Downfall on ABC, hosting VH1's 100 Most Shocking Music Moments, and his stint on Dancing With The Stars, Chris Jericho is one of the world's most recognized wrestlers.

But absolute greatness has eluded the both of them. Until LeBron James wins an NBA title, he will always live in the shadows of Kobe Bryant and his teammate Dwyane Wade. Everyone is free to acknowledge his God-given talents but even with the marketing campaigns and all the promise that he had coming into the NBA, LeBron James hasn't quite delivered despite his impressive resume.

Much like LeBron James' craves acceptance in the post-basketball arena, for Chris Jericho, it won't matter how well he does on Dancing With The Stars. He'll never be as big as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Jericho is hosting VH1 specials and appearing on reality television shows. The Rock is appearing in blockbuster films, and his last major hit, Fast Five, grossed $209,805,005 as of August 2011.

Both entered their respective leagues, lauded as the good guys. Jericho entered the WWF/E in 1999 and was supposed to content for the title the same way The Rock did.

LeBron James entered the NBA in 2003, and promised to bring a championship home to his home state of Ohio.

Both turned their back on the fans and embraced the heel role. But both have never really lived up to their potential. And that's what makes them all the more interesting.

1. Aaron Rodgers

What he would be: Face
Who he resembles: The Rock

We end the way we began. Aaron Rodgers first stepped up in 2008 and beat the evil Brett Favre for the Green Bay starting job in a Loser Leaves Town match. Then this year, his Packers defeated the Michael Vick-led Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs en route to Super Bowl XLV where he crushed the villainous two-time champion Ben "The Rapistberger" Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XLV. After that victory, he didn't just become a Super Bowl champion. By virtue of defeating Brett Favre, the Canine Hannibal Lecter and Rapistberger, he became the People's Champion as well.

Similar to The Rock, everyone seems to love Aaron Rodgers. Year after year, Rodgers plays not just for the Green Bay Packers, but he also plays for the People on Team Bring It.

Judging by his fantasy numbers and Packers victories, it's safe to say that he certainly does Bring It.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rout 55: A Recap of the Weekend That Wasn't To Be

I honestly thought we could win this game.

I thought the revamped Bryan Harsin offense would keep OU off-balance enough to counter their experience. I thought our new Boise State offense based on sleight of hand and misdirection would close the gap on OU's team speed advantage. I thought if we could just keep the game close in the first half, Mack Brown and the staff would make all the necessary second half adjustments that would surprise the Sooners.

I thought for sure I'd meet up with my friends Drop Dead and Ham smoking victory cigars on Saturday afternoon. Instead, I fled one of my least-favorite American cities with my eyes bleeding from three quarters of embarrassment.

But that's not going to stop me from writing about an ill-fated trip to Dallas. We'll start from Friday afternoon...

--Before heading on the road, I stop into Schlotsky's for lunch, partially because I like them, but really because it's an Austin-based chain. We need all the good karma we can get. I'm chowing on my turkey sandwich when Ex-Boss spots me. "Hey, I didn't know they let you out for lunch!" Ex-Boss exclaims. "No work for me today," I tell him. "Heading to Dallas after I finish this." We laugh and he tells me to be careful. No worries.

Fortunately, I like Ex-Boss so I count this as a positive sign.

--Driving up to Dallas I discover Reason # 3,342 why satellite radio is superior to corporate terrestrial radio: Even the classic rock stations will play something that you haven't heard a bazillion times before. I've heard so many songs recently that I know corporate radio would never have the balls to play. I would know too because I worked in corporate radio for about seven years. For example, Manfred Mann's cover of Bruce Springsteen's "For You" comes on when I'm driving through Troy, TX.

I'm not a huge Springsteen guy, but man, this version cranks. It sounds like Springsteen mashed up with Baba O'Reilly. And the hell of it this: I've never heard corporate radio play either version. But by all means Clear Channel and the ilk, keep playing "Blinded By The Light" and "Born To Run" for the seven billionth time. No one is sick and tired of hearing the same songs over and over again. Maybe that's why you're hemorrhaging cash and going bankrupt. Terrible business deals, horrible and obnoxious advertisements, and the same damn songs over and over again. Congratulations, Clear Channel. I'll gladly pay $12 per month not hear your crap.

--Listening to ESPN Radio in Hillsboro. The general consensus of all my former colleagues: OU is going to win in a rout. This makes me angry.

"What the hell?" I yell out to no one in particular. "We've gotten better every week. The offense is better than everyone thinks, the defense is quicker than everyone thinks, and again if we can just keep it, this could be good." Scott Van Pelt isn't listening to my rhetorical argument.

No one else is either. I'm getting testy.

--I get to Dallas and flip back over to the classic hard rock station. They're playing "Achilles Last Stand" by Led Zeppelin. Yet again, another phenomenal reason why satellite radio is awesome and corporate radio blows.

Clocking in at almost ten-and-a-half minutes, it's Led Zeppelin's third longest song. I can almost understand Clear Channel's logic in not playing it. However, they would do just as well to not play two five minutes songs and just let this one rock out.

It also occurs to me while I'm sitting in traffic that Iron Maiden pretty much owe their entire career to Led Zeppelin, specifically "Achilles Last Stand." Steve Harris has spent the last 25 years ripping off John Paul Jones' galloping bass lick that defines Iron Maiden's sound.

(NSFW language)

Bruce Dickinson should owe Led Zeppelin royalties and a gold-plated diaper for ripping off them so badly.

--I'm close to the hotel in Irving, and I'm not sure what my GPS hates more: Dallas or me. It seems that the Metroplex is under more construction than Joan Rivers' face. Consequently, I miss my exit that doesn't actually exist, start driving around on roads my GPS doesn't recognize, end up on a feeder road and swing back around to my hotel in what can only be described as a U-shaped Z. Just a series of bizarre twists on roads that I think were born last week.

--I check into the Park Inn by Radisson. Not a bad joint but it's not like I'm not there for long. I head out for some dinner. First stop: Humperdink's.

--I'm not in Dallas very often. Mainly because I hate Dallas (more on that later). But whenever I'm in Dallas I always make it a point to stop into Humperdink's, a brewpub chain exclusive to the Metroplex. Thankfully, there's one right down the street from where I'm staying.

I pull into the Humperdink's on the Northwest Highway and spot an old-school Chevy truck painted crimson with the cream OU insignia painted on the doors at the entrance.

That's not good.

I find a parking spot next to a Honda Accord with an OU window sticker.

That's not any better.

I walk up the long entrance ramp and there's about 15 OU fans huddled around the patio area. One of the OU fans, a skinny man with a quasi-porn mustache says to me, "You better be careful in there." I'm wearing a brand-new burnt orange polo and khakis.

"Don't worry," I say with a smile. "Someone will have my back."

I saunter into the bar area. There's absolutely no one wearing burnt orange. The entire bar area is one gigantic Soonerpalooza. I walk towards the back of the restaurant. The sports radio station from OKC is broadcasting from the back of the bar and told all of their listeners to meet there.

Not one soul has my back at Humperdink's. Every single person from here to Hobart is a carnie-lookin' freak clad in crimson and cream. At this point, I'm Yankee Doodle Dandy waiving the Stars and Stripes in Pyongyang.

This is not only bad, this is potentially dangerous. I make eye contact with no one because one wrong step towards a booze-soaked Sooner and I could end up like this.

I talk to the hostess, and ask her which Humperdink's is the closest from where I am now. She doesn't know. Of course she doesn't. She asks the girl next to her. She doesn't know either. Of course they don't know.

Eventually, after much discussion back and forth between two other people who live in Dallas but don't know the city's geography, everyone agrees that the one on Greenville is the closest. Fair enough. I hightail it out of there, and porn 'stache Sooner fan spots me walking out.

"Told you. You walked into the wrong bar, man," he said.

"Live and learn. That's all you can do," I tell him.

Well, that and not get your balls ripped out in enemy territory.

--The GPS tells me to keep going down the NW Highway for a few miles. Cruising this stretch, it reminds me why I can't stand Dallas. To be fair, it's nice. Nice and soul-crushingly sterile. Every vehicle next to me is an SUV of some sort. Escalades, Hummers, Land Rovers, Range Rovers, Roll Over Rovers. It's almost as if Dallas had once heard of the phrase "green," but then said "You know, it ain't easy bein' green" and just quit trying.

Everything along the NW Highway in Dallas is a strip mall painted an off and un-offending white filled with generic, unassuming stores and unassuming fast food chains. All the streets' meridians are well-manicured and lush grass spills out from the embankments separating the north from the southbound lanes.

Meanwhile, Texas has been in a record-setting drought for much of 2011.

But the thing that perhaps pisses me off about Dallas more than anything was seeing the gated communities all along the road. To me, a gated housing community doesn't signify safety. At least not here it doesn't. It signifies exclusivity, and it signals a desire to shield themselves from the outside world, and anything that might be out of the ordinary.

So in Dallas, you drive your safe SUV, you shop at safe, unassuming stores and live in a safe, gated community. For many people in Dallas their world is a safe, unassuming bubble. It's a Stepford Wife's dream come true.

But God help them if that safe, unassuming bubble pops. And we all know one thing. This is life. It will pop. It always does.

--My friend Brad calls me while I'm navigating my way to Humperdink's. He wants to know my thoughts on Hank Williams Jr. being shown the door on MNF after dropping a Hitler reference on Fox News recently. I tell him it's about 20 years too late, but that's because I think that song is ridiculous and should have been put out of its misery a long time ago.

I tell him I have to go, but not before he advises me to get to the watch party tomorrow two hours ahead of time. Texas-OU kicks off at 11 AM. So get there at 9 AM, and start drinking at when? 9:30?

--The Humperdink's on Greenville is kinda dark, and I don't mean dark in a gritty, cool sorta way. This is the kinda dark where it makes you wonder if they forgot to pay the light bill. All the neon beer lights obscure the fact that there's hardly any other light in the joint. Which, in turn, obscures the fact that it looks like Humperdink's hasn't cleaned the carpet since the Clinton administration. So far, the Humperdink's on the NW Highway trumps the one on Greenville, if you don't count the fact that three quarters of the state of Oklahoma was at the NW Highway location. That said, though, I sit down anyway and order their Oktoberfest beer. Oktoberfest beer is quite possibly my favorite style of beer. Note to all brewers: If you make Oktoberfest-style beer year-round, I will drink it year-round. That's a promise. And yes, their Oktoberfest was a winner, and that's a good think because their menu was dominated by light beer, a raspberry blonde and a Bud Light Lime knock-off.

Seriously. Even when Dallas gives me stuff I like such as brewpubs, they manage to screw it up with a dingy, uninviting feel and a beer menu that looks like something from a Sex and the City watch party.

I'm sipping on my beer while I shoot Drop Dead a text to find out where he's at. We're supposed to meet tonight at a bar called Lee Harvey's. He's at Manny's, a Tex-Mex joint in Uptown Dallas. I let him know that I'm drinking an Oktoberfest beer, watching Game 5 of the Milwaukee-Arizona series and I just ordered a burger. He probably won't be there until about 9 PM or so.

It's around 7 PM so there's time to kill, and fortunately a damn good ballgame is on too. Brewers closer John Axford comes into the game. I'm an Astros fan so suffice to say, I checked out on baseball probably around mid-May. I have no idea who this guy is, but Axford has phenomenal facial hair.

That picture doesn't even do him justice. Sure he looks like Snidely Whiplash in that picture, but when I saw him pitch on Friday night, he had a fu manchu like Hulk Hogan that had handlebars protruding from the ends of the fu manchu itself. He looks like he belongs in an Old West Wanted Dead or Alive poster. And since this was the bottom of the ninth in Milwaukee and he just gave up a run to tie the game, Brewers fans might put him on that poster yet.

The burger comes out along with onion rings. The bun is actually a really big soft pretzel. Given that the Tray family has a history of heart issues, I'm pretty sure my ticker hates everything I just ordered. It'll get over it.

I finish my burger and rings and order another beer. The Brewers come back in the bottom of the 10th to win. If the Brewers win the World Series, we may be entering into a golden age of facial hair for closers. Last year, it was Brian Wilson.

This year it might be a cross between Wyatt Earp and John Wilkes Booth who seals the deal in October. If that happens, you can forget all the Moneyball crap and the new-fangled statistics when it comes to searching for a reliable closer. It looks like all you need is a fastball, a change-up and memorable facial hair.

And if you think I'm kidding, remember these guys? All of them are Hall of Famers.

--After dinner, I'm still waiting for Drop Dead to give me the signal and head to Lee Harvey's. I stop at a Starbucks on Greenville just to kill a little time and to order up my medium coffee with a shot of vanilla and a shot of raspberry. Across the street, I see Dallas Cigars. I consider stopping in for victory stogies, but I figure that's premature.

While sipping on coffee, I get a text from Karl Brown, and an old mate from my college fraternity, and a loyal Sports Karma reader. He's heading to Lee Harvey's now. Drop Dead will meet me there, not the other way around.

--Lee Harvey's is an old-style honky tonk crossed with an Austin patio bar stuck right in the middle of a rough part of town. And by rough, what I mean is the least-manicured part of Dallas.

Lee Harvey's is a no-bullshit, brown liquor bar with a bunch of picnic tables spread across a gravely expanse. I don't think there was even an "inside," per say, just a covered bar with a couple of shithouses to the right and a stage to the left. I head up to the bar, and Drop Dead stops me before I can get a Shiner. He just got there and was going to text me, he says. No worries, I say, just get me a beer. Drop Dead cheerfully obliges and also introduces me to a bunch of other dudes from Austin.

These guys are drunk. Offhand, they look like they've been drinkin' since last Tuesday. All I know is that these bastards are going to be hurtin' come 11 AM Saturday morning.

While Drop Dead is getting Shiners, Karl and his brother Chris spot me. I like these guys. Not only are they UT grads originally from Houston, they're loyal Sports Karma readers too. Which is cool because there's only about six of them in the world.

Drop Dead returns with the beer, and so it's Drop Dead, Karl and Chris Brown plus their younger brother, Stephen, who's a Sam Houston Bearkat and has no dog in this fight. We give him good-natured crap about this until a double-decker bus pulls up in front of Lee Harvey's.

Out comes Bevo (the furry, not the actual bovine mascot). Out come the cheerleaders. Out come the ladies on the pom squad. The band that was trying to set up on stage make a quick exit so the cheerleaders and pom squad can lead us all in singing "The Eyes of Texas," and...









Dudes are drunkenly eyeballing the cheerleaders. The ladies want to get their picture taken with Bevo ("Bevo's ADORABLE!" I think I heard at one point during the scramble to snap pictures with the mascot.). I'm standing there, Shiner in hand, simply proud as hell to be a part of this and to see generations of Longhorns come together in one spot to be a part of a grand tradition. I know OU fans probably feel the same when they gather at Humperdink's, and maybe it's the beer talking too, but it's truly wonderful to see that no matter what we studied or what we did in our careers, we still have a bond from one generation to the next that needs to be passed on.

After about 20 minutes of raucous singing and yelling, the cheerleaders and Bevo pack it up, and head to another bar full of Longhorns. Our quintet spends some time shooting the shit about our careers, our lives, where we're going, a little bit about the Astros' demise, but mostly about OU and how much they suck.

After an hour or so, Chris and Karl announce that they need to bolt. Somebody's cousin goes to OU and they promised they would meet up on the West End with her. Drop Dead and I aren't interested in heading towards enemy territory especially if OU Fan is belligerent and liquored up.

They take off, and that leaves us with a bunch of drunken yahoos, some semi-cute blonde in a Lewinsky blue dress, and a country band that somehow nails a improbable rockabilly melody of "Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand, "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Perhaps the strangest mishmash of styles that worked since the Grey Album.

Drop Dead and I both lay off the Shiners and chill out to the band, but we quickly stop paying attention to the music mainly because we spot this kid running from the picnic tables to the bar.

OK, maybe not THAT kid specifically, but definitely a first cousin. I don't know why this kid was running back and forth from the picnic tables to the bar and back, but we immediately thought of three things:

1. Why in the hell are there kids in a bar, specifically on OU weekend?

2. Given how heavy this kid is, is that child abuse?


(catching our breath while watching this kid run back and forth)


Look, I know making fun of kids isn't funny. I know that in all seriousness, this poor kid's health is probably suffering greatly. I also know what it's like to be overweight. I lost 40 pounds about three or four years ago so I'm actually pretty sympathetic to the plight of those trying to lose weight.

All of that said, all of this was even funnier when a fat female midget walked into the bar! Drop Dead and I are visibly cackling and everyone knows why we're acting like a bunch of vicious hyenas. Fat Midget steps up on a couple of phone books and an encyclopedia set to order a scotch on the rocks, probably in a short glass. Fat Kid and Fat Midget actually meet at the bar, leading us to the following conversation:

Me: "If Fat Kid and Fat Midget had reproduced, what would come out? Jabba the Hutt or the writhing maggot from the birth scene in The Fly?"

DD: "Shit."

Me: "You mean like, 'Shit, I don't know.'"

DD: "No. I just mean 'Shit.'"

Drop Dead and I are terrible, awful people. Not only are we likely going to Hell for making fun of the Fat Kid and Fat Midget, but rest assured, our bad karmic outburst is probably the reason why OU dropped 55 on our burnt orange backside. Only a slight regret, though, considering that we got a great story out of it.

We leave behind Lee Harvey's around 11:45 for some much needed shuteye and eye-bleach too given what we just saw at the bar.

--I wake up at 8 AM. I'm never up this early during the week, let alone on Saturdays. But it's OU weekend, and just like Christmas, it's that one day that everyone gets up early because its tradition.

I shower, grab all my stuff, check out of the hotel and head to the Knox Street Pub in midtown Dallas to meet up with the Texas Exes for their watch party. I don't have tickets, but Drop Dead and my friend Ham both do and while I'm driving, they're checking in from the Cotton Bowl tailgate. Madness, they both report. Madness.

I get to Knox Street Pub around 9:15 AM remembering Brad's "get there two hours before kickoff" rule. There's absolutely no one in there. Everyone is still hungover I'm guessing. To hell with Brad's two-hour rule. I stop in next to the local cafe for breakfast.

--Yet another reason I hate Dallas. $12 migas. Seriously, Dallas? If I'm paying $12 for migas, I'd better be shitting gold bullion wrapped in bacon afterwards. If you're paying $12 for migas, you're a fool. Plain and simple. You're a fool and your money will soon be parted because you love to stupidly overpay for needlessly expensive things. I settle for a Bacon & Egg sandwich served on Texas toast plus coffee. It's only $10 total.

They bring the sandwich out, and they serve it with a side of pesto. I try a little bit of it with the sandwich because I figure that this place knows what they're doing.

I'm wrong.

I quickly find out that pesto coupled with bacon and egg is disgusting. Pesto-flavored ice cream would be more tolerable than this. No, seriously Dallas: Fuck you. This crap is expensive and horrific. You can take your high-falootin' crap elsewhere. Leave pesto in my pasta with some grilled chicken alone and take your highway robbery with you.

--I choke down the sandwich and walk next door to Knox Street Pub an hour before kickoff. There's a little bit of a burnt orange gathering now, but still nothing compared to what Drop Dead and Ham are experiencing right now. They're near the Gameday set with Corso and Herbstreet, they text me. Complete pandemonium, I'm told.

It's 10 AM. Kick off is in one hour, and the bar is open. After my experience with pesto-covered egg, I decide that I'm in need of a malted, hoppy dessert. I order up a Rahr and Sons Amber Lager, and at the bar, I also meet the president of the Texas Exes Dallas Chapter.

She's cute and I'm drinking at 10 AM. This is positive. I think.

--Breaking News during Gameday: Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis has been pronounced dead at the age of 82.

Wait? He was ALIVE? Are we sure? Can we get a ruling on this?

--The chapter president and I get to talking, and we have strangely similar backgrounds. We were both communications majors who got the hell out of the business once we figured out the business was for suckers. Now she's in finance and I'm in tech support. Her friends roll up shortly before kickoff as I look around. It's official. The Knox Street Pub is packed with the Longhorn faithful.

I order up a 2nd Rahr and Sons. It's 11 AM and OU sucks.

--OU gets a long drive, but we keep them to a field goal. A pretty good defensive stand by only holding them to three points. Again, if we can just keep this close, we've got a shot.

--They get a second field goal. We need some points here.

--The chapter president's friend rolls up to the bar in the middle of our drive. I'm not paying much attention to her given that I already noticed the ring on her finger, but she looks despondent upon receiving her drink. I mean, this girl looks like she just received "That Call That No One Wants From the Hospital."

I look over, stop paying attention to our march down the field, and ask, "Hey, are you OK?"

No response. I ask again.

"Well...FIRST," she begins. "This cup is too small! And SECOND, the bartender didn't give me the SUGAR FREE Red Bull!"

I stare blankly at her. "You have some major first-world problems," I tell her. She doesn't find the humor in this. Clearly, this girl's originally from Dallas. I'm half-convinced she really went to school in San Marcos and is just there to humor her friend.

--We get a field goal out of our drive. 6-3. Crap. We really needed a touchdown.

--2nd quarter begins with OU getting a touchdown. 13-3. This is bad. We need another score quickly, but our quarterbacks, Jaxon Shipley and David Ash, look more inexperienced than a nun in a porno. Another turnover. I get a third Texas Red. This beer is quickly becoming the best part of the day.

That too is bad.

--After a pick-six, OU has a 27-3 lead. My eyes look like OU's school colors: Bloodshot and white. I step outside to grab a burger, and everyone is texting me with stories of pain and misery from the Cotton Bowl. I consider leaving as Fossy Whitaker takes the kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown. 27-10 is the score now.

All I asked at the beginning was to keep it close. Hmm...

--Never mind. OU gets another fucking touchdown. 34-10 now. The pesto, egg and bacon sandwich is now the second worst thing I've experienced today.

--I make the decision that unless some miraculous happens, I need to leave at the end of the third quarter. I close out my tab at halftime.

--48-10 at the end of the third quarter. The only person sitting next to me now is an Aggie who is loving every second of this game. Of course he would. At this point, I don't even have the heart to tell him to:

A. Shut the fuck up and enjoy losing eight games a year for the next ten seasons in the SEC, you tasteless, maroon-wearing jackass.
B. Shut the fuck up because the Aggies had massive leads on both Oklahoma State and Arkansas before choking both games away in the fourth quarter two weeks in a row. We all know OU sucks, but at least they have a gag reflex, unlike the Aggies.
C. Shut the fuck up because, no seriously, what the hell are you even doing here? Is your Aggie life that pathetic that you need to show up at a bar when we're getting our butts kicked just so you can feel superior? Congratulations Aggie. You win. I guess.

--I'm walking out the door of the Knox Street Pub, but before I leave the gentleman who was working the grill stopped me.

"We're just inexperienced this year," he said. "I tell you what though. OU is in big trouble next year. They lose their senior quarterback. They lose their wide receiver. But our team? Our team is back next year. We just need a little bit more time together, that's all."

He's right. He's absolutely right. Whether in football or in celebrations, we all need a little more time together.

Despite the blowout, that's what it makes our time in Dallas so special. We're altogether from every age, every generation, all united for one weekend a year. It ain't homecoming because for some people, you can never go back home. For me, personally, I live in Austin. I'm already home. However, you can always come to Dallas united by one common bond.

Yeah, I head back to Austin on the losing end this year.

But here's the cool thing, though. I get to go back to Austin. As for the winners? They have to go back to Oklahoma.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Three Biggest Reasons Why OU Sucks

I know you really don't need incontrovertible proof of how badly OU sucks. But just in case you're new to the rivalry, Sports Karma is happy to provide the three best examples as to why no matter what time it is, OU will always and forever suck.

1. They freely admit in their nickname that they like to cheat.

In 1889, the government decided that, well, someone had to settle in Oklahoma. So at 12 PM on April 22 of that year, a Land Run was authorized by President Benjamin Harrison. A healthy number of people entered early and claimed their land before the noontime start of the Land Run. Since they were there sooner than they should have been, the cheaters were known as "Sooners."

Just to review, they actually cheated for the right to live in Oklahoma.

Sadly, the Sooners never quite grew out of this tradition of cheating. OU was placed on probation in 1988 after coach Barry Switzer lost control of the program. In a six-month span, Switzer's quarterback was caught on camera dealing cocaine. Other players were involved a shooting and a rape in the athletic dorm and Switzer's own house got robbed by one of his own players.

The Sooners were busted again this time in 2006 when OU quarterback Rhett Bomar never showed up for work at a car dealership, but was paid nonetheless. OU had to vacate wins for the 2005 season, and had to promise that they would never, ever cross the line scrimmage early again.

So much for that promise...

2. The Boz

Simply put, Brian Bosworth is a walking embarrassment.

Other than the guys in Britny Fox (and yes, they were actually guys), can you name anybody else from the 80s with worse hair?

Brian Bosworth had a mohawk mullet, for God sakes. He made Billy Ray Cyrus look cultured by way of comparison. There's a reason The Boz doesn't have hair anymore.

God took it away as punishment for inflicting the world with that mohawk mullet that he had.

The Boz took his ridiculous hair to Seattle for the 1987 season, and was promptly run over by Bo Jackson on Monday Night Football.

Bosworth retired two years later after that hit claiming a shoulder injury ended his career. Either that or he just didn't want to get humiliated by Bo anymore.

So The Boz's hair was a disgrace. His performance on the field was hideous. However, that was nothing compared to his thespian debut in the completely wretched 1991 film Stone Cold.

The Boz played an Alabama cop named Joe Huff who infiltrated a Mississippi biker gang. I'll tell you more about the movie, but frankly, you had to be huffin' in order to enjoy Stone Cold. And if you watched Stone Cold while huffin', you ain't nothin'.

Or an OU freshman. Which is sort of about the same, really.

3. January 1, 2007

To review, OU. You had Adrian Peterson, one of the best running backs in the NFL. You could have handed the ball to him 40 times and probably beaten a WAC school but 20. But no...

Instead you committed four turnovers, scrambled all the way back to take the lead against an 18-point underdog, only to bite on three trick plays to lose the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

OU, I know you're ashamed of that night again, but still there are a lot of us who can't get enough of seeing this, so what the hell? Here it is again!

So OU, just so we're clear:

1. You enjoy cheating
2. One of your most famous football players had a hairstyle only a meth addict could love.
3. You lost one of college football's most famous games in the most embarrassing way possible.

Yes, suck. Just remember that this weekend when we meet in Dallas, and if you don't behave yourself, we won't bring any Rogaine for Bosworth.

Hook 'em.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

College Football...Are You Ready To Play 15 Questions?

For Ramiro and me, Craig Kilborn was the patron saint of College. Everyone else went with Conan but at the time we didn't appreciate Conan's self-deprecating wit especially with the ladies. Kilborn seemed almost aloof, even cocky in that Han Solo kinda way, and it showed in his signature interview-ending gimmick, Five Questions.

I met Kilborn in 2004 while I was still a production assistant for ESPN Radio. He came back for one night to host SportsCenter as a part of a 25th Anniversary celebration for the network. We shook hands, had a brief conversation about show business and I even had a chance to show off my imitation of him as well.

Four days after we met, he announced he was quitting the Late Late Show. For all intensive purposes, he hasn't been heard from since.

But with college football season upon, Ramiro and I decided there was no better way to pay tribute to our greatest memories of college than to break down the college football year by liberally borrowing from our Patron Saint of College, and his greatest gimmick. This time, though, we're going use an extended remix of it.

College football...are you ready to play 15 questions? Here we go! We start with geography...

1. Which team will have the biggest impact on their new conference?

Ramiro: In Mexico we boil corn and eat it in a cup with butter and seasonings. That’s what’s gonna happen to Nebraska. Biggest impact? Boise State! No doubt about it.

Tray: Nebraska wouldn't have the biggest impact? Really? Considering that Michigan is still a train wreck from the RichRod era, Ohio State lost their starting QB and head coach, Michigan State is still regarded as an inferior to their big brother in Ann Arbor and Iowa is too busy giving their players kidney problems, I'm taking Nebraska here.

For Boise State, the move is simply a lateral one. Of course they've made lateral moves before that worked out pretty well, but still.

2. Who wins in a death-off: JoePa or Beano Cook?

Ramiro: Is this even a real question? I’m convinced JoePa has a titanium skeleton! The guy has been knocked down twice in recent memory and has been fine! Twice, Tray! Twice! The golf cart he rides in is to distract his enemies. Meanwhile, Beano Cook is gonna wonder into traffic eventually. Can he form a sentence?

Tray: Actually, he's been injured three times in the last five years, dude. Not two. We know about the most recent incident where he injured his shoulder, his hip and even suffered a hairline fracture of his goddamn pelvis. But he had his hip replaced in 2008 after trying to demonstrate an onside kick and he had his leg broken after a Wisconsin player ran into him on the sidelines in 2006. That's three times now that Death has been knockin' in the last five years and JoePa slammed the door on Death's face each time like he was a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.

I guess now that I think about it, not only would JoePa beat Beano Cook in a death-off, but at this point, he might even beat Keith Richards too. JoePa FTW.

3. Who's your surprise team for 2011 and why?

Ramiro: I’m gonna go with Oklahoma. As in, it’s gonna be a surprise how fast they fall from the Number 1 spot. Just watch.

Tray: I do believe your hatred of OU is running wild right now. Seriously, do you think they're losing to Florida State? If you do, great, but just know that's about their only shot at losing possibly all year. They get Tech and A&M at home. The only game on their schedule I could see them losing is the last game of the year in Stillwater.

On the other hand, a real surprise team to me is someone who started 0-2 last year. Virginia Tech has an incredibly favorable schedule with a non-conference slate of Appalachian State, East Carolina, Marshall and Arkansas State. Their only tough road game is at Georgia Tech. If they aren't undefeated by their November 10 tilt with the Yellow Jackets then something went massively wrong in Blacksburg.

4. Who will be the biggest disappointment for 2011?

Ramiro: The biggest diappointment will be not getting enough Erin Andrews. Who are these jokers in programming, Tray? I mean, come on!

Seriously… I’m going with the Stanford Cardinal. Without Harbaugh’s leadership, this ship is gonna sink faster than the Titanic. Andrew Luck, seriously, lots of love for staying in college and enjoying life, but deep down inside, we all know you should have bolted.

: We saw that one coming though. No way in Hell they were going to be as good as they were last year. Andrew Luck is nothing more than Jake Locker 2.0. Good luck with that, Luck.

That said, there's always one team that gets into the Top 10 every year and you just sorta look at it and say, "What the hell are they doing there?" This year's team is #9 Oklahoma State. They have Arizona, at A&M, at Texas, at Mizzou, at Tech and close the year against OU. They will lose at least three of those games guaranteed.

Mike Gundy may be a man, but he ain't getting through that gauntlet, and I don't care how old he is.

5. No seriously, have you figured out why Tray's former employer keeps rolling out Beano Cook? I mean, what purpose does this guy serve other than being nostalgic for the 1940s?

Ramiro: It’s like the reverse of the Bill Cosby “Kids Say the Darndest Things”. In this case, “Senile ol’ Beano Says the Darndest Things”…

Tray: I just want to know if he thinks Joe Theismann will win two Heismans this year. I also want to hear him count to potato during Gameday.

6. The Longhorns will do what this season?

Ramiro: I’m gonna stay optimistic and say we are totally capable of getting an 8-9 win season. I think that’s a goal. See you at the Cotton Bowl!

Tray: You have more confidence than I do. Take a read of this recent Cedric Golden piece, and tell me otherwise. Mack Brown doesn't believe in this bunch, and if he doesn't, I don't have any reason to either. I'm going lower like 6-7 wins.

And I have a bonus prediction: Case McCoy takes over the starting QB job after the OU game.

7. Gus Johnson will be the new voice of Fox College Football on Saturday nights. How many Hail Marys will he get to call? Over/under is 2.5...

Ramiro: Jeez… that’s a tough one. I think under, 2. I can’t wait to see them though. CBS, you are mildly retarded.

Tray: I may be insane, but I'm taking the over on this one, and I have two good reasons why. The first is the Law of Gus. Secondly, don't you think the Pac-12 is pretty competitive? Toss Oregon aside for a second (the best of the conference) and Washington State (the worst of the conference), and what do you get? You have seven or eight teams that all match up pretty well with each other. I see a lot of games down to the wire, and if you throw in the Gus Johnson Factor, I could totally see three Hail Marys in one season. Now you'll notice the question doesn't ask if they'll be completed. I just said how many do you think you'll see.

And yes, CBS, you are retarded. I want to see a CBS Sports executive and Beano Cook have an epic spell-off. First one to potato wins.

8. You get to go to one game this year outside of Austin and it cannot involve the Longhorns. Where are you going and why?

Ramiro: You know, my first instinct was just to choose a game I really wanted to go to purely on the game itself. But then I started thinking that there are a lot of things to consider, like tailgating, women, and overall atmosphere. I want a quality game, great tailgating, beautiful women in tiny dresses to talk to and I would like to generally “cheer” for one team. The only team I can cheer for without throwing up all over myself would be Michigan. I hate Ohio State. But the game will probably suck … I would have chosen LSU at Oregon, but that’s two Top 5 teams the first week? Although it will probably be a great game, whoever loses will be forgiven by the end of the season, negating the game itself…

I think I’m going with LSU at Alabama, Nov. 5. Probably two Top 5 teams near the end of the season with real implications, beautiful Southern women and great barbecue and beer in tailgating? I’m in heaven. Oh and I’m cheering for LSU, obviously. And I’m hoping there’s some desperate screw up with the time and the Ol’ Mad Hatter comes up with something brilliant.

Tray: You will get no argument from me, but I'm going with Oregon at Stanford on November 12. I've never been to the Bay Area before and I owe your pledge brother and my ex-roommate, Domingo Guerra, a visit to the San Francisco area. Considering the fact that he's a Stanford alum (he got his Masters there), has connections and can probably get us good seats where I can drink Anchor Steam all day, this sounds like a deal.

Couple that with a potential national championship contender in Oregon, getting a chance to watch a future NFL quarterback in Stanford's Andrew Luck play plus I'm pretty certain the food won't suck and the weather will be great...I mean, that will not suck in any way, shape or form.

Maybe Stanford pulls the upset. And if they don't, I will still have awesome views of Palo Alto and an Anchor Steam in hand. I like this idea.

9. Best looking cheerleaders (alma mater excluded)?

Ramiro: One step from Hollywood… I gotta go USC here. Classic California beauties? Absoluuuutely.

Tray: The University of Florida cheerleaders would like a word with you. Actually, they want a word with me first.

10. Best tailgating (alma mater and LSU both excluded b/c, let's face it...the Cajuns crush all in the tailgate dept)?

Ramiro: Hard to say since I have never been, but again, I’m going with deep South. If you’re taking LSU away from the table, then I will say ‘bama or Ole Miss!

Tray: The Grove in Oxford, Mississippi. I cannot argue with this. A 10-acre spread of beautiful women, astronomical calorie-counts and fields of booze, booze, plentiful booze. When Axl Rose sang about the Paradise City where the grass was green and the girls are pretty, I believe he spoke of this place.

Excellent call, my friend.

11. If you had to guess, what program would you suspect will be the next program taken down by scandal?

Ramiro: Assuming the ones already investigated are off the table, I would have to guess LSU. Mad Hatter has that crazy look in his eyes. I’m sure something will come up.

Tray: LSU is sorta-kinda off the table given the recent incidents of Jordan Jefferson. I will casually assume we're talking about the scandals closer to Ohio State and Miami than we are scandals that involve beating the crap out of people at Shady's in Baton Rouge.

And if we're keeping in line with scandals closer to Ohio State and Miami, it's just a matter of time before something big leaks about Oregon. Yeah, I know they had a thing-to-do this summer, but that's nothing. I'm talking about a massive scandal that will probably involve Phil Knight, briefcases of money, blocks of Colombian chronic and dead hookers. It'll be like Scarface with a spread offense.

12. How much will Andrew Luck regret not going to the NFL when he had the chance?

Ramiro: Hmmm, how much would you regret having a winning lottery ticket and exchanging it for another lottery ticket not yet scratched?

Tray: So in other words...Jake Locker? Matt Leinert? No disagreements here.

13. What will be the bigger mistake: The Longhorn Network or the Aggies decision to leave the Big XII as a result of the Longhorn Network?

Ramiro: Aggies, no question… By the way, will Aggies have to change their fight song? Seriously, no one has answered this for me!

Tray: Well, if they no longer play the Longhorns, then yes, they will have to change it. Honestly, leaving the Big XII conference will be the single-greatest thing that Texas A&M University has ever done. It won't be the greatest thing for Aggies Football, but that's secondary.

As everyone well knows, my hatred for the Aggies has been strong ever since the 1999 Bonfire collapse. The fact that they could continue such a tradition even unofficially and off-campus is repulsive to me. The fact that the Aggies couldn't recognize that carrying on a "tradition" that killed twelve of their own over a football game defied all laws of common sense. In fact, it defies civility in my mind.

I strongly suspect that new Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin recognizes that the school he is now running has a terrible national reputation after Bonfire, and if he doesn't act to distance the culture, he may lose generations of national and international students.

Forging a new culture and a new identity is probably one of the best things that ever happened to College Station. I wish them well as they head to the SEC and lose eight games a year. Good luck with Vanderbilt, Aggies.

14. And the Heisman goes to...?

Ramiro: LaMichael James. With his support and the Flying V formation for the Oregon Ducks, (Yes! I made my “Mighty Ducks” reference!) you can’t lose!

Tray: Trent Richardson, Alabama. I'm going with the SEC until somebody steps up and proves otherwise.

15. Who's playing for the national championship? Who's winning?

Ramiro: Oregon-Boise State! I can always dream! Oregon wins.

Tray: Just to tie it altogether, I'm going with the SEC until proven otherwise and my surprise team. Alabama-Virginia Tech for the national championship.

And yes, the Tide will roll. Big time.