Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about the First Family of Football.
DENVER — Peyton Manning has impressed me this year, no question. He's made all the throws, he's put up all the gaudy stats that make the number crunchers drool, and he's as classy as they come in professional sports.
But when push comes to shove, he has got no knockout punch.
Peyton was out of his weight class in New England this weekend. We all saw it. And while I watched his Broncos on the ropes Sunday, I couldn't help but think back to a few hours earlier, when I watched his lightweight little brother get outclassed in the biggest game of the Giants' season.
Next to the greatest field generals, these guys look more like field colonels. And you know what happens to colonels? When the heat is on, they pop.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about Andrew Wiggins and the new culture in America's gymnasiums.
CHICAGO — It's not that nobody's excited for college basketball this year. We have more talent than ever all across the country, and when things tip off in Chicago tonight, it will herald the dawn of one of college basketball's most anticipated seasons in years. From coast to coast, there's a wellspring of hope. So why do I keep seeing a wellspring of nope? Maybe it's not about what college basketball is.
Maybe it's about what college basketball should be.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about the New England Patriots and the coach who won't let them fail.
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS — You've seen the headlines splashed across the front page over the past few days. A player from the Miami Dolphins is accused of harassing one of his teammates with racial slurs, threats to defecate in his teammate's mouth, threats of bodily harm, and everything in between. Now? It's national news.
Richie's not so Incognito anymore, is he? This big ol' ox sure looks like a moron.
I'm all for a little harmless hazing because tradition's tradition — if we forget where we've been, then who knows where we're going — but this went too far.
This was cruel and unusual.
Now football's in the crosshairs again, with a thousand mainstream critics ready to tell Mom why she should convince Dad to take away little Timmy's pads and cleats forever. Of course. That's Page 1 in the media playbook these days.
But before we run a go route to hysteria … can we call an audible?
Forget what's wrong for a second. Let's talk about what's right.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about Chip Kelly and the oldest story in the world.
PHILADELPHIA — Just once, wouldn't it be nice to get an apology from one of these college coaches?
I just want one of these know-it-alls to admit that in the end, the NFL knew better.
You know the story before I've even written a word. The hotshot college coach who thought he could outsmart pro football. Teach the experts a thing or two. Save his quarterback's career. Spread out his receivers and conquer the big leagues. Press conferences full of hype all summer, then fall arrives, and … crickets. The coach came, he saw, he got conquered. He promised to reinvent the wheel, he left with the engine on fire.
You could throw 15 names into that story over the last 25 years, but this week it's the Eagles mastermind we're talking about. I've started calling him Chump Kelly.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on Earth. Today: Let's talk about the MLB playoffs and the future of America's pastime.
CHAVEZ RAVINE, CALIFORNIA — The Dodgers, the Cardinals, and a battle for baseball's soul. That's what we have in the National League Championship Series this year.
It's trash vs. class.
Loud vs. proud.
Big heads vs. big hearts.
The Dodgers are a talented and exciting young team, and they've impressed me at times, but the way they play the game just rubs everyone the wrong way. So sure, the stakes are high in any playoff series, but sometimes it all means a little something more. Sometimes the biggest games of the season can change the direction of the whole sport.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about college athletes getting paid, and the fallacy of "fairness."
PHILADELPHIA — I was sitting in the shadows of the Liberty Bell on Monday afternoon thinking about the great irony in American life. This is a country built on personal liberty and freedom. But, as you know, freedom has consequences.
You're free to say whatever you want … And I'm free to tell you to shut the heck up.
You can have your cake and then yell, "Where'd my cake go?!"
But maybe next time there's no birthday party.
Every action has consequences. Someone should explain this to the college athletes and all the media members out here throwing them a pity party.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about Robert Griffin and common sense.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Spend a day or two in our nation's capital, and it won't take long to find an argument. Everyone wants to play hardball, and you can't help but get caught in the crossfire. Trust me, I've lived my whole life in this city. And you know what'll really start a debate around here?
Bring up the Redskins.
Oh yeah, this town can filibuster about the home team all day long.
And that's what makes it so remarkable — with RG3 controversy dominating headlines all summer long, nobody wants to touch the toughest talking point of all.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, and true greatness.
SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS — Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady were two very exciting basketball players for a few years there. They impressed me. But now that all is said and done — they both announced their retirement in the past week — it's time to look at the bottom line. When you add it all up? They both had very, very good careers. They should be proud of what they accomplished.
But they weren't Great.
I've seen way too many blog sites this week calling them legends, romanticizing their prime, and telling us how grateful we should all be that they graced us with their presence. Everyone is an expert these days, and all the conventional wisdom out there says these guys belong in the Hall of Fame. Well, not me.
Call me old-fashioned, but I say Springfield — like Canton, like Cooperstown — is a retirement home for our best and brightest. Where Stockton and Malone run that pick-and-roll forever, surrounded by the Bad Boy Pistons, the Showtime Lakers, Wes Unseld. All of them. Strolling through the double doors in Springfield, you're blinded by greatness almost as soon as you walk in.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about LeBron James and a culture stuck in neutral.
MIAMI — LeBron James has impressed me plenty over the past few years, but not this week.
Did you hear the latest? This past weekend King James was going to see his buddy Jay Z at a rap concert, and he got stuck in horrible traffic. Even Kings struggle like the rest of us, right? Puhleeeeze. LeBron made a call, and within minutes this millionaire superstar had cop cars clearing traffic, and his chauffeur was speeding down the wrong side of the road. Headed the wrong direction, on the other side of the road, all the little people staring as he glided past. Funny, isn't it?
Sometimes we write the metaphors, sometimes life writes 'em for us.
These are the times we live in, I guess. As LeBron narrates video of the incident on his Instagram account: "Light police escort on the wrong side of the street. Headed to the big homey [Jay Z] concert, JT. Holla."
The video currently has more 86,000 "Likes" on the Internet.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about the real winners out there.
INDIANAPOLIS — Everything's negative these days, isn't it? Everyone wants to complain about what's not working, who's a fraud, who's to blame. A culture of accountability has been replaced by a culture where it's always someone else's fault. It starts right at the top, too. (It always does.)
Complaints equal clicks in today's media. Everybody's a critic. In 2013, the media's engine runs on cynicism and skepticism 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the most infuriating sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about Johnny Manziel and Alex Rodriguez.
CHICAGO — I was in my car on my way to the ballpark Monday when a great song popped on the radio. I'm not a huge fan of new music, but this was a poignant, provocative jam from 1995. Joan Osborne's "One of Us." Maybe you've heard it. The song asks us to consider this question: What if God was one of us? Monday afternoon, it got me wondering.
If God was one of us up in the cheap sheets, what do you think he'd make of guys like Johnny Manziel and Alex Rodriguez?
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the most infuriating sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about Alex Rodriguez and the clouds hanging over America.
NEW YORK — There are bigger problems in this world than Alex Rodriguez, sure.
You don't have to look far for examples.
Right here in New York City, Anthony's Weiner has dominated the news cycle for the past week. Out in the heartland they're still reeling from Ryan Braun's betrayal. In Texas, Johnny Goofball just keeps showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and somehow that makes us the problem. On the West Coast, Yusiel Puig continues to ignore baseball's unwritten rules and tests our patience a little more every day. Next thing you know, Manti Te'o is going to be telling us about his new girlfriend.
From sea to shining sea, we've got enough clowns to start our own circus.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about Phil Mickelson and what comes next.
GULLANE, Scotland — Phil Mickelson delivered a round for the ages on Sunday. You want clutch? How 'bout a bone-chilling 66 to rally back and win the British Open. You want highlights? Phil birdied four of the final six holes on Sunday. Pick one.
"The great players just seem to be able to pull it off," Paul Azinger said Sunday. "Think of the shots Phil Mickelson's hit coming down the stretch. He is a true champion."
That's right, a true champion. Phil's impressed me. He's got nothing left to prove to any of us.
But as I watched the magic unfold on Sunday, I kept coming back to a nagging question.