Let's Just Punt

football, culture, substances

I am disjointed.

(This is my first tumbl ever. Apologies all around, both for taking so long to get here, and for whatever may be typed in the future.)

I had a draft typed up about football, and why I hate it and love it and about last night’s game. Then something happened and the page got reloaded and it appears the post is gone, but that’s probably for the best. Here it is as succinctly as I can:

49ers lost, and that bums me out. But it’s not one of those dumb rationalization things where I think “they lost,” as much as it is the Ravens won. They did. They played a good damn game and held off the furious charge. Yes, it would have been so cool for the Niners to have scored a TD at the end and set a record for largest deficit overcome in a Super Bowl. They didn’t. Long, drawn out sigh.

But hey! Kaepernick has the record for longest TD run by a quarterback in a Super Bowl! Fuck it. They’ll be good again next year and hopefully for many after next. They’ve made crazy progress in two seasons, and I unapologetically love  Jim Harbaugh. I can see how people wouldn’t, but I’m glad he’s the coach.

Aside from losing, I’m probably most bummed that the 49ers lost their perfect record in the Super Bowl. And honestly I had no idea Kaepernick’s INT was the first-ever thrown by a SF quarterback in the Super Bowl. 

All said HOLY SHIT THE FORTY-NINERS MADE THE SUPER BOWL AND WERE IN A VERY GOOD POSITION TO WIN IT! I wouldn’t have thought that possible before the 2011 season. And I’ll take a 5-1 record in the Super Bowl. 

That was not very succinct.

I will tumbl more. I have ideas and everything. 

I’m running out of patience

On the heels of another gut punch, I think it’s time we had an honest assessment of why we root for the Buffalo Bills, and why we don’t stop like any reasonable person would.

People have been fleeing Buffalo for decades for a multitude of reasons. Job loss, inefficient and ineffective local government, what have you. For those that stay, however, leaving town is seen as giving up on The Idea Of Buffalo, which is that a once prosperous and booming city can be returned to it’s old ways. If you move away, you’re part of the problem.

One of the few ways people feel like they can stay connected with the city and region is by supporting the sports teams. It’s a low investment way to feel like you still Believe In Buffalo, and if you turn your back on the team, it’s seen as the final betrayal of your roots.

However, at a certain point, enough is enough, and I think I’m getting there.

Someday soon, Ralph Wilson is going to die. And when he does, the team is probably going to leave town. They play in a shitty, outdated stadium without a longterm lease to keep a new owner there, and the number of prospective owners that would rather move the team drastically outnumbers those that would keep the team in Western New York. Roger Goodell isn’t going to protect this market. I don’t care if he grew up around here, all he cares about is maximizing the league’s profits, and keeping a stagnant franchise in a shrinking market is definitely not in the league’s best interests.

The Bills have been a professional football organization since 1960, and other than the mid-60s and the early-90s, they have been a really terrible professional football organization. Wilson has been the only thing in common between these eras of incompetence, and his death is probably the only thing that can bring an end to it. However, his death also means the team is probably gone, so what good does that do me? I fully understand that he could have moved the team already, but stop pretending he’s doing the city some civic duty by keeping them around if he’s not willing to run the team competently.

It’s just all so fucking hopeless. I have no confidence in the organization’s leadership. I have no confidence that if that leadership was replaced, the replacements would be any better. I have no confidence that they’ll even be playing here in five years. Why should I keep lining up to get kicked in the dick every Sunday when there’s no real hope of any substantial return on my investment?

I’m ready to cash out. Maybe it’s a preemptive measure to shield myself from disappointment when they leave town, or maybe I’m finally making a responsible choice when it comes to how I spend my free time and disposable income.

I don’t know what the final straw will be. Maybe it will be when they don’t fire Chan Gailey. Maybe it will be when they don’t improve the roster during the offseason. Maybe it’ll be when Ralph croaks and the team gets snapped up by out of town money. What I do know is that my patience is running short, and so are my reasons to continue paying attention to the NFL.

Get your shit together.

There’s just something about a good bourbon

Just seeing it pour out of a bottle is nice, and that’s even before you get to drinking it. It’s a little sweet, a little hot, and you can feel the depth of flavor roll around on your tongue before it heats up your insides and courage, in that order.

It may just be the greatest drink in the world, and really, there’s no wrong way to enjoy it. But, for my money, there’s no better way to enjoy a nice glass of bourbon than by pouring the last of it out of the bottle, downing it all in one pull, then picking up the empty bottle and smashing it over Chan Gailey’s unsuspecting skull.

The Problem With Notre Dame

I’ll be up front about this; I have a huge problem with Notre Dame football. I’m a self admitted hater, and fine with that knowledge.  But, to be clear, my hatred isn’t necessarily the result the enormous front-running fan base, or even the fact that they are simply very very successful at football, though a few of those factors definitely figure prominently into the equation.  At its core, Notre Dame football is nothing special. It has been built up over the years into some gilded idol of the sport, with a patina of tradition and respectability that turns it into an aspirational ideal. This is total bullshit.

Notre Dame has always figured prominently into the identity of American Catholics, and often for good reason; standing up to the Klan, providing a first-rate education for Catholics when many institutions of higher learning would close their doors to anyone with an “O’,” or a “Mc” in front of their last name, and leading the way on issues such as segregation and slavery.  Understandably, this served as a rallying symbol for a lot of Catholics, a demonstrably important and influential icon for a community that was struggling to define its role in the early 20th century.  Tying into this identity was the highly visible football program, which was immensely successful for Notre Dame in that same time period.  Football teams, for better or for worse, are some of the most visible representations of a school, and Notre Dame was not only able to successfully challenge preconceptions about Catholics, they could also line up and beat the snot out your boys on the field as well. They were successful, and success attracts both positive and negative attention. 

We’re going to skip ahead a bit here, to the 80’s.  Notre Dame became the program that in many ways blended both the past and present; they still seemed to do things the “right way,” with the scepters of the Four Horsemen, Ara, Knute Rockne and the Gipper always hovering in the background.  The “Catholics vs Convicts” games were pretty much the platonic ideal for hack sportswriters; the paragons of old-school virtue and hard-nosed football triumphing over the flashy, sleazy, criminal-seeming noveau riche hooligans.  That sort of ethos has pervaded Notre Dame’s reputation ever since, even through a failure-filled two decades.  Even though they weren’t winning, they’d always be relevant, they’d always be doing things the “right way,” they’d be Notre Dameno matter what. The football program transformed into something more than just a team, it was a symbol for what was “right” about college football, given some arbitrary and overly moralized definition that served as justification for elevating it to some preferred status.

But here’s the real dirty little secret: Notre Dame football isn’t special; it isn’t an example of doing the “right thing,” of playing football the way it should be played. Notre Dame football traded on the good reputation of the institution it was associated with, and like junk bonds repackaged and resold under AAA status, it’s just been covered up by a gold-tinted veneer that people are all too willing to buy into. Notre Dame has a history of player rape, of kids doing really stupid and even criminal stuff, of even the coaching staff and administrators disregarding safety and common sense, all under the banner of “Notre Dame Football.” This isn’t any different than, unfortunately, most of the other major college programs out there. Which is sort of my point; Notre Dame isn’t any more special or ideal just because they have a higher graduation rate, or some supposed moral high ground. Notre Dame is a football program, one with a lot of skeletons in the closet.

So please, spare me the “wake up the echoes” bullshit. Spare me the jerkoff sportswriters who will crow about Notre Dame being restored to its rightful place in the sun, the sanctimonious old codgers mumbling into their Cutty Sark about how things used to be, the Yankee fan in Skokie who just remembered where he left his Notre Dame hat (Hint: It’s on the sale rack at the WalMart down the street), all the wankery about doing things the right way.  Notre Dame isn’t special, and we shouldn’t be “glad” they are doing well again. Network execs will continue to shell out massive sums of money to the school, people will tune in to Notre Dame games in record numbers, money will flow, season tickets will be bought, recruits will flock and the whole thing will keep spinning along as it always has. But not because Notre Dame is somehow special or “better” in anyway other than the one that ultimately matters to all interested parties on those cold fall Saturdays, on those bright scoreboard LEDs shining into the gloom.  There’s going to be endless speculation in the coming weeks about what it somehow means that Notre Dame is back, that the Return to Glory may somehow be less transient than its past iterations, that things are finally as they should be once more.  But, in the end, the only real significance is that a team won a few games, not that “right” somehow triumphed, or that we should all feel better in a world where Notre Dame is wining again. They are, after all is said and done, just another damn team.  They aren’t the hero in some cosmic drama, nor are they the villain. There’s no higher meaning to a Notre Dame championship, just as there’s no lower meaning to Nick Saban winning one. (Well, maybe altimetrically speaking.) So on January 7th, one team is going to raise that crystal football. Nothing more, just a team. And man do I hope it’s not Notre Dame.

In Spirited Defense of Cheap Beer

Over the past decade, the craft and micro brewing industry in the United States has exploded. This is a phenomenally good thing, because a good, flavorful beer can make a man feel whole and strong. Craft brews have taken the American drinking public out from underneath the thumb of Budweiser, Coors, and Miller. However, one of the few negative side effects of the growth of craft beers is The Beer Snob, a person so damp with pretense that they can’t enjoy one of life’s great pleasure: A really cold, cheap beer.

I live in Rochester, NY, the home of the Genesee Brewing Company, purveryors of this country’s greatest so called shitty beer. I fully admit that this may have something to do with my affinity for a cold Genesee or Genny Light, but I like to think that my civic pride exists independently of my palate. There are few things that I enjoy more than a cold Genny Light on a warm day. Hell, or a cold day, it doesn’t really matter.

It doesn’t have to be Genny. There are a great number of locally produced cheap beers all over the country. Naragansett, Grain Belt, etc. They are born a simple beverage, unadorned with the unnecessary. They are available in great quantity for reasonable price. There is, of course, room for palates to differ, but the discount lager should be respected as the pillar of American industry that it is. If you don’t care for the taste of such beers, I would look at you askance, but nothing more. To dismiss such ales out of hand, would make me question the very fiber of your constitution.

So next time you’re at a bar, or your local grocer, or your local bottle store, and you see someone purchasing an affordable, working man’s beer, either respect the purchaser’s decision or go sneer by yourself in your cold, miserable finery. I’ll be busy, reveling with The Common Man and The Common Man’s Ale.

            I’ve never really been in a position where I’m a content creator; I find I’m a lot better at taking potshots from the bleachers and usually missing.  So this whole thing is kind of a new experience for me.  I guess most of what you might consider bloggable content is the stuff I just spit out on a daily basis with no real filter.  The trouble is figuring out what is and isn’t worth publishing to a larger audience.

            So, generally speaking, I’m pretty stoked to have the opportunity to try and channel that flood of nonsense into a more directed outlet, and one where it’s not just me yelling into the void.  I’m an extraordinary opinionated, loud, and often obnoxious know-it all at times, and that gets directed as a wide-spectrum stream of half formed ideas, but I think this could be a cool experiment in focusing that into a more focused format. 

            As with other posters here, I made the ill-advised choice to go into law, and I’m in my 1L year, trying to gut it out and make it through in one piece.  I’m looking forward to trying to expand a bit, and, as stated in an earlier post, it’s really really nice to have some other posters that I can pinball off of and rely on when I’m feeling particularly uncreative. It’s selfish, but nice to be able to throttle back a little bit when the ideas aren’t flowing and when other stuff gets particularly hectic.

            So, bear with me as I go through the growing pains, and I hope you’ll find it at least passably enjoyable. And, since I don’t want this post to be without something entertaining, here’s a guy rapping about fairy tales.

This is a blog

There are several problems with writing online. First, it’s inherently silly. All you’re doing is shouting into the internet, and hoping that someone hears it and answers. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. You live with it, because what the hell else are you going to do?

Another problem is that trying to run a blog by yourself is completely fucking exhausting. You try to consistently put out content, and before you know it, it feels like a job. A job you’re getting paid dick for.

Recently I got a job doing a lot of straight writing. I really like it, but I’ve been looking for a creative outlet. I also was looking for something where I wouldn’t be the only person responsible for writing it. So selfish.

This blog will (hopefully) accomplish those aims. Topics on the table include sports, culture, drinks, and jokes of all sorts. It’s staffed by a virtual rogue’s gallery with a bit too much time on their hands and a deficit of purpose in their lives, but that’s not exactly uncommon.

So please, follow along and try to enjoy yourself. You actually might. Welcome to Let’s Just Punt.

Oh, and here is a picture of Gucci Mane fishing in a hot tub and smoking a dutch.