Thursday, July 7, 2011
2011 All ACLB Team Running Backs
RAVEN: RICKY WILLIAMS & STEPHEN JACKSON
For me, Ricky Williams is the ultimate RB going today – wacky back story, past the conventional prime of an NFL RB, and a strange character. And yet he is still out there, knocking heads and doing okay. I mean, he’s not busting 73-yard runs or anything any more, but he’s still playing, and in a two-headed back field that included him and the much younger Ronnie Brown, at the end of the year, Brown looked like the obsolete one.
On top of this, Williams is a former weedhead (although it has been argued that all pro football players – in fact most professional athletes – smoke weed like mad all day every day) and a yoga freak Zen Buddhist type. He also is well-schooled in all aspects of the running game – actual running, finding holes like a savvy vet, knocking blitzing LBs in the face just enough to keep them off the QB – and it is this well-rounded ability that is often overlooked because all people are dazzled by is some gnome-faced munchkin like Adrian Peterson dashing off one of those 73-yard TDs. I am not impressed by that type of crap.
Stephen Jackson is one of many dreadlocked, thick-legged, media-friendly RBs proliferating throughout the league nowadays, with a punishing style that can also breakaway if the right hole develops. Jackson is probably getting towards that closing window of conventional wisdom for how long RBs last as well, but Jackson seems a little more chill than most to me. He’s not soft-spoken necessarily, but definitely comes across as open to strange travels. He’s also really fucking good.
My thinking is the pairing of Williams and Jackson is a good combo for them as well, a pair of wacky bros who might end up forming an acoustic psych folk group together after doing ayahuasca in Ecuador, or opening a soul food joint together. Or maybe they don’t do anything but hang out and go to Whole Foods together and pick up 47-year-old white women in the soy milk aisle. It’s hard to say. But I know that something would happen. And hopefully that something would not just end up being a down-low relationship between the two.
Also, with more wackily named skill players coming of NFL age after rap music’s influence on how we name our children, it is funny to me to have a pair of black dudes named “Ricky Williams” and “Stephen Jackson” as the dudes on my team.
NEIL: CHRIS IVORY & LEGARRETTE BLOUNT
The Armchair Linebacker ethos is all about kicking in the doors of the squares and frightening the hell out of them, pissing in their fish tanks and shitting in their beds and then leaving them dazed, wondering what in the hell just happened. Yeah, I just used the word “squares” which is some fifties beatnik sort of shit, but fuck it, I’ll make that word cool again. But anyway, both of my selections for running back are players who were never supposed to be at the party. They are ugly gate crashers who make people uncomfortable. The NFL machine which starts when you are just a little kid, working your way up through pee-wee had no time for them and chose to discard them as flawed and unworthy before they were spit out the other side as a finished product, glossy and ready for consumption by the idiot masses.
But fuck that. Our boys had a dream and they didn’t give a shit about machines or glossy facades or shaking hands and kissing babies or shaking babies and kissing hands. Instead, they hijacked the machine, put a pirate flag on that motherfucker and then refused to be denied. Chris Ivory was kicked out of Washington St. and has a felony charge hanging over his head, although a lot of people believe that it was just a case of mistaken identity (In other words, some hysterical white asshole flipped the fuck out after getting hit with a bottle and just pointed at the first black dude with dreads that he saw.) But fuck that, his coaches already didn’t like him because they were new and he wasn’t their dude and he overslept one morning and the whole thing gave them excuse to run his ass out of town. He ended up at Tiffin University, which sounds like it specializes in making Faberge Eggs or some shit, where he promptly got injured and missed most of his senior year.
In most cases, this ends with the dude in prison or dead in a ditch or fighting off hordes of angry Mexican crackheads as a bodyguard for a rich drug lord in Tijuana, but Chris Ivory wasn’t having any of that shit. He knew he was good enough and even though the NFL machine had rejected him and his body was repeatedly ravaged by rabid demons and his mom was almost eaten alive by viral meningitis (which – Goddamn, this dude was being hunted straight up Final Destination style by the Fates, wasn’t he?) he just kept coming. The world had knocked his ass out, but he staggered to his feet, spit up a mouthful of blood and teeth, smiled and then decided to kick everyone’s ass.
He went undrafted (obviously) before ending up in New Orleans where he managed to make the team out of training camp. It wasn’t long before Reggie Bush suffered a strained vagina or was eaten by the Kardashian who looks like a Wookie or whatever the fuck happened to him and since Pierre Thomas is also made out of glass, Chris Ivory snarled at the NFL machine, told it to go fuck itself, took that damn ball and ran like hell. In 12 games – only 4 of which he started – Ivory ran for 716 yards on only 137 carries, good for a 5.2 yards per carry average, and helped drag the Saints, who struggled early in the season, back to the playoffs. He also stepped in and resurrected the fortunes of one of my fantasy teams when I needed it the most and while that may be stupid and worthless in the real world, I like to think that it proved that he was a reflection of my own warrior heart, as all my fantasy dudes are – except for when they play like shit, at which time they stop being reflections of my warrior heart and become tools of the devil meant to strike at me and all things good and pure in the eternal war between the righteous and the wicked.
But fuck all that. Chris Ivory is no being’s tool – not man’s, not the devil’s, not the football gods’ – and he proved that by exploding from the terrible depths of his own personal hell and shaming the spoiled Reggie Bush. The juxtaposition of Ivory and Bush spotlighted with the intensity of a thousand heavenly suns just how noble a warrior Chris Ivory is. There are no Heisman trophies in his house, no shitty reality shows for him to prance around on like some sort of idiot clown, no big assed whores for him to cling to so that he stays in the public eye. There is just a man and his natural talent and a never say die attitude. That is the Chris Ivory way. That is the Armchair Linebacker way. And that’s why he’s on this team.
LeGarrette Blount punched a dude. He punched him right in the face at the end of the season opener between his Oregon Ducks and the Boise St. Broncos. Everyone in America condemned him as a violent thug and he was suspended for the rest of the season and told to go fuck himself by self-righteous assholes who forget that football is a frighteningly violent game that moves at a million miles an hour. And with that, the NFL machine dubbed him as unworthy, rejected him and pointed him towards a shallow grave in the Mexican desert next to the one it had already dug for Chris Ivory.
But like Chris Ivory, Blount didn’t just bow his head and say “Yessuh” and offer to shine the shoes of uptight, white America. While the world turned its back on him, he just stared straight ahead and said to himself “Fine, motherfuckers, I’ll do this shit my way.”
The upstanding, clean, sterile world beloved by the NFL power structure and by the sycophantic legions who hang off its ballsack closed itself to LeGarrette Blount, but he wouldn’t go away like he was told. He kept swinging and he kept swinging, raging against the quickly dying light of his dream and he didn’t stop until he was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he leapt both into the starting lineup midway through the year and over the heads of would be tacklers. He tore his way back into our consciousness, like some half-forgotten ghost from hell. The feeble white old men who run the NFL machine and who serve as its propagandists shuddered with fear and horror as this “thug” became a sensation, showing up on highlight reels on every sports show. By the time the season was over, Blount – in only 13 games, only 7 of which he started – ran for 1007 yards on 201 carries, good for 5.0 yards per carry.
The world might shake its head in disgust at LeGarrette Blount. It might have judged him unworthy and condemned him to begging for forgiveness on the margins of our consciousness just because he punched a dude, but not me. I’m glad he punched that guy. Fuck him. That fat, Idaho fuck probably deserved it. He looked like a racist shitkicker and LeGarrette Blount wasn’t going to take any of his shit. We need more of that on the field. I love it when guys throw hands. Sport is just simulated combat anyway, so why not let it drift into real combat every now and again? Sportsmanship? Get the fuck out of here with that shit. Sportsmanship is just a shitty buzzword fetishized by uptight assholes who like to jack off to some idealized and childish view of the world. They are the same idiots who whine incessantly about steroids ruining their childhood memories because they can’t handle the reality that Mickey Mantle would have just buttfucked their mom, drank all their dad’s liquor and then set the family dog on fire with Whitey Ford rather than play catch with them in the back yard. They are stupid children, clinging to a world that doesn’t exist, a sanitized world where men are neutered and the devil laughs and screams through the voice of that cocksucker Howdy Doody and President Eisenhower reminds us all to duck and cover, duck and cover, duck and cover because the commies are coming. Fuck them, fuck their nauseating ‘50s worldview and fuck sportsmanship. All LeGarrette Blount did was punch a dude. Shit, it’s not like he tore out and ate the dude’s heart like he was some ancient Incan after a fucked up lacrosse game. Now those were some high stakes. But to hell with all, I am just rambling like a damn fool now. LeGarrette Blount was sent to hell for his “sin” and he had to endure the sneers and the ugly, vicious words of hypocritical old assholes but in the end he won. He achieved his dream and everyone else can get fucked. That’s the Armchair Linebacker way, and we’re proud to have him.