Tuesday, July 26, 2011
2011 All ACLB Team Safeties
NEIL: ED REED & PATRICK CHUNG
I really, really wanted to include LaRon Landry here and in retrospect maybe I should have, but I know Raven will write about him and I want to let him have the full stage with that one. I mean, how could I not a love a dude who is probably legit insane and who has a pet monkey? LaRon Landry was damn near made for me. And yet, he is even closer to Raven Mack’s heart and I don’t want to steal his thunder. If anyone is going to wax retarded about Landry it should be him and not me.
And besides, I did want to honor these other two dudes and so I figured this gave me a good chance to do that. Ed Reed is kind of an obvious choice. I will admit that. He’s here for no other reason than he is an awesome football player, and while that may be disappointing (or a welcome relief) given the convoluted reasons I have used to put dudes on this team, it’s something that just had to be done. It would be disingenuous to leave him off the team just because I can’t make up some silly bullshit reason to have him on here. I mean, there a lot of great players who I left off this team for one reason or another. Sometimes, I just think the guy is kind of a shitty dude and I don’t want to honor him in any way even if he is a great player. There are a lot of dudes like that out there. And sometimes, it’s for some weird, trifling ass reason that only makes sense to me. Take Troy Polamalu for instance. You would think he’d be a natural here. I mean, he’s Polynesian, which I love, he has long ass hair and he’s a great player. Great. But the thing is, is that a couple of years back I heard him do an interview with Terry Bradshaw and the dude sounded like Michael Jackson. Seriously, his voice was, uh, kind of womanish. That is not in and of itself a bad thing. I love women. You kick ass. But when I think of Troy Polamalu, I don’t want to be thinking about Michael Jackson, you know? Michael Jackson was a creepy fucker. He just was. And so I can’t honor somebody who reminds me of that. It’s just the way it is.
So, you see, it’s all too easy for me to find reasons to keep guys off this team. I do that a lot. And so when a guy like Ed Reed comes along who doesn’t really do anything for me all that great, I immediately start looking for reasons why he shouldn’t be on this team. But honestly, I can’t think of one. And since he’s a damn fine football player and a former Miami Hurricane, perhaps the most Armchair Linebackerish football program there has ever been, he should be on this team. The fact that I can’t speak against him is testimony enough to his kick-assedness. I have no great love for him, but I have no great disdain either – or even a little disdain for that matter. In terms of my heart, there is a sort of ambivalence about Ed Reed. In terms of my head, there is nothing but respect. And it is out of this great respect that I select Ed Reed for the Armchair Linebacker All-Pro team.
That leaves Patrick Chung. Now a lot of you might be wondering what in the hell he’s doing here. After all, he’s not a great player or anything. He’s a decent player and little more. He’s kind of a boring choice, but he has one thing that nobody else on this team has: he is a descendant of none other than The Great Willie Young. That’s right. Don’t ask me how I know this, but It would seem that Chung is directly descended from The Great Willie Young via The Great Willie Young’s marriage to the daughter of his Chinese compatriot, The Somewhat Okay Wu Pei. Now, I realize that Patrick Chung is not actually Chinese. I don’t think so anyway. If I recall, Chung is a Korean name. So don’t get all bent out of shape and accuse me of some racist ass THEY’RE ALL THE SAME TO ME bullshit. That’s not what’s going on here. No. The reality is that many, many, many years ago – over 1,000 of them in fact - The Great Willie Young and Wu Pei’s daughter, the lovely Yi Xian Shu Guang, had married and as the result of this union, The Great Willie Young had several glorious children. When these children grew, they themselves went on many great adventures because they were endowed in part with the blood of The Great Willie Young. Sadly, though, and much to The Great Willie Young’s heartbreak, because of the mortal blood of their mother (who was herself half immortal thanks to the blood of her father, Wu Pei), they were subject to old age and the eventual death that all mortals must face. Even though they were technically ¾ immortal, the ¼ mortal blood aged them and eventually took them from this earth, just like it did their mother. Where their spirits went, if there exists some special heaven for their kind, nobody knows and it is said that to this day, The Great Willie Young can be seen speaking to the echoes of their spirits, communing in sadness and grief with what is just the hint of a memory and little more but this is all threatening to spin off in its own strange direction so perhaps I should get back to the main point, which is Patrick Chung.
Anyway, The Great Willie Young was forced to take his leave of his children before they expired because he could not bear to witness their final, ignoble days. He locked their memory in his heart along with that of their beautiful mother and he moved on to new adventures, to new lives and to new ages of man. But his children, those half Chinese/half Willie Youngese children, grew to be great lords and ladies and before they left this mortal plane they fathered children of their own who then begat their own children and so on and so on through the ages. One of these scions of the House of Young found himself fighting a great battle across the Yalu River which separates China and Korea. During this battle, this young prince came face to face with a savage Korean warrior, the champion of its people. The two fought for days amidst the snow while their compatriots fell all around them. They fought day and night until finally they were alone, just the two of them locked in mortal combat. It was obvious that both were of a great and ancient blood and neither would yield. But the prince of the House of Young’s blood was greater on account of his glorious ancestor and he eventually overcame the Korean champion, knocking him backwards. The great prince stood over his foe and placed his sword to the Korean’s heart and as he began to pierce the skin, a cry from the Korean rang out. The prince was startled, as this was the voice of a woman! The prince tore the helmet from the Korean champion and sure enough there was a beautiful Korean princess staring back at him. She was breathing raggedly, beaten but not conquered, and he loved her instantly. He withdrew his sword and bowed to her, but because of her own great pride, she took this opportunity to drive her sword through his belly and leave him bleeding to death on that field.
The young prince knew he was dying and yet he looked at his killer and he declared his love for her. She stared down at him, confused and was immediately struck by the horror of her deed. She knelt down, still stern of face, for her pride was unyielding even in the face of great sorrow and she acknowledged his love. After all, he was a handsome prince, filled with the blood of that handsomest of princes, The Great Willie Young and as we all know, no woman can resist the charms of that blood. And then she lay next to him and remained by his side for the many hours it took him to die, for again, that blood sustained him well beyond the limits of an ordinary mortal man and it granted him a measure of piece while he took his leave of this savage world. And while they lay together, they talked and they lived and they loved a lifetime’s worth and time slowed for them and became irrelevant. Eventually, the prince closed his eyes for a final time and willingly went into that great mysterious light which takes his kind and the Korean princess wept. And yet she knew that something of her prince still lived inside of her and nine months later she gave birth to a child, and it is this child who sired the line which eventually produced Patrick Chung.
So there you have it, the legend of Patrick Chung’s immortal blood. It is but a trace, and yet it is still in there, driving him towards an echo of the greatness of his great ancestor. He may seem like just an ordinary man, and he himself probably doesn’t understand the nature of his gifts but we know the truth, and the truth is that Patrick Chung is greater than ordinary men because through him flows the power of The Great Willie Young, and that is why I am proud to include him on this team.
RAVEN: ED REED & LARON LANDRY
Neil is exactly fucking right - I am going to include Laron Landry. But first let us speak further of Ed Reed. There is no other football player in the NFL who looks more like he is about five years into a 20 year plan to look like one of Fred Sanford's best friends than Ed Reed. He has the homeless man beard, the bug eyed look that is simply the result of being such a dark-skinned dude with beautiful almost twinkling bright eyes. He seems like the chillest dude on earth, just by looking at him. Seriously, there was always the one homeless dude who you knew was smoking crack with your dollar donation to his cause, but he just seemed so goddamned chill, you couldn't resist. And he'd recognize you, and call out, "Hey Potna, what's goin' on today?" and you would feel good about this crazy man calling you "partner" in mangled but happy speech. That's Ed Reed in years, except he is a successful millionaire dude instead, yet still looks like that.
Why is he successful? Because there is no better ballhawk in the NFL. Early on, in the shadow of Ray Lewis, Reed was a headcracker, like any great safety. But he has transitioned into the one guy on an NFL field defensively who can turn a game around. This is probably partially due to his early times in Baltimore where the defense had to win games, so they might as well throw six up on the board from time to time to help their own cause. But you put that on the field with an offense that is actually competent beyond Brian Billick's ego strut, and what you have a formidable motherfucker.
On top of all this, as he was doing just these very things last season, he was doing it under the duress of his brother having run from the cops and disappeared/drowned in the Mississippi River. Like it's one thing to have tragedy strike where someone dies suddenly, but to have your little bro running from the sound of the beast, take a desperate dive into the biggest river in America, and then not show back up, that's some heavy fucking shit. And yet Ed Reed was there for every game, still making huge plays, still showing mad heart, no matter how heavy it was, and fucking shit up. It is actually impossible to imagine, at least right now, a new defender coming into Baltimore and not playing two levels better than he would anywhere else with the one-two locker room presence of Ray Lewis/Ed Reed in the house. That will come apart at some point in the next year or two, but for now, it is as solid a defensive structure built around high-quality middle management as you will find in the NFL.
Oddly enough, Laron Landry's brother Dawan shares the secondary space with Ed Reed in Baltimore. But Laron Landry is on another level than his bro. Laron Landry is a fucking monster, and as a Redskins fan, you cannot help but be haunted by the potential of the ghost of Sean Taylor, especially as Landry has developed into the meat and potatoes hybrid he has become. Area 51 (Taylor's 21 plus Landry's 30) could've been one of the most devastating defenses the NFL ever saw, like a pair of Ronnie Lotts running around decapitating motherfuckers, taking the ball, and scoring six points or at least multiple turnovers per game. Except fate didn't let it go down that way.
As it stands though, Laron Landry took a big step last year, the same step I saw Taylor take the year before his death, where simply being a human missile on the field was tempered with an eye for the football, and trying to collect fumbles or picks instead of just concussion notches on your belt. Don't get me wrong though, Landry still drops his head and goes brain first like a heat-seeking Scud a few times a game. But he stopped losing sight of his responsibilities in the process so often, and started to grab some stray footballs in the process. Up until straining his groin (or whatever the fuck it was) last year around midseason, he was being talked about as a potential NFL MVP on defense. That's big talk, something that doesn't happen with the Redskins much.
I hope the motherfucker stays healthy this year, and keeps putting that meat and potatoes mentality into the defense. A lot of what he is learning now is what Sean Taylor learned before him, and it's just so sad, as a fan for a team with little to be happy about, that we didn't get to see Area 51 reach it's full potential. Usually this can be accepted because of stupid free agency or guys deciding they don't like their team anymore and going primadona or something. But whatever, the past is the past. Laron Landry is a fucking monster still, and just because he doesn't have a twin monster helping him give opposing receivers tyrannosaurus rex arms, it doesn't mean he still can't be a game-changing monster in his own right. Which I guess was the one shining moment last year as a Redskins fan, that Landry at the beginning of the year started to fully step out of the shadow of the ghost of Sean Taylor, and started to be, "fuck... Laron Landry," in his own right.
TOMORROW: Kickers & Punters