Friday, July 29, 2011
2011 All ACLB Team Wild Cards
NEIL: KEN STABLER, BARRY SWITZER, JIM BROWN, DICK LEBEAU, & JOE NAMATH
When I was a kid, in those middle teenage years which are crucial to every man’s development, every summer I had a little ritual. My family and I would go camping and I’d always bring a couple of books with me. One of them was always – always – Ken Stabler’s autobiography. I read that shit every year, without fail. And why the fuck wouldn’t I? It was called Snake and it had a picture of an upside down Raiders helmet filled with crushed beer cans on its cover. How could a natural born rebel like me resist something like that? Think about everything I have ever written here. Think about your mental image of me, whatever the hell it may be, and then think about that book and ask yourself how I could possibly resist that. I mean . . . come on. It was like the book was written just for me.
It was full of wild tails about Kenny Stabler getting all fucked up, fighting fools, diving naked out of ladies’ bedrooms before their husbands got home, and winning football games. If we hadn’t already honored Reggie Roby, Kenny Stabler would no doubt be the patron saint of Armchair Linebacker. No one player better epitomized the Armchair Linebacker ethos than our man Kenny Stabler. Even his nickname was cool: Snake. The fucker actually got away with being called Snake! And it wasn’t some dumb play on words, some dumb rhyming scheme like Jake the Snake. No, it was just Snake, and that’s because Ken Stabler was a badass, a dude who will forever appeal to that pulsating wild eyed adrenaline fueled wild boy who will live in my soul until the end of time. I’ve grown up since then. I’ve been civilized a bit – not too much but a bit. But the part of me that is a sports fan and the part of me that refused to be civilized are the same person.
Ken Stabler appeals to that part of me that will get in drunken boxing brawls at 3AM with my best friends. Ken Stabler appeals to that part of me that will always want to stand at the edge of the world and shout into the void just to let it know that I’m here. Ken Stabler appeals to that part of me who’s made of fire, that spirit within that is just too fucking hot. Ken Stabler appeals to that part of me who believes, retarded as it may be, that when I die, thousands of years from now, that fire spirit will cause my whole body to burn away before they can get it to the grave. Ken Stabler appeals to that part of me that gibbers on about being a Warrior of Light and all the other horseshit I yammer on about here. Ken Stabler is someone I was born to root for.
Ken Stabler doesn’t give a fuck about any of this shit. All he cares about is riding around in the Gulf of Mexico in a power boat with a cooler full of beer and a bunch of girls in bikinis hanging all over him. He doesn’t give a fuck about what some asshole in Michigan thinks of him. He doesn’t give a fuck about what anyone thinks about him. He grew up worshipping Bobby Layne and he’s been true to himself since day one. And that’s really what it’s all about. It’s not the drunken antics or the bullshit debauchery. It’s about being one of those ultra-rare souls who lives life on his own terms and no one else’s. I don’t always do that as well as I should. Really, none of us do, but fuck, all we can do is try to hold to that shit the best we can, and Kenny Stabler, as far as I’m concerned, does that about as well – or better – than anyone else. You bet your ass I’d want him hanging around this team, at least in some capacity. At the very least, he could seduce the Squidman King’s daughters and get us some sort of advantage there, you know? Maybe he could gain access to the Squidmen’s headquarters by seducing one of their wives, and then while he was there he could steal a playbook or something. Fuck, I don’t know. All I do know is that if the future of the human race is at stake, I want Kenny Stabler on my side and that’s all that matters.
Barry Switzer is Kenny Stabler’s spiritual cousin. He also had an autobiography (I won’t say “wrote an autobiography” because . . . come on) and I read that shit a couple of times. It was called “Bootlegger’s Boy” and had a picture on the cover of him celebrating a National Championship or some other glory from his days at Oklahoma. That sums up Barry Switzer right there. He was the son of a bootlegger who lived through some heinous shit as a kid, but never stopped smiling, never stopped moving forward. The light that lived inside of him couldn’t be extinguished, that inner fire that draws other souls to it as it hurtles through the universe. He won and he won big and he did it his way. He legendarily got along with and appealed to young black kids because he understood what it meant to be poor and pissed on by the world. He was their friend first and their coach second and eventually the world pissed on him again for it, but fuck all that. He was an outlaw and a renegade because he didn’t know what else to be. And in the end, the record books will show that he won a shitload of football games, a handful of National Championships and a Super Bowl. The world thinks he’s just a bumbling old fool but that’s because the world doesn’t understand Barry Switzer. It never did and it never will, but that’s because Barry Switzer never bent to the world, never let it conquer him, and I want somebody like that by my side.
Jim Brown is just a badass. He seems like the exact opposite of Stabler or Switzer but really, he’s just like them. He’s a dude who lived life on his own terms, won because despite everything else he’s a winner, and refused to apologize for any of it. You don’t want to fuck with Jim Brown. He’s an old man now but he’ll still kick the shit out of your fool ass. He’d grab one of those Squid motherfuckers and he’d beat that monster senseless. Besides, if shit got too out of hand, I imagine that Stabler and Jim Brown could replace whatever fools I picked at quarterback and running back. I don’t even remember, it’s been so damn long since I started this thing. Ryan Fitzpatrick? Is that who I picked at quarterback? Fuck, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that’s who I picked. If it wasn’t, just laugh at me and ignore the rest of this paragraph. In retrospect I can’t even remember why I picked him – or the dudes I picked at running back – but wouldn’t it make sense to have dudes like Ken Stabler and Jim Brown hanging around to teach them the ropes, to teach them to how to be a bunch of damned winners? As a matter of fact, fuck Ryan Fitzpatrick. Kenny Stabler is now the quarterback for this team. I don’t care how old he is or how drunk, he’ll win the damn game.
Dick LeBeau is the best defensive coordinator in football. He’s been doing it for years with the Steelers and we need someone on this team who can handle the details. I’m confident Dick LeBeau can concoct the perfect game plan to stop the offense of any fool team that makes the mistake of fucking with our boys here. He’ll have the Squidman quarterback shitting in his pants and weeping for his whore of a squid mother by the time the game is done.
As for Joe Namath, well, I figured that Kenny Stabler needed a good wingman and I’m sure that Broadway Joe would gladly fuck a female Squid guard while Kenny Stabler makes off with their playbook. These are the sort of details that will ensure the survival of the human race and you should all be glad that I’m here to think of them. You’re welcome, Earth. You’re welcome.
WILD CARDS: KEVIN GREENE, DEXTER MANLEY, THE GHOST OF JUSTIN STRZELCZYK, JOE GIBBS, & BARRY SANDERS
The idea of adding wild cards to our All-City teams was because these BEST PLAYERS IN THE NFLZ! lists tend to just go for the statistical best, without thought behind the actual chemistry needed to make a team perform well. And even using that term "chemistry" is kinda stupid because that makes it sound scientific. You just have to put dudes together who are of the right mind frame, and you need some older dudes to instill in them the culture of what they are a part of now. This is why street gangs have O.G.s with tattoos memorializing dudes you young bucks never even knew of and why corporations will keep old ass fuckers from the old days on their payroll as consultants to pop in every now and then and draw some Venn diagrams on dry erase board and tell some stories.
So obviously you want some intense dudes, but who are also good-natured. That makes Kevin Greene my first pick. I vaguely remember him being a coach for one of the team's in the Super Bowl, maybe, but I was in heavy codeine fuzz during that game so it's hard to say if I really remember that or not. It would make sense he'd coach for the Steelers, as that's his history, but it also makes sense you'd have a guy like Kevin Greene hanging out being a coach for A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews and all in Green Bay. Like that makes so much sense, I am going to assume that's what I remembered seeing, being I am in the camper and there's no internet out here (although there is screwed and chopped norteno music in full effect, really fucking loud... shout out to DJ Dreemz and his Raza Hitz). Kevin Greene is the type of coach you would love as a player, because he will know where the good old school strip clubs are that keep you hidden from the prying eyes of the media or camera phones of other folks in the club, but also knows how to help dispose of a body if you accidentally "overdose" a dancer against the headboard of your hotel room because you caught her stealing leftover tip money out your leather jacket. And on top of that, he understands the game of football, from the inside. Sometimes all the Xs and Os in the world don't mean shit compared to just teaching dudes how to suck it up and be able to go head first through a brick wall with more enthusiasm than anyone else on the other side of the ball. That's Kevin Greene.
At the same time, as you dabble in pushing your collection of haphazard physical specimens towards willful self-destruction, you have to show them what it looks like after falling over the edge, and clawing your way back. That's Dexter Manly, who is the happiest go lucky recovered crackhead you'd ever meet. I could not be prouder of him being a former Redskin, and have never felt ashamed of #72, even when it was discovered he was illiterate, and even when he pawned his Super Bowl ring for crack money. Never. When my Ma Dukes bought me a customized Redskins jersey a few years back, the number I chose was #72. And that number has not been worn prominently in Washington until they gave it to Trent Williams after last year's draft, and I do not think it a coincidence that Dexter Manley is back in D.C., with his own show, to be there to give the okay for such a thing to happen. Football gets made out to be such a bullshit physical chess drama a lot of times by the NFL Media machine, trying to hype it up as something more than what it is - physical as fuck. That's all it is. And having a guy like Dexter Manley around who is testament to how book-stupid you can be yet still be wildly successful in the football world, it's got to be motivating to a team. You ain't got to be shit but physical as fuck and hungrier than anyone else. Say crazy shit, and do crack, but show up on Sunday afternoon and crush a motherfucker. That is the spirit of defense you fucking want. Fuck egghead 49 blitz package defensive coordinators with three defensive QBs and audibles and all that shit. Just give me three motherfuckers at each level of the defense (line, linebackers, secondary) that will straight up crush motherfuckers without losing sight of where the ball or play is going, and I'll show you a bad motherfucking defense every time.
Okay, so if you instill that in your defense, you have to make sure your offense gets that feeling too. And I had contemplated a living offensive lineman like Russ Grimm or Dan Dierdorf or somebody to do the same for my team as a wild card, but honestly those dudes are in coaching and broadcasting, which means they keep their hair cut and probably have to pass drug tests still. That is not what you want to have as an influencing factor on your O-line, at all. You want dirtbag viking mentalities who are good dudes to the bottom of their heart who would share their last whore dollar with you in a Mexican brothel. And for my whore dollars, no one compares to Justin Strzelczyk on that front. Dude looked like a viking, was insanely tough, and after leaving football, suffered massive early dementia from the brain crushing he took as a player. Rather than be stifled by that in a gay manner, he embraced it, did lots of drugs, and ended up dying in a fiery wreck flying the wrong way down the interstate running from the cops who had set spike strips out for him. That's a man. And being most of these guys are concussing themselves into early dementia as it is, to where if they don't self-destruct, they'll probably commit suicide, it's important to have an example like Justin's ghost floating around, to show you that you'll die either way, so if the damage is done, you might as well go out guns blazing. This mentality is easily transferable to the football field to where you can either go out with guns a blazing, fuck your own brains, or you can be all careful and worried about not being able to be a 63-year-old. 63-year-olds do not make good football players, and honestly who the fuck wants to be 63 anyways? Social security is crumbling away and retirement's going to be pushed back to death, if you can find a job, as the American economy continues its slow death crawl towards the end of the American Empire, so you might as well go out like a man, the wrong way down the interstate, high as fuck, hoping you kill twice as many cops as kill you.
A good tempering influence for all these guys on my wild card list is Joe Gibbs, the greatest man in the history of the Redskins. Sure he's a Christian, but not a Bible-beater. This is the man that happily tolerated Dexter Manley and John Riggins. And though his last return to the NFL was considered not as successful as his first run where he won three Super Bowls (and spoiled me for life as a football fan), but dude, do you realize how much fucking Dan Snyder sucks? In three years under Dan Snyder, Joe Gibbs took the Redskins to the playoffs twice. TWICE! I think that time will show that to be even more amazing than the three Super Bowl wins.
Finally, simply Barry Sanders, not talking or coaching or wearing old jerseys or anything. He'd just show up and sit in a box and watch games and not leave early and he'd shake hands with like seven dudes after they won a game, standing there clapping and smiling at everybody but grabbing this dude or that dude and being like, "Hey bro, great fucking play on that stop on that 3rd down," or "Nice push for that four yards early in the game." Simple, quiet, concise awesomeness, and then he'd disappear, before Joe Gibbs tried to recruit him for Bible study, or Kevin Greene tried to convince him that he hasn't lived until he gets a "Puerto Rican lapdance" or something. Then the players all know what it's like to be the best, and how you can be that and not flash it and not have to have every other person affirm it to you and not be surrounded by sycophants (thus often times financial parasites). You can just be the fucking best and be cool with it and slip out the side door without anyone noticing or having to make a grand exit or entrance. Just be a regular dude playing a goddamned billion-dollar game, because that's what all these guys are, and regardless of the long-term health effects or how demented they become or how much the owners make and exploit them for (which they do), they are some blessed motherfuckers to be doing it. It's a lot fucking better than digging a goddamned ditch with a backhoe, I can tell you that much.
LATER TODAY: some final words to wrap this up and get ready for a new football year