Jul 9, 2009

Remember The Titan

I was at a pool on July 4th at the corner of Independence and Liberty, enjoying a wonderful mixture of lemonade and vodka, and messing with my phone when one of my friends (TPaulin08) launched this missive into the Twittersphere:

RIP McNair.

Dumbly, I stared at it for a solid 15, 20 seconds, vodka addled mind doing it's best impersonation of racing. Do we know a McNair? Is it like a 1970s NFL player who I would only know from behind NFL Films music (Sam Spence is amazing)? I stumbled on my phone to ESPN.com, and was met with the headline that Steve McNair was dead. And my first thought wasn't of his illustrious career, or the four sons he left behind, but my first thought was of Chris Benoit. Dead professional wrestler, Chris Benoit.

The Monday night after they found the bodies of Chris, his wife Nancy, and their son Daniel, the WWE made the decision to cancel their Monday Night show, and instead run highlights of his career, and commentary from his fellow wrestlers. Even while this three hour tribute was occurring, CNN and other news outlets were reporting breaking news that all evidence pointed to Chris having been the one to kill his wife and son, before taking his own life. By the end of the show, a lot of what would eventually be known as fact was being openly speculated about on major news networks...and then the WWE decided to re-run the special on the West Coast.

Now, I know you're wondering, why is a reaction to the death of a former NFL MVP and widely accepted "good guy" in the league starting with a recap of the tragic double homicide and suicide of a former WWE World Heavyweight Champion (a reign the WWE now ignores)? Well, it's because the first words out of my mouth regarding his passing were:

"This is going to get much, much worse."

Tuesday, more of the salient details of the unfortunate death of Steve McNair became more widely known, and it is apparent that his girlfriend shot him while he slept on their couch, and then killed herself. And there have been equal sides praising him for the details of his life, as well as vilifying him for the manner of his passing. To these people, Steve McNair will be remembered as the cautionary tale, a warning of sorts to those who would sacrifice the happiness of those around him for his own wants.

Not to me.

To me, I'll always remember Steve McNair as my grandmother's favorite football player ever. When you're talking about small town Mississippi, Alcorn State isn't just the most accessible college football: when Air McNair was under center, it was the only football in the universe. For a generation of quarterbacks (hell, football players), he was more than just a 1st round draft pick, he was more than a third overall pick who would go on to lead a team to a Super Bowl, be named league MVP, and be one of the most respected players in league history. For people who's lives are defined by HBCU football, he was (and is) our most recent bright shining star. My dad played for Clark Atlanta University when colleges were still segregated, and to this day, the only Clark/Morehouse games I've missed were ones I was in college for.

To me, Steve McNair continued to have resonating personal significance once in the NFL. Once he was drafted by the Houston Oilers (my birthtown team!), he was forced to sit behind Chris Chandler (the killer of my childhood!), but all the while he remained a consummate professional. By the last season the team would spend in Houston, he was the starter, and would remain as such for years. During his tenure not just in Tennessee, but in the NFL, he was hailed as amazing leader and competitor, a distinction that culminated with his being named co-MVP in 2003. The respect from his peers and those who know WAY more than me about the League (AP voters) only served to confirm something I had suspected years earlier.

To me, Steve McNair is his greatest moment, a beautiful season capped with a wonderful pass in Super Bowl XXXIV (in Atlanta!), ending with Kevin Dyson being stopped a literal inch short of the tying touchdown by the St. Louis defender. Now, his finest hour wasn't the throw itself (although superb) or the game as a whole (16 unanswered points in the second half!), but it was how he carried himself afterwards. I've been involved in sports my whole life, I've won when I should have lost, and I've lost when I was sure that I should have won, but I've never reacted as well as Mr. McNair did after this game. He was truly conciliatory to the Rams, and as gracious a loser as I have ever seen. As anyone who has competed against me would attest (in football, wrestling, rock-paper-scissors) losing isn't a strong point of mine. It was this post-game display that showed me that everything I had heard about him regarding his character and leadership ability wasn't just locker room double speak, but that it was grounded in some part of reality. The consensus among those who have given quotes about McNair this week is that the impression I got from him over my television set after what had to be one of the most trying experiences in his professional career. He seemed the picture of class and dignity and most of all, a tremendous leader. Hearing his former Baltimore teammates who only played with him for two seasons talk about his ability as a motivator and a mentor to others speaks to his ability as a commander. Seeing the lives he changed through his charity work speaks to his concern for his fellow man.

People this week have said that we cannot separate the manner in which he died with the works he dedicated himself to in life. But, why not? Are we defined by poorest decisions, or by the way we try to carry ourselves everyday? Far be it for me to speak about anyone else's personal life (mine being what it is), but I can honestly say that if those four boys he leaves behind are instilled with half of the grace and dignity the Steve McNair I know always did, then he did this world a great service in his short time.

*This column can also be found with greater production value (better lighting, clearer sound) at likethedew.com by clicking this link*

Jul 8, 2009

Mid-Range Jumpers

The Association, save me!

That would be melodramatic if it wasn't so true. Armed with only a surprisingly engaging US Open and a historic Wimbledon Final, I've been held sports-hostage by the ooooh soooo looong baseball season. While the Braves stumble to another .500 record (more on that later), I thought it was time to dust off America's favorite, rarely updated blog format, where we celebrate the lost art of the Mid-Range Jumper.

Lot's of stuff on the plate today, and surprise, surprise, it's heavy on the NBA, NFL and college football, but I'm trying to branch out. Bear with me.

  • Let's start close to home re: free agency...so, we bring in Jamal Crawford, bring back Bibby, and are trying to keep Marvin. Does the front office not remember what happened when we tried the all-swing man team a few years back? Do they plan on talking Marvin into coming off the bench? Will he stand for it? Will the fan base? Wait, a basketball fan base in Atlanta? STAY TUNED!
  • At least the Pistons didn't mortgage their future by locking up two mid-level guys for long, expensive contracts in a year where the cap went down for the second time in league history and right before the biggest drop ever next year. Wait, they did that? Oh, and I hope the Rip Hamilton period was good for the fans because he is G-O-N-E. Probably to Atlanta, so we can have more swing men.
  • Chad Johnson (I refuse to acknowledge that ridiculous last name he's adopted) apparently wants to tweet on the sideline. When it's this easy, it almost isn't fun.
  • AMAZING show put on by Roddick and Federer last weekend...if Tennis could routinely put on shows like that, they would do more than suck in all us hung over people on the occasional Sunday mornings.
  • Dallas Mavericks are apparently convinced that this is the year 2001, and Jason Kidd deserves a 3 year deal. Mark Cuban is routinely touted for his intelligent business decisions, so I guess every other point guard on Earth will die of some unknown ball-handling disease in the next 3 years, and Kidd will survive it. Those Mavs are so savvy.
  • Take that last bullet, change Dallas Mavericks to Orlando Magic, change Jason Kidd to Vince Carter, and change point guard to swing man. Wait, if that were to really happen, would the Hawks trot out Bibby, Horford, and Zaza?
  • I don't want to hear a word about Andruw Jones hitting three home runs in his three first at bats this year. I just don't. After the vanishing act in LA last year, his career is forever tarnished.
  • Rasheed Wallace to the Celtics would never have happened if Big Poppa Stern still wielded his power judiciously.
  • Did you know the WNBA is still around? And that Atlanta has a team? And they are called the Dream? And that none of that is made up? (I haven't made a WNBA joke in months, and don't forget, they got NEXT!)
  • Sports prediction: Tiger wins everything by 2012, forces white folks to quit golf and solidify hold on hockey...for now.
  • If AI ends up in Memphis with OJ Mayo, then there will be a dearth of basketballs in the state of Tennessee...a dearth I say!
  • Hey Lake-Show, way to follow up a title with downgrading defensively from Ariza to Ron-Ron...he is old.
  • Speaking of the Rockets (I wasn't talking about them, but about a player who just left them...whatever), I feel legitimately bad for the entire front office for the way McGrady and Yao have turned out...but it's still really, really funny.
  • Shaq and Penny. Shaq and Kobe. Shaq and Wade. Shaq and LeBron. One of these will not work. Three of these already happened.

If the WNBA was playing in my very own back yard, I would close the blinds. (I gotta be me!)

Jul 4, 2009


You read this blog, you know how American I am, and how much I love my country. And I know you're expecting a picture of Nez in front of the American Flag, but I decided to break out the greatest rendition of the National Anthem ever. 1983. NBA All-Star Game.

Ok, well I guess I could throw on the greatest Independence Day Monologue ever.

Pretty good right?

Oh, what the hell. I gotta be me!


Jul 1, 2009

Great News!!!

Well, great for me. Really, kind of indifferent news for you. I mean, if you care about me it kind of matters, but not really.


The good news is that someone besides my friends and family (both of whom I badger incessantly) will get to read some of the stuff I write. My longer pieces (1000 words plus...) will be running concurrently on a website that is made up of alot of former Atlanta Journal Constitution writers who were bought out, and replaced with younger, less talented people (Robbie, I mean everyone besides you at the Times these days. Kind of.)


That right there is a link to my NBA Draft piece that ran there, complete with pictures (that I had nothing to do with, which you can tell because of no pithy captions)

What this means for me is I get to write along people I grew up reading and respect immensely, and that my writing is going to get to more eyeballs. What this means for you is...well, nothing. Everything, big and small, will still be posted here first, but if you want to help expand the OLASB Nation (beyond me, Biggs,Nez, Sully, and my parents), feel free to check out the higher production values of Like the Dew.

That was kind of a mutual plug, wasn't it?

Well, for more me, follow me on the Twitter...


There, that's a bit more uneven whoring out. Just the way I like it.