Thursday, October 19, 2006

Scoop Jackson Thinks Donovan McNabb is No Good; I Disagree.

I usually don't read Scoop Jackson, and the following is the reason why. His columns are so infuriating that I can't even rationally talk about them. Well, here's that attempt, since Scoop took it upon himself to go after Donovan McNabb, who aside from playing the best football out of anyone this season, had been the absolute steal of my fantasy draft (you're damn right I knew he was gonna go off). I just couldn't let Scoop get away with it.

(Sidenote: I'd never thoroughly gone through a Scoop column before, and this will be the last time. Frankly, the energy and time it takes is just not worth it. Scoops columns are like a sewer - it looks awful from far away, and climbing down the manhole and wading through the sewage only confirms your initial suspicions. Plus, you gag a lot. Oh - and they both stink! Man, what an analogy.)

Scoops words (from his latest article) are in bold, mine follow.

He came to the game dressed in black. Not funeral black, not Eldridge Cleaver or Johnny Cash black, not evil black. Brim tilted, glasses, toes squared and shined. He came in like Neo. Like he was The One.

Here we go, right off the bat: the number one thing that bothers me about Scoop. He has this habit of trying to frame the most mundane events and the most trivial details in the most significant light possible, as if he and he alone is able to see a deeper, more insightful truth than the average observer. Donnie Mac wore some black to the game - conscious decision? Maybe, but to Scoop this is the irrefutable truth that Donovan is The One, or is at least claiming to be, I'm not sure which. This drive me nuts. Absolutely bat-shit crazy.

Everything has changed. The braids are gone, along with the drama. Injuries and excuses evaporated. The sideburns that run down his face, linear; the fade crisp as iceberg lettuce. The black cloud is no longer destroying the team. This ain't last season.

Thanks for showing up six weeks too late, Scoop. Donovan got a haircut and TO's gone. Yay.

But once Donovan McNabb stepped on the field to face a team that was an afterthought last season -- just like his -- last season came back.

Scoop words his sentences so that you have to read them at least twice before you understand what the hell he is really talking about. This isn't advanced writing, Scoop, and you aren't being clever or witty. If it confuses the reader, its just bad writing. Bottom line. Does he mean that his team is an afterthought this season or last season? You honestly can't tell from the way he's written that.

From the opening kickoff, it was like his MVP season stayed in Philly, stayed on the bus outside the Superdome -- like it made its point in the Dallas game.

Just so we're on the same page here, Scoop is now criticizing Donovan, right? He's calling Donnie Mac's performance against the Saints a "let down," basically, correct? I think he is, anyways. We'll get back to this.

McNabb was sacked twice. He threw his first interception since the season's opening quarter when his Hail Mary pass was picked off right before halftime. His Eagles were down by 14 at the half. His command of the No. 1 offense in the league, the unit that is third in the NFL in points per game behind only the Bears and Chargers, had generated only three points. It was last season all over again.

Could Scoop have picked some more arbitrary, meaningless stats here to cover up for the fact that he has no idea what the fuck he is talking about? Donnie Mac was sacked twice? He was sacked three times last week at Dallas, which, according to Scoop, made him the front runner for NFL MVP. His first INT was, as Scoop says, a Hail Mary to end the pass, which has a success rate of, oh, negative 12, so that should count for a lot. The Eagles put up 3 points at the Super Dome, which given the way the Saints are playing at home, isn't all that bad - there's still a half to play. And they would have been down by a touchdown less if the Eagles punt return team didn't look like Angels in the Outfield right before the half.

But then, in the third quarter, he returned. He returned to being the Donovan McNabb whose play through the first five games had writers on "Around the Horn" last week acknowledging him as the best quarterback in the game -- better than Peyton Manning.

First of all, when you are relying on the panel of Around the Horn to make your case, well...I mean, that speaks for itself, doesn't it? Around the Horn?!?! Really, Scoop? That's the best you can do?

And second of all, now he's praising McNabb for rallying his team, right? So now after bashing him, he's praising him...what is the point of this story right now? Are we disappointed in Donovan? Think he's choking? Showing how resilient he is? What is the point? Does anyone know? I'm genuinely baffled. I'm sure Scoop will clear it up shortly, though. I have faith.

He completed 10-of-12 for 169 yards and two TDs in the third quarter. He put his team back in the game, on his back. The smile returned to his face on the sideline. But then the smile left.

Hey man, even Hines Ward doesn't smile when he does 14. I know the old saying "Your face should look the same whether you're up or down 20," but, I mean...whatever.

And as Donovan McNabb sat there on the bench for the last eight and a half minutes, watching the game against New Orleans slip away -- partially because of a poorly called final timeout with 2:22 left allowed the Saints to run out the clock (which was partially his fault because of two earlier ill-advised timeouts he had called) -- you had to wonder why the Superman impression he had been doing all season suddenly disappeared in the Saints' 27-24 victory.

Scoop is blaming Donovan for the Saints 8-minute drive to end the game? Maybe he should have suited up at safety, too. As to why Donovan's "Superman impression suddenly disappeared," I would wager that it had something to do with Donovan being on the sideline because, you know, he doesn't play defense.

Why didn't he come back and save this day? Of all days?

Asked and answered: after scoring 21 points, he was forced to sit on the bench for the last 8+ minutes of the game because he plays quarterback. You know what a quarterback is, don't you Scoopie? Please, don't go down that road again. Please.

The "after the fact" game, the game to shut up those who might say McNabb played so well to open the season only because he had something personal to prove in those first five games.

Is scoop even vaguely familiar with Donovan's career? How many straight AFC title games did he play in? His career winning percentage is second only to Tom Brady's among active QBs. Going 5-1 to start a season is nothing new to Donovan or the Eagles. He's the consummate winner and has been for much of his career.

McNabb needed this game to stop that conversation before it started.

The only one saying anything remotely similar to this Scoop, is you. So stop the conversation you're having with yourself and we can end this all right now.

But now it's too late.


Even if the Eagles had come back and won, the question would have been lingering.

Really? You don't think a dramatic, fourth-quarter come-back win over the new America's team would have furthered the McNabb-for-MVP discussions? This still would have hurt him, pulling out a huge win on the road in the toughest place to play in the NFL?

And because of the way McNabb outplayed Brett Favre two weeks ago,

Let me interrupt you briefly here, Scoop. Can you name a quarterback in the last few years who hasn't outplayed Favre? The dude s a human turnover machine stuck on a terrible, terrible team. Cripes...what year is this? Is this column five years old?

...and because of the way he made damn sure his team did not lose to Terrell Owens' Cowboys last week, the fact that he got outplayed by Drew Brees -- a QB who shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as him -- gave the question life.

Again, Donovan makes damn sure his team doesn't lose any games, period. What was so different about his effort against the Cowboys as compared to his effort against the Saints? The difference in the two games was Philly's D - down the stretch in a close game, the D got some huge stops and forced a couple key turnovers. They failed to do this against New Orleans - thus, the Saints 8 minute drive to seal the win.

Really...why did he make damn sure last week, but not this week? Because off his Hail Mary INT? Or his "ill-advised" time outs? Or because he didn't wear the requisite black? C'mon Scoop...gimme something.

And why are we hating on Brees here? Certainly, he's better than Favre. He was a Pro Bowler two year ago and threw 27 TDs last year, and now he's the catalyst for one of the greatest turn arounds in NFL history (so far). Dude can ball. While I agree McNabb is better, Brees ain't no slouch.

And this is when the skepticism about Donovan McNabb will begin to take its toll and affect him for the rest of the season.

Who - WHO?!?! - is skeptical of Donovan McNabb right now? I want a name. Besides Scoops. I demand one.

Easily the most unfairly scrutinized player in the NFL over the past half-decade,

...maybe because talentless hacks who are only vaguely familiar with football call him out for his first bad half of football all season and eight minutes in which he wasn't even on the field...

McNabb now has to worry that people -- Eagles fans in particular -- will worry, analyze and pick apart every little step he takes, to the degree that he might start calling himself Bobby Brown. They will wonder, in the backs of their minds, whether what they saw before the New Orleans game was the truth, or what they saw in the Saints game is going to be how the rest of their season plays out.

Listen, Scoop. Eagle fans are worried about a lot of things. Can Brian Westbrook hold up for an entire season? Will the secondary ever get healthy? How will the defense keep it up with Javon Kearse on crutches? Will newly-acquired playmaker Donte Stallworth ever get back on the field? But Donovan McNabb is not one of them. He's been the rock of this franchise for years now. He plays mistake free football - one pick, and on a Hail Mary to boot so far this season - and is the calmest, most cool leader in the NFL. The entire Eagle's team is one huge question mark the rest of the season, except Donovan McNabb.

And if you people worrying about McNabb - even outright booing him - will effect him, well...remember Draft Day? He got hammered before he even played a down. That worked out alright, didn't it?

The emotion he had pent up inside since T.O. first called him out after the Super Bowl loss will now be held against him as evidence.

Evidence of what?

To many it will seem like the motivating factor to get him to this point.

Who is this "many"? You, Scoop?

They -- the McNabb lovers and haters -- will concede that his drive will now go into cruise control because he's proven the point he wanted to make, that he is a better quarterback than Favre and that his team can win without Owens. This game, this loss, will generate the thought that in Donovan McNabb's mind, right now, nothing else even matters.

Hey jackass - this line of thought is absurd. As a McNabb "lover" (Scoop's term, not mine), I absolutely will NOT concede that his drive will now go into cruise control. The dude was a winner before TO, with TO and after TO. Its only the media who define his career around TO.

And even if this line of thought is accurate, that McNabb is only on a mission to prove to the world he can win post-TO, its still doesn't hold up. You do know that the Eagles play Dallas again, don't you? You do know that part of his "unfair" criticism was that TO got him to the Super Bowl? So would a pair of regular season wins be enough, in his mind, to quash these criticism? Don't you think a second win and a trip to the Super Bowl might be a little bit more of a motivating factor?

And all of that will be untrue. But not unarguable.

What the hell does that mean? If something is untrue, then it is unarguable. The sky is blue. True. The sky is Orange. Untrue. This is unarguable.

Look, we can do it again: Scoop Jackson is a thoughtful, insightful writer who makes solid points and backs them up with facts and not made up words and italics for emphasis. Again, untrue and again, unarguable.

Will anyone take into consideration the fact McNabb spent the day before the New Orleans game getting a tour of the city with the president of Xavier University, and the effect that seeing the city outside of the French Quarter can have on you, even after you give $100,000 to two universities devastated by Katrina? Or will anyone take into consideration that ever since coach Andy Reid took over this team, the Eagles' record is 5-6 in games immediately after they've played the Cowboys?

I don't get it - is Scoop defending McNabb here? Sounds like it...sounds like he's now blaming Katrina and Andy Reid.

You know what I think happened? This is how I think Scoop came up with the idea for this story: he heard somewhere that the Eagles are 5-6 under Andy Reid after playing the 'Boys. He wanted to turn that into a column, and this is what his over-dramatic mind came up with. I really believe that, because I really don't think Scoop is capable of coming up with that kind of anecdotal evidence. Its just not possible.

No sir. Most will point out that even in a game in which McNabb's line was respectable (19-of-32, 247 yards, two TDs, one INT), his line was twisted because 89 of those yards came on runs after catches by L.J. Smith (29 yards on one) and Reggie Brown (60 yards on the other).

Donovan McNabb is overrated because his receivers came up with 89 YACs. This is like saying a basketball player can't score because he shoots alot of free throws. Scoop is just trying to make people think he has no idea what he's talking about, right?

And why doesn't it bother Scoop that McNabb hit Hank Baskett on an 87 yard bomb against Dallas? What, you think McNabb actually chucked it 87 yards to a stationary Baskett in the endzone?

They'll say the fact that he didn't panic in the fourth quarter was a sign of him not showing the passion needed to win, to be the team that went to four consecutive NFC championship games.

I've really been trying not to swear too much on these posts, but...WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN?!?! Now not panicking is a bad thing? Staying cool under pressure is now an undesirable trait? Why don't we hammer Brady for not panicking in all those Super Bowls then, too? And lets rip those guys on Flight 93 for not losing their heads either! (I know, I compared sports to a life and death situation...just trying to illustrate a point here.)

Really, Scoop...hammering a QB for staying cool under pressure. That can't be topped. Hopefully next column he calls out Adam Vinatieri for being so clutch, the asshole.

And who is "they" again? Has anyone figured this out yet? Scoop is just making up critics of McNabb, since none really exist at this point.

They'll say, "It's just like last season."

And they might be right.

No, they won't. Last season, a destructive force unprecedented in professional sports ripped apart one of the most successful team of the decade. Last season is a complete outlier. It has no bearing on anything. At all.

So which Donovan McNabb will they -- we -- see for the rest of the season? The one who had the MVP on lock coming into this game -- 11 end zones, one wrong jersey, a passer rating of 107.2? The one playing like a man possessed, like he had something to prove to the world? Or the one whose passer rating outside of the third quarter yesterday was 35.0, a rating that could get ESPN analyst Sean Salisbury called out of retirement?

I love how he carefully throws out McNabbs third quarter, like it didnt count. And since he was only on the field for three minutes and change in the fourth quarter, he bashes him for a half of play. What a jackass.

So, finally, I think, we get to the point of the column: What's more likely - the dominance we saw for 5 and a half games, or the subpar performance we saw for half a game? You got me, Scoop, you got me. Guess we'll just have to wait and see, huh?

And what does he mean by "one wrong jersey"? Anyone?

The one who comes to practice Wednesday, when he slides that red mesh jersey over his head to begin preparation for the next most important game of his career, has to decide which Donovan McNabb is going to be taking the snaps -- Games 1-5 Donovan, or the new anti-hero that emerged Sunday?

Good God, Scoop: Man has one bad half and now he's the anti-hero? If Donovan is the anti-hero, I'd love to get your thoughts on Terrell Owens or Mo Clarett...

And yet, he has a week to control not only the destiny of his team but also his very own future. McNabb has until Sunday against the Bucs to prove that the New Orleans game was a fluke,

He has much more than a week to control his destiny - he has the rest of the damn season, you moron. That beating a team that just picked up its first win of the season will somehow reaffirm to Scoop that Donovan is again dominant should tell you all you need to know about this argument.

that Rex Grossman is not the new front-runner for MVP,

I know he wrote this before the MNF game, but he's wrong again, and that's always fun.

that Peyton is no longer the best QB in the business.

Oh, the Around the Horn argument. We're still talking about this? Well, if you and Mariotti agree...

That the build up, the emotion, the win over Dallas, did have an effect on him, and that a letdown is inevitable and only human.

I guess we'll just have to agree to define "let down" differently. Losing at the buzzer to the hottest team in football on their home turf = let down. So noted.

That God may have a different plan for the New Orleans Saints that he might not be able to outplay.

Yes, God is actively rooting for the Saints. The region is in tatters, and this is how The Man Upstairs has decided to allieviate all that suffering. Clothes and shelter be damned; let's get the Saints on a winnings streak! Think before you type you mindless idiot.

Which forces McNabb to go through the rest of this season trying to confirm that those first five games had nothing to do with anything, that he's so "bigger picture" than that. That he shall not be judged by us on one game, and that every game for the rest of this season is a "statement game," his statement game -- not just the ones secretly circled on his calender.

Why does he have to make any more statement? He's been killing teams for years. I don't get this!

But if he doesn't do this, the Eagles can kiss another season goodbye. Just like last season.

Yes, because of the identical circumstances. Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

So who's going to be cold as ice? Who's going to walk the line? Who's the man in black going to be, the one from last season or The One?

That was really neat, Scoop, how you casually referenced the people you had talked about at the beginning of your article. It all kinda came full circle there, didn't it? I'm sure only a writer of your immense skill and caliber could ever dare to pull of such a literary trick.

You suck.

We all have one week before we find out. So does Donovan McNabb.

Thank God this is over.

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Zeke is Losing His Mind...and the Public Reaps All The Benefits.

I think Isiah Thomas might be growing himself a pair of rabbit ears (and those always work out well; nod your head, Tim Couch).

Zeke seems just a little to in tune with what the media have to say about him. Although if you are opening up a sports page in NY, you're gonna see the name Isiah (usually with little helper words attached, like "unmitigated disaster" and "atrocious decision making" and "suicide would be preferable"). And really...he hasn't done too much praisworthy lastely. Seriously, I'm trying to think of something...well, he did bring in Eddy Curry, who no one would touch because he might die at anytime and become this generations Hank Gathers (only medically), so I guess he is charitable. Yea, Isiah ; you're charitable!

Reading the media might not be Zeke's chief concern; repsonding to them might be. Last year, he got into it with Bill Simmons, and now he is calling out Greg Anthony.

Here's a little background.

After Simmons' ripped him - probably more than once; not that you can blame him, really - in his column:

"I'm gonna tell ya ... if I see this guy Bill Simmons, oh, it's gonna be a problem with me and him ..."
Ah, Isiah: proclaiming you're gonna fight members of the press usually turns out well, doesn't it? Lots and lots of upside to that type of declaration, isn't there? But Simmons is kind of an asshole - Isiah isn't the first person to want to punch him in the face - so I guess I can see that.

(For what its worth, Simmons ends his column with this gem: "So either you can e-mail me, have one of your PR people call me to explain it, or tell me as while you're making trouble for me on the street." Ha! Simmons - in the street! I'd love to see Simmons rolling down Rodeo Drive, rocking a mock turtleneck, with a posse of J-Bug and that guy who wore short shorts to Lambeau as Isiah and his posse of Starbury and James Dolan march towards them. Kind of like the worst remake of West Side Story ever.)

But the other day, Isiah just lost his mind over Greg Anthony. Here's some highlights from Marty Burns' article on
"This so-called former Knick, on draft night with millions of people watching, had the audacity to take me to task on a player that I'm pretty sure he had never seen before in his life," Thomas said. "But he stands on national television and talks about a kid he has absolutely no idea about. I'm just glad that all of New York doesn't think like Greg Anthony."

Thomas went on to question Anthony's credentials as a TV commentator, and even took a slap at his 12-year NBA playing career.

"Greg Anthony should never ever be in a position to question myself on anything about basketball," Thomas said. "I do remember the kind of player he was. I'll leave it at that."

Damn, Zeke - you want to try to be a little bit more of an arrogant, condescending prick? Anthony had the audacity to take you to task? Why not just sit on your throne and bellow "How dare you! How dare you speak before me?!?!" Who the hell are you, sir, to even use the word audacity? I'm pretty sure you are the man who had the audacity to run the CBA into the ground. Yea, AN ENTIRE FLIPPIN' LEAGUE. You had the audacity to take a proud Pacers franchise and barely keep them above .500 for three seasons, only to have them nearly go to the NBA Finals the year after you left. And aren't you the same guy, again, with the audacity to take arguably the poster-franchise of the NBA and make them a national punchline?

I just wanna know what Anthony ever did to Isiah, because he certainly wasn't the only one panning him for the Renaldo pick. If there is someone out there who thinks Balkman was the right pick in that spot, I've yet to hear from him. The Balkman picked even reduced Spike Lee to just throw up his hands and giggle, kind of like how serial killers laugh when you throw a straight jacket on them.

And as far as Zeke's announcement that Anthony should never be in a position to question him because "you remember what type of player he was," well...what the hell does that have to do with anything? Its so well documented that being a good player really has little effect on coaching and front office skills that its not even worth discussing at this point. (Although just for fun: MJ drafted Kwame Brown. We cool? Oh and you assembled this current Knicks team, Zeke. Jus sayin.)

If Isiah thinks Balkman's stat line in his last three preseason games justify the pick, he's out of his mind. The point wasn't that Balkman couldn't play - although that is still up in the air - the point is that he took Balkman way, way too high. No one was gonna take him in the first round, and you could argue no one was gonna take him in the second, either. Isiah spent a first round pick - 20th overall - on a likely undrafted free agent rookie. That's where the confusion came form, Zeke.

Amazingly, though, Isiah just couldn't let poor Greg alone. Here's some more from Marty. (And um, Marty? Might wanna watch your back. You could be next. Just lettin' ya know.)
When asked whether he could see Balkman someday defending LeBron James or Tracy McGrady, Thomas replied, "Wait a minute, hold on now ... you can run him out there but he'll probably get stepped on a little bit ... Unlike Greg Anthony, I do have respect for others."

When asked about the Knicks' dismal season a year ago, and what role all the injuries played, Thomas said, "We all were in a funk last year ... Greg Anthony was in a funk."

Later, when talking about Balkman's ability to handle the ball, a reporter jokingly asked if he had a better handle than Greg Anthony. "Most definitely," Thomas said. "Greg could only go left."

Yikes, Zeke. Calm down, buddy. We get it. You were a better player than Greg Anthony. Everyone knows; everyone remembers. Post retirement, though, and Greg has avoided reference's to the Titanic, the Hindenberg, and a moron. (OK, maybe not the moron part. But the other two, definetly.)

And what the hell does Balkman being able to guard Bron Bron have to do with Isiah having repsect for people? Not only is Isiah starting to ramble, he's going senile, too.

(Yes. Pump fist.)

Before this, fued (?), I was starting to think the Knicks were going to be OK this year - I mean, they do have a ton of talent on that roster, and from all accounts, Isiah is just going to let them run wild. Pushing the ball relentlessly is really the only way to get any kind of results from that roster. Isiah will probably do better than Larry Brown a year ago, and will feel justified. But the Knicks will never reach the levels of success they could have under Larry with Zeke at the helm. Isiah will be like throwing a cheap band aid on a cut that is just gushing blood - might work today, but ultimately a costly decision.

Isiah's hypersensitivity to the media - and his need to go public with it - are going to be his downfall (well, that and the completely incompatible roster he put together). Every press conference is going to be a bombardment of questions with no real answer and every column is going to skewer him (the "sleeping in the bed you made" reference may be made once or twice, methinks). By the All Star break, he's going to have some kind of public meltdown.

And I'm openly rooting for it.

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