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Friday, February 25, 2011
Rick Reilly's Mailbag

Anybody wanna play I Wrote/You Wrote?

I wrote:

Carmelo Anthony colluded with Amare Stoudemire (and soon, Chris Paul) to play with the New York Knicks and forced the Denver Nuggets to trade him there, practically at gunpoint. It's not new. The same thing happened at Miami and Boston, players screwing over their hometown fans to form these SuperFriends teams. I said if the NBA doesn't get a Franchise Tag rule (the way the NFL does), to help small-market teams protect their superstar players, you're going to have six great teams in the league and 24 nobody cares about.

You wrote:

David Diakoff (Los Angeles)

I think it's a good trend that the best players are concentrated on about 6-8 teams.. ... It makes the later rounds of the playoffs as good as they can be, which in my opinion is the most important thing for the fans and the league.

Your opinion is dopey. You're willing to ruin the balance of the league just so the "later rounds of the playoffs" are exciting? Did you take ANY economics classes in college?

John Thrasher (Depressionville, CA)

I cannot even watch the NBA anymore. There are way too few teams that remotely matter, and way too many teams without a shot at ever mattering. There has not been any pro basketball west of Texas outside of L.A. for at least 3 years where a fan felt like their team could win. A lockout/strike/work-stoppage will hardly register any place other than ESPN/Disney and TNT.

Do you realize that in the space of two days, the ENTIRE mountain time zone lost all its stars? Melo, Chauncey Billups (to the Knicks) and the incredible Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz (to New Jersey). We are not just the Flyover States now, we're the Blowoff States.

Nick (Asheville, NC)

If NBA players want to play together somewhere else it is completely in their rights and to say otherwise would drag the game backwards into the time before free agency. Yes, the Nuggets and other smaller markets are losing big-name players but maybe they should have created winning teams around those superstars instead. The onus is not on the player but the owner and their staff to make that player happy and make them want to stay in a small market. What's happening is good for the game of basketball because it is contracting the talent pool into a smaller amount of teams, which will push the game to new heights and possibly create a new "Golden" age for the NBA and its fans.

Wrong, wronger, wrongest. Melo left Denver because he wanted to live in New York, where he was born and where he was married, and play with buddies in Madison Square Garden, the coolest basketball venue in the world. Denver DID put together a good team around him. That team made it to the Western Conference finals two years ago and surely would've gone deep last season had not their head coach, George Karl, missed the entire last quarter of the season battling cancer. Golden Age? Lopsided Age.

Will (Detroit, MI)

I'm a die-hard Pistons fan that's had to watch Allan Houston, (pre-ankle) Grant Hill and Ben Wallace walk via free agency. Nobody was crying for us or coming to our defense. Remind me again why I should feel sorry for Toronto, Cleveland or Denver?

So that it doesn't happen to you again when (and if) you ever come back. And, by the way, Hill was traded.



First of all, you don't get it. Let's say ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, AOL and Fox were all part of one company, the way Denver, Toronto and Miami are all part of one company, the NBA. Let's call that company WritersWorld. So let's say all the good sports writers in the country ended up at, say, AOL. The man who runs WritersWorld would be yelling, "Wait a minute! We can't have all the good writers loaded into one place -- AOL -- while the other sites suck wind! Can't do it. Bad for business. They'll fold! They'll lose readers. They'll topple the whole thing." That's what David Stern has to look at now.

Second of all, stop SHOUTING.

I wrote:

Jay Cutler's cranky personality and brattitude make it hard on him when things go south because nobody wants to defend a guy with all the charm of a SubZero.

You wrote:

Scott (Los Angeles)

I'd be pretty grumpy if my offensive line let me get sacked more than 50 times.

Ross Zwerling (Elk Grove Village, IL)

He's not a dog killer, private-part texter, shoot himself in the legger. He could punch me in the nuts as long as he wins.

How'd he play in the playoffs until he hurt his knee? Mostly awful. If I were a Bears fan, I'd be punching myself in the nuts.

Steve Metteer (Denver, CO)

Arrogant, yes, but you forgot rude, petulant, whiney and childish. The only thing the Broncos' management failed to do when they sent him packing was give him a good hard spanking. He apparently never got one as a kid. Oh, I forgot, he still is.

Anna Keizer (Los Angeles, CA)

I once heard a quote attributed to Walter Payton: "When I get done with Chicago, they're gonna love me." I wish Jay felt the same way.

Ralph LoPriore (Lake Villa, IL)

Jay Cutler sponsored my twin 9-year-old boys over the Christmas holiday with tickets to the Bears-Jets game AND they were the honorary captains, because of Jay. Who cares if Elway doesn't like him? Who cares if he likes to watch TV during lunch? He is an All-Pro NFL Quarterback and there aren't many people that can say that in this WORLD.

JAY CUTLER HAS NEVER BEEN ALL-PRO. He's been to one Pro Bowl.

I wrote:

When an Iowa boy high school wrestler, Joel Northrup, defaulted his match against a girl, Cassy Herkelman, at the Iowa High School state wrestling tournament on grounds of "faith" he was condescendingly robbing the girl of her huge moment.

You wrote:

Joel (St. Louis, MO)

He wasn't protecting her and disrespecting her, he was doing what he believed was right, and living up to his own standard, which wasn't damaging to anyone. If a 10-year-old kid requests a punch in the nose, I'm not going to give it to them whether or not they think they can handle it.

What if you're boxing? What if she loves boxing more than anything in the world? What if she's been training to box her whole life, as Cassy was in wrestling, and now you're both in the state boxing tournament? You're going to decide what she needs as opposed to what she wants?

James Vance

I'm an atheist and was a high school athlete. One of the teams we played had a female quarterback. I sacked her on the third play and broke her collarbone. There is certainly an argument to be made about her choice and how she didn't ask to be coddled. It just felt wrong. My parents raised me to respect women above men. Call it chauvinistic, call it chivalrous, call it right, call it wrong. It's not even about if the girl could have handled it and taken Mister Northrup down or not. He didn't feel right engaging in physical combat, which is what wrestling is, with a female. She might have put him on his back and pinned him there, but he would have been compromising his principles. He didn't do that, instead he sacrificed his place in the tournament to do what he felt was right. That is worthy of praise, not derision. It's not a religion thing.

You're right. It's not a "religion thing," but the kid and his parents made it about religion. They said, flat out, their "faith" doesn't allow them to engage women in combat. They said they teach their kids to "respect and elevate" women. But the girl can elevate herself. That's why she made state to begin with. I get that it felt "wrong" to you, but that girl whose collarbone you broke, she wanted to play. Boys break their collarbones, too. Years ago, we had a nanny who played four years of quarterback for her school and hardly got a bruise. If everybody felt the way you do, she'd have never known the fun and comradeship and thrills of being an athlete. Who are you to take that from her?

Frank Engraff

Your column about the female wrestler in Iowa was absolutely ludicrous!

The boy showed courage beyond his years and certainly more than any adult involved in this fiasco. One wonders why there is violence and disrespect in society? This is one reason why. To grapple with with someone of the opposite sex in an open arena is a circus act not a sporting event.

Circus act? Have you ever been to the Iowa state high school wrestling tournament? It's an eight-ring circus. There are eight matches going on at once, refs and wrestlers and cheerleaders running every which way. When Cassy wrestled her second match (she lost), it looked like all the other matches. If it weren't for the two cameras there, it would've looked exactly like any of the other seven on the mats, which is to say, thrilling and athletic and, for a high school kid, epic. And that's what the boy stole from the girl.

Bill Gilman

You missed the chance to criticize the girl's father. It doesn't take a psych degree to see clearly that SHE is the SON he never had. Clearly he is trying to claim or reclaim his own masculine glory in a state where wrestling rules, through his daughter. And clearly, oh so clearly, she is desperately trying to gain acceptance from her dad because she learned by the age of 7 that being a girl wasn't enough. Being feminine wasn't good enough. He wanted a son and if the only way to earn his love was to act like a boy then by damned she would act like a boy.

Uh, hello? Dr. Phil? You didn't meet the father nor the girl. I did. She has three sisters, who are very feminine. Being a girl in that family is no problem. It's just that this girl is different. Her father, Bill, said she practically came out of the womb breaking things, climbing stuff and punching stuffed animals. He no more chose wrestling for her than he chose her hair color. It's who she is to wrestle. It's innate. The Northrup family, who don't trust schools to raise their kids (they home school him), who don't trust mainstream religion to represent their version of God (they belong to a Pentecostal offshoot church called "Believers in Grace") sees it as their chivalrous duty to protect this girl who desperately wants no protection.

I wrote:

With drunks, maniacs and people with no life ratcheting up the taunting and the violence in NFL stadiums, going to an NFL game these days is nearly as dangerous as playing in one.

You wrote:

Ignatius Fogarty (New York)

you should try going to a soccer game! In the U.K. (where I am from) rival fans are segregated, are not allowed to sit near each other. A ring of stewards and/or police will make sure that the fans don't get near each other. If you are found supporting the other team in the home team section you will get thrown out! I have been to a fair few NFL games since living in the U.S. and the experience is 100% way more family friendly than a soccer match.

And yet another terrific reason to ignore soccer.

Susan Ramos (New Jersey)

My husband, minor daughter, married son and his wife were viciously assaulted at a Nov. 21 Jets game. Just as horrible as the attack is the lack of corrective action and investigation of the incident. My husband suffered a broken nose, which required surgery, my son a concussion, and daughter multiple neck bruising and muscle strain (that left her) in a neck brace. I wish I had read your article prior to my purchase of those tickets.

Calvin (Atlanta, GA)

It's funny isn't it? When there are stupid people cheering for a team, it makes them a good fan base. On the other hand, in Atlanta and the Georgia Dome, where we never have these situations happen cause of some southern hospitality and the promoted family environment, we are called one of the worst fan bases in the league. We don't support our team ... we let too many other fans into our games ... The reason? We don't punch, kick, or do anything to make them fear our fan base.

No, you're called one of the worst fan bases in the league because you don't buy any tickets.

Ed (Nashville, TN)

While you're at it, throw the cheerleaders into your reform plan. As a father of two young girls and a teacher of young boys, I'm tired of the glorified stripper acts on the sidelines. I barely watch the games anymore because my wife is afraid my 3 year-old is going to pick up some 'dance moves' and try them out at pre-school. And it's hard to convince boys to respect girls when the NFL treats women with less respect than Hugh Hefner. I mean, at least he pays his girls a living wage and gives them a mansion to hop around in!

Wow. Have you considered home schooling?

I wrote:

Michael Vick deserves forgiveness. He not only spent two full years in prison and lost millions of dollars and millions of fans, but he's completely transformed. He spends his one off-day during the season lecturing to kids about dog fighting and animal abuse. And even the president of the American Humane Society said Vick would make a good dog owner now.

You wrote:

Bruce McDougall (Austin, Texas)

I have lost all respect for you after reading your column regarding Michael Vick. I do not think the NFL should have reinstated him to a position to receive public adulation. My heart is just not in it anymore to watch a spectacle in which talent trumps character. You apparently suffer from the same myopia, and don't have a moral compass. Good luck with that.

Not true. My moral compass actually has an arrow that points to forgiveness. Does yours?

Nick (Texas)

Forgiving him is one thing, but you are almost asking us to treat him like a king! Vick's blessing of speed and an ability to throw an accurate spiral made his "transition" back into society much easier than most felons who try and make it back in the real world. He has enough good fortune. We don't need a major sports writer asking a nation of sports fans to give him more.

You have no clue. Vick has a thousand times more haters now than he did before he went to jail, a thousand times the hate mail, a thousand times as many enemies. He'll never be rid of this. Does that make you feel better?

I wrote:

After another undefeated team didn't get a sniff at the national title (TCU 13-0), it's time for President Obama to make good on one of his campaign promises and get us a playoff.

You wrote:

Rich Mason (Seattle, WA)

I'm not sure the most powerful/influential man in the world should be actively pushing for the national playoff system. He probably has more serious things to do.

John Mullane (Murfreesboro, TN)

RE: College football playoff. Why does everything have to have a champion? What's wrong with 35 teams ending their seasons with a win? The real problem with college football is our national obsession with champions.

Why? Because this ain't Sweden.

Blake Davidson (Chattanooga, TN)

I feel that conference is over rated. Do you think TCU could go undefeated playing in the SEC?

I don't know, having skipped the witchcraft classes when I was at Hogwarts. How about we play them against Auburn just to see how good they are?

I wrote:

Ex-Montana Tech coach Bob Green is the funniest coach since Bum Phillips and needs to be hired by somebody, anybody.

You wrote:

Eric Obrigewitch (Clancy, MT)

Loved reading your article on Bob Green. I have one more for you. As a football official who worked many of his games through the years, my favorite quote was, "That was the worst call since Pontius Pilate!"

I wrote:

Being able to order an Arnold Palmer isn't nearly enough. We need more drinks named after athletes. For instance, a Brett Favre. ... By the time it comes, you've changed your mind. A Lance Armstrong. ... Only one ice cube. A Reggie Bush. ... You drink it for a little while, then they take it back.

You wrote:

Jeff (Houston, TX)

The Shawn Merriman: Not nearly as good without juice.

The Kevin Durant: The drink you should have picked (only served in Portland).

The Marion Jones: When the bartender takes your glass away, the three guys sitting next to you lose theirs, too.

The Alex Rodriguez: Turns your lips purple.

The O.J. Simpson: More than enough proof.

Andrew Rouell (Philadelphia, PA)

The New York Giants- First three quarters taste great, but the fourth tastes bitter.

Bill Belichick- Steal the drink from the person next to you.

Justin Sheinbaum (Gainesville, FL)

There already is a drink called the Anna Kournikova! It's a White Russian made with skim milk instead of whole milk. ... These are the kinds of things keeping me out of dental school.

I wrote:

Nathan Harrington, who beat millions to win ESPN's fantasy football in 2010, did it while being homeless and without a computer.

You wrote:

David Nelson (Omaha, NE)

Check out the Omaha World-Herald website for a recent article about a guy who finished last in his fantasy football league, and had to get a "fantasy loser" tattoo. That was the bet the participants made going into the season.

Worse, it was a pink-haired unicorn with clouds and a rainbow.

I wrote:

You root for the Packers in the Super Bowl because Steelers fans may want another Super Bowl title, but Packers fans need it.

You wrote:

Bill Gray (South Park, PA)

Pittsburgh has the Roberto Clemente Bridge, and Art Rooney Avenue. People from Pittsburgh bleed Black and Gold, we even paint our bridges those colors.

Mary Reina (Brookfield, WI)

The only nuance you missed was the jumping off [the Ray Nitschke] bridge [if they lose]. ... Packer fans will cross the bridge to greet their beloved team at the airport, at the stadium, and at the grocery store. We would never kill ourselves when there's always next year. Vince taught us better than that.

Danny Bogen (San Francisco, CA)

Hey Rick, you forgot cheese bras! They are the height of undergarment fashion in Green Bay.

Do they come with a matching cheese curdle?

I wrote:

Clay Matthews of the Packers went from a scrawny high school player nobody wanted to one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL.

You wrote:

Bryan (NYC)

You ever question how this scrawny kid put on so much absurd muscle and gained so much more skill in such a short amount of time?

Cheese bras?