|Beware the Heisman|
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2
At The Cooler, we believe in The Heisman.
College football, totally boss sport. Tradition, a most respectable thing. December, an ultra-cool month for football talk.
Two words, pal: "S" and "C."
Or two other words, as penned by the headline writers on ESPN.com: "Trojan glory."
Carson Palmer -- you're killing me, man.
Now, now. This is not to denigrate the gridiron skills of the lad himself. Fact is, Carson Palmer was the best player in the country. Fact is, Carlson Palmer's grace and cool in gutting my alma mater and Notre Dame on back-to-back weekends was the sort of football beauty to make you drool all over an "I Hate 'SC" bib. Fact is, he did all this with a name better suited to a Fitzgerald novel than a Pete Carroll playbook.
And the sad fact is, when it came time for a player to stand up and make good on the official Cooler mantra, as uttered by that anonymous surfer-stoner at the '89 UCLA-Michigan game -- to wit, and I quote, "We play some ball on the West Coast!" -- it was a Trojan who gave those words verity.
I will, with great pain, take the high road. I wish no ill will on young Palmer. I wish him nothing but the best. We're all Americans here, and may the best man win, blah, blah, blah-de-freaking-blah.
A glance Saturday night around the Yale Club of New York -- ahem, yes, my girl, the Bulldog herself, was fired up that the Eli ghosts of Larry Kelly (1936) and Clint Frank (1937) were honored at this year's site -- showed as much. Did you see Gino Torretta? Was he peddling life insurance to John Cappelletti during commerical breaks? My tax guy looks more athletic than Torretta these days. Did you see Earl Campbell? I love Earl as much for his "Skoal, brother" ad campaigns as I did for his rumblings out of the backfield in Oilers blue, but the brother looked ancient. He won the Heisman in '77, which is two years before my brother graduated from college, and my brother looks a full decade younger than Campbell these days. Can licks from Jack Ham cause that much gray hair? Can getting pummeled by Clay Matthews cause that much premature aging? Earl, my man, how about a new ad campaign: Grecian Formula, brother?
Did you see Eric Crouch? Exactly. Neither did I. Eric Crouch won the Heisman! If Carson Palmer isn't worried about the Eric Crouch Rule, he would be ignoring the case of road flares on the Heisman Highway, saying: BEWARE THE HEISMAN!
Carson Palmer can go to sleep, dreaming of Marcus Allen and Tony Dorsett.
He can also wake in a cold sweat, fresh off a nightmare of Chris Weinke and Rashaan Salaam.
He can also wake screaming, like Jack Woltz in "The Godfather," with images of Ty Detmer and Charlie Ward emblazoned.
Which will it be for young Carson? Time shall tell.
While the Trojan sweats uncomfortably, we shift to the Weekend List of Five:
1. 1-2, tell me who are you: the Bears!
Damning implications aside, we at The Cooler stand and applaud the latest T.O. shenanigan.
He may think America hates him. He may think the White Man does not understand him. But this White American actually thinks the Sharpie thing was Ruthian in its grandness; and this White American thinks the Pompom Thing was a scream. Just flat-out funny. As simple as that.
He says he's being creative. We agree.
He says he's having fun. We're all for it.
So, I ask ... what's the problem?
2. Flutiemania: Get me a brown paper bag for hyperventilation purposes
God bless Marty Schottenheimer for dialing up Doug Flutie in the fourth quarter at Buffalo. It's the year 2002, damn near 2003. David Lee Roth's solo career has been dead for 17 years. Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy have not seen the klieg lights of a Hollywood sound stage in at least 15 years. And no one has worn a pair of teakwood Wayfarers in at least as long.
But Our Man Flutie is still getting it done!
He didn't win, but he stirred something deep inside of us: the belief that Tears for Fears' 1985 epic "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is still one of the great tunes of our time.
Take that to the bank -- even if Flutie can't stir up the old magic, anyway.
3. A brief pause for Division I-AA playoffs
What, exactly, is not to like about the Division I-AA playoffs again?
Just had to get that off my chest.
4. The Hot Stove League: Crank it up!
Winter baseball is awesome!
Oh, sorry. Those were just the moves made by the beloved San Francisco Giants, apparently hell-bent on returning to the World Series.
Dusty talked Hundley and Hee-Sop; he talked Darren Baker Rule and Sammy.
Felipe talked Barry and baseball; he talked pitching and Jeff Kent.
I had to wipe away a tear. It was pouring outside, the Christmas lights were flickering inside -- we had them on the "Vegas" switch, full-on light-mania -- and I had nothing but ball on the TV.
How soon till spring training again?
5. NFL playoffs: Who knows?
Outside of that, who's to know what the NFL playoffs have in store?
The Raiders were your pick? They got pantsed in Miami.
The Bucs are the team? Christ on a bike, they sweated out a game in Detroit!
Did you not hear? Detroit!
So the Niners are nothing. So the Pack has Brett Fav-ruh. So the Titans and Colts are dark horses.
Yeah, like I know. Yeah, like you know.
Yeah, who knows?
They say a fool and his money are soon parted. I say a fool and the NFL are a perfect marriage.
But just wait till Carson Palmer turns up in Cincinnati! Then, it'll be a whole different story.
Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.