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Four Downs

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By Chris Pine

Disclaimer: This week I find myself in a bit of a quandary regarding my contributions to JetNation.com. In trying to write something every week about The New York Jets I occasionally hit a roadblock. Now said roadblocks typically occur for one of two reasons; either I have nothing to write about or I have too much to write about. Today I find myself with the unusual predicament of having both problems simultaneously.

You see, there isn’t too much going on with the Jets on July 15th, and there is definitely not enough to fill up a 1000 or so word article. Seriously, am I supposed to write what would be a seemingly endless piece on the release of Bubba Franks?

I also have a lot of other things on my mind, some of them are football related and some, hopefully, are at least of interest to persons who take the time to read my little weekly ramblings. I would have to assume if you find anything I have written so far even remotely entertaining then you may also find humor and/or interest in some of the same things I do. The thing is none of these other issues can really be used to fill up the space between the top and bottom of the page by themselves.

The only solution I can come up with is to break this article into four parts, briefly covering each topic that has come to mind over the last week or so.

1st down:

Calvin Pace’s suspension has really gotten me thinking about how individual NFL teams and the NFLPA deal with the league’s substance abuse policy.

Think of how important Pace is to the New York Jets this season. Not only have the Jets signed Pace to a lucrative contract but they will also be forced to rely more heavily on their defense than in the previous season. While Pace sits on the sidelines for the first month of the season, the rest of his teammates will become acclimated to yet another new defensive scheme thanks to the hiring of Rex Ryan. Pace could be playing catch-up all year long thanks to a neglectful GNC purchase.

That is, of course, if you believe Pace’s story, which is a very familiar tale from player’s who receive a suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing-substances. If Pace’s same old song is true, then you have to ask yourself, how does this keep happening?

How is it that the individual teams and the NFL as a whole do not regulate what products players use? How do the Jets allow an important investment like Pace to purchase something which contains an ingredient that is on the NFL banned substance list? In this day and age of a thousand supplements why is there not a department either run by the NFLPA or by every single NFL franchise that is specifically responsible for providing these products to the players? Wouldn’t that effectively put an end to one of two things? Either needless suspensions or bold face lies from players who test positive?

2nd down:

I am starting to notice a pattern, one that maybe the single, 20-something me would never have noticed: the rapid decline of the funny, hot chick.

It happened one night when I was flipping through the channels and stumbled onto “The House Bunny” starring Anna Farris. Now, I remember watching Anna Farris in “Just Friends” and coming away with the impression that not only was she hilarious but unbelievably hot as well. I thought, “Well, here she is, the new hot funny chick”. Sure, I had plenty of cute funny chicks at that time, Tina Fey and Jenna Fischer, just to name a couple. Anna was different though, or so I thought, hot, sexy, funny, up for anything; my kind of hot funny chick.

Then I devoted some time to watching her work in “The House Bunny”, and I was sorely disappointed. Her dumb blonde act wasn’t funny anymore, it was annoying. Like fingernails on a chalkboard annoying. Then I started to notice she wasn’t really that hot either. I began to ask myself if she was no longer that hot because she wasn’t funny to me anymore or was it because she was flaunting her sexuality too much without enough to back it up. Then I started to question the very fabric of the universe itself!

See, every few years a female celebrity, most often an actress, rises to the top of the mountain as the highly coveted, seemingly uber-relatable, hot, funny chick. To my knowledge, this is the pinnacle of hotness to a man, a sexual beautiful woman who was into guy humor. In my formative years it was Jenny McCarthy. Silly, demented Jenny was followed closely by goofy Cameron Diaz. Sadly, for me, both of these ladies stopped being funny and started to become very annoying. Much like Anna Farris they became less attractive to me as well.

Is it just me? Do other men feel the same way? Are we so desperate for a woman who we find hot and funny that we accept annoying as funny and attractive as unbelievably hot? I don’t know, but it worries me.

3rd down:

I am really concerned that the Jets are wasting the talent they have on the offensive line. The group of players they have assembled, specifically projected starters Nick Mangold, Damien Woody, D’Brickashaw Furgeson, Brandon Moore, and Alan Faneca, may be among the best in the league.

The 2008 season was such a disappointment compared to the high expectations Jet fans had. It seemed to take this group a few games to learn how to play with each other, and once they hit their stride it appeared as if the Jets lineman were derailed by the old, feeble quarterback who will not be named.

Their job doesn’t get any easier this year either. The Jets offensive line will have to contend with the ramifications of starting a rookie quarterback, tougher competition in the AFC East, and three different runningbacks, each with a distinctly different running style.

I am worried because the probability of an offensive lineman’s ability to play at a high level consistently and injury free is not that great, and unless Mark Sanchez can pay dividends immediately, I suspect that this could be another wasted year for the New York Jets investment.

4th down:

When I heard about the death of Steve McNair, it hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. This wasn’t due to some bizarre form of hero worship as I rarely put any athlete on a pedestal. I realize that many of these players were never required to mature emotionally past their early twenties due to the life they live. It would be very naïve of me to look up to that kind of person. Steve McNair’s death resonated with me longer than I expected because he represented a part of my youth.

I was a late bloomer to sports, and very late in coming around to football. Wayne Chrebet changed that. I was immediately enamored by his story. In following Chrebet, I became a Jet fan. I didn’t become an NFL fan though, until I began to follow Steve McNair.

I didn’t really notice McNair until the Titans/Rams Super Bowl. I remember everything about that day. I remember watching the game in my friend’s mother’s living room, wondering why we were all crowded in this small plastic covered furniture hell, afraid to drop a crumb on the floor when my roommates and I were renting a large house that seemed built specifically for watching sports, eating wings and drinking beer. I remember the emasculating halftime show featuring a Disney-fied Phil Collins. I remember all those dot com commercials. I remember not caring who won to rooting for Tennessee as if I had been doing it all my life. Most of all though,  I remember watching Steve McNair and thinking, who is this guy and why don’t people talk about him more.

McNair wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing player in the NFL, or the one with the hall of fame resume or even the pedigree that many of his contemporaries may have had. What he was though is something hard to put your finger on. He played hurt, he played ugly, and he played to win. Beyond that though, he was my gateway into the NFL. In watching McNair, I became engrossed in football, following games other than those played by the New York Jets.

I also think that if it wasn’t for Steve McNair sparking my interest in the rest of the NFL I may not be sitting here writing about football today. Sure, I probably would still be watching football, and maybe I would have found another player to latch onto as my ambassador to this sport. I didn’t though, so speculate is moot. McNair was the catalyst. For that, I will always be eternally grateful.

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