If you've hung out around this site in the past, you know that we consider ESPN fartsniffer Gregg Easterbrook to be a haughty dipshit. When Easterbrook isn't spending inches of column space attacking the plot holes in an episode of Human Target (He does just that this week, which is timely!), he's indulging in his favorite activity: Namely, sussing out the "glory boys" in life from their scrappy, gritty, third-string counterparts.
As I've said here before, Easterbrook is the kind of uppity asshole who attaches a moral lesson to any sports result. Teams don't lose because they're lacking in talent, or because the other team happened to play better that day. Teams lose because EGO-DRIVEN GLOREE BOYZ ARE TOO BUSY LISTENING TO THE HIPPITY HOP TO PROPERLY REPRESENT AMERICA ON THE FIELD OF PLAY. And this week's column, in which Easterbrook breaks down the NFL draft, is no exception. I'm gonna go ahead and scroll past egregiously fuckheaded nonsense like this ...
In other football news, why would poet e.e. cummings have had Robert Griffin III on his board? Find the answer below.
... or Gregg's theory that RGIII will be a flop because it rains more in Maryland than in Texas, and go right of the heart of the matter.
This fall the Cardinals will pair Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd as wide receivers, and that sounds exciting. Throwing to them will be either the minimum-salary John Skelton, out of Football Championship Subdivision school Fordham, or glamour boy Kevin Kolb, who got a $7 million bonus in March.
Please note that, in Easterbrook's universe (which I presume is filled with ancient dictionaries and letters written using feather quills), a Glamour Boy is no different from a Glory Boy. Both are pure evil, as exemplified by Kolb, a second-round pick who spent the early part of his career riding the bench behind Donovan McNabb, who is also a GLAMOUR BOY. No doubt Kolb learned everything he knew about Glamourboydom from McNabb, seeing as how Kolb came from a non-BCS school (Houston) and almost certainly wasn't a glamour boy until he wisely accepted a lucrative contract offer from Arizona that no one in his right mind would turn down.
Please note that the Cardinals gave Larry Fitzgerald $50 million in guaranteed money, but he's not a glamour boy because he's pretty good, and anyone who doesn't perform up to the level of his contract clearly failed to do so because money made him EVIL.
Keep an eye on Cardinals fourth-round selection Bobby Massie, an offensive tackle from Ole Miss. He was the successor to Michael Oher, drafted three years ago from the same position at the same college. Massie probably will get somewhat less media attention.
Here, again, is the ultimate in Easterbrook's philosophy. Michael Oher got a lot of attention thanks to The Blind Side, a book and film that Oher goes out of his way not to discuss. But that attention still makes him a glory boy, whereas Massie, who didn't get a book or movie made of his life, is clearly the more grounded person and thus a potentially good prospect you should look out for. Don't you see how that logic all ties together? Probably not, because it's INSANE BULLSHIT.
But let's get right to the ultimate bit of Glory Boy theorizing in this pile of shit:
Your columnist is at work on a book about the effect of football on American society. As part of the research, I tracked down all players in the 2004 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a high school all-star game that was then the ultimate in prep football recognition. (The Under Armour and Semper Fidelis all-star games now compete with the Army event.) The roster for the 2004 Army game matched almost one-for-one the top half of the Rivals ranking. Of the 86 players, two are now NFL stars, while only 13 more spent any time in the league. Seventy-one of the 86 top-ranked football prospects of 2004 — 83 percent! — never earned a dime in the NFL.
GTFO. Are you telling me that many good high school players don't end up in the .00001% of the population that plays in the NFL? I never would have guessed that. Who knew that it would be so hard to accurately predict future NFL success when evaluating HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of potential prospects?
A surprising number did not even play much in college. On the flip side, nearly all the high school football players from that year who became successes in college and in the pros were overlooked by Rivals and by the Army bowl selectors.
Now, a normal person like you or me would probably explain this FASCINATING PHENOMENON by saying that there are only 86 players in this all-star game, a remarkably tiny sample size given that 1.1 million kids play high school football in America. Of course the majority of future college football stars will come from the remaining pool of 1,099,914 players. And of course many of the all stars will fail—scouting high school kids is notoriously unreliable because high school kids aren't fully grown and are usually morons.
Ah, but Gregggg begs to differ. That's too simple a solution. Clearly, there's a much more insidious explanation for all this.
High school football players — being on Rivals, the ESPN 150 or any similar ranking is a big thrill and a way to get college coaches to call your cellphone. But being listed has NOTHING to do with whether your athletic career will go well and might even hold you back by swelling your head.
So true. If you become a high school all star, you're obviously going to be infected with GLORYBOYISM and end up buying diamond teeth and hanging out with Master Diddy and getting your own reality show. You're basically exposing yourself as a horrible person.
Easterbrook has pounded this drum for ages. Gloryboyism. Look-at-meism. BOASTERISM. If you suffer from any of these afflictions, then you are destined for self-implosion. A justified self-implosion, I might add. It got me thinking: Just what makes a Glory Boy a Glory Boy? By what fucked-up criteria does a pushy egghead like Easterbrook deem you worthy of a scarlet GB? I think I have some answers:
• Attending an
FCS FBS school
• Getting picked in the first round
• Playing in any kind of high school all-star game
• Signing any type of big free-agent contract, regardless of whether you earned it
• Attracting media attention of any sort
• Playing any position other than second-string tight end
• Talking when not spoken to
I think we're long past the days when football players had to be stoic automatons who were never allowed to make money and were expected to graciously hand the ball back to the official any time they scored (NFL Network's No. 1 TD celebration of all time, let's not forget). Easterbrook is one of the stubborn holdouts, a man stuck in a universe where any display of individuality, or any attempt by a player to make more money for himself, is seen as boorish, a stain upon the game. Never mind that the NFL itself has morphed into a money-gobbling, corporate-whoring, shit-eating behemoth. It's still incumbent upon the PLAYERS to be ambassadors and moral exemplars for their sport, even though sports don't need any such representation. Forget what it says about a player when he hot dogs and showboats and glory boys around. What does it say about YOU if you're the kind of person who considers himself a moral policeman for the rest of the sporting world—the last decent man? What kind of fucked-up, egotistical control freak do you have to be to end up with this worldview?
Not that Gregg is consistent, mind you ...
Virginia Tech tailback David Wilson has both physical gifts and the gift of gab — the New York media will swoon for this young man, who can walk the fine line of calling attention to himself without crossing over into egocentricity.
And that is something that Gregg Easterbrook fails to accomplish on a weekly basis.