ESPN made some good TV this morning.
It started with Paul Finebaum slobbering over the “class” Eli Manning showed in getting benched:
“I think it’s the right move but I also think you have to pause for a second and respect the way Eli Manning has handled this. The Giants blew it a couple years ago, they probably should have gotten rid of him then but they held on and Eli took a beating but he still has shown the epitome of class.”
And it continued when he trotted out some dusty takes about Cam Newton being selfish:
“We’re not watching the beginning of the end. It is the end. It’s over for Cam Newton. I don’t know why we’re mincing words and trying to find a pretty way to put it. He’s a train wreck right now. He can’t do what he used to do and quite frankly, forget the sympathy tour. Cam Newton has never cared about anybody —other than Cam Newton. And that doesn’t mean he should be given the opportunity but he brought his franchise down. It’s over for Cam Newton, nice knowing you, but you’re done.”
The instant Finebaum was done speaking, Ryan Clark was ready to pounce.
This is my only statement to that. We just spoke glowingly about—not we, Paul just spoke glowingly about Eli Manning and he had been a dud for the last four years. You want to talk about bringing a franchise down? Eli has ruined that franchise. So we gotta take out how we feel about a dude because he’s a Manning, because we love him, because he gives us this, Aw shucks you can do whatever you want to me and I’m going to be okay about it. That’s not true. If we’re looking at it right now, Cam has more left than Eli has had for years.
Clark kept going as Domonique Foxworth cheered him on from off-camera, and the whole clip is worth a watch. And whichever producer decided to have the camera linger on a fidgeting Finebaum throughout Clark’s speech should get a raise.
At the end, Mike Greenberg inexplicably threw it back to Finebaum who grumped that his coworkers are “hot and bothered and acting crazy” and then sulkily suggested they “just cancel the rest of the show.”
Finebaum is a hot-take machine who exists solely to inspire this kind of frothy rage from those within earshot. But sometimes a breakaway dunk is so strong and righteous that you really have to give some credit to the player who committed the brutal turnover that made it possible.