Thursday, December 15, 2005

Darrell Russell

Generally when a news story is said to hit close to home, it's just a figure of speech. Not this one, though; former NFL and USC defensive lineman Darrell Russell, whose path crossed with mine a couple of times during my stay at Southern Cal, was killed in a car wreck early this morning on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, about five or six blocks from my apartment. I heard the helicopters all morning.

I saw Darrell Russell my freshman year during Cinema 466, a class that featured screenings of new (often not-yet-released) films and subsequent interviews with the films' stars and/or writers and/or producers. TAs would collect USC IDs before class so people couldn't leave after the film and skip the Q&A period, and they'd pass the IDs back at the end of class. Once, Darrell Russell's name was called while I was waiting for my ID, and, really, those of us who don't spend time around professional athletes just have no idea how enormous they are in person. He was huge.

The next year, when I was with the USC marching band (the best marching band in the world, and don't let anyone tell you any different), we went up to the Bay Area for the USC/Cal game. Russell, at that point an Oakland Raider, spoke at an event at which the band also played. He seemed like a good guy.

Apparently Russell wasn't able to overcome his addictions (the reason he's a former NFL lineman appears to be his inability to stay away from drugs) or his associations with unsavory characters from his past, and that led to his being killed in a reckless, avoidable accident.

I didn't know Darrell Russell, but, like I said, my limited firsthand experience leads me to believe that he was a good guy at heart. My limited firsthand experience with reckless driving and substance abuse leads me to feel sad for Russell, not just mad at him.

Believe me, people. I'm not here to preach, but, please don't mess around when you drive. It's not worth it. Even if you don't die, and even if you don't get pulled over and have to spend the night in a jail cell in Glendale, it's still not worth it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's (Gonna Be) a Girl!

...[F]ifteen years ago we took a trip to Egypt... Saw the Pyramids and Luxor and then headed up into the Sinai. We had a guide, a Bedouin man, who called me 'Abu el Banat'. And whenever we'd meet another Bedouin, he'd introduce me as Abu el Banat. And the Bedouin would laugh and laugh and offer me a cup of tea. And I'd go to pay them for the tea and they wouldn't let me. 'Abu el Banat' means 'Father of daughters.' They thought the tea was the least they could do."

- President Josiah Bartlet, "The West Wing"

My wife and I just found out that our first child, due March 27, will be a girl. I know already by the overwhelming feelings I am experiencing that I will love her like nothing I've ever loved, but along with this comes my belief -- accurate or not -- that opposite-sex parents shoulder a unique responsibility.

What I'm basically trying to say is this: I've got some preparing to do. Starting with watching Mean Girls when I get home tonight. There's a lot I don't know.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Leave It To Congress To Get Me To Defend the BCS

Here's one of those stories in which everyone involved just seems deserving of a wet willie: Congress is now apparently looking into college football's BCS system.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: nothing the government does after the Casey Martin case -- in which the Supreme Court decided it could dictate the rules of a sport to a professional sports association -- could possibly surprise me, but, that doesn't mean I can't think it's a giant waste of time and money.

The BCS is incredibly stupid and anyone who doesn't support a playoff in Division I-A college football is just plain wrong, but, what the hell business is it of Congress's?

House Subcommittee on Commerce Trade and Consumer Protection Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., if you're really that desperate to get your name in the paper, can't you just get caught taking bribes like Duke Cunningham?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

And We're Back!

Okay, folks. I got a nice shiny new DSL connection on the computer at home, so, while The Athletic Reporter will remain on semi-permanent hiatus, hopefully the blog can get back to its illustrious two-or-three posts and five-or-six readers a week status.

Okay. You're a Dodgers fan. Your storied-but-recently-downtrodden team takes the division in 2004, even winning its first playoff game in 16 years. On to bigger and better things, right?

Well, in 2005 your finishes only four games ahead of last place in one of the worst divisions in baseball history, its second-worst showing since moving from Brooklyn. Your manager leaves, your GM gets sh*t-canned [we're still debating as far as the swearing policy goes here at The Athletic Reporter blog], and then, God help you, you wake up to this.

Is it any wonder I always liked the Angels more?

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