by J.R. Lind
This Week In The 'Drome: Bad football, bad business, bad money management and more ...
Thurston Howell vs. Mary Ann: This week in the dead tree, I expound on the NHL's now-underway lockout..
The $3.3 billion game of Hungry Hungry Hippos has already resulted in the cancellation of this month's pre-season games, which like exhibitions in all professional sports, are the Near Beer of contests: they'll do in a pinch, but it's not really worth paying full price.
For the Predators, that means no home exhibitions. The only two dates on the schedule for Bridgestone Arena were slated for September.
The dearth of games will be replaced by the on-going PR war between ownership and the players' union. It would be far more beneficial if instead they were using their new free time to negotiate a deal to stave off a sport-crippling work stoppage, of course.
The common perception is that the players are winning here. Union chief Don Fehr is permissive about letting the players speak for themselves, while the owners are under a gag order, all pronouncements coming from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who does, after all, get paid $8 million to be the league's mouthpiece.
Whether he genuinely believes what he's saying or not is inconsequential — Bettman exists to parrot his bosses. So when he said the owners needed a bigger cut of revenue in part because of the rising cost of jet fuel and massage therapists, he may have recognized how out of touch he sounded. But no matter: his job is express the owners values, misguided and absurd as they may be.
It doesn't help his job of swaying people to the ownership's side when there are layoffs announced in Florida and Ottawa (though, thankfully, not in Nashville). Included in the Panthers' layoffs was their mascot, a surefire way to convince the youngest fans to back your play.
Meanwhile, the players get to talk about how they just want to get back to playing. Heck, they even offered a reasonable deal last month that included expanded revenue sharing and everything!
Bear in mind, of course, Bettman surely recognizes he has no chance of winning in the court of public opinion. This is a man who puts on a happy face though he's roundly booed with regularity. But the players and the fans aren't his constituency: the 30 guys (or corporations or whatever) who give him a regular vote of confidence are.
And as long as they're happy with his performance, he'll keep his job. History, though, rightly or not, will blame Bettman for three lockouts in 18 years as much as the present-tense fans do.
The Week Behind
The Bad Man Punted Baxter: Not since Jack Black's motorcycling caricature Brett Kerned a precious puppy off the Bay Bridge has a man in light blue been so singularly devastated in San Diego.
Like Ron Burgundy, the Titans were inept in throwing (and the pigskin might as well have been a burrito). And like Burgundy, they come out of the disaster in desperate search for an identity, for just one win. Suffice it to say, their offense is just as exciting as being stuck inside a phone booth.
Losing to the Chargers is no great surprise for the Titans, the successor franchise to one which hasn't beat the Bolts in nearly two decades. But Sunday's 38-10 deflater seemed worse than most.
Losing to the Patriots and Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski is one thing. Watching Jackie Battle and Dante Rosario run roughshod through your defense, though, is a terrible way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The opening stretch of the season was expected to be tough and going 0-2 wasn't an unpredictable result, but the manner of losing is telling. The offense is ineffectual. The defense is inconceivable.
At least the special teams are good, so we can watch Chris Johnson carry three times for four feet from the 25-yard line instead of from the 18 — not that he's blaming anybody, but it's definitely not his fault.
The Articles of Remonstrance: Back in 1610, the followers of Joseph Arminius put pen to parchment and castigated the Calvinists with their Articles of Remonstrance, a point-by-point take down of Calvinism's more famous TULIP.
It launched a debate still going 400 years on.
Vandy put their own Methodist beat-down on Presbyterian Saturday, a rollicking 58-0 wailing on the tiny Blue Hose — and thankfully, it only took four quarters.
There's not much to learn from such thrashings, though James Franklin's decision to start Austyn Carta-Samuels at quarterback over Jordan Rogers was unexpected. And in the words of Tennessean beat man Jeff Lockridge, Franklin's decision to not make any of his quarterbacks available to the media was bush league.
It was encouraging to see Vandy's running game get going, especially if Franklin is unsure under center.
Garbage Time: Fans of winning football should keep an eye on TSU, now 3-0 ... Derrick Mason, who despite retiring as Raven has made his home in Nashville, is coaching wide outs at Ensworth. ... The Harlem Globetrotters added former MTSU player Alex Weekes to their roster. ... Former Green Bay Packer and New York Giant David Hathcock went missing but was thankfully found in Wilson County. ... MTSU beat Memphis 48-30 in the latest chapter of a burgeoning rivalry and the Raiders are recovering nicely from their opening week upset loss to McNeese State.
See Also A-Line T-Shirts, Random Wildlife And Whimsical Stories About Career Decisions: On every episode of COPS, at least one vignette features what we call in our house "The Helpful Neighbor."
Despite the apparent prevalence of an anti-snitch culture and America's cultural distrust of authority, no half-hour goes by without someone trying to give aid to the police (they usually say "po-leese," too). There's the guy who encourages the complainant in a Florida domestic violence arrest she can just have her husband "Baker Act-ed." There was the woman who called the law because a mother-daughter fight had spilled into her yard and she just wanted to be left alone. Hall of Famers all.
When Olympic snowboard legend Shaun White went on a tirade at Loews Vanderbilt this week — among other things, he pulled a fire alarm, forcing an evacuation — he was subdued by a bystander who would gain entrance into that Hall:
White allegedly tried to flee from the hotel in a cab, but a citizen stopped the cab from leaving. Police alleged that White kicked the citizen and attempted to run away on foot. The citizen told police he chased White before White turned and ran into the man, whom police did not identify. The collision apparently caused White to fall and hit his head against a fence.
Way to go, unnamed bro!
Get Your Hockey Fix!: A cool old film of the old Dixie Flyers, Nashville's first pro hockey team. ... A story about Predators defenseman and 'Drome favorite Hal Gill and how Matt Hasselbeck had a part in his becoming a hockey player. ... And a neat physics of sport thing going on at Adventure Science Center tomorrow, including an outdoor hockey rink.
The Week Ahead
Tha Carta II: For whatever reason — although the smart money is on the 0-2 start — Jordan Rogers has fallen out of favor with the Vanderbilt coaching stuff, who are instead casting their lot with Austyn Carta-Samuels.
He got an easy warm-up last weekend and looked serviceable, but a home game against Presbyterian compares to a trip to Georgia the same way throwing a wadded-up piece of paper compares to flying to the moon.
The Bulldogs are the early class of the SEC East, ranked No. 5 nationally and undefeated. And their defense will only get better. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones returns after a week of rest, plus All-America safety Baccari Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree return from suspension.
Worthless Prediction: Vandy historically plays Georgia pretty well, likely a function of this game being traditionally early in the SEC schedule. Don't expect this one to be any different, but Georgia will pull away from the 'Dores late. A few mistakes from Carta-Samuels and you might see Franklin thinking seriously about inserting freshman Patton Robinette at quarterback. Georgia 30, Vandy 21.
Secondhand Lions: Lots of great storylines in Sunday's game between the Titans and the Lions.
Detroit is coached by former Titans DC Jim Schwartz, and its formidable front four includes former Two Toner Kyle Vanden Bosch. Marcus Robertson, unceremoniously dismissed as a coach for the Titans, landed in the Motor City.
The good news is that there are all these ancillary storylines, because the game is setting up to be another bloody Sunday for Tennessee.
Fantasy owners across the country are now streaming all tight ends who have the good fortune to play against Tennessee's defense, who are baffled by this fellow at the end of the offensive line who keeps running out and scoring touchdowns. Detroit's running game isn't spectacular, but the Titans made San Diego's Jackie Battle look like Jim Brown.
And for an offense that struggles to inch the ball forward, Detroit will be no great treat.
Worthless Prediction: It'll be another long Sunday afternoon. Lions 34, Titans 17.
There's No Virtue In Schadenfreude: This week, the Associated Press was out with a full examination of the current state of Vince Young's life.
The former Titans and former first-rounder is currently out of a job and apparently out of money.
Per the AP report, Young is embroiled in court, suing former associates, being counter-sued and facing a suit of his own for a loan he took out during the NFL's lockout. It's a bad scene.
There's been a fair amount of glee displayed by segments of Titans fans, enjoying the misfortune of a quarterback some loved, some despised, but most ended up being happy to see wearing someone else's uniform.
This collective display of kicking a downed man hit its zenith on the 3HL when numerous people — allegedly food-service workers with alleged knowledge thereof — claimed VY spent mountains of money on booze and chain-restaurant grub. The bros at the 3HL, it should be noted, didn't vet these people, so take it with a grain of salt.
Look, Young has to take some responsibility here if he is broke. No argument here. But there's a certain level of responsibility on those who he trusted and to whom he was entrusted.
He was a sparking high-school quarterback who went to the Texas football factory and won the Longhorns a national title with a Rose Bowl performance that ranks as one of the greatest games by a single player in football history.
He was signed to a gargantuan rookie level contract — and he hired an old family friend (who turned out to be not much of a friend at all, it seems) as his agent.
Somewhere along the line he was failed just as he failed.
He was used for his talents, but apparently given little guidance. And maybe he was a knucklehead who ignored well-intentioned words of wisdom. Lord knows he didn't exactly have a reputation for taking criticism well as a quarterback, and maybe that reflected a deeper personality flaw.
No matter the reason or the path that brought him low, it's a sad story. He disappointed us as a player, but that doesn't give us reason to lose our humanity.
Can you run more than two inches at a time? E-mail me at jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com. And be sure to listen from 6 to 7 p.m. on 102.5 The Game every Tuesday.