The Blog Squad

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Spat

It’s Dallas Week for Redskins fans, but the real drama for the past few days did not include any players.

Typically, fans would expect a little smack being talked between the players and maybe even the coaches, but oh, how times have changed. Instead, a big spat erupted between the Redskins executive vice president of football operations and the Washington Post’s beat reporter.

If you don’t know the history of Vinny Cerrato and Jason La Canfora, then let me briefly catch you up — the reporter believes he’s entitled to information when he wants it and since the VP won’t give him any, the former has been very negative in his coverage of the team.

Some have said La Canfora is doing his job since Cerrato and his boss, owner Daniel Synder, have not produced a consistent winner. However, others have suggested that La Canfora has gone out of his way to find negative information and won’t stop until Cerrato (and even Snyder) is gone from Washington.

It’s sort of a “This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.”

This latest donnybrook started when it was announced that Cerrato would host a radio show on ESPN 980, which is owned by Snyder. Cerrato would host the Washington-area show, called “Inside the Red Zone,” for four hours per week.

Well, this bit of news didn’t sit well with La Canfora, and he let his feelings be known. The reporter/columnist suggested in the piece that no other NFL executive was doing such a thing. But that bit of information is misleading. Bill Polian, the Indianapolis Colts president, hosts his own show. Granted, Polian’s program is one hour a week in the evening, but Cerrato isn’t the only executive with a microphone.

This is the kind of slanted writing has many people wondering how La Canfora has a job.

But never mind that for a second. La Canfora made a more dire suggestion a few days later. He decided to call the league office after Cerrato spoke to NFL Network’s Adam Schefter about the possible firing of Lane Kiffin of the Oakland Raiders.

La Canfora asked the NFL if what Cerrato was doing could constitute as “tampering” because he was speaking about another coach while that coach was still employed. Obviously, it wasn’t, and even casual fans could answer that question.

So why did La Canfora call the NFL?

Cerrato responded Monday on the radio.

Well, fan reaction was a bit skewed. Many were very angry at La Canfora. Fans wanted him taken off the beat immediately. And those were the gentler responses.

What happened next?

The Washington Post sports editor, either receiving some bad advice or itching to become part of the drama, issued his own statement. It’s very noble to try and protect your reporter, but this was one time the sports editor or any editor needed to keep his mouth shut. Let the situation blow over. After all, it is Dallas Week. Fans will forget.

Instead, the sports editor made his reporter look at worse lazy, and at best, vindictive.

Consider this part: Here’s what NFL spokesman Michael Signora had to say: “Jason LaCanfora (sic) called our office and said that Vinny Cerrato was talking in specifics on his radio show about the Raiders’ coaching position. Jason wanted to know if that could possibly be a tampering issue. Jason has been told that there is no general prohibition against publicly talking about another team’s players or staff. It routinely occurs throughout the league.”

(By the way, did you notice how the sports editor spelled his own reporter’s name? This is the Washington Post. The standard should be the highest in journalism. This mistake is inexcusable.)

So the NFL says this routinely occurs throughout the league. Duh. Almost every day. All a person has to do is read stories about an NFL coach or executive on the hot seat and there are people connected to teams, named and unnamed, who are quoted about the given situation.
Why doesn’t La Canfora know this?

Could it be he wanted to get the Redskins in trouble through this feeble attempt and masked it with an explanation of ignorance? Okay, I’ll play dumb. If he was indeed ignorant about the tampering rules, why didn’t he check the rulebook that should be handy in the newsroom instead of bothering the league office? Or better yet, why didn’t he read his own paper’s story about tampering written just six months ago?

At least one other media person tended to agree with outraged fans. La Canfora answered this media member’s e-mail and showed a tremendous amount of class.

Then mixed in with this ugly situation is a rant by the team’s play-by-play man Larry Michael, who showed an equal amount of graciousness during an episode of Redskins Nation.

So that’s where it ends, for now.

My take on it is “wow,” this is better than Dallas Week and more like Dallas, the old-school TV soap. I read everything I could on the drama. And that, my friend, is exactly why this is all going on. La Canfora knows that the more he hates on the Redskins, the more hits the Washington Post Web site gets. That makes his bosses very happy.

I’d be interested to know what the hit count was for the episodes. I would guess they would be in the top 5 ever at

OUT AT HOME: This is with my head and not my heart. Redskins 27, Cowboys 21.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Here’s another recent case of an NFL executive and a newspaper writer going at it. I laughed when the columnist said something like “I would very much like to own a piece of the Raiders” after he was threatened.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hail to Football

Now that professional football is once again in my life, like that first day when I can open the windows to my house and let the air shotgun through, I feel like I’ve woken up from a long sleep.

It’s a good thing since I haven’t been getting any sleep lately because of football.

Let’s start with Sunday.

I wake up in the morning between 9 and 10 o’clock to the smells of sunny-side-up eggs and bacon that my beautiful wife has prepared. Did I mention that she’s beautiful and deserving of a Coach purse?

I finish my breakfast and by 11, I put my Redskins flag outside the front door. My daughter and I will sit and watch it flap for a few minutes. It’s a fantastic sight.

At this point, I begin to get nervous. So instead of watching the pre-game shows, I generally do a few chores and other things to kill the time. My wife dresses the little one in a Redskins outfit, and by 12:30 p.m., I settle in to watch my beloved team.

Oh, I have the NFL Ticket, and it’s ridiculous.

I DVR the Redskins game and usually pause it at a crucial point. I’m not a smoker, but if I was, I would go outside and puff one real quick. Instead, I pace around, thinking of the outcome. When I get my nerve, I hit play and watch the result. This is a superstition, and last week, it produced some wonderful outcomes. It also helps me fast forward through the commercials.

Also, during this time, I have my laptop in front of me to monitor my six fantasy teams, three that are money leagues. I also track my pick ’em pool, which has a weekly prize of $250. And guess who cha-chinged that amount last week?

The NFL Ticket allows you to input two fantasy teams and will update you with a pop-up box on the bottom of the screen every time one of your players does something. So during the commercials of the Redskins game, I’ll flip over to the Ticket channels and watch the Lions and Calvin Johnson or the Rams and Stephen Jackson or the Browns and Derek Anderson. It’s sad, I know.

You may wonder where my wife is during all of this mess. I did say she’s wonderful, and a converted Redskins fan, but she’s not a sicko like me. So she and the kid leave around 1 p.m. to go shopping, usually at Target. They do this so I can have some alone time. Did I mention my wife is beautiful and deserving of some Burberry perfume?

They generally return at halftime, and after a quick hello and some kisses, they go do their own thing — the kid naps and the wife watches Legally Blonde or The Notebook or some other rerun movie.

If the Redskins win, I immediately turn to the postgame show on Comcast. I watch it while fist pumping every highlight, or doing the “21” sign, or gyrating parts unknown.

When I’ve had my fill of the taste of victory, I turn my attention to fantasy football and the pick ’em pool. If I have a chance to win the pool, I’ll flip around watching the games that I need to secure the cash. If I’m out, I’ll ask the wife to decide where to go out to dinner.

I will on occasion watch the Sunday Night game, but generally not. After all, I still have some father and husband responsibilities.

Monday is spent looking at stats and reading the Redskins fan board. Over and over again. Then there’s Monday Night Football, which I usually watch.

Tuesday is spent admiring or cursing my fantasy team, and reading the Redskins fan board and the team site.

I usually take Wednesday off from football to fulfill my other responsibilities so I can devote the last part of the week to my fall and winter passion.

On Thursday, it’s time to make my pick ’em pool picks. I don’t use any resources other than my brain when I select the winners. At this point, I have read and consumed enough information to make decent selections.

Friday, it’s time to start thinking about the next game. This week, it’s the Cardinals. I’m biting my nails at this very moment. The freaking birds always give the Redskins trouble. So to temper my nerves, I do my fantasy football moves and set the lineups. We usually go out to dinner, and I light up when my wife asks me about the Redskins’ chances of winning on Sunday. She pretends to be interested and gives me reassurance that the team will not break my heart in two days. Did I mention my wife is beautiful and deserving of Tiffany’s sterling silver Heart Tag Charm Toggle bracelet?

Saturday is family day. I graduated from VCU, so there’s no college football in my life, thank God. We go out and explore the area, hang with friends or family, run errands and do yard work. I usually stay up late, playing video games or watching movies. I also do it so I can sleep in on Sunday and be that much closer to game time.

Then I wake up Sunday to the smells of sunny-side-up eggs and bacon.
Life is good.

OUT AT HOME: I read this week that social networking sites have replaced porn sites as the most searched on the Internet. Wow. I’d better figure out Facebook.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Like a lightning bolt out of nowhere. Wow.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Local No. 3, for Free!

Back in January 2006, as part of "Comics Capital," a feature package looking at Richmond's comics scene, I interviewed Brian Wood, the writer behind Local, a comic-book series in which each installment takes place in a different city. Why? The third issue, which revolves around the fictional Richmond band Theories and Defenses, is set here. Now, more than two years after that interview was published, Local is getting collected into a single volume, and in honor of the occasion, the publisher, Oni Press, has put the entire third issue up on its MySpace page.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Losing It

Did you hear about the 22-year-old woman who is publicly auctioning her virginity to pay for her college education? No, it’s not a joke. And in the next breath, she says she wants the bidding to hit $1 million.

Now I didn’t go to Harvard or Yale, so I don’t know how much a higher education costs. But I’m pretty sure not $1 million. Can you imagine the monthly student loan payment on that bill?

Maybe I’m wrong. After all, I have been out of college for 13 years. Maybe it does cost that much. If that’s the case, my daughter had better be satisfied with going to a state school, or better yet, be prepared to sell off her virginity.

Strike that.

No daughter of mine will ever go to a state school. I want her to do better than I did.

In all seriousness, this woman, who calls herself Natalie Dylan for “safety reasons,” says she feels empowered by her decision.

“I don’t think auctioning my virginity will solve all my problems,” she said on a celebrity television show, The Insider, on Wednesday. “But it will create some financial stability. I’m ready for the controversy. I know it will come along. I’m ready to do this.”

She later added this gem, “We live in a capitalist society. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to capitalize on my virginity?”

What really shocked me about her comments? The “solve all my problems” part. Apparently, she has more than financial problems.

The story continued to make me shake my head when I learned that after eBay turned her down, she decided to go with a Nevada brothel, the Moonlite Bunny Ranch. I believe that’s the place made famous by the HBO series.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that her sister works there, allegedly to pay off her college debts?

It’s not that I want to control this woman’s body with angry and harsh words of morality. I have no right. Her body is hers. I respect that.

What concerns me--and maybe it's the romantic in me--is I honestly believe that many of us want to lose our virginity to someone we love. Or lust after. Giving a part of ourselves like our virginity should somewhat be a private affair. Something that bonds two people, for better or worse, forever in a spiritual way. Not in a capitalistic way.

Natalie Dylan said she needs the money. That’s fine. But what if she gets $1 million? Will that open the eyes and legs of other virgins? How is that not prostitution?

And not to be crude, but some of us are virgins in many areas of sex. We may think we’re porn stars, but we haven’t even come close to doing the things that appear on even late night Cinemax. So will we eventually see a Web site, eLay, pop up and offer other areas of virginity for sale?

I believe the message our youth should have about their virginity is that it’s worth a lot more than $1 million. And if when the time is right, when they are of age and understanding of the responsibilities, they find love the first time they make love.

It will be a richer experience than losing it at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch to some wealthy stranger willing to write a check.

OUT AT HOME: We’re officially a Wii family now. And Wii love it.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Even the pros play fantasy football, although it seems they know very little about it.