As I wrote in a recent post, the word “hero” is thrown around a bit too freely in the sports world. However, I heard a true sports hero this weekend.
As I was scooting around on Super Bowl Sunday, I listened to Mike Francesa’s “The NFL Now” program in the car, because my brain hates my ears. My beef with Francesa is well documented. Up until this year, most of that beef was confined to his agenda-driven conduct during the baseball season. I still found his football work to be at least listenable.
But as the Jets made an improbable playoff run, he dismissed all of their accomplishments in the same snide, condescending manner he uses to talk about the Mets. When they made the postseason, it didn’t count because the Colts and Bengals didn’t try in weeks 16 and 17. When they beat the Bengals on the road, it was because of Cincinnati’s mistakes. When they beat the Chargers on the road, again it was no big deal the Jets had taken down one of the best offenses in the NFL on their home turf.
Did the Jets draw an enormous amount of luck to get as far as they did? Of course. But who cares? The sheer improbability of all should have been enjoyed for what it was by anyone unlike Francesa, who traffics in misery for a living. It was a sickening, transparent attempt to both tweak Jets fans and get fans of other teams to cheerlead him.
The most frustrating thing about Francesa is that his medium (radio) doesn’t allow for any kind of counterpoints he doesn’t want to hear. If he wrote for a newspaper or a web site, you could comment on his completely faulty reasoning. Instead, he only welcomes callers who will kiss his ring.
On the rare occasion someone who disagrees with him gets on the air, Francesa merely screams at the poor guy until he gives up. I heard one call a few weeks ago where a reasonable caller accused Francesa of discounting the Jets because he didn’t like them, and because their continued success made him look stupid. Francesa’s voice got louder and louder with each response, and his counterpoints made such insane logical leaps they could only be explained by quantum physics. Eventually, the man on the phone couldn’t get a word in edgewise and had to abandon ship.
Radio also being an ephemeral medium, Francesa doesn’t get called out when he makes off-the-cuff, borderline slanderous remarks. Or when he just gets things wrong, like mispronouncing the name of Colts head coach Jim Caldwell. Throughout the football season, Francesa has referred to the Indianapolis coach as CaRdwell. Not once, or twice, or even a few times. All season long.
But yesterday morning, some brave, genius soul managed to get on the air with Francesa. This man not only called him out on his idiocy, but also made Francesa look like even more of an imperious buffoon than usual, as he mumbled he didn’t “have time” to bother with getting Caldwell’s name right because it was early on a Sunday morning. Yes, you work a whole 30 hours a week–when could you possibly look up the actual name of the AFC champion’s coach?
God bless you, Rich in Massapequa. A man can stand up!
Hat tip to the hilarious @MikeFrancesaNY for the YouTube link.