Jay Cutler: Teenage Mutant Ninja Quarterback

By David Hauser

First off, let the record state how difficult it is, in this the year of 2012, to find an actual hardbound (not even leather-bound nor smelling of rich mahogany) copy of the English dictionary.  But one university research library and two reference section workers with Masters in Library Sciences degrees later, just as I suspected, Jay Cutler’s picture is indeed printed right alongside the definition of “petulant” in the English dictionary.

Capricious? Check.  Insolent and rude? Check.  Fussy disposition? Emphatic check.

Ever since the mysterious self benching in the 2010 NFC Championship against his Bears’ ancient rival Packers, which resulted in Caleb Hanie’s 15 minutes of sports almost fame, the sports world has been scrambling to label and understand the moody man from Santa Claus, Indiana. Continue reading

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Late July. NFL Training Camp Hype. Ryan Kalil.

July 25, 2012 Charlotte Observer, Ryan Kalil Issues his guarantee for a Panthers Super Bowl this year

By David Hauser

Heck, I’m not even laughing, I’m just impressed.

Impressed first, that a young guy is so well versed in his franchise’s roots, especially considering that Kalil is a Cali kid with no ties whatsoever to the greater Smoky Mountain region.  How does he know so much about such a young and mostly anonymous NFL franchise, a team that he grew up literally 5,000 miles away from?  A lot of professional athletes get tagged with the mercenary label: there to get a pay check, fame, and a bunch of twitter followers…and barely know what city they are playing for.  Not Kalil, you can almost feel the retro-active pain he feels for his club’s “Dom Caper Years,” when all that Panther Nation[1] had to root for was possessing the league’s most unheralded fantasy QB in Steve Beuerlein[2] and rooting for one of the greatest names to ever bless the field of sport in tailback Tshimanga (pronounced Tim-monga) Biakabutuka. Continue reading

The Employed Ones: Free Agency Culture of the NFL vs. NBA

By David Hauser

Jobs.  Ask any politician a question this political season and he or she will inevitably find a way to bring the conversation back to jobs.  Politicians may be underhanded and smarmy, but they still remain a better metric than even twitter for assessing the most salient issue of the day (as of course, they must be on the cutting edge of what best to pander to).  Since the worldwide economic collapse in the Autumn of 2008, we have seen American state governors wage war against unions, politicians get tagged with the vaunted “socialist” label, endless political arguments about whether cutting taxes or increasing government spending is a sounder methodology for creating jobs, the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, and I can only guess the term “job creation” will be plastered and super-glued to our nation’s collective forehead over the next eight months as Barack Obama and (seemingly) Mitt Romney vie for the White House this November.  The operative word in this endless political theater is: labor.

As writer and pop-philosopher king Chuck Klosterman pointed out last year, every major sports and cultural story of 2011 revolved around labor.  Two of the three most popular American sports leagues had labor disputes over the same three to fourth month period.  Charlie Sheen fought his highly publicized dispute with CBS all because of labor.  Hell, even the lowly Detroit Pistons tried to organize a strike against their own coach last year by not attending practice as their unfortunate season wound to a close.  In what must be perceived as some kind of socio-cultural clash of class and wealth, this country is in the midst of a major financial distribution transition and without coincidence the sports world mirrors the broader American culture in coming to grips with this issue.

For the third year in a row, the NBA’s on court brilliance has been hijacked by the labor narrative.  Dwight Howard’s “Indecision 2012” significantly overshadowed the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament.  NFL fans, who were not afforded the fast-paced rush of a traditional free agent signing period last year due to the NFL’s aforementioned labor dispute, are treating this year’s free agency period as some kind of sacrosanct religious experience (with the likes of Mario Williams, Peyton Manning, and Tim Tebow on the move).

More than ever, sports fans are wholeheartedly consumed by free agency player movement.  Through some form of fragmented sublimation of our country’s unemployment crisis, it remains easier to analyze and critique the labor relations of our athletes and celebrities than internalize and personalize our own fears about the rapidly shifting wealth and labor landscape in America. Continue reading