Is it Great to Be a Florida Gator??

No rest for weary Gator fans who may have stashed their 2008 BCS Champs shirts for sunnier days: Jeff Driskel’s recentl loss to The U has nerves amok in Gainesville

By David Hauser

Attending a 10-year high school reunion after spending one’s 20’s accruing a laundry list of felonies and frequenting brony conventions sounds more desirable than the five-year reunion the 2008 National Champion Florida Gators have bathed in this summer.  While Tim Tebow may be able to show his former gridiron classmates snapshots of his Ben Hill Griffin Stadium featured $500,000 bronze statue and Percy Harvin can lean on his newly minted $67 million contract to rent out the lobby bar for the reunion after party, the boys in orange and blue of yesteryear have experienced an uncanny hideous run of unfortunate events this summer.  Let’s take a brief look at their ill-fated, Dante’s Inferno of a summer (or Dante’s Peak depending on your feelings about Pierce Brosnan’s post Nintendo 64 Goldeneye work):

Swampy Summer Camp Timeline:

  • June 26– Absent of any irony, or humanity for that matter, former standout UF tight end and former Tebow favorite pass target, Aaron Hernandez was arraigned for 1st degree murder.  Haunting and tragic details manifested suggesting Hernandez led an execution style murder of his “friend,” and casually left behind hoards of circumstantial evidence like his spit out and chewed out bubble yum at the scene of the crime.  Subsequently a trail of breadcrumbs has emerged leading back to previous unsolved murders and attempted murders in Boston and Gainesville with Hernandez’s fingerprints all over the case files.  Most recently, a damning feature in Rolling Stone profiled Hernandez’s troubled past following his father’s premature death including: alleged gang connections, violent crimes at UF potentially swept away by an earnest Urban Meyer trying to thump some bible into this seemingly lost teen-come-thug, and rampant angel dust consumption by Hernandez over the last six months which may at least in part explain some of the dense callousness layered upon this case.
  • July 30– In seemingly bright news for Gator disciples, 2008 stud all-purpose offensive weapon, Percy Harvin got paid and got away from the spray paint can arm of Christian Ponder.  Despite this good news, consistent with the hot hot heat of summer baking down on former Gators, Harvin immediately aggravated his hip, requiring surgery that will keep him off the field for much of the first season of this grand new contract.
  • August 1– Doing nothing to shake the image of North Florida as a wellspring of redneck parlance, former Gator All-Amurikin’ wideout Riley Cooper saw fit to drop an N-Bomb in the direction of an African-American security guard who was so rudely preventing the D-List celebrity from going back stage at a stop on the Kenny Chesney world tour.  Much to the disappointment (and lack of awareness) of Cooper, he happens to live in the Western Hemisphere during the 21st century, where cell phone cameras are kind of a “thing.”  The Internet heard about it, and the Internet got mad.  Adding insult to slur, was the timing of the release of this uncouth video, squaw in the heart of the dog days of summer, giving most beat-less sports writers (not all, kudos to Whitlock) further opportunity to pounce a Gator.
  • August 31– Cue the roadies: the NFL QB career revival tent is coming down.  Former Heisman QB and everyone’s favorite evangelical rowdy reptile, Tim Tebow, had his NFL career absorb perhaps its final blow dart when he was cut from the New England Patriots before the start of the regular season.  With Josh McDaniels, the coach/GM that drafted him into the NFL, and Urban Meyer crushholder, Bill Belicheck, giving up on the idea of Timmy as a legitimate NFL quarterback, he now more than ever seems destined to be the lead of the next season of The Bachelor.
  • September 9– And finally this past weekend, Maurkice Pouncey, Twin A and Anchor of the National Championship offensive line, suffered a season ending ACL and MCL tear putting the rare Week 1 nail in the coffin to the Pittsburgh Steelers season that already never was.

So let it be proclaimed: beware Brandon Spikes, Carlos Dunlap, Joe Haden, the Alachua County winds are swirling these days, and not in a swell direction.

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