Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fuck Scoop Jackson

Reason I'm salty...

Look, I have no problem with writers expressing their opinions. I have no problem with idiots being given a public soapbox to preach from. I have no problem with Scoop Jackson making money off of writing.

But then I read the second sentence and thought to myself, "who the fuck does this guy think he is?"

Calling for athletes to retire is a noble tradition. From Jerry Rice to Michael Jordan to Willie Mays to Arnold Palmer, generationally significant athletes have stuck around in their respective sports too long, leaving themselves open for public debate. Conversely, athletes like Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Sandy Koufax are celebrated, not for reaching the pinnacle of their craft, but for choosing to leave before a significant decline in their ability surfaced.

In the case of athletes who stuck around too long, most of the public reaction stems from the desire of fans to preserve these athletes' greatness without having to witness the erosion of skill, inevitably spurred on by aging. Nobody wanted to see Scottie Pippen hobbling around in a Bulls uniform at the end of his career, hoisting awful jump shots and getting burnt defensively. Nobody wanted to see OJ Simpson in a 49ers uniform, getting pummled. Hell, even Jack Nicklaus was considered done before he magically won the 1986 Masters. There are very few things more sad than seeing a once-gifted athlete struggle to keep up with a younger generation, but it's a fact of life.

In certain cases, the outcry was because of potential physical harm. This scenario is most evident in boxing. There is no reason Evander Holyfield should be boxing still, well, except for his 8 or 9 children that he has to support, but chances are good, he's financially sound. The problem is, THERE IS CLINICAL EVIDENCE SUPPORTING THE FACT HE COULD BECOME BRAIN DEAD IF HE RECIEVES A FORCEFUL BLOW TO THE HEAD. Yet, he keeps plugging along.

Sometimes, the athlete stays just to eclipse a record, the classic Emmitt Smith case. Emmitt was NOT great running back, talented, yet not a world-beater like everyone says he is. Would you take Emmitt over Sweetness, Barry, Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, the Juice, LT, etc.? Basically, Emmitt was a smaller version of Corey Dillon, blessed with the greatest offensive line in NFL history. When the line got old and less talented, Emmitt came back to Earth, and his mediocre talent was exposed. Yet, because of that line, he was given a shot at the most hallowed record in the NFL, and stuck around for the sole reason to put his name on the top of that list, deserved or not. He should never have been a Cardinal. He should never have been a Cowboy for his last 2 years there.

Sometimes a competitive fire burns so deeply, that an athlete just can't give up their life. The greats reside here. MJ, Jerry Rice, Gretzky, Mays. These guys just COULDN'T give up. They couldn't fathom a situation where they weren't the best, the greatest. They weren't content to just give up, despite their advanced ages, and go calmly into retirement and onto golf courses and the real estate market.

Back to the point. Scoop Jackson is an idiot. Floyd Mayweather is 29 years old, undefeated, at the peak of his skills and without a competitor in sight. He is treading into rarified air, the hall of the greats. He has complete control over his career and his legacy. Scoop, who the fuck are you to call for Floyd to remain "retired?" Your sole reason is to preserve his perfect record, because you never get to see that. Oh, good point Scoop, he should retire for you.

Nevermind the fact that he could continue to dominate. Nevermind the fact that his removal from the public arena would ruin our chance at seeing a great athlete in his prime, in a sport that desparately needs a people's champion. Nevermind the fact that his last 3 fights have been some of the most entertaining pugilistic exhibitions I've ever seen (illegally of course). No, he should just call it quits because Scoop Jackson wants to see someone end their career with perfection.

Last time I checked, Ali lost. MJ lost. Gretzky lost. Tiger...well, that's a bad example, but he's finished 2nd before. Scoop doesn't understand the American psyche, the desire of the people to connect with a champion. Would MJ be as revered if he hadn't overcome the Pistons, his nemesis for 3 consecutive seasons? Would MJ even have that killer instinct if he had conquered them easily? Would Gretzky be so endearing if he hadn't encountered obstacles after he left the Oilers, where he was struggling to stay healthy yet maintained his attitude? Defeat reveals the true character of a great athlete, not perfection.

Tiger Woods exemplifies this. It's a well heralded stat that he has never lost when leading in a final round. 50-0 or some crazy shit like that. Does that make the final round EPIC AND LEGENDARY? To be honest, it does the opposite. When Tiger is going into a final round with the lead, the whole afternoon becomes a giant Tiger slob fest. He never loses, he isn't going to lose, and until he does, the whole thing is an exercise in futility. What would be a more captivating moment...Tiger having the lead in the final round of the PGA Championship and winning, or Tiger having the lead in the final round of the PGA Championship and getting overtaken by Camillo Villegas shooting a 66 and winning in a playoff? Drama makes for more exciting entertainment because someone has to experience defeat.

Almost all the athletes I mentioned earlier are considered to be in the upper echelon of greatness. In each case, there is a notable obstacle, a flaw that they overcame, that adds to their legacies. Simply rolling through everything is great and all, but it's boring. Who's to say that Floyd won't be beaten? Who's to say that if/when Floyd is beaten, it wouldn't be a HUGE deal? Just because he's perfect doesn't mean he should retire to stay that way, if anything, that's the cowardly way to approach it, especially for your singular case, Scoop.

Yea, I'm rambling and high-browed, but I don't care. I also don't care that I deviated from my original topic. Fuck Scoop Jackson.

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