Time for the first mailbag of the decade
Before we get to my Super Bowl pick, a Boston reader named Zeke S. slapped some sense into me last week: "Simmons, you know that there are children who haven't seen a mailbag by you all decade!?!?!?"
Great point. Bad job by me. Gotta think of the kids. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.
Q: Did you just witness the New Peyton Manning Face? That one that says, "I SMASH fools, NO ONE is as hard as me. NO ONE prepares like I do. I am the Field General. I am Peyton Effing Manning!" I had my doubts, but there's no way the Colts are losing this game.
--Aaron, Corvallis, Ore.
SG: That arrived in my mailbox at 4:42 p.m. ET during the Jets-Colts game. And Aaron couldn't have been more right. Old Peyton Manning Face is either gone or hibernating. New Peyton Manning Face is carrying the day.
And if you're trying to talk yourself into the Saints on Sunday, you keep coming back to one question: "Has Manning reached that hallowed MJ/Montana/Bird/Federer 'Don't Bet Against Me, It's Just a Bad Idea' level?" That Jets game was his masterpiece. New York had all the momentum. They had gotten two big plays, gone up by two scores, taken the crowd out of the game and had Manning as (seemingly) rattled as he'd been in a while. They just needed to make it to halftime. What happened? Manning trotted back out and just throttled them. Four plays, 80 yards, two world-class throws. The game was never the same.
What shocked me most: I was sitting there expecting Manning to come through a player I always assumed would choke in big moments as recently as four years ago. Isn't that the final stage for a great athlete, when we expect an impeccable performance from him during a truly dire situation? Look, I hate the Colts and bleed Brady. Nothing makes me unhappier as a football fan than the increasing likelihood that (a) Manning is cementing his claim as the best quarterback of his generation (and possibly the best ever), and (b) the Brady-Belichick salad days may have come and gone. It's a worst-case scenario for me. I hate it. But if you like football, if you care about it at all, how could you not appreciate what Manning inflicted on the Jets? Within the span of an hour, he singlehandedly broke the will of an overachieving team that had been firing on all cylinders. By the end of the third quarter, everyone on New York's defense had the body language of a boxer who was getting his butt whupped but still had four rounds to go. They were done.
We saw Brady hit this level during the first 10 weeks of New England's 16-0 regular season; Manning has been banging it out for five solid months. And if you're thinking about betting against him in the Pierre Bowl, ask yourself this: How dumb will you feel in the fourth quarter, with the Colts leading by 10 and driving for another score, if Manning has the New Peyton Manning Face going? Would you be kicking yourself? Would you be saying, "Why did I go against Manning? What was I thinking?" More on this at the end of the column.
Q: Where does Mike Dunleavy stepping down rank in your greatest moments as a Clippers season-ticket holder?
--Dan, St. Paul, Minn.
SG: Are you kidding? It ranked No. 1, right ahead of the 10 minutes after the Clips won the Blake Griffin lottery (before I remembered that they were the Clippers and the odds were overwhelming that he'd wreck his knee or have an anvil fall on him). You know what's really sad? It's the only time during my Clippers season-ticket era that I've gotten e-mails from Clippers fans saying, "Woo hoo!" or "We did it!" I guess that's what happens when a team fires a coach who was 215-326 over the last six-plus years and pumped out more excuses than John Edwards.
You know what really killed Dunleavy? The 2009-10 Portland Trail Blazers. He couldn't rope Donald Sterling and L.A.'s front office into the whole "we'd be doing great if we didn't have all these injuries!" excuse for the fourth time in seven years as the decimated Blazers keep chugging along toward 50 wins while losing a key guy every other week. My only regret is that they didn't have one last "don't worry, we're firing Dunleavy right after" home game (Saturday night against the Spurs would have been perfect) so that he could have worn one last cheap suit, brought an ice-cold Steve Novak into the biggest play of the game one last time, and allowed the fans to chant "Fire Dunleavy!" for two more hours. They owed the fans that much. Alas.
(The other big downer: that he stayed on as GM. It's like finding out that your sister finally dumped her loser boyfriend whom everyone's been trying to convince her to dump for the last seven years, only he's still going to be living over her garage. I'm going to spend Super Bowl weekend in Miami persuading my ESPN bosses to lure him away as a TV guy. No, no, he's gonna be GREAT. The guy's a star! You have to believe me!)
Q: Remember that you stated back on July 28th of 2009 that if Mike Dunleavy was still coach by Valentine's Day, you would organize "Throw Bags of Your Own Urine" Night at the next Clippers game? Almost made it! I had this article in mind all season and now I have nothing to look forward to on Valentine's Day except taking my girlfriend out. Way to ruin my day.
SG: OK, so there were three big downers. Not two.
Q: Since the Clippers removed Dunleavy from coaching, I would love it if you could compare your jubilation, relief, and/or excitement to a movie scene. Are we talking "Shawshank" when Andy has made it out of the sewer pipe? "Goonies" when they rip up the contract? Lots of places to go here.
--Greg, Haddam, Conn.
SG: I found out about Dunleavy in a fairly memorable way -- while driving from Washington to Miami with my buddy House for the Audi Efficiency Challenge. (Note: Our 14-hour journey raised $20,000 for the Red Cross in Haiti. I drove the first 700 miles before coming out to a standing ovation. If you want to read my tweets from the trip, click here.) We were about 11 hours, two food stops and one gas stop into the trip and plodding along I-95 in Florida. (It's a surprisingly boring highway, by the way. Shouldn't there be more to look at in Florida?) The previous highlight of the trip had been getting shut out of Chick-fil-A for most of South Carolina, then finally finding one and plowing through sandwiches like "Survivor" contestants plow through food after winning a rewards challenge. Suddenly my BlackBerry started vibrating like crazy, and you can guess the rest.
So what movie scene? I'd go with Henry Hill finding out that the Lufthansa heist worked in "Goodfellas." Remember when he's in the shower and just starts screaming in disbelief, then banging the wall? Yeah. Here's how depressing the Dunleavy era was: Someone asked me recently whether I had taken my 2-year-old son to a Clippers game yet. My answer? I can't take him until Dunleavy gets fired. I want him to like basketball games and think they are fun. I was dead serious. Thanks for the memories, Mike.
Q: Troy Aikman's dull monotone must be exactly the same as Hannibal Lecter talking to Miggs before he killed himself.
--Mike W., Louisville
SG: (dull monotone) You're exactly right, Mike.
Q: IS THERE A MORE ODD COUPLE THAN HAYDEN PANETTIERE AND WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO?
--Ryan, Portland, Maine
SG: Agreed. They're such an odd couple that they broke Ryan's caps lock. I'm just shocked that two people unseated Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes as "the celebrity couple that looks the strangest in all photographs."
By the way, did you ever consider the parallels between the Klitschkos destroying heavyweight boxing and the Williams sisters destroying women's tennis? Name me your favorite heavyweight fight of the last 10 years. You can't. Name me your favorite women's tennis match of the past 10 years. You can't. The Klitschkos won't fight each other; the Williams sisters refuse to go all out against each other. It sucks. The only thing that could redeem what happened here: If the Klitschkos and Williams sisters started double-dating each other and shattered the "celebrity couple that looks the strangest in all photographs" record.
Q: If you were a billionaire and could start a sports franchise in any city, what sport would you choose and where would you locate it?
SG: My buddy House and I spent 20 minutes debating this question during our 15-hour drive, because these are the things you talk about during a 15-hour drive. Here's what we decided:
• Has to be an NBA team. Just so I could hire myself as the GM, and for the comedy.
• Has to be somewhere warm -- not just to lure free agents, but because it's warm.
• Has to have nightlife good enough that it would be a competitive disadvantage for opposing teams.
• Has to be a place that would lend itself to a cool name, cool uniforms and a cool logo.
House votes for the "Hawaii Lava." He likes this idea because it nails every bullet point above, and because it would give him a chance to spend more time with Chad Ford. I had originally voted for the "San Diego Zoo," but House had me so excited about the Lava uniforms that I switched my vote. I won't even tell you his game plan. I'm saving it for when I become a billionaire and get awarded a franchise.
Q: Do you realize that the rapid decline of KG and T-Mac was foreshadowed in this year's adidas commercial?
Watch it again now (especially the beginning for the two guys on both ends). KG and McGrady can barely run and showcase absolutely no athletic talent during the entire commercial. McGrady looks 20 pounds overweight during a simulated jump shot (except he doesn't jump), and KG can barely manage his trademark menacing face.
--Chase, Pontiac, Mich.
SG: Um, I don't need to watch it again. I'm a Celtics fan. I watch it every game. Even though Garnett ended up winning a title, his recent decline is more than a little unfair; after killing himself on all those crappy Timberwolves teams, when he finally reached NBA nirvana and found the right teammates and the right crowd, his body held up for exactly 16 months. Now he's playing on one leg like 2004 C-Webb, and there's no going back. Once your knees go as an NBA player, they're gone. So it's the elephant in the room of every Celtics game -- physically, he looks the same, so you keep forgetting he has a bad wheel until he can't get up for an alley-oop or lets someone beat him baseline because he can't move laterally. And then it's like, "Ohhhhhhh."
Can you complain if you're a Celtics fan? Of course not. They won a title and vindicated that mega-trade. At the same time, it's a little sobering that what should have been a four- or five-year run may have lasted only 16 months. Of course
Q: If you could go back in time "Lost"-style and fix the 2007 lottery so the Celtics landed the second pick, would you keep what happened (No. 5 pick, KG trade, 2008 title, everything else that happened up to now), or would you switch it so that they ended up with the No. 2 pick and Durant?
--Dr. Bill Simmons, Boston
SG: OK, I fibbed that one. My dad asked me that on the phone this week. And we both came to the same conclusion pretty quickly: You'd have to go with Durant. Have you seen what he's doing for the Zombies lately? Thirty a night, eight boards, 50 percent shooting, nails his free throws just eerie, Gervin-like consistency for a young team that doesn't have another reliable scorer, and if that's not enough, he's the single best teammate in the league other than LeBron. Barring injury, he's going to win this year's scoring title (he'd be the youngest ever by two years) and could be looking at a historic 35 ppg, 10 rpg, 50/40/90 percentage season soon. I don't see how you pass that up. And if you remember, the 2007 Celts had a decent nucleus in place already (Al Jefferson, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Paul Pierce, Theo Ratliff's expiring contract, the rights to Minnesota's No. 1) and easily could have turned a couple of those assets into Pau Gasol a couple of months later.
Here's the best analogy: You know in football when a team kicks a field goal, only there's a penalty, and they have the option of wiping the points off the board but getting four new downs? It's usually a horrible idea to wipe the points off unless you have someone on the Brady-Manning-Brees level as your quarterback. Too risky otherwise. For a redo of the 2007 lottery scenario, you would wipe three points off the board (in this case, an NBA title), grab Durant and go for seven points (the possibility of multiple titles and 15-plus years of a potential pantheon guy). You have to.
One more note: This is something like my 10th or 11th year with NBA Season Pass. I have never gotten attached to a non-Celtics team before, and I've never played favorites if there were multiple non-Boston games happening at the same time. This year? I find myself gravitating toward Zombies games night after night. It's a real team. They like one another. They're better as a group than they are as individuals. And Durant is the most special non-LeBron talent in basketball. Not only is there nobody like him, but there's also never been anyone like him. He's an original prototype. In other news
Q: How is it possible that Greg Oden beat out Ron Artest to become the first NBA player to have naked pictures show up on the Internet? If Vegas had odds on this, what would they have been? I'm thinking Artest at 6:5, Oden more like 38,901,257:1.
--Frank, Long Island
SG: Agreed. Total shocker. Although it did allow me to make the "they weren't kidding when they said Oden's legs were different sizes" joke. And look, I hate to cry conspiracy here, but have you ever noticed that every time a photograph or sex tape gets leaked of a naked male celebrity -- I have to put this gently -- it turns out that the guy had nothing to be ashamed of? Why aren't any of these guys ever built like the guy who pops out of the trunk in "The Hangover"? It's an amazing ongoing "coincidence."
(By the way, I wish you could have shown me this sequence of e-mails three years ago as we were agonizing over the "Who's better, Oden or Durant?" question. Would have saved everyone a ton of time.)
Q: Oh, Gilbert Arenas
won't see him no more.
--Clint, Madison, Wis.
SG: And you thought a 38-year-old movie couldn't sum up poor Gilbert's situation in eight words.
Q: My buddies and I saw "Avatar" last night at the AMC Loews on 34th St. in Manhattan. On our way in to the theater, we spotted Ronnie and Sammi Sweatheart. We were so shocked that we just stared at them as they descended down the escalator while we rode past them in the opposite direction. After 20 seconds of staring, my buddy finally snaps out of his stupor and shouts "Ron Ron Juice!
Gets the party started!" Sammi immediately dropped her head in shame while Ronnie gave us a fist pump and said "Yeaahhhh." Definitely the highlight of the night.
--Tyson Brazell, New York
SG: That's not a good sign for the Oscar hopes of "Avatar" -- that two reality stars ended up being the highlight of your night. But I'm glad you brought up "Jersey Shore." On my Season 1 recap podcast with the czar of reality TV, Dave Jacoby, we both argued that Season 2 couldn't happen at the Jersey shore because the cast members have gotten too big. We were hoping for a "fish out of water" location for them, something like Hollywood, South Beach, London or Kabul. We thought that would be a situation.
A week later, news trickled out that MTV is leaning toward the Hamptons (same mixing-it-up premise, more local) for Season 2, which would smartly keep things fresh and avoid those been-there-done-that pitfalls that sank other reality sensations like "The Osbournes" and "The Apprentice." So basically, we see sports decision-makers and political decision-makers repeat mistakes from previous generations again and again, and somehow, the one time someone is smart enough to say, "We need to learn from past mistakes -- how can we keep moving forward?" it was a cable network maximizing the potential of a reality franchise that glamorizes sex, violence and general stupidity, as well as GTL (gym, tanning, laundry). I thought this was funny.
Q: Heather Graham turned 40 today; not only does this make her eligible for your Diane Lane All-Stars, but I believe it may put her in the 3-4-5 hole of the lineup. If you filled out the 2010 batting order, what would it look like?
--Greg, New York
SG: You know, it's been a few years since we created the Diane Lane All-Stars. Thanks to botox, lasers, and all the other products and cosmetic treatments, so many older women look fantastic now that it's like trying to figure out which potential Hall of Fame receivers or sluggers from the '90s and '00s should be Hall of Famers. Everyone's stats are inflated. Should we bump the age minimum to 45 (or at least 43)? Probably. But under old-school rules, my batting order looks like this:
1. Jennifer Aniston (40) -- I like having a single leadoff hitter with rumbling ovaries. Aggressive and unquestionably desperate. You'd fear her on the basepaths.
2. Sandra Bullock (46) -- Cheery veteran, good for the clubhouse, willing to give up at-bats and move runners along to help the team.
3. Heather Graham (40) -- Power, OPS, speed, the whole package. It's almost unfair to the others that she's eligible. It's like when Jack Nicklaus joined the PGA Senior Tour.
4. Halle Berry (43) -- Perennial MVP candidate, someone you have to see in person to fully appreciate her greatness. Our highest-paid player.
5. Salma Hayek (43) -- Fiery Latina, prodigious natural gifts, famous for people gawking at her tape measure home runs.
6. Catherine Zeta-Jones (40) -- She's our David Ortiz, an aging foreign slugger who's four or five years older than listed.
7. Kelly Preston (47) -- Don't worry about the creepy Travolta stink on her. She's still putting up big stats, and the statistical community loves her.
8. Demi Moore (47) -- Knows all the chemical shortcuts and can help anyone else who needs advice on surgery or botox.
9. Cheryl Hines (44) -- Keeps the team loose, keeps everyone laughing, doesn't go for her own stats, gives us a hot-selling jersey for our Jewish fans. Can play four positions.
Starting pitcher: Diane Lane (45) -- Crafty veteran, namesake of the team, knows every trick in the book. She's like Jack Morris circa 1991. You want her out there in big games.
Set-up reliever: Maria Bello (42) -- Can throw one inning or three, has the highest "nude scene per movie" ratio of any decent actress.
Closer: Cindy Crawford (43) -- Still routinely hits 103 on the radar gun.
Coaching staff: Jacqueline Bisset, Julie Christie, Helen Mirren (all in their 60s). Why is it that women with accents retain a level of hotness that American women can't match? OK, maybe I'm alone on this. (Waiting.) Nothing? Let's move on.
Q: How have you not written one word about Anton Chigurh joining this season's cast on "High School Reunion"? I'm still in shock that you haven't touched on this yet; not even a tweet. You're slipping, Sports Guy.
--Brad, Frankfort, Ky.
SG: I'm not slipping. I'm still in shock and awaiting the big coin-flip scene in the season finale, followed by him killing everyone with an air gun. Unfortunately, we're the only ones who get these jokes since we're the only two watching the show.
Q: Why is Brett Favre's career better than Kurt Warner's again? Every single statistic that is a "rate" favors Warner as well as career QB rating. Favre playoff record: 12-10. Warner playoff record: 8-3. Why do we stalk Favre's land manor every winter and we're going to let Warner go in peace?
--Dan, New York
SG: Because people care about Brett Favre. Did you see the rating for that Vikes-Saints game? Fifty-seven million people! Highest rated non-Super Bowl since the "Seinfeld" finale. You can call him an attention hog, say he's overrated, claim he's a wishy-washy narcissist, even play the "if Desmond Howard doesn't annihilate the 1996 Patriots, he's ring-less right now" card. But ultimately, everyone else in the room will care about your opinion. He's polarizing, he's fascinating, he's fun to complain about, he's fun to watch, he's predictable and unpredictable there's just a lot going on. You couldn't say the same about Kurt Warner. He was just a good guy who played football really well.
As for your Warner-Favre debate, that's a fun one. I never thought about that before. In my book, I spent a lot of time figuring out specific ways to measure careers against each other, eventually coming to this conclusion: I'd rather have four or five phenomenal years from Player A than 15 very good years from Player B. Well, I'd take 1999-2001 Warner over any three-year incarnation of Favre in his prime, and I'd take 2008-2009 Warner over any two-year incarnation of Favre after his prime. No contest.
But let's say you could start a team with either of them. If I offered you nearly two full decades of Favre (a top-5 quarterback from 1993 to 2002 and a better-than-average quarterback from 2003 through 2009) or 11 up-and-down years from Warner (better peaks in 1999-2001 and 2007-2009, plus a higher playoff ceiling, but nothing else) you'd take Favre. You would. Warner wins the "higher ceiling" and "better teammate" arguments, and that's it.
Q: Just watched the NFC title game. I haven't seen the ball get dropped so many times in New Orleans since FEMA.
--Andrew, Melbourne, Fla.
SG: "Thank you, thank you, you guys have been great! Are you enjoying this mailbag? Tell your face!"
Q: With almost every team "icing" the kicker by calling a timeout before a game-winning field goal attempt, it seems like everyone just expects it now. In the Saints-Vikings game, Garrett Hartley was practically walking off the field before the Vikings "iced" him. Why don't more teams mix it up and defrost the kicker every once in awhile, forcing him to kick when he wasn't really expecting it?
--Peter Davis, Indianapolis
SG: I love it! Defrosting the kicker. Although if it catches on, I'm going to need a new euphemism for masturbation.
Q: Is there anything more ludicrous than shared e-mail accounts for married couples? What are these morons thinking? What possible good could come from this? The only thing more ludicrous is Brad Childress getting extended midseason.
SG: For the record, I got that e-mail two months ago (well before the 12 Men In the Huddle Game). See, I'm all for the shared e-mail account for married couples. It's an uncomplicated way of announcing to your friends, "We tell each other everything, so if you confide in one of us, just know you're confiding in both of us," and if you want to dig deeper, there's a little "I caught him cheating on me and/or found hundreds of hours of Internet porn on his computer, so the only way I'm allowing him to even use e-mail anymore is if we share an account from now on." Or as it came to be known in 2010, the Elin Nordegren Woods.
Q: Vikings-Saints: Just because a game is close does not mean it's good. Dramatic? Maybe. Watchable? Kinda. Entertaining? Gonna have to say no. So can we all OK this rule? That game was not "good." Or "great." What word would you use to describe it? Can you create one?
--Dan, Rockville, Md.
SG: Sure. I'd go with a cross between "memorable," "riveting" and "dramatic." Do you like "rivetemorablatic" or "dremorabeting"?
Q: Was this the Joe Buck quote of the playoffs: "The Vikings haven't won a conference championship game since their last Super Bowl?"
--Marion, Yuma, Ariz.
SG: I'd like to think so. But I'm glad you brought this up. Announcing a basketball or hockey game or a soccer match has its own rhythm; you're either good at it or you're not. There's only one way to do it. We can have excitable versions and less excitable versions, but ultimately, you're doing it one way. Football and baseball play-by-play guys are more polarizing because there isn't an accepted way to announce those sports. We see three styles: the Summerall/Buck style (understated, professional, never excited); the Harlan/Gus Johnson style (over the top, overexcited, downright giddy); and the Marv Albert/Jim Nantz/Sean McDonough style (understated and professional, but more than willing to rise to the occasion if the moment deserves it). It's easier to pull off the Buck or Gus Johnson styles simply because you're in the same mode all the time no matter what's happening. You might like one of those styles the most. I wouldn't begrudge you.
Me? With all due respect to my man Gus, I respect the Nantz/McDonough style most because of the degree of difficulty. You can't do a shtick; you have to be genuinely invested in the events, and if that investment doesn't feel genuine, we can tell immediately. (The other crucial trait: being able to sell your partner regardless of whether he's great or he sucks, which is the main reason why I'd take Marv over Al Michaels in any Best Announcer Ever contest. You could put Marv in a three-man booth with Moses Malone and Greg Stink, and he'd be able to coax a good broadcast out of them.)
My favorite non-Marv announcing performance ever belongs to Sean McDonough, who absolutely TJ Lavin'ed the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS (Pittsburgh at Atlanta). It's one of the most dramatic innings ever played -- Atlanta's incredible comeback combined with the do-or-die stakes for a Pirates team that was being blown up, win or lose (and would never bee the same again) -- and McDonough matches everything that happens, with his voice even cracking as the creaky Sid Bream slides across home plate with the winning run ("SA-AFE!"). Total goosebumps moment.
When you think about it, we've been seeing reruns of the best possible games since the mid-'90s (back when Classic Sports launched); it's always the same crew of games presented for us to experience in the same retroactive, nostalgic way. I've run out of ways to enjoy the old Jordan games, my favorite Boston games and everything else. But a select few always manage to suck me in, usually the uber-dramatic ones with devastating results for one side -- Byner's fumble, Sid Bream, the Snow Game, etc. -- and I'd rank the ninth inning of that Sid Bream game against any of them. And yes, the shot of Andy Van Slyke sitting in center field as if he just watched a bus blow up gets me every time. It's a masterpiece of a game. And it wouldn't have been as good without an announcer who matched the moment. I don't think Joe Buck could have done it.
Q: Remember when Rex Ryan was screaming at the officials during the AFC Championship Game (but we couldn't hear what he was saying)? This is what we yelled at the TV. "I SAID TRIPLE CHEESEBURGER!" "WHO ORDERED THAT SALAD?!?" "SLOPPY JOES!" I would have to say that everybody watching across America probably said something to that effect. What else would have been funny?
SG: I'm going with "Get in my belly!!!!" or "Get in my belllllllllly!"
Q: You know how Phil Jackson gives each of his players a book to read every year? Well, did you see what he gave Kobe Bryant this year? A book called "Montana 1948," about a family in conflict after it is discovered that one member has been sexually assaulting Native American women. It explores how his brother deals with the struggle between his moral obligations and his family loyalty. This is what Phil said about it: "(Kobe) never reads my books, so I got him a book about Montana. I'm not looking forward to having a review from him, but it was about the part of the country I grew up in so it's something special for me to give it to him." Wow, any subtext there?
--Max, Oakland, Calif.
SG: (Afraid to say anything.)
Q: I love your idea of the Blackberry Infidel for cheaters, but I have a tweak for it. Instead of having all of them password-protected by default, this Blackberry would be like two devices in one. It is a regular Blackberry that is not password-protected and has all the e-mails from your wife and pictures of your kids. A secret series of keystrokes (essentially a password) would then unlock the Infidel. This mode would use different e-mail addresses, and even a different phone number used only for cheating. That way your phone bill will never show incriminating texts or phone calls. There would be separate storage to keep all of the naked pictures of your mistresses. Best of all, another set of keystrokes would instantly delete all of the memory and restore the Infidel back to its default settings. I think we can build on this.
--Russell H, Austin, Texas
Q: Isn't the most improbable/unrealistic part of the movie "Taken" that a 17-year-old American girl would go to Europe to follow around U2?
--Daryl, LeBanon, Pa.
SG: (Still nodding.)
Q: Doesn't your "Ten Minutes with Tiger" interview demonstrate that Michael Jordan didn't leave basketball for the stated reason, to play baseball? Why keep playing after three straight NBA championships? To quote Tiger Woods, to "Win. Keep winning." Think about it. Jordan and Tiger have similar hypercompetitive personalities. Destroy everyone, every time. We already knew Tiger was one of the greats years ago, just as we knew Jordan was one of the greats in 1994. Yet, Jordan's legacy wasn't cemented in 1994. The greatest athletes don't compete with their peers. They compete for their places in history. There's no way he walked away from basketball voluntarily.
--John S., Sacramento
SG: (Nodding vigorously.)
Q: If the Colts win the Super Bowl, what kind of reaction will the corpse of Jim Caldwell have after Gatorade is dumped on him? I'm setting the over/under on blinks at 2.5.
--Matt, Portland, Ore.
SG: I'm rooting for him not to move at all. I want it to seem as though they poured Gatorade on a cardboard cutout of Jim Caldwell. Has anyone ever stonewalled the Gatorade bath before? I feel like he could do it.
Q: So I was at a buddy's house last night with a bunch of friends. At the end of the night, one guy takes out his cell phone, calls someone and asks, "Hey, you want to sneak in some Tiger Woods?" It turns out this guy was calling his brother to see if he wanted to get in a round on the Xbox before the end of the night. But I ask you: Is there a better euphemism for someone having an adulterous liaison? As in: "I'm sure Ashton Kutcher is probably faithful to Demi Moore, but I could see him sneaking in a couple of rounds of Tiger Woods now and then."
--Mike, Arlington, Mass.
SG: I like it. By the way, I remain disappointed that Tiger played the sex-rehab card -- even though it was the smartest move for him, as I wrote six weeks ago, because Americans are always more forgiving once the word "addiction" is introduced -- instead of playing the "what can I tell you, I got married too soon, it was a mistake and I feel terrible about it, but you live and you learn, so I'm not gonna live a lie anymore and I'll just be single" card. You can't convince me that Tiger has an "addiction" when he wasn't doing anything different from what HUNDREDS (yes, all caps) of celebrities and athletes were/are/will always be doing. It's insulting. The sex-rehab card seems just as calculated as everything else he did this past decade.
If you want to dig deeper, there's a chance that Tiger convinced himself that he did have a sex addiction, no different from O.J.'s convincing himself that he didn't kill his wife, or John Edwards' convincing himself that he didn't have a love child, or Mark McGwire's convincing himself that he didn't abuse steroids as badly as anyone from the previous decade despite the New York Daily News' reporting otherwise. My boss John Walsh wanted me to write a column about why famous people can convince themselves that an alternate version of the reality they already lived took place -- really, it's the height of hubris, that someone could ignore facts because the same unwavering self-confidence that made them a transcendent athlete also leads them to cheat the system and lie to people that love them -- so by the time they're selling their convoluted excuse of a story, they really do believe it. And it's a great idea. But there's nowhere to go with it beyond what I just wrote. It's cut-and-dried.
Anyway, Tiger wasn't a serial cheater because he was addicted to sex. He was a serial cheater because he became famous too soon; because he learned from "role models" who were doing the same thing; and because, like most super-famous people, he stopped thinking that the rules of human decency applied to him.
Q: Have you ever wondered what Dora and Diego actually do to make money? I have and the only plausible explanation is that Diego trades in exotic animals (ever notice that everything he saves is highly prized as some sort of ancient remedy) and Dora is simply a Colombian drug courier (how else do you explain a magic backpack full of "stars" that makes everything better).
--Steve, Petaluma, Calif.
SG: You're dead on. I also think Max and Ruby's grandmother is an ex-con with multiple aliases and outstanding warrants.
Q: Imagine if LeBron started a complete new trend starting in 2010 where he just decided, "Eff it, I'm winning a ring EVERY year" and signed one-year contracts EVERY YEAR for the biggest contender with cap space that could afford him. In true LeBron style, he begins a completely new type of superstar -- the "Superstar Hitman." It's as if we could have the 2010 LeBron sweepstakes EVERY YEAR! Can you imagine?
--Chris S., Brisbane, Australia
SG: Don't laugh -- you might see a modified version of that. One of two things will happen with the NBA's next collective bargaining agreement: Either they'll have a harder cap with no luxury tax (like what happened with hockey), or they'll change it so that no contract can be guaranteed for more than three years. I'd wager on the latter idea because it protects the teams from themselves as well as one deal crippling them -- like Elton Brand with the Sixers right now -- and swings things a little more in their favor. (For instance, you could sign Amare Stoudemire to a six-year-max deal this summer knowing that, if things go wrong for whatever reason, you have an out after three.) But if it goes this way, and I think it will, LeBron would never have to sign more than a three-year deal anyway. So he could play for the Bulls for three years, then the Lakers from 2013 to 2016, then the Knicks from 2016 to 2019, then back to the Cavs to finish things out. The ultimate gun for hire.
Q: You wrote that Tiger is one of the "five dumbest adulterers of all time." Is this an actual list? If there is, who are the other four?
--Greg E., Phoenix
SG: Sorry, Bill Clinton has to be No. 1. Doing it in the Oval Office, in the White House, where there's a log of everyone who visits you, has to be the most reckless move in adultering history. I'd make John Edwards second, Tiger third, Jim Bakker and Gary Hart tied for fourth, and Hugh Grant fifth.
The smartest adulterer ever? Brad Pitt. He upgraded from a workaholic actress who didn't want kids to the hottest/craziest/sexiest woman alive who doubles as a fetus machine and with no real career repercussions! In fact, nothing Brad Pitt does ever seems to come back and haunt him. Not even his latest beard, when he was a few rubber bands and a ponytail away from looking like Captain Lou Albano. Everything bounces off that dude.
Q: So I was at a bar with a friend of mine the other night and naturally talk turned to Tiger. He mentioned his "Genie in a Bottle Theory." If a genie asks a guy to make three wishes that she will make come true, what would the guy say? "I want $1 billion dollars, a swimsuit model wife and the chance to play golf every day." Tiger had all that and apparently it wasn't enough to make him happy. Now I'm just depressed.
--Lee, Washington, D.C.
SG: Your theory is flawed. No man would list a wife as one of his three wishes from a genie in a bottle. That's not beating things like "front-row season tickets at Fenway," "an end to world hunger" or "a 150-foot yacht with a fully staffed crew of swimsuit models who won't push me for a commitment."
Q: Who will be playing the Super Bowl halftime show for the next 10 years? My guess is John Mayer, U2 again, Dave Matthews Band, Beyonce, and maybe Jay-Z. What do you think? I'm worried about this.
--Mike, Los Angeles
SG: You're going to be really worried after you see my predictions for the next 10 years:
2011: Beyonce and Jay-Z
2012: Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar Mellencamp
2013: Ayla Brown (the daughter of our new president, former Cosmo model Scott Brown)
2014: U2 and Pearl Jam
2015: Britney Spears Woods
2016: Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and Kanye West (just released from jail)
2017: Justin Timberlake and Ayla Brown
2018: John Mayer and Taylor Swift Woods
2020: The Dave Matthews Band with special guest Carrie Underwood Woods
Q: Back in October I went to your book signing at Professor Thom's in Manhattan. I asked you to write your Super Bowl prediction when signing my book
well, you predicted correctly the teams. I tried attaching a pic of the signing to this e-mail, but it won't let me. You wrote Saints 41, Colts 40. Even though this high score is unlikely (I remember JackO saying he would take the under) I think you should still stick with your prediction. This was in late October, right on the precipice of your catastrophic game-picking downfall. I think you made this prediction right before you fell off the precipice, therefore you should stick with your prediction: Saints 41, Colts 40. Maybe you can channel some of your earlier picking luck by sticking to your initial prediction. You also may have been slightly drunk when signing my copy of TBOB, thus explaining the crazy high score. Nonetheless, stick to your guns, right?
--Pat, New York
CALL YOUR BOOKIE
Four Super Bowl props/wagers I like:
1. Peyton Manning will throw a second-quarter TD pass (-125)
2. Austin Collie will win the Super Bowl MVP (18-to-1)
3. Over/under on jersey number for player scoring the first TD (over 25.5, -125)
4. Over/under on Archie Manning shots in the luxury box (over 33.5, even odds).
OK, I made that one up. But that seems like a reasonable number, right? And wouldn't it be fun to keep track of? Literally, it's the only way to stomach the Archie Manning overload on Sunday.
SG: Are you kidding? You just set me up for a classic "make a prediction the opposite way three months later, and either way, I can't lose!" scenario. I thought about sticking with that Saints pick and playing the "nobody believes in us!" card for the Saints, but Dwight Freeney's injury opened the door for enough pro-Saints sentiment that the game broke rather nicely for a Colts pick. I love any time this happens: A pick looks super-obvious coming out of the gate (I thought Indy should have been favored by seven all week), then everyone gets bored and starts looking for reasons why the less-obvious team can win (Freeney's hurt, too many people are going bonkers about Manning, the nobody-believes-in-us factor, New Orleans' offense is good enough to come back from any deficit, etc.), and finally, things swing around so you feel fine about going with the team you should be picking all along.
For me, it comes down to this: I can't pick against Manning in a big game. It's just a bad idea. Hence, I like a relatively close game with Indy prevailing 31-23 (covering the 4½-point spread but hitting the under of 57½). Then we can spend the subsequent week wondering whether Indy could have gone 19-0. That will be a barrel of laughs.
Q: Did Josh Baskin invent the Kindle in his final presentation to the MacMillan toy executives? I'm pretty sure he did. Could be wrong, though. I have been wrong before.
--Todd A., Silver Spring, Md.
SG: We're in range.
Q: I just lost my virginity to my ex-girlfriend's sister. I don't care what you do with this information because I'm telling everyone.
--Josh A., Clarion
Q: A couple of weeks ago at a frat party, I began to get with a pretty cute girl. As the night wore on, and the drinks started flowing, she took me back to her apartment. When I entered her room, the first thing I saw was a giant Sidney Crosby poster. Without saying another word to her, I left. My buddies have never stopped making fun of me since, but I still insist that it was the proudest moment of my life as a die-hard Flyers fan. Can you please give me some consolidation, or should I have just swallowed my pride? In my defense, I would not qualify her as "hot."
--Dave Z., Philly
SG: Yup, these are my readers.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for ESPN.com. For every Simmons column, as well as podcasts, videos and more, check out Sports Guy's World. His new book, "The Book of Basketball," is now available.
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