|If this ache in my lumbar region tells me anything, it's going to rain, and we can expect an otherworldly visit from the legendary voice of NFL Films, John Facenda.
From the first time I heard his stentorian rumble, my ultimate yardstick for NFL greatness has always been "How would John Facenda have described it?" Was it the voice, or the hyperbole, that broke from his lips like Gale Sayers running for daylight? I can't explain it, I don't know why I was chosen, it's just that sometimes the man's voice builds up inside of me and ... TAKES OVER!
Doomsday's scythe has fallen, and Norv Turner must lope yonder, to greener, less meddlesome pastures. In his wake, one of the NFL's diadems, a franchise cloaked in glory, reels and spasms under the weight of a Steinbrennerian budget, and the price of micromangement. But alas, the seeds of this pigskin tragedy were sown months before, when we witnessed a harbinger of tantrums and megalomania to come ...
While charging $10 a head for the right to witness the sweaty, poorly executed anarchy that is training camp, Daniel Snyder -- the paranoid wunderkind who has rocked the world of NFL ownership with his wireless millions -- received a suspicious package, along with a rambling letter. According to the AP:
"Just before (the package) was blasted open by a water cannon in some nearby woods, an employee heard tinkling music from the package. Inside were four dolls, none of which seemed to have anything to do with the NFL."
Visions of the Unabomber danced in wee Danny's head, as he nervously clutched the tinkling package.
Did mortality tap his padded shoulder as he heard the dirge of metallic toy music, muted by layers of packing tape?
Did life flash before his beady eyes, slow motion replay of a life that has seen "small man's complex" melt away to the opulence of "small owner's complex?"
And the water. Oh, the water, raining down like sweat off of Dan Wilkinson's nose. And in the end, four dolls lay soggy upon the humid perimeter of minicamp. And we were left with a slice of paranoia theater that ends with a moral for the new millennium: Vast wealth has a new measuring stick. Move over private jet, say hello to Personal Access To A Water Cannon.
Liberated from the shrapnel of fame, Daniel was free to once more plunder the free-agent market, with a wallet that towered over his slight frame. Ambition was his co-pilot, landing him many a Pro Bowler in their twilight; and finally, growing ever bolder, he dared to extinguish the flame of a coach who had learned to live -- and like it -- on the perpetual bubble.
But as the promise of September fades to the anguish of December, fans must look deep inside the frozen tundra of their souls, and ask themselves ... what kind of owner do we really want? A minion of the new breed, preening on the sidelines, tapping the coach's headset? Or a second-generation slug, grandfathered into Cincinnati or Arizona, trembling in daddy's shadow and protecting the bottom line like an All-Pro left tackle?
Hands on, hands off, even those fined for manipulating the salary cap like a mob accountant. ... Owners are disappointments waiting to happen. As for the lunch-bucket fans who feed their bankrolls, it would be prudent to remember: The games are still decided on the field, hopefully by players who are finally performing well because they are in their option year. ...
... Huh? What just happened? Where was I? And why is my throat sore? What the hell just happened?!
Humorist Nick Bakay, currently a writer for the CBS sitcom "King of Queens," is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. He has a Web site at http://nickbakay.com.
|Daniel Snyder, left, cast a menacing shadow that Norv Turner could never escape.||