Goodell continues to manipulate media
If you missed Part 1 of the Mega-Mailbag, click here. Here's Part 2 (with Week 7 NFL picks at the bottom).
Q: Have any of the writers at ESPN actually played football? There is no way that this "too violent" issue has any legs without the constant hand-wringing by the ESPN writers. It looks like the rest of the offensive players will get to wear the same red shirts as the QB. This game is lost. You should add, "Take the OVER at all costs due to the fact that there will be poorer tackling and at least three personal foul calls for each team" to your gambling manifesto. No one tells teams, "Stop running crossing routes or seam patterns and your receivers won't get flattened." Complete ridiculousness. NFL is about to jump the shark.
-- Rob, Bentonville
SG: Agreed. I thought this week was mildly horrifying: The NFL changed the rules on the fly without telling the players ahead of time. Don't the players need a heads-up first? If I told my daughter, "If you hit your brother, you have to go to your room for 10 minutes" and made that the rule in our house, then she hit him and I locked her in her room for five hours, you would think I was a jerk and a bad parent. Wasn't that the NFL with this week's excessive fines? Now defensive players aren't allowed to crush receivers going over the middle? Really? (Note: Only Brandon Meriweather's cheap shot on Todd Heap was truly indefensible.) The whole thing reminds me of what happened after Janet Jackson's nipple popped out during the Super Bowl, and everyone overreacted. Actually ...
Q: My buddies and I were recently talking about Janet Jackson's Super Bowl halftime show: It was awesome while it happened but completely destroyed half-naked girls appearing on cable. After that incident, BET stopped showing NC-17 rap videos, MTV canceled "Undressed" and Oxygen quit airing its softcore porn shows. So Nipplegate was awesome when it happened but completely ruined the future, much like Weezer's album "Pinkerton" (which was and still is underrated) was great but spawned a bunch of whiny emo bands. What are some other examples?
-- Jordan, Fargo
SG: You want another example? How 'bout the terrific writing on concussions by the New York Times' Alan Schwarz and the New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell making everyone rethink the wisdom of football players returning too soon after concussions and changing the way teams approached that specific injury, only now it's swung too far and made the NFL think it can control every impulse or reaction of football players. These guys have spent their entire careers being taught, "If anyone goes over the middle, you deck them" and being glorified on segments like "Jacked Up" -- in which multiple announcers cackled in delight during a weekly montage of players getting laid out with hard hits, and ohbytheway, this was only two years ago, and ohbytheway, some of those same announcers who cackled in delight have now ascended Mount Pious (my friend Dameshek's term) and excoriated people like Meriweather and James Harrison for doing things that, ohbytheway, would have absolutely been shown on "Jacked Up" -- and now we're telling these guys, "Wait, you can't do that anymore! BAD! STOP IT!" It's ludicrous.
I keep going back to the "bad parent" analogy and Roger Goodell, who's done a masterful job manipulating the mainstream media these past few years, benefitting mostly from the fact the previous regime was out of touch. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I think Goodell is a total hypocrite for pretending to care about the welfare of his players as he's pushing for an 18-game regular season that would lead to more injuries, more concussions, more collateral damage, more everything. Hey, Roger: If you cared about the welfare of the players, you'd shorten the season to 15 games and add another week of byes. Right? But hey, that would cost owners money. Instead, you'll continue to position yourself as the Sheriff of Player Safety, puff out your chest, crack down on hard hits and swagger around like you're Tim Olyphant in "Justified." Meanwhile, if the players' union doesn't agree to your 18-game schedule, we're headed for a lockout.
Oh, and you know what else is great? NFL owners recently threatened the union that, if the lockout goes into effect next March, the league wouldn't cover health care benefits for its players until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place. So Roger, you care about the welfare of DeSean Jackson in October, but not five months from now if he's paying for his own doctor's appointments because he's suffering from post-concussion syndrome? You're going to tell us that with a straight face?
Some advice for Mr. Goodell: It's time to admit that your players have gotten too big and too fast. We knew this day was coming for 30 years. We're here. We have 260-pound linebackers who can run 4.6 40s, safeties who hit like Mack trucks and 375-pound offensive linemen who can wipe anyone out for a year if they fall on them the wrong way. This isn't about a style of play; it's about evolution. If you care about player safety as anything beyond an easy way to ingratiate yourself to media members who don't know any better, then stop worrying about the small picture (changing the rules on the fly during the season so it looks like you did something) and concentrate on the big picture (cutting back to 15 games, adding more byes and making sure your players still have their health benefits in April after you lock them out because the league and the players can't figure out how to split eleventy kajillion dollars in a fair way). And sorry for the tone, but this entire subject leaves me ... JACKED UP!!!!!!!!!!
Q: J.D. Drew reminds me of my ex-wife after she started with the Prozac. No highs, no lows, no sex, tight hammies.
-- JK Straw, Portland, Maine
SG: That was the winner of the "Funniest But Most Secretly Depressing E-Mail I Received During the 2010 Red Sox Season" award.
Q: In your next mailbag can you post a photo of your mutt Olivia with a poll so the readers can weigh in and ultimately decide how ugly the dog is?
-- Ryan, Alexandria, Va.
SG: True story: I was taking cell phone pictures of her last night when my wife noticed and said, "I know what you're doing, you want to put a picture of her in your column so people can see how ugly she is. YOU ARE A TERRIBLE HUMAN BEING!!!!!!!!!!!!" And since the wife gets half of everything in California, no questions asked, well ... no picture of Olivia. Sorry. Trust me, it's for the best. She looks like we bought her from Dr. Moreau.
Q: In one of your podcasts you tried to find the sports analogy to M. Night Shyamalan's career: spectacular promise, good first impression, then fell off the table. You settled on Penny Hardaway. But what about Dave Stapleton, erstwhile Red Sox first baseman? Comparing a graph of his batting average over seven major league seasons to the Rotten Tomatoes scores of Shyamalan's seven movies is eerier than the ending to "The Village."
-- Greg, Oakland
SG: He's right. Check this out:
"Sixth Sense": 85%
"The Village": 42%
"Lady In The Water": 24%
"The Happening": 18%
"The Last Airbender": 6%
(M. Night Shyamalan, everybody!)
Q: Do you agree that Joe Buck's porn name would be "Joe Buck"?
-- Tom, Pittsburgh
SG: Either that or Joe Dough.
Q: I just finished watching the entire "Dexter" series and couldn't help but think ... What if the entire fifth season was centered on Michael C. Hall performing his ritual on incompetent owners or general managers? Tell me you wouldn't love to see Donald Sterling strapped down to that operating table!
-- Rob, Boston
SG: Rob from Boston just came up with the greatest idea for an animated web series ever. Which isn't saying much. The best part would be fans from various embattled franchises e-mailing the producers of "Dexter: The Animated Series" and pleading for Dexter to kill their GMs or owners.
Hi, I've been an Orioles fan since the Brooks Robinson days. My son is 9 years old and doesn't have a single positive Orioles memory. He wants to start rooting for the Red Sox; I don't know how to stop him. Do you think Dexter could kill Peter Angelos on this week's episode? I'm begging you. Please. Do this for me.
Q: Can you explain how John Henry can afford to pay $476 million for a soccer team but couldn't afford Mark Teixeira?"
-- @davidcaprio (via Twitter)
SG: I can't. By the way, what should I do here? My baseball team (the Red Sox) just bought an English Premier League team (Liverpool), only I already picked an EPL team (Tottenham Hotspur). Do I have to switch? I've only been seriously following Tottenham for 15 months. I've never been to a game at White Hart Lane. I've never worn a jersey. It's not like I have any real ties to them -- it's just a team I randomly picked to follow. If the Red Sox play up the Liverpool connection, play exhibition games in Fenway, make special jerseys and hats that tie both teams together ... I mean, it's going to be tough for me to root for a different team than what will basically be The Red Sox If They Played Soccer In England And Had Even Crazier Fans.
So I guess it comes down to this: If this is simply "John Henry bought an English soccer team," then whatever. I don't care. But if it's "John Henry bought an English soccer team and plans to make it so that every Red Sox fan will feel like Liverpool is their bastard cousin who lives abroad," and they're playing games in Fenway, and other Sox fans are getting sucked in ... it would be REALLY tough for me to pick another team. Blood is thicker than water. The Red Sox are blood. Anyway, I am taking a wait-and-see approach. Glad we talked this out.
Q: Do you think Tiki has definitively proven that he is the evil twin?
-- Porter, Jackson, Miss.
SG: Almost definitely. We'll know for sure when Ronde Barber grows a Fu Manchu or a beard so they don't look as much alike. That's how the Sklars handled it.
Q: Watched "Big" this week and realized that a major part of the plot was Josh and Billy waiting six weeks for the consumer affairs report locating "Zoltar Speaks." With the Internet, Josh could have googled and gotten rid of his awkward Tom Hanks body before dinner. What other '80s movies would be illogical today with the Internet?
-- Garrick, Tampa
SG: Is there an '80s movie that wouldn't be affected by the Internet? Let's shape that into a different question: What seemingly harmless '80s movie plot would have to be totally transformed if you remade the movie in 2010? For me, it's clearly Emilio Estevez stalking Dale the Doctor in "St. Elmo's Fire." He hounds her at work, at her apartment, follows her in the pouring rain, even crashes her skiing weekend with her boyfriend unannounced ... only it was the '80s and he was in love and all of this was somehow OK. Nowadays, he would have been thrown in jail halfway through the movie and we never would have seen him again.
That raises a different question: Why hasn't "St. Elmo's Fire" been turned into a television series yet?
The bones of that plot work for any year: Seven kids in their early 20s trying to find themselves after college in Washington. Judd Nelson's character could be a staunch Obama supporter who just switched over to the Democrats and cheats relentlessly on his girlfriend. Andrew McCarthy's character would now be an angry blogger on the rise who secretly loves Judd's girlfriend. Ally Sheedy's character wouldn't be able to find a job, so she's working as a cocktail waitress at St. Elmo's Fire and juggling both guys. Rob Lowe's character (the great Billy Hixx, someone who once earned an entire column from me) could still be the lovable screw-up who can't hold a job and plays music at night (although the sax would have to go -- it's too '80s; we'd have to make him a John Mayer-like guitarist or something). I'd get rid of Mare Winningham's character and turn her into a wealthy/pretty/classy African-American female who comes from upper-crust Maryland, only her father's business is falling apart thanks to the economy and she doesn't know it yet. Demi Moore's character would still be a coke whore who gets into coke whorey situations every week. And we'd either turn Estevez's character gay or make him a former "Real World" cast member who now makes a killing on the party appearance circuit. That's not a show? Could somebody wake up the CW execs please?
Q: Elin Nordegren might be the Mount Everest of conquests: the most unattainable woman in the world. Not just for pure hotness, but because of her situation. You've gotta figure she has a five-year period before she trusts dudes again. She is fueled by pure bitter emotion right now. You walk up to her at a bar, you might get visually castrated. Is she the most unattainable woman ever? Is she No. 1?
-- Bhaskar, Atlanta
SG: Great question. By the way, you left out that Elin (A) is worth $150 million (so she'd be wealthier than anyone who approached her at a bar, unless it was the Soho House in L.A., and even then she would probably be worth more than everyone in there except for three people); and (B) has two small kids (so if she's looking for a boyfriend, it's going to be a stable guy who could be a potential stepfather for her kids). We also don't know if she's out for revenge yet. She's still healing. In a couple of months, she might be ready for an A-Rod Eff You romance. I want to see how it plays out. I can't give her all-time status, although at the very least, she'd be the greatest Bachelorette ever.
To be the Most Unattainable Woman In The World, a few things have to be in place. First, there needs to be a chance. (That rules out the Virgin Mary, Mother Teresa, Medusa and Oprah.) Second, Bhaskar used the word "conquest," which is crucial. Your buddies would have been impressed in 1962 if you landed Liz Taylor -- for my money, at her apex the hottest "unattainable" woman who ever lived -- but she did end up getting married eight times, including once to Larry Fortensky (see picture to the right). So that has to factor in. Third, she can't be throwing it around like a porn star, which rules out many of the historical greats (Cleopatra, etc.) and more modern greats (Marilyn Monroe, Angelina Jolie, etc.).
Fourth, she needs to be wealthy enough and famous enough that it would be slumming it for her to hook up with an average joe (a bartender, a wanna-be actor, etc.) because the tabloids would go crazy. If you aren't rich or famous, you have about as much of a chance as the Pirates have of winning the World Series. And fifth, she can't have wrecked confidence from a previous relationship, the main reason should-have-been-unattainable Princess Di had such surprisingly shaky taste in men post-Charles.
That leaves us with one choice and only one: Jacqueline Kennedy in the 10 years following JFK's assassination. She was America's sweetheart. She came from major money. She had the baggage of the assassination itself, plus all the JFK/cheating rumors afterward. She had two small kids. She was beautiful by all accounts. The media was watching her every move, so she had to select her mates discreetly. And by the way, you'd be following in JFK's footsteps -- good luck with that one. Her next marriage? A Greek shipping magnate who was one of the wealthiest men in the world. So ... yeah.
Q: August 28th will forever be known as Bill Simmons Day throughout my college friends. When the day was finally over all we could think of was how jealous Simmons would be of the Saturday we just had. (Editor's note: We edited the next four paragraphs for space.) Anyways, thought you'd love the trifecta of a fantasy football draft, Sly Stallone's masterpiece "The Expendables" with the capper of hanging at a bar with Jenn with two n's from MTV.
-- Tim Worthington, Redwood City
SG: I can't decide if my life has been a massive success or a massive failure.
Q: Hey A******,
Write a F****** COLUMN ... I'm tired of hearing your f****** voice ... and I can't listen to your s*** at work. G******** SIMMONS write a f****** column.
-- Corey, Cary, NYC
SG: Leaning toward "failure ..."
Q: Brady's new hair elevates him to Level Douchecon 4, one behind you and Papelbon.
-- Mark Eomurian, Long Beach, Calif.
QUESTIONING MY WEEK 7 PICKS
FALCONS -3.5 over Bengals
How great is it that VH1, the TV channel in which washed-up stars go to die, ran reality shows with T.O. and Ochocinco this summer? How did we not realize that was a bad omen?
Redskins (+3) over BEARS
Are the Bears 4-2 or 4-12? I can't remember. Also, who takes longer to run the two-minute drill -- Chris Berman or Donovan McNabb?
Eagles (+3) over TITANS
If Philly is really the NFC's best team, it should be able to beat the AFC's seventh-best team ... right? And if it can't, then why haven't we wagered on the AFC -3 for the Super Bowl yet?
Steelers (-3) over DOLPHINS
Did you know the Steelers are about to play three straight road games at Miami, New Orleans and Cincy? What a test for White Mamba! South Beach followed by the French Quarter?????
Browns (+13) over SAINTS
Why do I feel like Cleveland can win this game or come damn close?
BUCS (-2.5) over Rams
At what point does Cadillac Williams have to change his name to Hyundai? Five games, 190 rushing yards (2.5 per carry), 127 receiving yards, zero touchdowns ... are we there yet?
RAVENS (-13) over Bills
The old "We got too conservative and blew what should have been a great win last week, let's take it out on a crappy team at home, and by the way, Ed Reed is back!" game, right?
CHIEFS (-9) over Jaguars
Todd Bouman?? Can they make this line high enough?
PANTHERS (+3) over Niners
What's more enticing than a poorly coached, erratic West Coast team coming off a big win flying cross-country and playing a game at 10 a.m. PT against an 0-5 team that it's almost definitely taking for granted?
SEAHAWKS (-6.5) over Cardinals
Why does it kill me to pick against Max Hall, America's favorite 25-year-old Mormon rookie QB? I like him.
Patriots (+3) over CHARGERS
Couldn't San Diego just trade Norv Turner to Dallas for Wade Phillips and three vacant stares to be named later?
Raiders (+8.5) over BRONCOS
Screw the pathetic AFC West ... did you see Comedy Central's "Night of Too Many Stars" raised more than $3 million for autism research? You can still donate by calling 1-888-TOO-MANY, hitting ComedyCentral.com or texting STARS to 90999 (donate $10).
Vikings (+2.5) over PACKERS
Did you know that Brett Favre used to play for Green Bay?
COWBOYS (-2.5) over Giants
The week New York's special teams comes back to haunt them. Crap, that wasn't a question.
Last Week: 7-6-1
SG: Still leaning toward "failure ..."
Q: Pete Rose's regular day job is selling autographed baseballs at a souvenir store in Vegas. And for $357, you can get Pete to sign a ball saying, "I'm sorry I bet on baseball." Using today's dollars, how much will Roger Clemens charge for an autographed baseball saying, "I'm sorry I used steroids" in 2032?
-- Jonathan, Dallas
SG: By my calculations, $442. I love this analogy, though. Is there any doubt Clemens evolves into this generation's Pete Rose? I mean, any? When do you think he's getting a bowl haircut? By the way, every time I get bummed about the steroids era -- not only how it tainted the various titles, but how it ruined our ability to compare statistics by generations -- I keep remembering that it ruined Clemens' legacy and kept him out of the Hall of Fame, and also probably led to the 2004 Red Sox comeback. If you had told me in 1999, "There's going to be a horrible scandal that badly taints two decades of baseball, but two of the side effects will be Clemens' career being ruined and two Red Sox titles," I would have started jumping up and down in delight.
Q: Do you think that the people who invented the first cell phones ever thought that their revolutionary idea would ever be the key instrument in modern sports scandals surrounding various professional athletes' members?
-- James, Cornwall, N.Y.
SG: I want to know when it reaches the point that it's NOT news that an athlete sexted photos of his own johnson. What number do we need to hit? Two hundred? Four hundred? Five hundred? By the way, there are only two months left in 2010 and I still haven't seen "Avatar," Greg Oden's dong or Brett Favre's dong. I am holding the fort.
Q: What would be your Mount Rushmore of horrible actors prominently featured on an otherwise stellar show? I nominate Glen (Marten Weiner) from "Mad Men" for one of the spots. Just horrible and a prime example of why nepotism should be outlawed in any instance. Other candidates: January Jones (Betty Draper), Joseph R. Gannascoli (Fat Vito from "The Sopranos"), Vincent Pastore (Big Pussy on "The Sopranos"), Robert Iler (A.J. Soprano) and Evangeline Lilly (Kate on "Lost"). Thoughts?
-- Wade Buehler, Bloomburg, Pa.
SG: Great idea. I have to name this Mount Bernard after Ed Bernard, the guy who played principal Ed Willis in my favorite show ever, "The White Shadow," and murdered every scene until they finally dumped him after two years. (I remember being 9 years old and thinking, "Wow, that guy is a HORRIBLE actor. Why couldn't they have shot him instead of Jackson?") My only tweaks would be that the show has to be a pantheon-level show (ruling out the great Andrew Shue), and that you can't have two picks from the same show (ruling out multiple "Sopranos" picks, because really, the entire Mount Bernard could be made up of bad "Sopranos" casting, the secret flaw of the show). And also, the person's acting has to consistently compare to Dirk Diggler's first Brock Landers scene in "Angels Live In My Town."
My picks for Mount Bernard: Glen from "Mad Men" (a disorienting train wreck); A.J. Soprano (never worked again, and with reason); Dexter's wife, Rita (so terrible that I actually felt happy when he found her dead in the blood-red bathtub); and Larry Sanders' secretary, Darlene (who only got cast on the show because she was dating Garry Shandling in real life). By the way, the entire "Sanders" set comes out on DVD in two weeks! Our long national nightmare is over.
Q: I just wanted to let you know that as per your suggestion awhile back, my husband now faithfully uses the phrase "taking my talents to South Beach" when declaring his intentions to spend awhile in the bathroom. And somehow, it works. It really, really works.
-- Courtney H., Boston
SG: You just fueled LeBron even more. He took a mental note of that mailbag question. That reminds me ...
Q: At what point do I kill myself over the Oden/Durant thing? Do I wait for Durant's first MVP? Or his finals MVP? Or Oden's first game back where he looks great for two minutes before picking up three fouls and hitting the bench?
-- Kellen, Portland
SG: You can't seriously consider it unless he passes Jordan for titles and MVPs. That reminds me, I have a few gambling tips for the 2010-11 NBA season (you know, if gambling were legal).
The layups? Blake Griffin for Rookie of the Year (2-to-1 odds; only way he loses is if he gets hurt) and Durant for the scoring title (2-to-1 odds; that's like stealing). For a long shot bet, I like Kevin Love for the rebounding title (12-to-1 odds; he's the only rebounder on that Minnesota team and has a 13 RPG season in him). For the MVP? I like Durant (5-2 odds) because he's going to have a monster year for a potential 60-win team; he's a feel-good vote (remember, writers are saps); and most importantly, the King James backlash has crested to the point that Miami needs to win 70-plus and LeBron needs to average 30 and a triple-double to get enough begrudging votes.
That's the single weirdest subplot of the NBA season: A back-to-back MVP hitting his prime switched to a better team and somehow lost 99 percent of his "best player alive" momentum. How can LeBron James -- someone whose first seven seasons ranked alongside Wilt, Bird, Magic, Oscar, Michael and Kareem as one of the greatest starts ever to an NBA career -- suddenly be underrated? It's insane. There's a decent chance he might rip through the league like a tsunami this season.
Q: Now that Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt are playing for a World Series, did we ever replace them with a new guy who makes you say, "I feel bad for them, I wish they were on a good team?"
-- Kenny, Bethesda, Md.
SG: Not officially. Let's turn over the title to Felix Hernandez and Chris Paul. Enjoy it, fellas. See you in a big market in a few years.
Q: Do you agree that the only thing more boring than fantasy stories are bad beat poker stories? I don't think there is anything I care less hearing about. You should do a top 10 things that are commonly spoken about in which there is over a 95 percent chance the person listening doesn't care.
-- Jesse, Staten Island
SG: That's an easy list to slap together. Nobody really cares if you're telling a story that's longer than 20 seconds about ...
1. Your fantasy team or fantasy draft.
2. A bad poker beat.
3. A stock you sold too early.
4. Anything that happened at work that doesn't involve an altercation, sex or porn being found on someone's computer.
5. Anything about the wedding you're planning.
6. Anything that happened at your child's sporting event if your child is under 15 years old, unless it involves two parents fighting or something truly incredible that happened.
7. Anything that happened during an exam you took with one exception -- I had a roommate in college who once got so stressed out during an exam that he discharged on himself during the exam. (Think Forrest Gump in Jenny's dorm room.) Swear to God. So you can only tell an exam story if it's as good as that one.
Q: So I was at a music festival this weekend and one of the bands that was there was JD & The Straight Shot, led by none other than Knicks owner James Dolan. My brother and I were trying to come up with the best heckle for the situation. Mine was "Quit your day job." Perhaps you have something better?
-- Neil, Austin
SG: Please. Like I can top quit your day job? By the way, why aren't Knicks fans chanting this at him?
Q: I want to dress up as Bill Simmons for Halloween. Can you give me some tips (dress, etc.) so I can make it as authentic as possible? I have been practicing the nasally voice for last several months so have that down pat. Thanks for the help!
-- Jeff A., NYC
SG: I asked my wife to answer this question. Here's what she wrote:
"Wardrobe: Broken-in jeans (frayed at the hem) worn falling down in the rear; wrinkled, vintage Red Sox T-shirt with NOTHING on the back and a coffee or nondescript food stain on the front; zip-navy hooded sweatshirt unzipped; Chuck Taylors; Fred Lynn baseball card in wallet along with at least $300 and 30 extra cards and business cards that you don't need; hair like the late JFK Jr., but with silver highlights; blue/green contacts if you don't have Bill's dreamy eyes; he also has giant saucer eyes, so walk around with your eyes wide open like you're in shock.
"How to carry yourself: Hold a BlackBerry in your hand at all times with e-mail or Twitter screen open and glance at it a lot; pretend to pay attention to your kids unless they need something, then act distracted like you just got an important e-mail; every 20 minutes, answer your phone and have an annoying basketball or football conversation with someone in a loud voice; if there's a TV in the room showing a game, leave conversations mid-conversation and walk over to it to 'catch the score' even if it's totally rude. Finally, Bill has no ass so I don't know how you make that part of the costume. Maybe tape your buttocks so that they are inverted? Good luck."
Q: My wife thinks you're sexist. I told her to shut up.
-- Brett, Cabot, Ark.
SG: I wish I had thought of that answer one question ago.
Q: So if Tupac's "Hit 'Em Up" was a 9.1 on your Vengeance Scale, where does Taylor Swift's "Dear John" song about John Mayer rank?
-- Frank P., San Diego
SG: Considerably lower. Although if Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" was the white man's "Hit 'Em Up," and Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" was the Canadian woman's "Hit 'Em Up," then maybe "Dear John" was the 20-year-old harmless white girl's "Hit 'Em Up."
Q: Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods. One of those guys has to drive your drunken girlfriend or wife home. Who do you trust? And in what order?
-- Conrad, Los Angeles
Since that's obviously one of the most important questions in mailbag history, I e-mailed 18 of my friends asking them to rank those four guys from "most trustworthy" (four points) to "least trustworthy" (one point), then voted myself. Sadly, I can't print the responses even though they were viciously funny. Here were the results from "most trustworthy" to "least trustworthy":
Favre: 62 points.
The judges repeatedly pointed out that he'd be less dangerous as a driver and more dangerous with a cell phone in the confines of his own home. Great point.
Bryant: 47 points.
Keeping in tune with his career, he drew the most polarizing feedback. We'll leave it at that.
Roethlisberger: 44 points.
He drew the most follow-up questions, with multiple judges asking, "Would he be drunk or sober?" I didn't answer, I didn't want to sway the jury.
Woods: 37 points.
Put it this way: The judges made it clear that they needed to see some progress from his sex rehab stint first. By the way, if you had showed me this question and answer two years ago and told me, "This will appear in your October 2010 mailbag," my wife would still be picking pieces of my skull off the ceiling.
Q: Yesterday my mom and I ate a late lunch at Steak and Shake, and our waitress was wearing a very Amish-looking head covering, but she was wearing plenty of makeup (I didn't know they were allowed to do that) and had the perfect face. She spoke with a rather low, soft voice, but I'm not sure if she had a cold or had just spent too much time around cows. The way she was making eye contact with me, I thought she might have actually been attracted to me, but I couldn't make a move since my mom was right there. After a while, the waitress' hot eye contact died down. I'm not sure if it was because I wasn't being aggressive enough or because she figured out that my mom was paying. For a little while, though, I was thinking about whether our religious backgrounds would be compatible. I would have joked with her about wearing makeup while being Amish and tried to get on her good side and maybe even get her number if I had been with my bro and not my mom. Do you think that since she was wearing makeup she would also have a phone? I bet naughty Amish girls who wear makeup and use phones would be great in bed.
-- Alan, Warsaw, Ind.
SG: Yup, these are my readers.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for ESPN.com and the author of the recent New York Times best-seller "The Book of Basketball." For every Simmons column and podcast, check out Sports Guy's World. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sportsguy33.