Going to the mailbag
By Stacey Pressman
Special to Page 2

After writing What Men Really Want, I certainly never expected it to resonate the way it did. The column generated 4,000 e-mails, 127 proposals of marriage and 12 recipes for guacamole.

(By the way, if you're going to propose marriage, please attach a JPEG photo. I like to think I'm a high-minded individual who can be wooed by your wit, intellect and prose alone, but really, I'm just as shallow as the rest of you. I know it worked for Rocky Dennis in the 1985 movie "Mask," but Laura Dern's character was blind!)

The response has been tremendous. I heard from women in the offices of the Detroit Lions, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Washington Wizards, and Minnesota Twins all echoing "you go girl" sentiments. I was also told I sparked a pretty hot debate in the clubhouse of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

What Men Really Want also crept into the halls of academia at both Harvard and Louisiana State University. It's nice to know my personal gripes can be broken down into the constructs of societal gender issues and discussed in classroom format. (And to Professor Clemons, the women's studies professor at LSU who e-mailed saying how much she loves football: What a refreshing thing to hear. The world would be a much better place if more women's studies professors embraced this game!)

Interestingly enough, not one woman wrote that I was totally off-base. However, the male response was divided -- some whole-heartedly agreed and admitted that a woman who knows sports is threatening. Others were ticked because I made "sweeping generalizations" about all men. (I'll make the blanket apology here -- sorry). And the rest thought I was wrong, but thankfully, "funny."

So let's get to your questions and comments:

You should be embarrassed writing an article like this. How are you to know what men want in a woman? Where do get your information from? Let me guess, you're one of those lesbian feminists out there that think all men are pigs. Either way, your article is ridiculous and I can't even believe an idiot like you can write for ESPN.

John Barris
St. Petersburg, Fla.

And after all this time John, I thought men dig that two-chick lesbian thing. But what do I know? I'm just an idiot.

In reading your article I realized that just like most men I feel that you are trespassing into man's territory with football. And with that you are saying that I am a chauvinist pig. But you are mistaken. I like a girl who knows sports somewhat and will go to games and be happy. A lady who can actually talk about the game. But when you get into the knowledge that someone like you, with your career has, it does make me feel a little less manly.

Why is it that everything men do women want in? Why can't we have boys clubs anymore? I personally don't mind a smart woman… Truthfully, I need one. Not that I'm not intelligent, just the fact that I need someone who is smarter than me. Women are in everything, Vice Presidents, Congress, and Military-- Sports is the last thing we have to say, "We are men!!!" Can you just act like you don't know everything and let us men live in a cloud of masculinity? Women already have control of us, if you haven't realized yet. So let us beat our chests and be the proud men we all think we should be.

LCpl Paul Fisher
United States Marine Corps

Yes, men need their own clubs. You're preaching to the choir on this one. I don't believe women should be admitted into Augusta unless the male members want us there. I'm not a big believer in the federal government -- or Dr. Martha Burk for that matter -- telling private institutions and clubs what they can and cannot do. I was one of those women wishing Martha Burk would just stick a sock in it and go away! I wouldn't want men infiltrating women's colleges or private health clubs.

That said, the last time I checked, a sports bar is not an exclusively male venue. And if you and I are at a bar, and I hear you and your buddies talk how Hugh Douglas is going to have another solid year bolstering the Eagles D-line, I will feel compelled to remind you that he now plays for Jacksonville. If letting you get it wrong is leaving you in your "cloud of masculinity" then I'm probably not someone you'd want to approach.

That doesn't necessarily make you a chauvinist pig. But I'm baffled by your statement that you need a woman smarter than you, but if she happens to put forth any knowledge, she emasculates you? I would hear your argument if you told me that the girl you were dating came to your bachelor pad and redid your entire bathroom with floral ivy garnish stapled along the perimeter of the ceiling-- in that case, yes, she has just emasculated you. But knowledge of sports and politics? Do you really believe that?

I read your article and my first instinct was that you had the situation all wrong. Personally, I want a woman who knows just as much or more about football than I do.

However, when I discussed this issue with some of my female friends, I found that other women shared your view. I would like to think that men are not that shallow, but I am sure that I have hundreds of years of history to prove me wrong. Which means that maybe I am abnormal? So I applaud you on your article. My question is: where are all the single women that know about football?

Juanus Smith
Los Angeles

Since I work at ESPN most of the women I know here have a sound knowledge of football and sports in general. Juanus, your e-mail, for one second, made me think that perhaps the women at my company are a bit like the Oompa Lumpas in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"…we only exist behind the doors of the Factory -- or, in our case, Bristol, Connecticut. I even doubted myself further when a former NFL player e-mailed to vent about an ex-girlfriend who made a habit of stealing his sports section so she could "check the transactions." In a bizarre, small-world coincidence, I, of course knew this transaction-checking ex-girlfriend. Oops for him!

But rest assured, I also received hundreds of e-mails from sports savvy women across the country, so they're out there, Juanus. And we all don't know each other.

Your article on the sports guys is so right. Guys get wigged out all the time because I know what a line of scrimmage and a safety is. I'm 36, single, pretty, a teacher, I've traveled the world and have effectively unintentionally intimidated the s--- out of countless non-men (as I fondly call them). The minute they realize you have a brain, the warp shields go up and they pull out the phasers for the attack. I told one guy, "OK, while I'm in the bathroom, why don't you set up your interrogation light?"

Stacey, Where are all the real men?

Julie Moskal

If only I ran a dating service.

Working for the Twins, I know first-hand what you are talking about. Guys come up to me in the bar and after I tell them what I do, they start telling me things about the Twins like I've never heard it before and wasn't aware Torii Hunter hit .289 with 29 homers last year. As soon as they slip up and I give them the correct stat or fact they immediately make an excuse to leave and walk away. So, in my opinion men prefer women who think Walter Payton could be Peyton Manning's father. Only a special kind of man can stand to be corrected on his "expert opinions".

Thanks for the article.

Molly Gallatin
Minnesota Twins Baseball Club

To all you guys who are reading this: I'm not just giving you some blowing-sunshine-up-my butt-I-told-you-so-type of Q&A. I just think you need to hear from women who share this viewpoint.

Your article makes an excellent point, Don't you think it's kind of funny how you women always seem to be able to express in words what we men are feeling?

John Tufts

John, I chose your question for completely self-serving purposes -- so when any of my ex-boyfriends log on to read this they will shriek in horror and shrill in disgust and demand your address so they could tell you to stop feeding into my therapist ego.

Your article spoke more of our society and its lack of openness. Maybe men aren't ready to have equals in the sports world yet but that doesn't mean you have to sit there and be quiet. Shoot, it drives me nuts when my wife kicks my butt on the tennis court!

Greg Comella
Tennessee Titans

Thanks, Greg! Just so you know, I've found that most football players suck at tennis. They tend to be too big and always end up hitting the ball three miles over the fence. Your wife's a saint. I'm sure it's frustrating to play you. For every 300 balls one return is Agassi amazing and thus you think you can play. I have yet to meet a football player who was really good!

What about men who don't know anything about sports? How do you feel about them? Could you date those men?


It's the same way I felt about the boys in my third-grade class who didn't know how to roller-skate. Where I grew up we had this suburban Saturday afternoon Mecca known as Skate World. You must remember this '80s phenomenon where your mom would drop you off from 1-4 p.m., you'd eat pizza and then go skate as fast as you could to Quiet Riot and Journey. Sure enough, there were always three boys in the crowd of uncoordinated girls that couldn't skate and it took them the entire "Come on Feel the Noise" song to make one sorry lap around the rink. While me and my friend Megan Higgins were whizzing by this group of skater rejects at Indy 500 speeds, I couldn't help but look at those boys clutching on to the side of the wall for dear life and saying to my 8-year-old-self: "Why in the world can't these boys skate?"

I suppose I give them the effort for trying. I didn't want to skate with them at age 8. I probably don't want to be asked out by them on a date at 28. But that's just me. Although with my track record, I am currently rethinking my position. So, to all the those boys who gave up roller-skating to play Frogger and Space Invaders in the Skate World arcade, maybe you should call me.

Did the editors of Page 2 pull an SI and create "Stacey Pressman" a la Sidd Finch? If you're real, I've got to say I'm impressed. First, you bust out a reference to Contra and I'll bet you remember the code for getting extra lives too! I'm skeptical about the reality of your existence. So, really, are you fo' real?!?

Lawrence Benedetto

Your humor is very guy-like. Did you grow up in a household full of brothers?


Lawrence, I don't know what to tell you. As J. Lo and Ja-Rule would say -- I'm real.

And if you can believe this, Mike, I grew up in a household full of sisters -- along with a dog that was neutered. I am the oldest of four girls. No boys! I know it's hard to believe, but we played Contra. In fact, my sister Neile would beat me to the spread gun in two-player mode every time! I think to this day I blame that spread gun for the fact that we're not Stockton/Malone tight. And to all the readers who asked, of course I know the cheat code for extra lives: up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A-Start.

I have been a sports fan for more than 25 years and have never felt the need to request an autograph from a player or sports journalist until now. How would I go about ordering two signed (and dated) 8x10's for myself and my single sports fan friend, Pete?

Christopher Wright

I don't have publicity photos. However, I did go on a trip to San Francisco with my friend Margaret and some lady took a really nice picture of us in front of the Trans America Building. Also, my Dad has some old Polaroids of me and my sisters riding our bikes in the driveway. If you and Pete want any of these, let me know.

Your DVD theory is right on the money and backed up by my own personal research. Sandwiched in-between "A Clockwork Orange" and "Spies Like Us," I was horrified to discover I owned "The Lion King" and "Robin Hood." Searching for an excuse, I wondered if I had acquired children of my own. A frantic search of my apartment turned up an empty six-pack and my roommate, Gonzo, passed out on the couch cradling his authentic Michigan game ball. Which means I probably ... enjoy watching Disney movies.

By the way, what are the two DVD duds in your collection? And do you believe your theory works with CDs?

Sean Quinlan

Yes, definitely with CDs. Take my Dad's CD collection for example: It goes something like: Andrea Bocelli-Don Henley-Phil Collins-John Mellencamp-Sting -- typical Dad music, right? Then, here's where he scares you: Baha Men ... and 50 Cent. Only Dad went out and purchased his "pop-hop." It's truly a nightmare. When Baha Men pose the question: "Who Let the Dogs Out?" I doubt they imagined it was a 55-year-old podiatrist in Connecticut. I've been scared to go out for drinks with my girlfriends at night, fearing I will indeed find Dad in a club with a bottle full of bub looking for plenty of groupie love. I'm not really sure how to deal with this whole situation. My sisters think it's "cute" so I just go along with it.

I don't like to think I have DVD "duds". Of course, that's subjective. I certainly get grief for: 1) "Center Stage" -- a movie about some kids preparing for a dance recital. Yeah, I own it. I'll take the heat. It's a guilty pleasure; that ballet scene to Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" gets me every time. 2) "The Swiss Family Robinson" -- I was obsessed with this movie as a kid. Let's face it, this was like Disney's version of "Cribs." Forget Ray Lewis' trophy room or white GMC Denali in the driveway, or Mariah Carey's "mermaid" room ... the Robinson' built a multi-level home in the branches of a freakin' tree! Equipped with plumbing, bedroom skylights and a pipe organ! Now that, as they say on "Cribs," is: "Flossin".

Finding the third person (including myself) that loves the movie "What About Bob?" has made me decide to continue reading your columns. Keep up the good work.

James Miller

Thanks James. "What About Bob?" is the most underrated comedy of the '90s.

I would like to know which sports and teams you are a die-hard fan of?

Brian Watts

I am a recent die-hard fan of the MXC. It's actually a sport/show on TNN called "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge" (aka Takeshi's Castle). If you haven't seen this you're missing out. It's this imported show from Japan where Japanese people take part in various obstacle courses -- usually resulting in them falling face-first into muddy pits. None of what they do makes any sense but it is one of the funniest things I've ever seen on television. It is absolutely worth a Saturday evening at home to watch. (Could explain my dating woes.)

In terms of real sports, I follow the NFL. I also like tennis. When it comes to professional sports, I am a fan of "people" rather than teams. When you're from Connecticut it's easy to not have team allegiance. (Although, I do have soft spot for the San Diego Chargers.)

As for college teams, I confess that I'm a rare breed -- I follow the Ivy League. I went to Columbia so my allegiance is there ... please hold off on your Columbia football 44-game losing streak e-mail reminders; I graduated in 1997 when they were decent, (8-2). As for pro football, that should explain why I am always seeking out Charger games in the fall.

Just finished reading your article on ESPN.com and found it quite interesting. Sitting here in Qatar waiting for the war lends itself to searching the Internet for amusement/time passing, but your article definitely made for a lighthearted few minutes. I actually laughed out loud a number of times, prompting the two generals I work for to discover what was so amusing. They also appreciated your work. So ... from a number of American soldiers waiting in the desert, thank you for allowing us to remember why our nation is so great!


Major Tyler Bosco

Your e-mail was the best piece of mail I have opened in my life, edging out the typed press letter I received from the Reagan White House in 1982 when I wrote President Reagan a letter on orange construction paper asking him if he could come over to my house for dinner.

Your e-mail brought me to tears. While you are looking for reminders as to why this country is so great. I am going to tell you why I think you are great.

I lost three friends in the World Trade Center attack. Brian Williams, age 29, and Joe DellaPietra, age 26, both worked at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th Floor of Tower 1. My other friend, Kevin Marlo, age 28, worked at Sandler O'Neill on the 104th Floor of Tower 2.

Their deaths, along with thousands of others, are completely senseless. They were beautiful men and too young to die. So, I thank you for everything you're doing.

On a lighter note, I am glad I can amuse you while out in the desert. Hopefully, Kevin, Brian and Joe are smiling too.

Stacey Pressman is a freelance producer for ESPN and a contributing writer to Page 2. She can be reached at StaceyPressman@aol.com.



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