Friday, March 28, 2014

Reading, Writing, and Football

I saw this article on Yahoo! yesterday when I was checking my mail and it really annoyed me.  The idea behind this puff piece is what a great guy quarterback Peyton Manning is because he ONLY wanted $18 MILLION to play for the Denver Broncos, not the $26.7 million he was accustomed to from the Indianapolis Colts.  So we're all supposed to celebrate how wonderful he is for taking a "pay cut" and the great "sacrifice" he made so he could "help the team" stay under the salary cap.

The whole thing is completely ludicrous to me.  First it shows the sorry state of sports "journalism" these days that some bit of fluff likes this even gets posted on a mainstream site.  I could see if it were on the Broncos website or the Peyton Manning Fan Club or something, but for a mainstream site to act like this is a legitimate story is ridiculous.

People commenting on this demonstrated how a lot of people lack critical thinking skills.  Like the "journalists" (Manning's PR team apparently) who wrote this a lot of people say things like, "What a great guy!  What a class act!"  While ignoring a few key facts in the article.  First, they want to act like $18M is a pittance, like minimum wage.  I mean when you have McDonald's workers complaining about trying to live on $7.50 an hour you're going to laud a guy for making $18M?  Really?  Second, despite taking a "pay cut" Manning demanded $18M because that's what rival quarterback Tom Brady makes.  This doesn't sound like a great guy to me; this sounds like someone who's so petty and jealous of another player that he can't stand to make less than him, though making less certainly wouldn't diminish him in anyone's eyes.  Third, instead of $18M he actually took $19.4M because that's what his agent negotiated before talking with him and his wife suggested he take it--thereby throwing her under the bus in the article.  So basically he said, "Well I only want $18M but if you guys really want to pay me $19.4M I guess I'll take it."  Wow, what a great guy to bite the bullet and take that extra $1.4M.  Lastly they act like he was doing them this great favor by "taking less" to help them with the salary cap but their previous quarterback Tim Tebow made far less than $18M so they were in actuality taking a massive salary cap hit by signing him.

Now see this is the problem when a lot of people read.  They just look at the surface because they can't be bothered to think any deeper.  A good example of this is The Time Traveler's Wife where you can see it as a love story about a guy who randomly goes back in time and the girl he keeps running into.  Or you can think of it that a guy goes back in time and inadvertently befriends a six-year-old girl who develops a crush on him and then they have sex when she's 18 and he's like 42.  Which is pretty icky.  On one side you can say "they were destined to be together!" but on the other you can say, "Well if he never goes back in time they'd have never fallen in love."  And to me there was this whole creepy idea of how he sculpts her personality as she's growing up so that she likes punk music because he does and so on and so forth; sometimes it seemed like she had no free will at all.  I'm pretty sure the author didn't mean to convey that, but that was the impression it made anyway, just like the "writers" of that article intended for it to be a positive little puff piece, not anything controversial.  But not everyone will get the same meaning from something.

Another issue to get back to is Manning's concept--and he's not alone in this--that money=worth.  Ie, if he doesn't make at least as much as Tom Brady he's somehow lesser.  Now I understand an athlete's career can be relatively short and you want to make as much as you can in that time, but this petty notion of "This guy makes this much so I should get more!" doesn't sit right with me.  Because again it's based on the idea that the more money you make the better you're perceived to be.

Since most readers of this blog aren't probably huge football fans, think of this in terms of writing:  just because an author makes a lot of money doesn't mean they're the best writer.  I mean think of those awful 50 Shades of Grey books a couple years ago.  Or the Twilight books.  Or The da Vinci Code.  Those sold millions of copies and made a fortune for the authors, but are you really going to say those people are great writers?  If you do then I will smack you upside the head.  (I might mean that literally like I would drive to your house and smack you upside the head for thinking Stephanie Meyer is a great writer.  Be warned!)  I mean I'm sure Snooki's sold a lot more books than I have, but I'm pretty confident I'm a better writer than her.

In a way I suppose it's the old argument of quality versus quantity.  In this case, quality (or talent) does not always equal quantity of money made.  That's often the case in books, but it's less so in athletics because if someone is really good they will soon get a better contract.  Writing is far more subjective in that people often fork over a lot of money for crap--as do Detroit Lions fans.


  1. Journalism is a lost art my friend. They just regurgitate what is fed to them nowadays.
    As a Texans fan I was glad when Manning left. Now I just wish we can get a QB half as good as Andrew Luck, or Matthew Stafford.

    1. Stop the presses. Someone just said something positive about a Detroit Lions player. You are absolutely right about journalism, David.

  2. Oh, man, Pat, I would love it if you would drive to people's houses and smack them for claiming that Meyer or Collins or, well, I could go on, but I won't, is a great writer. I'll make a list for you, even.

    As for football, and sports in general, part of the reason I don't/can't support them is because of how much we pay them for contributing, basically, nothing to society.

  3. I saw that article yesterday and just thought, "Dude does not fool me that he's so 'humble' to not want to exceed Brady's salary."

  4. "Writing is subjective," but it's almost a guarantee that if you post about Peyton Manning and Twilight you'll get more comments than if you reference an obscure 1953 philosophical essay. I bow to you, O Mighty One. You always get more hits/comments than me.

    BUT I take the lead in having previously commented on how NOT GOOD A PERSON Peyton Manning is, going back to 2011 when I nicknamed him St. Peyton.

    But you're right that journalism, especially sports journalism, isn't. And your comparison of people saying Manning=Brady because each are paid the same and then saying Meyer=Vonnegut because of sales is apt.

    And Andrew? I'm with you: the excessive salaries have turned me off of football, A LOT.

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