Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cultists, the NFL, and you

Some people worry about foreign strife, while others are kept up at night by a tanking economy. But unlike such ephemeral concerns, the thing that worries me is that a current NFL personality will start up a cult of personality that will end up making the Manson Family look like the Simpsons.

Okay, that was a bad analogy, because the Simpsons are awful, and just watching them will make you want to gouge your eyes out. How about they make the Manson Family look like the Osmond Family?

You're probably thinking to yourself: there goes Plebian, being crazy and worrying about something that could never possibly happen, and making up exaggerated scenarios for comedic effect.

Well, you've got some nerve, you know that?

Anyways, think about all the cult-like leaders currently roaming the landscape in the NFL right now. Think about the disproportionate influence that previous NFL personalities have held over this country's culture in the past. Why, Jim Brown alone was responsible for 23% of all Blaxploitation films in the early 70's.

Here are the guys I'm keeping an eye on:

Brett Favre

I once had a sportswriter friend who criticized Brett Favre at a Sports Illustrated Christmas party, saying that he threw too many interceptions and his personality was essentially Terrell Owens, only without the charm. They never found the guy's body.

Really, has anybody ever enjoyed the free pass from criticism that Favre has enjoyed throughout his career? From flagrantly mispronouncing his name to screwing his former team (in a plethora of ways), Favre can do no wrong for fans and the media bobbleheads.

How can I get to be Favrian? "Well, you cost the company six gagillion dollars, but it was a gutsy move to gamble all our money on 00 on the roulette wheel, so I'll let it pass. Just try to be more careful in the future, okay?"

Cult-O-Meter Risk: LOW. If he did start a cult, it'd probably get intercepted by the Feds pretty quickly.

Norv Turner

Everybody knows Norv Turner's downsides: he looks like a creepy neighbor you expect to turn up on one of those "Wanted" posters in the post office, his only claim to coaching genius is being lucky enough to have Troy Aikman, Emmet Smith, and Michael Irvin on his offense, and his teams are perennially tagged as "underachieving" without anyone ever pausing to think that maybe it reflects on him.

The potential upside to having Norv Turner as your coach? You'll get a new coach within a few years who can rebuild the shattered husk of a team he leaves behind. Note that this didn't work out so well for Oakland, though.

One amusing thing is watching sportswriters and bloggers continue to labor to find excuses for why San Diego "underachieves" without throwing up their hands and saying "look, obviously, the guy sucks as a coach."

Cult-O-Meter Risk: NEGATIVE. Turner would probably take over a successful cult, but then run it into the ground and end up turning all the members Presbyterian or something. Any chance we can get him into Scientology?

Heath Shuler

How is it that an average college quarterback for Tennessee got so heavily drafted, deep-sixed his own career with an ill-advised holdout, flamed out in the NFL, then got elected as a Representative for North Carolina, and is now being touted for the Senate?

I dunno, but it doesn't happen without some really creepy explanation involving either pictures, fraud, or mass hysteria. And great cults are built on all of those things.

Plus, the chant factor for his name is pretty high: "Shuuuuulllleeeeer." Go on, say it. Just not while smoking dope, or you'll end up peeling him grapes in your underwear. And trust me, that's no picnic.

Cult-O-Meter Risk: MEDIUM. Did you know that he has a realty business based in Tennessee, yet is a Representative from North Carolina? If he starts nosing around Guyana, we'll bump him up to SEVERE immediately.

Tony Romo

Not only does he have Favrian-level apologists who never point out that he chokes in big games, and not only does he have movie-star good looks, and not only does he have hagiographic media coverage, he has the praise of Jessica Simpson, saying that he's "calmed her down."

Anybody who can calm down a Hollywood Starlet has Rasputian powers beyond wildest imaginings.

And that's without starting to discuss T.O. shedding great big tears over him.

Cult-O-Meter Risk: BE AFRAID. Be very afraid.

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