Friday, February 22, 2008

(cont...) Football, My Secret Shame...

As previously mentioned I love football (the American version). I'm a little embarrassed by this at times. The culture surrounding it (the frequent misogyny), the horrific violence (there's a reason football players tend to die young), all those stupid beer and Viagra commercials...

But I still love it. The strategy and athleticism. The soap opera. There are "story lines," with heroes and villains. Defeat and redemption. Destiny.

Plus, I've always been amused by the sorta repressed homo-erotic aspect. You know. The male bonding. The tears. The ass-slapping and talk of penetration.

But none of my mild snarking on the topic prepared me for Michael Silver's hilarious article about the NFL scouting combine:

Walk the halls of the Indianapolis Convention Center adjacent to the Dome, and you’ll hear scouts and coaches throwing out compliments like, “That guy’s (expletive) pretty, now.” You’ll see write-ups lauding a prospect’s “big, bubble ass” or “great explosion in his hips.”

Go to the bars at night, and you can’t walk five feet without encountering a 60-something-year-old man with a gleam in his eye who’ll talk about how he has “fallen in love” with one player or another...

...For NFL prospects, the ogling begins at the Shrine Bowl, then continues later at the Senior Bowl when participants are trotted into a Mobile, Ala., hotel ballroom and weighed and measured while wearing glorified Speedo swimsuits.

“I’ve seen guys with some horrible physiques,” agent Gary Wichard says. “One big guy this year, I kid you not, had C-cups. I’ve seen man-boobs before; these were woman boobs. They looked like implants. I felt so bad for the kid, having to walk around that room with 650 people looking at him and gasping.”

Conversely, the excitement that an exceptionally cut prospect provokes is unnerving in a different way. Two years ago at the Senior Bowl, Wichard’s client Brodrick Bunkley, a former Florida State defensive tackle now with the Philadelphia Eagles, practically had people drooling as he cat-walked through the middle of the crowded ballroom.

“They talk about ‘Winning the Beauty Contest’ – that was Brodrick Bunkley,” Wichard says. “When he weighed in, there were murmurs throughout the room. His legs were exploding out of his shorts, and it looked like his skin was swathed in Saran Wrap. You had a bunch of grown men who acted like they were at a strip joint outside of town. I thought they were going to offer him money for a lap dance.”
Yeah. I love this game.

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