Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Revis is God

I once had this idea of massive, flat, assembled-junk sculptures -- bas-reliefs, almost -- that could be hung on a wall like a painting.  I called the would-be series American Shantytown.  It was to be my usual painterly grappling with issues related to the American economy, this time writ large.  Here is a study of the first, and only one ...

It's kind of a riff on that famous bit of 60s graffiti that read "Clapton is God".  In the end I wasn't sure of the viability of the project, plus I didn't really have the space, equipment (a pick-up truck being the most vital) and inclination to pursue it.

All by way of saying that I just finished reading "Collision Low Crossers," a book by some guy named Nicholas Dawidoff.  The gist of the thing is that he was an embedded journalist with the New York Jets for the duration of the 2011 season.   2011, if you don't remember, was the season immediately following the Jets' two forays into the AFC Championship games, and as the book began, hopes were high for another outstanding season.

Then it all turned to shit.  The offense, let by Mark Sanchez, sucked generally.  Wide receiver Santonio Holmes feuded first with the offensive line, then with Sanchez, and then pretty much called it in for the last quarter of the season.  The defense resented the offense's incompetence, and the locker room -- long thought to be a Rex Ryan strong-point -- shattered.

The take-away is this:

Santonio Holmes -- The man, as frequently noted, was pretty much of a shit.

Mark Sanchez -- Sanchez' unrealized potential (and, in fairness, that knucklehead John Idzik's unwillingness to purchase a decent cornerback -- although that's another story) was the iceberg that sank Ryan's Jets career and a lot of others as well.  You kind of wanted to take the kid and shake some sense into him.  The book is brutal in describing what a crappy quarterback he was, and the toll that took on the psyche of the entire team.

Darrelle Revis -- The only good thing about this most recent Superbowl is that Darrelle got a ring.  The book is one long valentine to an amazing athlete, one regarded by almost everybody in the Jets organization with well-deserved awe.  That they let him go still stuns me.

Rex Ryan -- Enough is enough.  Rex deserved to go this year and he did.  But I, like millions of Jets fans, never really held it against him.  The picture painted of him in the book is that of a great defensive coordinator perhaps not ideally suited to be a head coach.  But hey, we all have our faults.  I miss the guy already and he's barely been gone a month.

I'm telling you all this so you don't have to read the book.  I thought it was a bit long and not quite as good as I had hoped, but I had a bad taste in my mouth after the Jets season and thought it might be interesting.  Letter grade: C+.  I'd have graded higher but the author has an odd habit of glossing over some of the really interesting things and focusing on the arcana of the sport.  Of which there's plenty in football.  Specifically, I refer to an incident in the last game of the season when the offensive line told Holmes he wasn't allowed in the huddle and sent him back to the sideline.  Absolutely unheard of.  And all it got was a short paragraph.  A casual mention, where some depth would have been interesting.  It was later glossed over by the Jets with a bunch of coach-speak and subject-changing -- which automatically tells you that there's an untold story, and I would have loved to have heard the real skinny, fully explored.  What's the point of living with the team for a year if you can't scrape up some of the good stuff?  I could come up with other examples if pressed.

Anyway, it was interesting to read a sports book.  I almost never do.  I'm trying to think of the last one I read before this.  But I can't, unless "Seabiscuit" counts.  Which was a great book and when I finish typing this I'm wandering down to the library where, I've been informed via email, they are holding Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken."

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