Since I've already done Bill Plaschke, I might as well keep things moving and have some fun with Woody Paige. As much as I probably should, I don't exactly hate Woody Paige. Sure, he's an incompetent boob who gets paid plenty by ESPN to make an ass out of himself and gets paid what is probably quite a bit less by the Denver Post to write utter drivel, but...BUT...he doesn't seem to actually hate sports. Which is something I suspect of both Plaschke and Jay Mariotti, and which is something far more deserving of my undying scorn. I'm not saying I like the guy or anything - I'd turn in my sports journalism deconstruction blogging card right now if that were the case - but hey - I've only got so much scorn, and I'm not going to waste it on the sports equivalent of that crazy uncle babbling in the corner.
Anyway, Paige has written this piece about the Denver Broncos in the draft.
If I'm in charge of the Broncos, I offer the Cincinnati Bengals Travis Henry, Javon Walker and my first-round draft choice for Chad Johnson.
My first instinct here is that that trade doesn't work, if only because it NEVER seems like trades in the NFL work. I'm not just saying they're usually disastrous; I'm also saying I can't think of any legitimate trades other than Champ Bailey for Clinton Portis, and that was years ago. Oh yeah, and Moss to Oakland a few years ago. Oh, and Charlie Frye, but that really shouldn't be the third that I think of. Sorry, I have absolutely no idea where I'm going with this. I think I'm trying to get into the Woody Paige mindset of babbling inanity. I'm a method blogger, you see.
If I'm in charge of the Bengals, I tell that fool in charge of the Broncos to seek psychiatric counseling.
Oh. OK then. Thanks for wasting roughly three seconds of my time. (I'm a very fast reader, although I've got nothing on Jimmy Carter - dude can read 2000 words a minute! That's like one post by me about Bill Plaschke! President's Day fever - it don't end until I go to sleep!)
You know, if I was a certain local New England sportswriter for some reason on retainer from ESPN as a national columnist, I'd probably reference some crazy trades I once proposed in Madden right about now and how my wacky friends were dumb enough to accept some of them. But since I'm not, and since I don't really give a shit about Madden, I won't. (Of course, if I was Curt Schilling, I'd be waxing lyrical about Everquest. If only we all had that sort of gaming wisdom at our disposal, the world would be a better place. I think that's been scientifically proven as a fact.)
OK, so that idea doesn't work. I've got a million more, some somewhat compos mentis.
Admittedly, I'm a sucker for self-referential humor. (Oh? You'd noticed? This is getting so meta my keyboard might explode.) But I should probably remind myself that just because you admit to being a terrible writer doesn't excuse the fact that you're a terrible writer. For the record, my excuse is that I don't get paid. I'm not sure what Woody's is, although maybe it has something to do with that time he ate dog food on national TV.
In regard to the NFL draft, I possess the 12th and 42nd picks for the Broncos. I trade down in the first round and up in the second round.
I use my late first-round selection for 280-pound Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling and my early second-round selection for athletic Oklahoma inside linebacker Curtis Lofton. Each is an early junior opt-out. Both will play in their first season and become serious players by their second season.
I'm utterly perplexed here. Is this supposed to be hard-hitting analysis or a creative writing exercise in speculative fiction? Is this his appraisal of Merling and Lofton's pro prospects or just authorial omnipotence? I mean, I have a suspicion since it's Woody Paige we're talking about, but seriously...I feel like I'm looking at the sportswriting equivalent of one of those optical illusions where it's a general one way and a bunch of people under an arch the other way.
Now I have kids Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder, Marcus Thomas and Merling on my defensive line with third-year Pro Bowl type Elvis Dumervil and assorted veterans, and my linebacking corps has D.J. Williams and Nate Webster (Ian Gold will be gone), bolstered by Lofton. And I've already got in my secondary all-world Champ Bailey, Dre Bly, Domonique Foxworth, Karl Paymah, Hamza Abdullah and (most likely) John Lynch.
Most likely John Lynch, Woody? I would have thought you wouldn't have left a single detail to chance in this little novella of yours. All I know is, if it turns out the mysterious jewel thief was John Lynch all along, I'm going to feel cheated. I'd like to think you're above such cheap twists, Woody, but this forced ambiguity is a red flag. Also, I'm apparently a tenth grade creative writing teacher.
I feel like Ron Popeil, the infomercial king. I'm not finished.
Quick analogy: if Woody Paige is Ron Popeil, does that make Skip Bayless the "Ding King" guy? You know, Billy Mays?
Judge for yourself:
I think you've got to agree - the evidence is piling up.
I draft in the fourth round Colorado linebacker Jordon Dizon. I'll never regret the decision.
The fact that he'll never regret the decision is the only reason Woody gives for why, you know, he'll never regret the decision. He's either the world's worst sportswriter or just a fairly hacky novelist. I mean, at least "I'll never regret the decision" is sort of like foreshadowing, I guess, so maybe that's supposed to sow the seeds for how Jordan Dizon teaches Woody how to live again or something a la Finding Forrester. I'm not sure which of those is preferable, although I think I'd be up for Woody Paige shouting "You're the man now, dawg!" Actually, I'm willing to bet anything he did that on Around the Horn at one point or another. Or at least he wrote it on that stupid chalkboard. The fact that I know even this much about Around the Horn is making me seriously consider giving up my current life and joining some form of non-religious monastery. They have those, right?
I've got myself and the Broncos a defense — young enough, mean enough, talented enough, with enough leaders. They'll deny you; I defy you.
Woody Paige sure loves parallelism, but he also apparently doesn't have the slightest clue how it works. As much as "with enough leaders" is probably preferable to the horribly forced and clumsy alternative "with leaders enough" - and if Woody Paige didn't seriously consider that possibility, then I'm founding that non-religious monastery right here and now - the sentence only really sounds even remotely clever if all the words are arranged the same way.
Also, as much as "They'll deny you" and "I defy you" rhyme and complement each other and everything...well, I defy anyone to explain what the hell those mean in this context. Is he addressing opposing offenses in the sense that the Denver defense will deny them points? And is he talking to me personally with that second part, telling me he defies my attempts to understand what he's saying? Is he talking to me? Dear lord, I'm hallucinating. I think Woody Paige articles might be a hallucinogenic substance, so that raises the question...should they be banned? This concerned citizen says yes.
First, I bring in Henry and tell him he owes me big time for everything that happened in the past season. He already has admitted such publicly.
Woody Paige: armchair GM, armchair psychologist. And by psychologist, I mean "dude who desperately wants to give Travis Henry shit with or without mentioning the words 'paternity suit.'" Also, would a team with Paige as general manager be the first in sports history to suffer an actual, Bounty-style mutiny? I'm not sure, but I'm nominating Jay Cutler for the part of Fletcher Christian, if only because they both seem a bit overhyped.
Second, I bring in Walker and tell him I know he wants out of here, but he's going nowhere until 2009, so he should just embrace the situation as the No. 2 receiver (behind Brandon Marshall and ahead of Brandon Stokley) and catch as catch can.
[The scene: the office of Woody Paige, general manager of the Denver Broncos.]
Javon Walker: You wanted to see me, Mr. Paige?
Woody Paige: Yes, son. Now, I know you want out of here.
Walker: I just don't think this is the right fit for me.
Paige: I understand. Well, we both know what happened last time you were unhappy.
Walker: Believe me, I certainly don't want a repeat of the whole Packers situation.
Paige: Of course. For now, we can't really move you, so I'd just advise you to make the best of this situation and hopefully you'll be where you want to be in 2009.
Walker: I'm a professional, Mr. Paige, and you can expect nothing less.
Paige: Thank you Javon, that means a lot. And remember: catch as catch can!
Walker: Wait, what did you just say?
Paige: Catch as catch can!
Walker: I'm sorry, I'm just not processing the words coming out of your mouth.
Paige: Catch as catch can!
Walker: Seriously, what the fuck does that even mean?
I'm with that fictional representation of Javon Walker I just created: "catch as catch can" is utter gibberish.
Third, I draft an offensive lineman third.
I'm past the point of asking do people edit these articles. Seriously, is there even a point where a first-day intern so much as glances at what Woody has written? I mean, I suppose there's nothing absolutely wrong about that last sentence...but hell, how can someone paid to write for a living ever construct a sentence like that?
Fourth, I sign free-agent wide receiver Justin Gage of the Titans, who had an impressive game (six receptions, 66 yards) in Denver on "Monday Night Football," or Bryant Johnson, who hasn't gotten his due, time or cash with the Cardinals.
The secret of Woody Paige's new player evaluation:
1. Did potential acquisition ever play against Denver?
2. Did potential acquisition actually play in Denver?
3. Did it happen when that strange Kornheiser fella was talking to Christian Slater?
If so, there's at least a thirty percent chance Woody Paige has seen you play. Also, call me hard to impress, but six receptions for sixty-six yards? That's apparently your entire basis for wanting this dude? I mean, it's better than just saying the reason you want Justin Gage is because you want Justin Gage (which would actually be pretty creepy if you wrote that), but it's really frightening just how low I have had to set the bar for you, Woody. I'm pretty sure a cockroach couldn't limbo under that. Of course, cockroaches are infamously poor at limboing, but I digress.
Fifth, and most important on offense, I put the hard rush on Steelers free-agent linemen Alan Faneca and Max Starks. Faneca is a seven-time Pro Bowler (think Hall of Famer Gary Zimmerman as a guard), and Starks is a — get this — 6-foot-8, 337-pound tackle. He's coming off a knee injury, but Starks is only 26, and he would be the future replacement for the retiring Matt Lepsis. Try to get past The Great Wall of Starks.
Does "Great Wall of Starks" really count as a play on the Great Wall of China? Shouldn't the replacement word have to sound at least slightly like the word "China"? Maybe? Although this does make me thing of some sort of Great Wall of Sharks, and although I haven't worked out all the logistics it is almost certainly unbelievably awesome.
If I'm in charge of the Broncos and I can do all that, I'm feeling pretty good on Feb. 18, 2008, even without a trade with Cincinnati for Johnson.
Call me crazy.
Sorry Woody - I'm not giving you the satisfaction. Although the nice men in the white coats should be arriving shortly to take you on a little trip. You'll probably want to go quietly; they tell me it's so much easier if you do.