Sunday, March 23, 2008

52 52 52 Week #5: Louisiana

In which I examine crappy local sports journalism on a state-by-state basis, progressing through the states in terms of an alphabetical ordering of the heights of their tallest points. Because I can.

Anyway, with that rambling preamble out of the way (which I guess I should have saved for the New Jersey edition of 52 52 52, but fuck it, too late now), to business. Your state this week is Louisiana. Your highpoint is Driskill Mountain at 535 feet. These are your fast facts:

1. Wikipedia stresses Driskill Mountain is the highest natural summit in Louisiana. It also says Driskill Mountain is sometimes known as "Mount Driskill." Honestly? I think they've all got something to hide. Remember: you can't spell "Driskill" without "kill." And "skill", for that matter. Skill at killing!

2. Its summit is made out of nonmarine quartz. Nonmarine, huh? I'm guessing Matt Ufford does NOT approve.

3. The mountain is named after James Driskill, who moved there with his family in 1859. Many of his descendants still live in the area, although his son James B. Driskill did mysteriously disappear after leaving to go fight in the Civil War. My guess? The fucking mountain got him. IT'S RIGHT THERE IN THE NAME!!!

The featured newspaper this week is the delightfully small Shreveport Times, which actually got renamed to just the Times when people realized that, if you were reading the damn thing in the first place, there probably weren't any other newspapers you were perusing. Put it this way: Wikipedia doesn't mention its circulation, but does describe its distribution as "12 parishes in Northwest Louisiana and three counties in east Texas." That truly puts the "local" in "shitty local journalism." The "shitty" part is provided by Scott Ferrell, who has some utterly pointless stuff to say about LSU running back Jacob Hester.

On a bright, spring Saturday morning, Jacob Hester drove to Reeves Marine's Tiger Island in Bossier City for an autograph signing.

"When I drove over the bridge," Hester said, "I was amazed. I really was. I was like, 'Golly.' It took my breath."

People actually say "golly" to themselves? Gee whiz, hepcat, I woulda thought only ankle-biters would use lingo that far 86ed. Or something. My points, I think, is that "golly" is no longer 23 skidoo. Not 23 skidoo at all.

Also, at this point, the only stated reason for Hester's momentary asphyxiation is the experience of driving over a bridge. And since the bridge in question isn't the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, I don't think that's going to be good enough.

The sight of cars outside of Reeves Marine was just the start. People began lining up for his autograph at 8:15 a.m. The signing wasn't scheduled to begin until 11 a.m.

Wow, he must be pretty popular there! It's truly amazing that a guy who helped LSU win a national championship would be popular in Louisiana!

The folks at Reeves Marine estimated more than 1,000 people came and paid $25 for an autograph from Hester, the former LSU star running back.

That $25,000 have better have been going to a good cause. Because otherwise I'm calling total bullshit on the feel-good quotient of this article. Since Scott Ferrell doesn't actually ever say where that money went to, I'm going to assume it's currently funding terrorism. At least, I think that's what I'm supposed to take away from this:

Hey, if the government says it, it must be true, right?

That's more people than came to get an autograph from quarterback Matt Flynn a couple of weeks ago — and Flynn had an extra hour of signing.

Right, but Matt Flynn signs stuff really slowly. It's true - his three autographs per minute is one of the key reasons scouts believe he won't make it at the next level. Matt Ryan? Twenty autographs per Cyrillic. To quote Michael Biehn in The Rock, I shit you not.

"I talked to Matt and he said he had 700," Hester said. "So I was like, 'I've got to beat you, obviously.' It's my hometown."

Oh, wait...this is Jacob Hester's hometown? Well no fucking wonder so many people showed up.

Certainly Hester's hometown status had a lot to do with the turnout for the signing.

Really...ya think!? Seriously, if I announced that I, Archie Micklewhite, would be holding a signing in my hometown, I guarantee at least three times as many people would show up than if I held it anywhere else on the planet. Admittedly, three times zero is still zero, but you get my point. An article about how a Jacob Hester autograph singing in his hometown was well-attended is pretty much the most worthless article I can imagine.

"It's been awhile since Shreveport had an LSU guy, I guess," Hester said. "Me and Chase Pittman kind of started it back over again, hopefully we'll get Shreveport connected."

But there's more to Hester's popularity than just his hometown roots.

Last chance, Ferrell. Show me why I should care.

(Strangely, that's also what I thought towards Will Ferrell after being thoroughly unimpressed by the promos for Semi-Pro. More on this later.)

He has an Everyman appeal to him.

Translation: he's white. Eh, I'm just going to go ahead an say it. Isn't "Everyman" just the college football version of "gritty"? And we all know what that's code for.

In street clothes, he doesn't look any different than the size of the people in line for his autograph.

I don't care if the fact that he's 5'10 and 220 means he's "stocky." There's no way he isn't obviously more muscular and better-built than almost anybody at a Shreveport autograph signing, especially when you consider the beer belly factor. I go to a college not known for its football prowess, but the football players still all look like they're chiseled from granite. But then again, he is white.

He is strong, but not the strongest. He is fast, but not fastest.

This is so close to saying he's only around because of hustle and grittiness and putting in 110 percent that I can barely stand it. Don't be a grit-tease, Scott Ferrell.

Yet he may have been college football's best clutch performer last year. There may not have been a running back get more crucial yardage than Hester did last year in LSU's championship season.

Fucking "clutch", man? It's like Scott Ferrell has assimilated every Eckstein article ever written and just applying it to Jacob Hester. Also, there were four other dudes in the running back rotation. Hester certainly got a ton of yards, but I'm going to need a little more evidence for his singular worth than "There may not have been a running back get more crucial yardage." Honestly, can we just ban hack sportswriters from using the construction "There may not have been"? It's the easiest way to make an unprovable statement without technically being able to be called on it. After all, he didn't say he did. Just that there may not have been anyone else! Fuck, this is confusing just trying to write about.

His performance and production endeared him to LSU fans.

Also: his whiteness. And if you think I'm being unfair towards LSU fans,'re absolutely right. I'm sure most LSU fans don't give two shits whether or not their star running back is black or white. Although I'm equally sure that some do.

Yet when the NFL Draft takes place next month, Hester will likely go in the later rounds and be drafted as a fullback.

Man, if only those scouts saw just how long a line he could command at a hometown signing, he'd be first round for sure. You think Darren McFadden could pull in those sort of numbers in North Little Rock? Not very fucking likely, my friend.

Also, the Patriots should take him with their first round pick. You know why.

"Every team I've talked to has said the same thing, I could play fullback or I could be a running back on third down in pass situations, do different things, goal-line situations," Hester said. "Everybody thinks I could play both like I did in college."

How is it a knock on scouts if they're saying they could see him succeed in much the same way he did in college? Sounds like a pretty realistic assessment to me.

The reality is that Hester will likely succeed wherever he is in the NFL because of his attitude and intangibles. This is a player hungry to play in the NFL.

Better be careful he doesn't get so hungry that he eats the goalposts! I kid, of course...unless he's related to this guy.

His attitude is one of willingness to do whatever it takes.

Which differentiates him from 99.9% of football (Also, the thing that differentiates the other .1% of players is the truly absurd amount of talent that allows them the luxury to get away with not always going full blast.)

"I'll play water boy if they want me to. I don't care," Hester said.

Considering water boy isn't technically a position, I imagine you might care. Maybe just a little.

He'll work out again for scouts on Wednesday at LSU's pro day in Baton Rouge. But really, those people in line on Saturday could tell the scouts a thing or two about the importance of Hester's intangibles.

This is just brilliant. It went from silly irrelevance to hitting every imaginable cliche I could possibly hope for. Thank you, Scott Ferrell, thank you. Keep preaching the gospel of intangibles. It's like a chainsaw to my ears. A rusty, rusty chainsaw.

Those intangibles helped him win a national championship ring and a place in the hearts of LSU fans.

Also, the parts of his talent that can actually be measured by his stats, which include over a thousand yards rushing and a dozen touchdowns. I'd say that's pretty fucking tangible. Then there's the fact the rest of his team was really awesome in a statistically measurable way. Oh, and the fact that so many other teams lost, which let LSU sneak into the title game with two losses in the first place. So yeah, apart from all the tangible stuff, totally intangible.

"I don't know what it is, but it sure is a blessing to have," Hester said.

You know, I feel the same way about this article. This article is a blessing. A horrendously written blessing. Thank you, Scott Ferrell, for showing me just as surely as some insane Jersey guy that there's still plenty of work for me to do. Time for another call to arms, methinks.

Bloggers, forward...MARCH!!!

No comments: