Apparently ESPN's Buster Olney went to Anchorman reporter Brian Fantana's school of journalism. On ESPN's front page right now is a news headline on Albert Pujols in which Olney writes, "in nine of his 10 seasons his on-base percentage has never been under .403." Come on Buster, you're better than that. Although you can never top Brian Fantana's unassuming charisma.
I meant to write on this subject a few months ago, amidst the Cam Newton play-for-pay scandal. But low and behold, the great thing about people in sports who say stupid things is that they keep giving you second chances. I'm talking about a particular phrase that drives me crazy. I just read it again today, in a press release from Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley. Upon learning that guard O.J. Mayo had been suspended for 10 games for a positive drug test showing he used a mild steroid, Heisley had this to say: "He has unselfishly done everything we have asked of him..." Really?? It's absurd enough that we are speaking of O.J. Mayo as unselfish, the guy who helped set USC back several years for taking money in his one year at the school. But he's done everything you've asked of him?
"Hey Cam...you should run fast."
I had the same question as I listened to Auburn officials defend Cam Newton against the allegations facing him. First to respond was Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs, who stated, "They seem intent on tearing down the reputation of a young man who has done everything we've asked him to do." Minutes later, a heated coach Gene Chizik told us that Newton "has done everything we have asked him to do since he stepped on campus at Auburn." So, did you guys come to the press conference immediately after meeting with the PR person who told you to use that phrase, or did you speak with him the night before? If I'm at that press conference, I want to know one thing-- what exactly did you ask him to do? Run really fast? Score lots of touchdowns? Was there anything you asked him NOT to do? Like take money to play football, or jeopardize the future of the Auburn athletic program. The statement is completely meaningless, and that's the point. You can use it as Chizik does, and say it vehemently, as if the statement is important and somehow lends credibility to the notion that he did nothing wrong...when really you're not saying anything at all. I mean, tell me he didn't do it. Tell me he didn't cheat at Florida, or his dad didn't ask for money. Don't tell me, "he's done everything we've asked him to do." It doesn't make any sense.
I think those of you with children can understand this best. The next time your son or daughter gets in trouble (let's say he/she bit another child), inform the teacher in an angry, authoritative tone, "But he's done everything I've asked him to do!" Please let me know how that works out. I can only imagine the response would be something like this: "I don't understand what that means, sir. Have you talked about biting? Have you asked your son not to do it?" Maybe we should be asking for more. And we should definitely stop using this phrase.