I couldn’t resist a quick follow-up to my post yesterday: Mike and the Mad Dog will be interviewing Giants’ middle linebacker Antonio Pierce the day after every game this season. Pierce is enjoyable to listen to – he’s smart and doesn’t give canned answers to questions. In yesterday’s inaugural interview, Mike and the Dog asked Pierce about the team’s decision to vote Strahan as a team captain. Once again, sports media types went for moral outrage on a bullshit issue, even when the parties most directly involved made it clear that they don’t care.
Here’s part of the exchange:
Mike: “what is the message that you’re sending the fans when you vote Strahan team captain when he didn’t set one foot in Albany this year? I mean, what is the message?”
Pierce: “it’s about what he’s done for this organization the past fourteen years…I think it shows what kind of respect Strahan has among his peers. I was one of the guys who voted for him, too, and I think he’s a great leader.”
Russo: “You know that was a great question Mike asked, Antonio, because in other walks of life, I’m not too sure if that same guy, you know, coming off of two months, you know would be named company president, coming off missing a month or two of training camp and then be named team president, or missed a huge seminar because he didn’t want to be there. That did hit us the wrong way. I know it’s your team and we don’t have a vote, obviously, but we thought that was kind of strange.’
Pierce: “[missing training camp] is not the most important thing. It’s the effort he gives every Sunday, every day in practice.”
I’ve commented before on the divide between athletes and non-athlete commentators: the indignation that is so common among sports commentators is generally not shared by athletes themselves. This divide was on full display during Barry Bonds’ run to the all-time homerun record. And this case – minor though it is – illustrates that divide well. Strahan’s teammates have spoken as clearly as they can about whether they think his missing training camp is an issue: as a group, they don’t give a shit. That should be enough to end the discussion. But, it isn’t.
Like Araton, both Francesa and Russo – despite receiving seven figure annual salaries – see themselves as tribunes of the common man, whose goal is to work their audience into a populist lather of resentment over a trivial issue. Francesa did so by asking what message this sends to the fan – gee, Mike, what message do you think it sends? And Russo, by pulling out an old favorite – comparing sports to a regular job. In regards to Russo’s line of questioning, it should have occurred to him by now that professional sports are not typical of other walks of life. But, beyond that obvious fact, one that Russo rarely questions in any other context than player work habits, does Russo think that all company bigwigs make every meeting, show up to every seminar, and hold themselves to the same work conditions as their underlings? This is a bizarrely naive view of the corporate world.
If Russo and Francesa want to wring their hands about the bad example being set by an individual skipping out of work in the month of August (for which Strahan received a hefty fine, as per his contract), maybe they should pick on our commander in chief, a record-setting vacationer with a penchant for especially long August vacations, especially since they hold him such high regard as a leader.
Or how about (since I’m in the mood for cheap shots), the 109th Congress (the Republican led Congress of 2005-06), which managed to destroy the record for least amount of days in session over its two-year existence? I wonder if, during their earth-shattering steroids hearings, Mike and the Dog chastised them for wasting time on such obvious grandstanding when they spent so little time dealing with the important business of the country?
By the way, in the final question of a fifteen minute interview, Russo did think to ask Pierce what he thought about the injury to Kevin Everett.