September 30, 2003

Run amok: Soldier Field, Terrell's ego

POST #    522

Run amok: Soldier Field, Terrell's ego
By Gregg Easterbrook
Page 2 columnist

Last night, Chicago unveiled the "new" Solider Field, an old field that was completely redone in order to make it more expensive. Working round the clock, sparing no expense -- $632 million, according to the Chicago Tribune -- and spending freely since most of it was taxpayers' money, anyway, the architects of the new Soldier Field managed to take a beautiful classical structure and make it an ugly modern structure. Great job!

The new public park surrounding the renovated Soldier Field is impressive, as are the walkways to the wonderful Field Museum. Seats are wide and well-spaced -- TMQ recently sat at Philadelphia's new Lincoln Field, and the seats were so narrow and squished together that they made a Southwest Airlines middle seat seem appealing.

By all accounts, what's inside the rebuilt Soldier Field is fan-friendly and very well done -- on beholding the classy interior, Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher declared, "This looks like someplace we'd travel to." Also, you have to like the fact that heated liquid glycol piped under the turf will keep the Kentucky bluegrass no cooler than 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the Chicago winters. Ethyl alcohol, some heated, will be piped into fans.

Soldier Field
$630 million? They should have used some of that money to buy a better team.

But there remains the fact that the exterior of Soldier Field was once beautiful, and is now ugly -- at fantastic expense. Presumably, if an actual flying saucer crashed on Lake Shore Drive, it would look better than this.

The original, beautiful Soldier Field was completed in 1924 at a cost of $10 million, which inflates to $101 million in current dollars. Thus, in real-dollar terms, the new, ugly Soldier Field cost six times as much as the original, beautiful one. Spending $632 million to make something look worse: how very current!

It's good to know that no matter how much is ripped out and rebuilt, Chicago tradition remains. On their first possession last night in the $632 million new venue, the Bears ran three plays and gained zero yards.

In other NFL news, Terrell Owens was a member of the San Francisco team that got punched out 35-7 by Minnesota -- but you'd never know it from listening to Terrell Owens. This gentleman threw a tirade on the sidelines; and then, after the game, denounced his teammates while mewling, "I was always open." Apparently, Owens had nothing, nothing at all, to do with his team losing. There's no "I" in team. There is also no "T.O."

What is it with wide receivers and their egos? Sunday's game was not between the Niners and the Vikings; it was between the Randy Moss ego and the Terrell Owens ego. The reason T.O. blew a gasket is that Moss' ego caught three touchdowns and his ego caught none.

Terrell Owens
TO hasn't been doing much dancing this year -- but, of course, that's the fault of his teammates.

Moss, Owens, Cris Carter -- a high percentage of football's insufferable egotists are receivers. Marvin Harrison merely sulks, which makes him seem mild-mannered by comparison. Insufferable ego even strikes receivers like David Boston and Troy Edwards, who have never done squat. And receiver ego is hardly just a recent phenomenon. On the day Andre Reed became the No. 2 receiver all-time, he denounced his teammates and threw a tirade about not being worshipped enough.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback can offer these explanations for runaway receiver ego:

First, today's WRs really do believe they are always open. Watch games in person, or watch tape, and you will see that even Jerry Rice and Moss -- the two I'd least like to face -- are covered on most plays. But receivers tell themselves they are always open; and since nobody watches pass patterns, fans don't know better. In contrast, any running back who said, "I'm always about to go the distance," would be laughed at because fans follow the ball and see that isn't true.

Second, receivers get the all-ego isolation moments. Other gentlemen on the field are engaged in complex joint efforts; fans see them performing as ensembles. When the little television tetragon shifts to the receiver, he's all alone loping through the defense. It's a perspective that places emphasis on the ego, making him appear, however fleetingly, to do something single-handedly.

Third, by the nature of the long pass, wide receivers occasionally turn in spectacular major-yardage plays. Except for the occasional runback, most long gains go to the wideout corps. This allows the egotistical receiver who catches a long pass to believe he is winning the game single-handedly.

Finally, receivers have runaway egos because they don't block.

In the contemporary NFL, wide-outs are the sole players who consistently get away with not aiding their teammates. Linemen and tight ends are expected to block on every play. The quarterback is busy on every play. Running backs who don't block the blitz soon learn the definition of "waiver wire." Over on defense, everybody pursues at full speed, even when the play is 20 yards down the field on the opposite side. But wide receivers? Go to a game and watch them during running plays. They listlessly lean on the cornerback, if they do anything at all. Some star receivers don't make any attempt to block even when the play is coming their way. (The football gods adulate Jerry Rice because he always blocks; but then, Rice is exceptional in everything.) And coaches don't compel gentlemen of the Terrell Owens ilk to block. So they think they're more important than everyone else combined, and have ego meltdowns.

Solution? Make Terrell Owens and Randy Moss cover punts.

David Carr
The football gods applaud the Texans for going for the win rather than overtime.

The Football Gods Will Reward This: Trailing 20-17 with two seconds left, the Houston Texans faced fourth-and-goal on the Jax 1-yard line. A scientifically estimated six-nines of NFL coaches (that is, 99.999999 percent) in this situation send in the field goal unit to force overtime. Taking the field goal actually is not the percentage play; NFL teams probably convert about 80 percent of fourth-and-ones, while a ticket to overtime is a 50-50 chance. But coaches kick in this situation in order to avoid blame. If the coach gambles to win and fails, then the loss is his fault. If the coach plays it safe and goes to overtime where a loss results, that's the players' fault.

Gloriously, majestically, Houston coach Dom Capers ordered the Texans to go for it. And he ordered a run -- 'tis better to have rushed and lost than never to have rushed at all! David Carr on the sneak, victory.

Actually, there is another coach who recently went for everything on the game's final play. Week 15 of the 2002 season: The 3-10 Minnesota Vikings scored with five seconds left to come within one point of New Orleans. Rather than kick the singleton PAT and go to overtime -- buying that 50-50 ticket -- Vikings coach Mike Tice went for two, got it, and departed victorious. The football gods smiled; and since then, Minnesota has won an additional six straight. Yea, verily, the football gods will now smile upon the Texans as well.

Stat of the Week: Stretching back to the moment last season when they went for two on the game's final play, the Minnesota Vikings have won seven straight.

Stat of the Week No. 2: The Kansas City Chiefs held Jamal Lewis to 115 yards.

Stat of the Week No. 3: Mike Vanderjagt of Indianapolis kicked 19 times -- 10 kickoffs, seven extra points and two field goals.

Stat of the Week No. 4: The Buffalo offense scored 62 points in the season's first eight quarters, and zero points in the next seven quarters.

Stat of the Week No. 5: The Jets had more penalties and punts (8) than points (6).

Stat of the Week No. 6: St. Louis put up 24 more first downs than Arizona.

Dante Hall
Dante Hall has three return TDs (two kickoff, one punt) this season.

Stat of the Week No. 7 Chiefs' returner Dante Hall has six touchdowns in his last nine outings.

Stat of the Week No. 8: The Tennessee defense scored nine points and returned a takeaway to the Pittsburgh 1, from where the offense recorded a touchdown. The Steelers' offense scored 13 points. Thus, the Tennessee defense effectively outscored the Pittsburgh offense.

Stat of the Week No. 9: Against Oakland in overtime, San Diego ran seven plays for a net of eight yards.

Stat of the Week No. 10: Minnesota, Tennessee and "Washington" won by a combined 48 points, despite being outgained by a combined 333 yards.

Stat of the Week No. 11: Philadelphia and Chicago, opening a combined $1.1 billion worth of new stadiums, fell behind by a combined 34-0.

Stat of the Week No. 12: Stretching back to the beginning of the 2001 season, the Bears have followed a 13-3 run with a 4-16 run.

Cheerleader of the Week: Kim Lance of the Sea Gals of the red-hot (blue-hot, in this case) Seattle Blue Men Group. With training in jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical and hip-hop dance, Lance works as a human-resources manager. So Kim, you handle the human resources -- who handles the space-alien resources? (See below.) She also picks football games. Here you'll see Lance got only five right this week. But don't despair, since that's about the same success rate as the New York Times sports page. And Kim Lance becomes the first cheer-babe to submit a haiku to TMQ! The allusion is to the proposed Seattle espresso surcharge.

Seahawks cheerleader
Kim earns high grades from TMQ for ... her haiku ability.

Holmgren's heroes are
playoff contenders! Please don't
tax our victories.

-- Kim Lance, Seattle

You can order the Sea Gals 2004 calendar here. Lance comments, "It proves you don't need to be nearly naked in a bikini or lingerie to put together a beautiful calendar." Kim, you may be missing a key point.

Here, Sea Gals cheerleader Amber Lancaster appears on the "Are You Hot?" non-reality show. She did not advance! Lancaster was not considered hot? Only possible explanation: Lighting in the room was poor. Amber's comments on the event includes this: "The judges critiqued me for a good half an hour." Remember, she's standing in front of them in a string bikini the entire time; if Amber Lancaster was standing in front of me in a string bikini, I'd drag the interview out too. Lancaster continues, "Their comments seemed a little out of sorts, and I wasn't saying too much in response. So Randolph Duke asked me if I could speak, and I said yes, I can speak!" Amber, that exchange was high eloquence by the standards of "Are You Hot?"

Sweet Play of the Week: Tied at 3 against Baltimore in the third quarter, Kansas City had first-and-10 on its own 38. The Chiefs faked up the middle as wide receivers came back toward the quarterback from both sides, so it was impossible to know which way the end-around would go. Johnnie Morton took it 36 yards to set up the go-ahead touchdown.

Sweet Play of the Week No. 2: Game scoreless in the first, the Lucky Charms sent running back Ricky Williams into the flat. He faked an out; Peyton Manning pumped; Williams went to the end zone, where he caught an "up" for six. A pump-and-go to a running back!

Sour Play of the Week No. 1: Trailing by 11 with 2:38 remaining, Jersey/B faced fourth-and-three on the Dallas 10. Wayne Chrebet ran a two-yard out, caught it and was tackled to end the contested portion of the game. He ran a two-yard pattern when the team needed three yards!

Plus, consider the situation. The Jets' last strand of hope was to record a field goal, a touchdown and a deuce conversion. Since Jersey/B had to notch a field goal, anyway, why not take the three-pointer here and then either onside -- to military-afterburner-level noise from the home crowd -- or kick away, considering the Jets still had a timeout, plus the clock would stop at two minutes? Against the Dolphins two weeks ago, also at home, also trailing by 11 with three minutes left, Jersey/B threw a reckless interception in Miami territory when it might have quietly taken the field goal and at least stayed alive.

John Carney
What, a kicker couldn't outrun a defensive back?!?!

Sour Play of the Week No. 2: Trailing Indianapolis 14-0, the New Orleans Boy Scouts lined up for a field-goal try in the second quarter. New Orleans ran a nifty fake: The ball was hiked to the snapper, who flipped it to kicker John Carney running right. Carney gained three yards. But the fake was called on fourth-and-seven! Generally, fake kicks should be called only on fourth-and-short, when there's decent hope of a first.

Wacky Food of the Week: The current global leader in food wackiness is El Bulli, a super-expensive restaurant on the Costa Brava in Spain. El Bulli is open just six months per year and claims to sell out every possible table for that six months in a single day. According to this recent New Yorker article by the food writer William Echikson, Ferrán Adriŕ, the chef-owner of El Bulli, is devoted to culinary absurdity:

Using a nitrous-oxide canister, he prepares foams out of cod, pine nuts, asparagus, and mushrooms; he injects warm olive oil into dinner rolls with a syringe; he gives cooking times in seconds rather than in minutes or hours; waiters at El Bulli instruct how and when and in what order to eat the food, as if choreographing a complex chemical reaction. From black-truffle lollipops to polenta ice cream -- through twenty-nine tapas-size courses that sometimes include seawater mousse and pulverized Fisherman's Friend lozenges and spaghetti noodles made from Parmesan cheese -- meals at El Bulli can last six hours. The menu is prix fixe, $150 per person, without wine.

Seawater mousse! Wouldn't that be, um, mainly water? Pulverized cough drops! (Fisherman's Friend lozenges come in many flavors, including the ever-popular "salmiak," a salted anise taste.) Pine nuts injected with nitrous oxide! Check El Bulli's weird postmodern website here.

William Echikson's estimable 1996 book, "Burgundy Stars," tells the story of one of the world's most famous restaurants, La Cote d'Or in southern France, and is a fascinating read. Nitrous-oxide injected foam is not on the menu at La Cote d'Or. Though you can order poularde Alexandre Dumaine, chicken breast baked with truffles and leeks, for $267 per serving.

Best Purist Drive: Minnesota ran on seven consecutive snaps during the second-quarter drive that put the Vikings ahead 14-0 and began the rout of San Francisco.

Reader Haiku: In honor of the reopening of Soldier Field, reader Benjamin Keys entered a contemplative state and produced the following haiku triptych. In it, Keys proposes that the Bears, known to this column as the Chicago Daxiongmao -- the Mandarin word for Pandas -- instead be the Ursa Minors.

They paved paradise,
put in a luxury box:
The new Soldier Field.

Colonnades dwarfed by
saucer. Fern-bar ambiance
no home for Monsters.

Looks like a spaceship:
bad plays visible from space.
Try "Ursa Minors."

-- Ben Keys, Oak Park, Illinois

Reader Mike Carlson of London, who toils on the UK's "NFL Update" show, notes that while football prohibits steroids and all the other stuff baseball allows -- in MLB, steroid use is now mandatory -- the NFL is simultaneously in a marketing alliance with a pretty major supplement:

NFL bans all
performance-enhancing drugs:
except Levitra.

-- Mike Carlson, United Kingdom

Kordell Stewart
TMQ boldly predicts the Bears will not one day retire Kordell Stewart's No. 10.

Early Retirement for Numbers: Most NFL teams have just a few jerseys retired. Miami has only three retired numbers, despite being the club of history's sole perfect season. Green Bay, for all its lore, has just four retired numbers. Fans in Dallas and Oakland have never witnessed the ceremony of the jersey hung from the rafters, as these franchise do not retire numbers. Seattle has two retired numbers: No. 80 for Steve Largent and No. 12 for "fans/the 12th man." Apparently, this reflects the fact that in all Seahawks annals, there's only one single player who has exceeded the accomplishments of an imaginary construct.

Then there are the Chicago Bears. In the Windy City jersey Nos. 3, 5, 7, 28, 34, 40, 41, 42, 51, 56, 61, 66 and 77 are retired -- and Mike Singletary's number isn't even on that list! Thirteen retired numbers mean Chicago has a perpetual crunch handing out jerseys in training camp. Fortunately, in order to keep the situation from getting worse, the Bears have adopted a strict team policy of not developing any more great players.

Plus, While He Was Using the Sideline ATM, Some Guy Would Stand Behind Him Saying, "Can't You Hurry It Up, Pal?" Now that the Daxiongmao are Presented by Bank One, TMQ wonders what banking-related changes will be made. Here's a possibility suggested by Frank Easterbrook, an Official Brother of TMQ. In Japan, the sumo wrestler who prevails is ceremonially handed his winnings, in cash, on the spot. Bears contracts could be re-written so that whenever a player hits a bonus milestone, say by catching a touchdown pass, he immediately runs to the sideline and gets his bonus, in cash, out of a Bank One ATM.

Of course, this plan would require Chicago players to score touchdowns.

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous: Just after Arizona scored against St. Louis to draw within 17-7 with 12 seconds left in the first half, Cards safety Dexter Jackson, a mere eight months ago the Super Bowl MVP with Tampa, intercepted a half-ending Hail Mary at his own 5-yard line. Rather than take a knee, Jackson did an extended "Look, Ma, I can dance!" number that culminated in a fumble recovered by Les Mouflons with three seconds remaining. St. Louis kicked a field goal as the half expired, and the rout was on.

Worst Defensive Play: Game scoreless in the first, the Rams came out unbalanced left on third-and-goal. The Arizona (caution: may contain football-like substance) Cardinals did not shift to that side or in any way react, leaving only two gentlemen on the defensive right to face four blockers. Easy touchdown run.

Worst Failure to Watch Game Film: Carolina has already blocked six kicks. The Panthers are overloading the center, rushing several men directly over the long-snapper -- taking into account that teams have been trending toward midsized long-snappers, such as 250-pound tight end/long snapper Derek Rackley, victimized by Carolina on Sunday. Green Bay blocked a Chicago punt on Monday night by overloading three on the long-snapper, so somebody has noticed. But since this tactic is working, why isn't it spreading internet-virus-like around the league?

Gregg Williams
"What do you mean we're allowed to run the ball on third-and-short? Now you tell me!"

'Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed At All: Trailing the Eagles 10-0 in the second quarter, Buffalo reached third-and-short at the Philadelphia 33. Considering the short distance and the position -- the area of the field where logic usually dictates go for it -- did the Bills pound, pound? Incompletion, missed 51-yard field goal attempt into the wind.

On their next possession, still trailing 10-0, the Bills reached third-and-two on the Philadelphia 35. Considering the short distance and the field position, did the Bills pound, pound? Pass caught and fumbled, Eagles' ball.

Five times against Philadelphia, Buffalo faced third-and-one or third-and-two. The Bills passed every time. Results? Incompletion, fumble, incompletion, incompletion, incompletion.

'Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed At All No. 2: Leading by a field goal at the two-minute warning, the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons faced second-and-six, New England holding just one time-out. Did the Persons pound, pound and advance the clock? Incompletion, incompletion; the Patriots get it back with 1:39 left and ample time to stage their almost-comeback.

TMQ Thought for the Day: Isn't "Vanderjagt" a kind of flavored schnapps served with a beer chaser?

Best Blocks: Quincy Morgan's 71-yard touchdown run with a receiver hitch screen was made possible by a great downfield block by center Jeff Faine, who hustled out from the interior line. Rod Smith's 22-yard run with a receiver hitch screen was made possible by a great downfield block by center Tom Nalen, who hustled out from the interior line.

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Leading 17-10 in the fourth, the Denver Cursors had the Detroit Peugeots facing third-and-three. It's a blitz! Six gentlemen cross the line, 43-yard touchdown pass to Scotty Anderson.

New Jersey Schedule Quirk: Dallas has now made two trips to the Meadowlands, to play Jersey/A and Jersey/B; Buffalo and Miami must do the same this season.

A Bargain at Twice the Price: The league did not so much as slap the Denver Cursors on the wrist -- a $25,000 fine -- for their uniform ploy at San Diego.

Home teams get to choose whether to wear colors or whites; for games early in the season in warm locales, the homeboys almost always choose whites because they're more comfortable in sunlight. Going to San Diego to collide with the Bolts on Sept. 14, Denver brought along only whites; then waited 'til just before game time to tell this to San Diego. At that point, it was not physically possible for Denver to fly in its dark jerseys, so San Diego switched to dark jerseys for the sake of staging the event. Denver got the edge, since at kickoff it was 73 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity. The Cursors won by 24.

Denver claimed a "mistake" in bringing its whites. But every single Broncos player, and every single member of the Broncos organization, knew perfectly well San Diego would want to use its home prerogative to wear white. Every high-school player in America would know this! Yet the league let Denver off in effect with no penalty at all -- in the high-stakes NFL world, where millions are spent in search of slight edges, $25,000 to improve your chance of victory is incredibly cost-effective. The Broncos should have been docked a draft choice.

We're All "Human," With the Exception of Some Linebackers: "Investigators believe the Arizona wildfire was set by humans," declared National Public Radio. So they've ruled out the Klingons as suspects! When wildfires struck British Columbia, NPR declared they were caused "by lightning and by human beings." River otters, apparently, had been cleared.

TMQ trivia: Are these Klingons, Zylons, Taelons or Vorlons?

Saying "human" when you mean "people" is a sci-fi affectation taking over modern discourse. The august Foreign Policy magazine (that's the august magazine, not the August issue) recently headlined an article, "Why Humans Are More Vulnerable Than Ever to Animal-Borne Diseases." The droids remain immune! Scientific American magazine recently noted a study that suggested "humans may not be warming the Earth." So if it's not the humans, is it the Romulans who are driving all those SUVs? Analyzing the Northeast blackout, the New York Times declared that power plants tripped off "before any human being could react." If only the Zylons had acted more quickly!

The Times also noted of the desolate Arctic National Wildlife Refugee, "Few humans go there." But the Borg find it an ideal vacation spot! Washington's Metro transit authority recently announced a biowar-emergency plan to disinfect the parts of subway cars that "come into contact with humans." We don't care if Wookies get sick in our nation's capital? The New York City subway authority unveiled magnetic-strip farecards, replacing tokens sold by "humans in booths." Hey, I've seen some of those New York subway workers, and am not sure they are representatives of genus Homo.

Aliens note: Why do so many names of sci-fi aliens end in "on"? Klingons, Zylons, Taelons, Vorlons and on and on. TMQ always loved the Vorlons, the sinister ancient species of the "Babylon Five" space opera, because their name sounds like the secret ingredient in laundry detergent. Maybe their starcruisers say on the side in bright letters, "Now! With added Vorlon!"

Alternatively, Britney's Private-Parts Tattoo May Be a Copyright Symbol: Each autumn, TMQ chortles over the "What's Sexy Now?" cover story of the telephone-book-sized InStyle magazine, which runs more pages of celebrity fluff than the monthly page content of all intellectual publications combined.

Two years ago, InStyle pondered the question of "What's Sexy Now?" and came to the counterintuitive conclusion that what's sexy now is naked babes. The mag's cover featured Kate Hudson nude, hands strategically placed, and quoted her declaring that whenever she enters her home she immediately strips to nothing because "I love being nude!" Last year, InStyle pondered the question of "What's Sexy Now?" and came to the dreary conclusion that Jennifer Aniston, fully clothed and looking quite bored, is what's sexy now.

This year InStyle ponders the question of "What's Sexy Now?" and comes to the conclusion -- nothing is sexy now! Or, at least, the best InStyle can come up with as the epitome of contemporary erotic daydreaming is Britney Spears showing off the tops of her underpants. Like I said, nothing is sexy now.

Olivier Martinez
Olivier is turned on by boats, green underwear and cottage cheese.

This year's InStyle sex issue contains the usual preposterous attempts at a poetic touch: "As for what's positively absolutely sexy: a shy smile at the grocery store, the flicker of candlelight seen through a steamy shower." Wouldn't the steamy shower put out the candle?

In the celebrity confessions section, mega-hunk Olivier Martinez declares -- or rather, the publicist who wrote his comments declares -- "Motorboats are straight-ahead masculine, but the way sailboats move through the wind is very feminine." (Presumably, all the comments "by" celebrities are written by publicists, if not by the InStyle staff.) Olivier, you are sexually aroused by boats?

Mega-babe Liv Tyler announces, "People are sexy because of who they are." But Liv, since everyone is who they are, doesn't this mean everyone is sexy? That has not been TMQ's experience. (Disclosure: Nor has it been the experience of those who have encountered TMQ.)

Semi-babe Brittany Murphy inexplicably declares, "What's sexiest to me is the mystery and intrigue that surround David Letterman." The mystery of David Letterman? Like, the mystery of whether the monologue will come first?

Political mega-babe Salma Hayek declares, "The twenties were sexy because they were a time of experimentation." The main experiment of the 1920s was Prohibition, which created organized crime.

James Bond hunk Pierce Brosnan opines, "I'm not sure why Hollywood has gotten puritanical, but the movies aren't very sexy right now." What recent movie does he think qualifies as sexy? "The Thomas Crown Affair," starring Pierce Brosnan.

Britney Spears
What's sexy now? This is the best InStyle can come up with?

Mega-babe Rebecca Romijn-Stamos allows that she finds humor "an aphrodisiac." Rebecca, this column is pretty funny. So would you consider -- oh, forget it.

And finally, Britney, pulling down her cutoffs to show her underpants and the upper half of a nether-region tattoo that looks distressingly like a Universal Product Code, declares, "I love to light some candles and have my boyfriend over, if I have one, which I don't right now." Britney, we all know who you're having over. And wait a minute, there's the answer. Girls kissing girls is what's sexy now! How did InStyle miss that?

Best Use of TMQ: Last week, TMQ complained that zebras were watching the ball, rather than the knee, when calling goal-line dive-ins for touchdowns or dive-outs to avoid safeties. On Sunday, the officials first called good and then overturned a Deuce McAllister non-touchdown on which his knee came down outside the end zone, and he lunged forward. Officials correctly called, on the first try, a safety as Tommy Maddox's knee came down inside the end zone, and he lunged the ball out.

Best News I've Heard In Years! TMQ was much pleased by last week's decision of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall the ridiculous Segway, which TMQ calls the Segway Sidewalk SUV. But there won't be many to recall. As this story details, the Segway is a complete flop in the marketplace.

Last year, TMQ noted that if the Segway Sidewalk SUV actually became popular, this would ruin the urban walking experience by placing smug, selfish riders atop metal monstrosities roaring down sidewalks at 12 miles per hour, the smug, selfish riders expecting everyone to jump out of their way. TMQ further noted that "being struck by a Segway roaring down the sidewalk will be significantly worse than being popped by an NFL linebacker," owing to metal and total weight. Bicycles are not allowed on city sidewalks, though they weigh far less and contain far less metal than the Segway Sidewalk SUV. Yet 44 states have been strong-armed into enacting special-interest legislation allowing selfish Segway riders to hog the sidewalk. Thank goodness the things are so expensive, and have so little utility, that no one is buying.

And the good points of the Segway are ...

TMQ also reiterates that the Earth-friendly marketing of the Segway Sidewalk SUV is a complete sham. If somehow Segways did catch on, their main effect on society would be to make strolling so unpleasant and risky that people who presently use the subway (TMQ, for example) will resort to driving in order to be off the sidewalks and safe from Segways. Discouraging people from walking in order to get them to ride a dangerous $5,000 hulk of metal that consumes energy! How very Earth-friendly.

The article linked above notes that Segway was initially backed by a venture capitalist who predicted the company would take in $500 billion in five years. In order to do so, Segway would need to reach almost the same level as the global sales as General Motors. Yet, tech-stock shills didn't giggle at this projection. Segway was even hyped by Harvard Business School, whose press published a book predicting the Segway Sidewalk SUV would be bigger than the Internet, antibiotics, and so on.

Segway LLC, the manufacturer, is close enough to going out of business that it is resorting to the time-honored dodge of sweetheart government contracts -- the company wants to sell Segways to police departments. Government contracting is the last refuge of scoundrels: The product emphatically rejected by the marketplace is often the product trying to trade campaign donations for no-bid government funding. Segway, the sooner you join the eight-track tape deck in the Hall of Discarded Ideas, the better off we'll all be.

Worst News I've Heard In Years! In what this story weirdly describes as "a breakthrough," scientists in France cloned a rat. Memo to French Academy of Sciences -- the world already contains sufficient rats. We are not interested in enhancing their reproduction! We do, however, feel cloned rats should be kept in France, where they would be naturals for the French diplomatic corps.

But Then, As the World Knows, Lisa Looks Good in Leather: At the Bears-Packers game on MNF, Lisa Guerrero prowled the sidelines clad in a leather jacket with leather gloves. Kickoff temperature was 58 degrees! TMQ regularly chides coaches for over-dressing for games that aren't really cold. Don't let's see this habit spreading to the network crowd, too.

This Week's Anti-Canada Item: When ABCs Jeffrey Kofman filed a story from Iraq asserting that troop morale is low, the Drudge Report denounced him as an "openly gay Canadian." Kofman is both gay and Canadian. In fact, openly Canadian!

Think of the shame he must have felt growing up, knowing there was something about him that was not normal -- a terrible secret he had to hide from others. I refer to the Canadian part, of course. Canadians should adopt a don't-ask, don't-tell policy about their national orientation.

See this story from the Toronto Globe and Mail for the identities of other Canadians who are busily infiltrating the American media. Pretty soon, when some ABC executive announces at a programming meeting that the CFL will be taking over Monday Night Football, America will learn the shocking truth. By then, it will be too late.

"It can only be attributable to human error."

My Budget, Dick. Approve My Budget, Dick: The Pentagon actually is working on a computer system called HAL -- "Host Accessory Logic" -- for an Air Force program known as the Advanced EHF communications satellite. A word of advice to the technicians: If it starts to sing, run.

Hidden Indicator: Six teams -- Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, San Diego and San Francisco -- lost despite outrushing their opponents. This is the kind of hidden indicator that is essential to an insider's understanding of the game. Unfortunately, Tuesday Morning Quarterback has no idea what it means.

Running Items Department

Obscure College Score of the Week: Nicholls State 64, Texas Southern 5. Located in Thibodaux, Louisiana, Nicholls State University is named after Civil War hero Redding Nicholls; the school's official bio of him neglects to mention that Nicholls served on the Confederate side. The school refers to its students as "clientele."

Bonus Obscure Score: Youngstown State 34, Liberty 3. Located in Lynchburg, Tennessee, Liberty University is the preserve of the Rev. Jerry Falwell. The school's home page boldly announces a sweepstakes, the "2002-2003 Liberty University Jeep Giveaway!"

Obscure College Score Flashback: Concerning the game that ended Washburn 28, Fort Hayes 4, several Fort Hayes students or alums, including Heather McKesson of Savannah, Georgia, wrote in with variations on this lament -- if only we'd gotten 13 more safeties!

New York Times Final-Score Score: Once again, the Paper of Guesses goes 0-14 in its quixotic attempt to predict an exact NFL final score, bringing the New York Times Final-Score Score to 1-893 since TMQ began tracking.

Reader Animadversion: Got a complaint or a deeply felt grievance? Register is at

Local Affiliates Outrage Watch: So far, the Washington, D.C., area, where TMQ lurks, in addition to every Baltimore and "Washington" game, has seen every game played by the Dallas Cowboys and Jersey/B Jets (combined record, 2-5). But we've yet to get our first glimpse of the Panthers or Seahawks (combined record, 6-0) and have only had one glimpse each of Buffalo, Kansas City, Minnesota and Tampa (combined record, 12-3).

Is your local network affiliate showing woofer matchups instead of hot games? Register your protests, including the specifics -- call letters of station, date and times -- at

Miss California
Just a reminder: this is Miss California. TMQ still intends on making more trips to the West Coast.

Last Week's Challenge: In honor of Miss California -- the swimsuit-winner mega-babe at the Miss America pageant who is also a divinity student -- TMQ asked readers to propose a new Miss America competition, joining the traditional talent, swimsuit and evening gown events, that would reflect the 21st century. (Note to art staff: Have just created a flimsy excuse to append cheesecake photo from that selfsame swimsuit competition.)

Martin Newham suggested a text-messaging competition, in which contestants must rapidly send clever symbol-messages via cell phones.

Matt Janik of Barkhamsted, Connecticut, proposed, "All contestants are placed in a cubicle in an office building. The winner is the one who can finish reading TMQ first without being caught by a roving boss with cheese/beefcake pictures on the screen."

Reader Barry Negrin of New York proposes an inspectors event: "Miss America contestants should find weapons of mass destruction in a foreign country, or at least in downtown Atlantic City." Find a weapon of mass destruction in Atlantic City? That's easy, the Trump Plaza. Negrin adds, "My wife is an ordained rabbi, and she's a mega-babe in my book." Mega-babe rabbis -- this must be the 21st century!

Bart Shirley suggests a music file downloading competition: "The Miss America contestants are judged on how many megabytes they can download before they are issued subpoenas."

Kerri Barnhart suggests, "Why not a competition to judge their plastic surgery? And by the way, where was this week's beefcake?" Kerri, our staff of beefcake consultants is working on the problem.

James Terranova suggests Miss America add "a kissing Britney event." Ratings would surely rise.

Pam Mandich suggests the addition of a Miller Lite Catfight competition. This also would be good for ratings, and who might be the corporate sponsor?

The winner is Liam Feldman of Lakeside, Michigan, who proposes his new Miss America competition in haiku:

Contestants attempt
to kick an extra point for
New Mexico U.

-- Liam Feldman

This Week's Challenge The Bears are now Presented by Bank One; if Bank One's corporate performance mimics the Bears, CDs will soon yield negative interest. What other NFL teams and corporate sponsors would be a perfect match? Propose your witty ideas at

Posted by tien mao in TMQ at 4:49 PM



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