But it’s better for us not to know the kinds of sacrifices the professional-grade athlete has made to get so very good at one particular thing…the actual facts of the sacrifices repel us when we see them: basketball geniuses who cannot read, sprinters who dope themselves, defensive tackles who shoot up with bovine hormones until they collapse or explode. We prefer not to consider closely the shockingly vapid and primitive comments uttered by athletes in postcontest interviews or to consider what impoverishments in one’s mental life would allow people actually to think the way great athletes seem to think. Note the way up close and personal profiles of professional athletes strain so hard to find evidence of a rounded human life – outside interests and activities, values beyond the sport. We ignore what’s obvious, that most of this straining is farce. It’s farce because the realities of top-level athletics today require an early and total commitment to one area of excellence. An ascetic focus. A subsumption of almost all other features of human life to one chosen talent and pursuit. A consent to live in a world that, like a child’s world, is very small…
Whether or not he ends up in the top ten and a name anybody will know, Michael Joyce will remain a paradox. The restrictions on his life have been, in my opinion, grotesque; and in certain ways Joyce himself is a grotesque. But the radical compression of his attention and sense of himself have allowed him to become a transcendent practitioner of an art–something few of us get to be. They’ve allowed him to visit and test parts of his psychic reserves most of us do not even know for sure we have (courage, playing with violent nausea, not choking, et cetera).
Joyce is, in other words, a complete man, though in a grotesquely limited way. But he wants more. He wants to be the best, to have his name known, to hold professional trophies over his head as he patiently turns in all four directions for the media. He wants this and will pay to have it–to pursue it, let it define him–and will pay up with the regretless cheer of a man for whom issues of choice became irrelevant a long time ago. Already, for Joyce, at twenty-two, it’s too late for anything else; he’s invested too much, is in too deep. I think he’s both lucky and unlucky. He will say he is happy and mean it. Wish him well.
“The String Theory” by David Foster Wallace from Esquire
Bengals DT Devon Still confirms daughter, Leah, is in remission
Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still’s 4-year-old daughter Leah was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and after months of treatment, Still was able to share some very good news saying doctors have determined that Leah’s cancer is in remission.
Still posted the good news on his Instagram page Wednesday. He said it was a day he will remember for the rest of his life.
“June 2nd was the day doctors walked into the waiting room to tell me my daughter had cancer,” Still posted. “It was the most devastating day of my life.”
Still went on to say that March 25 felt like the best day of his life.
“We received news from Leah’s oncologist that her cancer, stage-four neuroblastoma, is officially in remission,” Still posted. “After 296 days of day dreaming about what it would feel like to hear the doctors say my daughter is in remission, I finally know the feeling.”
He said the feeling was indescribable.
“When I look at my daughter all I can do is smile and hug her,” he said. “Every treatment Leah fought like hell and kicked cancer’s butt. I’m so proud and blessed to call her my daughter. She has made an impact on me and on the world at the age of 4 that I can only wish to make in a lifetime.”
Still went on to thank his family, friends and strangers who kept Leah in their thoughts and prayers.
“Thank you to the doctors at (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) for putting together the best plan of action for my daughter,” he posted. “Thank you to the Bengals for taking on my situation and standing by me and my family and for helping to raise money to fight pediatric cancer.”
He also thanked the media for helping raise awareness and sharing Leah’s story.
Still wrote that Leah will need more treatments, but he knows Leah will get through it.
“Leah is not done with treatments yet. She still needs more to make sure the cancer cells do not return and to build back up her immune system and other damage from the chemo but I know my little warrior will get through it!”
I love it when this one player in my group looks me in the eyes when he talks to me. Even when he's just saying, "Thank you," as he returns a bottle, I always feel like he's hitting my heart.. I just love it ❤
Often, we hear the QB position is the most important to a team and the high percentage of “franchise tags” for QBs would support this.
But for my money, give me a disruptive force against the core of a offensive line – the middle. You know the same location a QB starts the play and often the same location a running game tries to establish its toughness.
This is the era of disruptive DTs. Attacking the underbelly of an offense line is good business in NFL (7 of the last 11 super bowl winners possessed dominant NT playing in 3-4 defense). The smart teams have figured it out by drafting pressure DT who can play NT or DE in 3-4 alignment. They possess the strength/size to hold down NT role while having the athletic ability to slide over to DE to marauder opposing QBs. The line between DE and DT in 3-4 have narrowed considerably. Even Bill Belichick moved the immovable NT Vince Wilfork to DE in spot situations in 2011.
Now what works really well here is having a traditional 2 gap technique NT to go along with your hybrid DT/DE. Kelly Gregg gives Baltimore the flexibility to move Haloit Ngata anywhere they want. Ryan Pickett is a great compliment to moving B.J. Raji ”The Freezer” to the inside. Below is a list (Part 1) of disruptive DTs who are dominant against rush or pass and in several situations – both. In Part 2, we discuss top 5 DTs in the 2011 NFL Draft who have the strength and athletic ability to play NT or DE.
1. Haloti Ngata (Bal) 6’4″ 350 lbs – a new era NT who can also play end. He is more of a souped-up SUV. What makes him so special is he can be dominant at NT or DE in 3-4 defense. An “absolute monster” according to Colts center Jeff Saturday. Compiled 62 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
2. Vince Wilfork (NE) 6’2″ 325 lbs – one of the most dominant space eaters of the past few years. Belechik showed us he can play DE also. Pure 2 gap technique nose tackle.
3. Ndamukong Suh (Det) 6’4 305 lbs – Stunning numbers for a rookie DT (66 tackles and 10 sacks). Gil Brandt a longtime Cowboys scout recently stated that Suh is “the Merlin Olsen of today”. Suh played in a two-gap system at Nebrask, but Detroit’s cut him loose in a one-gap style that encourages linemen to “play the run on the way to the quarterback.”
4. B.J. Raji “The Freezer” (GB) 6’2″ 337 lbs – was a wrecking ball in postseason. Had 39 tackles and 7 sacks in 2011. Remember his name.
5. Kyle Williams “Meatball” (Buf) 6’1″ 310 lbs – Terror against against the run and pass this year. A low center of gravity guy who keeps getting better. 77 tackles and 5.5 sacks and making his first pro-bowl appearance.
(honorable mention – two stud players who I thought declined somewhat in 2011 – Casey Hampton, PITT and Kevin Williams, MINN)
Lions DT Ndamukong Suh suspended for playoff game vs. Cowboys
The NFL has suspended Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for Sunday’s wild-card game against the Dallas Cowboys for his actions in Week 17 against Green Bay Packers.
The league announced Monday that Suh was suspended for stepping on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ left leg twice, once with each foot. Suh also applied pressure and pushed off Rodgers’ unprotected leg with his left foot, violating unnecessary roughness rules, the league said in a statement.
You did not respond in the manner of someone who had lost his balance and accidentally contacted another player who was lying on the ground,” NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks said in a letter to Suh. “This illegal contact, specifically the second step and push off with your left foot, clearly could have been avoided.
“You unnecessarily stepped on your opponent’s unprotected leg as he lay on the ground unable to protect himself.”
Suh’s history likely played a role in the league’s decision to suspend him.
Suh served a two-game suspension in 2011 after he stomped on the arm of then-Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. One year later, Suh was fined $30,000 by the NFL for kicking then-Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin. Since 2010, he’s been fined seven times for player-safety violations.
Suh, who will be reinstated next Monday, can appeal the suspension within three days. He can ask for an expedited appeal, which would be heard by either Derrick Brooks or Ted Cottrell, hearing officers employed by the NFL and the players’ union.
This could be the end of Suh’s NFL career in Detroit. According to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, the Lions are prepared to let Suh test free agency.
Patriots DT Vince Wilfork help’s rescue woman from overturned vehicle
After helping the New England Patriots to a 45-7 rout of the Indinapolis Colts in Sunday’s AFC title game, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork apparently still had enough energy to help rescue a motorist from an overturned car. Massachusetts State Police said Wilfork helped them rescue a woman trapped in a car after it rolled over near Gillette Stadium.
State troopers say they responded to an SUV rollover in Foxborough not far from Gillette Stadium shortly before 1 a.m. Monday and were surprised to see Wilfork checking on the driver, nearly three hours after the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl.
The driver of the overturned vehicle, 38-year-old Mary Ellen Brooks, was unable to get out of her 2015 Jeep Wrangler. As police held open the driver’s door, “Wilfork reached in and helped lift the operator out of the vehicle with one hand,” police said.
Police said Brooks was then placed under arrest after being helped from the vehicle and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
Wilfork said he didn’t see the car flip over and was unaware how long it had been on its side. He was with his wife, Bianca, at the time.
“It was something we saw and we knew she needed help, so we helped,” Wilfork told reporters Monday via the Boston Herald. “The good thing is that we got her to safety.”
“The first thing I told her was ‘don’t panic.’ My job was to help the person in the car,” he said.
“You kind of reflect on life a little bit,” he said. “Here I am, we won the most important game of our season, and flashing right in front of your eyes is the life of someone who is in danger. … After I drove off, my wife and I kind of talked in the car and said there are things that are a lot more precious in life than games or anything you accomplish in life. There are things out there that are more important. It showed last night, even though we won the AFC championship, it was life and danger. We were just happy to help.
“I don’t want anything from it. If I saw it a million times, I’d do it a million times no matter what the situation would be.”
Alan Page, a member of the Minnesota Vikings “Purple People Eaters,” plays against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 17, 1974 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn. The 1971 NFL MVP, nine-time Pro Bowl, six-time First-Team All-Pro and Hall of Fame defensive tackle turned 70 years old today. (Neil Leifer for SI)