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Hollywood

Hollywood’s Blockbuster: Linertia–The Unstoppable Force Behind the NBA’s Fastest Rising Star

He’s the man who needs no Lintroduction.

That’s right, I’m talking about upstart Knicks star Jeremy Lin. Almost overnight, it seems, the nation was struck with a wave of what ESPN was quick to label “Linsanity.” With a few big games for an otherwise-underachieving team, Lin became the most talked-about individual in sports since Tim Tebow.  Ability, stats, and media attention aside, there’s one thing underlying the Jeremy Lin phenomenon–one single thing that remains the elephant in the room, and one single thing that our passive-aggressive culture won’t allow us to tackle: race. It probably doesn’t help the issue that Lin just happens to be breaking out during Black History Month.

Now, let me be clear–I’m not looking to start some sort of scholarly debate about sports and sociology here. But we’d be lying to ourselves if we said that Lin’s meteoric rise to superstardom wasn’t at least somewhat attributed to the fact that he is an Asian-American basketball player. There’s nothing wrong with that. We as humans have a natural tendency to fixate on the different, the unique, the distinct. As an Asian American in a sport that is predominantly…not Asian American, he is just that. The problem takes shape when we expand to say that Lin’s acclaim, not just his popularity, is undeserving because of his race.

Lin’s “mistake,” as it were, was becoming a star in a sport that has become primarily the turf of African Americans. There are few things in America that “belong” to African Americans, and that are founded upon African American excellence. There’s a certain mentality here that basketball is “our thing,” and that this kid is the insurgent (or perhaps, Linsurgent) threatening all of that. Take rap and hip-hop, for example. Eminem, a white rapper who began his career as the sun set on the Biggie/Tupac era and now considered one of the all-time greats of his generation, was originally criticized and dismissed as stealing his style from established rappers, such as Nas. He gained media attention not only for his vulgar and reckless style, but for the fact that he was different–he was a white guy who was as good as black guys at their own game.

The not-so-invisible catalyst contributing to Lin’s rise is no different from that of Tiger Woods in golf, Kirby Puckett in baseball, or the Williams sisters in tennis. All noticeably excellent athletes, all even more noticeably unlike the rest of the pack. It’s just the fear of something being “taken from us” that has caused the push back against Jeremy Lin. But like Woods, Puckett, the Williams, and even Eminem, with continued success, Lin will be accepted, embraced, and possibly even revered.

One thing’s for certain: his career should be Lintriguing to watch.

–Hollywood

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“Ponder” This

Well, I can legitimately say that I called the Vikings’ selection of Florida State QB Christian Ponder…Kinda. In my Draft Spectacular post, I said that Ponder seemed like the most logical option at QB for the Vikes–in the second round. I, like most Vikings fans, remain puzzled by the team’s choice to go with Ponder at #12.

But while I agree that Ponder was a pretty big reach, I couldn’t be more excited about the Vikings’ potential with him under center. Ponder is mobile, accurate, and has great awareness in the pocket. Plus, he played in a pro-style offensive system that will be very similar to the Vikings’ system under new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Ponder doesn’t have the strongest arm, but his skill set is a great match for Minnesota’s style: quick, short- to mid-range passes, with an occasional deep ball and, of course, regular hand-offs to the best RB in the game, Adrian Peterson.

Sure, the Vikings probably could have traded down and still gotten their man at QB. Sure, Ponder may not have been the absolute best QB available when the Vikes were on the clock. But they filled a need, and they found a solid leader whose skills match their gameplan. I think Ponder has a lot of upside, and I’m excited about his future in Minnesota.

One thing’s for sure: Christian Ponder’s jersey will soon be replacing Brett Favre’s in Hollywood’s closet.

–Hollywood


Hollywood’s NFL Draft Spectacular

With the 2011 NFL Draft less than three weeks away, we thought it was about time for Murdoc and Hollywood’s resident draft expert to break down a few things. That resident draft expert, of course, is yours truly. Just a warning: this is gonna be a long one. I’m going Bill Simmons-style with this post.

The Lockout

Alright, first things first. The vast majority of football fans are not pleased with the current state of the NFL. After weeks of so-called negotiations, the league entered a lockout, leaving the current offseason and the 2011-2012 season in doubt. Although this year’s draft will still occur as scheduled, the lockout has sent a ripple effect throughout the league. First, no trades or free agent transactions can be made as long as the league is in a lockout. In fact, players that were going to become free agents after this season (such as Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson) now won’t become free agents until the lockout ends. Second, players are not allowed to train or practice at team facilities. Third, no drug testing can occur during the lockout period–in other words, as long as players can come up negative once testing is reinstated, they can use all of the illicit and performance-enhancing drugs they want.

But the biggest problem I have with the lockout is the effect that will have on the draft. The standoff between the NFL and the NFLPA has spread to the incoming draft prospects, and has turned what is one of the biggest moments of any NFL player’s career into a game of political maneuvering. While the NFLPA maintains that whether or not a prospect attends the draft is their choice, various representatives have stated on multiple occasions that not attending the draft would force the league to realize that it is nothing without its players. Essentially, the disagreement between the NFL and NFLPA is forcing these prospects to choose sides, and playing games with what is a very real moment in their football careers. The excitement of being drafted, receiving a phone call from a team rep, and standing on stage with the league commissioner is something every aspiring football player dreams of, and should not be taken for granted by a business dispute.

The Vikings’ Needs

Let’s be honest. Last year’s Vikings team was so atrocious, and their season so forgettable, that when I think of recent Vikings games I find myself going back to the 12-4 Vikings team from two seasons ago just to find any bright spots. While I wouldn’t say the Vikings are rebuilding, there are clearly a few large question marks at several spots on the team roster. First, we’ll run through the Vikings’ positional needs, then a few potential options for their first couple of picks.

Biggest Needs: Defensive Tackle/Defensive End, Cornerback/Safety, Quarterback

Other Needs: Offensive Guard, Wide Receiver

1st Round Pick (#12 overall): This is a tough one. I don’t think the Vikes will go QB here, just because the two big names, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, will almost certainly be off the board. The remaining top QB prospects, Locker, Mallett, and Ponder, would be too much of a reach at this point. Of course, the Vikings could always trade down in the round and take one of those prospects in the 20’s, instead of at 12. I’m just not sure I see it happening. Instead, I see the Vikes addressing the glaring need on their defensive line with pick number twelve. Pat Williams will likely leave in free agency, as will Ray Edwards. Kevin Williams and Jared Allen are still solid for the most part, but showed their age a bit last year. The likely pick: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. The potential surprise pick: Jake Locker, QB, Washington. I could also see the Vikes trading down and taking a cornerback like Jimmy Smith or Brandon Harris late in the first round.

2nd Round Pick (#43 overall): This all hinges on whether the Vikings do take a risk and grab Locker in the first round. If so, the second round pick shifts to a defensive player. But if the Vikes go ahead with a lineman or defensive back, I think they take a good long look at the next tier of QBs with #43. It’s possible, but highly unlikely, that Locker or Ryan Mallett could pull a Jimmy Clausen and go into a draft day freefall, falling right into the Vikings’ lap in the second round. But realistically, I see the Vikings choosing from Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, and Colin Kaepernick. Out of those three, Ponder seems like the most logical option.

Hollywood’s Top Five Draft Prospects

Here are my top five favorite prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft. I chose these five based on some combination of the following: talent, upside, and–of course, given my name–flash and showmanship. The links attached to each name will direct you to a video of each player’s highlights.

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: Peterson is one of the most exciting defensive draft prospects I’ve seen in a while. He is smart, agile, and physical. His skills in the secondary would allow him to step in and instantly contribute on any squad. He could also be a threat on special teams, as a kick/punt returner.

Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: Every year I pick one rookie wide receiver who I think is going to burst onto the scene in their first year. Two years ago, I picked Percy Harvin. Last year, it was Dez Bryant. This year, I’m going with Julio Jones. This guy is huge, and has the speed and strength to beat d-backs in the secondary on every play. Not to mention, he had a solid combine on a broken foot. My early pick for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Brandon Harris, CB, Miami: Harris is probably one of the best defenders in man coverage in this year’s rookie class. He is an absolute ballhawk, and his ability to stay with the ball and play tight coverage give him huge upside. He has great instincts and awareness, and should be a nightmare for opposing WRs for years to come. Plus, he’s a Miami Hurricane–so that gives him a ton of bonus points right there.

Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Locker is a stud. He has a great arm, has good awareness in the pocket, and is surprisingly mobile when he needs to be. Questions remain about his inconsistencies in his college career and his passing accuracy, but Locker’s size, strength, agility, and potential make him one of the better prospects in the draft.

Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M: We are going to be hearing this guy’s name a ton in the years following the draft. Miller is huge, but he plays with the quickness and vision of a small cornerback. His ability to get into the backfield and make sacks and tackles for loss is nothing short of impressive. Miller is one of those rare talents that doesn’t come around too often, and should provide an instant impact for whatever team drafts him. My pick for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

There you have it, folks. This has been Hollywood’s NFL Draft Spectacular. Feel free to post comments with your thoughts on this year’s draft. Look for a podcast in the coming weeks, too.

–Hollywood


Lil Wayne Embarrasses the Packers

There’s been a lot of buzz this year about Wiz Khalifa and his Pittsburgh Steeler-inspired single “Black and Yellow.” Of course, once the Steelers reached the Super Bowl, the song’s popularity reached a new level.

Enter Lil Wayne.

For reasons known only to the man himself, Weezy found it necessary to record a cover (if you can call it that, it’s more a copy-and-paste of the original song with Packers references thrown in) called “Green and Yellow.” You can listen to it here. As you might expect, the song replaces Wiz’s affection for the Steelers with Weezy’s seemingly newfound support of the Packers–Wayne is from New Orleans, and in the past hasn’t been afraid to declare his allegiance to the Saints.

It’s time for some real talk. Weezy’s cover is terrible. Straight up terrible. Wait a minute…Perhaps the loser of the Super Bowl bet that Murdoc and I made in this week’s podcast should be forced to listen to “Green and Yellow” on repeat for an hour. That sounds like a good bet, right?

Good Lord, I hope I don’t lose…

–Hollywood


The Granddaddy of Them All

Here it is, our first podcast of the new year!

It’s been exactly one month to the day since our last podcast, so we thought it was about time. This week, we discuss Bubba Watson’s win at the Farm…something Tournament, pointless All-Star games, and the grandaddy of them all, the Super Bowl. Make sure to listen to every minute of this week’s special Super Bowl Edition. And we mean every minute.

We hope you enjoy the Super Bowl Edition of the Murdoc and Hollywood podcast. Look for our blog posts and podcasts to be posted more regularly in the days and weeks to come.

–Murdoc and Hollywood


One Take on Josh McDaniels

Much to my chagrin, several reports have rolled in this week that the Vikings will be meeting with Josh McDaniels, presumably with the possibility of him becoming offensive coordinator. What makes this especially interesting is the fact that the Vikings already have an offensive coordinator–Darrell Bevell. I’ve never been a Josh McDaniels fan, so the fact that he’s even being considered by the Vikings annoys me enough. But the fact that the team is basically interviewing for a coaching position that isn’t even vacant is just odd.

Here’s the one possible perk I can take out of all this. In a segment on NFL Network earlier today, former Raiders (and Vikings) QB Rich Gannon said that if in fact McDaniels ends up in Minnesota, he could very well attempt to pull the same bait-and-switch that he did when he arrived in Denver. Gannon says that just as McDaniels traded away Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton, he could attempt to bring Kyle Orton to Minnesota via trade. I don’t approve of McDaniels’ tendencies to surround himself with familiar people, but Orton would undoubtedly bring some clarity to the Vikings’ QB situation, and allow Joe Webb (or another drafted QB) some time to develop and learn.

One thing’s for sure: the circus that Brett Favre brought to Minnesota doesn’t look like it’s leaving any time soon.

–Hollywood


Tracking Our Bowl Picks

In our New Year’s Edition podcast, Murdoc and I made picks for each of the five BCS bowl games. The BCS Championship hasn’t been played yet, but I thought it’d be fun to look at how we’ve fared up to this point.

Rose Bowl–Murdoc: Wisconsin, Hollywood: TCU (TCU wins 21-19)

Fiesta Bowl–Murdoc/Hollywood: Oklahoma (Oklahoma wins 48-20)

Orange Bowl–Murdoc/Hollywood: Stanford (Stanford wins 40-12)

Sugar Bowl–Murdoc: Ohio State, Hollywood: Arkansas (Ohio State wins 31-26)

Murdoc: 3-1, Hollywood: 3-1

 

There you have it, folks. Murdoc and I are tied in our records for BCS Bowl picks–and since we both picked Oregon, we’ll still be tied after the BCS Championship, regardless of the outcome. I guess we’ll have to branch out to the pros. Look for our NFL Playoff picks later this week.

 

–Hollywood