I spent 11 straight summers away at camp, meaning that the last time I watched the ESPYs I was 10. Mia Hamm was the female athlete of the year. Kurt Warner was named Breakthrough Athlete of the Year. Lance Armstrong won Comeback Player of the Year.
I was excited when I learned that Rob Riggle would be hosting the 2012 ESPY Awards.
I’ve followed Riggle through his days on SNL, the Daily Show and more recent comedic gems like The Hangover and 21 Jump Street. He’s loud, he Whooo’s!!!!! He likes to get as close to being a jerk as possible without causing someone to say, “This guy’s a jerk.”
For him to go easy on the athletes would have been a horrific disappointment so I was glad when he made Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash, Brittney Griner and Drew Brees squirm like 10-year-olds doing the pee dance.
For a supposed conglomeration of tough guys, a whole lot of them seemed legitimately irked, which is completely absurd. If you can’t make fun of multimillionaires who get fame and fortune for playing a game, whom can you mock?
And the thing is, with the exception of the New Orleans bounty joke—which Brees did not enjoy—nothing was really that bad.
Riggle came up with a few lame nicknames for Nash. Steve looked like someone just threw sour milk on his dog.
When Riggle suggested that Brittney Griner join the Bobcats, she seemed to be insulted. If he really wanted to be mean, he could have brought up the fact that she has a deeper voice than Matt Kemp.
Not all the athletes were unamused and I can't say I was surprised by those who laughed.
There was Rob Gronkowski, who is basically the world’s most talented college bro. No surprise he got satisfaction out of having Riggle bring up his porn-star incident.
Terrell Suggs, a graduate of “Ball So Hard” University, couldn’t help but crack a smile when Riggle made fun of Baltimore.
Shaun White was not a topic of the opening monologue, but he seemed to enjoy all the jokes. What does he have to worry about? “The Flying Tomato” has been the coolest guy on the planet since he was 16.
Riggle’s sketch comedy experience shined Wednesday night with some downright hilarious segments.
His Olympian speech was my personal favorite. The fantasy football act is pretty clichéd by now, but I did appreciate the “Shore of Turds” comment as well as the Segway victory parade with his children. Riggle even had the good sense to let Griffin and Love shine essentially solo in their recount of his night in Vegas.
Other Notes From The Night
These awards are really meaningless. Really, really meaningless. What exactly is the point of giving additional awards to something that revolves around obtaining awards, especially since most of the people getting these new awards already got the ones that actually matter?
That said, how in the world did Brees’ passing record top Coach K’s career accomplishment?
I know, I know, it’s a fan vote and nobody wants to give an award to some old dude who certainly does not care at all , but if we’re actually handing out an award for the best record-breaking moment of the year, it goes to Krzyzewski. Just so nobody accuses me of being biased, Lin's Breakthrough Player of the Year win over Gronk was equally unjust.
As Drew stood on stage graciously accepting the speech and dishing out what are apparently real nicknames, I thought for a second about what would happen to this team if they fail to work out this sloppy contract negotiation. Brees seems to have genuine love for all the guys on the team. For God's sake, the equipment managers were thanked.
Assuming they do fix this problem—even with the bounty bombshell—I don’t predict anything less than I would have if they never came up. It is kind of like when Dungy stepped down for Caldwell 2.0. That was Peyton Manning’s team and losing a coach, a linebacker, or anyone else meant nothing. The same applies here.
However, I know it’s the unpopular thing to say, but Drew Brees is the one being unreasonable at this point in contract negotiations. He’s so good, so beloved, and just sweet as N’awlins bread pudding, but I still cannot condone what has become a very selfish series of events.
ESPN reports that Brees’ most recent offer was five years at $19.25 million per.
As is usually the case with NFL contracts, a lot of the negotiating concerns guaranteed money and incentives. Still, this seems to be a classic ego-trumps-all scenario. Brees wants $20.5 million. Why? “Because,” he probably argues, “if Peyton Manning can get a $19.2 million contact, I am certainly worth over $1.3 million more per year!”
The initial decision to tag established New Orleans as the “bad guys.” However, they are the ones who have made compromises. It is Brees who needs to be flexible now.
The most important moment of the night was Eric LeGrand’s emotional speech. In fact, it was the only important moment of the night.
Eric LeGrand is simply one of the most remarkable people I have ever seen. He has every reason in the world to feel sorry for himself and to give up. However, he not only throws his doubts to the side, but he has somehow turned tragedy into purpose. “There’s so many people in this world that are in wheelchairs,” LeGrand said, “I’m trying to be that leader and help everyone out.”
LeGrand’s confidence is without peer and with a mindset like that, there is simply no way he would have not succeeded at the NFL level. The football field is nothing compared to what he must work on now and you can be sure that after tonight’s speech, he will have millions more to support him.