Derek Anderson Incident Latest Example of Sports Journalism Gone Wild

Alex McVeighSenior Analyst INovember 30, 2010

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Derek Anderson is the latest athlete to become a YouTube hit, with his postgame press conference where he went on a profanity-laced rant about his game preparation before storming away. 

Naturally, most members of the sports media are bashing Anderson, possibly rightfully so, because players who have suffered far worse beatings have managed to see through their postgame presser. 

But what boggles my mind about the whole situation is the constant focus on what was perceived to be a laughing Derek Anderson on the Cardinals sideline in the fourth quarter. 

First of all, I don't think Derek Anderson laughed. He smiles, and if you've seen the video or a picture, it was a pretty dark smile, there didn't seem to be much amusement there. 

The two shared probably three seconds of a smile together, is that such a big deal?

(Update: It seems I'm not the only one who thinks this way.)

Deuce Lutui could have said any number of things to get Anderson to crack a smile. For all we know, that's Lutui's shtick, he's the guy that tries to lighten things up a bit. 

The Cardinals were terrible in that game, and Anderson was abysmal, but that doesn't mean he can't crack a smile at all

And the postgame press conference was an example of a reporter pushing the issue a little too much. 

Anderson was asked about the laugh early in the press conference, he says something about Lutui trying to keep him positive, and then things move on. 

I can completely get behind that explanation.

When I was riding the pine playing high school baseball, I was one of those guys who tried to keep the mood light. That didn't mean I was doing 10 minutes about airline food between innings, but if a guy had a rough strikeout, or something went bad, and he came to the bench pissed, I might say something to try and get a smile out.

That could be Lutui's role on the team. 

But enough about me and my brilliant comedic stylings. 

The topic soon winds back to the alleged "laugh," and the reporter starts out just fine. He said, "I'm not trying to be sarcastic, but that went out on Monday Night television and a lot of fans are talking about it."

That's a perfectly good reason to ask a question, and I think the reporter set it up properly by maintaining a respectful tone while asking about a touchy subject. 

Anderson comes back a little testy, but that's understandable given the loss his team just endured. 

"What Deuce and I talk about is nobody else's business," he replied. 

Fair enough. 

Here's where the reporter starts to step over the line a little bit. 

"But why was something funny when you're down 18 points in the fourth quarter?" the reporter asked. 

That comes off as more than a little judgmental, and someone in Anderson's position doesn't seem to be in the mood to deal with that. 

Anderson responded with, "There's nothing funny, I wasn't laughing about anything," which I buy, he didn't seem to laugh. 

He then went on his profane rant, which is funny, and resembles some other famous press conference meltdowns ("I'm a man! I'm 40!"). 

But what bothers me about this whole thing is that this reporter seems to be trying to take some sort of moral high ground, implying that Anderson and his teammates aren't allowed to crack a smile. 

This incident wouldn't bother me as much, but it seems to be part of a growing trend of media personalities trying to take some sort of high ground by telling us what we can and can't say or laugh at. 

An example of this occurred Oct. 29, in ESPN's normally fantastic TrueHoop blog. Contributor Henry Abbott (one of my favorite basketball writers) tackles the topic of Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard's Adidas commercials, the ones with Ken Jeong. 

Those commercials are funny, they have Jeong living out some of the most outlandish rich person stereotypes, including a solid gold jetski and pool filled with caviar. 

"That's actor Ken Jeong...and Derrick Rose co-hosting a tour of the most outlandish set of pimp stereotypes since I don't know when," Abbott writes. 

Yeah, we get it, they're ridiculous, and the humor derives from the commercial being so over the top, even though I'm not quite sure what that has to do with the shoes. 

But Abbott says maybe we shouldn't be laughing at these things. 

"Just not sure we're at the point where we're ready to laugh—or profit from—these kinds of stereotypes yet. As much as Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard or Ken Jeong doubtless get that it's all a joke, some of those at home nodding along, or laughing out loud, are doing so for all the wrong reasons. This is the kind of thing that might be funny after some kind of global racial enlightenment, but we all agree we're not there yet, right?" he concludes the post with. 

This really gets my goat. Abbott is the one who should decide what we can and can't laugh at?

"This is the kind of thing that might be funny after some kind of global racial enlightenment." Does that mean as long as there are racists in the world, that I can't laugh at those commercials?

Just because some people might watch the commercial will see it and think "Yeah, that is what n----rs are like," it means that we shouldn't be able to laugh at that?

Where does it end? 

People say the same thing when they watch football, a Kanye West video, or commercials for anything made by Tyler Perry. Does that mean those things can't exist?

You see what you've done Henry Abbott?  You've made me justify the existence of Tyler Perry movies, possibly the worst part of all. 

But Abbott isn't event the most recent terrible example of this. J.A. Adande's response to the Kevin Garnett-Charlie Villanueva "cancer patient" thing is by far the most pompous piece of garbage I've read in a long time. 

In this column, Adande argues that the media should stop using the term "cancer" to describe teammates that have a deleterious effect on their teams. 

"We use cancer in the most casual ways. Locker room cancer, clubhouse cancer, on and on, as if anything an athlete does to disrupt team harmony is the equivalent of mutating cells that attack bodies from within and take the lives of our loved ones," he writes. "I typed 'Terrell Owens cancer' into Google's search engine and received 165,000 hits...Shouldn't Owens take offense? As bad a teammate as he's been at times, he's never killed anyone. More importantly, we should be offended by constant misuse of such a serious word."

No we shouldn't J.A., in fact, calling someone a cancer is not a misuse of the word at all. 

Cancer is defined as: A) a malignant and invasive growth or tumor, esp. one originating in epithelium, tending to recur after excision and to metastasize to other sites; and B)  any evil condition or thing  that spreads destructively. 

So while the term "clubhouse cancer" doesn't really work with definition A (which is apparently the only definition on Adande's book), definition B is perfect. 

After all, who can argue that Owens' attitude spread destructively to his former teams? I bet his teammates on the 49ers, Eagles and Cowboys would say that the term "cancer" described that perfectly. 

Adande goes on with his ridiculousness, "Garnett developed that attitude because those of us in the media set the tone. We use cancer in the most casual ways. Locker room cancer, clubhouse cancer, on and on, as if anything an athlete does to disrupt team harmony is the equivalent of mutating cells that attack bodies from within and take the lives of our loved ones."

Wrong again J.A. In fact, the term 'cancer' was used solely as definition B for most of humanity's history. It wasn't until we realized what tumors and medical cancers were that we started using cancer to describe a disease. 

The word "cancer" evolved from "canker," which can be a sore, but also was used to described as "something that corrodes, corrupts, destroys or irritates."

Again, who can deny that there aren't athletes (and most likely people in your day-to-day life) who fit that definition?

But wait, Adande is about to flaunt reality as we know it. 

"We've advanced past the days when Eddie Murphy made AIDS jokes in his "Delirious" comedy concert without getting called on it. Any comedian who tried the same thing today would get booed off the stage," he wrote. 

This literally dropped my jaw. Any comedian who makes AIDS jokes would immediately get booed off the stage. I guess no one told these guys. And that's not even mentioning the myriad of South Park episodes about AIDS, including the one where they finally agree AIDS is funny. 

This makes me wonder, does Adande simply say things without even trying to find out if they're true. Does he live in a world where he thinks no one makes any jokes about AIDS?

I'm not sure which one is scarier. 

I've railed about over coverage before, but this might be one thing that's worse.

I don't need people telling me what I can and can't laugh at or say, and when it comes from sportswriters, it makes it even more ridiculous. 


    Iconic Sports Illustrated Writer Deford Dies at Age 78

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    Iconic Sports Illustrated Writer Deford Dies at Age 78

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report