Thursday, August 18, 2011

Merrill Hoge, Restaurant Critic? "It wouldn't surprise me if this restaurant had the best chicken ever." (Quotent Quotables)

"Ben Roethlisberger is Tim Tebow minus Jesus."

-- Daniel Tosh.

I'm not sure I get that. But with Tebow in the news for saying that Jesus is going to strike down Kyle Orton or something, I thought it was topical.

Actually what happened was that Merrill Hoge, whose job it is to say controversial things in order to keep ratings up, regardless of whether he's right or not (Colin Cowherd frequently tells listeners to his show that he views being entertaining as being more important than being right, so keep that in mind, ESPN fans), insulted Tim Tebow's mechanics, resulting in LeBron James leaping to Tebow's defense (LeBron knows a little bit about success, after all, and has vowed to only get within shouting distance of it) and somehow a guy wearing a Jesus jersey got mixed up in it, and then Tebow got criticized for saying he felt like he'd had the starting job and then got it taken away, making people like me wonder why it is that Tebow is such a lightning rod for controversy.

Heck, one guy even requested a restraining order against Tebow -- lumping Tebow in with Obama and Jesus as the people he needed protection from:

John D. Gilliand explained in Alachua County court records that he felt threatened by Tebow, Obama and Jesus. "I was trespassed from the Kangaroo Gas Station on University for saying T-Bo sucks," Gilliand wrote in the petition for injunction for protection against repeat violence against Tebow. "I personally hate any type of exercise although I feel Billy Blanks has a wonderful video."

Gilliand makes reference to Tebow, Obama and Jesus as part of gangs or making gang symbols at him. He states in all three that he is not a Gator and never went to Florida.

Let's make this clear: Tebow is controversial because he's upfront about his religion, instead of just thinking things quietly the way deeply religious footballers like Kurt Warner did in the past, and that's why he's attracting extra attention - -not because he's unorthodox in his play, but because in America, we have separation of church and football, except when we don't. It's okay for the Giants to pray for Norwood's kick to go wide right even though at the time we were in a war in Iraq and maybe they should've had a sense of priorities, it's okay for the Toronto Sleeping Pills' receiver to blame God for making him drop a pass, but when a guy on the Broncos says he thinks believing in Jesus makes him a better person and better player, people go all nuts, because it's one thing to believe in Jesus when you really need that field goal, but it's another thing entirely to, you know, believe in Jesus.

Believing in Jesus for reals is incredibly controversial in America, where most people express some vague religion but we're uncomfortable with people whose religion moves beyond fortune-cookie platitudes. And Tebow is upfront about his religious beliefs. Not in an in-your-face way; just in a polite, "Hey, I believe what I believe" way that even Jim Gaffigan and the Pope might find acceptable:

...but which most people in America are still bothered by, because religion bothers most people when it's done in a sincere way. And that makes Tim Tebow attract all that attention, which makes it obvious why Merrill Hoge chose to talk about Tebow as opposed to say, Joe Flacco, another overrated quarterback whose play is far below what people expect of him: Tebow attracts controversy, and Hoge (and other ESPN personalities) are attracted to controversy like GOP presidential candidates are attracted to corn dogs.

Hoge wasn't doing sports reporting; he was doing sports paparazzi-ing, and you should take him, and every other ESPN commentator, with the same level of seriousness that you do those "reporters" on TMZ: they're there to stir up controversy (in a player-friendly way) and not to do real analysis.

Which is fine, because sports don't need real analysis. They're sports, one of the lowest rungs of entertainment. Restaurant critics have the exact same societal value as sports analysts, and I'd rather get my sports views from Tosh. He's got the same chance of being right as Hoge, but he doesn't just pick out people to be controversial.

(And, while I'm at it, I'd rather have Tebow than Sanchez; either one's going to miss on the important throws, but Tebow's less likely to embroil your team in a statutory rape controversy at playoff time. Why isn't that controversial? and why isn't Hoge writing about that? Because picking on the Jets and Sanchez isn't allowed at ESPN, which'll down Jesus but finds sleeping with 17-year-olds perfectly acceptable.)

Tosh on other sports:

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