Columnist Vahe Gregorian offers musings about the sports scene in and around Kansas City
Friday Five: Dorial Green-Beckham, Waffle House, Lee Greenwood, rebranding, Springsteen
07/04/2014 11:38 AM
07/04/2014 11:43 AM
* Oklahoma’s Gambit On DGB: For many reasons, including some that didn’t involve star receiver Dorial Green-Beckham directly, the University of Missouri was compelled to dismiss him in the spring after his third known off-field issue at MU.
No, he wasn’t charged after an investigation of a highly disturbing allegation he had broken into an apartment and pushed an 18-year-old woman down several stairs.
But that was part of a critical mass that included two allegations of drug-related incidents against him earlier in his brief Mizzou career and a rash of other disturbing episodes in the news at MU.
So now Oklahoma has brought DGB aboard, and this might seem something between a gamble and further enabling a troublemaker. It might backfire on OU.
But Oklahoma vetted this, too. And it’s not winging it.
OU got to know DGB through recruiting him in high school. From that baseline, it believes he has made some foolish decisions, both in behavior and company he has kept, but that he isn’t malicious and that the circumstances of the spring incident are less than clear (Of course, he may or may not be the common thread in that company.).
In a different time and climate at MU, OU has been told, he may not even have been dismissed.
Oklahoma also believes he has been chastened by what’s happened and that in Norman he won’t feel the sense of celebrity and entitlement that he apparently did at MU, where he would always be seen as the top recruit in the nation and treated accordingly around campus.
DGB will be facing a zero-tolerance standard at OU, which is proud of its athletics counseling services and would figure to insist on that as part of the conditions of his enrollment there.
It’s uncertain in many ways how this whole thing will play out.
Under NCAA transfer rules, athletes must sit a year of competition when transferring from one FBS program to another and he will be eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft.
But OU is applying for a waiver so that he can play this season, a waiver that seems dubious but wouldn’t be without precedent.
In the end, the message of Oklahoma’s embrace of DGB is in the eye of the beholder.
Is this a second chance for him … or a fourth? What really happened in that spring incident, and was it part of a pattern of behavior or an aberration? Only a few people really know.
Many coaches tend to have Father Flanagan syndrome, believing they can reform, and that’s a great thing in some ways but blinding in others.
If this time helps him get himself together, well, that’s good for everybody, right?
If not, Oklahoma will absorb a completely preventable mess.
* House Divided Against Itself: It was cute and all that Waffle House took a playful stand against Belgian waffles entering Team USA’s World Cup game against Belgium on Tuesday.
But forgive me if I’m still a little down on the chain after its performance when I was stranded in Indianapolis for a few days during the “polar vortex” after the Chiefs’ playoff loss to the Colts.
At the time, I tweeted, “System collapsing at Indy Waffle House, relegated to clearing own table off w only exhausted skeleton crew here.”
With roads essentially closed, that didn’t keep me from going back the next day. But former Star reporter Adam Teicher and I left after an hour of being ignored and enjoyed dinner from a nearby gas station.
So ... it’s just too soon.
* Picking Nits: Shortly after Team USA lost to Belgium on Tuesday, Lee Greenwood’s “Proud To Be An American” blared over the speakers in the Power & Light District. No doubt you’ll hear it plenty today.
It’s a fine song, but every time I hear it I get stuck on the syntax of the line, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.”
If only he’d have written, “I’m proud to be in America, where at least I know I’m free.”
Then again, maybe he wanted to distinguish between being “an American” and just being in America.
* Comfort In the Familiar: Given the success and stature that Sporting KC has achieved since its rebranding in 2010 from a previous life as the Kansas City Wizards, considering how the franchise has energized the consciousness of soccer here, it seems unfathomable now to think there was some initial resistance to the makeover.
But Cliff Illig, one of the principal investors in the franchise, recalled a complicated climb earlier this week.
“There were times you felt like you maybe ought to check underneath your car because we had so much pushback from our rabid fans who were so used to the Wizards’ brand,” he said.
* Springsteen and Sportswriting: Writing for Deadspin, Drew Magary took on the burning topic of why so many sportswriters love Bruce Springsteen.
“Because Bruce Springsteen is the perfect embodiment of what sportswriters want to see in the athletes they cover. He is the musical David Eckstein. He’s tough! He’s scrappy! He comes from humble roots and is self-made. He’s blue collar. He’s the first guy to get to the stadium and the last guy to leave. He runs out his pop flies. …
“When a sportswriter professes his devotion to Bruce Springsteen, he’s making a statement about himself (or herself!). He’s letting you know that he’s a good old-fashioned hard-working American fella with strong values, just like you, Mr. and Mrs. Kitchen Table! You can count on your Bruce fanboy columnist to write about the game the RIGHT WAY, with (lots) of class.
“And you can count on your local columnist to be the sort of insufferable (dope) who looks back longingly on his Golden American youth and then somehow links it to a double play from last night’s Reds game.”
Now, my wife, The Star’s House + Home editor, admits that she loves Bruce for all the reason’s Magary listed.
Then again, I once had to suspend her briefly from future Springsteen shows after she didn’t stand during an encore.
And like Jerry Seinfeld confronted with Tim Whatley apparently converting to Judaism just to be able to tell Jewish jokes, I’m conflicted over just what way to be offended by Magary’s “analysis:” as a sportswriter, or as a Springsteen fan?
So, both it is.
Now, this has seemed a bit of a phenomenon to me, too.
In the blink of an eye, I can think of 10-15 friends in the business who also love Springsteen.
I’ve seen him about 50 times since 1980, and I’ve traveled to see him with Joe Posnanski, former St. Louis Post-Dispatch colleagues Bernie Miklasz and Stu Durando, and Todd Jones of the Columbus Dispatch. Almost every time we’ve run into colleagues from other papers.
Beyond the group of us representing a certain age demographic, though, I’m not sure I exactly understand the common denominator.
But I think it has a lot more to do with Springsteen’s infinite energy, unparalleled showmanship and authenticity than anything else. I have friends who believe his music is the soundtrack of their lives, and, well, I guess I feel like that, too.
I’m also pretty sure every fan came to their devotion his or her own way.
Mine started with growing up in Swarthmore, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb. When I was in seventh grade, Springsteen played at the Swarthmore College Amphitheater in 1974. Some believe that was the first time he played “Born To Run” live.
I didn’t see him then, unfortunately, but DJ Ed Sciaky at local radio station WMMR championed him early. And I can still hear the tinny sound of a bootleg cassette of “Rosalita” playing over and over in the station wagon of the late, great Cris Hansen, a larger-than-life schoolmate of mine.
When we were being initiated to the football team in college, a few friends set us up for a skit to “Thunder Road” in our barracks.
For some reason, I agreed to act out the part of Mary, wearing a sheet as my dress and a pillow-case for a bonnet, while the other guys played air guitars. It didn’t go well.
Finally, at the Spectrum in Philadelphia a couple months later, I saw him for the first time.
It made the blood rush to my veins then, as he sings in “Candy’s Room,” and it still does … insufferable as that might be.
To reach Vahe Gregorian, call 816-234-4868 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter.com/vgregorian.
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