Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Blizzard

Sean Taylor
Washington safety Sean Taylor was shot and, according to PFT, is fighting for his life. We hope and pray for his health.

According to PFT, and according to the Miami Herald (via Fanhouse), Taylor was the victim of a crime; he was visiting his girlfriend and baby, and Taylor was shot by an intruder/robber. Taylor is the innocent victim of a crime, which makes the AP story about the shooting unconscionable. First, the AP story provides the completely irrelevant information of how much Taylor paid for the home. If you are shot in your home by an intruder trying to break in, do you think newspaper accounts will provide details on how much you paid for your home? But it gets worse:

"Although extremely talented, Taylor has been in trouble -- on and off the field -- numerous times since he was drafted with the No. 5 overall pick out of Miami in 2004."

The article goes on to describe Taylor's fines and legal trouble. Why is this necessary information here? By current available accounts, Taylor was spending time with his family, and was the innocent victim of a criminal. Why then does the AP article talk about Taylor as a "bad guy" who has been in trouble in the past? If you want an example of media demonization of black athletes, here it is. At this point, Taylor should have our sympathy, concern, and prayers. He has mine.

We should now sympathize and pray for Taylor no matter what. But the last line of the AP article notes also that "teammates said he became more mature over the last year after he became a father for the first time." That's good and expected, and I hope Taylor makes it through this, not least for his young daughter's sake.

Randy Wittman is a horrible basketball coach, and I defy you to convince me otherwise.
This weekend, the Timberwolves were playing the Denver Nuggets close on the road, and then struggled in the second half to lose. The next night, they blew an 18 point halftime lead to the Atlanta Hawks.

But this has happened consistently this season during the T-Wolves' 1-10 start: they play solid basketball for three quarters and then collapse in the fourth quarter. The conventional line on this consistent occurance is that the Wolves are a very young team, and the young players don't have the experience to close out games strong and win a tight game in the fourth quarter.

But does coaching have nothing to do with this? Couldn't a competent NBA coach make some sort of fourth quarter defensive adjustments, call some sort of offensive plays, make some sort of reasonable substitutions, to win some close games in the fourth quarter? Does everything need to be blamed on the youth and inexperience of the roster?

When the Wolves fire Kevin McHale (and that should pretty much be TODAY), they should also fire Randy Wittman.

Viking Links
Grant's Tomb writes about Sunday's win, as does The Ragnarok.

Daily Norseman complains about media focus on the Giants' struggles rather than the Vikings' success (a turn of events my wife predicted during the game).

The Star Tribune says Adrian Peterson should play against the Lions. But in what capacity? My fantasy football squad needs to know.

The Star Tribune also points out the easy(ish) schedule coming up for the Vikes. When I look at that, I like to believe the Vikes could win out (or even finish 4-1) and make the playoffs. After following this team all season, however, I fear they'll lose some of these games close.

Sean Jenson of the Pioneer Press talks to Zygi Wilf, who says Brad Childress' job is secure for 2008. I have to think Wilf is responding based on his emotions after a big win against his old favorite team, and on his hopes for what will happen the rest of the season (Wilf also says the team will make the playoffs). I mean, if the Vikings lose the rest of their games and finish 5-11, is Childress' job really secure? Let's all be reasonable here.

Viking Update talks about the team's playoff chances.


  1. Some of the Taylor details are irrelevant. But in my opinion, information about violence in his past (such as brandishing a gun or trying to go vigilante on guys who stole his SUV) is relevant to this story. It appears that he is an innocent victim here, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt until facts are known, but many times incidents like these are rooted in the past actions of the victim.

    More than anything, I think the extraneous details in this article are a symptom of celebrity culture. The media seems to think (probably accurately) that most Americans are fascinated by details of the lives of people who are much wealthier and more famous than them. If I get robbed, the AP wouldn't put in details about my house, because a cheap apartment in Chicago isn't unusual or fascinating. But the lives of famous millionaires carry some fascination to many people.

    Rather than a conscious demonization of wealthy black athletes, I think this is simply laziness combined with celebrity journalism. So I agree that it's shoddy journalism, but I don't think it's as malicious as you make it out to be.

    Put it this way: do you think this kind of incident is more likely to happen to Taylor, or someone like Warrick Dunn? I don't know either personally, but I would venture a guess...

  2. jda, that's a fair point: a history of violence is not entirely irrelevant when reporting on an incident of violence.

    Perhaps it stuck out to me because I was looking for a story on the details of what happened, and found a story devoid of detail on the incident but including lengthy details about how Taylor is "extremely talented" but "has been in trouble." That aspect seemed irrelevant to me.

  3. I think that the details about the house and such are just due to not having a lot to write about. I imagine that there weren't a whole lot of details at the time and that stuff is public record. It's pretty standard to do a public record search on anyone in a news story just in case it turns up something interesting.
    I agree that here it wasn't relevant to the story or good journalism, but it's likely not from some prurient interest in celebrity. Or anything like that.
    So far as his personal history, it's tricky... I think there was probably a better way to convey the information (I do think that it's at least somewhat relevant to the story) without seeming to link it to the shooting itself. Later versions of the story should have cleaned that up some.

  4. ESPN has a pretty good obituary for Taylor. It mentions his troubles, but shows a very respectable view of his improvements as a player and as a person.