Of Meat and Madden Bowl: How I Messed With Texas

Coke Zero special correspondent Larry Fitzgerald interviewed Chad Ochocinco after his team won EA Sports Madden Bowl XVII Thursday night.

I spent part of last week in Grapevine, Texas to help coordinate media and the Coke Zero black carpet at the EA Sports Madden Bowl. I’d struggle to retell my first Texas experience in any linear fashion, so here’s a few bullets from the gun-happiest state in the union:

  • The state was battered by an ice storm earlier in the week, and while it’s easy to bash people from the south for their inability to drive in wintery conditions, the roads were truly awful. Forget a plow or a salt truck — it was as if the roads had been conditioned by a Zamboni. Never seen anything like it.
  • Texans loves their meat. We ate at a place called Big Racks — imagine Hooters without the dignity — and I chose a plate which included briscuit, smoked turkey, ribs, fried okra and potato salad. This was after I balked at the grand slam platter, included the aforementioned three meats along with ham, chicken breast and steak. That’s livin’.
  • Fifteen degrees. It was 15 degrees by the time NFL players and celebrities made way down the black carpet Thursday night. Everyone attending relied on heat lamps outside, which stood about seven-feet tall and thrust warm air upwards, making them completely ineffective. Add to the fact I was wearing a button-up and a sweater. Indefensible for a guy from Minnesota.
  • At one point, I sidled over to a heat lamp near the media check-in I was monitoring. There stood a short white man with his hooded sweatshirt drawn, worn underneath a weathered canvas jacket. I thought he seemed a bit out of place, until he flipped his hood back revealed he was Drew Rosenhaus. My first instinct? Try to argue with him! Try to win a stand-off with the most powerful agent in football! I did no such thing. I feel I still came away a winner.
  • As fate would have it, we stayed at a Great Wolf Lodge, which is a Wisconsin-based hotel chain. So, unfailingly, GWL declared itself Packer Country starting Thursday by decorating the lobby in green and yellow and blasting the Packers fight song from the PA. Couldn’t wait to leave. Could. Not. Wait.
  • Biggest personal hero spotted: Marshall Faulk. (Named to the NFL Hall of Fame the next day!)
  • Scariest NFL figure at the party: DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association who could take the 2011 season hostage.
  • Most unlikely NFL figure at the party: Former San Francisco 49ers safety Merton Hanks. Or, “funky chicken guy.
  • Most disappointing no-show: Brooklyn Decker. Not that she ever RSVP’ed, but she was in town.
  • Most inaccurate pseudonym: Big Boi. He’s 5-6 on a good day.
  • Debbie Downer tweet(s) of the night: Chad Ochocinco, winner of the Madden Bowl with teammates Patrick Willis and Maria Menounos, tweeted the following:






If Blogging Paid the Bills, We Wouldn’t Have This Problem

I’m leaving for frosty Dallas this morning. My place of work is coordinating parts of Madden Bowl XVII tomorrow night, so it’s unlikely I’ll be able to blog. I’ll be sure to get something up over the weekend.

Until then, go make a proposition bet on the Super Bowl. For instance, Bodog has put the over/under for Christina Aguilera’s rendition of the National Anthem at 1:50. (Take the over!) You can even bet on the color of the Gatorade shower for the winning coach. (Orange is 5/2.)

Frankly, there’s no point to watching a game in which you have zero emotional investment. That is, unless you have a financial investment.

Enough With the Endless, Undue Praise of Betty White

I watched nearly every minute of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards Sunday night, which is sad, because though it was only two nights ago, there’s a good chance you have no idea what I’m talking about.

In case you missed it — and trust me, you didn’t miss a thing — Betty White won Outstanding Female in a Comedy Series for her role on Hot in Cleveland. White beat out Tiny Fey (30 Rock), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Jane Lynch (Glee) and Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), proving that if you live long enough, you can be honored for anything, no matter how little you deserve it.

This is not an attack on Betty White. Bless her heart for maintaining that comedic punch at the ripe age of 89. But, the reality is she’s not the funniest female on the block, and though her fellow nominees showed nary a sign of jealousy, it seems this routine of honoring White at any and every opportunity has become older than White herself.

Suffice it to say any joke she’s told over the past few years has gone by one simple formula:

(Reference something modern we wouldn’t expect an 89-year-old woman to know about) + (Something sexual) + (Blunt acknowledgement of age)

Any one of those variables may stand alone, but when the three are piled together, you can roll the laugh track for 20 seconds, easy. (And if you’ve seen Hot in Cleveland, they absolutely do.) Let’s look at some of the White’s best quotes from 2010:

  • “Oh, I don’t need sleep. I just went to my hotel and had a cold hot dog and a vodka on the rocks.” (New York Magazine)
  • “I’m also on Facebook, and the Twitter.” (You Again)
  • “Gays love old ladies.” (Parade Magazine)
  • “I don’t know, Mr. Winger. Last time I called on you I got what the Maku Maku call ‘dirt-roaded.'” (Community)
  • “Well ladies, as I used to say to my loving husband, Irving, of 55 years . . . what are you waiting for, stupid? Eat it.” (Saturday Night Live)

You don’t want to dismiss White for her flimsy, formulaic brand of comedy because she’s old. That’s polite and all, but aren’t you then playing into the lie?

I don’t mean to sound rude. Here, in the twilight of her career, White has sprinted through several victory laps, appearing on every relevant awards show, myriad sitcoms and in plenty of movies. Good for her, truly. But let’s not fool ourselves and label her encore ‘outstanding,’ especially in comparison to some of her peers.

(And by ‘peers,’ I mean fellow actresses half her age.)


My 22-Hour Raw Foodism Experiment

During my junior year of college, I inexplicably lost 30 pounds. I was working 80 hours per week at the student newspaper, taking 15 credits and still managed to play pick-up basketball about four days per week. I was also taking Hydroxycut, the weight-loss pill that was yanked from shelves no so long ago over health concerns. (They’ve since changed their formula.)

I played my senior season of high school football at 219 pounds. Since then, I’ve never weighed more than 230 and never less than 207, which is pretty miraculous considering I spent the better part of six years on a college campus. Right now, I weigh 225, give or take a few.

After 19 hours, I started noticing changes to my physical appearance. I grew concerned.

The other night I stumbled upon the raw food diet. Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, nothing heated above 110 degrees. I thought I’d give it a try because I read nothing about portion control and raw foodism still allows for trail mix. And I love trail mix.

For 22 hours, I dabbled in raw foodism. I went to Trader Joe’s Saturday and dropped $47.34 on produce. I ate bananas, blackberries, raisins, a salad, carrots, oranges, trail mix and drank almond milk and water. I worked out and felt fine. The raw food diet relies on natural energy found in foods with enzymes that promote more effective digestion. They say after two weeks, you can almost completely detox your body of all those Taco Bell quesadillas and Whoppers from Burger King. (I’ll spare you the details, but said detox also leads to some pretty epic trips to the men’s room. Which is nice.)

Twenty-two hours. What went wrong? Why did I stop?

Coffee. Then beer. Oh, and Chipotle. Lemonheads. After 22 hours, I caved to the fact I love me some processed, genetically-modified foods. I love cheap drive-thru fast food. I love milk … from a cow … not milk … from an almond. And coffee — sweet, succulent bean juice of the gods. If I’m obese to the point of immobility someday, remind me how lucky I am to have coffee in my life. I’d take a sedentary lifestyle as long as I had Sumatra.

Fortunately, right now, I’m just obese. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, my body mass index (BMI) is 30.5. My recommended body weight is no higher than 183 points. (Pfff … I remember 7th grade.) The BMI has its limitations, of course, not taking into account muscle mass. Look, as long as I can run a few miles, play some basketball, walk stadium stairs — I’m not overly concerned about my weight.

But people like me — once active, now employed — often become too busy to keep in shape. The way my work schedule goes now, I’m either at the gym at 6 a.m. or 7 p.m., neither of which are the most desirable time slots, but that’s my reality. That’s why I (briefly) considered raw foodism. Silly boy.

I may never know a size 30 waistline or “abs,” but at least I have coffee. And beer. And Chipotle. And Lemonheads …


Tim Pawlenty is the Next Tom Cruise

If former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty gets the Republican nomation to run against President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, I’m not voting for him.

That said – and I feel like a clown admitting it – I think Pawlenty’s new political ad may be the most compelling I’ve ever seen. Taughty rhetoric. National monuments. Fighter jets. Kids in school. All it needed was beer, a baseball game and a Golden retriever and Pawlenty’s ad would’ve been been the most American thing I’ve ever seen. It takes a guy who’s famously understated, if not meek, and makes him out to be the hero in a Michael Bay movie.

You can’t tell me it’s not a compelling ad. The problem is it makes for a better trailer for an action flick than a political ad for a campaign. Has Pawlenty even declared his candidacy?

From an aesthetic standpoint, it’s awesome. I want to stand up and applaud. I want to pump my fists and slap Pawlenty square on the ass, Favre-style. (“Get’em, T-Paw!”) Then I start to think about the money that went into producing this thing and how it means we’re on the cusp of another political season. At least Pawlenty’s ad is strictly self-promoting and not out to say Mitt Romney is a tool or Sarah Palin is a mascot.

What’s better than malice and mud-slinging? Slow-motion and blue-collar laborers!

I’m Punting

Had one of those Oh-my-God!-I-forgot-to-do-something-at-work-so-I-need-to-get-out-of-bed-and-leave-two-hours-earlier moments this morning, which means no time for blogging this morning.

Bloggers generally skip posting on holidays, or they’ll post something really tacky and pre-planned. This is called a punt. Instead, I’m posting a video of a punt, this from a high school kid back in my home state who booted it 86 yards thanks to a friendly tail wind:

I Haven’t Seen Skins, But I Did Go To High School

I understand there’s been quite some furor over a new teen drama on MTV called Skins. Apparently the show depicts teens engaging in sexual activity, as well as drug and alcohol abuse — you know, teen stuff. Numerous sponsors, including Taco Bell, Subway and L’Oreal, have dropped their sponsorship while there’s been roaring debate whether the show features child porn.

(If the show featured child porn, I don’t think it would require debate. That’s a pretty specific feature.)

I haven’t seen Skins or any MTV show in years. I grew up on MTV and always felt a little too young to watch it, but as I grew older, the network seemed to shift its programming toward younger audiences. That said, I’m always a little saddened to hear peers talking about Jersey Shore or Teen Mom or whatever nonsense reality series that’s airing. I can’t help but think, “Really? MTV? At your age? Shame on you.”

I give MTV credit for pioneering the reality series (as we know it) with The Real World. In its first few seasons, the seven strangers picked to live together had to maintain jobs, income, relationships, a sense of order. It was all quite fascinating for a white kid growing up in Middle America. It was like my first chance to intimately know people of different races, religions, sexual orientation and views. The Real World was, dare I say, educational?

Around season five — I refuse to go back and fact check — the cast members were pre-assigned jobs and that’s about when the deviancy started kicking in. The Real World was no longer a microcosm of the lower-case real world, but rather a group of over-muscled, over-tanned, over-sexed, over-boozed twits polluting a posh living space.

When that formula started to fizzle, MTV started skewing toward the kids with shows like Laguna Beach, The Hills and The City. Now, here we are — I presume — with Skins. I haven’t seen an episode, but reading a synopsis, I thought, “Yeah, that sounds like high school,” and I started high school over a decade ago.

The season premier of Skins was seen by 3.3 million viewers. The second episode? Just 1.6 million. Why would this popular infamous series geared toward teens lose half its viewing audience in just one week? Because teens have already seen every episode. They live Skins.

So, what’s worse: The fact MTV’s airing a show with teens having sex, drinking alcohol and taking drugs, or the fact Skins might just be an dead-on depiction of high school in 2011?