Billy Joe Pulls Back The Curtain

Stop the world. Billy Joe Hobert wants to get off.

Unless you've been under a rock, sports fans, you've heard about the humiliating circumstances resulting in the Buffalo Bills releasing Hobert. A week ago this past Sunday, backup quarterback Billy Joe played about as well as Billy Joel, and with a lot less rhythm.

Come Monday morning, Hobert admitted in a television interview that he hadn't prepared for the game plan, and that he'd made mistakes because he hadn't known the plays. This interview was picked up by ESPN, which transformed it into actual news. The Bills then gave Hobert the ax quicker than Apple Computer can say "Gil Amelio."

Now, no one's claiming Hobert isn't an idiot of Arsenio proportions. He had problems at University of Washington, and announcing your lack of preparation on TV is about as bright as asking Dick Vitale to keep his remarks brief. But do Hobert's sins a pariah make?

They shouldn't. It's funny how the sports media picks its outcasts. Al Campanis, a man who advanced the cause of blacks in baseball, was disgraced for incorrect phrasing on Nightline. Jimmy The Greek said more stupid-sounding stuff, and he was drunk, but since when have we required our gambling experts to maintain terminology standards in line with the ACLU? Their biggest sins (and Hobert's)? They did it on television.

Meanwhile Albert Belle rampages against anyone and anything he likes, including scaring off trick-or-treaters with his truck. Joe Theismann says about three stupid things per telecast. Rod Strickland, J.R. Rider, Allen Iverson, Dennis Scott act like ten-year-olds. Kerry Collins makes racial slurs twice in one day. Rodman is Rodman.

Being stupid in sports isn't exactly rare. Admitting you're stupid, well, evidently that's a career-buster.

Why the firestorm over Hobert? The sports media is inundated with ex-jocks who talk like playing pro sports is an intellectual challenge akin to performing bypass surgery. The over-analysis. The lingo. When a Billy Joe Hobert threatens to tear aside the curtain and reveal that most athletes aren't quite Stephen Hawking, the ex-jocks close ranks.

Shoot. Talking about Hobert last night on ESPN, you'd have thought someone had killed Theismann's dog or... broken his leg or something....







Are concussions--the brain literally slogging around inside the skull--the number-one post-career concern for professional athletes?

Yes. For an exact scale model, think of a raw egg encased inside Wyoming.

No. Two words: groin pull.