March 12, 2009


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LONGSHOTS: Great talent a rush but not all it’s cracked up to be
by Dave Long

Since I am a guy who’ll always take team over individual talents no matter who it is, I’ve enjoyed watching the antics of three very big “me firsters” and subsequent downfalls of two in recent weeks with a high degree of relish.

Two are professional athletes who’ve had varying degrees of success — though the interpretation of the word “success” by some is a lot different than mine. The other’s from outside sports, although he has worked in it and his most recent foray in sports provided as vivid a portrait as one needs to know he’s living on a different planet. And given his track I don’t think it’s “Lovetron” either where in the early days of his NBA career Darryl Dawkins told all he came from before landing in the middle of the ’76ers-Celtics rivalry in the late 1970s.

What these three have in common is that they have been in the eye of the storm each has created. For Terrell Owens it was the usual “everybody’s against me, throw me the damn ball” silliness that has now led to his departure in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas. For Stephon Marbury it was a three-ring circus in New York that with the help of Isiah Thomas and inept owner Jimmy Dolan made the Knicks the laughing stock of the NBA. For Rush Limbaugh it was the usual division and hate mongering toward almost anyone with the audacity to doubt that anything coming from him is, well, omnipotent.

For the first two, their long-running soap operas in Dallas and New York mercifully came to end recently. T.O. is the supremely talented wide-out owner Jerry Jones thought would fit in Dallas after a nasty flame-out in Philly. That ended with him throwing “friend” Donovan McNabb over board just as he had with Jeff Garcia in San Francisco, where he intimated Garcia was gay to the media.

Marbury’s was a nightmare homecoming. A celebrated player growing up in Brooklyn, he was the toast of the town after being shipped out of Phoenix for always injured Antonio McDyess and five other guys I never heard of. He then feuded with coach Larry Brown — not that that is an exclusive club. Ditto the next year plus with Thomas before he was fired. He also shot his way of Minnesota where he supposedly was jealous of Kevin Garnett. The Nets went to two finals after he was traded for Jason Kidd and the trajectory was straight up in Phoenix when Steve Nash took over. Current Knicks coach Mike D’Antonio was behind his exit from Phoenix and this time paid him $20 million NOT to play. Something’s got to be pretty bad to get $20 million NOT to play, don’t you think?

In the case of Rush, many will argue that he’s at the top of his game in “hoping” Barack Obama’s strategy for our economic woes “fails” and with the particularly sensitive comment on Obama’s health care initiatives ... “before it’s all over, it’ll be called the Ted Kennedy memorial health care bill.” That had many Democrats up in arms as they believe it was a classless direct shot as the Senator’s current battle with brain cancer. And that in turn has conservative writers like Jonah Goldberg also in a twist, for what I’m not sure, but he used the word “liberal” a lot more than usual. So why is Rush here? Because he’s being treated by the Republican Party like sports treats those with great talent. And there is no denying Limberger has great talent to bluster while getting a large number of voters to listen to his daily rant. 

Owens and Marbury are closer to the end of a cycle that lets the talented get away with almost anything as long as they produce what only people with their ability can. That’s why an alleged disciplinarian like Bill Parcells looked the other way at Lawrence Taylor’s wild life, which included regularly using cocaine. Same for why Ray Lewis was welcomed back to Ravens camp the day after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in a double MURDER. Ray’s great — so welcome back pal! 

T.O. played big on a broken leg in the Super Bowl vs. the Patriots with nine catches. But call me a cynic if you like, I bet it had more to do with refusing to miss the chance to get into the hugest spotlight of all than with the glory of his team. But talent got him another chance three days after getting kicked out of Dallas as he’s already signed with Buffalo. 

I’ve always considered Marbury to be basketball’s anti-christ and don’t expect it to work out in Boston as his style will slow down the team. But with his track record I’m giving Danny the benefit of the doubt and because Marbury is playing for perhaps his last contract — so he needs it. Especially after finishing atop’s recent poll where 22 percent of NBA players said he’s the guy they’d least like to play with. 

Rush is more like T.O. in wanting Obama to fail than a Reagan disciple. He wants it to fail because it will make him look good. A sage observer. Albeit, one very bullish on the conservative practices that put the country in its biggest financial ditch since the 1930s, along with help from numbskulls on both sides of the aisle in Congress and latent greed on Wall Street. The same sage observer who pretty much spent the Clinton years apoplectic as the Dow Jones Average almost tripled. 

Rush believes what he believes and reality doesn’t matter. Like the ludicrous assertion that got him fired from ESPN that left wing sports media bias wanted McNabb to succeed at quarterback because he was black. Guess it didn’t matter that Doug Williams and others have been playing QB in the NFL since the ’70s and that left wing media bias in sports (and elsewhere) is as real as the roommate John Nash kept seeing in A Beautiful Mind. 

So I don’t get why Democrats are so upset by him. He’s their secret weapon and not just because people like me are tired of the divisive, anti-American brand of politics he spews. That was a factor in the country turning bluer the last two elections. Plus as demonstrated by new GOP Chief Michael (blood and guts) Steele’s down-on-his-knees apology after criticizing his tone — the GOP is afraid of Rush! With the audience he has, he’s to the GOP what T.O. is to his team. If he’s unhappy and walks, gulp, there goes 90 catches and 16 TDs. Personally, I’d tell him to shove it — because he’s going to force candidates inside the party to go farther to the right to satisfy him, who’ll then be unelectable to the middle in the general.

So I’m all for letting him yak away as it’s helpful and because like the loud voices of Walter Winchell, Joseph McCarthy, Howard Cosell and William Randolph Hearst before his time, his will fade and you’ll barely notice at the end.

Dave Long can be reached at He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billy’s Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.

3/5/2009 In Bill we still trust?

2/26/2009 A mountain over this molehill
2/19/2009 Steroids muscle in on game's strength
2/12/2009 Bonner bombs away on Cs in garden party homecoming
2/5/2009 Nation's angst ends as V-Tek says what the heck and rejoins flock
1/29/2009 Super Bowl Sunday brings to mind past and present
1/22/2009 The elusive quality of greatness is the topic of the day
1/15/2009 Spring cleaning of the sports mind a little early
1/8/2009 Will hall have Rice on the menu come July
1/1/2009 Predictions and wants for the year ahead
12/25/2008 A look in the rear view mirror at 2008
12/18/2008 The Pats' playoff run and new Yankees contracts make big news
12/11/2008 Random thoughts and associations
12/4/2008 Pats should consider options when it comes to Cassel and Brady
11/27/2008 Putting the thanks in Thanksgiving
11/20/2008 News of the week has people talking
11/13/2008 Cassel's in the clouds compared to early expectations11/6/2008 Mail bag delivers some interesting questiont10/30/2008"Yankees Suck" - like mentality fuels political discontent10/23/2008 No ray of hope as season closes in Tampa Bay
10/16/2008 Going to the nines a thing of the past
10/9/2008 C-eeing some interesting stories unfold this week
10/2/2008 "How come?" is the main question of the day
9/25/2008 Observations on baseball in 2008
9/18/2008 If I were a QB, a DB, a stat geek or a soccer mom ...
9/11/2008 After disaster Brady's bunch won't pass on season
9/4/2008 Pats start off with high expectation and some concerns
8/28/2008 A race to the finish to take all month long
8/21/2008 National news items of interest for local folks
8/14/2008 A little of this and that from the good side of sports pile
8/7/2008 Manny happy returns from the Evil Empire
7/31/2008 Manny being Manny - the sequel Part XXXII
7/24/2008 Open the mail bag for some Red Sox questions
7/17/2008 Hall-worthy or not the latest question on Schilling
7/10/2008 Baseball season has actually started
7/03/2008 UL editorial in denial — stop the presses
6/26/2008 Boston turnaround makes NBA green with envy
6/19/2008 Letters from the NBA finals
6/12/2008 A Father's Day letter to dad
6/5/2008 Twenty-one and six are the lucky numbers for the Cs
5/29/2008 Sometimes a bat is just a bat
5/22/2008 Some questions for folks right up there in the front row
5/15/2008 Numbers don't add up to supposed Fenway
5/8/2008 Cavalier attitude nearly derails first meeting with LeBron
5/1/2008 I'm so old,I remember ...
4/24/2008 Sox Line-ups, Celtics and ESPN investigations are in the mail bag
4/17/2008 Show me the way to that All-Star Game
4/10/2008 For C'ing a great time ahead as playoffs arrive this spring
4/3/2008 Bill James and the stats for 2008 — Take Two
3/27/2008 Drowning in the NCAA office pool
3/20/2008 Whether forecast is right or not is the question
3/13/2008 Comment sparks wonder over just what I did
3/6/2008 New hires, new trades in pro sports
2/28/2008 Celtics issues far from black and white in the early days
2/21/2008 Congressional ineptitude muscles in on steroid hearings
2/14/2008 Basketball rounds into form under the cover of Pats football
2/7/2008 A giant win leaves Patriots fans feeling blue
1/31/2008 Foxboro lads earn pats on the back, and old Celtics mystique makes sense
1/24/2008 Mail bag asks about Rice, the hall and wild-eyed liberals
1/17/2008 Peyton manning the fort back home as Pats take on Chargers
1/10/2008 Grumpy old Dolphins are lost at sea on this one
1/3/2008 The primary concern is getting a clear picture
12/27/2007 The annual sports awards close out 2007
12/20/2007 Holiday gifts for the deserving and not so deserving
12/13/2007 Jets land in Foxboro as pat go number 14
12/06/2007 To include or not to include Ellsbury — that is the questione
11/29/2007 Yanked from the sports pages in the Big Apple
11/22/2007 Here's what I'm thankful for at Thanksgiving
11/15/2007 Waiting game leads to a series of random thoughts
11/8/2007 OK — it's week nine and I'm ready to talk
11/1/2007 Finally a little shut-eye for a sleep deprived nation
10/25/2007 A rocky mountain high for Red Sox Nation
10/18/2007 Time to go to the mailbag
10/112007 Who'd more popular, Patriots or Red Sox
10/4/2007 IA weekend chock full of nuts, chokes and great moments
9/27/2007 I hate to say I told you so...
9/20/2007 Media and fan bias shades the severity of sports crime
9/13/2007 All round baseball week starts with a look at leaders
9/6/2007 It's Superbowl or bust for Pats in 2007
8/30/2007 The race is on as baseball enters September
8/23/2007 Spine vs. lack of spine theme for school board debate
8/16/2007 Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
8/9/2007 Will this three make it big in Boston?
8/2/2007 Trading places all in a day's work for Boston GMs
7/26/2007 Getting out of a slump; an ameteur golfer can feel Sox' pain
7/19/2007 Does second chance guarantee a great outcome?
7/12/2007 Masse still a honeymooner in local baseball culture
7/5/2007 Brown Monster a big Fisher Cat hit
6/28/2007 Rambling along with some random thoughts
6/21/2007 The future is now for the C's come Thursday night
6/14/2007 Homers create bonds among fans for generations
6/07/2007 Sox win by losing two of three this weekend
5/31/2007 Lutz of things to think about
5/24/2007 Down 2-0 M’s for playoff payoff
5/17/2007 Baseballs' conventional wisdom is for the birds
5/10/2007 The Rocket lands in Gotham during Monarchs' playoff break
5/3/2007 Raiders say "No Moss" in fight with talented wideout
4/26/2007 A little history on the ancient Sox and Yanks rivalry
4/19/2007 Lessons to be learned from Robinson, Monarchs and I-Man
4/12/2007 A few questions for the sports gods
4/5/2007 Stanton his case on a variety of current topics
3/29/2007 Sox spring back into action on Monday
3/22/2007 A guide for having fun on NCAA hockey weekend
3/15/2007 The madness of March kicks off on Thursday
3/8/2007 Jumping through hoops after an odd season
3/1/2007 A trip to the mail bag for Hippo Sports
2/22/2007 Six degrees of Muhammed Ali
2/15/2007 Monarchs rule as streak reaches 12
2/8/2007 Talking a good game ahead on all-sports WGAM
2/1/2007 Manning the Super Bowl watch more difficult in '07
1/25/2007 Winning and what else matters in college coaching
1/18/2007 ESPN polls are fanning the flames of national lunacy
1/11/2007 Patriots marching to MIami promised land
1/4/2007 Predictions for 2007
12/28/2006 REcognizing the best on the national front
12/21/2006 Present under the tree for all
12/14/2006 Mailbag open for busines at a time filled with questions
12/07/2006 Lions and Gators and Bears, oh my
11/30/2006 Does Fenway frankness roll to the negative side?
11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives
11/16/2006 Green-around-the-gills Celts looking to earn some respect
11/9/2006 Blame game reaches new local low
11/2/2006 A week of highs and lows in sport
10/26/2006 Curses! The U is foiled again
10/19/2006 Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
10/12/2006 U turns Granite Stare around on football
10/05/2006 James' gang riding into town to face the Celtics
09/28/2006 Words to describe a lost Red Sox season
09/21/2006 Football Friday can't stack up to Saturday
09/14/2006 A lesson to be learned in remembering a somber day
09/07/2006 Usual pat choice to win AFC East questioned
08/31/2006 Whining won't yank AL East away from NY
08/24/2006 Spring forward or fall behind for Sox
08/17/2006 Trash talking abounds in the Empire over Sox and Pats
08/10/2006 Monarchs call press conference to crown new leader
08/03/2006 Deadly Fenway duo leave mark on history
07/27/2006 Word of the wise gets lost in sports translation
07/20/2006 Looking beyond the Big Three
07/13/2006 Cream rises to the top of baseball talk at the Dot
07/06/2006 Greetings and salutations toThe Nation at mid-year
06/29/2006 Being dealt is a consequence of the trade
06/22/2006 A year later, Boudreau's cup runneth over
06/15/2006 See dogs and cats battle for a different fan experience
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06/01/2006 Luck goes Sox way with Lowell in Massachusetts
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05/18/2006 Going to school by cutting Red Sox payroll
05/11/2006 Columnist blows his mind; here are the results
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04/27/2006 Regular crowd nowhere to be found come playoff time
04/20/2006 Questions and answers from the mailbag
04/13/2006 Local sports teams spring into action
04/06/2006 Predictable Red Sox season lies ahead
03/30/2006 Analyzing this and that as Pats roster shrinks
03/23/2006 A week of following the bouncing balls
03/16/2006 The beginning of four days of basketball bliss
03/09/2006 Many miss the central point of the story
03/02/2006 Better late than never to jump through local hoops
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02/16/2003 An issue that is all black and white
02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
02/02/2006 Super memories from 40 years of watching the big game
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01/19/2006 Sudden end to Pats' season leave just one thing to do
01/12/2006 Pats on the back for the football team
01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Hero’s death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The Demonization of Johnny Damon
Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat