This Weeks Packers Literary Corner Review:
“Monday Morning QB” by Peter King on CNNSI.com
Newspaper and magazine editors have always seemed miserly when it comes to establishing the maximum number of words a writer was allowed for an article, oftentimes to the author’s chagrin. Part of this was due to printing costs (more words, more paper, more cost); part of it was the obvious necessity of making room for the advertisements that paid for the publication; and the third reason for the editor’s sharp red pencil was—to keep writers from rambling.
Many veterans of the print media now pen Internet columns for the free or subscription based sports Web sites. The Internet has unfettered writers from those burdensome word restrictions, however, and now it seems writers can go on…and on…and on…
And it brings up an interesting question: At what point does an article become a “blog”? And at what point do these blogs get completely out of hand, as though they’ve come down with a bad case of blogarrhea?
Today, the Packers Literary Corner is going to review an Internet column written by the esteemed Sports Illustrated writer, Peter King, which appears in the magazine’s Web site, cnnsi.com.
Peter was one of the first national writers to wisely foresee—and frequently write about--the rise of the Packers’ dynasty in the early 1990’s, after the team and its fans had suffered through two decades of frustration and futility. Peter became an excellent source of information about Brett Favre’s ascent to become the most popular player in the NFL, and was quite enthusiastic about the Packers when they made two Super Bowl appearances in a row. These of course, are all signs of highly skilled writing.
His “Monday Morning QB” column started out to be a concise review of the previous day’s NFL games, with the advantage of immediacy over the articles that would appear in print 5 days later or so in the print edition. Unfortunately, it seems to have become “Mundane Morning QB”, where the theme is: Whatever the hell I want to talk about. Let’s look at his Monday, July 24 column, which weighs in at a whopping:
Three Thousand Two Hundred Fifty-Six Words (and this is the offseason, mind you!) You can check it out at:
In the Packers Literary Corner’s view, Mr. King violates two important writing maxims with his column:
1) To quote F. Scott Fitzgerald “You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you’ve got something to say.”
2) If it ain’t about the Green Bay Packers, who cares?
And these indiscretions are a shame because his column gets off to a rousing start with a discussion of the hope and optimism that abounds with fans of each and every NFL Team this time of year. This is so true. And as we’ve observed many times, July is the month when the Minnesota Vikings seem to win all of their NFL Championships.
But now, let’s look at a few specific examples of where Mr. King’s trolley gets off the track:
--An uncharacteristic mental lapse where he picks Detroit as one of his surprise teams for 2006. His logic for this curious statement is particularly flawed when he bases it on:
“The Lions' opponents in Games 3 through 10 had these win totals in 2005: 4, 6, 9, 5, 4, 8, 4 and 5.”
Game 3 is against Green Bay, which of course by that time will be on its way to a 12 win season in 2006, so actually the Lions have a tough schedule. Unlike in geology, the past is not always the key to the present in football.
--He has a section titled “Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week”
This should be deleted altogether. It’s not the readers’ fault he doesn’t travel first class.
--His major blunder in this column was under his “Factoid That May Interest Only Me”
His boo-boo here is in the same vein as the B-level TV stars who march out, wag their fingers at us and tells us how to run our lives, dispensing such brilliant advice as: “Spend more time with your kids,” or “Tell your kids to not do drugs” or, “Spend more time with your kids while they’re doing drugs.”
Dang, we’d never have figured that out on our own.
In this case, Peter all but orders us to the theaters to screen the al-goreical environmental film “An Incoherent Truth”. To quote Mr. King:
“This is not exactly the venue to warn the world about global warming, but all you football junkies readying for your fantasy drafts should do one real-world thing in the next couple of weeks: take two hours to see this movie. I'm not saying you'll be glad you did, because it's going to slap you around mentally a bit. But it's something you need to see.”
Isn’t that a just a tad condescending here, the presumption that all we’re doing out there in the non-Eastern seaboard US is “readying for our fantasy drafts?” How absurd. I, for one, am:
a) Leafing through all the NFL logo merchandise catalogs and picking out a predominantly green and gold fall wardrobe.
b) Maintaining a hawk-like focus on the E-bay screen to find the best deals on tickets to games at Lambeau Field.
c) Renewing my subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket.
If Mr. King is really desirous of hopping aboard the Global Warming bandwagon, then he should express the issue in terms that we all can relate to:
IF THE WORLD HEATS UP TEN MORE DEGREES, THERE WILL BE NO MORE FROZEN TUNDRA!
That’s enough to give all of us pause, and eventually mend our ways. The only fuel we’d be burning after that is from the Kingsford when we fire up the backyard grill.
So, there’s no need to foul the environment with the thousands of pounds of carbon emissions it would take for all of us to drive our cars to the Cineplex to see a politician’s movie.
--Then, he follows this with a potpourri of trivia called “Ten Things I Think I Think.”
In this edition, these observations include something about an old, old singer named Bruce Springsteen, someone named A-Rod who apparently plays some other sport than football (why?), and some kind of coffee beans from a country we’ve never heard of.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Although most of his column wasn’t that helpful, Peter did have a gem that redeems most of the other stuff, concerning his upcoming tour of training camps:
“A month and 22 team visits later, I hope to be educated enough to tell you who to take in your fantasy drafts. If you're lucky, I won't advise you to bypass Favre for Wuerffel again.”
Way to go, Peter!
As you know, The Packers Literary Corner’s highest award in journalism is a 6-pack of Johnsonville Bratwurst and an autographed copy of the Green Bay Packer themed novel,
“Monday Morning QB” by Peter King earns 3 Brats.
(without the buns)