I am a Man of Constant Sorrow

Cornflakes examines the Commentate-Off itself by pondering the very notion of football takes in the month of June. Our own little vision of a private hell is drawn for our amusement in Commentate-Off entry #19.

Commentating on the Browns in June, Mr. Bites? What's next, sandcastle building contests at Mentor Headlands in January?

Don't you know that June is defined on the BNI boards by hot topics like the pros and cons of cheerleaders, "Big Dawg – Fat Dufus or Nice Guy Miscast", and "Courtney Brown under an electron microscope"? When actual football takes are mixed in, bad things happen. Very bad things. Otherwise sagacious pundits start telling us how Earl Holmes is an older version of Wali Rainer, using their old Kent State rugby injuries as rationale. That last part may not be as dismissible as it sounds. I, too, have KSU Rugby experience. Never played, but we did invite the rugby house residents on College St. to be our guests at our keggers on Willow (see also: The Stones at Altamont). You should see the strain on the knees and other joints it takes to throw some struggling, fat, drunk butt-monkey off a porch with four-foot high walls. I can see the connection to Holmes rehabbing nagging sprains at the world's best medical facilities. But that's a solid take compared to how all our draft choices are from Prairie Home Companion A& M University, and we have built a dynasty before the first snap and everyone else is crumbling. Warning – examples to follow. June take: we have the next Blanton Collier who is an offensive guru with the 700-page playbook to match. December take: why is he just standing there looking like Tom Bradford watching Nancy go out in daisy duke's and a halter with Snake Pliskin's clone in a van lined inside with fake fur when we're losing 44-0 and it's Stony-Time Muthafukas ™? June take: we have a devastating front seven on D that will solve the problem of teams running on us. January take: who is RJ Bowers and why is some kid who played the year before in front of 400 fans at sold out Grove City College stadium running over us like the kid Gesu starved and sauna-ed for CYO weigh in who is now 40 pounds over the limit?

But the ultimate bad June take had to come in the infancy of BTNG when some dill-hole Ratbird and Squeeler fan posing as a national writer rained on our triumphant return parade and told us that while, yes, we had a team, they would indeed suck in September. I remember the William Bennettesque OUTRAGE as we put together an Official BTNG™ reply. "What? We won't be any good?!?! We have CHRIS SPIELMAN behind Jerry Ball and John Jurkovic, that's 200 guaranteed tackles behind two legitimate run stuffers. Roy Barker and Derrick Alexander will bring the heat as they had 20 sacks between them last season. They are the best set of ends in the AFC. We'll dominate on D. We have Leslie Sheppard, Marc Edwards and Terry Kirby on O, established NFL veterans. There's our skilled talent right there. And we have Ty Detmer. TY DETMER led by an bona fide quarterback guru. And speaking of coaching staffs, if you play the Kevin Bacon game with NFL coaches we have Bill Parcells as head man and Dave Wahnstadt as defensive coordinator. You don't have a clue V***! Corey Fuller knows more football than you and he says we'll win 8 games this year and be in the playoffs in 2000 for sure." We certainly schooled him together Mr. Bites, did we not?

I am not The Renaissance Man ™. I lack the creative genius of Scruffyspeare. I am just a cave man, frozen in 1995 and unfrozen in 1999 and unfamiliar with your "NFL" ways. But I do know that June prognostications fall by the wayside faster than Cher's husbands and Shawn Kemp's fidelity. June isn't a time for talking football, unless it's the Reinheischabat Fire Brewed team of future UPS Drivers playing the Barcelona future high school coaches. And did you know that to say "Barcelona" correctly you have to pronounce it like you're president of the Brian Boytano fan club, not that there's anything wrong with that. That smarmy elitist Yankee lovin' bunghole Costas taught me that during the games of the Olympiad. June is for family vacations, like the one I just had. Nothing is more relaxing than being good ole Dad, taking the family to the beach for a week - especially that nice drive home.

Odysseus can take that weak shit of his home.

Nothing like 14 hours in the sled with a one year old who learned she could scream at an ear piercing decibel like Mariah Carey and a five year old attempting to self-instruct in the theory of relativity, gathering time and distance data every 30 seconds. Normally this is about a 9-hour drive, but the Einsteins who decide construction projects operate with Wicky-Wychian efficiency. Got a birm with a cinder out of place? Cut down vacation traffic to one lane in Warrenton, VA for an hour delay. Got apparently nothing wrong with the bridge over the Potomac showing no construction work at all? Put a stoplight to govern one lane traffic where 8 cars wait southbound and there's a northbound 90-minute backup into East Jesus West VA. I need to spend 1500 yards in Maryland and they fuck ™ me over once more. What is it about those bastards? Mix in a torrential downpour or six after dark when the PA Turnpike, normally one-third less wide that your reg-lar superhighway, goes to changing traffic patterns where the distance between you, the cement retaining wall, and the triple tractor trailer can be measured by the length of your average Mickey D's drinking straw, and waiting for the sled in front of you to go Swede Savage after it actually hits said wall and goes 4 feet into the air before recovering, and you have the perfect drive. The dual cherries on the sundae being entering your Browns Shrine and viewing area known as your finished basement at the end of your journey, only to discover that the kids' fucking ™ cat sprayed all over and your haven smells like some crazy cat lady's crib where 27 cats pee at will. I did say "dual" , did I not? My son as an infant cried when he needed something, which is of course annoying enough to any red blooded American man to spring him into action to rationally solve the cause. Baby Girl? Hell no. Twelve hours of babbling and screaming simply to hear her own voice and only two hours of restless shuteye. By hour ten I'm ready to snap and reprise the Jerky Boy's cut where they crank the pizza shop on their second CD. All this is punctuated by the other female, the lovely wife, manufacturing alleged crisises such as nausea from her reading in a moving vehicle, Pippin-like headaches just before her driving shift from the onset of temporary hypochondria, errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, hypoglycemia and many generally helpful comments, usually loudly expressed to wake said baby girl just as she is apparently nodding off, which is right up there with our leader waiving at Stevie Wonder. Why is this so? I once drove with a buddy of mine taking his worldly possessions from northeast Ohio to Columbus, Mississippi and we did not utter a single word to each other from Cincinnati to southern Tennessee, when he turned to me and just said "Waffle House?" and I said "uh-huh". As in "I sure am like dose hash-brown potaters." If I am a modern day Ulysses, my Penelope awaited my return in the form of a pizza and sensory depravation chamber (until it smelt like cat piss).

That's what June is all about, taking a beak from football in the form of a trip. Notice I don't say "vacation". Vacation? Hell, I'm freaking EXHAUSTED and looking forward to going back to work. Flat tire and have to unload your Tetris-like packing job? Bring it on. Busted hose reconstructed from a raft you cut up and tie on to get to the next exit? Up yer butt, Jobu. Football takes? What you get in June are gems like "Should we sign Lawrence Phillipps or is he not a nice man"? June is for spending time on your family and life's other pursuits before we gear up for the season with Spielman-like intensity and prepare to ignore them for six months like God, Pete Rozelle and Jim Brown intended.

Vacation? Vacation is cold beers at 7AM in Muni Lot in freezing weather. Vacation is ripping apart a perfectly marinated and spiced deep-fried chicken that would make Harlan Sanders weep with bare hands while wondering why the man who performs this culinary miracle can't then fry pre-made mozz cheese sticks without exploding all the cheese out of each and every subsequently burnt piece of breading. Vacation is 10 hours of tailgating in the hot sun before an 8PM exhibition game that's the best day of anyone's life who knows the difference between Willis Adam's hand webbing and Lawyer Tillman's whole body. Vacation is seeing the field at MBNA Stadium for the first time after climbing breathlessly for 800 feet into the thin air.

Contemplating Frankenbong ™. That's vacation.

And June is vacation from solid football takes.

I salute you for your disturbingly hungry football obsession and seeking out worthy scribes, Mr. Bites, even as you are harvesting strawberries in March. My own personal vote will be reserved for anyone with a "Heather Kozar reunited with Timmuh will lead to a Super Bowl MVP award" take.

The best thing I can say about June football commentary is this, Mr. Bites: they beat July takes that try to divine the season from mind numbing and meaningless training camp minutia.

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