Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rick Reilly on Andre Agassi's New Book 'Open'

from espn:
If image really is everything, why would Andre Agassi admit in his new book that he used crystal meth? Not once but dozens of times? And why would he admit he lied about it to the Association of Tennis Professionals?

Why would a son admit how much he feared his Iranian father -- feared him and hated him since the age of 7? And why -- why! -- would a man admit he wore perhaps the world's only Mohawk toupee?

Why? Because this isn't just any book.

This is Agassi's mea culpa -- "Open" (from Knopf, written with Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer) -- and from the beginning, he and Moehringer set out to write the most revealing, literate and toes-stompingly honest sports autobiography in history. From the parts I've been allowed to read, they might have done it.

"I just tell people, this book is honest," says Agassi, who worked with Moehringer for a full year, meeting nearly daily at the Las Vegas house Agassi once lived in with Brooke Shields. "It lives up to the title. It's my life, for better or worse. Get ready, buckle up, and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times."

"Open" is the story of a flawed man who sees everybody's imperfections, but none more than his own. It's the tale of a man who knows how low he sunk if only because of the grand view he has now.

Agassi's early life was not his, never his, not from the beginning, not from the time his Olympic boxer father built a backyard prison especially for him, a tennis court he was figuratively chained to day after day, while his father's homemade ball machine -- the dragon, Agassi called it -- ceaselessly spit out balls faster, harder, forever.

Agassi bucked against tennis like a horse with a two-sizes-too-small bit. But he could not escape it. And so his life became a kind of lie, from his shoelace groundstrokes to his Mohawk, a hairpiece that once came apart in the shower before the French Open. The day was saved by bobby pins.

Your own life is hard enough. Living somebody else's life for them weighs on a man like a stone backpack. By 1997 -- even after winning an Olympic gold medal in 1996 -- Agassi was down, depressed and stuck playing a game he didn't love. He was physically wrecked (wrist) and emotionally spent. He was with the wrong woman -- Shields -- and knew it.

He'd sunk to No. 141 in the world. He recalls that he was sitting at home when his assistant, Slim, introduced him to one of the most addictive substances known to man:

Slim says, You want to get high with me?
On what?


What the hell's gack?

Crystal meth.

Why do they call it gack?

Because that's the sound you make when you're high. Make you feel like Superman, dude.

As if they're coming out of someone else's mouth, I hear these words: You know what? F*** it. Yeah. Let's get high.

Agassi pulled himself out of the French Open that year and hardly practiced for Wimbledon. That fall, it got worse. The ATP informed him at the end of 1997 that he'd flunked a drug test. He would likely be looking at a three-month suspension. He would probably lose all his endorsements and most of his fans.

What to do? Keep lying.

Agassi admits he wrote a letter to the ATP saying Slim accidentally "spiked" his drink, that it was not his fault. The ATP dropped the flunked test, with no discipline for Agassi. He admits in the book he felt "ashamed."

It was the lowest point in a life that would suddenly begin to soar. You can condemn Agassi all you want for the crystal meth -- and he'd deserve it -- but remember, Agassi dropped the habit soon after. Then, in 1998, he made the biggest one-year jump into the Top 10 in the history of the ATP Rankings, going from his year-end 122 to No. 6. He'd win five of his eight major titles after finding the bottom.

They call Agassi the greatest returner in history. They aren't kidding.

We all know what became of the showy, glitzy kid with all that fake hair and real talent. He shaved his hair off. He started being real. He learned to love tennis, and tennis learned to love him. The kid who never got past the ninth grade in school wound up funding and running the prestigious Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas. The man who couldn't find the right woman finally married the one everybody wanted -- tennis goddess Steffi Graf. And the son who hated his father learned to love him and his own two kids.

Why is Agassi so scorchingly honest in these excerpts? Maybe because he once lived enough lies for five men. Or maybe because, as an educator, he's heard the truth can set him free.

But hopefully, by the time you close "Open," you'll know that this book is about more than the wrong turns he took. It's about how that broken road led him straight to the good man he is now.

Follow Up: Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chief, National Football League

Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, who used a homophobic epithet on two occasions in the wake of Sunday's 37-7 loss to the Chargers, has issued an apology.

"First of all, I want to apologize to the fans of the Kansas City Chiefs and the rest of the NFL, Commissioner Goodell, the Chiefs organization, Coach Todd Haley, his staff, and my teammates for the words I used yesterday," Johnson said in a statement issued by agent Peter Schaffer.  "I regret my actions. The words were used by me in frustration, and they were not appropriate. I did not intend to offend anyone, but that is no excuse for what I said. 

"I also want to apologize to all the kids who view athletes as role models. I was not a good role model yesterday and hopefully I can become a better role model.  We all make mistakes, and the challenge is to learn from them.  I will do my best to learn from this one as I move toward becoming a better person, teammate, and member of the Kansas City chiefs team and community."

Johnson used the term "fag" in direction of one on his Twitter followers, and then told reporters on Monday to "get your faggot asses out of here."  The league office has said that it is exploring the situation, and discipline could be imposed by the Chiefs, the NFL, or both.
[Editor's note:  We previously characterized the Chiefs' action against Johnson as a suspension.  We're told that it isn't, and that he agreed to stay home until the ongoing investigation regarding his comments is completed.  Though it's arguably a matter of semantics, neither the team nor the player view the action as a suspension.]

Well, the apology was apparently too little, and too late.

The Chiefs have announced that running back Larry Johnson has been sent home. 

"The Kansas City Chiefs and the National Football League are continuing to investigate the alleged comments made by Larry Johnson," the statement from the team says.  "Until that review is complete, the Chiefs have instructed Larry to refrain from practicing with the Chiefs or participating in other team activities.  A decision regarding Larry's status will be made once the investigation has concluded."

Johnson used the term "fag" in communicating with one of his Twitter followers, and Johnson said to reporters Monday, "Get your faggot asses out of here."

But before the Chiefs or the league decide to take serious action against Johnson, both the team and the folks at 280 Park Avenue should consider that former Lions CEO Matt Millen twice called Johnnie Morton a "faggot" after a game in 2003 -- and that no action was taken against Millen, who like Johnson publicly apologized.

Then again, if coaches who break jaws (accidentally or otherwise) will be treated differently than players who punch other players, it should be no surprise that Millen got a pass, and that Johnson might find himself losing a game check or two.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two from Andre Williams

Bacon Fat

Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chief, National Football League

from profootballtalk:
From our friends at KCSP in Kansas City comes the latest development in the sudden eruption of Mt. L.J.

When reporters entered the locker room on Monday, Johnson said, "I'm not talking [until] Thursday."

And then Johnson uttered a sentence that surely will catch the interest of the league office.

Per KCSP, Johnson said partially under his breath, "Get your faggot asses out of here."

Um. Oops.

We're told that audio of the encounter is coming. So stay tuned.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dalai Lama

They hide the essential from us.
We very easily get used to the mind's laziness, all the more easily because laziness hides beneath the appearance of activity: we run right and left, we make calculations and phone calls. But these activities engage only the most elementary and coarse levels of the mind.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Gator Bite

from espn:
BEAUFORT, S.C. -- Officials say an alligator bit off part of a golfer's arm as he leaned over to pick up his ball at a private South Carolina course.

The man, who is in his 70s, was retrieving his ball from a pond when the 10-foot alligator bit him at Ocean Creek Golf Course in Beaufort County. The gator pulled the golfer into the pond and ripped off his arm in the struggle. His golf partners were able to free him.

Wildlife workers killed the alligator and retrieved the arm in the hopes it might be reattached.

The man has not been identified. He was being treated at the Medical University of South Carolina, but officials there would not release any information about him.

A call to the golf course was not immediately returned.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

They Chose Poorly

"Two yobs who attacked a pair of cross-dressers picked on the wrong guys - they were cage fighters on a night out in fancy dress." Story and great video here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009


The UFL's premiere season starts next week. And so the UFL teams have unveiled their final rosters.

Here are some of the guys with recognizable names.

For the California Redwoods: running back Obafemi Ayanbadejo, quarterback Mike McMahon, receiver B.J. Sams, receiver Bobby Sippio, linebacker Dontarrious Thomas, and running back John David Washington.

For the Florida Tuskers: running back Tatum Bell, quarterback Brooks Bollinger, cornerback Fakhir Brown, defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, receiver Doug Gabriel, defensive back (and former Super Bowl MVP) Dexter Jackson, running back Michael Pittman, punter Todd Sauerbrun, defensive lineman Darrion Scott, guard Charles Spencer, linebacker Odell Thurman, tight end Jermaine Wiggins, running back Quincy Wilson, and defensive tackle Claude Wroten.

For the Las Vegas Locos: defensive tackle Wendell Bryant, running back De De Dorsey, receiver David Kircus, quarterback J.P. Losman, quarterback Tim Rattay, running back Marcel Shipp, and linebacker Gary Stills.

For the New York Sentinels: cornerback Tra Battle, quarterback Quinn Gray, quarterback Ingle Martin, defensive end Simeon Rice, receiver Koren Robinson, and receiver Craphonso Thorpe.

The games start on October 8


Though apologetic, Kanye West doesn't seem to have learned from his MTV Video Music Awards blunder.

The Chicago rapper/producer performed at the "Common & Friends Benefit Concert," a charity event that featured performances by Nas, De La Soul, Queen Latifah and more, this past weekend, and apparently threw a fit backstage when he saw someone eating chicken, because he hadn't been offered any.

"Why wasn't I offered chicken?" Kanye complained, according to several sources. "You want me to perform for free, [and] everyone is eating... why am I not eating?"

When a waitress appeared to take assuage, the talented tantrum baby, explaining that he hadn't asked for any food, Kanye replied angrily, "Well, I'm asking now!"

When he received the chicken he requested, he allegedly took one bite, then threw the rest out, as his girl Amber Rose stood silently at his side, and the rest of the artists backstage looked on "in awe."

We really want to stop giving the guy a hard time cause it seems a bit unfair at this point, but if this report is accurate, Kanye really needs to calm down.