Obviously, today was a miss.
Chalk it up to the company I kept. For instance, I planned my morning around the fact that I wanted to tune into the day-after press conference starring Andy Reid hoping to face a veritable barrage of clichés, doublespeak and non-answer answers. You know, the same reason everyone tunes into those press conferences.
However, this afternoon when Reid faced the music after the ugly, 34-14 defeat in the first round of the playoffs to the Dallas Cowboys, the session was even more flummoxing than usual. In fact, I counted just two instances where Reid claimed that he needed to “do a better job,” and three variations of the phrase “myself” when owning up to the responsibility of Saturday night’s debacle before I quit counting. Those are rather paltry numbers for a man who loves a cliché as much as he loves oxygen, black clothing and pedestrian offensive schemes.
What happened was there was a departure from his regular tact of cliché use and taking the long way around to answer a direct question. Instead, on Monday after noon Reid simply decided he wasn’t going to say anything at all. Nothing revealing, interesting or even the least bit contemplative.
He just said nothing.
Oh there were actual words dropping from Reid’s mouth, but if one gathered them all up from the stew they formed there at the podium and rearranged them, there might have been a whole paragraph. It might have been coherent, too.
No one expected Reid to say much when asked about the future of his quarterback and running back and why his team looked so ill-prepared for a playoff game. But even for a man of Reid’s ability to say nothing, Monday’s performance was particularly exquisite. Every once in a while he taunted the reporters with something that seemed like it was going somewhere, like when he said he had, “three stinking good quarterbacks that could play in this league. … I don’t want to give up any of them. I like them all. The more you have, the better you are.” But then he wouldn’t say which stinking guy he liked best.
If that wasn’t enough, Mark McGwire came on the TV with Bob Costas for his first interview since, well… since he was knocking satellites out of the sky with mammoth home runs on an episode of The Simpsons. But where Reid said nothing, McGwire said a lot. He even got a little weepy when telling Costas about all the people he disappointed either by doing steroids during his playing career, or copping to it on Monday. I’m not sure which.
Where McGwire got off track wasn’t by speaking in circles, because by all intents McGwire appeared to be speaking earnestly. No, McGwire’s problem was that he was just wrong. He was wrong about why he did steroids, why he continued doing them, what they actually did to help him knock satellites to the earth with home runs that went to outer space, and why he was admitting it now.
Either McGwire didn’t understand what he was talking about or he thinks people are stupid… and that’s just mean. But hey, thanks for crying.
“I did this for health purposes. There’s no way I did this for any type of strength purposes,” he said, noting that he was ready to retire when injuries limited him to just 74 total games in 1993 and 1994.
Yet when he was healthy, he kept on taking it and even dabbled with HGH, “once or twice.”
No, he could not pinpoint the number of times he injected a needle full of human growth hormone into the folds of his stomach.
Still, the part that makes one arch the eyebrows, scratch the head and/or chuck a shoe at the television set was when McGwire claimed that steroids did not help him when he played. They helped his health, sure, but not his performance.
So why was he crying again?
“I truly believe I was given the gifts from the man upstairs of being a home run hitter, ever since … birth,” McGwire said. “My first hit as a Little Leaguer was a home run. I mean, they still talk about the home runs I hit in high school, in Legion ball. I led the nation in home runs in college, and then all the way up to my rookie year, 49 home runs.
The strangest part, of course, was when McGwire kept saying that he wished that he never played in the so-called “steroid era” of baseball.
“I wish I had never touched steroids,” he said. “It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”
Oh, so that’s it… it was the era. And here we were thinking a guy just made a bad choice and he was on national cable television confessing to Bob Costas. But now that we know it was just the era we can keep our eyes open. For instance, if it was Dec. 31, 1889 people knew that the “Gay Nineties” were about to begin and they could act accordingly. One hundred years later, Mark McGwire realized that the “Steroid Era” was in bloom and got to work.
You should have seen how greedy he was in the 1980s and how he could strut like John Travolta in the ’70s.
So that leads us to the main point—is it better to be terse and unrevealing like Reid or a veritable chatter box and wrong like McGwire. Easy call if you ask me.