Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Travesty of Apostrophic Proportions

His name was J'Nathan Bullock.
His name was J'Nathan Bullock.

It seemed simple. Buried in the Transactions section of your local sports section on Monday, below the Favre news, the box scores, the day's Yonkers Raceway post times and some NCAA Football previews, was this brief news item:

TE J'Nathan Bullock was cut by the New York Jets on Sunday.

It is, after all, that time of the year. Each NFL team's Turks march through the training camp facilities to play Grim Reaper and cut short a dream for a prospect. "Coach wants to see you. Bring your playbook."

But this news is not all that it seems. Bullock's cut was not due to his inexperience, even though the four-year starter for Cleveland State's basketball team never played a game of college football. It wasn't due to the team's depth at the tight end position. And it wasn't due to his poor hands during drills at camp, even though he dropped every pass that wasn't chucked right into his bread-basket.

Sadly, this transaction was due to the most sinister of sectarian biases still lurking in the NFL. It's a practice not formally acknowledged, that resides in the shadows of ignorant men's minds. We are not talking about racism, anti-semitism, homosexuality or NFL rookie hazing. We are speaking about Anti-Apostrophe Bias.

As the 21st century evolves, progressive pundits in the media like to talk about the seemingly well-intentioned Rooney Rule, created by Dan Rooney, former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, to promote minority hiring in the NFL. But what they don't mention was that Rooney, a long-time Freemason, was a noted hater of apostrophied first names. Pittsburgh's recent hiring of Mike Tomlin as head coach was merely an effort by the Rooney family to cloud that hatred under a thin veil of racial equality. But the intrepid investigative reporting team here at G:TB feels it is time to lift this skirt up and take a look at what's festering underneath.

In the days since the Rooney family cast a pall over the NFL's hiring decisions, some fine men with apostrophes have blazed trails of perseverance, sacrificing themselves for the future well-being of similarly named souls. The genesis of this movement can be traced back to the Indianapolis Colts' controversial drafting of O'Brien Alston in 1988. Not surprisingly, we saw how things played out. After a couple promising seasons, Alston fell off the NFL landscape, hampered by bad knees. What few people know is that Alston's knees were damaged when he was bludgeoned by baseball bats swung by teammates, including this noted Anti-Apostrophist, in a heinous Co'de Red assault during the 1990 training camp.

In subsequent years, brave souls such as Le'Shai Maston, Tre' Johnson, D'Marco Farr and 'Omar Ellison carried Alston's torch with mixed results. And the next generation continues that march. Men like Dre' Bly, Na'il Diggs, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Donte' Stallworth show that those with apostrophes in their first name are neither feeble nor dangerous behind the wheel (except, well, Donte'), and can be productive members of the NFL society.

But the decision to cut Bullock smacks of a clear line in the sand to the current NFL players trying to brave the animosity and eke out a living. The Order of the Apostrophe ("OFTA"), an apostophe advocacy group created by D'Qwell Jackson, Tre' Stallings and J'Vonne Parker, was taken aback by the transaction.

"We thought we had come a long way, especially after the Giants' signing of Sha'reff Rashad, but to see this happen in a large, liberal city like New York reminds us that we have a lot of work to do to educate the masses," says the Redskins' D'Anthony Batiste, OFTA's Vice Chairman for Community Awareness.

Making the situation worse, anti-apostrophe bias seems to be proliferating. Just last week, the Bears' Will Ta'ufo'ou was granted provisional membership in OFTA after receiving death threats in the mail.

"The letters come from all over. People want me dead. Or they just want to ridicule me. Just last week, a man from Sheboygan wrote a letter to me and called me and my family a bunch of dumb dildos because we have two consonants, two apostrophes and five vowels in my last name. My kids shouldn't have to read things like that. They didn't ask for this," says Ta'ufo'ou.

So the uphill climb continues for the unfairly maligned gridiron warriors. Solid citizens like Seattle's Na'Shan Goddard, Denver's Andre' Goodman and Pittsburgh's Ra'Shon Harris will have to continue living in the shadows, watching over their shoulders, hoping the axe won't unfairly fall on their careers, thanks to the hatred fomented by Rooney, his beloved Freemasons or known apostrophe hater Jimmy Johnson. Role players like Sen'Derrick Marks at Tennessee, Le'Ron McClain of Baltimore and the Saints' D'Juan Woods will continue to see their playing time minimized in an effort to suppress their salaries.

As noted Apostrophic Equality crusader Jerry Glanville once said, the NFL stands for Not For Long. Not for long indeed when you have an apostrophe in your name.


His name was J'Nathan Bullock.

51 comments:

TJ said...

D'Tee'Jay approves of this message.

Whitney said...

Did Ken O'Brien cause this problem?

Also, Jeff George: worst pro QB 'stache ever?

rob said...

look at whitney just mocking tr with that stray apostrophe. uncool, man. uncool.

Whitney said...

Hey! TR is a defender of the apostrophe, not an exterminator of it. He loves the 'stroph! He has a 'stroph trough on his desk and he'll pull one out here and there and throw them around freely, celebrating their presence.

I'm more controlled with my apostrophes. Used properly, they can create a highly fulfilling punctuational experience. But like firearms or controlled substances, some people aren't blessed with the discretion needed to use them, and that's when it can get ugly.

zoltan said...

Is the apostrophe in Donte' Stallworth's first name an apostrophe or an accent aigu? I always thought it was the latter, but it appears as an apostrophe because the knuckleheads who enter players' names into ESPN's database are too stupid (or too lazy) to bother tracking down the proper ASCII codes for foreign language letters.

The name "J'Nathan" makes no sense. At least "La'Conic" has a little flow to it. Like rob's suit.

rob said...

r'diculous.

rob said...

zoltan bringing it all together. like my tie.

TJ said...

Who do these people think they are? Amateurs I say...
http://tinyurl.com/kl8tbq

Mark said...

As apostrophied named go, Sen'Derrick is still amongst my favorite of all time.

Whitney said...

TR's favorite band: Drivin' N' Cryin'

His favorite song: Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love

TJ said...

Plax going to jail for two years...

zoltan said...

Killing a man while driving drunk and high = 28 days.

Killing dogs and operating a gambling racket = 19 months.

Shooting yourself in the leg with an unlicensed firearm = 2 years.

Can we get a lawyer to explain this?

rob said...

that's a little bit stunning. career over?

Whitney said...

Goes to show you that it's less about what you do and more about where you do it. In Missouri and Florida, apparently it's not that big a deal to drive drunk and kill somebody (so long as you have a bit of money). In New York, though, you definitely don't go carrying an illegal gun into a club. Know the rules, people.

TR said...

I can't defend Donte''s actions (despite the ' in his name), but there are some unique aspects of his accident. From what I read, the guy he killed was jay-walking/ jay-sprinting across a multi-laned highway at 5:30 AM. Stallworth (or another driver) might have hit him if he was sober.

Of course, there's no such thing as a drunk driver being in the clear after an accident, but there were unique circumstances around this case that led the victim's family to settle.

Whitney said...

On one hand, I agree with TR that nothing is ever that cut and dried, and I should probably ease up on my judgmental stance.

On the other, any player earning over a million dollars a year who doesn't hire a driver when he goes out drinking should be flogged. This should be in the guidebook they hand to every new NFL/NBA/etc player.

TR said...

If I was Donte' Stallworth, or any other single professional athlete with $190 MM + guaranteed, I would have a stretch Hummer loaded with booze, drugs and skanks on call at all times.

So shame on Donte' for driving. And shame on Matt Jones. He should be cutting his lines on a stripper's breast in the back of a tinted limo, not in the passenger seat of a Jeep Cherokee.

TR said...

By "190" I mean "10". At the 190 MM level, we're pretty much down to A-Rod and Tiger. Who, by the way, both should be following my suggestion.

zoltan said...

Burress is 32, so yeah, I'm guessing his career is over. Unless he can get back into premiere shape at age 34 after two years in the slammer.

zoltan said...

Some 18-year-old girl just set a world record in the 800 meter sprint. Now there's "speculation" about her gender and she has to undergo gender testing to prove she's a woman. This has to be a mortifying experience for an 18-year-old girl.

http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/trackandfield/news/story?id=4411235

Geoff said...

In 1995, one of the best high school basketball players we went up against was named "Jer'Navis Draughn." At the time, I declared it to be the toughest name I had ever heard. I also wore a blue blazer to school every day and spent the previous fall volunteering for the Oliver North for Senate campaign...so...

rob said...

you went to public high school, no?

Geoff said...

Public school? Yes, all the way through the 4th grade. Then private. One can only be expected to tolerate the unwashed for so long.

rob said...

ah, i see. was really hoping you wore the blazer to public school. like a real-world alex p. keaton.

Whitney said...

We didn't have to wear blazers every day like DC Geofferson and some of these other pompous, pretty-boy snooty-patooty prep schools. We just had to wear an Oxford shirt and a necktie every day. And a blazer on any number of special occasions. Oh, but in the winter months, we could swap out that ensemble for a turtleneck and sweater.

Friggin nancy-boys and their blazers. Heh.

Geoff said...

We could also do turtlenecks in the winter. Slats was famous for flaunting this rule, wearing a homemade turtleneck dickey underneath a sweatshirt.

Geoff said...

We'll be back with more Prep School Fashion Weekly after this message from Massengill.

mayhugh said...

I'm late to the party ,but the punishments for the different crimes can be explained, though perhaps not entirely defended. It's a matter of how the law is written, which, as Whitney alluded to, is very much dependent on which state adopted the law.

TR is correct in pointing out that there were mitigating circumstances in Stallworth's case. Under the applicable law (apparently), mitigating circumstances such as the victims' conduct and what I'll refer to as the family's prosecution tenacity (or lack thereof) were (and could be) considered in sentencing.

From what I know of the NY gun law, it is a strict liability offense with a mandatory sentence. That means two things. One: if you do the crime, there are no mitigating circumstances. Whether the gun was registered in another state or was carried without the carrier's knowledge are irrelevant. Another example would be carrying a firearm into an airport, as Barry Switzer did several years ago. Intention and/or other circumstances are not considered - the act of carrying the gun into the airport a;pme is sufficient to deem it a violation of law, and thus a commission of the crime. Two: the judge has no discretion to issue a lighter sentence unless, as in this case, a plea is reached avoiding the need for trial. In this case, given the pressure from the State's leadership and the way the law is written, the judge probably had some constraints on lowering the sentence as well.

Mark said...

I, on the other hand, was allowed to wear hats to school. I'd say I did so on all but about 3 days of my high school career. I also wore flip flops just about every day as well.

As for "unique" names I faced in high school basketball competition, these spring immediately to mind:

Levoris, Travese, Romero, Shelvick, Kenya and Greg's good buddy, JW LaChapelle.

rob said...

finally broke the old pair of glasses i used to play hoops and softball. just bought a new pair of rec specs. the styling has come a looong way from the eric dickerson version i had in college.

zoltan said...

I bet rob looks like a bizarro Kareem in his rec specs.

rob said...

the new rec specs are quite sporty. i used to have a pair of kurt rambis specs when i was a kid. those were awesome.

zoltan said...

Kurt Rambises (Rambi?) are still awesome.

I'm out of town but if I were to peruse my high school yearbook I could dig up some awesome names. Like Batron, Purnell, Santoni, Rashon, and Muzeki.

TJ said...

Richard Dick went to Shaker High School.

Richard. Dick.

Worst. Parents. Ever.

Lumpy said...

In the prep school dresscode does a mock turtleneck qualify as a collared shirt?

Mark said...

I have a friend that went to Oral Roberts (you would never, ever guess this if you met him) and they had to wear ties on campus. So, he would put a tie and collared shirt on...and then he'd put a sweatshirt or t-shirt or whatever on over it. Seems like an awful lot of effort to me but, then again, I wore boardshorts to class at UF quite often.

And, the mental picture I have of Rob in Rec Specs is amazing. It's getting harder and harder to stifle my office laughter.

Whitney said...

Highly debatable (and if memory serves, the prep school debate teams focused on matter like this very one), but I think it does.

Dennis said...

Ollie North's daughter went to my high school for her senior year. I believe it was part of his relocation plan following the Iran-Contra debacle. Lord knows the spotlights don't shine out there in western Loudoun County. Just ask the cows. The point here is, she was taaaasty.

rob said...

my neighbor ran into ollie last week at the milwaukee frozen custard in town. it too was tasty. i suspect we're talking about a different use of the term, though.

Dave said...

i vote we move the obft to the indiana state fair. awesome pics, tj.

Mark said...

Whatever happened to Florida-Georgia? If it falls thru, well, I'll blame Rob.

TJ said...

So Memphis has been to the Final Four twice, but has had to vacate both appearances?

Impressive.

rob said...

likewise for coach cal - 2 for 2.

TJ said...

Eddie "FedEx Kinkos" Sutton even thinks Kentucky made a shady hire.

Whitney said...

As an aside . . .

Aidells chicken & apple sausage is something I didn't think I'd care for when it was first described to me. As it turns out, it's one of the tastiest grill items of my past two summers. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Getcha self some.

Whitney said...

TJ, two things:

1. My favorite picture of you from the fair is the one of the little cowboy on the horse. Always gets a chuckle.

2. We have a new contender in the battle for our "last place in major league baseball" bet. The Baltimore Orioles. The franchise who brought you a 4-32 season finish some years back is ripe for just such a run.

TJ said...

Did I actually see Billy Wagner on the mound last night for the Mets?

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