It’s been a little over seven months since Super Bowl XLIX. America’s most watched sport has been on hiatus and, as always, the offseason has been filled with some of the juiciest sports stories of the year, centered around a variety of players. What were these guys thinking? Did they forget that their actions are microanalyzed, maybe more than actors, actresses and musicians? Or maybe they wanted the spotlight.
Let’s go over how this works. “Cool or Drool” is a column I traditionally write with fellow junior Henry Weissberg. While he studies abroad in Chile spending an insurmountable amount of time studying statistics for fantasy football, I will continue “Cool or Drool” this semester. In a nutshell, this column analyzes the most interesting off-field antics in national sports. After ruminating on all of my biased opinions, I ultimately rank them cool or drool. I hope that it is every sports star’s dream to be cool in the eyes of the Review, so without further ado, let’s get to it!
Our third most exciting offseason news story broke just before the Oberlin academic year began. New York Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith was expected to fly out to a football camp run by fellow Jets linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali. Enemkpali bought Smith a $600 plane ticket, for which he expected to be reimbursed. But Enemkpali had another thing coming: Smith didn’t show up, and all the hype around Enemkpali’s camp disappeared.
Enemkpali had no options left; he had to confront Smith. He approached Smith in the locker room the only way he knew how: by sucker punching Smith in the jaw after he refused to pay him back. Can you blame him? Smith makes over a million dollars a year but he wouldn’t pay back a $600 plane ticket. Unfortunately, we can blame him. Enemkpali is a pretty big dude. In fact, he weighs about 250 pounds and broke Smith’s jaw in two places. Now the starting quarterback for the Jets is recovering from jaw surgery, set to miss six to ten weeks of the season, and the Jets will start the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. At least Fitzpatrick is probably happy. While Enemkpali was released from the team and Smith decided to drop charges, this kind of adolescent tussle has no place in the NFL. Way to go Enemkpali, you earned yourself a drool at the Review.
The NFL offseason was filled with an exorbitant amount of drool in the face of Deflategate, the latest New England Patriots scandal surrounding accusations that the Patriots team was involved in deflating their footballs below NFL regulations for the 2014 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. More times than I can count, Patriots fans have defended their beloved quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick against serious and, in some cases, substantiated allegations of cheating.
While Brady’s four-game suspension was recently overturned at his appeal, he may never live down the suspicion of his involvement. After all, did the Patriots really need to deflate their footballs in a game that they won 45–7? Do NFL wideouts really need an underinflated football to perform better? I thought this was what they did for a living.
What solidified this story as a drool was the response of presidential candidate Donald Trump. He tweeted, “Congratulations to Tom Brady on yet another great victory — Tom is my friend and a total winner!” Wait, these guys are friends? As a follow up, Trump made a video in which he suggests that Tom Brady should sue the NFL for $250 million on the basis of defamation. Sorry Pats fans, number two on this list is a big drool, even if Brady was not involved.
Clocking in at number one is our second story from New York. But enough with the Jets — this is about New York Giants’ star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. You may recognize his name from the multiple Pro Bowls he has competed in or maybe just for his terrifying 6-foot-5-inch, 270-pound frame in concert with his terrifying facemask — not the standard in the NFL. Pierre-Paul made news this summer because of an accident on Independence Day. While many Americans were watching the fireworks exploding in the sky, Pierre-Paul was being rushed to the hospital after sustaining a hand injury on account of lighting a firework.
What was the outlook? Doctors told Pierre-Paul that he might be able to save the damaged finger through significant, time-consuming therapy. Instead, he chose to have doctors amputate his right index finger when it became clear that this brave decision would get him into NFL action faster. What a beast. Pierre-Paul now has nine fingers and a healing fractured thumb for the love of the game. What more could legendary Giants coach Tom Coughlin ask of his star defensive end? Sure, not blowing off your finger would be nice. But Pierre-Paul is ready to get back on the field ASAP. Recent reports have confirmed that he will not be competing in their week-one game versus the Dallas Cowboys, but let’s be honest, they didn’t stand a chance anyways.
Pierre-Paul’s story reminds me of when Baltimore Ravens’ star outside linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his ACL playing basketball and of when former Philadelphia 76ers’ center Andrew Bynum casually went bowling and subsequently missed the entire season due to a mysterious knee injury, although he still collected his $20 million from the sidelines. While it’s easy to criticize Pierre-Paul, seeing as he is a professional athlete and needs to stay healthy during non-football activities, his story reminds us that he is also human. He is entitled to enjoy his life, make mistakes and stage comebacks, even at the cost of his own bodily health. Plus, choosing to be amputated is a badass move, and one that we consider cool at the Review.