Monday, January 4, 2010

Son of What's In a Namath?

Watching NFL football, as I do entirely too much, I often wish that every stadium employed a few snipers to pick off players who, after doing something notable, reflexively point up at the sky as though to cede some of the credit for their touchdown, interception, or fumble recovery to God. I believe that everyone is indeed entitled to his or her own spiritual beliefs — except childishly literal ones, such as that God is watching a meaningless game between two teams that won’t make the playoffs, and guiding the ball for the greater glory of True Believers.

I might be willing to make an exception for players with wonderfully wacky given names, my own favorite this week being D’Brickashaw (Ferguson, Jets offensive right tackle), with Plaxico (as in Burress, the currently incarcerated New York Giants wide receiver) residing perpetually in my personal Hall of Fame.

I’m amused by how many NFL stars’ invented names — LaDainian Tomlinson’s and Lavernues (don’t try to pronounce it!) Coles’, for instance — begin with what in Spanish, Italian, and French is the feminine definite article. Hats off to LeBron James’ mother — only 16 at the time! — for getting it right.

Before my daughter’s birth, when her mother and I thought she would be our son, I wanted to name him Nimrod, after the mighty Mesopotamian ruler credited with having built the Tower of Babel, and mentioned in a Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band song I liked. Leslie argued that to do so would be to condemn him to relentless persecution on the playgrounds of his childhood. I didn’t believe that then, and I don’t believe it now. My guess is that D’Brickashaw Ferguson wouldn’t have been taunted much even if his name had been Lace Petticoat, whereas those who wished to torment me simply ignored my very commonplace given name and reworked my surname in an endless variety of wryly cruel ways. It’s not a child’s ordinary name that precludes his persecution, but his size and temperament.

Having come to understand that one of the NFL's most unusually named white stars, Peyton Manning, habitually contributes to the campaigns of Republicans, including George W. Bush, I think I will root henceforth for whomever the Colts happen to be playing against on any given week. For all I know, though, the opposing coach or quarterback or offensive coordinator might have a Palin in 2012 sticker on the bumper of his Hummer or Escalade. If a team were really interested in my support, it would arrange for a couple of key players reveal themselves to be gay or bisexual, and for none of their teammates to express distaste, in the manner of Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas’s fellow Cardiff Blues. But my guess is that anybody who thinks The Lord helped him recover a fumble is going to take Leviticus 18:22 pretty seriously.

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1 comment:

  1. Finally, something seriously wrong with Peyton Manning. I knew he was too good to be true! LaDeborah