Jeff Pearlman

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When I’m a Dick

Approximately twice a year, I come off as a real dick in my writing—then only realize it later on.

Part of this is poor judgement, part of this is not particularly caring what people think, part of this is trying to walk the edge—writing with force, but not going out of my way to harm/insult for the pure intent of harming/insulting.

A couple of weeks ago, I failed miserably.

An editor at CNN.com called, asking if I have any ideas for a Super Bowl-related column. I wasn’t attending the game; actually, I’ve never attended the game. So it would have to be from the angle of a fan, or at-home viewer. “Well, I hate Super Bowl parties,” I said. “How about that?”

A column idea was born.

A column was written.

I (sigh) fucked up.

The piece, I hate, hate Super Bowl Parties, was supposed to be lighthearted and goofy. I mean, it’s not exactly Iraq or gay rights. It’s Super Bowl parties. Which, really, I do hate. But not because of any specific people, or houses. I hate them, mainly, because I love watching the game, and only the game. I don’t care about the commercials; about a running commentary on the action; about pools. I just don’t. I like being solo, with chips and pop.

Alas, the column read as if it were written by an angry asshole. Which, quite frankly, I often am. In particular, I’d like this one back:

1. The Knows-Everything-That’s-About-to-Happen Dolt: Four years ago, while watching the Cardinals and Steelers play one of the great Super Bowls in NFL history, I had the misfortune of being in the same room as Myles. I’d once played flag football with Myles and was, well, unimpressed. A short, stout man in his early 40s, he boasted hands of stone and speed of mud but talked as if he were Randy Moss. When I first spotted him at the Super Bowl party I thought, “Uh, this can’t be good.”

It wasn’t. Myles predicted every play five seconds before the snap — and was right approximately .00872% of the time. “Oh, they’re gonna run James up the middle here” — pass. “Big Ben needs to throw a long one” — screen. Myles didn’t just prognosticate. He did so in a r-e-a-l-l-y loud voice. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to dress Myles in a Cowboys jersey and banish him to a bar in Philadelphia. Instead, I sat there, listening as this fool behaved like John Madden on whippets.

There is a Myles. He’s a nice guy; not someone I know too well, but someone I like. When I wrote the above passage, it sounded funny and innocent in my head. I mean, I absolutely suck at flag football; I’m loud and opinionated—blah, blah, blah. But, as it turns out, Myles was insulted. And, re-reading, I understand why. It didn’t come out right. Or even close to right. Now I feel like shit. As I should.

Thing is, this sorta crap has happened to me before. The wife always warns me about it, but I pay no mind. I famously wrote a 2000 SI lede that caused David Wells to want to kill me—and he would have been well within his rights. Same thing—not having the best control of my words; being too flip.

Anyhow, I sent Myles an apology, but it’s probably not enough.

Oy.

  • poeboy

    There is a “Myles” at every Super Bowl party.. I really don’t care unless I have a “horse in the race”. Being a Ravens fan (season tix since ’96), I could not watch with a group of “Myles”.. I know where you are coming from..

  • George

    Hey Myles, GET OVER IT!!!!

  • Bobby Fetter

    You make a good point in the article and it’s funny, but I can’t believe you used his real name. He has every right to be offended because instead of an anecdote that every football fan can relate to, you made it personal by using his real name. You should have just referred to him as “Dick” or “Dolt” unless, you have been to superbowl parties with people actually named Dick or Dolt. I would suggest in the future, just refer to your subject as “Jar Jar Binks.” Believe me, NOBODY will be offended.

    • Jeff Pearlman

      that wasn’t his real name, bobby.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life