Friday, September 08, 2006

Joey, baby - dont get crazy

Nah, just fucking with you, I never really got the appeal of Concrete Blonde. Johnette Napolitano is just a bit too goth chick scary for my taste, and Concrete Blonde seems like just another of those "too wussy for metal, too obnoxiously aggressive for college rock" bands that was so popular in the early 90's, like Faith No More.

But I don't want to talk about Johnette and her junkie boyfriend. I want to talk about a much more interesting Joey: Joey Porter, linebacker, Steelers. Joey always reminds me of that line by Principal Skinner that he used when he first began his attempt to boink Edna K, "I've always admired your tart honesty and your ability to be personally offended by broad social trends." Joey's always pissed off at something, whether it's the softness of the Colts, Jerramy Stevens actually suggesting that his team was capable of winning the Super Bowl or even, occasionally, our Supreme Overlord and Protector. Joey loves to be pissed off. Of course, the man was once shot in the ass, so who the hell am I to quibble with his approach towards life? Taking a bullet in the heinie is guaranteed to make you a bit high-strung.

You've probably seen the picture of Joey planting one on coach Bill Cowher's cheek (Fucking Deadspin, stealing my bit). Or maybe you haven't. Joey's like most high-strung people - when he hates you, he HATES you. And when he loves you, he wants to fuck you. Sweetly and tenderly, like you deserve, but make no mistake, Joey is going to make you scream when you come.

Everyone thinks that Joey's kiss is hilariously homoerotic. And I do as well. But you and I and everyone else knows that every single play in every single football game since the beginning of time is equally, if not more, homoerotic than that. Football is a nonstop succession of dudes touching other dudes. Sometimes it's blatant, like when someone congratulates a teammate by smacking him on his ass. And sometimes it's subtle, like when a guy gets down in a pancake block and the two of them end up on top of each other, sweaty bodies writhing against one another in a dance of aggression and ecstasy. Or when someone's at the bottom of a fumble scrum, and he reaches out and grab some dude's johnson just to see if it's bigger than his (it is). The truth is that football is, to paraphrase Leon the orange julius guy, "for gays".

So what happens when one of Joey's teammates, or leaguemates, comes out and says that he actually likes touching dudes and, what's more, chooses to touch them even when he's NOT playing football? And that he's not going to stop playing football despite all this dude touching? Everyone knows that the numbers aren't on Joey's side - even if the low-end estimates are true and only about 1% of American males over age 18 are gay, that makes about 17 gay men playing in the NFL right now. Well I don't know how Joey will feel, but I know how Todd Jones, Garrison Hearst and Jeremy Shockey (among others) feel about it. Not sunshine and roses, that's for sure, and not just because that's the sort of thing that Christopher Lowell might say. See, I pick on Joey because he's outspoken, but I would guess that most football players have the same sort of high-strung personality that he does, because how else could you get angry enough to hit people every week who have never done anything to you? And high-strung guys are the least likely to accept a change as (cosmetically) monumental as having an out teammate.

This is the last frontier in team sports. There are some out athletes among the individual sports - female tennis, specifically, has had more lesbians than "Where The Boys Aren't". But a major team sport athlete has yet to come out while still playing, so any idea about how he'll be received is pure speculation. In society at large, the idea of coming out has lost some of the stigma that was once attached to it - witness Baseball Prospectus's Chris Kahrl's recent admission that she is now living as a transgendered woman: "her heart’s been warmed by the utter nonreaction she’s gotten from baseball and baseball-journalism folks since converting to womanhood". But Chris doesn't have to suit up next to high-strung crazies like Joey, guys who maybe are threatened to be reminded just how gay their job is. It's going to take a superstar coming out to break the stigma of being gay and a pro athlete in a team sport, because only someone who is fully established and respected will be able to weather the criticism and, more importantly, the snide comments spoken on the field that don't appear in the paper. But it's the 21st century, and it's about damn time - we have yet to have a non-white or female president in this country, we could at least have a gay superstar athlete to show the world we're not as backwards as they think we are.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great piece.


Fri Sep 08, 05:15:00 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home