Yesterday, Goose Gossage napalmed everything with his opinions on topics ranging from nerds ruining baseball to Jose Bautista. He is the most extreme example, but one of the things you can set your clock to is that ex-athletes will decry the current generation.
Back in December, Charles Barkley talked about how the 1996 Bulls would kill “this little [Warriors] team.” (average size of starters: Bulls 6’7″, 196 lbs.; Warriors 6’7″, 219 lbs.)
Danny Kanell just tweeted this about the youth of this country today.
You don’t have to go far or wait long for examples. But it’s been going on forever. Did you know, for example, that there were people who were decrying those 1996 Bulls and saying they couldn’t beat the 1986 Celtics, the 1972 Lakers, or the 1967 76ers?
If you go back far enough in time, and if we had enough documented records, you would probably find that according to ex-athletes, those that followed were worse, going back to the original Olympic games.
Here, for example, is a true tour de force on the level of Goose Gossage ranting.
A December 5, 1954 piece in the Milwaukee Sentinel was entitled “Pro Football is Just a Circus.” It occupied an entire page of the paper, and featured comments by Ken Strong, a Hall of Fame running back. (Strong, as it notes, was Grantland Rice’s favorite back).
It starts with the caption “Are easy-scoring plays by specialist ‘trained seals’ making a boring mockery of the game?”, letting you know that what is to come will be full of hot takes.
Let’s review just some of the beautiful things that followed:
Of the way the football games have changed, Strong has some strong thoughts on passing.
"“The pass plays ate up nearly 80 per cent of the game. If that was football, I’ll eat my old N.Y.U. helmet. It looked more like basketball to me.”"
A review of the boxscore of the 30-7 Eagles-Giants game that Strong is referenced shows that there were 75 passes combined, and 53 rush attempts, for 58.6% of the plays being via the pass. But facts have never gotten in the way of a good ex-athlete rant.
Of George Marshall and other owners who pushed for more offense (and did away with two-way football):
"“They don’t seem to mind that they’ve turned a grand old game into a circus, complete with limited-duty semi players, specialists who perform like trained seals at the crack of the ringmaster’s whip and then vanish from the arena as quickly as they came on.”"
And then, of course, we have to hear about how they can still do it.
"“I am 48 years old, but with this kind of football, I could be a place-kick specialist on any top pro team and score nearly 100 points a season, working only 30 seconds at a clip.”"
But this, this here, is the true pinnacle of old man rant.
"“I’ve watched all the top quarterbacks in the pro league and I can’t recall ever seeing one in a dirty uniform–unless he had poor laundry service to begin with. Theres’ a reason for that too. The use of specialists leads to older players, and older players have lost their drive and “rah-rah” spirit. They’re more mature, more cautious about injury. They’re family men with business interests outside of football."
"They’re not going to risk their necks to barrel head-on and dump a passer on the seat of his pants (on defense) or fight too hard to keep the tacklers off (on offense)."
No good rant is complete without trying to compliment a few players, while still throwing shade on them.
"There are still some good runners left in today’s game–such as San Francisco’s Hugh McElhenny–but they look even better than they are because no one chases them very hard once they break into the open."
Old men yelling at clouds was not invented by the Simpsons. It’s been around since the cloud and old ex-athletes were invented. The best thing to do is just give them a pat on the back, nod, and then move on.