Tuesday, November 08, 2005

TMQ Stifled

I've been reading Gregg Easterbrook's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" column since the Slate days. I loyally followed him to a natural new home, ESPN's Page 2, and when he got unfairly dismissed by ESPN, I was among many who couldn't wait until TMQ landed somewhere. That somewhere, unfortunately, was NFL.com. Why "unfortuantely"? Well, for one thing, the column lost a lot of its pinache, what with the league website barely promoting the column anywhere on its pages and not even linking to a full archive. But more importantly, by moving to NFL.com Easterbrook lost something so crucial to his genuine likability as a genius-turned-football writer: free reign.

See, Gregg Easterbrook is a brilliant political writer. He's a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He writes for publications no football fan has ever heard of. Yet because he's an intelligent individual with a smart wit, as well as a big football fan, he succeeds in writing a fantastic football column every week. I like it when someone like him "lowers" himself to the die-hard sports world. TMQ is like George F. Will, only without the total nerdiness. Equal parts analysis and humor, research and snark, TMQ has always been a must-read for fans. Part of the fun is the varied spectrum of items covered in any given column. Nowhere else in the world will someone be able to intelligently and authoritatively comment on the space program and the weak-side blitz on the same page. And what other respected political journalist puts a "Cheerleader of the Week" in his columns? The point is that when you consider what TMQ is, it comes as no surprise that it also used to be the place to go for amusing commentary on NFL scandals and subplots.

But as soon as that column switched to the NFL's official site, that aspect of TMQ changed. I first noticed this in his Super Bowl XXXVIII column. Pats 32, Panthers 29. Of course, there was a major story that also occured during that game. At halftime, actually. An event that carried with it massive cultural, social, and political implications - for years to come, as it turned out - and it happened during the Super Bowl! I couldn't wait to read TMQ's take. But check the column for yourself. Neither the words Janet nor Jackson appear anywhere. Of course not. You can't write about something that embarassed the league on their own website. And he hasn't since. All negative stories became off-limits. Which I guess I understand, from the NFL's perspective, but still lament. Anybody who's reading TMQ already knows everything about the stories TMQ would comment on. So what harm is there in letting a rational commentator do his job?

Anyway, I bring this up today because I'm sure many, many people submitted some extremely talked-about cheerleaders for this week's "Cheerleader of the Week" honors. (OK, I was among the submitters.) For sure he'd have an amusing comment or two on the situation, as everyone from Tony Korneiser to Jay Leno have already contributed their two cents. As it turns out, no such luck. That's the downside of writing for the official website. You know he desperately wants to write something about it, but he can't. Hopefully his column will move again, and we'll get our true TMQ back.


Blogger Nye! said...

Amen. I mean, it's still a great column and I still read it every week, but it's not what it once was.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh-oh... no TMQ yet this week... and now it's Wednesday... and no WMQ either.

9:04 AM  

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