Editors Note: “Random Running Diary” is a recurring post which aims to give you a running commentary on events which would otherwise not qualify for a running diary.
Tonight’s affair: 4th and Long with Michael Irvin.
Premise: Michael Irvin is given a mission by Jerry Jones to find him a “ball player” to make the Cowboys 80 man roster . . . oh and make a spectacularly bad reality show. The odds Jones keeps the winner around camp for a while to get press are high, but the odds of him making the roster? About the same as Dr. Greenbaumberg’s odds. The expectations for Epic Failure are nearly off the charts.
Opening Sequence: Dramatic montage of Michael Irvin’s search to find Jerry Jones a “ball player” from “world class” athletes whose career ended on terms other than their own. Irvin will be assisted by former Cowboys Bill Bates and Joe Avezzano. The music is straight over the top cheese, it is like they bought 99 cent Store equivalent of dramatic intro music. A promising start, I am already sensing failure.
Player Intros: We get our first look at the 6 DBs and 6 WRs competing … I am excepting lots of hard luck stories of how these guys should be in the league but they slipped on a banana peel. First we get the DB’s:
- Donte Bamble – he is undersized, but it does not matter “all I knows is how to play big.” I am sensing he is the all heart guy, that can’t shut his big mouth.
- Erick Jackson – he is a former Longhorn, and was voted most valuable DB and Special Teams Player at Texas. I like this guy already, but I gotta say I am not exactly sure a guy from a big program is the undiscovered jewel the show claims to be looking for. Not sure why he is here, oh wait here it is, he blames his “punk agent” for not being in the NFL. Yeah it wasn’t the fact you were a very mediocre player on a couple of bad pass defenses in college. Hello and welcome to the show Captain Bitter.
- Stephen Andrews – he hails from the football powerhouse the College of New Jersey. His reason for not being in the NFL “I didn’t perform . . . exactly . . . up to my ability at the combine.” Translation = I fucked up, please don’t make me go back to another shift at Target.
- Edie Moten – former Arena League player. He says he was shocked when the league folded, was he the only one who didn’t see that coming? Guaranteed this guy is always surprised by the email informing him that he won the British lottery and that a lawyer for a Nigerian industrialist is approaching him with a business opportunity. Ladies and gentlemen, we have our naive believer.
- Uh . . . the other 2 DB’s didn’t get intros – did Spike forget how to count?
Now we get the WR’s:
- Preston McGann – former college baseball player, claims he was the MVP of the semi-pro league last year. Yeah I am sure this guys is NFL ready, he just needs to buy a ticket first.
- Andrew Hawkins – claims his entire family played football. His dad and brother played in the NFL. What about Mom though, isn’t she part of the family? Where did Mom play? This guy has no shot, he is 5’7″ WR and I am fairly certain Jerry Jones doesn’t want the Spud Webb of receivers.
- Luke Swan – a former starter and captain at Wisconsin, projected as a 3rd-5th round draft pick going into his senior year. He tore his hamstring senior season ending his career. Another big program guy, but this one looks like Opie Griffith.
- Jesse Holley – played at UNC and was 2nd team all ACC. Uh oh they showed basketball highlights for him. Not a good sign.
- Once again they left 2 guys without introductions, that does not bode well for their prospects.
So far lots of ego and lots of trash talk, you have to admire their blind self belief even though they are on a reality show on basic cable for competing for an invitation to training camp. The trash talk has been pure Epic Fail, Irvin should give these guy s an entire episode of coaching on that alone . . . that would be can’t miss TV.
The WRs meet the DBs at the 50 yard light of a dark Cotton Bowl. Some C- level trash talk is attempted, this alone shows why these guys aren’t in the NFL. Andrew Hawkins just explained the trash talk as “like two rival boy friends” – interesting take. Irvin makes an overly dramatic entrance from the tunnel, he looks determined. He is wearing a black suit to show how serious he is, what are the odds his suit costs more than all theses guys make playing football next year combined? 1:2?
Irvin looks pissed, he explains that last year was a huge disappointment for Cowboys and he was given a task by Jerry Jones to find a winning football player. Great vote of confidence in your scouting department Jerry, “yeah you guys are good but I think I can get a better player from a basic cable reality show airing right before Pros v. Joes.” The winner will be “entrusted” with one spot on the Cowboys 80 man roster, so basically they get an invite to camp. Is it me or does Irvin have one of the all time great coke noses? I feel like this has been totally underrated about him.
“It is 4th and long gentlemen, do you have what it takes to move the chains on your life?” Wow, just wow. Melodrama at its cheesiest. Isn’t that a really crappy analogy for DB? Why not just ask if they have what it takes to give up the big play to failure with their life on the line?
Irvin is adamant that this is a football try out camp, not a reality show. Uh, does Spike TV know that? They might have something to say about that. Nate Newton is introduced as the Turk, the guy who will bring the players to be cut to Irvin. I wonder is he also is responsible for bring Irvin a van full of pot too? Nate immediately confiscates all the cellphones and pagers (pagers? what is this 1993?) and hands out numberless jerseys, because they “haven’t earned numbers yet.” There are 12 guys are numbers even necessary, how about you just give them colors Reservoir Dogs style? This is Spike TV after all, I expect a certain level of unnecessary violence.
Irvin finally welcomes them home. The twist, they will actually be sleeping in Cotton Bowl, shocking. Do they get extra points if they sneak in hookers, cocaine and sex toys during the season? Something tells me Irvin would see a little bit of himself in those kind of “high-jinks”. Irvin warns them to get a good night sleep while he is gone . . . because they will need it. It feels like Irvin hired the script writer from every Steven Segal film to craft these exquiste one-liners for him.
Back in the locker room the WRs and DBs watch highlights of each other . . . more craptacular trash talking. But we do get the intros for the other players:
- Steve “Speedy” Gonzalez – WR – former Arena League player. He blames his dads death for him missing his shot at the NFL, kinda cliche but guess we had to have the “dad died” guy. Also nice to see a vaguely racist nickname on the show.
- Montrell Jones – WR – played at Tennessee and Louisville. He partied his way out of a shot at the league, I sense a leader in the clubhouse. The Cowboys do love guys that know how to party.
- Ahmaad Smith – DB – played at Tennessee State, then he called it “DB U.” A bold statement about a school who only has one DB in the NFL right now, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He claims didn’t make the NFL because he tore his MCL getting out of the ice tub – best excuse yet. Any ice tub bath related injury = epic failure gold medal.
- Moses Washington – DB – played at Oklahoma. No excuse is given why he didn’t make the NFL, not sure why.
Not feeling real strong about this second set of guys, something tells me one of them will be packing at the end of the episode.
Best quote so far, Donte – “I only know one game, ‘A ‘game.” Good to know big guy, now take that ‘A’ game and make me those copies I asked for because you have no future in the NFL.
First Day: Bill Bates & Joe Avezzano show up and tell they players they are gonna give the Cowboys the best player they can . . . from this group of players. Already hedging your bets boys? Nicely done. Bates questions if these guys have the heart to make it, lets face it he has the cred to do that because he beat out 185 guys in a tryout to make roster. Joe tells the guys he won’t give the Cowboys a “slapdick player,” why, is Charles Haley still on the team and they can’t have 2?
They start with a punt coverage drill, 1 gunner going against 2 defenders first WRs as gunners then DBs. The WRs look bad so far, like really bad; only Andrew Hawkins makes the tackle, everyone else get their ass kicked. For the DBs more of the same, lots of guys giving up, only Erick Jackon looked good. This doesn’t stop Montrell Jones from talking about himself in third person and promising to show us “more.” Humility thy name is Montrell Jones. Irvin watching from high in the stands like the Phantom of the Cotton Bowl. Way to be actively involved Mike, would you like some popcorn?
There is a nice vomit montage, that is what we want in our primetime TV. Thanks Spike.
So Irvin does the responsible thing and tell the guys to not listen to their bodies, tell their bodies to shut up. You mean like Korey Stringer did? In the face of the onslaught of vomit Irvin makes them run sprints . . . which leads to more vomiting. He actually tells one guy puking to “tell yo’ sickness, with yo’ mind, you aren’t listening, you have something to do today. Throw up and get the sickness out of you” Role model material all the way, the Stringer family heartily endorses this method of training.
Irvin tell the guys “Everybody wants something but no one wants to pay the price – this is where the price is paid.” Really the price isn’t the 20 or so years playing in the NFL cuts off of your life? No? Ok, just checking Mike.
Now it is 40 yard dash time to see what they have left in the “4th quarter.” Irvin tell them this a measure of their real speed because you dont play football in shorts and a t-shirt. Super Bowl winning insight ladies and gentlemen. All the guys put up respectable times, except Speedy Gonzalez who cramps up and goes down . . . bad sign, Irvin has no patience for weakness or heat stroke.
Coach Avezzano talks to the guys about letting someone into your “passion pit,” that was possibly one of the creepiest things I have ever seen. I need to shower in bleach now. One player complains he was so tired, he saw Saddam Hussain in the end zone. Yeah that isn’t serious medical condition at all, hallucinations . . . perfectly normal. Luke Swan mocks the guys who are tired, heck down in Mayberry they trained harder for the bake sale!
Irvin takes them to the film room where Cowboy great Drew Pearson gives a very motivational speech, too bad it was wasted on these guys on this show. Drew did make the Cowboys in their 1970’s heyday after not being drafted, in a 17 round draft! Unfortunately, he might as well have been talking to the pieces from an electric football game, the pieces have a better shot at making the 53 man roster than these clowns.
Elimination: Irvin, Bates and Avezzano break down game film and talk about the the good and bad each player showed today, not a lot is revealed. Nothing remarkable except for Joe making a crack to Michael about his rampant offensive pass interference in his career, good job Joe – now ask him about where to get good sex toys. Nate is sent to bring Stephen Andrews, Speedy Gonzales, and Montrell Jones. Nate walking seemingly defies the laws of physics, it is like watching a a stuffed and mounted bear walk around . . . it just doesn’t seem natural.
Shocker, Irvin improbably keeps the injured Speedy Gonzalez and cuts Stephen Andrews. I did not see it coming, you tricksy Spike TV editors. Irvin tells Andrews he can play for someone else, just not the Cowboys. Burn! After Andrews leaves Irvin tells Speedy to step it up but that he and the other guys have earned numbers on their jerseys.
Overall, this show is solid failure, not classic but anytime you have Irvin on TV some level of failure is guaranteed.