December 05, 2006

Meanwhile, Back To the Dark Side...

While LZ Granderson is doing his best to raise the writing level at Page 2, along comes Jemele Hill with another jumbled, incoherent mess. Her point, I think, is that Chiefs running back Larry Johnson is hiding his selfishness and laziness behind race when he claims that black coaches understand him better than white coaches. A reasonable argument, I believe.

Unfortunately, Hill can't present even this relatively simple argument without meandering into bizarre digressions about Vanilla Ice, whether Johnson "has a 'hood pass" (her term), and whether Brett Favre wants to be cryogenically frozen so that he can play football in his 70s (no, I'm not kidding).

And, in what are quickly becoming tiresome habits with her, she takes a completely irrelevant potshot at someone she dislikes (Larry Brown), and goes on the defensive against her critics (none of whom are ever identified by name):

I routinely get e-mails from readers who are disgusted because they feel the race card is played too much and inappropriately. (By the way, can someone put the phrase "race card" in a cryogenic chamber and never thaw it? It demeans what is still a real struggle.)

I referred to this obliquely yesterday, and I agree that the term "race card" is overused, but in Hill's case, it would be a lot easier not to think of "playing the race card" if she could construct an argument about race (or anything else, really) in a coherent fashion.

No column by Hill would be complete without a "Jemelism," a passage so bizarrely written that it defies all attempts at understanding or explanation. In this column, we have the following gem:

To loosely borrow from Michael Strahan, 10 years ago I didn't know the difference between truth and bull- er, non-truth. Today I do, but mostly because I'm no longer trying to figure out how to stretch three packs of Ramen noodles into two weeks' worth of meals.

Is there any logical way that the second sentence follows from the first? Any way at all? I've been staring at this passage for 15 minutes, and it remains as nonsensical as it did on first reading.

And somehow, despite rambling across any number of tangentially-related topics, Hill somehow manages not to mention two facts that actually seem relevant to the issue of Johnson and his desire to play for black coaches vs. white coaches:

- The white coach that Johnson apparently didn't care to play for was Dick Vermeil. In fairness to Johnson, Vermeil had a number of uncomplimentary things to say about Johnson during his tenure with the Chiefs, most notably the time in 2004 that Vermeil said Johnson needed to "take the diapers off" and play. If my boss said things like that about me, I doubt I'd want to play for him, no matter what color his skin was.

- Johnson played quite successfully at Penn State for Joe Paterno, who is, at least the last time I checked, a white guy.

Somehow, Hill didn't find space to mention either of these facts, but did manage to work in a reference to Will Smith. Interesting.

What Hill really needs is a good editor. Unfortunately, she works for Page 2, where the slogan appears to be "Millions for hack sportswriting, but not one cent for editing."

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