Male sports "journalists," listen up.
If you actually took pen in hand - figuratively, of course, who the hell writes longhand anymore - to write ANYTHING concerning Jessica Simpson, Tony Romo and Terrell Owens this week, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to ask you to turn in your Man Card.
I'm deadly serious.
This is a problem. We've reached a critical turning point in the realm of sports, in particular the NFL. Gone are the days when sports stories were approached as an art. Nowadays, it's all about shock value and ratcheting up the drama, and this week has been a state-of-the-art snapshot of how far sports journalism has fallen.
I'll admit, I chuckled when Joe Buck asked Troy Aikman, "Can you imagine what it feels like to be the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys?" while the camera showed Jessica Simpson in a stadium suite.
I didn't chuckle so much when newscasts and papers jumped on Romo's poor performance and pointed at Simpson as "the reason," but I really didn't think it was all that serious. That was just a spin they could put on the story, and that was it. I give it a couple days, tops, and then we all get back on with our lives. Or at least give a healthy wonder to how Roy Williams can keep committing the same foul over and over. Doesn't he get a slight clue when the reason for the fine reads, "because Roy Williams committed the outlawed Roy Williams Horse-Collar Tackle, otherwise known simply as The Roy Williams Rule, yet again." But I digress, because - shocker - the national media does not want to talk about such things germane to the actual world of the NFL. They want to talk about Tony Romo's love life.
This is NOT why I watch football. I feel compelled to actually type that out loud.
But then Terrell Owens goes and jokes in front of the press about how Jessica's not exactly a fan favorite in Texas Stadium because she's pulling Tony's focus away.
When I heard that, I immediately thought, "Oh T.O., ya big card. Something's got the spotlight besides you in the post-game interviews, so once again, Pavlovian creature that you are, you wander over and jump on the star, as it were."
But there was no way I ever thought he was being serious.
Oh, silly me. Holy crap, did I ever underestimate the national press. What a bunch of stiffnecked asses. Why, it makes perfect sense that they would take a T.O. joke - lame as it was, after all - and try to turn it into a serious issue.
The headlines, combined into one catch-all: "Oh Noes! T.O. Owens To Simpson: Back Off Romo!"
Don't believe me? Click here, here or here. And a couple hundred other places that ran that stupid AP story.
As if I needed validation that it was all a big-ass media overreaction, I heard a clip of the T.O. audio on SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket today, and judging by the big laughter in the locker room the whole way through his Jessica/Romo spiel, I think it's safe to say that it was OBVIOUS that he wasn't serious.
How in the name of Thomas Wade Landry can you lack that much of a sense of humor, locker room reporters?
The culmination of this jack-assed ridiculousness? T.O. had to issue a public statement of apology.
You have GOT to be kidding me. Apologize for what? Joking around? Trusting that a bunch of media guys who laughed uproariously at his obvious joke would not be moron enough to then turn around and act as if he said it while spitting out ten-penny nails of furious indignation?
Boy, did he ever underestimate the slack-jawed droolery of the national media.
All of a sudden, Owens-Romo-Simpson-Gate is the - get ready for this, no, I mean it, put on your damn seat belt if you consider yourself manly in any way, shape or form - "gossip" of the NFL week.
Holy mother of pearl. It's gonna take literally weeks of badass, macho coverage of steroid abuse, salary disputes and maybe even a good old-fashioned "Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame" debate to get over this sports de-balling.
I mean, has it really come to this? Really?!?
T.O. has to apologize because the press manufactured a huge amount of drama. I cannot emphasize the following enough: A LOT OF PEOPLE GOT PAID GOOD MONEY TO FLOAT THIS TURD.
What's next? A pantsless Albert Haynesworth crotch shot as he's getting out of a Prius? Tom Brady driving a Ferrari with a kid in his lap behind the wheel? A guard's cell phone viral video of Michael Vick prison sex? (Actually, if karma exists, this last one is pretty much an inevitability.)
Hope you're up for it, this new wave of sports journalism. Pretty soon, we'll be tailgating sipping wine coolers and frou-frou umbrella drinks if they have their way.
Look, I'm even willing to forgive and forget. That's what men are good at, anyway. We'll all just hitch up our pants, grunt a little bit, slam another beer. To paraphrase a great movie line, those weren't pillows, but we CAN act like it never happened.
So ... how 'bout them Cowboys?