Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Russian Bear is from Canada, and other wrestling tales

My girlfriend is a reporter in Raleigh. And that's how I found myself in a converted basketball gym Saturday night in Clayton, North Carolina, watching wrestling matches with about 400 people and talking to a couple of professional wrestling icons.

For more than 30 years, Ivan Koloff was a scary guy that the crowds shouted down. He and his tag team partners wore the evil red of the Soviet Union.

But "The Russian Bear" is from Canada. His real name is James Perras. The Bear is a 60-something-year-old man living in North Carolina. He's more than a full head shorter than me and walks with one of the worst hitches I've ever seen.

He has an embracing smile. But there must be nights when his body is a knot of pain.

I met him Saturday night. And I heard other names I vaguely remembered from when I was a kid and my grandfather loved Saturday night wrestling. I saw faces that had to be worn out wrestlers I never recognized.

Even for the famous ones, the crowds had gotten smaller.

Jake "The Snake" Roberts was there. He looked the way you'd imagine. Large. The stringy, curly hair. The big, bushy mustache now gray. He had a middle-aged woman with him selling DVDs and pictures that were clearly printed from a home computer.

He was balding on the top. But, then again, he was always balding on the top. He was friendly, like an uncle. He smiled and had eight different markers with him for autographs. His T-shirt had a picture of a snake with a big, open, purple mouth on the front.

A line formed quickly when Roberts arrived. The first picture he took with a guy, he stood up and put his arm around him. And with a smile under that big bushy mustache he said, "Somebody's touching my but."

The woman to his side, the one accounting for the money, had glasses and a mullet. A newspaper reporter who had written a story about Jake years ago brought a copy of the article.

"I didn't know he'd make it back then," the reporter said. "You never know which ones are going to make it. You never know which ones want to make it."

The woman smiled. "They all want to," she said. "Let me just clear that up for you. They all want to make it."

Roberts was charming. He tried to guess kids names and asked them questions. He was cool. He should have been. It was $10 to have your picture taken with him.

The woman said he actually hates snakes. He has bite marks up and down his arms. His famous snake, Damien? There were more than 40 of them, she said, always bought or rented by the wrestling federation.

The crowd was something to behold. There was this massive fat guy. He must have weighed 450 pounds. All he did was sit in a chair against the wall and call people over to say hello and shake his hand. He seemed to know half the people there. I never saw him stand up in nearly 3 hours.

There was a guy there in Pitsburgh Steelers jersey. I noticed because it was a Kendrell Bell jersey. It looked like the guy's right hip was half-displaced the way he walked, and his right shoulder dipped far below his left. He had two young blond kids with him and a massive beer gut. He got to shake The Russian Bear's hand.

One of the women taking money at the door (the sign said $10 for adults, but they were taking $5) said her grandson is a local wrestler named "Sudden Impact" Louis Moore. It's his dream to go pro, she said.

Moore challenged The Bear to a match during one of the intermissions. The Bear had a better idea. He said Jake The Snake would handle this upstart.

"No," said Moore. "Anyone but that."

It was theater. A guy with a big black afro came out wearing a ripped American flag like a cape. He wore American flag shorts and American flag boots that said "Creed" on them. Like Apollo in Rocky IV, he came to the ring to James Brown's "Living in America."

Creed and his partner put on a high-flying act. It was legitimately impressive. A little different, I figured, than what "The Snake" had in store later on. Hell, he's in his 50s now.

We left before Roberts made it to the ring. My girlfriend had a deadline. Two no-name young guys were wrestling when we left. As I walked to the car, I could still hear the rumbling on the mat, and the roar of the crowd inside, loud through the gym's brown brick wall.

"The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff.

Jake "The Snake" Roberts.

I didn't get his name. His partner was an old Indian guy people called "The Chief."

UPDATE: My uncle, whose father was a huge wrestling fan, just sent this note: "Don't you know you should consult your uncle before putting a picture of a wrestler in your blog and referring to him as unknown? Hell, everybody that's anybody knows The Barbarian."

You can buy Jake "The Snake" Roberts merchandise here. I don't think it's his own site, but Ivan "The Russian Bear" Koloff photos and DVDs are available here.

It seems like I've met an inordinate number of professional wrestlers over the years. This was a piece I did on Lex Luger.

Oh, Matt. You're moving to Detroit.

And I'm sorry, man. That's where hope goes to die a very cold death.

The Patriots traded quarterback Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to Kansas City today for a mere 2nd round pick, taking them out of the running for Stafford's services.

But that's not what makes it more likely the Detroit Lions will pick Matt Stafford in the draft. This is, from the bottom of The New York Times story on Cassel's trade:
AROUND THE LEAGUE The Dallas Cowboys acquired quarterback Jon Kitna to back up Tony Romo in a trade with the Detroit Lions for cornerback Anthony Henry.
That leaves three quarterbacks on Detroit's roster: Duante Culpepper, Drew Henson and Drew Stanton.

Facebook punches me in the face

Why must the Internet join with our basketball program to taunt me? Facebook sent me this message today:
Bulldogs fans less than three weeks until the madness begins! Create pools, talk hoops, and support your team by joining the 2009 Bracket Challenge!
I hope that will be relevant one day soon. I'm thinking 2011ish.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What could have been: Quincy Carter arrested again

From USA Today:
MISSION, Texas (AP) — Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter was charged Friday with drunken driving and marijuana possession.

Carter's blood-alcohol level tested at 0.14, said Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Johnny Hernandez.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chewing glass in '09, Jermaine Phillips, and the death of various radio stars

There comes a moment in every off season when you realize that you're ready for the next season.

Mine was Friday about 6 p.m. And all I could think about was the Alabama game, and how I felt after it. And that reminded me of the Florida game, and how I felt during the middle of that thing.

And all those people who think the months after a disappointing season are the time to lessen your support, you can leave.

Because in 2009 the Bulldogs chew glass.
Jermaine Phillips is now a free agent. And on Sunday the Falcons announced that they won't renew Lawyer Malloy's contract.
With last week's resigning of Mike Leach, Texas Tech proved at least one thing: They're not as dumb as Auburn.
Georgia Tech record holder and multiple felon Kelly Campbell has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What will the Edmonton Eskimos do without his services? Or various drug cartels, for that matter.
The song "Video Killed the Radio Star" takes on a lot deeper meaning when you work for a dying industry.

... and now I understand the problems you can see.

A question for lesbians

Women often go to the bathroom together.

Lesbians are women. Do lesbians go to the bathroom together?

Because I know I have no desire to be in the bathroom when my girlfriend is peeing.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dawgs beat Gators, world rotation hiccups

If there weren't so many games left in the SEC, would you want the Hoop Dawgs to lose out so the 2009 season would forever carry an asterisk: "The 2009 Georgia basketball team nearly went winless in the Southeastern Conference, save for one victory over the University of Florida."

Probably not. Six games left:
Wed, Feb 18, Auburn, Athens, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, Feb 21, Ole Miss, at Oxford, 5:00 p.m.
Wed, Feb 25, Vanderbilt, Athens, 7:30 p.m.
Sun, Mar 01, Arkansas, at Fayetteville, 4:00 p.m., Raycom
Wed, Mar 04, Kentucky, at Lexington, 8:00 p.m., Raycom
Sat, Mar 07, South Carolina, Athens, 4:00 p.m.
UPDATE: The obvious just occurred to me. Since 1952 Georgia Tech was the last SEC team to go winless in the conference, beating Florida yesterday was like beating the Gators and the Jackets both at once.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Georgia football: Not gonna phone it in for 2009

Part of me thinks, "Good." And part of me wants to punch 2008 in the face. From David Hale:
It's been a common refrain in Georgia's locker room this offseason, but everyone seems to agree the team is working a lot harder than it did a year ago. Cox said the new focus has been obvious during seven-on-seven drills, when even the young players have stepped up to show their skills.
Not just harder. A lot harder.

Follow me, everyone. Let's go make an effort.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This just in: The Hoop Dawgs are not good

I knew the Dawgs were playing Tenneesee tonight. But it never occurred to me to watch.

Judging by the AP byline and Tennessee-centric lead on The AJC's story, neither did they.

Welcome to Sucktown, population us. There's an opening if you'd like to be mayor.
NICK: they're getting beat 51-27. Does basketball have a mercy rule?

ME: I had mercy on myself and didn't watch.

NICK: You're smarter than me. We gotta win at least one game in the conference though, right?

ME: Do we play ourselves?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A football player first and a wide receiver second. Is Hines Ward the greatest Dawg of all time?

"I'm always compared to Swann and Stallworth. (On Sunday) I kind of felt like I belonged in that class, having two Super Bowl rings."
- Hines Ward.

Anyone think maybe Lynn Swann and John Stallworth look at it the other way around?

Ward is the Steelers all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and receptions per game.

This past year was the fifth 1,000 yard season of Ward's career. He is the Steelers' franchise leader with 74 career post-season catches. He is a Super Bowl MVP and a four-time pro-bowler.

"He's not fast. He's not big. I don't know how the guy gets open, but he's a tough cookie. … After the play he'd hit you in the back of the head and he'd always have that little grin that could get on anybody's nerves."
- All-time NFL Safety Rod Woodson

At Georgia, Ward led the team in receiving yards in 1996 and 1997. He led the team in passing yards in 1995. For his career, Ward is in the top 10 for career kickoff return yardage. He's No. 2 all time in all-purpose yardage.

In his college career, Ward rushed for 1,063 yards, passed for 918, had 1,965 yards receiving and 842 return yards.

This blog loves Charley Trippi and David Greene. But I'm hard pressed to put anyone but Hines Ward in the No. 2 spot when it comes to all-time Bulldogs.

Some days I think he's No. 1. Munson and Ugas I - VII excepted, of course.

I'm on a boat $%^&*r F$%^&*!

Is it possible that every dumb thing Andy Samberg does is funny?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jackson Gage

We're not big on personal announcements here (unless they're pointless, of course), but my little sister had a baby boy early Sunday morning.

If you hang in there long enough, they go into Baby Let me Follow you Down.

May you always do for others, and let others do for you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mike has a point

ME: In the war between rock and water, rock wins every battle but the last one.

MIKE: What I want to know is, who's the asshole that decided paper beats rock?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A crack in Coach Richt's cool

This commercial came on last night during a Signing Day wrap up show.

Two things: 1. It's pretty difficult for me to imagine Mark Richt spending an entire day shopping for carpet. 2. What the hell is the deal with those apples?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Signing Day, Bobby Knight and Steve Martin with a gun

I would like to publicly thank Lane Kiffin for taking any of the ire that Urban Meyer or Nick Saban might have stored for the University of Georgia and focusing it directly on the University of Tennessee instead.

Hiring a coach that got fired by the Oakland Raiders. How could that not work out?
I saw yesterday that, of the 20 kids Purdue signed, 14 of them are from Florida.
What Lane Kiffin said about Urban Meyer was a big deal. It was a big deal and Urban Meyer won't forget it. And it will be dealt with. It will be dealt with by Urban Meyer.
There was moment yesterday when some tool bag anchor was kissing Gene Chizik's ass over Auburn's recruiting class when I wondered: "Should I actually worry about this guy?"

Surely not, right? Right?
Speaking of Bobby Knight, I see that this moron is putting on the full court press to bring the once-great coach to Athens.

Look, I think it would be cool to have Coach Knight running the show for a little while, too. But, seriously, do you really think that's the best move here?

Please read this if you object:
Over their last three seasons both Felton and Knight each coached 86 games, and each left their jobs before the end of the season. Their records were:

45-41 for Felton
48-38 for The General

Knight won exactly three more games than DF, and they went to the same number of NCAA tournament games. Some upgrade that would be.
This is hilarious. But you have to watch a 30 second commercial first. When did we get to a place where that was nearly unacceptable?

LIVE from Signing Day: YOUR home for the Bobby Knight Watch

Faithful Lucid Idiocy Lead Analyst Joe Petersen has risen early this morning to make the trek to Athens. He will provide real-time updates from Signing Day as the recruits make it official.

Is Coach Richt wearing a hat? Is Coach Garner having a chicken biscuit for breakfast?

We will let you know. And if anyone fitting the loose description of Indiana basketball legend Bobby Knight is spotted on Milledge Avenue, I daresay this blog will bring it to you first.

4:46: Bobby Knight for D-ends coach. I heard a report. Maybe The AJC will post it.

4:22 EDITOR's UPDATE: Hey, hey, Marlon Brown is a Dawg. Now that should put a smile on your face.

JOE's ANALYSIS: Word up. That makes this day a good day. As long as we got one of those guys... especially the 6'5" badass wide receiver who did not go to Tennessee. Marlon Brown. I like that.

Final wrap: No Bobby Knight sightings. A lot of anti-Knight sentiment from the crowd. We signed a good class, it's just disappointing that we didn't close on any of the big guys we were holding out for. I wonder what we'll do with the extra scholarships.

Signing day sucks. I feel like I completely wasted this day. I am retarded. Will that offend any retarded people? Are you still writing this down? Quit writing.

EDITOR's UPDATE: Jarvis Jones to USC. Marlon Brown rumored to Ohio State. I can't get Joe on the phone. He may have destroyed the Bling Pig in a suicidal rage.

2:07: Not in the Blind Pig bathroom: Bobby Knight, toilet paper or anything sanitized.

1:30: Huff just got here. He says Bobby Knight was in his psychology class learning how to treat players. As for signing day, we missed out on the safety from Tallahassee, the o-lineman from either juco or prep school, Massie, he went to Ole miss. Greg Reid, of course.

We did pick up Rantavious Wooten. And Jeff Dantzler is in the house, doing his show.

ME: Has he asked any of the girls what color their underwear is?

Honestly, the girls at the pig, you wouldn't want to know.

David Hale says Kiante Tripp is moving back to defensive end. Joe has refused to walk up to random senior citizens at the Bling Pig and interview them as if they are Bobby Knight. He just doesn't understand journalism.

12:30: Signing Day Sucks.

10:34: It is 10:34 and I am officially bored. I'm about to take the Blind Pig shuttle over to the Pig and go over there for a little while. Because this is boring as hell.

10:15: JOE: Breaking: Painted Head Guy is here. ME: With head painted? JOE: Of course.

9:48: Steven Hill picked Tech over us. So he's now a mortal enemy. It appears to me, from the interviews that I've conducted in the crowd, that the prevailing sentiment is we would rather have Marlon Brown than Bobby Knight.

EDITOR's UPDATE: David Hale says WR Marlon Brown is scheduled to announce between 3:30 and 4. That guy looked great at the Under Armour game. Brown, not Hale.

9:15: Also, free doughnuts and the sexiest blonde alive. Rantavious Wooten has signed.

9:05: Kelin Johnson is broadcasting live from Butts-Mehre on Gxtra.

8:45: Here's some breaking news for you: Beautiful girls still jog in the cold, parking in Athens still sucks and the Dooley statue is freaking beautiful.

7:31: This is not even really an update. But I'm actually reading the paper. There's an article about spending on football recruiting in The AJC. Georgia Tech outspent us? On recruiting? By $300,000? This doesn't make sense.

6:35: Uh, 6:35 a.m., and Bobby Knight has not, has NOT been seen at all this morning at the Starbucks in Douglasville. And, it is ----ing cold. I do not know why I'm doing this.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sources: Bobby Knight is already new UGA coach

The Bobby Knight story has legs. Ridiculous legs, but legs nonetheless.

USA Today, or at least one of its blogs, is even in on the Bobby Knight to Georgia? (To be read like "I'm Ron Burgundy?") story.

And is quoting an anonymous source, who appears to be quoting another anonymous source, about Gov. Sonny Perdue getting brought into this situation:
According to a source within the UGA athletic department speaking on condition of anonymity, Knight contacted a former SEC athletic director to ask how best to express interest in the Georgia job.

Knight was then told to call Georgia governor Sonny Perdue, who the source said is friends with, and occasionally goes fishing with, the Hall of Fame coach.

"(Knight) was told to have (Perdue) call Dr. (Michael) Adams and it would get done," the source said.
My actual job is covering state politics for The Macon Telegraph. I am also a moron. So I actually contacted Gov. Perdue's press office to confirm or deny this story.

They declined to comment. I believe they also laughed at me.

But I'm persistent. And I was able to pry some information from a source close to the governor, who I must quote anonymously, of course.

Apparently Perdue and Knight go way back, and used to fish the idyllic streams of Houston County, where Gov. Perdue grew up.

In fact, my source said, "Knight's son, Pat, was actually named after an invisible friend that played alongside the two."

How come we teach cursive in elementary school?

Seems like a lot of time spent learning a second way to write the same language.

All ideas based on an Adam Sandler movie are great ideas.