Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Recognizing Katrina

Watching the Monday Night Football double-header last night (and by the way, is there anything better than a MNF DH? And conversely anything worse than the MNF DH hangover at work the next day?), it came to my attention that a short piece on Hurricane Katrina was long overdue. I know Paul touched on it briefly two weeks ago but I wanted to take some time and express my thoughts as well as commend the sporting world for their generous time and effort. Let me start by saying that as I sit comfortably in my office right now there are presently over one million New Orleans residents without a home. To put things in perspective, take a Giants Stadium (which holds 80,000+) filled with people, times that by 12.5, and that’s approximately how many have been left homeless. Then try and imagine how 90,000 square miles have been wiped out by this brutal storm, 90,000!!!!!!! I can't even walk 1 mile without gasping for air, never mind 90,000 square miles. I remember watching the Weather Channel on that Sunday right before the hurricane hit thinking this was just another Gulfcoast storm being blown out of proportion. Boy was I wrong.

Last week my stepfather told me about a man he works with whose brother had to live in the Superdome for several days as the hurricane swept through. He said it was the most grotesque site one could ever imagine seeing in his lifetime. Due to a shortage of food and water coupled with tremendous heat conditions, dead bodies (mostly babies) kept piling up as the days wore on. The smell from those bodies caused those surrounding them to become violently ill with disease, infections, nausea, etc. The stench of rotting carcasses and human vomit replaced the clean air that once captured the aura of Final Fours and Super Bowls. Once home to one of the most prestigious stages in all of sports had rapidly transformed into a modern day depression.

Listening to that story immediately caused me to run upstairs to my computer and donate to the relief efforts. But after doing so, it honestly didn’t make me feel any better. Sending a small portion of money was the least I could do. Unless your bankrupt or homeless yourself and you haven’t donated, then shame on you. There are plenty of things we can sacrifice to help victims get the food, supplies, and support necessary to start putting their lives back together. This isn’t some third world country we’re talking about here where the government is the main culprit of poverty. These are American victims of an unavoidable natural disaster; one that has left them in a situation that desperately requires our assistance. And while we as individuals must take it upon ourselves to do our very best in helping out our fellow citizens, the sporting world has done a magnificent job of setting a positive example. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue could have easily made last night’s Saints-Giants game a 1 PM contest on Sunday in San Antonio. But instead he chose to showcase the game on Monday Night in the center of the country, at primetime, on ABC. And why did he do this? In order to set up a nationwide telethon for the Bush-Clinton Katrina fund headlined by former and current NFL greats. The list of players and celebrities included:

Marcus Allen, Jamal Anderson, Ottis Anderson, Wayne Chrebet, Brian Dawkins, Eric Dickerson, Mark Duper, John Elway, Jason Fabini, Mike Haynes, Michael Jackson, Steve Largent, Curtis Martin, Kevin Mawae, Bart Oates, Christian Okoye, Chad Pennington, Robert Porcher, Art Shell, Jackie Slater, Bruce Smith, Bart Starr, Gene Washington Paul Tagliabue, Gene Upshaw, Regis Philbin, Frank Gifford, Willie Lanier, Ken O'Brien, Bill Pickell, Andre Reed, Gale Sayers, and Kellen Winslow. Missing from this list that I recognized: Jay Fiedler, Tony Danza, and Jeff Hostetler (still has the porn mustache).

This heartfelt effort by Tagliabue and the NFL is one that will hopefully make a significant difference in some of these victims’ lives. However, if you can believe it, some asshole at the New York Times had the gall to write an article this morning that attempted to take away from the league’s efforts. If you were already in a cranky mood, I would pass on reading this one. I almost punched a co-worker in the face after seeing this.

The effort of the sporting world hasn’t stopped here. Major League Baseball Players are wearing Red Cross stickers on their helmets in order to remind viewers to donate. In additon, NBA players Allan Houston, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Erick Dampier, Samuel Dalembert, Clarence Weatherspoon, Maurice Williams, Justin Reed and Al Jefferson along with WNBAers Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings and Cheryl Ford also made Katrina headlines this week. All 11 players personally went down to the hurricane ravaged areas in an effort to hand out supplies to the victims. ESPN’s Ric Bucher tells about their journey in detail.

I guess most of us see the efforts of these professional athletes as expected. We carry the attitude that these players are almost obligated to use a portion of their million dollar contracts to assist the victims. While you’ll get no argument from me on this issue, remember that there’s a fine line between writing a check and putting in the time and effort to help those on a personal level. While I’m certain that the money is much appreciated down south, I would bet that for the victims getting the chance to meet some of these players and spending some quality time with them has really boosted their spirits. And for people who don’t have a home, have lost loved ones, and are struggling for survival, spirit is all they have left. My hats off to the leagues, athletes, and individuals that have donated their time and money to those in need. And for those of you who have yet to lend a helping hand, there is still plenty of time to do so.

Red Cross

Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund

Feed the Children

Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund

On a lighter note, did anyone see the celebrity trio ABC chose to open up the telethon ceremonies? That’s right, none other than Robin Roberts, Regis Philbin, and Tony Danza. Are you serious? How the hell did they come up with this group? Roberts, who is the first human to be both black and white AND male and female, Philbin who is just a bumbling idiot, and Tony Miceli. What was their backup plan? Ozzy Osbourne, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Joey Lawrence?


At 10:07 PM, Anonymous michael said...

I thought the telethon was great, but I still don't see why the game needed to be moved to NY. They could have played a Monday night game in San Antonio (where the Saints wanted to play) and still had the telethon in NY. It's pretty unfair to give the Saints an extra road game, especially when their success means so much to their home state right now. An Alamodome crowd would have been fully behind the Saints, and a lot more evacuees would have had the chance to see their team play in person.

For the record, I'm actually a Giants fan living in San Antonio. And while I'm happy to have 9 home games and only 7 on the road, it really seems unfair, especially to the Saints.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Michael, on the surface I would have to agree with you. But perhaps the NFL realized how difficult it would be to get people in the Alamodome seats. In retrospect, Giants Stadium didn't even sell out, do you think the Alamodome would have? I'm sure Tagliabue is as compassionate as the rest of us, but he still has a business to run. Plus I'm a Giants fan too and who wouldn't want the G-Men to have 9 home games???

At 2:17 PM, Anonymous michael said...

The Alamodome would have certainly sold out. All the tickets that were put on sale for the three games scheduled in San Antonio sold out immediately (they held a number back for Saints season ticket holders), with people camping out overnight to wait in line.

All the quotes I've read from Haslett and players indicate that they were pretty pissed about the situation. My feeling is that Tagliabue is ultimately going to try and use this to put the team in L.A., but who knows.

Regardless, the G-Men looked good. 2-0, tops in the NFC East, and third best point differential in the entire league. I'll take it.

I enjoy the site, especially this countdown to season. We get closer every day.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

I was unaware that the Alamodome has already sold out that quickly. That leaves me with absolutely no reason to support Tagliabue's decision to play the game in NJ.

I did read some of the quotes from Haslett and Brooks and it seemed to me that were frustrated by the result of the game and in turn decided to rip on the NFL's decision. I didn't hear much bitching before the game, did you? The Giants have looked pretty solid thus far, but are currently 6 point underdogs in San Diego this weekend. Can you believe that? Thanks for writing in.


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