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Thursday, January 6, 2022

Has no one else noticed how ex-NFL receiver Antonio Brown this weekend re-enacted the climatic final scene from "Slap Shot?"

My all-time fave sports movie is "Slap Shot," a dark 1977 comedy about America's enduring love affair with brawlers and blood. 

With the local mine closing - laying off 10,000 - Paul Newman seeks to revive hometown spirits through the Charlestown Chiefs, its minor league hockey team. He recruits the Hanson brothers, a trio of bespectacled thugs, who turn every game into Wrestlemania. The crowds eat it with a knife and fork. In the final scene, Michael Ontkean - a player fed up with the fighting - flings off all his clothes and skates around the rink, joyously waving farewell to the fans - and the game that he once loved. 

For my money, no other movie has ever captured the dark side of pro sports. Here's the trailer.

So, why raise this old chestnut from the dead? 

Last weekend, the righteous scions of the NFL expressed outrage after Tampa wide receiver Antonio Brown - in mid-game - tore off his jersey and pads, and marched to the sideline, done with football, forever. On the NFL post game show, Michael Strahan grew so angry that he mockingly took off his coat, while "leaving" the show. Across the NFL, commentators raged over Brown's colossal betrayal of teammates, coaches... and of the beautiful game, itself.  

Immediately, I expected somebody to compare Brown's exit to the final act of Slap Shot. I suppose it's a generational thing. You need to be a geezer. Though a cult classic, the movie remains rather obscure. And it's portrayal of pro sports is - well - subversive, to say the least. 

Also, Antonio Brown offers a dubious personal history. A great athlete, for sure, but his diva behavior wore out welcomes everywhere else. Tampa was said to be his last chance. Moments after the game ended, team officials swore he'd never again play for the Bucs. His sports career is basically dead.

Still, when I watched Brown leave the field, I saw a guy joyously quitting on his own terms, and my immediate thought was, "Good for him!" Once a pro football player decides he's done - that his time in the crosshairs is over - the only wise course is to get the fuck off the field ASAP. Especially a wide receiver - the most dangerous position out there. He is putting his health at risk. And if he's not in the proper mindset, he's not helping teammates, either. 

Yesterday, Brown offered his side of the story. He says Tampa coaches ordered him to play despite a serious ankle injury. They wanted to inject him with what he viewed as a dangerous pain-killer. Is he telling the truth? Damned if I know. Is his story viable? Well, I guess we all have our opinions... 

Still, as time passes, I think Brown's finale might be remembered differently. For now, I think he's like the "always dangerous" stickmeister Ogie Ogilthorpe, as described by Jimmy Carr, the radio voice of the Charlestown Chiefs... 

"Oh, this young man has had a very trying rookie season, with the litigation, the notoriety, his subsequent deportation to Canada and that country's refusal to accept him, well, I guess that's more than most 21-year-olds can handle... Ogie Ogilthorpe!"


The Ghost of Spider Lockhart said...

Did anyone see AB limping off the field from that serious ankle injury? Like you, I don't know what the truth is, but I suspect his injury is about 6 feet north of his ankle.

Dantes said...

I love slap shot but AB doing jumping jacks in the end zone kinda makes the ankle defense look like absolute bullshit.

Doug K. said...

Slap Shot is a great movie. Great!

The Hanson's skating past the opponents bench and high sticking them all is easily the best sports film related slapstick I've ever seen.

Hey, Slap-Stick. Never noticed that before.

There is a Slap Shot 2 with Steven Baldwin (25 years after the events of the first film, the Charlestown Chiefs are still languishing in Pennsylvania.)

and a Slap Shot 3 (Whose summary I'm afraid to even look up)

I never saw Slap Shot 2 having learned my lesson from Major League 2 and Police Academy 6.

As to Antonio Brown... Don't know if he ever saw Slap Shot but he might have seen North Dallas Forty and saw what happened to Delma Huddle after he took the needle.

I like your version of the story. A man who's done and strips off his uniform in a final, in stadium, act of liberation.

Or he could just be out of his mind.

Scottish Yankee fan said...

Really funny film

This could be my favourite part the referee is raging 😂


ranger_lp said...

We already lost Eric Chavez as our hitting coach...can't make this up...


HoraceClarke66 said...

It is a wonderful film. Great Paul Newman performance, too.