Interview with Allyson Latta

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Bird of Prey

Need I say more. There's no other cornerback like Green Bay's Al Harris. For years I've been drawn to Green Bay for the legend of Vince Lombardi, its heart and soul Brett Favre and the killer instinct of Al Harris. For a few years it seemed like there were only two players on Green Bay. On the offence Favre and on defence Al Harris. Now both key players have a team and Harris is as lethal and driven as ever. The guy never stops moving. Never misses a beat. Like he has eyes in the back of his head, he swoops in on his kill when he's out of their range and he's on them when they're out of his range. He creates big plays out of nowhere. In last night's game against Dallas, he was everywhere that he could be. Lurching, stretching, flying through, over and above the likes of T.O. and the rest of the Cowboys stellar offensive weapons. Even losing Favre didn't rattle this team's constitution, they are a team, one for all and all for one and Aaron Rodgers proved his strength. Comforting to know they've got a QB in the wings who can really play. But the man on the field that never stops working, scoping, attacking for a second, like a hungry falcon, Mr. Al Harris. Lethal.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Dream Job

The thing I love about sports is that it is a meritocracy. One gets ahead based on merit. If you're good - you play. Unlike writing, art. If you're good it doesn't really matter because it's not so black and white. It's too subjective and those in power affect your destiny based on personal taste, politics, the market and numbers. So no matter how original or great your work is, how well you hone your craft, how many books you have out, if you're not writing the right thing, telling the saleable story, then the powers that be dismiss you, even if the 'people' like you. Shades of socialism - oh yes. I should have been a wide receiver. I'm fast, agile and disciplined and being in the writing business all these years, I can handle a hit or two. But being a wide receiver wouldn't be my dream job. No, being one of those guys on Rogers Sportsnet's televised talk-radio shows, that's my idea of a dream job. You go to work in jeans, sip Tim Horton's coffee all day and talk about sports. They sit around all day, in jeans, drinking coffee, talking about sports and get paid for it. There's not even the pressure of being an on-air TV personality because really they are on the radio being filmed, podcasts. The camera is like a fly on the wall. Hair and makeup aren't an issue. They just have to talk, and talk, and talk all day about sports and get paid for it. Now that's a dream job. How do you get that job? I love to talk about sports, look good in jeans - are you hiring?!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Brady Trail

As my mother and I drove past Buffalo yesterday, I felt an incredible force. Inexplicable, almost like I imagine standing upon an empty battlefield feels. Long after the fighting is over, the impact of the battle remains. Then it hit me and I said to my mum, "The Patriots were here on Sunday." Like she knew exactly what I meant she said, "Oh my, how did that go." "Not good," I said. "Not good." She shook her head, "Poor Buffalo," she said. We went quiet, the sky darkened and it began to rain.

Now as a huge Indy fan, I don't like to harp on too much about how frighteningly good the New England Patriots are this season. How when Brady steps onto the field he is Robocop meets the Six Million Dollar Man, his arm flinging the ball like that arm was made of steel and his receivers, or whoever catches the ball, are magnetic. The ball soars directly into their guts, all they have to do is wrap their hands around it. Frightening. And it makes me sick when I hear certain analysts, mainly Canadians, say the Patriots should have stopped scoring, let up on poor ol' Buffalo. Jesus, what professional football player or coach in their right mind would say, okay guys, I think we've scored enough points, lets drop a few balls, throw a few interceptions, put the Gatorade boy in as QB. If Buffalo were up 56-10, would they quit doing well, just so New England could feel a little better?

In a Brooklyn hair salon last week, I flipped through gossip magazines while my sister had her hair flat-ironed. I filled her and the hairdresser in on all the latest gossip. Heath Ledger left Michelle Williams for ex-supermodel Helena Christianson. No! they said. Oh yes, I said. And other sundry shite. Then I said, Oh no! Tom Brady was spotted arguing with his supermodel girlfriend Gisele Bundchen in a Boston Starbucks. In unison, Lily and the hairdresser said, Whose Tom Brady?! I was shocked! The quarterback for the New England Patriots, I said. Oh, they said and asked if Brad Pitt's really leaving Angela Jolie. I shook my head and continued to read about how poor Brady's struggling to keep his high-maintenance supermodel girlfriend happy while longing to be with his son who lives in L.A. with his ex, actress Bridget Moynahan. Most men would be wrecked by such a tumultuous personal life; the kid, the ex, the supermodel girlfriend who dumped her Victoria's Secret contract to spend more time with her best-quarter-back-ever-in-the-history-of-the- NFL boyfriend (so say the experts), but not Tom Brady. He wraps up every minute detail of his troubled personal life and he packs it into that silver and blue uniform each week and he goes out there and he whips it and whips it and whips it into the end zone, time after time after time and he doesn't stop until the game's over and he trudges off the field like the warrior he is, goes back to his personal life and fuels up for the next game. I closed the magazine and nodded my head - so that's how the bastard does it, get all messed up with a couple of dames, get all amped-up over it then let that frustration out on the football field and rock the NFL's world - very clever.

My mother's tender voice shook me from my reverie. "How's Peyton doing?" she asked. "Okay," I said. "They've lost a couple of key players." When I looked back into the rear view mirror, I slowly felt the Brady Trail disappearing like the Buffalo skyline as it was swallowed by clouds.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Draining the Football Pool

I'm not a quitter. A procrastinator, complainer, oh yes, but I don't give up, usually. While travelling last week, incessantly I checked my email for week ten's picks. Saturday night, Sunday morning, still nothing. I arrived home, nothing. I didn't receive last week's picks. Missing a week in a pool is a huge impediment. It's virtually impossible to catch up, unless the gods grant me all my wishes and from here on out I ace every single game including the Superbowl. Impossible. So I withdrew from my football pool. I quit. Not out of spite, or even because I'll never win, but it seemed like the perfect time to shed myself of the unhappiness being in a football pool brings me, the constant disappointment and the inability to watch the games for the game's sake. Today I did that, when the score said Indy 13, KC 10, I didn't think, oh no, they didn't cover the spread. I thought, yay, Indy won. And that happened with every game. I celebrated wins and losses for the pure joy of seeing a team I prefer win or lose. I watched the day's games with the monkey off my back, with emotion, not counting numbers, checking the spreads and my football pool print out. Today, I enjoyed the game of football for what it is and for that I don't mind being a quitter.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

By a Nose

It's taken me a few days to recover from the Colts' loss to the Patriots. I've avoided reading media analysis, listening to interviews with Manning and his teammates, Dungy's comments. I've been reflecting quietly, replaying the second half in my head. The Colts rounded the bend in good finishing position, then in the last leg they lost the lead, physically changed their gait, their composure, lost their stride. Was it Marvin Harrison's absence, too much confidence from their first half victory? Or was it Reggie Wayne's slippery hands, the Patriot's ticked-off defence and Brady's wicked competitiveness that turned the entire game around? I suppose it's all of those things and more. In the end, they had a good race and only, really, lost by a nose. No roses draped around their necks. As a fan it's a bitter defeat, but hell it wasn't the Superbowl and it's time for me to get back on the horse. When Manning meets Brady again, he'll show him what the Colts are really made of. And they'll race through that finish line by at least a furlong!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Zen and the Art of Football Maintenance

All I have to say is the Colts vs the Patriots. The ultimate match-up, the pre-Superbowl. Manning vs Brady. It makes the hair on my arms stand on end. Makes me think of the movie Gladiators or Braveheart or Apocalypto, great fight scenes, lots of drama, emotion and no matter where one's loyalties lie, someone's going to lose and it's going to be devastating either way. I've been dreaming about it. The Patriots have been extremely lethal this season, slaughtering the Redskins 52-7 last week, the week before that they beat the Dolphins 49-28. Despite the Dolphins self-pity media banter how would they have handled the Redskin's 52-7 defeat or one of the more touted teams, Dallas' 48-27 defeat. It's all relative and for the Patriots it's just another day at the office. Whether the NFL's patching up hurt feelings, broken bones, broken rules or terminations, nothing can change the fact that one of its undefeated superstars is about to lose. Tomorrow it's my team the Patriots are up against and in my dreams I hear warrior drums and everything's in slow motion. Brady strides onto the field in his silver helmet, robocopish stature and sturdy glare. Followed by the thundering cleats of his brilliant teammates and Manning's standing there in all his wizardry and lethal genius, his sly and tricky and equally brilliant teammates at his side and it's like Yoda vs Darth Vader. It's a toss-up whose mental strength and cunning is going to outdo the other. This weekend's game against the two power houses is going to be physically exciting but I think it's going to be the Zen of these two teams that will decide the outcome.