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Saturday, June 27, 2009

NY Jets #38 - Part 2

Mike Zordich played for Penn State at cornerback, and now his son plays linebacker for Penn State, which makes me feel pretty old. Zordich played in #38 as a rookie for the Jets during the "lost" years - a time where I became disenchanted with the lusterless play of my football team because I was busy trying to pick up women at hopelessly crowded house parties or maybe trying to understand Roland Barthes' S/Z. It was not to be.

For himself, Mike Zordich came to the Jets in the strike year of 1987, and he played all 16 games the following year. In 1988 he scored on his first pro interception, a long return against the Houston Oilers to top off 45-3 win. If I had been paying attention during this one year in the lost ones, I might have thought of Zordich's interception as part of a big win in what would be a big season in a big career for Mike Zordich as a Jet. None of it was to be.

I knew Mike Zordich more by his play in #36 for Philadelphia, where he became a popular Eagles player in a city that loves its highly physical defensive backs. But obviously he most important thing here is Mike Zordich's faint mustache at left, which I too possessed in and around the time that Mike Zordich first became a professional in the game he loves. It's just a hint of hair under the nose. Like the mullet, these mustaches were regarded without irony or critical abstraction. These was intended to attract females which, as I mentioned earlier, it did not in my particular case. Nor did it help me understand French poststructuralist theory.

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During my junior year of college, I was given an opportunity to study at Blackfriars College, Oxford for entire school year. This may be news to you, but 20 years later, it's apparently not news to my students, one of whom inferred that I mentioned decades-old experience a little too often today. The following exchange took place recently:

"Mr. Roche?"

"Yes?"

"I ran into one of your former students the other day. Do you remember (name omitted)?"

"Why yes, I do. Does he remember me?"

"Yes, he did. In fact, he asked me, Does Roche still talk all the time about the fact that he went to Oxford for a year of college?"

"Ah. And what did you say?"

"I said yes, he does."

It took a couple of days for me to silently, quietly and humbly recover from that one.

Safety Todd Scott wore #38 for the Jets in 10 games during the bleak 1995 season. Three seasons before, he had gone to the Pro Bowl as a Viking for the first and only time in his career. He was also named to the All-Madden team that same year. Does he mention the season 1995 as often as, apparently, I do my year in the sun? Well, I know I won't mention Oxford anymore - except in my blogs, which no one reads anyway.

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Kwame Ellis in trouble.
A simple search online for former 1996 Jets safety, #38 Kwame Ellis produces an interesting result. It was bad enough that Ellis did not even play all the way through the New York Jets' worst season in record, and while he would play in NFL Europe, he would never play for anyone else in NFL United States. But he was also arrested in Mexico last November for stiffing a cab driver the equivalent of $26! The age of immediate worldwide access to information should encourage all of us to behave better, if only to save us from the worldwide embarrassment that a reported misadventure might bring us. Even a non-celebrity former athlete like Kwame Ellis is that much more likely to be humiliated online by a site like YouBeenBlinded, which suggests that Ellis may have stiffed the driver in order to save his money for a pickup with a lady of the evening on the strip. The site seems to specialize in reporting on athletes breaking the law. It's a rich ground to till.

And finally...Jon McGraw #38. No, he never sang with Elmo, but I remember when McGraw was drafted out of Kansas State as a walk-on turned college starter turned pro. Stories like that resonate, of course. Now that he's with the Kansas City Chiefs, he has his own web site. Why? Dunno. But enter the site and hover over the headings at the top, and you'll find that it makes this sort of weird sound, like what a bumble bee makes when it brushes against a screen door.

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