Thank God it is upon us. The 33 long days between the World Cup final and the Premier League’s kick off may have granted you the ability to empathize with Ashley Young when a passing bird crapped in his mouth. But once Manchester United kicked off their march of doom against European powerhouse Swansea City, we were finally able to relax, exhale, and prepare to wallow in 282 days of pro-sports equivalent of the telenovela.
A Premier League campaign delivers a unique sporting delight. In the same way the Centaur of Ancient Greece was half-man, half-horse, English football thrives off its hybrid sensibility. The competition is part elite athletic pursuit, part soap opera in equal measure. Moments of physics- and biology-defying athleticism coalesce with narrative, character, and the occasional ill-judged neck tattoo. David Silva’s deft goal against Newcastle, a product of Bosnian telepathy, coexists with a drunk West Ham fan’s efforts to “liven up a boring a game” against Spurs by smashing a free kick over the wall, then giddily telling the English press, post-arrest, “My mates think I’m a legend.” The English Premier League is both Fantasy Island and Lord of the Flies.
We were delighted to join Rebecca Lowe on NBC’s “Goal Zone” and breakdown the first weekend’s play [WATCH HERE]. The two big questions we leave the first week asking:
1. Will Louis Van Gaal prove to be an Emperor with no clothes?
2. Why have none of Marouane Chamakh’s teammates had the courage to break “the news” to the striker about his terminal follicle challenge?
Those two questions are a mere glimpse into a Premier League narrative 38 chapters long. We previewed several other plots and subplots we’re looking forward to in a series of videos for NBCSports.com. And we’ll be following every twist and turn in our weekly Pod, which has a new home on the NBC Network. More details of that transition below.
In this newsletter:
- Three Questions with man who holds the secret to eternal youth, Rob Stone
- Davo answers a question about when it’s acceptable to go sockless
- A Sub-Optimal Fantasy Football League update
Kung Fu Fighting,
On behalf of
“Positve” Davo: @embassydavies
I. The Pod’s New Home
We were part humbled, but mostly confused, when we saw this week’s pod hit No. 1 on iTunes’ podcast chart. We want to thank all GFOPs for listening and spreading the word about our new home and making our transition go a little easier than Louis Van Gaal’s. In case you missed it, you can listen, download and subscribe at:
New iTunes Feed
Buzzsprout (RSS Feed Available)
If you have any questions regarding the Pod’s new homes, send Ravens. We are determined to make the pod accessible to every last GFOP, even if it means going to the roof of the Crap Part of SoHo with tin foil hats and beaming to you personally via satellite.
II. They’re Cesc’s Tweets Now
Watching former god, Cesc “Once a Gunner, Always a Gunner” Fabregas (Davo’s “Shesc”), morph from a red to a blue during Chelsea’s dismissal of newboys Burnley made many Arsenal GFOPs feel like Santi Cazorla getting the ref’s vanishing spray IN THE FACE. When Cesc set Schurrle up for Chelsea’s second goal with this delicious pass (one that @ClaudeUkuele described as a Fabergasm), we asked Arsenal fans to put their feelings into words:
@ntmanning: It would be like watching Kyle Beckerman play for Mexico
@JPLynch14: worse than seeing van Persie in united red.
@petemacia: Like watching your kids’ new stepfather walk the dog you adopted from a shelter while in college
III. Questions about Life at NBC
We’ve gotten a lot of questions about life at NBC. One GFOP, composer Cal Reichenbach, was even inspired to craft an MIB theme song [LISTEN HERE] replete with a booming chorus he calls “a suboptimal Von Trapps choir.” If we were a country in need of a national anthem, Cal, we’d call you.
GFOP @bevowon: Do you get Rebecca Lowe's hair stylist?
Rog writes: Contractually we do have access to Rebecca’s “Formula 1 pit crew-sized hair team” but that clause is practically symbolic. As the both of us are only slightly less bald than Marouane Chamakh, we simply require a quick dust of powder and a slap across the face. No scissors needed.
GFOP @BenKrimmel: Your transfer news is great, but when are we getting the awkward shirtless pictures of you guys at your @NBCSportsSoccer medical?
Rog writes: You're welcome/We're sorry/You asked
Rog writes: Nonsense Rabbi Tirico. You remain our Lord and Saviour. Next time you are in Manhattan, come down to the Crap Part of Soho and the drinks are on us. Besides, we heard a rumor you can turn water into Malbec.
IV. Three Questions With Rob Stone
Rob Stone is as American as Budweiser, Chevrolet and bowling all rolled into one. He also happens to be one of the most gracious, supportive and friendly football broadcasters we know. These days, he spearheads FOX Soccer’s coverage of the Champions League. But in his day, the man we call “Stoner” was a class college player. He remains among the Colgate Raiders leaders in career assists.
While we love Stoner (Listen here to his interview on our pod), we also covet his boyish good looks and full head of hair.
In this edition of Three Questions (we snuck in a fourth yet again), we talk with a man who’s accomplished what Ponce de Leon never could.
MiB: Starsky and Hutch, John Mellencamp and Kelly LeBrock helped us formulate our early sense of what was American growing up across the Atlantic in England. What contributed to your formative sense of that which is English when you were a young Rob Stone?
Stoner: Benny Hill owned my early evenings growing up. The music, titular actresses, and odd slapping of the head humor made me the man I am today. James Bond let me know how dashing and charismatic all Brits must be. Also believed tuxedos in England were our version of jeans and a Gap shirt. I've always been a big music guy, so The Police, The Clash, Stones, etc, sent me on a proper path. Back in the day, it was a challenge to watch soccer from England, but I do remember being transfixed with the Nottingham Forest reddish orange, and the odd tree that symbolized the club. I figured it must be one hell of a forest in Nottingham, to name the team after it.
MiB: You appear to have mastered the secret of eternal youth. What is your beauty regimen?
Stoner: I learned early to moisturize....and to experiment with hair pomade/mousse/gel/spray devices. Also, to involve bacon in your daily regimen.
MiB: We are in a bar. What are you drinking?
Stoner: It would be an AMERRRICANNN drink. My friend Jack Daniels likes to hang with me. So do beers of the 'quantity, not quality' variety. Schlitz, PBR, Stroh's, Old MiIl, The Beast, etc.
MiB: England's Warren Barton in the Octagon vs. America's Eric Wynalda. Who wins and why?
Stoner: Something I've long pondered. So I asked the 2 participants. ERIC- "Split decision. Because we don’t really want to fight." WARREN- "It would never happen, I'm a lover, not a fighter." The REAL PPV we should be clamoring for would be a tag team match between them and Team MIB. Legendary pro wrestling announcer Jim Ross would handle the play-by-play. The late-great Sid Waddell would provide the commentary. Toby Charles would slide in ala 'Soccer Made in Germany' for in between round news breaks. Mid-match an Angry Evertonian would jump the cage and crack a chair on Davo. Christian Miles and Christopher Sullivan, in masks, would appear from under the Octagon, and throw salt in Eric and Warren's eyes. Then the camera would find Roger and myself in the middle of the ring smiling, celebrating, and wearing the belts. This needs to happen.
MiB: Stoner, Barton and Wynalda would snap us in two within the first 20 seconds.
V. Style Question
GFOP Brandon Monzon asks: As a GFOP, I've always admired Davo's style from afar over the past few years. During the Copa das Copas, Davo noted and showed he was sporting no socks on particular days. I don't own a pair of shoes that I feel comfortable going sock-less in. What are your suggestions for the best type or style of shoe to rock sock-less?
Davo answers: Great question. I am really only a very occasional wearer of shoes with no socks and only in these circumstances:
1…When I am traveling and have run out of socks
2…When it is very warm – 80 degrees plus
3…When I do not have important meetings with people who will mostly be wearing socks
Types of shoes?
Sneakers (always classic Adidas. I wear Stan Smiths. Rog prefers Lavers (One day we would like to do a Tennis Spin-Off called “Men In Lavers”), deck shoes, old school Bass Weejun loafers, almost anything suede….
Hope this helps you in your pursuit of socklessness.
VI. Panic Room Taking Shape
We debuted the new Panic Room in our Premier League preview videos and, like everything we do, it’s a work in progress. The decor is Rog’s childhood bedroom with a splash of Copa das Copas. Our hope is, that like a fine Argentinian Malbec, it will get better with age. Please send us any decor suggestions you have. Below are a few of our favorite pieces already in there: A Pele Atari game. A Kyle Martino trading card that will surely be worth millions one day. And a Jack of Hearts for #GFOP Nick Rogers, whose son Jack is fighting his way back to full health
VII. Your Morning Rituals
We are thrilled to see so many of you enhance your Premier League viewing experience with our Sub-Optimal Premier League Enhancement Kit. As Rebecca and the Two Robbies take to the screen, many of you have been raising your MiB mugs -- some filled with coffee, others with Guinness. Whether you use them to sip coffee and tea, convert parts of your home to the Crap Part of SoHo, complete other mug sets, or feed your pets at 4 a.m., we love the pictures you send. Please keep them coming.
A few EPL Enhancement Kits, including an MiB patch, are still available HERE.
VIII. Fantasy Football Update
The Men in Blazers Sub-Optimal Fantasy Football League is off to a tremendous start. Thousands of you signed up in hopes of winning our custom-made Men in Blazers Championship Belt. The first week saw Evan Sadler’s “Eric Dierwolves” jump out to an early lead. Evan notched 98 points behind strong performances from the team’s namesake, Eric Dier, Aaron Ramsey, and Iceland’s own Gylfi Sigurdsson. Rog and Davo’s “Team Men in Blazers” had a more SubOptimal start, registering 48 points and finishing week one in 2,383 place.
You can still sign up. Just go here, register a team, and join our league. Code: 422932-110181
IX. Emporium Recommendation
Rog writes: After watching Boyhood, I returned to Michael Apted’s classic documentary “56 Up,” which, for me, is one of my top ten movies up there with “Once Were Warriors,” “Pelle The Conqueror,” and “Pretty in Pink.” The latest installment in the 7 Up Series, which has followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old, is like a piece of beautiful but harrowing poetry about both England and life.
X. To All GFOP VETERANS
A few weeks ago, #GFOP Elizabeth Neely contacted us about her work with The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She asked us to spread the word about the Veterans Crisis Line, a service connecting vets, active-duty service members, and their loved ones with trained VA mental health professionals. The service is free, confidential and available to all vets, regardless of whether they’re registered with the VA or receiving benefits. To access the Veterans Crisis Line call 1-800-273-8255 and PRESS 1 or text 838255. Men in Blazers wants to thank all the #GFOP veterans, and men and women everywhere, who’ve served and sacrificed for this remarkable nation.
XI. A Poem To Gird Your Loins
By Philip Larkin
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
"Plumb our Annals”
Every Saturday and Sunday morning, her mellifluous voice emanates from our television screen, leading us to the living room, like the children following the Pied Piper out of Hamelin. In this week’s, Pod From the Past we revisit our interview with the ever lovely Rebecca Lowe. She’s professionalism personified, remaining objective even when her stomach must be in knots thanks to her devotion to a certain Premier League side, which we will not name.
Our entire pod archive is available here. If you prefer the Cliffs Notes version, check out "Men in Blazers. Unbuttoned: Now That's What I Call Sub-Optimal" on iTunes and Amazon. It's the least objectionable of our football "analysis," Ravens and interviews from the first four years.
this to your football curious friends. Let's see if we can bring them over to the dark side. The Ian Darke Side.