06 Mar 2007
Host: Welcome to the hottest new show on television, the one that pits precocious middle schoolers against people who were too dumb to get on any other reality shows. This week, we offer a new twist: the kids will be competing against NFL personalities.
It's time for our first matchup. Here's the scenario. You are a 32-year old NFL quarterback coming off a bad season. You were just traded to new team, but you are seriously considering retirement instead. What do you do?
Fifth Grader: In recess, I play on a football team. Playing football is fun. My 32-year dad is on an insurance sales team. Selling insurance is not fun. Anyone who chooses selling insurance, or managing a construction company, or waiting until his money runs out and then selling his autograph for $5 a pop at sports card shows is just crazy. I would keep playing football.
Contestant "Jake:" I'm tired of football and I don't want to play anymore. I don't even want to sit on a bench for a year or two and collect a big salary while retaining the $5 million portion of my signing bonus that I may forfeit by retiring. I won't be installing patios for a living in three years. I'm gonna be a television personality. Everybody wants a television analyst with a beard that looks like a squirrel's nest.
Host: Sorry, Jake. The fifth grader wins this round easily.
Now for our next scenario: Your team just went 14-2 but lost in the playoffs. You are a general manager who can't get along with your head coach. You give the coach a vote of confidence after the playoff loss, but a few weeks later you find that you still can't see eye-to-eye with him. What do you do?
Fifth Grader: That's easy. In school, we are taught to put differences aside and work together. When we do group projects, we get grades on how well we divide responsibilities and how well we cooperate. If the team is playing well, the general manager must work with the coach, and they must share credit and blame. Plus, if the general manager waits too long and tries to fire the coach, all of the good replacements will be gone. In gym class, we learn that you never want to pick last, or else you get stuck with someone like Norv Turner running your dodge ball team.
Contestant "A.J.:" Fire the unreasonable son-of-a-gun. Hire whoever is left on the market. Risk tearing down everything we've built in the last four years. I'll show fans who the real football expert is around here, just you wait and see.
Host: Sorry, A.J., we have to go with the fifth grader on that one.
Okay, here's another scenario. You are an NFL owner, and you are signing free agents. You have a chance to sign a left tackle, a former Cardinals first round pick who has been a disappointment for his entire career. What do you do?
Fifth grader: My math teacher told me that money is important, and I shouldn't waste all of it on bubble gum and Avatar action figures. This player sounds like the kind of toy who looks great in the commercial but doesn't quite work right when you bring it home. If a toy like that comes with a Happy Meal, then it is great, but if you spend too much money on toys like that, then you cannot afford really good ones.
Contestant "Jerry:" A big left tackle who might be good? Pay him $50-million. Give him the largest bonus in team history. And put him at guard or right tackle, where he can't possibly be worth that kind of money. Sure, that will shake up the team's salary structure a little, but we don't have any complainers or malcontents on our roster, so no worries. In August, the tackle and T.O will be hanging out in the whirlpool with phantom hamstring pulls while the rest of the team sweats through training camp, but I'm sure my new coach and novice offensive coordinator will be able to manage the situation.
Host: Oops, sorry. The fifth grader wins again.
Okay, here's our final scenario: You are hanging out at a Vegas strip club and have the urge to throw $81,000 around on stage. The promoter decides that the money is his and puts it in a big trash bag. What do you do next?
Fifth grader: Well, I'm a little young to be talking about strip clubs, but hey, this is FOX. I know I am not supposed to throw money around. And my uncle once told me that as soon as the cash hits the stage, it belongs to the club, not the dude who threw it. And most important, I know that the best way to avoid trouble is to just walk away from it. The moment you walk into a strip joint with entourage, a rapper, and enough money to buy a loaded Lexus, you are just asking for trouble.
Contestant "Pacman:" First of all, let me say that I'm a victim in all this. I was the one attacked by the bouncers. My stylist got pushed into a cactus, for goodness sakes, and those things are spiky. Anyway, what red-blooded American man wouldn't blow 81 grand on a chance to "make it rain" for visual effect? And who wouldn't expect to get his money back? How would I know that a major fight would break out and that someone would get seriously injured? For some reason, trouble just keeps finding me.
Host: I'm sorry, but the fifth grader wins again. It looks like a clean sweep for the kids, folks. Tune in next week when a 11-year old demonstrates the proper way to dispose of a water bottle before approaching airport security.
"Last team with the ball wins" is a cliche, but sometimes cliches are the best way to get across the central narrative of an important game. If you like great quarterback play, you have to watch the NFC Championship Game.