Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Nov 2005

TMQ: What Hollywood Can Learn from the NFL

If you were expecting this week's TMQ to applaud the Chiefs for going for it at the end of the game and joke about the Carolina cheerleader story, it turns out you were only half right. Surprise!

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 08 Nov 2005

60 comments, Last at 15 Nov 2005, 2:30pm by Ashley Tate


by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:14pm

Carl is gonna love this one

by JG (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:15pm

I'd favor an electronic box that deletes the violent scenes from movies and replaces them with sex scenes!

Did he really just say that? Wow.

by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:18pm

Significantly more subjective morality in this article than I care for.

by Nuk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:20pm

Where I most agree with TMQ is in his more sex, less violence stand. I have no problem with my 3yr old seeing the occasional nipple, but I'd rather not have him see sadists cutting people open. The media is obsessed with protecting us from sex, but violence is A-OK apparently.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:22pm

As opposed to objective morality?

by MAW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:27pm

I'm shocked that he didn't mention the Panthers cheerleaders as co-Cheerleaders of the Week.

by Kurt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:30pm

Who expected any comment on the Carolina cheerleaders from someone writing for Pravda?

by Joey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:30pm

No reference to the cheerleader incident or TO? A football column that completely ignores two of the biggest stories of the week? Is this how far the once great GE has fallen? Joey writes "game over" next to TMQ in his notebook and moves on.

by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:31pm

Interestingly, French movies and TV show way more sex and way less violence. TMQ should like that.

I'm somewhat less confident in saying that Japanese movies and TV are more violent than Hollywood, and have less sex. But I believe that to be the case.

by Kurt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:32pm

Joey, "He Who Need Not Be Named" (paragraph 4) is TO.

by Kurt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:33pm

I also noticed that Gregg wisely used Sin City, rather than Kill Bill, to rework a familiar rant.

by Zach (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:38pm

I'm a bit disappointed that so far this year TMQ is both shorter and less football-driven then past years. Like Simmons, I enjoy Easterbrook's forays into other realms but only with the understanding that the main focus of his columns is sports. This week's TMQ devoted as much, if not more space to Google, airliners, and Hollywood than to football. Which is a shame, because the reason I started reading TMQ was because I thought his football insight was much keener than just about anyone else on the web.

Additionally, I agree that I found his morality questionable. While it may be true that many Hollywood movies feature significantly more blood and gore than might be necessary, and they may use it to cover up poor plots and acting, that doesn't mean that all gory movies are inherently bad. Sin City's violence, besides being highly stylized and cartoonish, was an integral part of Frank Miller's graphic novels. To tone it down for a theatrical release would ahve ruined much of the mood and setting that made the graphic novels so compelling. While violence shouldn't be used to cover up flaws in a movie, neither should we automatically condemn a movie because it is violent. Most of the time I don't mind TMQ's social commentary, but this column really rubbed me the wrong way in a couple of different sections.

by Ben Roethlisberger (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:50pm

"let's see a little more attention for the majority of players who bust their busts..."

Bust their busts? I guess he's talking about offensive linemen again...

by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:09pm

GE does definitely have a European attitude on the sex/violence in media issue. I've seen topless women in regular primetime TV commercials in Germany.

Oh, and Nuk #4 "I have no problem with my 3yr old seeing the occasional nipple, but I’d rather not have him see sadists cutting people open. The media is obsessed with protecting us from sex, but violence is A-OK apparently."

I don't think anyone anywhere has ever said that graphic violence is good for 3 year olds. But grown adults should be able to make that choice. If 3 year olds are seeing Sin City, it's not Hollywood's fault.

by Adam (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:15pm

1. Holli is smoking hot.

2. I am proud to say that I am in fact a graduate of the Indiana University of Pa and these facts are indeed facts

1. We prefer to be called "IUP." And if you must insist on not using the initials the proper name is "I'm Usually Partying."

B. It is one of the biggest party schools in the country. Not that I know anything about that.

D. Indiana Pa is the proud birth place of Jimmy Stewart. There is a Jimmy Stewart statue in town and on any given day he is holding an empty beer can.

3. The street sign that read "Jimmy Stewart BLVD" hung in the living room of my college apartment for my final 2 years of school.

5. Slippery Rock Sucks!

2. Rumor has it that 6 out of 10 girls at IUP has an STD. We aren't proud of this one. But anyone that lives in Western PA will believe it.

Still.....Go IUP.

by Joey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:15pm

My bad. I skimmed right over that.

Still strange that he'd leave in the cheerleader bit without mentioning the Carolina thing. How easy and histerical it would have been if he'd just included the line "not that we really needed that this week" after the "male fantasy overload" line.

I've always figured the cheerleader bits were done well ahead of time, and this week seems to prove that. I can imagine GE going over future columns as we speak, double-checking the two fired girls weren't supposed to appear.

by ian (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:18pm

re: #9 I can't refrain from throwing the irony flag since Paris is under curfew from 13 consecutive days of violent mobs firebombing cars and fighting with the police.

by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:29pm

Re #17

Maybe they were watching American movies.

by dbt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:33pm

Zach, while agree with you to a certain extent, doesn't turning a comic book into a movie necessarily change the mood? Violence on screen is far more distracting from the plot than violence in a comic book... as a fan of both comic books and comic book movies.

by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:03pm

Re 15: My sister goes to IUP you SOB. Seriously.

by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:13pm


I swear man, I didn't know she was your sister.

by Nuk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:14pm

#14: I didn't mean to imply that we should be restricted from seeing violence. I like watching brainless, violent movies. I just think that it's odd that prime time network TV has so much violence but so little sex.

by Adam (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:22pm


I didn't make that fact up. It's one of many serious concerns and blackeyes the school currently has.

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:51pm


Yeah, I know.

by Paul (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:32pm

It is nice that CBS showed some great finishes, but as a Steelers fan, CBS should have have switched when that game was over, not when the post-game interviews were over.

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:39pm

I used to really like the non-football color that Easterbrook interjected into his writing, but I've gradually been getting really fed up with his either ill-informed or extremely biased soapbox punditry

Example #1: The effect of Media violence on youth. This is always a bit hot button issue in politics that is useful from distracting parents who can't help but to "think of the children" from real issues like war and poverty. Easterbrook cites a 2000 report that indicates the adverse effect of media violence on youth, but this
table froma 2001 Surgeon general report
indicates that the effect is only significant to children 11 or younger, and the reports states that the correlation is fairly small even here. Easterbrook then rails against movies like Sin City. Duh, maybe 10 year olds shouldn't watch R-rated movies! But Easterbrook blames the studios, not the parents.

Example #2: Google's Google Print project. This project allows people to search full texts of scanned books, but only returns small excerpts of the books in the search results. Google claims that this is covered by Fair Use, a provision of copyright law (and Google is probably right). Easterbrook twists this explanation to say that they're breaking the law because the project wouldn't work otherwise, and calls Google thieves. Easterbrook should know the difference between the copyright infringement he accuses and thievery (you can steal a book, but you can't steal information, only copy and or disseminate it, which is what Google print does).

End rant. Easterbrook, stick to football (and cheerleaders).

(Sorry if some of this repeats other comments, I actually had it written up before the FO topic was posted, but was away from my computer when it was finally posted).

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:57pm

Google Print allows more than small excerpts. Several full pages counts as more than a small excerpt. Even if it's not that much as a percentage, I still think it violates fair use. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but from playing around with it a little I was able to read ten consecutive pages of a copyrighted book. That seems like enough to merit a copyright violation.

by Francisco (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:21pm


You can do the same thing in a library, or a bookstore for that matter. Either way you aren't buying it. Yes, that one copy must be bought by someone for it to end up in the store/library, but if you want the whole thing you're going to buy it after Googling it.

I'm sure Google could still make a killing off advertising if they paid some infintesimal royalty, though.

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:44pm

I guess you're right about the page amount Jerry, the PDF describing Google's motives seems to say something different but it may vary depending on the particular book how much you get to see.

Still, I disagree that what Google is doing is immoral. They provide a free and useful service that is far more likely to sell books than it is to prevent sales. In other words I think it serves the overall public good. Too many people ignore the face that the motivation behind copyright was that it served the public good, and not that a person had some intrinsic property right over words and ideas. That view has sadly been perverted over the past 200 years or so so that most people nowadays think that they should be able to make an idea and own it for life.

Whether Google Print is found to be legal or not is yet to be seen. But if it is illegal then you'd have to make the same argument that search engines are illegal, and I don't think anyone reasonable wants that. Think of how much crappier the web would be without search engines. We don't want to go there do we?

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:53pm

Yeah, I meant to add, before getting hungry and going to make dinner, that I don't feel nearly as confident as GE that it's illegal, I was mainly contradicting that it merely gives small excerpts. It seems like you can read the whole book if you're crafty (although you might need to switch computers).

by Jon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:23am

In his ESPN days all of the columns were 10,000 plus words. Even last season, the columns were long enough that the non football rants were only a minor part of the over piece. Now that the weekly columns appear to be limited to 5,000 words the non-football related comentary should be removed. In his ESPN days, Tuesday afternoon was reserved for reading Page 2. Now I can't say that I would care if he continued the column or not.

by MMM (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:32am

I'm surprised he didn't include mention of the 'preposturous punt' New England executed with 5mins left in the game while down by 19.

by stan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 7:39am

How long was Bo Jackson's MNF run against Seattle where he went around left end, hit the afterburners and rocketed out the door? I'm thinking 90 yards and don't remember him being touched.

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 10:29am

#33: Since I'm in an Easterbrook hatin' mood today I'll comment on this one.

Easterbrook has often argued against preposterous punts by saying that Belichick would never punt in such and such situation. Therefore the punt you described was but a figment of your imagination.

by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 11:42am

I noticed that Bill Simmons claimed that Belichick showed fear by going for it on fourth down early (and eventually scoring a TD); but TMQ always says this shows confidence. Do we need to have them fight it out?

by Bassett (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:28pm


The STD rumor runs rampant in every state... now please tell me about the time your friend's friend's friend knew twins in grade school who had the names Lemonjello and Orangello....

I went to school in VA and Radford U. had the same rap...

by wrmjr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:45pm

#31, I agree that the non-football portions of TMQ have remained constant while the length of the article has decreased. Also, his football commentary is consumed almost entirely with running items. Every week we get stop me before I blitz again, better to have run and sweet/sour plays multiple times. Only the last one gives him any opportunity to say something new or interesting or even controversial. I think its time to retire these old ideas, but why should he? He can probably write half the column in his sleep and still get paid for it.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:48pm

I'm sure he didn't mention the Carolina cheerleaders because his column is on NFL.com and I doubt the NFL wants the story to get any more play that it is already getting.

Re 31: I totally agreee. It seems like he cut out the football part of the column rather than the other crap. Not to mention the football stuff is totally redundant these days and he hasn't had a fresh idea in at least a year or two.

by Jake (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:54pm

RE: College problems
Try being a Kent State grad. My response for "Where did you go to school?" has actually become "Kent State... We kill hippies." just to prevent prolonged discussion on the topic.

by Harry (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:00pm

I'm surprised no-one has pointed out that Football Outsiders is probably the primary reason so many people are becoming unsatisfied with TMQ. Back when Easterbrook was writing for Slate I don't remember there being a lot of other great intelligent web football commentary. If there was I didn't know about it. These days with all the coverage we get with FO I find that Easterbrook rarely has much original to say that I haven't already read somewhere else.

by JG (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:14pm

I would agree with that assesment. When I started reading TMQ I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. However that was before I discovered Sports Guy and FO. FO does intellegent football commentary better and Sports Guy does lighthearted digression better than GE. So now when I read TMQ I'm left wanting more because I've become spoiled.

by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:34pm

RE #39:

That has to be the best school motto in the history of the world.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:59pm


I usually have a problem with the argument that "X is far more likely to sell books (albums) than it is to prevent sales". If this were true, wouldn't publishers be in favor of X. Why should we think you (or Google or anyone else) has a better idea about the impact of X than the people whom X will impact?

Also, as a practical matter, I still haven't figured out how my ability to get something I want without paying would somehow increase the demand for that something.

by the K (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:23pm

Re: 40 and 41

Am I really the only person who discovered FO via TMQ's tips of the hat to them?

by Spoilt Victorian Child (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:23pm

Also, as a practical matter, I still haven’t figured out how my ability to get something I want without paying would somehow increase the demand for that something.

I believe the reasoning is that, without Google Print, you might not have realized that the book contained information useful to you.

by shonk (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:23pm

The amount of material shown from a book on Google print depends on the book's copyright status. Most books currently on there provide a few pages because the authors/publishers have given Google permission to display that much. Some provide full text, either because they're not under copyright or the author/publisher has given permission. Other copyrighted works only display a few lines; my impression, based on what Google has said about the project, is that copyrighted books whose authors/publishers haven't given permission for more extensive use will default to only showing a few lines. To see an example of what I'm talking about, search for "Role of GATT" in Google Print and click the first item that comes up.

Since Google's maintaining a searchable index of copyrighted works, even if they're not displaying more than a few lines (and displaying a few lines of anything is almost always fair use), there's certainly some question as to whether what they're doing is fair use or not. But it's silly to claim that they're displaying 10 pages (or whatever) of copyrighted works without permission when it's demonstrably untrue.

by Luz (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:49pm

re: college STD rumors

rutgers also has that reputation. not being an alumnist and enjoying NJ-bashing makes me believe it.

by Joey (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:05pm

The columns being shorter isn't the problem...it's why they're shorter. Gone is the commentary he used to make on the off-the-field parts of the game. He can still say the Redskins were dumb for passing on 4th and 1 but he can't call them the Indigenous Persons, say Dan Snyder is Lord Voldemort, or mention anything else that might upset the powers that be upset.

The most shocking thing this season is that he actually was allowed to mention the Vikings party boat incident. Maybe they didn't like that which is why he had to leave the cheerleader story alone?

There's no doubt that if this were still the pre-NFL.com days he'd have had something meaningful to say about the Saints situation. Instead, all the mention I can recall him making of them all season was prior to the Giants game, when he said it would be tough not having any true home games. (No, really?) That's just amazing, given how much fodder the Saints owner has provided: moving the offices to S.A. instead of keeping them in the region, the incident in Baton Rouge, followed by his telling the NFL he's never going back there, trading barbs with the mayor of N.O., and there was that story citing "inside sources" that the NFL was supposedly hoping to put the Saints in L.A.

His column now consists of some random sci fi notes, a cheerleader bio., a few bits of social commentary, and various set pieces that all make the same rather obvious point: that not every play call in a football game turns out just the way the coach had hoped.

by DennisB (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 8:15pm

Re #48: You summed it up perfectly. TMQ's beholden to the NFL powers that be now, so he can't risk writing anything the league might think is critical. Or maybe he does and they edit it out.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:53pm

I was always fond of the recruiting pitch, "Kent read? Kent write? Kent State!" But I think hippie-killing would have been more likely to win me over.

by Elton (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:29am

I was surprised to see him bash Brin and Page. Those guys owe the vast majority of their wealth to their Google stock, and not to their salaries. Since they started the company, I don't know how you can fault them for getting rich when it became the Next Big Thing. And if I had the money they had, I'd spend it on extravagant transportation too. Just because big luxury planes rub TMQ the wrong way doesn't make Brin and Page (or wealthy people in general) evil thieves.

by KRB (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:03pm

#51 is a good point about Google. GE suggests that shareholders would dissaprove of wealthy CEOs buying Boeing airplanes, however I doubt Google shareholders are too unhappy with the returns they've gotten on their stock. There may be a time when Brin & Page will have to answer to a Board of Directors for poor management, but right now the honeymoon is far from over in Googleville.

by DennisB (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 12:47pm

Does anyone know for sure that they bought the jet with company funds and not their personal earnings?

by KRB (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 5:09pm

A quick search on their own website reveals this (click website link for the WSJ article):

"Mr. Page says he and Mr. Brin bought the plane themselves and will use it for personal travel. He says there's no plan for Google to reimburse the duo for its costs. A Google spokesman says the plane has no formal connection with the company."

by NF (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2005 - 7:10pm

I don't really care whether or not the money the owners of Google bought their private airliner with came from their own pockets. I can think of no way that it is necessary to the working of the company to have a plane that size. The one mitigating factor is that it was likely bought for about as much as the cost of a low-end executive business jet because of its age. However, being used, maintenance issues will be a problem. Also, according to the WSJ article, refurbishment will add considerably to the actual acquisition cost. In the long-run it will likely cost them more to run the 767 than a normal business jet even if you offset with any money saved in purchasing it. Not a smart business decision. If it wasn't for business purposes, buying the plane was wasteful decadence. I think people who are stockholders of Google should consider this, because poor personal financial mnagement could potentially carry over into imprudent management of the corporation.

The people buying private models of the A380, the biggest commercial airplane ever made? Decadence on a grotesque level. I think we're unlikely to ever see a ridiculous waste of wealth of a magnitude greater than this in our lifetime. The actions of the people buying these planes for private use are inexcusable. There is a difference between living in luxury and drowning yourself in it. It's indicative of someone's caracter that they will spend a ridiculous amount of money on a luxury that even as a luxury is ridiculous. What does someone who can afford their own super jetliner get from owning one that they didn't have already? Whoever purchased the A380 is someone who is intoxicated from their own opulence and has completely lost touch with reality.

by Joey (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 2:20am

No doubt the super-jets are over the top...but the very league that is supposed to be the main focus of GE's column has plenty of greedy CEO-types. One currently wants to move his profitable franchise out of a city devastated by a flood. And, he might stoop to using the flood damage to the stadium to get out of his lease. I'd say that's more worthy of discussion in a football column than what the Google billionaires are doing.

by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 3:27am

Count me in as yet another former TMQ fan who found FO because of TMQ. I found his column on Page 2 (I didn't know it existed back in the Slate days) and followed him here and then to NFL.com.
The column has almost no originality, and says mostly the same junk each week. He talks about phrases in his auto-text. Well, he could practically put a lot of his column in auto-text and change a few details each week. Truly sad.
Plus, the fact that he's on the league website has hurt his freedom to say some of the things I used to find entertaining.

by big_adventure (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 4:49am

RE: 17 re: #9 I can’t refrain from throwing the irony flag since Paris is under curfew from 13 consecutive days of violent mobs firebombing cars and fighting with the police.

Sorry - I live in Paris and, despite CNN reports, Paris is most definitely not under any sort of curfew. Seriously, you want to start a problem in France, try suggesting a curfew. In addition, there haven't really been any troubles in Paris (I live in the 7eme), but in the surrounding suburbs (the French word for suburb is "banlieu"). It's nothing like a good situation, but there is a lack of fear that I think most Americans would be surprised at or impressed with.

About Google Print, well, I spoke to an author and a publisher (who happens to be a huge fan of Google) about this topic. We discussed fair use and copyright applications. He used to run an investment newsletter service. Most of the products were entirely house-made and original, but one product was just a collection of articles taken from other sources, and they never asked copyright permissions. They would go so far as to have subscription drives where they would give away hundreds of thousands of copies of the current issue. Plus, the product was cheap, only about $30 a year. Because of this, it had massively higher circulation than any of the publications they were borrowing material from. I should add, they gave the citations for everything they used, but not demanding permission is still a copyright violation.

The only complaints they ever had were when friends in the industry complained that the newsletter didn't use their pieces enough. Everyone else got enough real or percieved boost from the process that it was worth their time. They never received a complaint saying "don't use my stuff". This process went on for many years.

While there might be a few people harmed by Google in this, and you can certainly question Google's ethics and morals on this and many other aspects of their business process, many people are going to come out of this ahead. He put it this way:

"I don't like Google's cavalier attitude towards copyright, but my guess is that in the long run everyone will make money and Google Print will prosper. I know that if I had a back-list of books to promote, I would want
to be under Google's tent, not outside it."


by Elton (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 4:50am

I think we’re unlikely to ever see a ridiculous waste of wealth of a magnitude greater than this in our lifetime.

Heh heh ... a prime nominee for "Exaggeration of the Year". Hell, this week alone we've seen Neifi Perez get a $5M contract.

by Ashley Tate (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2005 - 2:30pm

Gruden Goes For Two: Foolish Folly or Genius Gamble?

(A probabilistic "analysis")

Washington's painful one-point loss to Tampa Bay yesterday was about as gut-wrenching a seesaw battle as I've seen in a while, with huge momentum-changing plays every few minutes, four critical instant-replay reviews, and one unreviewable blown call.*