We're not in the business of predicting Super Bowl winners, but we can guarantee there will be lots of stupid questions asked of the participants.
The annual Super Bowl tradition known as Media Day—rechristened "Super Bowl Opening Night" this year—has come to represent the NFL at its silliest. It’s the place where a Japanese reporter once asked of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, “Tell me, why do they call you Boomer?” (Well, they don’t actually. That would be Boomer Esiason, the Cincinnati quarterback.)
It’s where someone asked Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Joe Salave’a, “What’s your relationship with the football?” To which Salave’a said, “I’d say it’s strictly platonic.”
Media Day is where a St. Louis player found himself pondering the grammatical conundrum contained within the question, “Is Ram a noun or a verb?”
Where Rams’ quarterback Kurt Warner was asked, “Do you believe in voodoo and can I have a lock of your hair?”
Where Denver running back Detron Smith was asked, “What size panties do you think you’d wear?”
And it's where Downtown Julie Brown, formerly of MTV, asked Dallas running back Emmitt Smith, “What are you going to wear in the game Sunday?”
Asked how he got psyched to play in big games, Buffalo’s great running back Thurman Thomas sniffed, “I read the newspapers and look at all the stupid questions you all ask.”
Not Quite as Stupid
An urban legend grew that Washington quarterback Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl, was asked, “How long have you been a black quarterback?”
That's not exactly what happened. ESPN.com cleared it up. The reporter knew Williams. He also knew Williams was tired of hearing about race. So the question was more along the lines of, “Doug, obviously you’ve been a black quarterback all along. When did it suddenly become important?”
Exactly as Stupid
I wasn't there for that tortured exchange. But I was in the group of reporters at Super Bowl XV when Oakland quarterback Jim Plunkett was asked a question that makes every Super Bowl list. And this one wasn't staged by a TV or radio personality. As sports writers we have to own this one.
Plunkett had just answered a question about his parents. He spoke in low, respectful tones about growing up in a special needs household, that his mother was blind and that his father, also blind, had passed away.
Five more topics came and went after Plunkett mentioned his parents. A reporter from the Philadelphia press corps, a guy I once worked with at another paper, jumped in. He was a columnist. He wasn't there to write about the blitz. Plunkett's family situation was far more intriguing to him.
He tried two or three times to ask a follow-up. But he kept losing the floor to reporters who timed their questions better or who were close enough to make eye contact with Plunkett, or who simply spoke up louder.
Finally, he forced his way back into the interview.
"Jimmy, Jimmy, I want to make sure I have this right. Was it dead mother, blind father or blind mother, dead father?"
It's going to be a long week.
This post originally appeared in 2010. Bud Shaw is a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who has also written for the Philadelphia Daily News, San Diego Union-Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The National. You can read his Plain Dealer columns at Cleveland.com.
You don't need to win big in your March Madness bracket to afford an extra treat at Wendy's this month. As Thrillist reports, the fast food chain is giving away free burgers and cookies with any purchase during NCAA tournament season.
Wendy's announces new specials almost every month, and as the official burger sponsor of the NCAA, they weren't about to pass up the opportunity to offer a deal for March Madness. To claim your complimentary snack, download the free Wendy's app for Android or iOS, then head to the "Account" page and then "Offers." From there you can see all the specials Wendy's is currently offering, including a deal that gets you a free Dave's Single burger or a free cookie with any item you order. Deals for a buy-one-get-one-free burger and chicken sandwich and $2 off a salad are also in effect at Wendy's this month.
The burger deal ends April 9 and the cookie deal is good through March 26. But don't stop checking the Wendy's app after taking advantage of the current special: Wendy's promises to update it with new offers as the tournament continues. And if you're looking for more ways to embrace March Madness season, you can always try memorizing the stories behind every team's mascot before the final game.
Five years before David Beckham moved across the Atlantic—and before anyone knew who Keira Knightley was—a low-budget movie about a Punjabi teenager living in Southall who wanted to play soccer became a bona fide international sensation.
Bend It Like Beckham was a surprise smash, earning more than $76.5 million against a $6 million budget. Although the film itself is British, both in its setting and its theme—dealing with immigrant integration in a country with a religious-like devotion to football (what we know as soccer)—it delighted critics and audiences worldwide with its quiet charm and optimism. On the fifteenth anniversary of its U.S. release, and one West End musical adaptation later, here are 18 winning facts about Bend It Like Beckham.
1. IN AMERICA, IT WAS ALMOST KNOWN AS MOVE IT LIKE MIA.
In 2002,studio executives at Fox Searchlight were concerned that Americans wouldn’t know who David Beckham was, and wouldn’t understand what it meant to “bend” a soccer ball. Fortunately they changed their minds before the film was released after writer-director Gurinder Chadha objected.
2. EVEN THOUGH IT'S NAMED FOR DAVID BECKHAM, THE FILM WAS ACTUALLY INSPIRED BY PLAYER IAN WRIGHT.
Chadha said that her initial idea to write a film about “the evolving concept of Britishness” came about when she saw an image of Ian Wright, a black player, wearing the Union Jack flag at the Euro 96 championship.
3. GURINDER CHADHA DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT SOCCER.
Chadha relied on her co-writers to fill in the blanks of what she didn't know, writing “jargon jargon football jargon,” instead of actual content, into the Beckham script.
4. BOTH PARMINDER NAGRA AND KEIRA KNIGHTLEY DID ALL OF THEIR OWN SOCCER PLAYING.
“I put them into three months solid football training and they had a coach and every day they would in and train," Chadha told blackfilm.com. "They worked really hard at it. Keira, who plays Jules, got concussions a few times. Parminder really damaged her toes and was too scared to [kick] the ball in case she broke one. They really had to go through the pain barrier like other athletes in order to excel. It’s only when I said, ‘We could always use doubles, don’t worry about it,' when the two of them said, ‘No way! We’re definitely going to go for it.’ And they did.”
5. KNIGHTLEY HAD SOME SERIOUS SKILLS.
According to Simon Clifford, the coach who trained the lead actresses to be believable footballers, by the end of training, Knightley "could do things some Premier League players can't do ... If I'd trained her from the age of 10 or 11, without a shadow of a doubt, Keira could have been a pro.”
It's particularly impressive considering Knightley's soccer experience had been fairly limited up until that point. “I was captain of the girls' team in primary school, but we never actually scored a goal,” Knightley toldInterview Magazine. "We only kicked people.”
6. MOST OF THE HOUNSLOW HARRIERS WERE PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS.
While Nagra and Knightley were cast for their acting ability and learned how to play soccer for the role, the rest of their team, the Hounslow Harriers, was made up of professional players. “All the other girls in the film play for various London clubs except one, Shaznay Lewis. She’s part of the music band All Saints, which is really a popular band," Chadha said.
As it turns out, the actresses, pro players, and musician worked incredibly well together. "We literally had become a really solid team,” Nagra said. "We got so into it once that Gurinder stormed across the pitch, shouting, 'Cut! Cut! Have you forgotten this is a movie?'”
7. THE MOVIE LAUNCHED KNIGHTLEY'S CAREER.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Although she had already made several small television appearances and a brief appearance in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Bend It Like Beckham was Knightley’s breakout role. One year later, in 2013, she appeared in Love Actually and Pirates of the Caribbean, cementing her place as a Hollywood A-lister.
8. THE WOMEN'S UNITED SOCCER ASSOCIATION FOLDED ONE YEAR AFTER THE MOVIE'S RELEASE.
In the film, Jules encourages Jess to pursue her dream of playing soccer professionally, telling her that in America women can play with the WUSA. Although that was true at the time, the organization folded in 2003.
9. THE SCAR ON JESS'S LEG IS REAL, AND THE STORY BEHIND IT IS TRUE.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Nagra was worried that the scar on her leg would prevent her from getting a part in a film that required her to wear shorts for much of her character’s screen-time. Instead, Chadha wrote the scar into the script, lifting the story about an accident making beans on toast as an eight-year-old straight from Nagra’s life.
10. CHADHA WAS THE FIRST BRITISH ASIAN WOMAN TO EVER DIRECT A FEATURE LENGTH FILM.
After creating a 1989 documentary about the lives of young British Asians, Chadha made her feature directorial debut with Bhaji on the Beach, a film which went on to earn a BAFTA nomination for "Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film" in 1995. Eight years later, in 2003, Bend It Like Beckham was nominated for the same award.
11. IT WAS THE FIRST WESTERN FILM TO BE PUBLICLY SCREENED IN NORTH KOREA.
Kim Jong-il screened the girl-power flick at the Pyongyang Film Festival in 2004, where it was seen by 12,000 people. In 2010, Bend It Like Beckham became the first western-made film ever to be broadcast on television in the country, as an event marking 10 years of diplomatic ties between the U.K. and North Korea. The 112-minute film was edited down to just an hour long.
12. JESS'S JERSEY NUMBER IS SEVEN, WHICH IS THE NUMBER BECKHAM WORE FOR MANCHESTER UNITED.
Jules wears number nine, which is Mia Hamm's number. Both characters had the corresponding player’s poster hanging in their room.
13. JOE WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE IRISH.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
“He was originally English,” Jonathan Rhys Meyers told the Irish Examiner, “but I had to read with Parminder—who plays Jess—and during the screen test we did the scene where she complains that someone called her a Paki, and I just shouted back, ‘Listen, I’m f*cking Irish and what’s your problem?’ It made sense that the Irish being a minority in England as well, Joe would have an empathy with Jess on that level. And the director just loved that, so Irish he remained.”
14. JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS WAS ORIGINALLY EMBARRASSED BY THE FILM.
"I thought it was going to be terrible!" Rhys Meyers toldMarie Claire. "For months and months and months, I refused to tell anybody that I'd been in a film called Bend It Like Beckham. Even in the beginning I was like, 'I don't want to do this.' But I spoke to my brother and he said, 'Do the film. Everybody's going to love this.' It's one of those girly, guilty-pleasure movies. It's on that shelf with Dirty Dancing, Footloose, and Beaches."
15. BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM WAS MADE INTO A WEST END MUSICAL IN MAY 2015.
The musical, which ran at London's Phoenix Theatre, was also written and directed by Chadha. It closed in March 5, 2016,when the original actors' contracts were up.
Chadha initially had serious doubts that Howard Goodall and Charles Hart, the men who composed and wrote the show's music, would be able to capture the heart of a story about female empowerment and the immigration experience. “I thought, how will these two middle-aged English blokes get on with this material?” Chadha toldThe Telegraph. “Then I met them and it was job done, marriage made in heaven. Both of them are a particular kind of Englishman that I really love and respect.”
16. THE FILM WAS HEAVILY INFLUENCED BY CHADHA'S FATHER.
In an interview with The Guardian, Chadha said that Bend It Like Beckham became something of a tribute to her father, who passed away before the film was edited.
"It had a profound effect on me. And it's sort of funny really; when he died, it was absolutely gut-wrenching ... but it was like that fantastic Powell and Pressburger film, A Matter of Life and Death; suddenly time stopped still and went into color. When he died, there was this real sense of loss and tragedy, but at the same time, there was a sense of appreciation. It made me very impatient with people who throw life away. It was an epiphany. And I didn't know this at the time, but when I was making Beckham, I was totally grieving. That's why that film is so emotional and so raw, especially the scenes with the dad. It's a film that was made in grief."
17. THE "BENDING" IN THE TITLE REFERS TO MORE THAN JUST A TYPE OF KICK.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Chadha related the idea of “bending” a ball to the way women strive to achieve their goals in male-dominated industries. “We can see the goal, but we too, like David Beckham, need to approach it in such a way where we twist and turn and bend our way into it," she explained. "My film is about bending the rules to get what you want instead of breaking the rules.”
18. ACTUALLY BENDING A BALL RELIES ON THE MAGNUS EFFECT.
The Magnus effect is defined as “the force exerted on a rapidly spinning cylinder or sphere moving through air or another fluid in a direction at an angle to the axis of spin.” In other words, when a ball is spinning, it’s also causing the air around it to spin. If the ball is spinning and moving forward at the same time (in the case of a good soccer kick), the pressure difference from the air around the ball and the air rushing past it will cause a difference in pressure that will make the ball “bend,” or move in a curved path.