Posted at 8:10 AM on January 21, 2008
by Bob Collins
Oh boy, it's Super Bowl hype week, and the New York Giants and their fans are already in playing shape.
"Nobody gave us a shot and now we're going to the Super Bowl," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said after last night's thrilling victory over the Green Bay Packers.
This, of course, is not a new thing in sports, or many elements of life, for that matter. The "us against them" method of harnessing the awesome power of paranoia is a tried and true declaration. But there's a difference between it and reality. The Giants were 7 point underdogs, which is not exactly Mt. Everest. So among the millions who took the Giants and the points, Eli, which ones didn't give you a shot?
Count Antonio Pierce, the Giants linebacker, as one of the doubters. "Of course we should be the underdogs," he said last week. "You look at them (Packers): They are the second seed, went 13-3 and won their division.
On Saturday, Missouri came close, but didn't beat Kansas in college basketball. “Besides what the media says, we already knew we had a chance,” said Leo Lyons, a Missouri player. Dude, you lost.
The obsession with respect is not just an American sporting thing. "Most teams don’t last four days here and frankly, I don’t think anybody gave us a chance against the backdrop of Sydney," India cricket captain Anil Kimble said Saturday after a big victory over Australia.
Self-motivation is important. But more important is recognizing that whatever people say you probably won't do today, doesn't mean you can't.
Perhaps the only bigger cliche in sports is "I don't pay attention to what the media says."
Dan Gillmor, with whom I'm to share space on a blogging panel in MPR's UBS Forum soon, says today "American Media Treats Americans Like Shallow Dolts." He concludes this by comparing the covers of Time Magazine this week.
Gillmor writes the Center for Citizen Media blog and, as such, he has exhibited a general distaste for mainstream media as apparently required by the standards of blogging. He says Americans won't buy magazines with thoughtful articles on Hong Kong, preferring instead to delve into the complications of romance.
Here's the covers of this week's Time.
|U.S. edition||International edition|
Gillmor believes an article on how we love is less important than an article on Hong Kong. But is it?
Do we have an inferiority complex they haven't told us about?
Update 2:30 p.m. Looking back at the beginning of December, I find another case of a different cover for an international edition.
In the U.S., it was about what makes us good or evil. But in Europe, the cover focused on a much more important topic in today's world: the death of French culture.
|U.S. edition||European edition|
Perhaps the conclusion in these two cases isn't that we're dolts. Perhaps in the United States, we're more interested in exploring what makes us tick.(7 Comments)
Posted at 3:42 PM on January 21, 2008
by Bob Collins
(MPR's Tim Nelson sends this along)
Joe Corcoran is back in town.
The legendary police commander headed the crimes against persons unit in St. Paul for many years, through high-profile cases like the a Lawson Avenue firebombing that killed five small children and the slayings of two officers in 1994.
He retired in 1999 and moved to his vacation home in the Red Lake area. But he’s hospitalized at St. Joe’s these days, brought down, he suspects, by a recent fall on the ice. He’s being treated for what doctors feared could have been a life-threatening head injury.
Publicly, he might best be remembered for nearly always getting his man, even if it took a while. Some of the city’s most infamous crimes occurred, and were solved, on his watch.
But he helped lead a quieter revolution, as well, in the city’s old Public Safety Building.
As a crime-lab supervisor Corcoran helped bring in some of the first digital fingerprinting equipment. The machines helped transform forensics from an academic exercise into a real-time crime fighting tool.
Perhaps more important, though, were Corcoran’s “soft skills.” He tried to give as much care to the survivors of violent crime, both victims and next of kin, as he did to the crimes themselves. The sergeants on his squad were as boiled as anybody, just not quite so hard.
Neil Nelson was among them.
“That’s his real legacy,” said Nelson, who’s still on the force. “Once Joe made the commitment to reaching out to these victims and their families, it made just an incredible difference,” he said.
Cops had traditionally kept their cases closed even to next of kin, for fear of showing their hand to perpetrators. Nelson said Corcoran welcomed families when he could. “He offered them not just some information, but some peace,” said Nelson today. “And while Joe may have done it initially out of compassion, it really did make a difference.” Nelson considers it a key to the investigative success of Corcoran’s unit.
Bill Finney, his former chief, said he may have been the best detective commander St. Paul has ever had. “It’s because of the way he did things that we had such success,” he said, reached in Detroit. “He just threw everything he had at every new homicide, and that’s usually why we got them solved. Or at least knew who did it…. Whatever he asked for, I gave him.”
Corcoran has since gained yet further prominence for helping revive the Upper Red Lake Association to promote wildlife conservation and bring back tourists to the area after overfishing wiped out the walleye on the lake in the mid 1990s.
You can read about his second career here.
Hopefully, he’ll soon bid goodbye again to St. Paul and get back to his second life’s work.