NO EXCUSING WHAT FOX INSINUATED

Every now and then, we learn a lesson about ex-players in front of TV microphones. Usually the lesson is this: Why?

Such a lesson came Sunday, during the Lions-Eagles broadcast, when Tony Siragusa, the beefy, ex-NFL lineman, was asked by his Fox colleagues what he thought of Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington, whom he had only met Friday night at a production meeting.

“He seemed a little different than what I expected,” Siragusa said. “I thought he was a little bit too overconfident …”

As the other announcers egged him on, Siragusa got more specific.

“Just a different kind of guy. Not a meat-and-potato guy but a very sophisticated man. That’s as much as I can go into right now.”

He then, of course, went into more.

“I wouldn’t see him going out and ordering a beer any time soon …

“He’s the kind of guy that’s on the other side of the club than I am. He’s over there with the champagne and the caviar and also the strawberries and chocolate, you know?”

Well, no, we don’t know. But if that’s how a guy you just met slams you, why wouldn’t you be on the other side of the club? And what club would that be? The Neanderthal Society?

Though I’m sure Siragusa will say he didn’t mean anything by the one, no, two, no, three, no, four little insults he threw Joey’s way, I am reminded of “Animal House” and the scene in which Otter and Boone see a frat boy picking on their freshmen.

“He can’t do that to our pledges!” Otter says.

“Only we can do that to our pledges!” Boone adds.

So with all due respect to Siragusa, a man who is the size of a Sub-Zero, you don’t get to pick on our quarterback.

Unless we get to pick back.

A good role model

First, where does Siragusa come off talking about Harrington as if his manhood were in question? And let’s face it, that’s the implication of this, intended it or not. “Other side of the club?” “Sophisticated man?” “Chocolate and strawberries?” “Champagne and caviar?”

Next he’ll have Joey offering fashion tips on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

That’s patently unfair, derogatory and false.

Now, I happen to know Siragusa’s broadcast partner, Dick Stockton, one of the most decent people in all of TV broadcasting. So I called and asked him about the sideline rant. At first he laughed.

“Well, that’s Tony,” Stockton said. “He’s not there as an orator.”

But when I told him how the talk shows in Detroit were buzzing with the innuendo of Siragusa’s comments, he got serious.

“I don’t think (Siragusa) has an agenda. We were all impressed when we met with Harrington. Nothing unusual was said in that meeting. I think what Tony was trying to say was that Harrington is not your typical jock.”

Well, yes, that’s true, if by typical jock you mean a guy who signs footballs during the game, like Terrell Owens, or who pulls out a cell phone after a touchdown, like Joe Horn, or who makes filthy comments to media in the locker room, like Randy Moss, or who thumps his chest and celebrates his greatness like half the “superstars” in the NFL, then yes, he’s not your typical jock.

And what? That’s a bad thing?

A time to apologize

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