Editor's note: This will be the last Trippin' Tuesday of 2008. Beginning with the start of the regular season, Trippin' On E(mail) will return to The Gameface on Fridays. Also, look for Live Trippin' – a live, interactive discussion session – on Tuesday, Sept. 2, and selected Tuesdays throughout the '08 season.
ASHBURN, Va. – Like his AFC Pro Bowl counterpart Tony Gonzalez, who detailed his nutritional philosophies in The Gameface last Friday, Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley has some dietary quirks that are the source of much locker-room amusement.
Cooley's not a vegetarian. Nor is he a vegan, or a neo-vegan, a term I invented to explain Gonzalez's approach which seemingly induced nausea among several readers. As you'll see below, some of them reacted as though I'd just described their teenaged daughters as neo-virgins.
A more appropriate term to describe Cooley's tastes? Crazy.
"One day last season I got home from practice and was totally starved," Cooley explains. "I went in the kitchen to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but after I put the peanut butter on one slice of bread, I realized I was out of jelly. So I improvised. I took some yellow mustard and ham and put that together with the peanut butter. And it was, like, completely awesome."
Right. If by "awesome" he means "loathsome."
Cooley is a funny man, and his endorsement of that as yet unnamed sandwich as "my new go-to snack" sounds rather farcical. But he insists his love for the incongruous concoction is pure.
"Ham and mustard taste great together, right? And then when you get that peanut butter to level it off – it just makes it so smooth," Cooley says. "If it's before noon, I go with bacon instead of ham. That's awesome, too. I know it sounds like it wouldn't be good, but trust me, you've got to try it."
I might, provided I have an habanero-salsa chaser at the ready. Cooley says that of the numerous Redskins players and officials he's convinced to sample the goods, half have endorsed his opinion, while the other 50 percent have gone searching for the nearest trash can. Halfback Clinton Portis, who lives on the edge more comfortably than most men in his profession, is weirded out by Cooley's creation.
"I don't try much that Cooley comes up with, and I can't imagine that being anything but bad," Portis says. "If I did try it, I'd probably get food-poisoned."
Adds newly acquired Washington defensive end Jason Taylor: "No, I'm not trying that crap. It's ridiculous. Just because you like peanut butter, mustard and ham separately doesn't mean you should eat them in one sandwich. Some things aren't meant to go together. Chris might try to convince himself it tastes good, but if he really looked himself in the mirror he'd admit that it's some pretty nasty (expletive)."
More food for thought as we prepare to sink our teeth into the 2008 NFL season:
TRIPPIN' ON E(MAIL)
"Cudos to Gonzo for sticking up for his diet and being able to play at such a high level for such a long time. But eating fish and the occasional chicken dish does not make one a vegan or vegetarian for that matter – still it's very refreshing to see professional athletes talk about this. I'm a vegetarian and constantly ridiculed for my dietary habits on the basketball court. Thanks for the article."
Gonzalez doesn't claim to be a strict vegan; he simply notes that he shares many of the same philosophies. And whatever he's eating, he's someone who is not likely ever to be ridiculed on the basketball court.
"Why do you insist on calling T Gonzalez a vegan, when he clearly isn't? Vegans don't eat fish or chicken occasionally. As a vegan, I take offense. Call him what he is, a half-ass-atarian."
Uh, how about if you call him that to his face? I'm going to pass, even if you call me "chicken."
"Where did you get the term 'neo-vegan'? It's one of the most idiotic things I've heard this week. I'm not vegan or vegetarian, but I know stupid when I read it. How about slightly-dead or almost-alive. How about this: more unique. You're either fricken vegan or you aren't. If you eat animal products you aren't vegan or vegetarian. Freakin idiots."
While I understand your point, I'm feeling slightly more dead after reading this email.
"First of all, I have to commend you on your spectacular vernacular. You are definitely a cunning linguist and a master debater. So when did Tony Gonzalez become a leaf-eater? I have this article in an ESPN magazine that shows Tony Gonzalez grilling these monster T-bones on the rooftop deck of his Manhattan Beach home. Did T-Gonz get a colon polyp or what? I saw a t-shirt in a shop on the boardwalk in Venice last weekend that said 'guess what vegetarians? plants have feelings too. you should just not eat. murderer!' How do you sleep at night Tony? Do you hear the cries of the carrots?"
My advice to you is to eat that article (and stick to Y! Sports for your NFL news).
"Hey Mike, nice piece on Tarvaris Jackson. I really have high hopes for this guy. Everything coming out of Minnesota this summer has been positive about this team's high ceiling and high hopes for their young QB. You add in a game changing defensive player in Jared Allen and a competent WR like (Bernard) Berrian and there might be a little less pressure on Jackson. This whole mess of Minnesota pursuing Favre is probably a little more like Favre pursuing Minnesota. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the Vikings organization got goose bumps at the thought of having their old rival in purple. I just happen to think Favre wanted to be there more than the Vikings wanted him there. What do you think? Also, where do you put the Vikings in the pecking order of the NFC now that they have sold the farm to win this year?"
I think the Favre courtship was mutual – though the Vikings probably realized it was never going to happen before Favre did. As for where the Vikings rank, I agree that they're a playoff contender, but I still see the Packers as the team to beat in the NFC North.
"Now that Jared Allen has publicly stated he wants to put his helmet into the middle of Aaron Rodgers' spine, we will find out if the commissioner reads your column. If he does, as he should, there should be a warning forthcoming to Allen from the NFL Ivory Tower."
Given that Roger Goodell, at least in a figurative sense, has already put his helmet in Allen's spine once before, it'll be mighty interesting. That said, I doubt the commissioner will choose to discipline a player simply for talking about what he wants to do to an opponent.
"(Pat) Williams from the Minnesota Vikings is a fat slob and is just bitter 'cause Green Bay whooped up on them both times last year. I hope they focus all their energy on that game cause there will be 15 more for them to be a letdown during, too. Where do you think the Vikings will fare in the NFC without a real threat at QB right now?"
I think the Vikings will be fine at quarterback – especially since their backup, Gus Frerotte, is fully capable of taking them to the playoffs if Jackson is injured or ineffective.
"Respect the writer. He is all knowing and all powerful. Respect him! (Actually, I should say respect you since the e-mail is addressed to you, but you get the point.) And those Minnesota linemen are mean."
Sock it to me.
"Thanks for the 'inciteful' article. Hopefully Rodgers reads it and shreds the Vikings' porous secondary in Week 1. Obviously, due to his remark, Allen is not quite rid of the juice. While I'm not ignorant to the probability that most football players possess amped-up levels of aggression, and that it contributes to their success on the field, I had to make that last low blow. I'd respect Pat Williams much more if he did his talking after he'd actually accomplished his job of stopping the Packers' running game, and didn't lose 34-0. Keep up the great work. I enjoy your columns, even when I disagree with them."
Thanks. That's very evolved of you. As for Jared Allen, his suspension at the start of the 2007 season stemmed from a pair of DUI arrests, and not a violation of the league's steroid policy. As far as I know, booze is the only "juice" he's been accused of abusing.
"I'm just wondering … if Favre fumbles the ball, does a penalty lap and is cheered, what is going to happen to him when he throws a backbreaking interception in an actual game? I don't reward my dog for (expletive) on the carpet. Unless, of course, if once you become an icon, your (expletive) no longer smells. The Jets fans really need to raise their standards."
Eau Claire, Wis.
You're my kind of fan … and dog owner.
"We must do a Don Julio shot for Isaac Hayes, and one for Stax Records for good measure. I thought you and your father's song list was excellent, although I would have substituted 'Fortunate Son' for 'Born on the Bayou.' It's as topical now as the day it was written."
I'd definitely rate "Fortunate Son" (which I happened to hear upon picking up my rental car at Dulles Airport on Saturday, a few hours after reading this email) – and "Lodi," for that matter – above "Born On The Bayou." In fact, when I did my own top 10 list, there was very little overlap with my dad's. For starters, I'd be thrilled if I never heard "Takin' Care Of Business" again, and my dad wasn't especially feeling "War Pigs." That said, I suspect our top-50 lists would match up pretty closely, which brings us to our next email …
"Michael – I always wondered where you got it, but now I know. It must be from your father. I must say that your father's taste in music is excellent, and his selections pretty much mirror all of my own (let's say) top 50 songs of all time. And, 'The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys' at No. 1? Perfect! I actually listened to that song on the way to work this morning, believe it or not, which is what prompted me to write. Aah, they don't make music like they used to. Anyway, I just had to share. I know it's not sports-related, but I had to comment. And P.S. I love your attention to spelling, grammar, and sentence structure and your willingness to point it out to your droves of readers. I'm just a lowly product of the California State University system, but even I appreciate it! Keep up the good work!"
Thanks, and for the record, I also got the eyebrows from my dad.
"michael ive been reading your comments alot lately and have a question.why dont you get on the packers about how they handled this.yes they both are wrong on how it was handled.how do you know whos telling the truth,or do you have a special gift to be able to tell when someone os telling the truth.cause if you do you need to work for the police. i think what should be done is sit all the parties down and hook them up to a lie detector and find out the real truth.but that isn't going to happen. one more thing you need to get your facts straight before you open your mouth just like all the sports writers"
Why, yes, I do have a special gift. I give you a ton of credit for figuring that out – and for knowing everything about all sports writers (99.9 percent of whom do not have that gift, for what it's worth).
"Mike, I loved your bit on the Dan Patrick show! Very funny. I really appreciate your blend of humor and journalism. I'm surprised so many of your readers think the two are mutually exclusive. Also, I find it a sad piece of social commentary that so many people write in to complain about your views. Only in America do we have a right to an opinion and the duty to squash all opposing views. Keep your head up and keep the columns coming. You're my favorite sports columnist. P.S.: I'd love to see a Colts column soon!"
West Chester, Pa.
Hold on, I'm rubbing my temples and activating my special gift … Yes, Dan from West Chester, you speak the truth. (I had a Colts column planned a couple of weeks ago, but my trip to Terre Haute was scrapped because I was delayed in Green Bay by a certain saga. I'll get to Indy before long, though.
"I am a yahoo sportsaholic and catch pretty much all of your columns, and you do a great job, but I must say that I am incredibly jealous that you helped write Natalie Coughlin's book. With Coughlin, there is finally a real reason for a guy in Big 12 country to care about Cal. ;-) In the interviews I've seen, Ms. Coughlin seems so down-to-earth, articulate, and attentive. On top of that, that incredible smile and those dimples are just two of the many reasons that make her a GORGEOUS woman. Nothing against Amanda Beard, who is pretty, but she's not in Natalie's league. Is Natalie as great of a gal as she seems to be? If so, clearly you have some connections – plant a seed of doubt in her head about that dang fiancé, and put in a good word for me."
Kansas City, Mo.
You are absolutely correct in your assessment of the most golden of Golden Bears, and yes, "Golden Girl" is one book that should be judged by its cover.
"YEAH NAT! She did it. Again! With all of the news that (Michael) Phelps gets, it is nice to see some others get some print. Loved Jason Lezak banishing some demons. Katie Hoff isn't dominating, but she isn't embarrassing herself either. However, with all of the press that other 100m backstrokers were getting before the final race, it was great to see our Golden Girl come through again. Let's hope she can do it in the 200 IM also."
It's true that Phelps' accomplishments are so outlandish that all others tend to get dwarfed by comparison, but let me try to put Coughlin's feats in Beijing – and overall Olympic career – in their deserved context: She has 11 medals in 11 Olympic events, including 6-for-6 in '08. She won a bronze in the 100 free despite being the smallest swimmer in the finals (setting an American record in the process) and a bronze in the 200 IM, an event she had blown off for eight years until taking it up again just two months ago. She became the first woman in history to win back-to-back golds in the 100 back, responding like a champion after Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry had broken Coughlin's world record (which she had owned for all but 10 minutes of the past seven years) in the semis. Coughlin swam an even faster 100 back split (58.94) in leading off the 400 medley relay; she earned a silver in that event and in the 400 free relay and a bronze in the 800 free relay. Oh, and her six medals in one Olympics are the most ever by a U.S. woman in any sport.
"Michael, I am sure that Natalie Coughlin will be getting a Don Julio call out for her impressive efforts in the pool this past week, but what's with the swimming to the right of the lane on the backstroke? I thought all you Cal guys leaned left."
Rest assured, Ms. Coughlin leans the correct way on the truly important issues. As for another ex-Cal star, I'm pretty sure Mike Cavic wishes he'd leaned a bit more forward at the end of that optically unfathomable 100 fly.
"I'm glad to see that the monkeys that snuck into your office and were writing your columns during the 'Brett Favre Saga' have returned to the zoo, and you are now back to doing what you do best. Writing the Hell out of a column. (Man don't ever leave again!!)"
They must have been attracted to the Planet of the Apes action figures my parents unearthed from my elementary school days – and which now sit atop my desk, right next to the Oski bobblehead doll.
"Mr. Silver, I thought I would clarify that Burlington is absolutely not a suburb. You may want to fact check before you make such an absurd statement. Last I checked it was closer to the City of Racine (population 79,000+) and is located in Racine County. It may be easier to state fact and that Burlington is a Suburb of Racine. Also just to make things relevant for you, Caron Butler (NBA) has also made Racine a home."
Alas, I should have known that the thriving metropolis of Racine had its own suburbs. Because I come from a place in which a 45-minute drive from a city is well within the bounds of suburbia, I seem to have made an inaccurate assumption. When I ran this by Tony Romo at Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, Calif., a couple of weeks ago, he laughed and said, "Oh, yeah, you screwed up. Milwaukee barely acknowledges Burlington's existence. When I was growing up, I got a lot more coverage in the Chicago newspapers than I ever did in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel." Consider this grandson of a Wisconsonite duly educated.
"Hey Michael. During the NFL draft weekend you had written a couple of articles about a quarterback from Oregon – sorry his name currently escapes me. By chance, do you have any updates about his progress? Thank you much, and love your articles."
Dennis Dixon had a 47-yard touchdown run in the Steelers' preseason defeat to the Bills in Toronto last Thursday and is currently third on the team's depth chart behind Ben Roethlisberger and newly signed Byron Leftwich.
- Tony Gonzalez