Ed Rendell, Philly's Chuck Norris
It's been a big week for badasses.
The Coen Brothers' remake of the John Wayne classic, "True Grit," has pulled in $36.8 million since opening on Wednesday night, in large part due to the tough-as-nails performance from 14-year-old newcomer, Hailee Steinfeld. On Sunday night "Samurai" Mike Singletary, one of the toughest S.O.B.s ever to take the field (and a real screamer on the sidelines, too), refused to resign from his post as coach of the 49ers, forcing the team to fire him. And all weekend, Mother Nature -- no doubt the biggest badass there is -- dumped snow all across the Eastern seaboard, shutting down airports and trapping people with their in-laws.
But even with "True Grit" soaring, the snow falling and Singletary standing his ground, the biggest tough guy of the week was Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who blamed the cancellation of Sunday night's Eagles/Vikings game on the "wussification" of America.
On Monday afternoon, Rendell sounded like football's answer to Chuck Norris, unloading on Mike Missanelli's show on 97.5 The Fanatic Philadelphia. The Governor, a self-proclaimed Eagles fanatic (or is it Phanatic out there?) was irate over the league's decision to move his team's game from Sunday night to Tuesday due to an impending snowstorm.
"I think it goes against everything that football is all about," Rendell said. "It's a game that should be played in all weather conditions."
According to Rendell, the postponement was just further proof that America's gone soft.
"My biggest beef is that this is part of what's happened in this country," he told Missanelli. "I think we've become wusses."
"The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything," he continued. "If this was in China, do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down."
Clearly Rendell went a step too far there; it's tough to argue that an NFL "snow day" on a regular-season Sunday night game is the reason why our country is falling behind. That being said, the whole calculus thing -- as politically incorrect as his statement was -- does make you think. Earlier this month, The New York Times detailed the debut of international standardized testing in Shanghai and the resulting panic among this country's educators when Chinese students outperformed American kids across the board.
As for the safety of the fans in what was expected to be about 11 inches of snow, Rendell said, "I for one, and I've been stopped by tons of Eagles fans today, we were looking forward to sitting in the snow. It would have been a one in a lifetime experience. And we could have made the decision for ourselves if it was safe or not."
"We're worried about the fans getting home and driving?" Rendell cried. "Well if they're so worried about the fans, let's ban alcohol at the pregame and let's ban the sale of beer and alcohol in the stadium. So don't you think we're being a little hypocritical here?"
Absolutely. Just a week ago the Vikings/Bears game was moved to an outdoor college stadium that wasn't equipped to host a mid-December NFL game. Despite offers from other teams to hold the game in an indoor NFL stadium, the Vikings went to a lot of trouble to keep the game -- and the money! -- in Minnesota. "M-O-N-E-Y," as Rendell put it, is the holiday gift that really motivates the NFL's decisions. Fan safety is just a nice bow to put on top. Moving the game to Tuesday night means the NFL has games scheduled on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of this holiday week. Finally, something besides "A Christmas Story" will get nearly round-the-clock TV time.
Sunday ended up being Philly's 17th-heaviest one-day snowfall on record but most agreed, in hindsight, that the game could've been played. We're certain the other badasses out there would agree with "Chuck" Rendell that the show should have gone on, and that The Linc would have been packed. He stepped on some toes during the interview but, for the most part, Rendell spoke the truth. You never want to put fans in danger, but you also don't want the great game of football -- the truest test of grit there is in sports -- to go the way of the wusses.