Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What a way to go out, out like a sucker

I try to often heed the words of the great Chuck D, and not believe the hype, but I got reeled in for Frenchmen Zinedine Zidane's farewell from professional soccer following the recently-concluded FIFA World Cup... and I sure do regret it. Considering how much media attention it was getting, and the fact that Zidane already has one "retirement" under his belt, I should've avoided getting wrapped up in it, but in my defense and to Zidane's credit, he was playing like a man possessed -- juking defenders left and right, setting up goal opportunities, scoring a few himself, making penalty kicks look even easier than they usually appear on television, and all the while keeping himself cool and composed in a day and age where most soccer players react to goals by swinging their jerseys over their heads like the Petey Pablo song. All this at 34 years old, where it's more than likely that his signature bald head is equally a result of him not being able to grow any more hair, not just having shaved it.

Don't tell President Bush, but I put aside all my American pride temporarily to support the French (or would it be Freedom?) National Team in their quest for the cup, all because I wanted to see Zidane be rewarded for his efforts and leave the sport on top. Then he goes and plants his dastardly "ZZ Top" into Italian Marco Materrazi's chest, about 9 minutes before the championship game was heading to penalty kicks, and with France's other 2 best players -- Thierry Henry and Franck Ribéry [I was going to make a crack about Ribéry's uneven haircut here, but then I found out that it was due to a car accident he was in at age 2. I'm going to hell, by the way.] -- already subbed out due to injury and/or fatigue. And for what? Some words? Whatever happened to "fighting fire with fire"?

There have been a lot of rumors going around regarding the insult that Materrazi hurled at Zidane that led to the red-carded overreaction. One was that he said something about Zidane's recently-hospitalized mother, which is at least understandable as far as Zidane retaliating with a headbutt, but Materrazi has denied this vehemently. Another was that he called Zidane a "terrorist", but Materrazi denies this as well, claiming that he doesn't even know what that word "terrorist" means. The fuck? Well, we now know that this Materrazi dude isn't too bright, so we could fairly assume that his insult couldn't have been all that damaging -- you'd have to be at least a little intelligent to put together a string of words rude enough to warrant a headbutt to the chest.

I'm suggesting that Materrazi's insult, if it really truly ticked Zidane off so much, had to have been a shot at his country -- after all, this is the World Cup we're talking about, probably 2nd to the Olympics as far as a competition emphasizing homeland pride. Maybe Zidane's just not that clever and couldn't think of a witty retort. I mean, not to be racially insensitive here, but there's plenty of cracks you could make to an Italian if you're out to disrespect his heritage. Perhaps Zidane feared that he was going to be whacked? Ah-ha! I just came up with one right now! [To any and all Italians reading this, I'm only kidding. Please don't have me killed.]

All jokes aside, I feel bad for Zidane. A 3-time FIFA Player Of The Year, a World Cup champ in '98, this year's very-deserving World Cup MVP... but that headbutt is what he'll always be remembered for. It was a pussified act to the fullest extent and a shameful way to leave a game, let alone your farewell game, but the reputation it forces him to leave the game with is not one that appears fitting for a player of his caliber. I also feel mad, because I was cheering for him up until that point of the game -- the last time my opinion of a person changed so drastically in a split second was when I finished listening to Eminem's last album. And, to complete the trifecta, I feel sad as well. Not on-the-verge-of-tears sad, mind you. It'd take something of drastic proportions to get me to that pont. Something like...


Yep, that just about did it. Damn it, now I need a tissue.