On Fire 1-25-2013

1. Birds and Bees

In sports news this week, the 49ers and Ravens will soon meet in the Super Bowl, the top four men’s tennis players in the world all reached the Australian Open semifinals and the New Orleans Hornets will be changing their name to the Pelicans.

Super Bowls will come and Super Bowls will go, Australian Opens will come and Australian Opens will go, but names last forever (except for the name of Hornets, which will soon be no longer with us).

In conjunction with the Wheel’s journalistic mission to cover only the most note-worthy, significant and influential events, I will only be focusing on the third of these events.

If one were to describe this name change in a single word, it would have to be visionary. If one were permitted to use two words, then there could be no other choice than truly terrific. If the palate of adjectives is limited to compound words, game-changing is the phrase to go for.

But the exact word used to describe this event is not a matter of importance. What is important is the feeling, the attitude, the mindset that the Pelican provides New Orleans.

Let us begin with the team’s old nickname, the Hornets. For starters, H is a profoundly ugly letter. Almost as wide as it is tall, it brings to mind the squat power of a fullback rather than the high-flying grace of a basketball player.

Furthermore, the Hornet is an uninspiring creature. I cannot even picture one in my mind, and was forced to Google Image search the beast to see what it look liked (I am assuming it is not the girl in a bikini sitting on a motorcycle which was the fifth result of my search, but I examined the picture very closely, just to be sure).

The Pelican, on the other hand, is a majestic bird, and though I often confuse it with the Toucan (though another Google Image search revealed that they look nothing alike), it conjures nothing but images of soaring glory. And do not even get me started on the letter P.

Of course, the reasoning behind the name change had more to do with the first letter of the new name, though my sources tell me that it was a leading consideration. Supposedly the Pelican is the state bird of Louisiana, and the state is even known as the Pelican state. The bird adorns the state’s license plates, flag, seal and painting (my sources did not clarify what exactly a state painting is).

It goes without saying that making the connection between the franchise and Louisiana more explicit is a questionable decision at best (until informed otherwise by my sources, I had forgotten that New Orleans was in Louisiana, and upon receiving this new information, my opinion of the team went down).

With all due respect, as someone who drives across Louisiana four times a year coming to and going from school, I can attest from personal experience that the state is 90 percent swamp.

 

2. Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis recently announced his retirement from the NFL. I have become very taken with his legacy, both in the way he played the game and the way he lived his life.

I have tried to explain this to my dad and five of my friends. With one and a half exceptions, they stared back at me blankly. Here’s hoping I can get through to my loyal readers a little better.

For those who are unaware, when he was on the field Lewis played with an unequaled intensity. His game was raw, passionate and vividly intense. He tackled with violent fury and danced afterwards with childlike jubilation. There was no truer football player than Ray Lewis.

This, however, was on the field. Off the field, his character was dubious at best, and allegations were made towards him in connection with a murder. He was acquitted and afterwards made a very public turn to God. At the moment of his retirement he was one of the most beloved players in the game, and he will be remembered as perhaps the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history.

His career was eloquently summed up by S.L. Price in Sports Illustrated, who remarked, “It’s now clear, with last week’s retirement announcement by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, that we will forgive a man nearly anything if he can show us something pure.”Writing is my attempt to show the world something pure. I hope that I am at least partially successful; there is a lot that I need forgiveness for.