20 February 2005

A Few Weeks in Limbo

This past week's column marks the season's end of the tastefully-named Gregg Easterbrook's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" feature; each year, that final column officially begins the (mercifully short) dark period between the end of football season and the start of baseball season. For those you who have not yet enjoyed TMQ in its current incarnation on NFL.com or its previous lives on Slate or ESPN.com's Page 2, you're missing out.

You're not a football fan? It doesn't matter; when I was hooked, I didn't have more than a passing interest (no West Coast Offense puns intended). You're not American? As the numerous messages from Europe, Asia, and Australia throughout the season demonstrate, TMQ's appeal (possibly more so than American Football's) transcends nationality. You're not a reader? Get out those Hooked on Phonics tapes now; the new season begins in a few months and Easterbook's a sesquipedalian. (Why yes, I do have word-of-the-day toilet paper; however did you know?) This is much more than a mere football column; it's a way of life for its fans every Tuesday. Easterbook takes full advantage of the lack of length constraints on his web-based column and explores at length the ins-and-outs of professional football each week during the season (along with brief criticism of other topics). He brings a fresh angle to the game, masterfully using the holy trinity of sports writing tools: statistics, sarcasm, and haiku.

Easterbook's official biography tends to emphasize his professional and intellectual accomplishments as senior editor of The New Republic, a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly, a contributing editor of The Washington Monthly, a visiting fellow at The Brookings Institution, and published author (most recently of the outstanding The Progress Paradox); he is proof, however, that a man's avocation can count for much, even amongst impressive professional achievements. Yes, I enjoy his books and articles, but I don't generally feel a sense of malaise when I pick up one of the many magazines to which he regularly contributes and find nothing from him in that issue; I will feel a bit empty, however, next Tuesday and the Tuesday after that, and so on until next autumn. A TMQ reader quoted in this week's column puts it best (in haiku, of course):
TMQ's last shot.
The offseason starts Tuesday:
long time till next year.
Thanks for another great season, Gregg.

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