It’s Always Sunny in Bismarck

The football potentates are on fire (mostly) ripping the Philadelphia Eagles for trading up in the draft presumably to take Carson Wentz.


Wentz is a big, strapping quarterback, 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds. He is also a North Dakota native who played his college football at North Dakota State, a school that plays at what used to be called the Division I-AA level, now the Football Championship Subdivision. That’s where William and Mary and James Madison play, and where Old Dominion used to play till a couple of years ago.

Therein lies the double-edged problem that has the potentates all agitated: North Dakota, and the lower level of competition. The potentates — people in general — fear the unknown. The FBS and North Dakota are frighteningly unknown, on the scale of the FBS and say, South Dakota.

To the average American, I will pontificate that the word Dakota conjures either images of the young actress Dakota Fanning or images of great acres of nothingness. Wilderness. Wild beasts roaming the foothills and whatnot. Cowboys clomping down wooden sidewalks, spurs clacking, toward the saloon for a Sarsaparilla and perhaps a random gunfight.

Nobody has been to North Dakota. Nobody knows anybody from North Dakota. North Dakota may as well be the surface of Mars. Greater Norfolk, or what potentates around here call Hampton Roads (to my constant chagrin) has roughly twice the population of North Dakota, for cryin’ out loud.

Now, North Dakota State happens to play incredible football – at the FBS level. The Bison have won five consecutive FBS national titles. That is a record. No college football team at any level had ever won five in a row.

Wentz led the last two championship runs. Then he went to the NFL Scouting Combine and, according to a league executive quoted on, “really blew us away when we met him. Talent is a big component, but these guys have to have intangibles if they are going to lead franchises and he’s got them. I don’t care where he played, he understands the game and it isn’t too big for him.”

Patience is always preached for rookie quarterbacks. But the idea of asking Iggles fans for patience on top of asking them not to fear the dark and to have faith in a front office that’s gone through huge recent upheaval is frying a lot of circuits in what they used to call the Greater Delaware Valley, where pro football buoys everybody’s miserable existence.

Me, I am going to lean to the under-populated (like North Dakota) opinion that Wentz (presumably the Iggles’ pick) will make sense for the Birds. And that potentates I came to trust over my sports-chronicling years, who rave about Wentz, are right to not let Dakota-phobia influence what their eyes and professional intuition have told them.

I shall not fear from whence the QB comes.







Zzzzzzzzzz ya . . .



I am getting sleepy . . . sleeeeeeepy . . .

Especially after reading this New Yorker essay about NYC transit police doggedly waking up sleepers in subway cars. A particularly insightful passage from it follows:

“Most people are not sleeping because they do not have time to sleep. They have small children or jobs that start early—or, not at all infrequently, both. They are high-school kids expected, against all reason, to get to school at 8 A.M. and then take home four hours of homework at night, as part of an arms race with other kids doing the same things. They have one job or two—or else they race from gig to gig and chore to chore as rapidly as they can.

Which leads us to the point: people are not sleeping on the subway now because it is fun. They are not most often these days sleeping on the subway because they are stoned or homeless. They are sleeping on the subway because they are sleepy. Exhaustion is the signature emotion of our time. . . . Overworked, overstressed, today’s sleeping rider is a symbol and a symptom of today’s subway: the bullet train of the wrung-out classes, the perpetual-motion machine that services today’s errand-driven economy.”

Sleep, we are told at the greatest frequency ever, is the absolute elixir to all that ails us as individuals and as a society. More sleep equals better work ethic, keener study habits, stronger family relationships, healthier and less cynical interactions inside and outside the office. I’m waiting for Bernie Sanders to offer free nap time for all.

Time, of course, is the ticklish issue, as the New Yorker piece points out to the chronically overscheduled and under-rested masses. “Exhaustion is the signature emotion of our time,” Adam Gopnik writes.

I can’t yawn at that; it’s a good and true line. (You won’t believe me, but my head just bobbed with torpor as I pondered my next sentence – this one – at the computer. At a little past 1 in the afternoon.) I feel more tired than what seems right many days. Most days. I promise myself to do something about it, to shoot for closer to the idyllic, All-American and Mayo Clinic eight hours, which then always frankly seems a bridge way too far. I don’t want to go to bed at 10 every night, nor am I able to do it. So if I can even somehow pocket seven bags of zzzzs, it feels like I’m stealing.

As to the sleeping-in-public issue, it’s one I never considered a health or public-safety consideration. I guess I am in favor of it, though. The public snooze, I mean. Granted, it’s often not pretty. It can get noisy and uncomfortable, especially for your neck or your suddenly snore-assaulted aisle-mate on the plane. Ugh.

We come to understand the embarrassment of being caught asleep at the switch, to say nothing of asleep at the wheel. Asleep on the subway car seat? The worry is, we are then a wood-sawing sitting duck for a pick-pocket or other nefarious individual up to no good, as well as a well-documented risk to wake up much farther down the line then our intended point of disembarkment.

And so the proverbial signs are now posted, re The New Colossus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free. Your slumbering need not apply.”