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Weekend Links with Jon Marthaler: NFL vs. boxing, Trevor Plouffe (the next A-Rod) and so much more

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • March 3, 2012 - 10:26 AM

Each week, commenter Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?

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I invited a couple of friends over to watch hockey last night. As it turned out, this was a poor choice. Our plan was to watch the Gophers clinch the WCHA in style by beating Wisconsin, a plan ruined by the Badgers waxing the Gophers from beginning to end. The Wild didn't save us, either, as they got comprehensively annihilated in Detroit. By the third period of the Gopher game, we were casting around for other entertainment options, eventually landing on "Friday Night Fights" on ESPN2.

We caught much of two different fights, both of which were mismatches. The first involved one skilled fighter and one who appeared to have been plucked out of a local fitness center about thirty minutes before the fight began. In the second, one of the fighters employed a novel defensive strategy in which he'd bend over at the waist until his torso was parallel to the floor, which protected his midsection but also meant that he blocked all attempted body shots with his face. Both of these bouts featured multiple knockdowns. Both featured blood. Both featured us encouraging one of the fighters to stay down before his head was separated from his shoulders.

For all of this, though, there was no doubt that I was entertained by the fights. Boxing was once one of America's favorite sports, and while that's nowhere near true any more, it's still popular enough to draw big crowds for pay-per-views. It's still popular enough that famous people still land ringside at big title fights. And it's still popular enough that I can watch two palookas earn themselves a couple of trips to the canvas and a lifetime of health problems apiece.

I mention this because of this story. Chargers guard Kris Dielman, a Pro Bowler, got a concussion in a game against the Jets, and was "visibly staggered" and "struggled to maintain balance." After a short examination, the Chargers sent him back into the game. On the flight home, he suffered a grand mal seizure; he didn't play again the rest of the year, and is now retiring on his doctor's advice. Now, to me, this story reads like the opening of a book titled "Bell-Ringer: How Concussions Ended Football In America." But I'll admit this: nobody has any illusions about boxing's effect on brain health, and yet last night I watched two men get pounded into a pulp. If boxing still limps along in America, then football's not going away any time soon.

On with the links, and there are so, so many good ones this week, so I'll try to be brief:

*Make sure you read Grantland's oral history of the Pacers-Pistons brawl in Detroit.

*Jesse Lund at Twinkie Town explores whether Trevor Plouffe - who according to RandBall, "reminds me of A-Rod" - can ever be the player the Twins need him to be. [Proprietor note: No link? You can't prove we ever said that!]

*Spencer Hall has a guide to watching NASCAR, which I may need, if they promise to have a car crash into a jet engine every week.

*Benjamin Polk writes for A Wolf Among Wolves about the differences between the oft-compared Steve Nash and Ricky Rubio.

*Brian Phillips explores the fascinating Westbrook-and-Durant dichotomy in Oklahoma City.

*I'm pretty sure that duckpin bowling will be the next great hipster trend. "Want to go bowling? No, not cosmic bowling. (sniffs condescendingly) It's duckpin bowling. You probably haven't heard of it."

And finally: you know, why wouldn't J.P. Arencibia have a delightful Tim Kurkjian impersonation?

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