Editor's note: Marty Simpson earned four letters and started 44 games for the Gamecock football team. In this feature, he takes a look at a topic as an analyst, letterman and comedian.
All I have heard this week from the radio call-in shows is how everyone is so down and out about the Gamecocks. Everyone seems to think that Stephen Garcia's confidence is somewhere in the Sarlacc pit rotting away with Boba Fett.
What the media fails to understand is that guys like Garcia don't get rattled like normal people. The media expects these athletes to react like normal human beings when the truth is they aren't normal human beings, they're superheroes. The swagger that allows a kid like Garcia to lower his head at a future first-round draft pick linebacker is that same swagger that causes him to not be phased by throwing a few interceptions at Williams-Brice.
He has proven his decision-making ability is somewhat unorthodox. But we should stop judging his poor decision-making skills. It's not fair for us to bark about his bad decision to throw a certain pass, but then turn around and cheer on his "decision" to throw his body at a 320-pound defensive tackle like he was jumping into a swimming pool. Neither of these decisions were made by a rational thinker, people.
However, there is a problem. Eventually the most powerful of superheroes are affected by enough bad press. Even Spider-Man struggled to continue fighting crime when he kept reading falsified tabloid headlines about his heroics that painted him out to be the villain. Superman, for crying out loud, left Metropolis and flew home to listen to his father's voice from a reflecting rock because of bad press. At what point will the media realize that they are not reporting on these issues, but helping cause them? They are helping cause the demise of Superman.
I don't think Garcia has a confidence problem, but I think the media could conjure one up inside him. They can submit him to a Chinese water torture of negativity that ultimately leads him to start questioning himself. The kid can play. We have all seen it numerous times. We should just let him play without dissecting every move he makes. I trust that Steve Spurrier does that enough for all of us.
I have the solution. Starting Saturday morning, the media takes a vow of silence for 17 days concerning anything to do with Stephen Garcia. Anything at all. The name "Stephen Garcia" cannot be spoken on the radio or written by the journalists. In addition to the media's vow of silence, the fans decide to only cheer wildly for good things that happen to Garcia and make no negative reactions like boos or anything similar. By Wednesday of the off-week, the "Garcia issue" will have solved itself.
You see, by Monday prior to the Tennessee game, all the kinks will have worked themselves out. Either Garcia will have risen to the top of the heap like he should, or the struggle to get it together will have caused other quarterbacks to play. The natural process will have transpired the way it should without any media affecting it one way or the other.
If he remains our quarterback, then we will be fine. If he doesn't stay the quarterback, at least he will have his dignity and we can cheer him on as he passes the torch to the younger quarterbacks in the system. And by the way, we will still be fine. Either way we should show the utmost respect for his efforts up to this point. He is going to graduate as the winningest quarterback in our school's history for goodness sake.
However, if this same persistence of the media continues, I am afraid at some point it will crack the armor. It won't be his inability to produce on the field that causes the media to write bad things about him, but sadly and ironically the opposite. It will be the media's need for a superhero which causes them to try and create one. They will attempt to fabricate one using the only tools at their disposal - keyboards, computers and criticism.
It will be the media's need to pounce on a young man so harshly that ultimately causes him to wear down. We pretend like we are more civilized than they were in the days of the gladiators because our heroes don't fight to the death, but the sad truth is we're not. We somehow only thrive on the negative. We live for the moments when we can point out failures in others. I think of the scene in the Robert Redford classic, The Natural, when Robert Duvall's character, Max Mercy, a cynical sportswriter, is talking to Roy Hobbs.
Hobbs: Did you ever play ball, Max?
Max: No, never have. But I make it a little more fun to watch, you see. And after today, whether you're a goat or a hero...you're gonna make me a great story.
A great story is all the media wants. I believe there are 80,000 others on any given Saturday that would take a boring non-front-page story about how the Gamecocks drubbed Florida - again.
Garcia will end up like all the other great superheroes out there that have succumbed to the similar pressures. Sadly, the media may actually cause him simply not to care anymore, which would be tragic. Because those same talking heads that would be killing the hopes and dreams of one player, will be killing their own hopes and dreams as well, as they live vicariously through him every week.
I am thankful that he is indeed a superhero. Because I am confident he is in his quiet place of peace right now summoning his inner strength to rise above the madness. He will swoop into Williams-Brice Saturday wearing a wounded warrior cape and a "5" on his chest that looks kind of like an "S" and lead us all back to the fantasy we envisioned this summer. When it does all come together, we will be so excited that we will run to our computers to start typing up our stories and then we will remember our vow.
So we will just write,
"The Gamecocks played well enough to win - again. See you in 16 days. Go Cocks!"
From coach to comedian: Marty Simpson is a former Academic All-Conference player for USC who scored the Gamecocks' first 6 points in the SEC. During 8 years as a high school varsity coach, Simpson led his team to the state finals and saw one player advance to set an NFL rookie record. Simpson now divides his time between his family, running a multimedia company named Blue-Eyed Panda and traveling the country performing stand-up comedy for clubs, churches, and corporations.
Check out Marty's comedian website here.
Check out Marty's comedian website here.
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