Monday, January 7, 2002

The 2001 Woman of the Year

Previous Winners: 1992: H. Ross Perot, 1993: St Francis of Assisi, 1994: Newt Gingrich, 1995: Cal Ripken Jr., 1996: The Bob Dole Campaign, 1997: Dolly the Sheep, 1998: El Nino, 1999: Belinda Jensen, 2000: The Taco Bell Chihuahua

We'd love to tell you all about the process the committee went through to select the 2001 Newsletter Woman of the Year. Unfortunately, due to national security concerns, we have to provide a [text deleted] account of the whole operation [clearance granted for the prior sentence].

Suffice it to say things got off to a rather rocky start when a group of concerned parents, media jackels, school administrators and election officials demanded the whole Newsletter Woman of the Year award be discontinued because of alleged witchcraft being used to determine the winner. Rumor has it committee members used the assistance of a Magic 8 ball to divine the winner last year. The concerned parents, media jackels, school administrators, and election officials thought the use of the so-called black magic device was certain proof that the committee members were practicing wizards and witches and thus a danger to children.

It was a discouraging development to say the least. There was thought that we do away with the formal proceedings and reach a quick consensus. If that had come to pass then the obvious winner would have been Attorney General John Ashcroft. Committee members were impressed that Ashcroft, a guy who lost his Senate seat to a dead guy, managed to become one mighty big powerful civil rights schmivil rights right wing type of guy. But quite frankly committee members became a tad frightened that if Ashcroft was so recognized that phone taps and email intercepted by the Feds would be used to indefinitely imprison us as feline sympathizers.

Next we turned our sights to the next most obvious choice, Major League Baseball. Fresh off of providing some release from the terrorist attacks via a terrific World Series, fresh off an uplifting season from the local squad, the geniuses that run the game decided it was time to announce that the game was beyond repair and there was a need to get rid of two revenue poor teams. That the plan would do absolutely nothing to solve what truly is ailing the national pastime (out of control spending by large market owners and not nearly enough revenue sharing between teams) didn't really seem to matter.

The plan called for baseball to give two owners $150 million to $200 million to buy their teams and "contract" them. If the issue was about not having a good enough stadium how about spending that same amount to build better stadiums that produce higher revenue? Nope. That wouldn't punish somebody to prove some point. Yup Major League Baseball is about as screwed up as can be. Contraction = Woman of the Year. Since many of our favorite people had their first babies over the past year there seemed to be a natural connection. But it wasn't the way the committee members wanted to go.

With the committee's attention fully tuned to sports, the ultimate winner's name was written all over the 2001 Newsletter Woman of the Year Award. Not since the days of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan have sports fans been treated to such a complex character. The anger directed at our winner was sorely misguided. Instead of being outraged by this fellow's comments and showboating antics, fans should have focused on his wonderful ultimate anti-cliche rock and roll escapades. Instead of dwelling on his team's failures fans should have treasured this individual's unmatched talents and grace.

Going against the grain, disrespecting authority, just like our award, is what this gentleman is all about. And yet this year beneath all the immature behavior and unbelievable talent we also got a glimpse of a moment of such intense honesty that he stood the notion of professional athletics on edge. He didn't spoon out the usual sports rhetoric/drivel ("I gave it 110 percent blah blah blah"), he actually was honest enough to admit he tries hard only when he sees fit.

The defining moment for the 2001 Woman of the Year wasn't another season where he demonstrated that when he puts his mind to it there is absolutely no one who can stop (or control) him and that he is still the most dynamic football player in his league, but rather at a sad sad news conference where he admitted he didn't know how, let alone if, he could ever get over the death of his friend and teammate. Thankfully this guy is definitely not Kubrick's HAL. He wept that day like a distraught and frail and honest human being and for that we salute Randy Moss as this year's much deserving recipient.

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