Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brad Benson, Don't Quit Your Day Job

For those of you under the age of 30, Brad Benson is an auto dealer, with his showroom on Route 1 in South Brunswick, New Jersey, about 10 miles from my house.

For those of us over 30, Brad Benson was previously an offensive lineman with the New York Giants, who had his best season in 1986-87, winning Super Bowl XXI and going to the Pro Bowl -- in each case, for the only time. (He played one more season and then retired, so he was not involved in their Super Bowl XXV team.)

Benson does his own commercials (in his case, both radio and TV), which is something I respect tremendously. Colonel Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dave Thomas of Wendy's, ice cream man Tom Carvel, potato-chip man Herman Lay, these were guys who stood by their own products, putting their face as well as their name and reputation on the line. I love guys like that.

One notable exception was Victor Kiam, who said of the Remington Micro Screen electric razor, "I liked it so much, I bought the company." Then he bought the New England Patriots, and turned it into a disgraceful organization, and almost killed it: There were rumors that, depending on which cities got NFL expansion teams, the Patriots might get bought by groups trying to bring teams to Baltimore or St. Louis. Both of those cities got moved teams instead, and Kiam sold the Pats to Robert Kraft, who kept them in the Boston suburbs. Whatever I have to say about Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and anyone else on the team, Kraft is a class act. Certainly, compared to Kiam.

UPDATE: I have since added another exception, John Schnatter, who, despite being a billionaire, refuses to pay for the health insurance of employees of Papa John's Pizza.

Today, I heard Benson on the radio talking about how the Rex & Michelle Ryan "foot fetish video" was too much of a distraction, how, "I knew the Jets would lose." He made a few corny jokes, including, "If the Jets had won the Super Bowl, instead of Disney World, Rex would've said he was going to Foot Locker."


Let me explain something to you, Brad: The week after that video came out, the Jets beat the Patriots. In Foxboro.

The week before it came out, the Jets beat the Colts. In Indianapolis.

True, the Jets haven't won a Super Bowl under Ryan -- or any other coach, for that matter, except Weeb Ewbank, 42 years ago. While Benson won one with the Giants. Fair enough.

You know how many road Playoff games the Giants won while Benson played for them? I had to look it up:

December 27, 1981: 27-21 over the Philadelphia Eagles at Veterans Stadium. This was Dick Vermeil's Eagles, with Ron Jaworski, Wilbert Montgomery, Harold Carmichael, Carl Hairston, Claude Humphrey and Herman Edwards. (Although Bill Bergey had retired the year before, following their defeat in Super Bowl XV.) The Giants lost in the next round to the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. No shame in that, that was the beginning of the Joe Montana dynasty.

December 23, 1984: 16-13 over the Los Angeles Rams at Anaheim Stadium. The Rams were a good team then, with Jim Everett at quarterback and Eric Dickerson having just set an NFL single-season rushing record (which still stands) of 2,105 yards. But The House That Gene Autry built, with a football capacity of 70,500, 30 miles down Interstate 5 from downtown L.A., and across from Disneyland, "the Happiest Place On Earth," was a considerably less intimidating place for visiting teams than the 93,000-seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, adjacent to the USC campus but also on the edge of the South Central Ghetto.

That's it. Two road Playoff wins for Benson's teams in 10 seasons. Or as many as the Jets won this month.

And while beating Vermeil's Eagles at the Vet was impressive, beating John Robinson's Rams at the Big A doesn't carry nearly the same emotional lift as beating Peyton Manning's Colts in Indy or Bill Belichick's Pats in Foxboro.

I guess what I'm trying to say, Brad, is, "Don't quit your day job."

And don't forget something that you probably would have said to Rex yourself, if you were as smart as you think you are: Time wounds all heels.

Benson is from Altoona, Pennsylvania. He went to Penn State. That explains a lot of things. Mainly why he thinks he's so much smarter than he actually is.

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