Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Daily Super Bowl Hype Meme: B.J. Raji is Fat

The formula for the players being covered at the Championship Games and Super Bowl is pretty set in stone. The media will lionize the quarterbacks, praise the running backs, criticize the loud-mouth wide receiver, find some quiet lineman that exemplifies a stoic work ethic, dig up someone who's on the road to redemption and renewal, laud someone who's been nice to a dying child, and cross their fingers that someone says something stupid, or even better, solicits sex from an off-duty cop. Most years, the media find someone that they're going to crown their "darling"--past examples have included Steve Young, Jerome Bettis, Kurt Warner, both Mannings, and of course, Tom Brady. This year' early media darling is something of a sleeper...

...Packers' defensive tackle B.J. Raji. A google of articles related to Mr. Raji returns no fewer than 15,000 screeds written either about him or including him. That's a lot for a guy who was pretty much unknown to the general public until he intercepted a Caleb Hanie pass and ran it in for a score last Sunday. Sure, he was a first round pick in '09 and made the Pro Bowl this year, but c'mon, what percentage of America knows about a nose tackle in Wisconsin? 6%?

The overwhelming amount of coverage given to Raji has been positive, and it's all been about roughly what you would expect:

  • Raji is an up-and-coming star in the NFL for a team in the Super Bowl, and is someone you should know;
  • Raji made a great play picking off a guy who had thrown fewer than 10 NFL passes and running it in for a touchdown on Sunday;
  • Raji was lucky that nobody knocked the ball out of his hands on the way to the end zone, making him the next Leon Lett; and
  • Raji has an creative touchdown dance.

These all basically are newsworthy because of a plain and obvious fact: B.J. Raji is very, very big. Officially clocking in at 337 lbs--a number we're officially calling into question--Raji isn't quite the massive tub of fat that Terrence Cody is (right), but is the logical heir apparent to The Fridge, Gilbert Brown, Tony Siragusa, and all those lovable fatsos that have played in Super Bowls in the past. Suffice to say that if Raji was built like, say, Shawn Ellis, we wouldn't be seeing this much coverage of him. Heck, William Gay had a defensive touchdown on Sunday, and nobody is talking about him.

So if Raji worthy of all this praise, discussion, adulation, and in some respects, mocking because he weighs as much as a Harley? Well, if the articles were praising his play or saying how he'd impact the Super Bowl, sure. Alas, most of them aren't going into that; they're either retrospectives of his fun touchdown against the Bears, his dancing skills, or his girth. And that's all fine and good because he is a player in the game...but it's a chance for the media to discuss how he'll impact the game itself. Which, for the most part, it's not doing. More than anything else, it's using him as a prop for comedy or just character analysis.

Because this theme is about a guy in the game and there are traces of stories that are relevant to the game, we'll give this a 5 out of 10 for now. If there's still no real discussion of how Raji's hidden quickness will impede Pittsburgh's running game in the next 10 days, we reserve the right to bump this up a notch or two.

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