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Saturday, September 25, 2021

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    Tim Benz: Twitter shame-police are making me defend Notre Dames Brian Kelly – TribLIVE

    So it’s come to this. Twitter has fallen so deep into the ninth circle of hell that it has forced me to side with the head coach of Notre Dame football.

    And, yes, that head coach is still Brian Kelly.

    I need a shower and I haven’t even gotten to the fourth paragraph yet.

    After Notre Dame’s 41-38 overtime win against Florida State on Sunday night, Kelly attempted to be self-effacing in victory by mocking his own team’s miscues which kept that game close.

    Kelly tried to restate the famous one-liner from ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay.

    McKay coached the Bucs through their awful expansion years of 1976-78, when the team amassed a hideous 7-37 record, before making the playoffs with a 10-6 record in 1979.

    At one point during his tenure, McKay was asked what he thought of his team’s execution.

    McKay famously quipped, “I’m in favor of it.”

    Since roughly 1976, that joke was allowed to be funny. Now, it isn’t anymore because Kelly (ironically) mangled its “execution” while trying to spit out the one-liner on Sunday night during a postgame interview.

    Kelly instantly made matters worse when he angrily defended himself after a reporter tried to get him to explain what he meant with that foul ball attempt at humor.

    That, of course, was the wrong thing to do. Kelly should’ve immediately apologized, cried and whipped himself with a wet noodle on Zoom. Then, he should have demanded that Notre Dame administrators lock him in stockade under the nose of Touchdown Jesus while allowing members of his own team to tar and feather him in front of the student body.

    Clearly, that — and only that — would have been the appropriate response.

    Personally, I was only off-put for these three reasons.

    1.) He flubbed the punchline.

    2.) He forced the poor attempt at humor on a game that was actually entertaining.

    3.) He should’ve let Pirates manager Derek Shelton use the line first. It would’ve been more fitting for him to try.

    However, Kelly’s heinous crime of political incorrectness is much worse to the virtue signalers on Twitter. Hence, a barrage of faux outrage at Kelly ensued Monday.

    From those who took the joke too seriously. To those who wanted to wag their finger at a perceived level of impropriety. To those who are claiming that Kelly is out of touch and that joke should now be considered dated and anachronistic.

    In other words, Tweeters are using Kelly’s stumble as a way to make themselves look better by seizing the opportunity to pander and preen on social media. After all, never miss an opportunity to build up America’s greatest currency in 2021: likes and retweets.

    There were even some who thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to bring up the death of Declan Sullivan — a student videographer who was killed during practice when the hydraulic lift he was using collapsed due to high winds — as an appropriate point of reference.

    Hmm. Interesting morality leap there, isn’t it? Frankly, I find an attempt at making that connection far more offensive than anything Kelly said Sunday.

    I’m of a different school of thought. Maybe — just maybe — there is a natural generation gap at play that doesn’t need to be overanalyzed.

    Yeah. Exactly. And I don’t think the 50-plus crowd is wrong for having that reaction. I’m in the corner of ESPN basketball announcer Fran Fraschilla.

    Mina Kimes of ESPN tweeted something to chew on as well.

    OK. Fair enough. So if people aren’t genuinely mad enough to be worthy of a tweet, put down the phone for once and don’t bother commenting at all then. Let this one go.

    What I really don’t get are all the people falling back on the “it’s 2021, not 1976” mentality. In other words, that joke has been allowed to be funny since 1976, but now it’s not. Why?

    Is it because of the kind of guy Kelly is? Because of the school he coaches? Or because of the nature of the joke?

    Since we all have to be so painfully literal these days, OK, let’s be literal. I’m not sure what was funny about executions in 1976 that isn’t now. Or what was funny about them in 1876 or 1576.

    If that’s the case, I guess those that want to shame Kelly should probably get busy shaming John McKay, too. I mean, the man passed away 20 years ago. Although, a minor detail like that has never stopped “gotcha Twitter” in the past.

    Since McKay was one of the more quotable coaches of all time, it’ll be no problem posthumously canceling him by digging up some of his best one-liners.

    Let’s kick the shame machine into high gear!

    •McKay on emotion in football:Emotion is highly overrated in football. My wife Corky is emotional as hell but she can’t play football worth a damn.

    For shame! Chauvinist!

    McKay on praying before a game: “God’s busy. They’ll have to make do with me.

    For shame! Heathen!

    McKay on losing: “There are still over 600 million Chinese who don’t care if we win or lose.

    For shame! Xenophobe!

    •McKay on hunting: “When I was duck hunting with Bear Bryant, he shot at one but it kept flying. ‘John,’ he said, ‘there flies a dead duck.’ That’s confidence.

    PETA has entered the chat.

    •McKay on Green Bay: “If a contest had 97 prizes, the 98th would be a trip to Green Bay.

    Uh, Mr. McKay, the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce is on line 1.

    •McKay on giving the ball to O.J. Simpson 38 times in a game at USC:He is not in a union. He can carry the ball as many times as we want him to.

    What?! He was against student-athletes being paid? The nerve!

    McKay on his old days at USC before taking over the Bucs: “I keep a picture of O. J. Simpson at my side at all times to remind me of the days when I knew how to coach.

    Wait a minute. This guy actually admitted to liking O.J.?

    Need we say more?!

    As I write this, my WiFi connection is a little shaky. Is my sarcasm coming through strong enough? Because I’m laying it on awfully thick.

    Here’s what’s happening in this case with Kelly. America in 2021 chooses who gets our rage and anger based on who they are, not the act they commit.

    Kelly is a middle-aged, white male in a position of power and influence. That makes him raw meat for Twitterazzi the minute he screws up.

    Even worse, this middle-aged, white male in a position of power and influence happens to be the head coach of Notre Dame football.

    A team that, if you don’t love, you automatically hate.

    Beyond all that, it doesn’t help Kelly that he has a reputation of being — how can I put this delicately? — a complete and total jerk 99.9% of the time.

    So, while we are pretending to be offended, please at least admit that we are offended because we don’t like the person or the team he coaches — instead of this make-believe handwringing over the words that came out of his mouth.

    I just wish McKay was alive to subtweet something funny about this whole mess.

    I bet O.J. would hit “like” and “retweet.”

    Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

    Penn State | Pitt | Sports | Breakfast With Benz | Tim Benz Columns | WVU

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