At QB: God

Who knew that God could read a three-deep zone?

Actually, given the Supreme Being's alleged omniscience, it would be pretty much a given that He could not only effectively detect any zone coverage tossed at him, He'd be able to read just what the free safety was imagining doing to the third cheerleader from the left. So the better question would be this: Who knew that God was a Texans quarterback?

We haven't been to church lately, so we don't know if this issue has been addressed from the pulpit. But judging by the local TV and newspaper coverage, we can only conclude that God Himself has decided to do the Second Coming as Texans quarterback David Carr. It's another example of His wacky humor, the impish streak that gave us George W. Bush, Corporate Reformer.

As a high-profile QB who was the team's first ever draft choice, Carr was destined to be given fawning coverage during the team's inaugural training camp.

But the Houston media left fawning behind a long time ago, and is now seriously into hagiography. And we're not talking about the columns or the personality profiles, which at this stage would be expected to be glowing. We mean the more routine stuff.

Each day the Houston Chronicle runs a "Carr Watch," in which the paper lists the highlight and the lowlight from the quarterback's passing drills. The August 15 installment: "Highlight: Each day, Carr seems to make a throw more spectacular than the spectacular throw of the previous day. Wednesday, he somehow zipped a ball between three defenders and into the hands of Jermaine Lewis, the smallest target on the field. Lowlight: Having to answer questions about the [Sports Illustrated] jinx after appearing on the cover of the magazine this week."

Two days earlier, the highlight was an incomplete pass: "A pass to Corey Bradford was overthrown, but it traveled 50 yards and reaffirmed how strong David Carr's arm is," we were told.

The "Carr Watch" also includes a daily quote by or about the QB, usually about how mature he is or how quickly he's picking up things. The phrase "future Hall of Famer" has appeared. And then there was the "What They're Saying" from August 10: "'When I was a kid, I wanted to pick up the paper and know exactly what Troy Aikman was thinking or what John Elway was thinking.' -- Carr, on why he tries to be so accessible to the media."

Our favorite David Carr moment so far, however, does not come from the Chron. It comes from KTRK, which lobbied long and hard to win the right to be declared "Official Station of the Houston Texans," even though most of the regular-season games will be on KHOU.

Being the Official Station apparently means doing lots and lots of coverage, even for meaningless preseason games. And so for the second preseason game, reporter Jessica Willey was dispatched to watch the game from the Houston-area living room of Carr's parents, where the quarterback's wife, son and a few friends were stationed.

Shockingly, it turns out Carr's parents are proud of him -- a scoop that Channel 13's competitors didn't manage to get.

But it was after the game that the station shone. The Texans had beaten the New Orleans Saints; as is typical for an early preseason game, Carr had sat out the second half.

KTRK's Bob Allen interviewed Carr on the field after the game, then said the station had "a little surprise." They knew he always called his wife after a game to tell her he was okay; now -- through the magic of television -- he could speak to her as she watched him on TV!

Which meant, after much fumbling with the earpiece and "Can you hear me now?" back-and-forth, viewers were treated to an extremely stilted, content-free conversation between an embarrassed Carr and his family.

They were proud of him and happy the team won. And he promised he would see them soon.

Somehow that reunion wasn't covered, but maybe there were camera-crew overtime concerns.

Gotta Get a Gimmick

The large rainstorm that deluged the Houston area August 15 brought two startling new images to local television viewers: One, there was a shot of a raincoated Wayne Dolcefino in a flooded street. But -- perhaps for the first time in memory -- Dolcefino did not stand knee-deep in the water in order to tell us that we should never, ever stand knee-deep in floodwater. The station made up for it by showing the standard video of kids frolicking in flooded streets, just in case any young viewers hadn't realized what fun could be had running around in filthy, infested streams that might be obscuring manholes whose covers had been washed away.

The other new image came from KHOU, which debuted (at least to us) the latest piece of video-game eye candy for news operations that like to spend precious resources on visual gimmicks.

Channel 11 now uses a satellite picture of a given area -- in this instance, a Galveston neighborhood -- with a bombardier's X marking a spot. Then, as viewers no doubt are supposed to say "Cool, man," the camera rushes down from its heavenly vantage point, zooming to ground level. As it zeros in, the viewpoint even tilts slightly to an angle in a 3-D effect.

It can be seen only on KHOU, we were told. The advantages this method has over simply showing a map were not explained, but we're sure there's lots and lots.

Sordid Secrets Revealed

Reporters having "afternoon delight" bouts of matinee sex! Elderly men with foot fetishes rubbing the soles of comely female reporters! Binges of margarita-drinking induced by long-festering childhood pain!

The latest Jackie Collins novel? No, it's the behind-the-scenes Weblog of Houston Chronicle reporter Rachel Graves, covering President Bush's vacation in Crawford.

Sadly enough, the Weblog isn't as titillating as the summary might lead you to believe. "Afternoon delights"? A reader e-mailed Graves to ask whether it went on. "Sorry, guys, you're going to have to use your imagination on that topic," she answered.

Boozing away pain? It turns out Graves was looking forward to a drink after watching a reporters' softball game in which she didn't participate because of memories of being picked last in gym class.

The foot-fetish comment comes from Graves's pool report, when she was one of the handful of reporters picked to tail a golfing Bush August 10 and file a summary for the rest of the press. A guy at the country club was offering to massage her feet, she noted.

The best line from that day came not from the pool report, though, but from Graves's description of her pool duties: "I've met Bush before, in South Carolina when he was running for president," she wrote. "Surely he doesn't remember, and yet he exuded a familiarity that made it easy to question him about Iraq, as though I had known him for a long time."

Thanks for sharing.


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