Tales of the Deplorable -- ESPN's Instant Analysis of Depth Chart Ramifications of Alabama Offensive Lineman's Death
In The Empire Strikes Back, you may remember a scene where Darth Vader, tired of the incompetence of the bumbling Admiral Veers, decides to go ahead and terminate him, permanently, via force choke, and immediately promote Veers' subordinate Captain Piett before they could even move Veers' body out of the way.
A couple observations on this:
1. Not only does Vader manage to kill a man without a weapon nor laying a finger on him, but does it from another room. Impressive. Most impressive.
2. While the act was deplorable, Vader was clearly dealing with a lot of shit. Fresh off of his inability to protect a small, thermal exhaust port in the previous film, dude was probably facing a ton of pressure at work from Emperor Palpatine. (I'd hate to see Vader's Employee Evaluation for the year that he compromised the Death Star and paved the way for the death of thousands of Empire employees.)
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But you expect Darth Vader to treat people like disposable, replaceable slabs of meat. He's a Sith lord. That's what Sith lords do. So, what's Albert Lin's excuse?
Who's Albert Lin? I'll get to that in a second, but first the reason we're even discussing him:
If you missed the news yesterday, Aaron Douglas, an offensive lineman for the Alabama Crimson Tide who had transferred there from Tennessee, was found dead on the second-floor balcony of a home in Fernandina Beach, Fla., after attending a party, according to police.
If you went to most news outlets, you got an Associated Press wire report of the story:
Witnesses said the 21-year-old Douglas was taking a taxi to Jacksonville after dinner with friends when two women apparently approached the cab and invited him to a party. He arrived between 11 and 11:30 p.m. Douglas was seen at the residence as late as 2 a.m. before a male resident and others discovered him "apparently dead" on the balcony Thursday morning, Hurley said.
Douglas was pronounced dead at the scene. The medical examiner's office is investigating the cause of death.
Maybe you got quotes from his head coaches (at Alabama, at Tennessee, and other places) about what a great kid he was and what a solid family he comes from:
"It is a tragedy anytime you lose someone close to you and even more so when it is a member of your family," football coach Nick Saban said in a statement. "Aaron was a part of our family and always will be a part of our family at Alabama. He was an outstanding young man and we were excited about what he had accomplished as a player and a person in the short time he was with us.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, David and Karla, who are two of the best people you will ever meet and the love they had for their son was something very special."
Albert Lin covers college football for ESPN.com. Yesterday, before Aaron Douglas' family and friends could even get a night's sleep in the wake of losing a loved one, Lin was breaking down the "all-important" depth chart ramifications of Douglas' tragic passing (NOTE: It appears the post has been removed from the site, but courtesy of The Big Lead, there are screen caps):
Screencap courtesy The Big Lead
Well, I guess at least Lin acknowledged that the on-field ripple effect in 2011 was "far from the most important result." That said, the fact that he even brings up the depth chart this fall the same day Douglas died does beg the question as to what exactly Lin does see as the "most important result." (Somewhere I still think there's a "most important result" paragraph that got left on the cutting room floor that centered around offensive line recruiting in 2012.)
Even worse than all of this was the tease that Lin and his editors (who are equally, if not more, culpable in all of this for allowing Lin's "analysis" to see the light of day), placed on the college football front page:
"Possible starter found dead in Jacksonville, opening door for five-star signee Cyrus Kouandjio"
And here comes the kicker:
"Subscribe to Insider for as low as $2.50/month to access the complete rumor"
Yeah, did you really think SEC football analysis was going to be free? This is the SEC! Aaron Douglas was a "possible starter!" "We're only giving you the entire scoop on what his death means to the 2011 Crimson Tide if you duke us the $2.50 this month."
I mean....wow, ESPN. What, you mean I don't at least get analysis of the impact of Tractor Traylor's death on the frontline depth of his Puerto Rican League team for free if I sign up for an entire year? A little something for the effort?
Eventually, ESPN's Editor-In-Chief Rob King tweeted an apology:
Apologies for the Rumor Central post related to Aaron Douglas' tragic death. It did not meet ESPN editorial standards and was removed asap.
I guess the apology puts ESPN one notch ahead of the Galactic Empire. To my knowledge, Darth Vader never apologized to Admiral Veers' family. Then again, Admiral Veers never was a "possible starter" in the SEC.
Congratulations, Worldwide Leader. Yeesh.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.