Using the Science behind the “Hot/Crazy Scale” to learn about the relationship between athletes and reality stardom.
With the release of Terrell Owens by the Seattle Seahawks last week, the world may have witnessed the end of the most recent era of loud-mouthed, yet dominant wide receivers in the NFL. Owens joins Chad Johnson on the unemployment line as they both await Randy Moss to get cut from San Francisco. The quotes from Seahawks camp were that T.O. did everything the coaching staff asked from him and that he was in excellent shape and not a distraction at all. But with the return of Sidney Rice from injury there was no reason to keep a potential headache and distraction like Owens. Regarding Johnson, by all accounts he was going to make the Dolphins team out of training camp if he didn’t decide to headbutt his new blushing bride.
The release of these two wideouts in particular has caused me to ask why them? Why now? Surely in a pass happy NFL there is room for two physically gifted and still in shape players at the wide receiver position. Why are these two without jobs while teams are more than willing to give late round rookies and undrafted free agents chances at 3rd and 4th receiver positions.
One obvious reason is the belief that younger players are hungrier to prove themselves and are more willing to listen to the coaching staff and play on special teams, whereas a veteran wide receiver like Owens may think of the kickoff return team as beneath him when he has already been to the pinnacle of his position. It’s partially the same logic we see in the current job market where recently laid off workers interview for positions in which they are overqualified only to be passed over for inexperience workers out of college.
Perhaps a less obvious reason why teams are passing on Johnson and Owens is that their reality TV stardom has eclipsed their football player stardom. They have become more known for appearing on VH1 than ESPN. There twitter accounts are more popular than their NFL.com stat pages. They are more likely to get drafted in the Grantland Reality TV League than an actual Fantasy Football League. In short they have crossed over the “Ocho Diagonal”.
The “Ocho Diagonal” is based on the “Hot/Crazy” Scale from an episode of “How I Met Your Mother.” The science says that everyone is allowed to be a certain amount “crazy” so long as they are equally or greater than “hot”. The Y-axis of the graph represents hotness, and the X-axis represents craziness. The diagonal moves up the graph at a perfect 45-degree angle, demonstrating where the hot/crazy ratio is equal. The diagonal is named after an old girlfriend of Barney’s (Vicky Mendoza Diagonal) on the show who would crisscross back and forth over the diagonal as her craziness and hotness either increased or decreased.
Taking this same principle we can relate to athletes and specifically athletes who dabble in reality TV and other non-sports related ventures. On the Y-axis we substitute “Hot” for something I like to call “Sports Stardom”. This is an arbitrary measurement but think of it as anytime an athlete is featured on SportCenters Top Plays or All Star teams they make. The more you are known for your on-field athletic achievements the further you increase on this side of the chart. So lets use Chad Johnson as our control subject. Whenever Johnson scores a Touchdown, ends up on Top Plays, or makes a Pro Bowl, his Sports Stardom increases.
On the X-axis we substitute “crazy” for “Reality Stardom.” This measurement is more tangible than “Sports Stardom” but think of it as increasing every time an athlete is featured on a reality TV show, on a show like “The Soup”, or is embroiled in a twitter meltdown, then their reality stardom increases. Using Johnson again as a control, his appearances on Dancing With The Stars (DWS), The T.Ocho Show, or The Ultimate Catch increased his reality TV presence.
The “Ocho Diagonal” does not take into consideration retired athletes and is to be used for current players only. Players like Jose Canseco can appear on all the trashy reality TV their publicists can book, but it will not translate to this theory. We expect our former athletes to attempt to try and find additional revenue streams once their playing days are over. Some are attempting to capitalize on their athletic fame while they are still relevant and have the ability to cash in. There are only so many coaching positions and game day analysts’ positions to go around. Tom Jackson isn’t giving his seat up any day soon, so newly retired NFL players need to find other ways to cash in.
The “Ocho Diagonal” should be used to measure current athletes and to help label those who have cease to be known as athletes first and are now primarily known as Reality stars. Boxing megastar Floyd “Money” Mayweather is an example of an athlete who has flirted with reality TV stardom but has been able to maintain his success in the ring, sporting a still undefeated record. Mayweather has appeared on the HBO reality TV series 24/7 a record 6 times showing an unprecedented access to his life and training schedule. He’s participated in DWS, WWE rivalries, and often causes twitter controversies tweeting pictures of outrageous bets he places at sports books in Las Vegas. But through all of this, he keeps winning in boxing and continually shows he is boxing’s most lucrative attraction. Mayweather has yet to cross over the “Ocho Diagonal”
Perhaps the most egregious offender of the “Ocho Diagonal” is Mr. Kloe Kardashian himself. Lamar Odom’s reality stardom was relatively minimal until he married Kloe in 2009. Since then he has appeared on “Keeping Up With The Kardashains” and spawned an even worse spin-off, “Kloe and Lamar” which I can only imagine is a program about their pursuit to solve world hunger. But how has this reality stardom affected Odom’s on court performance? Well besides being openly called “Mr. Kardashian” by smug bloggers, he had a pretty good run for awhile. He won an NBA title as a member of the 2009 Lakers, and won the leagues 6th Man of the Year Award in 2011. But this past season, Odom was traded to Dallas and had just a God-awful season. It got so bad that Dallas decided to deactivate Odom for the rest of the season rather than release him or DNP-Coaches Decision for the rest of the year. Through it all, the cameras were there to capture the move from LA to Dallas and the affect it had on Kloe and Lamar. It was sometime during this downward spiral in Texas that Odom officially crossed over the “Ocho Diagonal” and became more well known as a reality star than NBA Power Forward.
There is still time for redemption for those who cross over the “Ocho Diagonal.” Odom, now a member of the Los Angeles Clippers can have a bounce back season and raise his “sports stardom” to cross back over the diagonal. The odds are not in his favor, but the math says it is a possibility. Knowing that the Kardashians are a cash cow for the E! Network and Lamar is not going to suddenly give up being a reality star buts a burden on him to prove himself with the Clippers.
I was tempted to take this Hot/Crazy Scale analogy in its entirety and try and incorporate the extreme “Shelly Gallebsy” zone. Named after another girl he dated who as Barney described gained 20lbs and tried to kill him with a brick. In our “Ocho Diagonal” world this zone could be referred to the “Kardashian Zone” where athletes drastically lose athletic stardom and are tragically showcased on Reality TV. The analogy is not perfect as athletes entering the “Kardashian Zone” have had varied levels of diminished success/embarrassment. Miles Austin and Reggie Bush were both able to salvage part of their athletic careers after their relationships with Kim K ended. Others have not been so successful, hence why it is impossible not to snicker whenever you heard the name Kris Humphries.
So which athletes are future candidates to cross over the “Ocho Diagonal”? Carmelo Anthony is married to former MTV star La La Vazquez and was featured on their show “La La’s Full Court Wedding” and “Full Court Life.” While still maintaining All-Star caliber play, Anthony has faced criticism of clashing with his teammates and coach in New York and with LeBron James winning a title this year, Anthony faces more pressure than ever to bring a Championship to the Big Apple.
NFL Wideouts are always good fodder for this type of discussion. Dez Bryant with his recent off the field issues and newly mandated team supervision has to be on a short list for the “Ocho Diagonal” potential. He is one VH1 pitch meeting away from having his own series following his life under Jerry Jones’ house arrest. And if not he could always have his very own “Intervention” special as his family and team sit him down to discuss his strip club addiction. We expect a lot from our wide receivers. They need to carry our fantasy football teams, come up with elaborate touchdown celebrations, and even be featured on trashy reality TV. And someone has to fill the void left by Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens.
[UPDATE] Chad Johnson went ahead and tattooed his future ex-wife’s face on his leg. Don’t stop being you, Chad.