The guy on the other end of the phone was ticked at me. It happens.
"You know, to bang Jon for this isn't right," Ken Sunshine said.
Sunshine is the spokesman for rocker and Philadelphia Soul owner Jon Bon Jovi. (Great name, right? Sunshine, I mean, not Bon Jovi.) When I called to inquire about the free concert Bon Jovi promised the city, Sunshine turned defensive. Mere seconds into the call, I was being accused - politely - of preparing to "bang" his client, which I think means "criticize" in PR speak. At least I hope that's what it means.
But let's back up for a second.
I get a lot of e-mails, some of which end up in the weekly mail column. The rest get put aside or deleted. Stored in the cache that never made it to print are messages from people who are evidently desperate for Bon Jovi to serenade them.
Personally, there are lots of things I'd rather do than attend a Bon Jovi concert. Watch The View on loop. Fight Vai Sikahema in a bare-knuckled brawl. Talk about my "feelings" with my girlfriend (which, I swear, was recently forced upon me during a particularly excruciating evening).
But here at SportsWit', we strive to accommodate our readers - at least the ones who remember to take their meds. So I decided to look into this Bon Jovi business.
For the unfamiliar, Bon Jovi went on WMMR-FM's Preston & Steve show last February and promised to perform a free concert in Philadelphia if the Soul somehow managed to win the Arena Football League championship. Shortly after his club emerged victorious in ArenaBowl XXII, Bon Jovi renewed that promise, publicly saying the concert would be held "later this year."
That was back in July. Last time I looked at the calendar, it's now February 2009, which is most certainly not the same year as 2008.
So what gives? Was Philly duped by the Jersey hair band front man?
"As indicated, Jon will fulfill his commitment when the schedule for the return of the Soul is clarified," Sunshine said. "Everything he's pledged to the fans of Philly regarding the Soul he's fulfilled. No one can doubt his integrity."
No. Of course not. Wouldn't dream of it.
Except, since when was the concert contingent on the AFL's holding another season? (The league recently canceled the 2009 campaign.) Until now, Bon Jovi and his representatives had never mentioned that proviso. What happens if the schedule isn't "clarified" and the Soul never return? What happens if the AFL folds for good?
"I don't know," Sunshine said.
Huh. That doesn't sound like you'll be putting on your old acid wash jeans for a free Bon Jovi concert any time soon.
For the record, I'd like to state that I would never rip Bon Jovi for failing to deliver on the concert promise. Actually, I'd like to thank him.
It deeply pains me that "the Burgh" - that bizarre little hamlet out in Western Pennsylvania - can now brag about six Super Bowl titles. Only a spiteful deity with a sick sense of humor would make that possible.
Still, in the battle between our neighbors and the ridiculously uptight NFL, SportsWit' grudgingly sides with Pittsburgh. After the Super Bowl, a Pittsburgh company called Commonwealth Press started selling black-and-gold T-shirts with the slogans "Yes We Did" and "Six Burgh." Hardly as imaginative as the "Why can't us?" shirts that caught on around here when the Phillies made the World Series, but as my grandmother would say, to each his own.
But according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, after Commonwealth began hawking the shirts, the NFL sent the company a cease-and-desist order stating that "use of the Lombardi Trophy design violates an NFL registered trademark and copyrighted design."
"These elements, particularly in combination, clearly misappropriate the goodwill enjoyed by the Pittsburgh Steelers Club," the NFL's letter said.
It's no wonder people call it the No Fun League. Cracking down on T-shirts sales after a championship is asinine. What else do the good people of Pittsburgh have, anyway? Take away the Steelers and the accompanying merchandise and the Burgh would become Butte, only without the charm. Not even Bud Selig would execute such a cruel PR plan. (Probably.)
Last night, NBC5 in Dallas aired an interview with Roy Williams. The Cowboys safety said that T.O. creates distractions for the team by being so controversial. I'm sure T.O. will take the dig in stride. . . . Please, someone make Barry Bonds go away. . . . According to the Associated Press, everyone's favorite "dirty bird" and former Falcon, Jamal Anderson, was arrested over the weekend and charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine. I wonder if Anderson, who works as a football analyst for ESPN, will be criticized by the World Wide Leader in the same way that Michael Phelps was last week. I'm going to take a wild guess and say no. . . . Feeling nostalgic about Philly sports? Believe it or not, seats are still available for the 76ers-Bulls game at the Wachovia Spectrum on March 13. . . . Someone has to explain this to me: I understand that Manny Ramirez is absurdly wealthy, but who turns down $25 million for one year? . . . Congrats to the Phils and Ryan Howard for avoiding arbitration and reaching a deal. It's been a pretty good off-season for the club.