What can I tell you about Charles Woodson that you don’t already know?
That in 1997 he joined Tom Harmon and Desmond Howard as the third U of M player to win a Heisman Trophy, receiving more points that year than Peyton Manning? You knew that. How about, that November, thanks to a 37-yard reception that resulted in Michigan’s only offensive touchdown of the game, the Wolverines beat the subhuman troglodytes of Ohio State. And that in 1998, Woodson led the team to a national championship?
You knew all that, too, right?
And you also knew that there are no hard feelings in Detroit that he didn’t wind up wearing Honolulu Blue and Perennial Loser Silver. We want better things for our Heisman heroes. The Lions have sucked since the day I was born, and seeing Woodson reach new heights as an Oakland Raider and even as a rival Green Bay Packer is a better alternative than watching his career implode like Barry Sanders or Charlie Rogers or [fill in the blank].
It’s like seeing your disadvantaged kid dodge a bullet and earn his PhD from MIT.
Anything else? Oh yeah, Charles Woodson owns a winery in Napa. That, like me, you probably didn’t know.
And, I’m ashamed to admit that for a guy named Christian, my reaction to that news was decisively un-Christian. To wit:
If it’s physically possible to roll one’s eyes viscerally, I just did it. Embarrassing, to say the least. But seriously, introspection is good medicine. Ergo: My refusal to embrace Charles Woodson as a winery owner while respecting him as an athlete comes from one of four personal character flaws. 1) Because I’m creatively provincial, and he’s a cornerback, not a vintner. 2) Because maybe I’m intrinsically a bigot: maybe I see him as an uppity black kid from Fremont, Ohio trying to play in the lily-white Napa major leagues. 3) Because I got no return call for the interview I’d hoped for and I’m behaving like a petty prick. 4) Something else entirely.
Government Warning: (1) Wine writer is about to name-drop.
First, I have nothing against pro sports guys become pro wine guys. In fact, I spent two weeks in Russia with former Red Wing Igor Larionov, drinking his wine along with countless other nefarious, mind-altering fluids. I love The Professor’s wine portfolio and have been raving about his Slap Shot Shiraz for years . And I don’t even like hockey that much—football, on the other hand, I love. So, I move on.
Government Warning: (2) Wine writer is about to claim socially-responsible, magnanimous white-guy liberalism.
Maybe I do harbor some idiotic sense that wine has not really been accepted by the black community, and maybe that’s why I joined the African American Tasters Guild as (locally) the only white member. Maybe I’m a guilt-ridden, closet-prejudiced peckerwood that overcompensates to atone for real and imagined racial sins. But in that case, the Woodson story would be right up my alley. So, on I move.
Stupidest NFA rule ever…
Potentially, I got the no-call-back snub from the winery’s PR folks due to league rules. In its inimitable wisdom, the NFA is preventing Woodson from endorsing the wine himself because of some weird alcohol policy. So if I’m in a pique of peevishness over being ignored by promoters of a product I’m trying to promote, it’s likely none of Woodson’s doing.
And by the way, anti-alcohol-promotion NFL hypocrites: The worst thing about your Super Bowl are the endless, unfunny beer ads.
Something about Lizzie McGuire making music videos rubs me the same kind of wrong, like Hilary Duff is saying, ‘Oh, singing is what I really wanted to do with my life, only in the meantime, Disney gave me a TV show because I’m just so hot.’ Musical careers parlayed out of acting careers are generally a waste of mental real estate for those of us subjected to the same via gym widescreens, mall muzak loops, or children who are such delinquents that they refuse to turn off the TV when Hilary comes on (unless Duff’s in the buff, which hasn’t happened yet). Likewise, local-football-star-makes-really-really-good who buys a winery, then claims to be a sudden cabernet connoisseur doesn’t quite ring true—even though it probably is. When said wannabe winemaker does not actually produce the product, but merely signs the bottle, expecting that somehow, it’s a value-add, I have issues.
Giving? Nobody at TwentyFour is giving anybody anything. The wine costs $150 a bottle, and that’s if you’re willing to settle for a printed Woodson autograph—if you want a real one, the charge is $250 per.
Paying forward, maybe—I’ve now got a wine note to go with my monthly mortgage.
And the wine? Old pal, wine shop owner and Michigan fan Jim Lufty allowed me to sample. It’s sublime, and I’m not given to an ‘s’ word to describe many wines, unless it’s the one with four letters in it. TwentyFour busts with power; a rich, chocolate and cherry nose charges forward with multiple layers of sweet tannins, multi-faceted mineral notes, a firm juicy fruit backbone and a mocha finish that goes well into overtime. If there was a Jim Thorpe award for cabernets, this one would be on the short list.
Of course, for that kind of cash, it had better be.
Remains to be seen; of the 2006 release of TwentyFour, winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez contended with a wet winter and a wetter spring and produced only 348 cases. Woodson could John Hancock the whole vintage in an afternoon.
In 1998, nobody on planet Earth deserved to raise that ‘We’re Number One’ finger more than Charles C. Woodson. I just hope that in 2010, at a hundred fifty a pop for his latest triumph, he’s not raising a different finger at us recession-ravished Michigan dingalings who aren’t quite in his contract league.