On Jay Feely, Politics, Paradise Lost and Ceramics

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 |

I'm not much into politics. Though it manages to catch my interest from time to time, it's something that I choose to observe from the periphery. It's not a subject I feel particularly qualified to speak on.

Me, I'll stick to what I know. Football. Baseball. Books. Bebop. Hip hop. Sports movies.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of former Giants (and current Jets) placekicker Jay Feely, who participated in "The Great American Panel" on Fox News' Sean Hannity Show on Monday.

Turns out Feely isn't a big fan of President Obama, and on Monday he went as far as to openly question the President's character.

When prompted by Hannity to speak on America's support of Iranian students, Feely first quoted some old dead guy named Phillips Brooks, then dug into Obama. "He's creating a foundation from which he must lead from," Feely said, "and that foundation does not have the same character traits that have made this nation great."

Hannity and Feely's panel mates ate it up. "You are ruining the stereotype of the typical football player," said one. "That is really well said," added Hannity.

Though Feely is a man who kicks footballs for a living (and not all that proficiently, one might reasonably argue), his appearances on shows like Hannity indicate that he clearly sees himself as someone whose greater future lies beyond the gridiron. Like football stars Jack Kemp, Steve Largent, J.C. Watts, and fellow Wolverine Gerald Ford did before him, it's possible that Feely intends to use his platform as a star athlete to one day springboard himself to elected office. And wouldn't that be something?

In a 2006 interview with John Branch of The New York Times, ESPN producer Pete McConville (of the ill-fated "Cold Pizza") said of Feely: "If you told me that in 10 years he'd be governor of Florida, I'd say, 'O.K., I could see that.'"


Yesterday, after Deadspin and Newsday's Bob Glauber had a little fun with him, Feely posted 18 separate posts to his Twitter account in an attempt to clarify and amplify the statements he made on Hannity. One of those posts (or Tweets, as the kids call them) caught my eye (and ire) more than the others:

"Any American who chooses to educate themselves (and unfortunately many who don't) can add to the dialogue and make our country better," Feely tweeted.

Oh, so Jay Feely wants to talk about education now? Interesting.

For years, I've been itching to share my "education of Jay Feely story." Those feelings only intensified after his three-miss horrorshow in Seattle back in 2005. And when I started this little blog in January, 2008, I knew I'd get to it eventually. All I needed was an appropriate opportunity. Well, here we are.

Flash back with me, if you will, to the Winter of 1995, when Feely and I were both students at
the University of Michigan. I'm a 20-year-old junior with an uncontrollable Jewfro (contained, on most days, inside a dirty white ballcap), two hoop earrings in my left ear, and a penchant for writing endless collections of manic, unpublishable poetry. Feely, on the other hand, is a 19-year-old sophomore/redshirt freshman finance major who had seen his first action for Lloyd Carr's Wolverines that previous fall as a kickoff specialist.

It's first day of Winter Term, and I'm sitting in the back row of a classroom in Mason Hall as a professor begins to explain the syllabus for, if memory serves, English 469: The Works of John Milton. It's a high level course which, I quickly realize, I have no business taking (I dropped the class shortly after), and as the professor continues to run down what can best be described as an intimidating reading list (
Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes, etc.) I notice a shadowy figure shuffling nervously in the doorway.

After a few moments, the professor is alerted to the shuffler's presence and asks if she can help him. And, as if on cue, in walks Hannity's pal, Jay Feely. He looks lost, but he also looks like he's not sure if he's lost. Somehow, he's caught in between.

"Um," Feely stammers. "Is this ceramics?"

"I beg your pardon?" responds the professor.

Undeterred by the smattering of audible snickers that has broken out throughout the classroom, Feely repeats himself.

"Is this ceramics?"

"Do you see any potter's wheels, young man?"

Feely looks around. "No."

"How about clay? Do you see any clay?"


"Then I guess this isn't ceramics, then."


You should have seen the look on Feely's face. I don't think I'll ever forget it. It was the kind of face a teenage boy makes when he gets caught masturbating by his mother. Or the face Bald Bull made when you stuck him in the gut. Ironically enough, it was the same face Feely would make 10 years later on the carpet of Qwest Field while, thousands of miles away, yours truly savagely destroyed a barstool.

The idiocy of the exchange cannot be understated for a variety of reasons, most notably a basic understanding of Michigan's campus. It's a big campus to be sure, but it's even bigger when you take into account that there is a Central Campus--where Mason Hall is located--and a North Campus--where the art school (and engineering school, and music school) is located. In order to get from Central Campus to North Campus, one must board a bus and ride for approximately 15 minutes. They're absolutely nowhere near each other. And unless Feely had been trapped under a blocking sled for a year and a half, he had to know that. Really.

The relaying of this story is not intended to disparage Feely so much as to pump the brakes on whatever "up with Feely, the great intellectual" groundswell might be emerging from the desperate right. To be fair, he was just a kid at the time. And by all accounts Feely appears to be a decent human being, commendably active with various charities such as the United Way, Easter Seals, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I know he's been through some difficult times in his life, too, and I don't mean to diminish what he has overcome by pointing out that the guy's a doofus.

Clearly he is, but his politics make that point for me.

Feely may well have a future in politics, but for now I suggest he stick to kicking footballs. And just in case he forgets his place again, I'll remind him that much like that classroom in Mason Hall, there aren't any potter's wheels in the New York Jets locker room.


Anonymous said...

nice. silly look on 19-year-old's face when he shows up at the wrong class = must be a moron.

though "not intended to disparage Feely," it sure seems like you are playing up an almost encounter with probably the most famous person you've almost had an encounter with -- rather than using whatever intellect you have to actually attempt to disparage some political opinions you clearly disagree with. stay classy dude.

BeantownBlue said...

Hilarious. Well written and thoroughly entertaining. I'm a longtime Michigan fan and have been a fan of Feely's as well. I'm sure he's a decent guy but clearly, as you point out, not the sharpest tool in the shed. Thanks for helping derail the Feely for Prez campaign before it builds too much steam.

P.S. I hear Tom Brady is a pretty staunch conservative as well and, though I disagree w/ his politics, it doesn't change my view of him as one of the greatest ever to put on a UM uniform. Same w/ Feely. He was a solid kicker, even if he's got rocks for brains.

Anonymous said...

Gerald Ford used his career as a professional athlete as a springboard to politics? Did not know that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, because only morons object to Obama's policies, especially his ever-evolving statements regarding Iranian dissidents.

Unknown said...

Snarky, pompous, belittling response by your prof from a lost student= Feely is a moron for life?
Your obviously able to be objective in your assessment of Feely's intelligence despite your strong left wing views, or maybe not.

Go blue!

Jonathan said...

At this point in your life, shouldn't you have reached the stage of maturity at which you can acknowledge that a person can hold political views other than your own without being unintelligent? It's downright sad that you feel the need to tear down a fellow Wolverine just because he votes differently than you.

(By the way, it sounds like you're a bit ignorant about the life of Gerald Ford if you think he was just a jock-turned-pol. You might want to read up a little more on him.)

Anonymous said...

So in your opinion, when evaluating the intellectual capacities abilities of Feely, we should disregard the fact that he managed to study finance at the University of Michigan School of Business while playing college football, and instead focus our attention on the fact that once in his life, he went to the wrong class?

Jay Feely said...

Jay Feely here. Happened to read your blog and it was an interesting anecdote. Unfortunately it was fictious. I never took ceramics, was an English minor, and actually did take multiple professor Williams classes, that were in fact very challenging. I was not a stellar student, but far from a dumb jock coasting through college. As you leave college and cement your beliefs you begin to desire knowledge. I wish I could go back to college and assert myself more, alas with 4 kids and a family to support that opportunity doesn't exist right now. I can however continue to educate myself by reading as many books as possible. Hopefully as Americans we all embrace that motto to compete in a global economy. Good luck with your blog in the future, but check the accuracy of the content first.

G-Fafif said...

And then there was Phil McConkey.

mk said...

Good Feely classroom story. In the pantheon of footballers who go beyond the gridiron, don't forget Supreme Court Justice Byron White, who played on the UC Boulder Buffaloes and then the Pittsburgh Pirates (now the Steelers).

Anonymous said...

Nice fib about Feely. It would of been funny if it was true but as you know it is not. I would say go Jets but.....I am a Ravens fan.

Go Ravens