Thursday, December 25, 2008
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Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Thoughtful holiday gifts for some familiar sports names

There is such a thing as a bad holiday gift. Take the "Snuggie," for example.

Have you seen the commercials for these things? Granted, I'm often lazy and occasionally cold, but never have I looked at a blanket and said, "You know what this thing needs? Arm holes!"

But somebody did think that. And that somebody invented the Snuggie -- essentially a giant fleece muumuu -- and is hawking it late at night on ESPN with some of the cheesiest ads you'll find.

See the man eat popcorn in a Snuggie. See the man fire up his laptop in a Snuggie. And, my personal favorite, see an entire family of Snuggie-clad fans -- who for some reason were not beaten up by the surrounding fans in normal clothes -- high-five each other at a sporting event.

Here's an actual quote from the ad: "Blankets are OK, but they can slip and slide. And when you need to reach for something, your hands are trapped inside!"

Yeah, you lousy blankets! Get with the times, man!

America, we can do better. And in the spirit of the holidays, let's pass out some worthwhile gifts:

To new Virginia offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon: Freedom. Al Groh made a nice hire in this spot. Brandon is a pioneer of the spread offense with a .595 winning percentage as a head coach. Seems like a steal. The only question now is whether Groh will give him carte blanche with the offense next year. If Groh tightens the reins too much because his own job is in jeopardy, not much will have changed. But if Brandon is allowed to do his thing and truly experiment, this could get interesting.

To new Auburn coach Gene Chizik: Brandon's .595 winning percentage as a head coach. Hey, it's certainly an improvement on 5-19 at Iowa State.

To Virginia Tech linebacker Brett Warren: Advice. Don't risk it, man. It's not worth it. Warren played Tech's past three games on a bum knee before learning that he has a torn left ACL, and the door has been left open that he could try to play in the Orange Bowl. I know he's got toughness in his veins -- he's the son of an 14-year NFL vet, after all -- but at some point you've got to make a difficult but wise choice. Choose walking.

To UVa basketball coach Dave Leitao: Patience. It looks like it's going to be a rough season in Charlottesville, but there is some long-term hope. The team's best players are freshmen, and Leitao needs to keep that in mind when he's tempted to unleash his notorious intensity. Some players respond well to that -- J.R. Reynolds fed off it regularly -- but given this team's inexperience, it's probably best to relax a bit.

To Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg: A 12-pack of Dr Pepper. Just in case anybody on the team gets thirsty again at 2 a.m.

To Dr Pepper: A period after your first name. If a guy can legally become "Chad Ocho Cinco," I'm certain we can pull this off.

To Redskins coach Jim Zorn: A break from the media. His "I feel like the worst coach in America" quote sure is getting a lot of play, isn't it? He didn't mean it literally, but you'd never know it by all the stories it's generated. How's Jim feeling today? Is he smiling enough? Do you think he needs some Dr. Phil? Some Dr Pepper? Will he have the confidence to lead this team? What Zorn did is called hyperbole in the face of adversity, a very common defense mechanism. The guy is fine.

To the New York Yankees: A 500-pound CC Sabathia reporting to spring training in February, wearing the only piece of clothing that still fits him -- a pin-striped Snuggie. OK, that would actually be more of a gift to fans of any team but the Yankees. But it would be funny, and it somehow seems quite possible. You can buy a lot of steaks with $161 million.

And finally, to everyone: A wonderful holiday. Stay warm out there, but watch those hands.

Those blankets are sneaky.

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