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Knucklehead-of-the-year awards

Gary Caruso | Thursday, January 26, 2012

It’s officially the Chinese Lunar Year of the Water Dragon, ancient symbol reserved for the Chinese emperor and considered to be an extremely auspicious sign of things to come. But the Mayan calendar ends this year with prophesies of an end-of-time second-coming rapture in the coming months — of course, only following the Christian Zionistic salvation of Israel through a conversion to Christianity. Therefore, now is the final time in the whole of history that anyone can honor a prior year’s most egregious knuckleheads neatly categorized under Notre Dame, Country and God.

Snark aside, this writer was shocked last November that oft-times ND opponent Penn State fired Coach Joe Paterno. Paterno’s passing this week is truly sad. The first “Knucklehead-of-the-Year” award goes to my home state’s knucklehead-in-chief, Governor Tom Corbett, who as attorney general did not pursue child abuse charges during his tenure, but as a leading voice of the PSU trustees used sketchy information to fire — rather than suspend — Paterno. Corbett has set his own standard now to fire any of his appointees should they show any moral lacking.

ND award two: what knuckleheads — sorry, Coach Kelly, because I otherwise fully support you — authorized that epic garment fail by adding CYO-looking mismatched green colored shamrocks on the Notre Dame football helmets? Talk about looking so high school compared to the classy bowl jerseys that featured the players’ names. Jazz the uniforms subtly by keeping the names and embroider a Fightin’ Irish Leprechaun above the heart or add a stripe under the armpit if you must become flashy for recruiting. Better yet, color our boring drab white-striped end zones with leprechauns or logos. And please remember that our school colors are blue and gold, NOT solid green! Dan Devine wore out the green mystique 35 years ago.

Stupid sports knucklehead awards go to NFL, NCAA and high school players who epitomize dumb consequences. The most obvious award goes to Isaiah Lewis, the Michigan State football player whose “running into the punter” penalty gave Wisconsin a first down, the game and a trip to the Rose Bowl. In the NFL, Buffalo’s Stevie Johnson was “just having fun” when, after a touchdown catch, he mocked New York Jets Plaxico Burress’ shot in the thigh. Johnson’s knucklehead celebratory fun contributed to a 28-24 Bills loss.

In high school sports, Boston Cathedral senior quarterback Matthew Owens faked a handoff and sprinted into the end zone for what looked like his school’s first ever game-winning Super Bowl title. But Owens drew a “taunting behavior by someone scoring a touchdown” penalty at the 20-yard line when he raised his arm and pointed his finger toward the sky. With the score called back, Boston Cathedral failed to score before time expired and lost 16-14. If only Owens and Tim Tebow had direct wireless connections to the heavens to simply speak without gesturing.

Our country’s criminal knuckleheads also abound. John Robin Whittle never let his good beer go to waste in Florida. The 52-year-old ordered his beer, left to rob a bank, then returned to the bar to finish his brew before his prompt arrest. Timothy Clark did not thoroughly plan the day of his shoplifting arrest at a Wal-Mart — the same day police held their “Shop With A Cop” charity event. Isaiah Cutler, 18, was accused of burglarizing more than $8,000 worth of cash, cigarettes, candy and checks from a Pittsburgh market an hour after the theft when he posted pictures of himself and the loot on his Facebook page.

Honorable mention knucklehead awards go to Jeffrey Drew Wilschke, who changed his name to “Mr. Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop,” the Washington motorist who was busted for his bone-headed decision to put a skeleton in his passenger seat to drive in the HOV lane and to a Los Angeles Chick-fil-A cashier who described Asian customers as “Ching” and “Chong” on their receipts.

God also works in strange knucklehead ways. Christian conservative leader Pat Robertson heard straight from the Almighty that God does not support President Barack Obama’s agenda and that only “overwhelming prayer” can bring a new leader who will stop the country from “disintegrating.” Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, compared Gay Pride Parade organizers to “something like the Ku Klux Klan,” for plans to pass by his church. Former “Saturday Night Live” actress Victoria Jackson, with confidential information through her special clearance, claimed that the United States is being overtaken by radical Muslims bent on bringing the nation under Sharia law.

Finally, a reverse knucklehead award — for the code of canon law describing marriage as unfit for the clergy. Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, 60, resigned after acknowledging he fathered two children. Perhaps the knucklehead award should go to Pope Gregory for the 7th Century rule designed only to take a priest’s property after death. No matter, the world ends in 2012 anyway.

Gary Caruso, Notre Dame ‘73, serves in the Department of Homeland Security and was a legislative and public affairs director in President Clinton’s administration. His column appears every other Friday. He can be contacted at GaryJCaruso@alumni.nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.