Hey guys, hope all is well. The best TV show in the history of TV shows is clearly “Eastbound and Down” on HBO starring Danny R. McBride as Kenny Powers. It returns with a new season on September 26th. The premise is Kenny is a former major league baseball pitcher who has been reduced to teaching P.E. at a middle school in Shelby, NC. He’s a former steroid abuser, still a racist, still a cokehead, with the occassional X trip. All the while, teaching middle school kids. He’s most definitely white trash. But, surely there are others in real life, in professional sports. So I researched and came up with this. I wanted to do a Top 10 but here’s my Top 9 (in honor of my soon to be son James Alan.)
1. John Daly
Hmmm. Does JD bear any similarities to KP? Only all of them.
Garish behavior? Quintuple Check
Questionable wardrobe choices? Infinity check
Less-than-athletic physique? Yup
While Daly hails from Kentucky and Kenny F’n Powers hails from Shelby, North Carolina, that’s where the differences end. Despite the fact that one is fictional and one is real, I’m still about 80% surprised that these guys haven’t been named as co-defendants in some sort of strip club brawl in southern Illinois, or something.
Daly is a chain-smoking, frequently divorced, alcoholic who treats golf more as a burden than as a career. And all accounts indicate he’s rocking a pretty seriously gambling addiction.
Kenny Powers is a foul-mouthed, blindly patriotic alcoholic who gets laid on the reg.
I’m politely asking someone to set these two guys up with a Jet-ski dealership sooner rather than later.
2. John Rocker
Putting John Rocker on this list is like filling in the “Free” square on your BINGO card. It’s nice, but it’s so easy it’s not even fun. Even producers of Eastbound and Down said that Rocker’s antics helped them craft the beautifully flawed protagonist that is Kenny ”You’re F’n Out” Powers.
To Rocker’s credit, it’s pretty impressive that he so effortlessly was able to anger an entire culture. To his detriment, he did so in the easiest way possible: by being really, really, really, really racist and ignorant in public interviews. Good job, John.
While KP occasionally suffers from what we will euphemistically call “overenthusiastic patriotism,” he never really dropped the racial hammer the way J-Rock did when he opened his less-than-Ivy-League-educated mouth regarding the virtues of diversity on an NYC train trip. What the hell was he doing riding the train, anyway?
3. Karl Malone
While not technically “white,” Karl Malone models himself after more than a couple aspects of life that could certainly be considered “white trash”. He’s by almost all accounts a great guy, but certain tendencies could lead people to think he’s perhaps a bit of a redneck.
First off, how does the most dominant power forward in the heyday of the NBA spend his off season? Well, Malone spent it by splitting his time by ranching (a little odd) and touring the country in a full-sized 18-wheeler with a beautiful desert landscape painted on the side. What? Yes. Unfortunately, an image of the rig is not available online, but I promise I saw it on NBA Inside Stuff when I was 13 and the image has not left me since.
Case stated and proven.
4. Ben Roethlisberger
This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. If you’re a superstar pro athlete with the world at your fingertips and you manage to keep squandering your good fortune with motorcycle accidents and sexually aggressive behavior, you might be a redneck. Excuse me. “White Trash”.
Seriously Ben. You’re a Super Bowl-winning QB with national notoriety and more money than Scrooge F’n McDuck. If you need to be any sort of aggressive when it comes to tapping ass, you might want to re-evaluate your approach.
And if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, rather than play Evel Kneivel on your bike, try a pastime that thousands of other NFL players rely on. It’s called “not taking your NFL career for granted and jumping on a damn motorcycle.” The sublime pleasure of knowing you still have a career may not be as heart-pumping as crashing your hog, but it lasts a hell of a lot longer.
The best thing about watching people like Ben is the fact that these guys generally get worse as they get older. Right now, Ben is in the “Kevin Durant” stage of white-trashdom. We see the frequent flashes of brilliance and continue to hold our breath to see what his eventual ceiling will be. If it’s anything less than “head-butting Taylor Swift at the 2013 Kids’ Choice Awards”, I’m going to be quite disappointed.
5. Jason Williams
If KP is good ‘ole boy white trash, then Jason Williams would be representing the urban version. White trash can take many forms, and although mullets, gold chains and football jersey can be good indicators, they are by no means the only indicators. Williams’ freaky shaved head, countless tats, nauseating nickname (White Chocolate? Ugh) also point to someone who may not be presenting the best humanity has to offer.
While he was a standout basketball player for Florida, it turned out the fourth time was a charm when he violated the teams substance policy. He was kicked off the team, and, consequently, out of school. When asked about his favorite experience in college, Jason explained that his expulsion was his favorite memory. A world-beater in the making, folks.
The clincher, though? He has WHITEBOY tattooed on his knuckles. Though the eight letters match up on the eight knuckles, to the untrained eye, it probably looks more like WHIT EBOY . You have to think these things through, Jason. He’s also gotten in scraps with the NBA and team management for tossing out some racial slurs at Asian fans sitting court-side and publicly declaring that his team, the Grizzlies “sucked” and is the “worst in the NBA”.
At least KP is funny.
6. Larry Bird
A good rule of thumb: if you’re nickname throughout your pro career is “The Hick from French Lick,” you’re probably gonna get a nod on this list. While Bird is a basketball legend and not a walking punchline, he definitely demonstrates more than a handful of the symptoms of the white trash constituency. Let’s dive into them with everyone’s favorite list-making device, bullet points:
* Born in a place called French Lick.
* Looks not unlike a chicken.
* Married a chick in high school, divorced her 11 months later in 1977, fathered a daughter during that period, but denied his paternity until 1998 when the daughter went on Oprah. Sweet.
* An Oklahoma man sentenced to 30 years in jail requested that his sentence be changed to 33 years to match Bird’s number. Request was granted. That’s a special kind of fan, right there.
7. Steve Howe
If this guy wasn’t a professional baseball player for so many years, he probably would have qualified for his Screen Actors Guild card by making hundreds of appearances on COPS. He was eventually banned from the game of baseball for his predilections. And what exactly were they? That sweet, sweet china white. Blow. Nose candy. Booger sugar. The devil’s dandruff. Yayo. Cho-canya.
He LOVED it. He loved it like Tony Montana, Lindsay Lohan, George Rogers, and Stevie Nicks combined. In a surprisingly strong 17-year career, he got suspended for the white stuff seven times. Often times, his suspensions were for full seasons, marring his career with inconsistent play and a tainted legacy.
Of course, I realize that there is a big distinction between having a drug addiction and being white trash, but when you spend such a large portion of your livelihood with bail bondsmen, court hearings, and apologizing for the same damn thing over and over, that line gets a little blurred. I’m sympathetic to the plights of the addict, but this guy is at the very least an honorary member.
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Watch it, Maffew!” Besides operating under the stereotype that all NASCAR drivers are red necks, Dale Jr. seems to be a pretty stand up guy who isn’t blowing rails at college bars in rural Georgia.
He’s got the twang, the strangely intimate love affair with Corvettes (I know they’re his sponsor, but still), opened a bar named Whiskey River in Charlotte, and a candy bar called “Big Mo”. I have eaten the Big Mo. I recommend that no one ever eat the Big Mo.
Plus, fashion senses of KP and Jr are pretty uncannily similar. Both of them would look right at home in a satin jacket that said in cursive on the back “The Heartbeat of America is Today’s Chevy Truck”. They both also dig on the wraparound sunglasses, despite the fact it’s no longer 1995.
9. Tiger, Tiger Woods, yall!
Nine months ago, I would have been laughed at the building, or at least been stared at uncomfortably for a long time if I had suggested Tiger was a redneck. He was graceful, mysterious, insanely rich, and not white. And he golfed.
However, if we take a look a the rap sheets of KP and Tiger, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss them as that different.
Banging out waitresses at Orlando-area Olive Gardens and Cheesecake Factories?
Gettin’ effed up on the reg and crashing your SUV?
Driving a Buick when you can afford a much nicer car?
Owns a tanning bed?
Tiger: Eh, probably not
While these are by no means definitive, the purpose here is to look beyond skin color and status when we look for “white-trashedness.” Kenny Powers has opened our eyes to a new cultural dynamic in sports. Has it always been around? Probably. But it sure seems to be a lot more prevalent now. Pray for us. Tickle it guyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyys!