Two Way Street: Editors Aleck Ryner and Brian Friel talk Niners, Badasses, Heisman Hopefuls and Mascots

Should the Niners Tank?
Aleck: At this point I would say the playoffs are basically unreachable for the 49ers, so forget finishing 7-9 or 6-10 and winding up with the 10th overall pick in the draft. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Niners, but I don’t think I can put up with another season of Alex Smith in control. With the 10th overall pick the Niners could end up with a talented QB like Ryan Mallet, who could end up being the best QB in the class, but if the Niners tank, they could be looking at their choice of two highly polished potential All-Pro QB’s. With a top four pick they would almost be assured one of the top two options, Washington QB Jake Locker, or Stanford QB Andrew Luck. Either would be a viable option and in my estimation much better than Smith. And after hearing constant rants about Jake Locker from Andy Joss, I am starting to like the thought of Locker to Crabtree. But hey, as long as it isn’t Smith, things will be looking up.

Brian: The Niners are pathetic. Their quarterback is inept, they are second-to last in the NFL for points per game, and their coaching staff is all bark and no bite. They lost to the 0-5 Panthers for crying out loud. At 2-6, it’s clear the Niners pretty much have no shot for making the playoffs. So why even bother? The Niners are so bad that the only way they could hurt themselves even more is if they win a bunch of meaningless games and lose the possibility of drafting someone like Jake Locker or Andrew Luck in next year’s draft. What the Niners really need is a new quarterback, not a bunch of feel good wins. It’s not like anyone is going to be depressed if the Niners throw the rest of their games. After the Giants’ unbelievable win on Monday, people are going to be so loopy for the next four months that they probably won’t even remember they have a team that plays on Sundays.

Most Badass Pro Athlete
Aleck: No contest, Brian Wilson is THE most badass person in sports today. I can go on and on about Wilson, but a few of his best moments came in an interview with Jim Rome on ESPN. When asked about tearing his oblique as a rookie and pitching through it Wilson said his thought process was, “This isn’t happening, screw it, Redbull time.” Next, Rome asked Wilson why he received a $1,000 fine for his bright orange cleats, he said it was for “having too much awesome on my feet.” Some other badass feats mentioned in the interview include Wilson proclaiming himself as a certified Ninja, which he said took 12 minutes in his head, and doing the New York Times crossword in two and a half minutes left handed. His on-field tactics are also pretty badass; he sported a dyed black beard throughout September and the Giants playoff run which inspired Giants fans to coin “Fear the Beard.” If none of this was enough to convince you, consider that Wilson also led baseball in saves.

Brian: I’m going with Minnesota Vikings Defensive End Jared Allen. On the field, the 6’6” 265 lb Allen is a psychotic quarterback killer, racking up 14.5 sacks in each of his last two seasons. But it’s what Allen does off the field that really makes him a badass. Allen sports a thick, Grizzly Adams beard and claims that his mullet “isn’t just a hairstyle, but a lifestyle.” He can often be spotted hunting wild elk with spears. ‘Nuff said. But in case you’ve never heard of Allen (because Vikings games are hard to come by in the Bay Area) I strongly suggest that you visit his website at There you can get a real taste of just how badass the man behind the mullet is.

Who Will Win the Heisman Trophy?
Aleck: After four weeks, people were pretty much giving Denard Robinson the Heisman, but let’s face it, Michigan is just not very good. So I will go with another running QB, Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez. The dual threat QB might not have the game changing speed of Robinson, but he is fast, smart, and is the leader of one of the top college football teams in the country. If Nebraska can stay in the top 15 I think Martinez has a legit shot at the Heisman. However, I won’t count out Robinson yet, Michigan may not be at the level of Nebraska, but we all remember how Toby Gerhart almost took home the trophy after playing for a decent Stanford team last year. I’m not giving up on the electric Robinson, but as of right now, I’ll take Martinez.

Brian: During the time it took just for me to write this column I have had to change my prediction three times, but I’ve finally settled on Auburn Quarterback Cam Newton. Newton has been unstoppable this year, piling up over 2,000 total yards against top-notch SEC teams. But what catapults Newton to the top of the Heisman watch is his consistency. Newton, who has led the number one ranked Tigers to a perfect 8-0 record this season, has yet to be anything but phenomenal. While Ohio State’s Terrell Prior and Stanford’s Andrew Luck may be better quarterbacks, they have both stumbled against inferior teams. Newton on the other hand has evoked memories of a faster, and perhaps even better, Daunte Caulpepper.

Best Mascot
Aleck: I’m going to have to go with the Stanford Tree. It is a mascot that fits into the “so bad it’s good” category. I mean, what’s more intimidating than a tree? Get ready Wildcats, Blue Devils and Gators, the Trees are about to lay a beat down on you. Another interesting thing about Stanford is their nickname, the Cardinal. I remember asking my dad, “Oh, so it’s a bird?” only to be told, “No, it’s a color.” A color? Really? It was hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that the school nickname was a color when I was seven, but it is even more difficult now that I am 17. However, I do find both the mascot and the nickname strangely intimidating and badass. There are multiple Tigers, Bears, Lions and Bulldogs but only one Tree.

Brian: The North Carolina School of the Arts Fighting Pickles. This is not a joke. This school’s mascot is actually a gigantic inflatable pickle. Although he doesn’t have a name, this pickle always sports a buck-toothed smile and a red baseball cap, which doesn’t make much sense considering the school’s colors are blue and purple. Sadly however, the UNCSA does not have any NCAA affiliated sports teams, and the only time the pickle ever gets a chance to pump up the home crowd, consisting of only about 1,000 students, is during an annual touch-football game, started in the 1970’s, that the school competes in against a Wake Forest University fraternity. That being said, there are not many mascots in the country today that can compete with the great fighting pickle.