The Softest Beefs in Sports: Volume 1 – Bleacher Report
As you know by now, Meek Mill died last week.
He just fell over, laid there long enough for ice caps to melt and children to be born, grow old and die, and then sort of tried to get up. Since then, his figurative ashes have been spread over Citizens Bank Park and the set of “Anaconda,” ending the beef by TKO.
And it was pretty disappointing, honestly.
I wanted them to go a few rounds, at least give the people their money’s worth. But Meek got knocked down, went to his corner, came back out and more or less fainted into Drake’s arms.
It was such a soft way for a beef to end, but then again, how much can you expect from a fight that started over a courtesy retweet?
But it goes to show: All beefs are not equal. Many are Gerber soft and petty from the get-go—particularly in sports, where not genuflecting toward Rome after a home run will cause the entire city of St. Louis to tear its robes and catch feelings.
With that in mind, I’ve put together the first volume of what will hopefully be a series cataloguing and deconstructing the most goose down of sports beefs.
These are three hand-picked, 1,000-thread-count sports beefs that epitomize just how easily tough sports men can chafe over the dumbest things.
Everything these beefs touch turns to terrycloth. If you started your laundry before this, you will have roughly 14 more dryer sheets than you put in when it’s done—such is the softness of beefs to come.
And now, we hit ’em up:
The Selfie Standoff
Who: J.J. Watt and Zach Mettenberger
What: Grown men fighting over camera techniques
Offenses: Sub-tweeting, sub-gramming, that backpedal, though
Look, I don’t like this any more than you do.
Putting J.J. Watt’s name within 200 yards of the word “soft” is a great way to die screaming. He’s going to kill me, box jump my casket, and the guy who takes my job will write about it.
“J.J. Watt Trolls Dead Blogger With Epic 61-Inch Casket Jump (WATCH).” That’s how I’ll go out.
But I don’t make the rules here, and Beef Law clearly states that sniping through the media over social media presences is, categorically, softer than jersey fabric sheets.
Thus, we have the Selfie Standoff—a weapons-grade loofah fight between Watt and Mettenberger that broke out during Week 8 of the 2014-15 season.
It all started when the Tennessee Titans backup quarterback posted some porn ‘stache-y selfies to Snapchat after being tapped to take over for the pile of hand-me-down scapulas that was once Jake Locker.
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) October 27, 2014
Zach Mettenberger’s SnapChat game is on POINT. pic.twitter.com/JkcCZPw6w3
— Dylan MacNamara (@DylanMacNamara) October 23, 2014
Watt saw the selfies and responded by devouring and mocking Mettenberger with a sack selfie.
Mark Zaleski/Associated Press
“It’s just kind of a reminder, this is the National Football League, not high school,” Watt said when asked about his taunting at the postgame presser. “Welcome to the show.”
And that’s where this dumb thing ended—or should’ve.
Unfortunately, Mettenberger caught feelings, held them close like a candle in the wind and—nine months later—opened up to a reporter about how he thought Watt’s Texans letterman jacket was high school-ish.
Taking the slap fight to the next level, Watt responded with some made-for-Pinterest wisdom over Twitter.
A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of a sheep. Time to attack the day.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 8, 2015
Mettenberger then hit us with that quick backpedal, doe.
“Watch the video and you can see I was being sarcastic and joking,” Mettenberger told the Tennessean‘s Jim Wyatt. “Pretty simple.”
And that is the time a three-time Pro Bowler and a backup Mackle-Beard engaged in a selfie war.
Level of Softness: J. Cole panda adoption
The Civil Conflict
Who: UConn and UCF football
What: Whole cloth fabrication of rivalry/reality
Offenses: See above
There are a lot of good, genuine, unproductively hostile beefs floating around in the college football megaverse. The “Civil Conflict” is not one of them.
Seemingly dreamed up by UConn head coach Bob Diaco in the midst of a postgame gin fever, the UCF-UConn football rivalry became a reality this June after Diaco engraved “Civil Conflict” into a block of wood and then offered it to UCF with all the tact of a man who found a wedding ring in his Lime-A-Rita and tried to marry the next closest person.
This was problematic, of course.
Separated by 1,200 miles, UConn and UCF have only three things in common: a conference and the letters “U” and “C.” Their similarities balloon to four if you count the Sur La Table knife block Diaco repurposed into a trophy for the “rivalry.”
— UConn Football (@UConnFootball) June 1, 2015
The best part is UCF didn’t even know about the trophy—or the rivalry!
Just checked w/ @UCF_Football: “We have no involvement with the trophy or creating a rivalry game with UConn.” They were surprised by tweet.
— Brandon Helwig (@UCFSports) June 1, 2015
If your beef is so nebulous and plush that the group you are beefing with is unaware said beef exists, your beef is Lean Cuisine. Tuna tartare. Veal that was never allowed to stand.
Best of all, Diaco essentially breathed this rivalry into existence just by saying things that entered his head after UConn’s win over UCF in 2014—its only FBS win of the season (per SB Nation):
We’re excited about this North/South battle. You want to call it the Civil Conflict? Maybe I’ll win my money and make a trophy. I’ll buy it myself. Put a big giant Husky and a big giant Knight on it. Make a stand. Put it in our hallway. The Civil Conflict. The loser, maybe they’ve got to put nutmeg on the stand when it’s not there and we’ll put a sack of oranges.
Darn tootin‘, Trapper Bob! After that, we’ll go out Californy way and find a whole mess o’ rivals! Loser has to put Moluccan fruit dust on their mantle! Could get wild.
It should be noted that UCF still refuses to even recognize this rivalry, and that suits Diaco just fine.
Level of Softness: Turning on your smart phone’s flash so you can get from your light switch to bed without the monsters getting you.
Who: Tom Brady, Robert Kraft, Roger Goodell and all his men
What: Just a big damn mess
Offenses: Ball-tampering, caring about ball-tampering, guerrilla cell phone commercials, anything and everything
First off, screw Deflategate into the sun. Screw it into a black hole, out the other side and right into Matt Damon’s dumb, cryo-frozen eyes.
Deflategate is the French ortolan of sports beefs—first-world fare so tender and gluttonous we should all have to wear veils before indulging in our PSI takes just so the sports gods won’t witness our shame. A veiled Mark Brunell could weep in peace. Everyone would win.
Just consider Deflate at its most basic level, which is a beef between a millionaire Ugg model, a billionaire pushover and a glorified dean of students with a slavish dedication to doing whatever will keep the most members of his boys club happy.
Doesn’t get much softer than that, right?
And that’s before you tack on the conflict itself, wherein millions of dollars will be tamped down lawyers’ throats with chimney sweeps in order to settle whether someone lied about the firmness of balls used in a futile blowout game.
That’s it. That is what the NFL and its most powerful owner will go to civil war over—a soft beef over soft balls. And we all have to live with it for eons.
Softness Level: Tyga making it rain on Kylie Jenner at the scholastic book fair.
And that’s it for the first installment of Softest Beefs in Sports History.
Join me next time as we take a look at the loud Drake music that led two professional golfers to do battle in Twitter’s 36 Chambers of Meh.
Dan is on Twitter, awaiting death by Watt.