Joe Flacco’s ‘Retarded Quip About Cold-Weather Super Bowl a Linguistic Fumble

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco isn’t exactly known as one of the NFL’s most controversial personalities. He’s a relatively quiet player with a big arm and questionable “eliteness” (don’t worry — we aren’t about to open up that stupid debate again). Heck, his own dad just called him dull:

“Joe is dull,” Steve Flacco told the New York Times. “As dull as he is portrayed in the media, he’s that dull. He is dull.”

Previously, the most controversial thing about Flacco was probably his eyebrows. Some consider them a unibrow, some say they’re borderline and a few others think they’re just fine (that last group is insane, but it’s their right to hold such an insane opinion).

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Flacco’s status as the NFL’s dullest player, however, might be about to change. Under the intense media scrutiny of Super Bowl week, Flacco just said something he’s likely to regret for a while. Asked if a cold-weather Super Bowl is a good idea — keep in mind that the NFL has already decided to play next year’s Super Bowl outdoors in New Jersey — Flacco had this to say:

“Yeah, I think it’s retarded. I probably shouldn’t say that. I think it’s stupid. If you want a Super Bowl, put a retractable dome on your stadium. Then you can get one.”

You’re right, Joe. You probably definitely shouldn’t say that. It’s pretty damn offensive.

In a normal week during the NFL season, a slip-up in language like that would quickly be forgiven and forgotten. But today is media day at the Super Bowl. There are literally hundreds of reporters in New Orleans, all searching for a story and faced with the prospect of a Super Bowl team with a “dull” quarterback. Flacco’s choice of words is going to get a lot of play.

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    the author of “” and a man who just happens to be Muslimthe Internet has lit up like a Christmas tree Lauren Green of Fox News began her questioning with this: “You are a Muslim so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity” Once wasnt enough She kept asking the clearly dumbfounded Aslan the same question as he tried to explain that he is a scholar of religionGiven her insistence one might have wondered why an African American Christian woman would be interviewing a white Persian male MuslimAslan is not upset about the interview In fact he has reason to be pleased It has given his book wide media exposure”I am so glad people are having this conversation” Aslan says “I was surprised how it captured the zeitgeist This is a topic usually discussed by academics in stuffy libraries”Whats so outrageous about the book He calls Jesus a zealot for one thing But as he explains “in Jesuss world zealot referred to those Jews who adhered to a widely biblical doctrine called zeal” They were against Roman authorities and their collaboratorswealthy temple priests and aristocratic Jews The fact that Jesus was a revolutionary a rabble-rouser is not exactly news in the world of theology He wasnt running around passing out Easter eggsAslan whose father was an atheist and mother a Muslim had a non-religious background “After we came from Iran we scrubbed our lives of any trace of Islam” he says “Being Muslim and Iranian were not the safest things to be in this country” At 15 he converted to evangelical Christianity because he felt the need to be connected spiritually “I had an encounter with Christ and had a deep desire to share it with others” He persuaded his mother to convert as well As he began his academic studies “I abandoned my faith I had the sudden realization that Jesus was a Jew not a Christian Everything he said he said in the context of Judaism The Christian interpretation of his words and actions werent historical” Aslan says that when Jesus said “I am the Messiah” it did not mean God incarnate It meant “anointed one” the descendant of King David to rule the kingdom on his behalf “Nobody in those times who heard Jesus say I am the Messiah would have thought that he was saying I am God Nobody He meant he was the king”Encouraged by Jesuit friends Aslan returned to Islam the religion of his forefathers He knew nothing about Islam or the prophet Muhammad and had never read the Koran”What I found was that the symbols and metaphors about God and humanity the relationship to God made more sense to me than the Trinity and the incarnation which are just other symbols for understanding God I do not think Islam is true and Christianity is not” He points out that his mother is still Christian as is his wife Aslan says “I see myself as someone who is compelled to confront any religious or political institution in the name of those who are left outThats what Jesus did; thats what I want to do” He says his “chief objective” is to speak truth to power “Thats what it means to walk in the footsteps of Jesus”In fact Aslan believes that Jesus is a model for human behavior “He is my personal hero the man Ive based my life on” His values his empowerment of the poor the marginalized and the outcasts are what Aslan admiresAlthough Aslan says he has had much favorable reaction to his book he realized that when you write a book about Jesus and do not call him God incarnate “there you go Its not appealing to the rest of the country”Whats interesting here is the backlash from what he calls “the anti-Muslim fringe the rabid Islamophobes who have been attacking me for a decade and calling me vile and racist names” He wasnt surprised by what happened on Fox News and has no hard feelings toward Green “I have nothing but compassion for her I understand where she is coming from I used to be like her I used to be a fundamentalist evangelical Christian Its a fear in the world of being confronted with questioning the most basic tenets of your faith”As for Jesus “Ive been obsessed with him for 20 years this illiterate poor peasant day laborer from the hills of Galilee [who] started a movement that was such a threat that he was crucified for it His words and actions inspired the largest religious movement in the world How could you not be obsessed with that guy”This doesnt sound like the words of an anti-Christian or a Muslim It sounds like the words of a religious scholar Which is what he is It would seem that Reza Aslan may have started a movement himself one that will have people reading and learning and talking about religion in a way they never have before Nothing could be healthier After throwing for 1, Knudson totaled 119 yards and a score to help the Hawks hang early with No.the Ethiopian world record holder in the 5000- and 10000-meter runs who is widely considered one of the greatest distance runners in history and the Moroccan who holds the world records in both the mile and the 1500-meter races Mantinas walls are adorned with photos and posters of other Olympic athletes and with his credentials from those gamesMantina once a university-level track and field athlete in Hyderabad India volunteers that he was secretly an alcoholic the entire time for most of his adult life in fact a bottle-a-day drinker who had previously worked as a gardener and run a liquor store After he injured his back working in his garden and received massage therapy himself he decided to change his career He trained at the and opened a practice He says he has been sober for 10 monthsIve booked a 90-minute session of total body stretching and massage but by the time Mantina and I finish discussing his philosophy of movement stretching and massage there are only 30 minutes left I suggest Mantina just work on my legs I describe the wall stretch I do before and after every run the one you can find depicted in every gym in the land I am careful to mention that I warm up first It doesnt matter; Mantina is not happy “You are just putting a load on those muscles” he tells me not stretching them I lean over and try to touch my toes but fall about six inches short This has always been the case even when I was young Upstairs on his massage table Mantina gets to work His fingers quickly find the sore spots in my gastrocnemius muscles and he begins to stretch them in every direction explaining that he cant do anything about my hamstrings until he loosens my calves”How are my hamstrings compared to the average persons” I ask at one point “Terrible” Mantina responds At another he says: “You need to lose some weight”Okay thenHe begins to loosen my hamstrings closing his eyes and leaning into them with his shoulder “Cmon” he commands when he wants me to push through the pain and stiffness a little more “Cmon” After 30 minutes I stand enjoying the loose feeling from my achilles tendon all the way to my hips I bend over and am four inches closer to touching the floor Not bad for a half-hours workNow that hes getting older Mantina wants to spend more time teaching to bring his philosophy of movement stretching and massage to as many people as he can He is looking for an assistant to take some of the load of his practice If people would follow his principles especially stretching many would feel so much better he says”You are using your tools all day” he says of the human body “You are cleaning them and putting them back so they are ready for the next day”Mantina can be reached at 301-717-5849 or on TwitterAlso at washingtonpostcom Read past columns by Bernstein and Vicky Hallett at There you can subscribe to the Lean & Fit newsletter to get health news e-mailed to you every Wednesday methodical and mannered.

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