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Local Athletes on The Sopranos

During quiet moments this week, I've asked our local athletic stars for a few opinions on the final episode of "The Sopranos," since, judging by the media coverage, it was one of the more important cultural moments of the past two centuries or so. The feedback was, how shall I say, muted.


Why do pro athletes ignore me? (Craig Blankenhorn - AP)

"I didn't see it," the Mystics' DeLisha Milton-Jones said. "But I heard people had mixed reviews about it."

"Nah," the Ravens' Willis McGahee said, when I asked if he caught the finale. "What time it came on?"

"The who?" said Antwaan Randle El, when I asked him the same question. "I don't watch 'Sopranos.' They cuss too much, man. All they do is curse. Curse curse curse curse curse. I watch 'Forensic Files,' I watch 'Wheel of Fortune.' I used to watch that with my granddad a lot."

"The who?" said Jason Campbell, probably reflecting more on my poor enunciation than anything else. "Nah, I didn't watch 'The Sopranos.' I watched the basketball game."

Rather than mentioning TiVo, I asked Campbell what programs he does watch; "NFL Network, all the sports channels, but nothing else," he said. "I really don't have that much time, to be honest with you."

Which, as it turned out, was a remarkably popular answer.

"I don't watch regular TV," Santana Moss said. "I watch BET a lot. That's good TV for me. They can get me anything and everything I need to know. I'm mostly MTV, BET and SportsCenter, especially in the season."

Moss did start trying to watch "The Sopranos" this year, because of all the final-season hype. He said he's going to go back to the beginning and watch the entire run on DVD, and so he asked me to tell him what happened and "who got whacked" in the final episode. I said that would spoil the ending.

"I like watching the movie and knowing what happened," Moss said. "Tony survived? That's all I care about."

Really, for such a cultural touchstone, I was shocked that Tony and the gang went 0-for-4 with these NFL guys, and they had the same problem with D.C. United. "I don't watch TV," Bobby Boswell said. "I watch SportsCenter when it's on in the locker room; that's it. I don't have a TV in my room. I have one in my house, but I don't watch it, ever. It's a 50-inch flatscreen and I never watch it. I don't even think I know how to turn it on."

Instead, he watches box sets during road trips; "Lost" and "Entourage" and "The Sopranos," and to stay well-rounded, after each box set he reads a book. Right now he's on the book.

"But I won't tell you what the book is," he said. "You would just laugh at me. I probably won't even post on my site that I read it. I don't want people reading it. The book before this was like a 'How To Do Everything' book. It was kind of dumb. And before that was 'The Catcher in the Rye,' which I hated. I bought it because I thought my brother said it was his favorite book. Turns out 'The Great Gatsby' was his favorite book. So I mistook the two, and I read it. It was depressing, and I hate Colden Haulfield, and if I ever meet anyone named Colden, I probably won't talk to him."

"Holden," I suggested.

"That's his name," Bobby agreed. "What'd I say, Colden Haulfield? That's the remake. That's 'The Rye in the Catcher'."

[If you're unfamiliar with Bobby Boswell, or if you're his mother, please bear in mind that he's actually quite intelligent, but likes to joke around a bit.]

But the stars aligned, and I finally found one area athlete who actually witnessed the most significant cultural moment of the year. Ben Olsen, naturally.

"Did I?" he said. "Of course. Loved it. Kind of controversial, but it was great."

In fact, Olsen made sure to watch the episode on Sunday night, with a bottle of Chianti Classico, just a few hours after he had recorded his first career hat trick against the Red Bulls. Like so many bloggers, he said the ending could have been dreamed up by comedian Andy Kaufman, of whom he's a big fan, so he wasn't insulted or outraged by the cut-to-black. Actually, he thought the episode was perfect because it was just another episode, without any relieving resolution, without any grandiose attempt to sum up the previous decade.

"People wanted people to die and stuff, but that's why I liked 'The Sopranos;' they're always keeping it real," Olsen said. "They don't care about that instant gratification. In some of the best episodes, there were no killings. The one where Tony and his sister's husband fight? I mean, that's one of the greatest episodes I've ever seen, right?"

I agreed. Although to be honest, I didn't se a single episode this season. And, like Jason Campbell, I missed the finale. I was watching the NBA Finals.

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 15, 2007; 1:49 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , Redskins  
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