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DJs cause ire, but not like ND football

Michael Christian

Michael Christian

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Updated: December 11, 2012 7:34PM

Yes, I feel sorry for those Australian DJs.

And quite a few of you are angry about that.

In my column, I said Australian radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian weren’t legally or morally responsible for the death of Jacintha Saldhana, the nurse who answered their prank call and put it through to the ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was getting treatment for morning sickness.

As the world knows, Ms. Saldhana died, apparently from suicide, a few days later. (The medical examiner has yet to issue word on official cause of death.)

“We’re so sorry,” said Mel Greig in the DJs’ first appearance since the tragedy. Both fought tears as they expressed their regret. Clearly they’re devastated by the woman’s death.

Some say that’s not enough. They say the DJs have blood on their hands and should be prosecuted for their actions.

That’s madness. Yes, it was a stupid prank phone call — and like most pranks, it preyed on unsuspecting victims who made the mistake of being too trusting.But even if the idiotic hoax “drove” Ms. Saldhana to commit suicide — pure conjecture at this point — she is the one responsible for taking her own life.

A number of readers told me I was flat-out wrong. As one woman put it, the DJs “need to be taught a lesson.”

A lesson in…what, exactly? It’s not as if they’re on the air laughing about the woman killing herself. (Keep in mind Saldhana merely forwarded the call. She was not the nurse that is heard on the call giving details about Kate Middleton’s condition.)

“So mocking a gullible person enough to make her commit suicide is not a crime?” was the Tweet I received from one follower.

Exactly. It’s not.

Pop quiz!

Of all the thoughts I’ve expressed over the last week, which one elicited the greatest number of angry responses?

A. Those aforementioned DJs should not be blamed for the nurse’s suicide.

B. I’m feeling pretty good about my decision to bail on “Homeland” and its ever more ridiculous second season.

C. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a horrible song.

D. Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o did not deserve to win the Heisman trophy.

If you answered D, congratulations! You know how crazy those ND fans can be.

It’s four days later, and I’m still hearing from ticked-off Notre Dame fans telling me I have no idea what I’m talking about because I had the temerity to say Heisman voters got it right in awarding the trophy to Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football.

A sampling of Tweets and e-mails from ND fans:

“You’re an #@&!&!”


“You’re joking. No way Manziel deserved it.”

“You and the Heisman voters just don’t know any better.”

“How much more can you earn it than an undefeated season?”

And at least 30 fans reminded me defense wins championships, and Te’o spearheads the best defense in the country, and that’s why he should have won the Heisman.

OK. Deep breath time.

First of all, Notre Dame hasn’t won any championship yet. There’s the small matter of upsetting Alabama on Jan. 7 before they can finish the season as undefeated national champs.

Also, “defense wins championships” isn’t a football law, it’s a school of thought. Yes, defense often wins championships. And sometimes a great offense or, guess what, a balanced effort can win a championship.

Ridiculous hype aside, Manziel had one of the most impressive seasons in NCAA history, shattering SEC records held by the likes of Archie Manning and Cam Newton. True, he had a couple of bad games — but he also led the charge in one of the most stunning upsets in recent college history. Apparently some fans have already forgotten that mere days before Texas A&M beat No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, some sports commentators were speculating about whether the Tide could defeat an NFL team.

Te’o had those seven interceptions, but in his last four games he had only 23 tackles. Granted, ND’s defense isn’t designed to put linebackers in the backfield, but T’eo had only 1.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss the entire season.

There’s also the matter of their respective positions. Should the Heisman folks acknowledge the award goes to the best offensive player, seeing as how purely defensive players never win anyway? There’s no need to make that official; what if some maniac records 25 sacks or 15 interceptions some year? But the reality is that by the very design of the game, quarterback is by far the most important position not just in football, but in all of team sports. The most dominant linebacker ever to take the field would be hard-pressed to have a bigger impact on an entire season than any quarterback in the nation.

The real surprise is that T’eo garnered any first-place votes at all.

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