Tony Softli: Wordsmith

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I love me some Tony Softli. It has nothing to do with his professional achievements.

He's been involved in player scouting at the NFL level as far back as 1995 having worked with both the Rams as well as the Carolina Panthers; here is an actual visual representation of his network I found here:

GO THE RAMS FOOTBALL!

Seriously though, he seems like a good guy and is a quality personality for both video and audio content (that means television and radio in normal person speaktalk). But somehow, when Tony Softli meets the internet, things go all kablooey.

Here is how Softli gets down on Twitter:

Ok, so Softli drops a few typos from time to time. He's not the most careful tweeter. It's not as if he has his own website where he consistently offers regurgitated content or poorly crafted original takes that offer even longer screeds that attack the very underpinnings of the English language.

Oh.

I'll say this: I like the fact Softli has a website to say whatever he wants. He's a valuable voice when it comes to player evaluation. But on anything else, especially when he goes all "official ESPN journalist -- move outtadaway" on you, it's just fun to ride the boat to Lake Crazy.

So hop on board my blogyacht as we head that way to read his article he published today on the Rams' first padded practice of training camp! Who knows what insane garblings we'll read!

Alrighty, looks like I've got a new article from Tony Softli here at TonySoftli.com. Let's just start with the ol' headline.

Softli: Defense gets chippy with Jackson


By Tony Softli

So just to count, we've got Softli in the address bar, the banner above the navigation bar, in the headline and the byline. Does anyone know who wrote what I'm about to read?

Rams complete first padded practice

Oh, an extra headline. Probably could've just combined them, you know, like "Rams complete first padded practice as defense gets chippy with Jackson." But let's not split hairs. We'll just ignore the small stuff editors should be focused on like the space in front of Rams for no spankin reason. I'm sure the rest of the article will be spit shined and ready for some good readin.

The Rams practice Thursday afternoon went off without a hitch.

Great lede. I like where we're going.

The players slowly took the field positional group by positional group and the coaches followed.

I'm getting confused now, and we're only at the second sentence. So did each group have to wait for the previous group to get settled in before taking the field? Is this like a wedding procession but with football units? Is there any reason you didn't explain why they did this but felt it was necessary to leave that sentence in there? Where did they take the field? (Haha. I love that joke.)

You could feel the buzz in the air.

Nah, that was the humidity. But A effort for pushing such a hackneyed cliche this early in the game.

This highly anticipated first padded practice was one without flair, lost tempers or fights breaking out everywhere. It was the opposite, players competing on a high level, pushing themselves and each other to get better on every rep in all periods of the practice session.

I've read those two sentences 20 times, and it still doesn't make any sense. Hope you have better luck.

When asked his thoughts on the first padded practice Coach Fisher said, "It was good. It was our first official practice with the whole team with pads. What happens is it slows down a little bit even though they only weigh a few pounds, It slows down. But I thought we got a lot done and we worked a lot of situational stuff, the two minute, the redzone and I thought it was pretty good."

Remember, when getting quotes from a player or coach, make sure to get the blandest, least informative one possible to use in your bridge. Anything filled with cliches works well. And anything that says the team is "good" or "better" without providing any kind of basis to judge that on should give your readers exactly what they want.

In all collision sports with finely tuned and focused professional athletes competing in every drill at a high level, it tends to get chippy. Tempers get out of control.

Now we have moved on to false absolutes. "All" collision sports. "Every" drill. "No" truth to that sentence.

But as several hundred fans from Budweiser, a local fan favorite and sponsor, waited for some intense action and possible fights, which never happened, they were greeted with smiles from hometown entertainer Nelly.

This might be my favorite sentence in the piece. It starts somewhere I didn't expect, calmly drops the product placement with a wink and a nod, goes all NASCAR crash schadenfreudy with fans waiting for "possible fights" (does anyone actually do this? Does anyone go to camp specifically to wait for possible fights?) and then caps it off with Nelly. This sentence alone is a good treatment for a major motion picture.

From day one Coach Fisher has pitted the 1’s vs 1’s and Thursdays practice was no different.

As a young boy, Softli was harassed by commas. They would call him names and throw things at him. Deep in his heart, there was pain. He knew, though, that the day would come when he would be able to throw something back. He would have his revenge. One day, they would know his pain.

In a team period midway through practice..

Okay, hold on. Just a quick nod to the editor who obviously doesn't exist. There will never, ever, ever, ever in the future of writing be a reason to start a sentence with, "In a team period." If for some reason you accidentally type those words, just delete them for a normal sentence.

...running back Steven Jackson caught a dump pass over the middle and meet linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who delivered a kiss of the pads, and with a loud pop Jackson hit the ground fumbling the ball.

Vintage Softli. Steven Jackson's so damn good he crosses verb tenses, y'all. And a kiss of the pads? That's just genius. I mean, you look that up on Google, and even the Great Search Engine King tells you there is not a single web page in existence that would use such a horribly wonderful catachresis (warning: there are some really dumb web pages that do come up though; if you'd like to avoid the bottom of the internet, best to just carry on).

The collision drew a big "whoooo" from the crowd.

Whoooo.

Just a few plays later, the same pass, drew another collision between Jackson and Dunbar, again knocking Jackson to the ground.

I expect someone on the offense might be a tad upset at such violence in an early practice. Perchance a veteran of more aggressive leanings spoke to Dunbar in a harsh tone?

The defensive players started to get chippy, with Dunbar and Cortland Finnegan exchanging pleasantries.

Okay, well that doesn't make any sense. You're going to explain why, right? Right? Please?

That didn’t go over well with offensive linemen Harvey Dahl and Jason Smith and the other offensive linemen who came to the aid of their Pro Bowl running back rather quickly.

Ah, screw it. Let's just finish this paragraph.

Dahl was very vocal and coaches worked to separate offensive players from defensive players.

So pretty much the only thing that matched the chaos on the field was the description provided in the paragraph. Grand.

"I mean they’re competing and they understand. The issue is allowing those things to carry over to the game. You cannot let those kinds of things carry over into a game. But out here you can understand and appreciate them protecting their teammates. I understand that," said Fisher.

Useless quote early, useless quote late. Symmetry is beautiful.

Coach Fisher is known for always having a very physical team. He is quickly shaping this young Rams team into an extremely competitive, hardworking bunch of men that understand how to push each other to the brink of an intensive mindset which will carry over to the game.

Uh, what is the brink of an intensive mindset?

"Ooooooooooooooh, I am almost really wanting to win the next game. I don't quite want to, but I am sooooooo close. I am an extremely competitive, hardworking man, and I nearly want to succeed as badly as anyone. Or possibly someone. Maybe there's a man out there as extremely competitive and hardworking as I. I almost want to be better than him. I'm right on the brink."

This is football, not boxing, and taking care of your teammates while preparing them for battle next Sunday against Indianapolis Colts is the key.

Here's your encapsulation of everything I love about Softli's writing.

Start with an obvious an absolutely unnecessary phrase. "This is football, not..." AND THEN WRITE ANYTHING ELSE BECAUSE ANYTHING ELSE IS NOT FOOTBALL.

Mix in an illogical generality right there in the middle. "Taking care of your teammates" apparently does not involve anyone on defense. Pretty much anyone besides Steven Jackson is on their own.

And then finish four words too early. It sure would have been nice to know what all that good stuff is the key to. You know, like "blah blah blah is the key to winning the game." Or "Yip Yap Smackety Doo is the key to starting the season off right."

Maybe Softli does have an editor, and the editor skipped everything else just to get this fixed since the sentence read, "Taking care of your teammates while preparing them for battle next Sunday against Indianapolis Colts is the key to not having droopy drawers. You never want to play football with droopy drawers."

Publishing that on the web for everyone to see would have just been embarassing.

The St. Louis Rams will hold 2012 Fan Fest, presented by Charter, on Saturday, August 4th at the Edward Jones Dome.

Well okay then.

Click here to print this article.

Hell no. Goodbye.

*UPDATE

While included some tweets from Soflti's actual account, @SoftliSTL (you should click that for the background alone; it's a very telling piece of artwork), I failed to mention the Tony Softli parody/imitation/affection account, @TonySoftli. It's pretty darn funny.

Thanks to Matt Sebek for reminding me, he of anti-Softli abilities on Twitter and editor of Joe Sports Fan.

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