YouTube Hall of Fame: Howard Cosell, R.E.M., and Two Men Hit With Footballs

MIchael Weinreb: Most of the times I took a punch to the face as young man it was by accident, the product of a collision during a pick-up basketball game or a youth soccer match, or that one time when I was working for a concession company, unloading supplies, when the door of a freezer truck swung back around and struck me in the nose, thereby permanently rearranging a proboscis that was already in dire shape. The worst part about getting struck in the face is also the funniest part about watching other people getting struck in the face: It’s the element of surprise, which is why the clip of this poor New York Giants intern taking a pigskin to the cranium for no apparent reason — from the Giants’ own Biff Tannen, linebacker Michael Boley — is the most hilarious clip of the NFL season so far (the intern was unharmed), and also the most violent.

Chuck Klosterman: R.E.M. broke up today after 31 years and 15 albums, five or six of which are indescribably great. In tribute, here’s a clip of Michael Stipe talking about himself from 1985. Things to note about this interview:

1. Stipe spends a lot of time explaining why he doesn’t take his band too seriously and (of course) ends up sounding like a man who takes R.E.M. more seriously than any human on the planet, which (of course) always happens whenever an artist tries to casually explain why he doesn’t particularly care about something that’s obviously the center of his life.

2. At one point, Stipes compares himself to a movie he has not seen. When combined with his taste in hats, this tells us a lot about the kind of teenager who loved R.E.M. in 1985.

3. Stipe concludes his message by instructing young bands not to listen to anyone, about anything, ever. This generates a straightforward paradox: If someone is not supposed to listen to anyone, how could they possibly take Stipe’s advice about not listening to other people? Wouldn’t they have to ignore it? But I say shit like this all the time, so I can’t really criticize him (except, of course, for the hat).

Chris Ryan: Harry Redknapp is the manager of Tottenham Hotspur football club. He is, at least on the surface, a genial, arm-around-the-shoulder kind of manager; a man who imbues his tactical instructions with homespun wisdom, like the time he told his Russian striker, Roman Pavlyuchenko to “fucking run around a bit.” But you don’t get to where Harry Redknapp is in life without a little bit of a mean streak, and you can see said streak peak out in the above clip. Redknapp is giving one an interview about Spurs’ upcoming opponent, Wolves, when a player hits him with an errant shot. I don’t know the name of the player. Hardly seems to matter, though. I doubt he ever played for Tottenham again.

Bill Simmons (watch video here): Check out this opening segment of a 1990 Sports Reporters episode with Dick Schaap, Howard Cosell, Bill Conlin, and Bob Ryan. Will we ever see a more compelling TV curmudgeon than the late-in-his-years Cosell? I thought this was a riveting eight-plus minutes because of the discussion itself (surprisingly interesting), but also because of the way everyone fearfully kowtowed to Cosell, his complete disdain for the other three guys (I love when he calls Schaap “Dickie”), and of course, the ongoing comedy of Bob Ryan’s hair and mustache. I wish we had cryogenically frozen Cosell in 1990, just so we could de-ice him in 2011 and unleash him on First Take, Around The Horn, and The Sports Reporters. And by the way, there will NEVER be another Howard Cosell.

Amos Barshad: In the late nineties, USA aired a live-music showcase called for roughly three and a half minutes. (Everything you really need to know about the show is encapsulated by that beautifully unwieldy “.com,” but it’s also worth nothing that it was co-hosted by Matt Pinfield and Dorito’s representative Ali Landry). The show’s Wikipedia page claims it featured an NWA reunion with Snoop Dogg filling in for Eazy-E, I only ever remember seeing it once, during the few minutes it took for Texas art-rockers … And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead to utterly wreck shit. It was a big moment for me: A band I’d never heard of, on the television screen at my home in suburban Massachusetts, shrieking about killing, wrestling each other to the ground, smashing their drum set and guitars to bits, and, in general, completely owning. I later got really into their 2002 album Source Tags & Codes, and eventually saw them live in New York. It wasn’t quite as unhinged as I’d hoped, though, and I worried that I’d been mythologizing this performance the whole time. Which means finding this clip, and validating one of my fondest TV memories, was more fulfilling than I’d like to admit. Thanks, YouTube. Thanks,

Katie Baker: It’s a bit of a trope in the hockey world that Russian players are lazily described as “enigmas” — a code word for players with ridiculous talent, uneven results to show for it, frequent injuries, and a lack of inclination to sit around yukking it up with the media. These days, the increasingly meaningless label is most often slapped on the Washington Capitals’ Alexander Semin, but before him it was usually applied to Alexei Kovalev, Russia’s first first-round NHL draft pick who alternately dazzled and disappointed his fans over the course of a career that was never quite as fruitful as everyone thought it should be.

Kovalev could dangle the puck like few others, and his shot was absurd, but his lone Stanley Cup win came at the very start of his long career, when, as a young pup, he was an integral part of the 1994 Rangers championship squad. And while his English skills weren’t quite as impressive as his moves on the ice, he nevertheless fully embraced a true American icon of the time: the troll doll. “He’s my big man! Good man!” he exclaimed, pouring champagne over the lucky figurine’s wispy tresses, and there sure wasn’t anything enigmatic about that.

Lane Brown: There are plenty of great R.E.M. performances available on YouTube (a few of which Warner Bros. haven’t yet stripped the audio from, even), but for me, nothing beats this clip from the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards, featuring “Everybody Hurts,” the fast version of “Drive,” and an awesome surprise transition at 1:28.

Previously: YouTube Hall of Fame: Stevie Nicks Combs Her Hair, a Comedy Film From Nigeria, and the Least Sexy Video on the Internet
YouTube Hall of Fame: George Michael, a Knife-Throwing Mom, and a Space Armadillo
YouTube Hall of Fame: Sheep, Kurt Loder on the Internet, and Dating Advice From Dr. Paul
YouTube Hall of Fame: Tales From the NBA Lockout, an Angry Keith Richards, and Shark Week Memories From January Jones
YouTube Hall of Fame: Brawling Bruins, Marshmallow Tests, and the Latest Jamaican Dance Craze

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