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The Loop

Venus Williams' exoneration, ESPN goes full naked, and the sheer Americanness of hot dog eating

July 10, 2017

Let's start with some much-needed redemption...

Prior to the start of Wimbledon, CNN reported that Venus Williams was at fault in a car accident that caused the death of a 78-year-old man riding in a separate vehicle. The explanation, involving a crowded intersection near her Florida home, was murky, but in these situations you tend to trust the words "at fault." Williams, it seemed, had more or less killed a man.

If you saw her press conference following a first-round victory at Wimbledon, in which she broke down in tears, you might have felt some sympathy. But if you're like me, that sympathy was tempered by the fact that...well, a man was dead. Compared to that, facing a tough question from the tennis media didn't seem like the world's worst punishment.

Then, this past week, the actual footage came out. You can watch the breakdown on CBS News:

Good God! In no way was this her fault! I won't go full Jaworski on you by analyzing the video to death, but here's everything you need to know:

1. Venus entered the intersection on a green light.

2. She stopped for another car that probably shouldn't have been turning left, which she had to do in order to avoid a crash. When the car passed, she had no choice but to proceed through the intersection.

3. Even after stopping and starting again, no car could have collided with her from a stopped position at a red light. The reason she got hit at all was because the other driver was BLAZING through that light, hadn't slowed down when it was red, and didn't bother to make sure the intersection was clear. I don't care about legal right-of-way or whatever other lingo the fake traffic cops of the Internet want to throw out—this was a very simple case of one person driving with absolutely no common sense, and that person wasn't Venus.

Thank God the video came out, because sanity has prevailed. Williams was exonerated and is no longer considered at fault, and if there's any justice, she won't have to pay a dime to the family that filed a civil suit for wrongful death against her. Still, it raises another question—CNN originally obtained the documents from a police report, so it's not like the police went out of their way to publicly condemn Williams, but couldn't the media have been a bit more responsible here? Could they at least have offered something more than a vague indication that not all the facts were known, and tried to explain that Williams could eventually be exonerated...and that if even if she wasn't, the phrase "at fault" is not the same as grossly irresponsible driving?

I mean, I know this is the Internet at all, but if you run an outlet that is constantly being derided as "fake news," it probably doesn't help your reputation to actively smear a celebrity's image in the absence of real facts. This is why people hate the media! Stop ruining it for the rest of us, CNN! What happened in Florida was a tragedy, but the way Venus Williams was treated in the court of public opinion was a farce.

And now, on to lighter topics, and the rest of the superlatives!

Nakedest Website of the Week: ESPN

Boy, they're really going all out on this body issue stuff, aren't they? I have zero problem with nudity, male or female, but it has been quite the experience to go to the front page every single day and find a new naked person staring back at me. As I write this, two bearded, heavily tattooed, muscular dudes are holding hockey sticks and smiling at me, totally naked.

I'm not sure what the point is, but they all have terrific bodies, so I guess ESPN is celebrating physiques? I hope this is the next trend in digital media outlets—while everyone else is "pivoting to video," the worldwide leader is "pivoting to naked." I promise all my readers that I will ask my editor if I can post a tasteful nude of myself eating a ham sandwich for next week.

Nakedest Baseball Team of the Week: Los Angeles Dodgers

Oh my God, this grandmother. Just watch (there's no actual nudity):

The West Coast really corrupts people! That has to be the funniest and most unexpected thing I've ever seen on a Jumbotron, and I once saw a man dump a full soda on himself just for the attention.

P.S. the Dodgers won this game, so the Dodgers should probably pay flashin' grandma to make this a regular thing.

The Least Dignified Sporting Event on the Planet: Hot Dog Eating

Honestly, it should be illegal to televise this. It's the most disgusting thing I've ever seen. I caught myself watching anyway on July 4, so I'm going to wave the temptation in front of your face, too. I dare you not to click play:

Even for America, this is too American. They say baseball is our national pastime, but we all know that it's actually eating. That's what we do best, and in theory competitive eating should be our biggest sport. God. Not this. Not this. It's like holding up a mirror to our national gluttony, and while it takes quite a lot for us to feel embarrassed, this did the trick. "I'm sorry," we say, showing a sense of shame for the first time in known history, "but this is too far. I cannot abide the televised spectacle of repugnant pig people grotesquely shoving soggy bread and meat in their mouths at an alarming, disgusting pace. Even for us, this is hoggish and appalling."

All that said, Joey Chestnut is an American hero on par with Abraham Lincoln, and it's very good that we no longer suffer the disgrace of having a Japanese eater win our national sport.

Whatever Award You Give to Someone Who Manages to Disgrace Himself by Groping Four Women in a Day: Bobby Knight

God, where to begin with this story. Basically, Bobby Knight was invited to speak at the National Geospotial-Intelligence Agency (yes, I agree that this makes absolutely no sense, but stay with me), and in the course of a short visit, he allegedly managed to drop four different women. That led to an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Army, of all organizations, and FBI agents actually interviewed him at his Montana home a year ago. No action was taken, but now there are pending lawsuits against the NGIA, and the story has made the press.

You know what? I think it's time for a strong take: I, Shane Ryan, and starting to think that Bobby Knight might not be a very good guy.

Sorry for the controversial opinion, but sometimes it's necessary to speak your mind.

The Worst Friend of the Week: Swedish Moose Guy

I come from upstate New York, so I can tell you that moose are vicious 17-ton murder machines. Seriously, they kill people. And if I ever got chased by a moose on a golf course, I would likely curl up in a ball and die of fear. However, if my friend reacted like this instead of trying to save my ass, I would resurrect myself from the dead to kill him. Watch:

STOP LAUGHING, YOU NORDIC SOCIOPATH. THIS IS LIFE OR DEATH. Seriously, there's an alternate version of this video where the dude dies, and the man holding the camera has to deal with the fact that he sat there chuckling while a murderous super-deer trampled his buddy to death. The next time I went on a trip with a friend like that, I'd throw a bee's nest into his hotel room and just sit outside the door, laughing and laughing.

I am going to see that moose in my dreams.