The Beginners Guide to the Copa America Centenario

It’s not secret that soccer in the United States has a low ceiling compared to the our other great professional sport institutions. With every year, a new generation comes to the vital age when sports begin to mean something. Yet, I feel soccer is growing with every new generation due to easy cable access to the Premier League, Bundesliga and Champions League, the global brand of superstars (i.e. CR7, Messi, and I am Zlatan), online gambling, and the United States having success in the latest world cup. The old guard, people like my father and The Pope (Mike Francesca of WFAN, New York), however, will never give the sport a chance.

Enough about where we are, as this is about where we are going. The United States has been selected to host the Copa America Centenario this summer starting June 3rd. This is the first Copa America held outside of South America–a credit to how large the soccer community in the US hheader-copyas grown. For lesser Spanish-speaking readers Centenario means the 100th anniversary of the tournament. The tournament consists of the host (U.S.A!) ten nations in CONMEBOL (South America), and six CONCACAF (North America) teams including the US. Games will be played all over our great country, including the soccer mecca of East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Copa is filled with stars, including Barcelona’s famed MSN–Messi, Suarez, Neymar (although reports suggest that Suarez will miss the group stage), the golden boot winner (most goals in a World Cup), Real Madrid’s James Rodriquez. And of course, the always interesting USMNT will be competing. However, whether they can make the improvement to be competitive on a global scale is another question. For now, I will break down why you should watch all the major contenders, in alphabetical order.

ARGENTINA

MESSI MESSI MESSI! This team comes in as the favorite at +200 according to book32.com. After reaching the final in the last World Cup before Mario Götze and Germany clinched article-0-1e6eb97500000578-885_634x462the title, the Argentinians walked away defeated, but now they thirst to end a 23 year trophy drought. There is no doubt about the quality of the Argentinian players which is evident by their presence in the top European soccer clubs. Gonzalo Higuain led Seria A (Italy) in goals and the talents of Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aquero, Nickolas Otamendi, Javier Mascherano, Javier Pastore, and Erik Lamela make Argentina the deepest team in the tournament. The key word here is tournament, and while these competitions usually consist of scripts filled with plot twists or turns, the favorite rarely has their time in the sun. Argentina made it to the final last year and this year, so they are poised to make a brilliant run like Messi has so many times against lesser defenders.

BRAZIL

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Only Brazil is able to match the talent that Argentina can put on the pitch. Finishing in the top four of the last World Cup, they enter the 2016 Copa America second in odds at +450. Their finish in the world cup, however, was not a pretty sight by any means (please, parents, do not show that clip to young children). Unlike their World Cup semifinal against Germany, Neymar Jr. will be back in action, allowing everyone else to play their proper role. Personally, I believe Brazil to be a great wager. They are probably only being sold rather low due to the recent and disappointing memory of the last world cup.

CHILE

THE CHAMP IS HERE! Chile enters the tournament holding the title belt, in large part thanks to their hard work rate and the great play of their two stars, Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, in the last tournament. Actually, screw that last sentence–I’m short selling the fantastic goalkeeping of Claudio Bravo. So many times, these tournaments come down to what goalkeeper bailed them out the most. Look at Germany with Neuer in the World Cup, America with Tim Howard against Belgium and David De Gea against any arturo-vidal-2-diezManchester United opponent (more on this in the upcoming UEFA Euro Preview). It is very similar to how Bill Simmons’ “best player in the NBA series” theory usually wins, but in this case, it is always the best goalkeeper in the tournament that wins the cup.

Other then the US, I am pulling for Chile because I love their team. I realize for many Arsenal fans, Alexis can be frustrating with all the injuries, but he really did play with a chip on his shoulder against Messi in the last tournament. Now to Arturo Vidal, my favorite player in soccer. This guy is the fucking man…the epitome of the “Move Bitch” mentality. Neither I nor this blog in no way condone drunk driving, but who else is going to crash a Ferrari in Chile? I’m guessing its a very short list (like Trump’s VP’s). I doubt Chile will have back to back successes; however, for the human aspect of rooting for a team, they check all the boxes.

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A fairly interesting team. Falcao is finished, James has lost his way at Real Madrid, but they have talent and could make a run. I could believe virtually any outcome for this squad. I suppose we will see.

MEXICO

Our CONCACAF rivals come with a team that is both deep and familiar with each other: traits that are always Croatia v Mexico: Group A - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazildangerous for opponents. Under new management, Mexico will look to revive their dominance over the North America region by competing with the best teams that South America has to offer. Chicharito is once again one of the great strikers in Europe, and the quality throughout the team rivals both Chile and Colombia. If Donaldo Trumpez has anything to say, he will make Mexico great again.

UNITED STATES

Ahh finally, the USMNT. I feel that this tournament will be the ultimate test of what the USA squad will look like in the next World Cup (Russia 2018). US greats like Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones, and DaMarcus Beasley are just becoming too old to compete on an international level. At the same time, Michael Bradley has never become the midfield general that so many have expected. Thankfully, the Jozy Altidore era of terrible first touches and clumsy shots seems to be behind us. The decomposition of the old does brings new nutrients allowing the team to grow. Bobby Wood is a very promising striker scoring 17 goals in the second German league and making a move to the Bundesliga agettyimages-459830602-0t Hamburger SV. Matt Miazga, a talented defender has been signed by Chelsea, and a seemingly promising campaign for John Brooks of the Bundesliga has put him back in the main running for a starting spot on the USMNT. Previously, Brooks performed poorly in important games due to a lack of experience during high level competitions.

Fabian Johnson has legitimized himself as a wing creator on the right side with Borussia Mönchengladbach. The X-Factor for this tournament and the cups to come, rests on the shoulder of a 17 year old kid name Christian Pulisic. Already playing for European contender Borussia Dortmund, Pulisic has impressed everyone with his ball-skills and vision on the field. I hate to put expectations on a kid younger than me, but the talent is undeniable and I wish all the best for him and the United States. A poor performance at this tournament (i.e. not making the top 8) could very easily result in a change of management within the USMNT.

URUGUAY

451156218-485866See Colombia, a team filled with talent that has a strong history of claiming this title. Uruguay has the most Copa America titles in history with 15 . The feared attack of Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez can never be underestimated (as long as Suarez is healthy and doesn’t go crazy biting someone with all the cameras on him). With Atletico Madrid’s defensive aces Diego Godin and Miguel Jose Gimenez (both playing in the Champions League final) being the anchors of Uruguay’s defense, scoring will be no easy task.


I have begun to love soccer, but to call this summer “The Summer of Soccer” is an overreaction. Having stars playing on US soils excites many journalists, but we are still very initially discouraging of foreign things. Yet, the American sports culture has changed over the years, and as time goes on I believe soccer will creep into our culture as it has done in most of the developed countries around the world.  The Copa America Centenario will be a great chance for Americans to see how exciting the low scoring sport can be at it’s greatest, right in their backyard.

I FEEL LIKE PABLO!

 

 

 

 

The Beginners Guide to the Copa America Centenario

Power Rankings: Which Left 4 Dead Special Infected Do You Want to Be?

Left 4 Dead (and its sequel Left 4 Dead 2) is a multi-console zombie survival game where you fight hordes of zombies trying to get to safety in a zombie apocalypse. It’s pretty straightforward and there is literally no backstory provided.

What is provided are eight different kinds of “special infected,” or zombies with unique attributes and uniform appearance. To my mind, you would much rather be one of these guys than any regular old zombie.

Obviously, since you’re spending even an iota of your time reading an inane pop culture blog, you’ll very likely become a zombie in the event of the aforementioned apocalypse. And that makes one wonder: what special infected do you want to be? Don’t worry, I’ve done this work for you, and have compiled a complete power rankings.

NOTE: I solely based these decisions on what is observable in the games. If there is some expanded universe where we learn more specifics about these infected, I am not aware of it.

8. Spitter

Spitter_2You absolutely do not want to be a Spitter. I mean, just look at her. I am usually for body positivity, but she really should be wearing more clothing. In a list of different types of the undead, the Spitter manages to be head and shoulders more disgusting than any other. If her flabby, overexposed body wasn’t enough to turn you off, her zombie mouth has basically come to dominate her face and her neck.

Not to mention, her special ability (spitting acid) has no practical purpose and just seems like a nuisance. How can you kiss someone when your saliva burns? I’m not saying tons of zombies are going to be looking at you thinking, “I gotta get me some of that,” but one might, and you want to be able to participate in some form of connection, right?

Also, it’s not pictured, but the Spitter has absolutely terrible posture. Like, I’m just gonna come out and say it: the Spitter is definitely the white trash of the zombie world. Take away the green acid and giant mouth, and I could absolutely see her loitering outside of her ex-boyfriend’s trailer on an episode of Cops. When the special infected sorting hat is on your head, it is most wise to quietly repeat, “Not Spitter. Not Spitter” and hope for the best.

7. Witch

Witch_2I really did not want to put the only two female special infected last, but Valve gave me no choice. Take your complaints up with them, and not me, because you really don’t want to be a Witch either. Her existence is completely miserable, and that’s on top of being a zombie, which is definitely not a cakewalk in the first place.

What does the Witch do all day? She cries. She moans, she groans, and then gets really, really pissed off when someone disturbs her. She is the zombie version of that girl with the dyed hair and Hello Kitty backpack you went to high school with, and while I’m sure that girl has moved on and is pleased with her existence, we cannot say the same about the Witch.

Like, the one thing you have going for you as a zombie is camaraderie. You can go up to basically anyone and just be like, “You’re a zombie, too?” and you have a connection. Unfortunately for you if you end up as this wailing woman, the Witch completely eschews that. She’d rather be alone and cry, which is ridiculous because it’s not like other zombies don’t know what she’s going through — they’re all zombies, too. I dunno. Maybe she’s still upset over MCR breaking up. Don’t be the witch.

6. Jockey

JockeyYou’d really rather not be the Jockey. As you can tell from the picture, he is rather small, and when most of your communication is gonna be through snarls and grunts, size means a great deal. However, he does have big hands, and if this election cycle has taught us anything, having big hands is very important. I do worry about the his small head, too, as that might render you even dumber than all of your friends who are, quite literally, brainless. Also, and no one ever talks about stuff like this, but how are all of your old hats going to fit?

But most importantly, to my mind, in terms of whether or not it would be a pleasant experience being the Jockey is his posture. It is absolutely abhorrent. As someone who walks on two feet, it offends me just to look at. It’s like, dude, walk with your back straight. And if becoming a Jockey gives you some kind of scoliosis-type ailment, then you gotta get that sorted out. You might be able to get away with it for a while, but by the time you reach retirement age, you won’t be able to walk.

I suppose a positive about being the Jockey is that you can jump fairly high and ride on people’s heads. You might not think about it, but with this skill, Jockeys probably never miss a minute in a parade. Oh? You can’t see? Just jump on some other zombie’s head. But, in the same vein, you might get trampled on if you go in a crowd of zombies, as you are very small, and zombies have never been known for their carefulness.

5. Boomer

Boomeridle_1I won’t sugarcoat it: you’re gonna have a serious weight problem if you’re the Boomer. With the Spitter, it’s gonna come down to whether or not you want to be the talk of the town come swimsuit season, but with a Boomer, it’s about whether or not you need to buy two adjacent seats when taking an airplane. It’s not pretty.

Speaking of not pretty: your whole appearance, even with the fat thing notwithstanding. You have massive tumors all over your body and face. You really gotta hope to meet some blind zombie who just likes you for you if you are the Boomer. Also, your fashion choices are terrible. I understand that the selection is limited at most ‘big and tall’ stores, but get a tailor or stylist or something. It’s worth the money.

Your ability is to projectile vomit, which is not so much a special attribute as an unwelcome party trick by a college sophomore. However, this is not as annoying as some others. Moreover, it might actually help you lose some weight. If you eat a big meal, you don’t need to worry about sticking your fingers down your throat in order to purge. Just command it, and it shall come.

4. Charger

Chardger_001_big_01There are worse things in the world than being the Charger. For instance, genocide. Also, being any of the four special infected listed above. The Charger has one major thing going for it, and it is pretty obvious from the embedded photo: it’s got one big-ass arm. If you’re the Charger, you can basically get away with sucker-punching any zombie who tries to hit on your girl because once you make contact with your fist, they’re probably dead.

A major downside of being a Charger is, of course, his tiny left arm. This, obviously, might come in handy if a man finds you busting up a chiffarobe for a young lady and takes you to court for raping her in the Deep South, but in most other cases, it’s just a nuisance. You won’t be able to eat spaghetti that sophisticated way where you use a spoon to gather the spaghetti and wrap it around your fork.

Your ability would be to charge at people really fast, and I just can’t see this coming in handy that often in day-to-day life. Like, I guess it might be useful during Black Friday shopping, but Black Friday shopping with zombies is probably just the same as it is with humans, so you’ll probably kill some innocent people that way. Still, you probably won’t be late places, and if you’re anything like me, that would be a change.

3. Smoker

SmokeridleYou should be pretty pleased if you end up being a Smoker. Life as a zombie won’t be so bad for you. I know, I know, you’re remarking how absolutely ugly the smoker looks and how you would never be able to pick up chicks (or dudes… zombies don’t recognize heteronormativity, I think) if you looked like him. But what you don’t understand is that A. you’ve got the most normal sense of style yet, and B. you’re really tall. Those have got to be two of the biggest pluses in the zombie game. Because obviously, everyone is ugly: you’re undead. So if you have a more pleasing body shape (slender… tall) you will probably do pretty well for yourself.

Despite what it may seem like from might descriptions, undead life is not all about the nookie, and the smoker should be fine in other aspects as well. His power is that he can shoot out a long tongue to grab onto thing and that should be really useful. Imagine how much better binge watching TV would be if you could simply shoot your tongue out to grab the remote controller. Also, you’ll never, ever have to say the phrase, “Don’t you walk away from me!” ever again because you can just pull them back.

The downside to the Smoker is the downside to an estimated 40 million Americans: you smoke. I do not own a Smell-o-Vision, but I can assure you from playing many games of Left 4 Dead that the smoker does not smell good. He smells like that guy who likes Metallica a lot and smokes “just to feel something.” Plus, it’s bad for your health, man. I mean, you’re already undead, why harm your body even more. It’s just irresponsible.

2. Tank

TankidleCongratulations. You’re the Tank. You should feel lucky. You’re really strong, and big, and important. No one fucks with the Tank, and as of now, the Tank is you. Believe me when I say that anyone upset at being a Tank doesn’t deserve good things in their life. Be grateful.

Obviously, given his name and the picture to my right, the Tank is a big frickin’ dude, and that’s what you want to be in a zombie apocalypse. You can push your way through a horde of your braindead friends without a care in the world. You know why? ‘Cause you’re the fuckin’ tank. Also, we all know ladies love a guy who has big muscles, and your muscles would be so big and strong, they more resemble rocks than actual human anatomy. Not even peak bodybuilders can say that.

What’s the downside to being a tank? Narrow doorways, probably. Also, you kinda gave up your neck, and while that’s not the worst thing in the world, you can only be such a good friend without the idiom, “Stick my neck out for you.” Plus, there are probably times where you just want to veg out on the couch and listen to some tunes, but you’ve got like twice the body mass of a regular human to worry about. It’s probably worth the attention and physique, but I bet it can get tiresome.

1. Hunter

Hunter_1If you are to become a zombie and be turned into any Left 4 Dead special infected, you most want to be the Hunter. Life is basically just as good as it was before becoming a zombie for the Hunter. I mean, you’re wearing a relatively normal outfit, for one. Like, if you pull that hood down and wash a little of that blood off your collar, you could pass as a normal person for a while. And what is being a zombie but just trying to be a human again, right?

You don’t have any weird body mutations, so congratulations. The only thing that is different physiologically is that now you have extra sharp claws, which are just convenient. You’ll never have to borrow your friend’s paper shredder for private documents ever again. Three quick swipes with your nails and no one can steal your identity. Plus, you now can jump really far and pounce on people. Obviously, I don’t condone violence, but hopping onto buildings is really cool and will definitely get your significant other in the mood.

I can’t think of any downsides to being a hunter than aren’t just downsides to being a zombie in general. Unlike the other bozos we’ve rattled through, the Hunter is actually dressed to survive a full year. I’ll bet the Tank and Charger will be glad they tore through their clothing come winter. Hunters have it made. Perhaps, if you’re a sensitive guy like me, it might be difficult to be so much more popular than other special infected as a Hunter, but I think you’ll manage.


I hope you enjoyed evaluating your options in becoming a special infected from Left 4 Dead. Clearly, your experience is very much tied to the choices the zombie gods make. As you embark on this endeavor, I can only wish you good luck, and remind you to look out for more posts from PopCultureDeepDive.com in the future.

Power Rankings: Which Left 4 Dead Special Infected Do You Want to Be?

The Arrests of Olden Polynice

I must confess that a not-that-secret, not-that-guilty pleasure of mine is obsessing over crimes committed by professional athletes. It’s hard exactly to pinpoint why; perhaps because it shows that they’re imperfect, perhaps because I like to laugh at people who make worse decisions than me, who knows? However, this obsession led me to discover an absolutely incredible website called nbacrimelibrary.com. It is perfect. It is a catalogue of every NBA arrest on record, going all the way back to the fifties.

One great thing the site offers users is the ability to discover things about players’ pasts that they never knew before, or the pasts of players they had never heard of before. And that’s where Olden Polynice comes in. For the record, I have no recollection of ever watching Olden Polynice play a minute of basketball, and the name meant absolutely nothing to me prior to learning about his transgressions. However, I can tell you the following from his Wikipedia page: he was a center from Haiti who played in the NBA from 1987 to 2003. But what I can tell you from NBA Crime Library is much more interesting.

 

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Polynice was arrested five times during his NBA playing career. Of course, that’s easier to do if you have a 16 year career like Polynice and not a nine game stint like, I don’t know, Casper Ware. But yes, plenty of players with long careers never get arrested at all. Fair. But many do get arrested, even well-respected basketball minds like Jason Kidd get arrested three times in three different decades. I digress. Polynice was arrested five times in his career, but we’ll only be focusing on the last three. The first two were very normal NBA arrests–two assaults in the mid-nineties. Yet, his last three all jump off the page.

We’ll start with the last one, which is somehow the most normal of the Big Three. On July 23rd, 2001, Polynice was arrested in Salt Lake City for assault and disturbing the peace, just days after not being resigned by the Utah Jazz. Reportedly, Polynice was playing golf with some friends and went back to a previous hole to retrieve his lost scorecard, however, he was accidentally hit on the arm by a fellow golfer’s chip shot, and Olden did not take kindly to this. Mind you, Olden was not exactly a youngin at this point; in fact, he was old enough to run for all political offices. Yet, that didn’t stop him from allegedly punching and spitting on the guy who accidentally hit him.

This is just an incredibly uncouth gesture and would not be worth mentioning if not for his other, yet to be mentioned arrests. Yet, as it stands, it is a nice bookend to his saga. It will become abundantly clear that Olden Polynice is, in fact, the type of guy who is willing to throw hands over an errant golf shot.

How do I know this? It started in October of 2000, when Olden Polynice was arrested for impersonating a police officer. Yes. Impersonating a police officer. Apparently, Polynice was upset at a fellow motorist who cut him off in traffic and decided to follow him home. Once there, Polynice flashed an honorary badge given to him by the Los Angeles Police Department years before, claiming to be associated with the police. Obviously, the couple he was menacing took down his license plate and he was arrested.

preview0304_polyniceAnd I really wonder how he thought he was gonna get away with that. Obviously, it’s bizarre that the guy didn’t immediately recognize him, as I doubt there’s a single black person over 6-foot-10 living in Salt Lake City that doesn’t play for the Jazz, but that aside, his actions make it very clear he is not a police officer. How often do police officers follow traffic violators home, skip tickets or warnings, and simply threaten people?

Also, what does Olden get out of this? Is he concerned that at some point, this guy would cut him off again in traffic, and he’s planning ahead against that? Like, is it worth following a person home and threatening them just to scold them? Did he chalk that up for his good deed for the day? “You did good, Olden. You taught those guys a lesson.” Like I mentioned earlier, somehow, despite being an NBA player raking in upwards of one million dollars every year, Polynice managed to live seemingly every minute almost nothing to lose.

Being that I’m a halfway-decent writer, I obviously saved the best Polynice arrest for last. Now, it’s understandable for you to be wondering what could possibly be stranger, funnier, more exciting than a grown-ass NBA player getting pinched for impersonating a police officer. You know what is all of those things? A grown-ass NBA player getting pinched for impersonating a police officer again.

Yes, two of Olden Polynice’s five career arrests were for impersonating a police officer to people who he got into traffic disputes with. The second arrest, unfortunately, was actually for an incident that happened before the first arrest (which sucks because it would be a lot funnier if he got arrested for doing it and decided it was still worth it to do again), but that just means that he was serial offender at this.

In this incident, which happened in September of 2000, Polynice reportedly told a driver that flipped him off for speeding that he was “with the California Sheriff’s office,” and could “have him arrested.” This obviously means that not only did Polynice impersonate a cop, he did an even worse impersonation than the time before. This altercation was in Utah, mind you, and somehow, Polynice believes that he has the power to get people arrested two states over from where he apparently works.

And once again, why is Polynice doing this? Because when I imagine someone getting arrested for using an honorary badge as a real one, it’s to get extra benefits or classified information, not to talk down to bad drivers. Also, there is no way in hell that that badge looked real. Obviously the LAPD isn’t that smart, but someone had to make sure the honorary badges look honorary.

There’s no denying that Polynice’s pair of police impersonating arrests are peculiar in their own right, and would be bizarre if the man who committed them was a middle-aged accountant from Poughkeepsie. However, the fact that Polynice was a minor celebrity, no matter how minor, just makes it fascinating to me. It’s dumbfounding that someone with the support system that the National Basketball Association has to offer would do something so odd.

I suppose that’s why I’m obsessed with arrests in sports. Because dumb actions that are usually committed by dumb people are even dumber when they have all the safeguards in place to stop them from being dumb. Like, I expect a run-of-the-mill dumb person to wrap marijuana in aluminum foil and try to go through a airport metal detector, but not professional NBA player Damon Stoudamire, who should undoubtedly have a friend who could hold his weed or at least tell him that you can’t bring aluminum foil through a metal detector.

I have no earthly idea what makes Olden Polynice or any athlete for that matter do something obscenely stupid, whether it is light enough fare for me to laugh at or not. What I do know is that very few things in recent memory have made me laugh as hard as the idea of a professional basketball player using an honorary badge to intimidate fellow drivers. It has the perfect blend of stupidity, randomness, and entitlement that makes athlete and celebrity arrests great. All we needed was for Polynice to tell the cops, “Don’t you know who I am?”

The Arrests of Olden Polynice

I Heard You Like NFL Street 2

I loved NFL Street. NFL Street 2 was the much anticipated follow-up to NFL Street for the XBOX, Playstation 2, and Nintendo Gamecube. It featured condensed versions of all 32 NFL teams (as of, like, the 2004 season) as well as some past legends (but not anyone too special, for licensing reasons). It also featured one other player.

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That’s right. Rapper Xzibit was a playable character in NFL Street 2. In fact, he wasn’t just a playable character, he was the “narrator” of the game, starting from the tutorial. I have fond memories of the rapper (born Alvin Joiner) telling me to tap the X-button to juke. Of course, my eight year old self had never heard of Xzibit, as it would be about a year before I would catch my first episode of Pimp My Ride, but even then, I had no goddam clue why this guy had to be in the game. It wasn’t like he just lent his voice to background information like Bruce Campbell in the Spider-Man games, or played a fictional character like numerous celebrities over the years (my favorite, of course, being Patrick Stewart’s performance as a character who gets killed no more than twenty minutes into Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion). He was Xzibit. The fact that he was Xzibit mattered.

It mattered so much that he was the proverbial boss in one of the game modes. Besides “Own The City” and “NFL Challenge,” there was “NFL Gauntlet,” in which you chose a team and had to beat every other team in the NFL in order to win. But oh wait, I almost forgot. You ALSO had to beat Team Xzibit.

If the meaning of “Team Xzibit” doesn’t immediately occur to you, I understand. It was a team of the game’s best players (like LaDanian Tomlinson, Jeremy Shockey, et al.), sort of like an all star roster. Oh yeah, except that at quarterback was Xzibit.

Obviously, Xzibit has the best attributes of any quarterback in the game, because why even bother lending your voice and rights if you’re going to be a scrub. Additionally, Xzibit provided a song for the soundtrack (side note: I could write a whole different blog about this game’s soundtrack), called “Hey Now (Mean Muggin’)” featuring Keri. This game showcased Xzibit, which is perhaps why it is so strange to look back upon. One would expect a rapper with this special of treatment from a large, successful corporation in Electronic Arts to, I don’t know, be more successful today. Eleven and a half years later and no one remembers or cares about Xzibit’s rap career. In fact, the last place I saw him nflstreet2_ps2box_usa_org_000was on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and while that’s not a bad way to get checks, I don’t imagine that’s where he saw himself when he walked into EA Sports BIG (the production company behind NFLS2) sometime in 2004.

While still fun every time I decide to pick it back up and play it, the inclusion of Xzibit makes NFL Street 2 feel so incredibly of its time, and not simply because Xzibit is no longer relevant beyond the occasional “I herd u like” meme. Video games simply do not have the absurd tie-ins that they used to. NBA Street V3 — an EA Sports BIG game that was released around a similar time — featured the Beastie Boys as their own team, for instance. Yet, to act like it mattered that Xzibit was in the game from the start is baffling in 2016. As if someone was ever going to start up their XBOX, Gamecube, or PS2, press start, and shout, “Oh shit! No one told be X was in this!”

The only comparable tie-in I can remember is in the ill-fated Sims: The Urbz on Gamecube, in which all four of the Black Eyed Peas are NPCs in a specific area of the game. But even then, they’re just regular folks as far as the game is concerned, as long as you’re willing to make peace with Woo-Hooing with a man named Apl.de.ap. Unlike the Urbz, where the Black Eyed Peas are inessential and were likely put in later in the game’s production, Xzibit is the central figure of the game. The difference between NFL Streets 1 and 2 is that Xzibit is in the second one.

And to the question of why? Seriously, honestly, why was Xzibit so heavily featured in NFL Street 2? I have no clue. EA Sports BIG was discontinued in 2008, so we may never know.

I Heard You Like NFL Street 2