Fridays with Beardie: The Case for Kyle Orton

Guest Article BY: TheBeardGuy

It was a banner year at the Oscars for beards. Wally Pfister won for cinematography in “Inception,” that gay producer won for the King’s Speech, and “The Wolfman,” a.k.a. “The Beardman,” won for best makeup. Beards were in on the Red Carpet as well, as studs such as Antonio Banderas, Brad Pitt, Gerard Butler, Jake Gyllenhall (a wimpy one), and Christoph Waltz were all seen rocking face fur. Trends go in and out in Hollywood, and it’s probably not worth paying attention too much, but undoubtedly the beard de resistance of the night was Christian Bale rocking a magnificent red number as he accepted his Best Supporting Oscar for “The Fighter.”

While once again proving that men with beards are among the most accomplished and talented in their profession, there’s still that unspoken line with beards that will not be crossed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. “Rock a beard to the award ceremony if you must,” says the Academy, “but if you’re sporting a beard on the silver screen, you’ll be watching the winner speak from the seats.” Sure enough, at the end of the night everyone had to be subjected to bumbling twit and poor man’s Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, give some dry boring monologue that only people who like the second “Bridget Jones’ Diary” would like, while the people’s champ, Jeff Bridges, was wrongfully denied for his tremendous performance in “True Grit” his second Best Actor award in as many years. This is no anomaly; historically, actors playing bearded characters have done quite poorly at the Academy Awards. The likely reasons for this are numerous: the classist notions of the snobs that make up the Academy putting their nose down at actors that take gritty or blue collar roles, or perhaps the establishment of the true Hollywood actor as men like Humphrey Bogart, Gregory Peck and Clark Gable, men whose jawlines were as strong as they were shaven. Whatever the reason, it’s become clear that going full beard in a movie is equivalent going full retard, it’s just something you don’t do if you want to be a Hollywood icon.   Sure Jeff Bridges won last year while sporting a goatee for most of “Crazy Heart,” but everyone knows that’s not the same as a full beard. And sure enough, when push came to shove on Sunday night, Bridges’ performance was thrown on the reject pile along with such other legendary roles as Tom Hanks in “Cast Away,” Denzel Washington in “The Hurricane,” Sean Penn in “Dead Man Walking,” and Zach Galifianakis in “The Hangover.” At least beard lovers will always have Daniel Day-Lewis, who in 1989 won an Oscar for “My Left Foot” despite being both bearded (part of the time) AND crippled; such was the strength of his performance.

It’s not all bad news for beards this week, as new Broncos coach John Fox has announced that bearded legend Kyle Orton will be his starting quarterback at the beginning of Camp. This announcement has certain people, like NFL writer and heinously biased Florida Gator Fan Vic Carucci, up in arms that a new coach would arrive and possibly come to the conclusion dual-threat power QB and disciple of God Tim Tebow is not the best quarterback on the team. (Source: http://blogs.nfl.com/2011/02/26/broncos-public-stance-on-qbs-begs-questions/).

Still, with all the potential public backlash already released against Fox, this situation couldn’t help but remind the author of November 19th, 1922. That was, of course, the day the Turkish National Assembly reinstated His Imperial Majesty Abdulmecid II as Caliph of the Ottoman Empire. . Abdulmecid was to be the last Caliph of the Ottoman Empire, and I believe his fate currently parallels quite nicely with that of Mr. Orton. A breakdown:

Lineage: Abdulmecid was part of a long lineage of the Turkish House of Osman; he was born at the Royal Palace in Istanbul, the son of the current Caliph at the time. He was educated privately at best schools in the Ottoman. Orton came from slightly humbler beginnings, somewhere in BFE Iowa, but after being ranked as the #3 overall QB prospect in the land, he chose to hone his craft under Joe Tiller’s spread offense at Purdue, following in the footsteps of Drew Brees, Bob Griese, and SEC shill Gary Danielson.  After an All-America senior year Orton slipped into the 4th round, where he was picked by the Chicago Bears.

Time as back-up: Despite appearing not to be insane and having a completely and ridiculously awesome beard that was the pride of the entire Empire, Abdulmecid was buried in line of succession to the throne by his two cousins, Mehmed V and Mehmed VI, two weak and clean-shaven men that were used as pawns by ministers within the royal court to run the Empire into the ground. Mehmed V’s “hands off” approach to running the Empire resulted in the Arab world turning against him and his territories getting overran by the European powers during World War I. Mehmed VI succeeded his brother upon his death in 1918, just in time to start giving all of the Empire’s lands away to the British and French. This pissed everyone in Istanbul so much that they formed a Democratic Assembly in some village called Ankara and ousted the Caliph from power. Abdulmecid, at this point the Crown Prince, had toiled in relative obscurity, having never been given a real chance to lead. This is not to say he wasn’t productive. By 1912, Abdulmecid had used his power, beard, renowned artistic abilities and considerable charm to marry three wives, and with them had produced 5 children. He would go on to add a fourth wife and three more children before ascending the Ottoman throne.

Thought to be unready to play in the NFL, Orton was nonetheless forced into action immediately in his rookie year. He responded positively, leading the Bears to a 10-5 record despite poor individual stats. Despite his impressive record, Orton was relegated to the bench for meathead-turned-gunslinger Rex Grossman, who went on to immediately tank the season. Orton’s stats compared favorably to Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, two highly-rated quarterbacks that struggled their rookie years statistically while leading their team to winning records. Nonetheless, Orton also saw himself buried at third-string over the next couple years. He kept himself busy with women, although he tended to prefer blonde cougars and Jack Daniels to harems and Ottoman royalty.

Rise: Due to cultural backlash the new provisional government in Ankara was forced to reinstate a Caliph, as many of the people in the region felt there should be a royal representative for what was left of the Ottoman Empire. Abdulmecid was the obvious choice as the most qualified member of the Royal Family still in Istanbul and was widely accepted by the various factions within the region. He wisely abstained from attempting to grab large amounts of political influence and generally stayed represented himself as a more symbolic monarch. One might call him a “system caliph.” Orton was likewise promoted due to civil unrest in Chicago, and similarly stayed in the background during another successful season in Chicago; yet management elected to move him in early 2009 in what was essentially a straight-up swap for double-chinned quitter Jay Cutler. Orton’s numbers exploded in Denver, and while many contribute his personal statistics to Josh McDaniels’ pass-happy offense; the fact that Orton put up better numbers than his predecessor despite the absence of Brandon Marshall is proof of his legitimacy as a starting quarterback in the League.

The Young Upstart: Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was born into a middle-class family and initially home-schooled. After joining the military however, Ataturk quickly rose in prominence as a dual-threat military commander and political leader. After leading his troops into a surprisingly terrible defeat to the British at the Battle of Megiddo, Ataturk, still clean-shaven, delivered his now infamous tear-filled speech in Jerusalem whereby he promised that “you will never see any general in the entire eastern theater campaign as hard as I will campaign the rest of the engagement, and you will never see anyone push his soldiers as hard as I will push them.” Ataturk’s army responded by pushing the Greeks and Armenians out of the Anatolian Peninsula, and Ataturk immediately became the popular head of a new Democratic government. There’s not a lot of information out there about Tim Tebow but folks in Denver and elsewhere appear to be quite fond of him; also, he doesn’t have a beard.

Downfall: Despite the fact that Abdulmecid appeared to be doing an adequate job, the remains of the Ottoman Empire weren’t doing so hot; and with young upstart Ataturk and his supporters constantly worried of an uprising, he was dismissed as Caliph a mere two years later. Those who put the Caliph back in power essentially never gave him a chance to succeed, and despite John Fox’s early announcement, one can’t help but feel Orton won’t get a fair shake to maintain the starting job either. The Broncos were dismal last season and next season doesn’t appear to be an improvement no matter who is starting at quarterback. Secondary stalwart Champ Bailey is one year older, all the running backs are bust, and the incredible offensive line Mike Shanahan built up is long gone. Faced with another poor overall record, Orton will undoubtedly be ousted in favor of fan-favorite Tebow. And while this may seem unfair; to men with beards it’s just another footnote in history.

Fate: Abdulmecid went on to do great things; he became a renowned painter while living in exile, and built up an enormous collection of butterflies. Orton probably will go on to do quite well for himself as well, but more likely for a contender in need like the Vikings than the Broncos. This, however, is a warning for the Broncos to take heed. Denver has been a storied franchise, particularly in recent years with the prominent back-to-back champions led by John Elway. Like the Broncos, the Ottoman Empire was truly one of the world’s great civilizations; they invented the modern rifle and the marching band and presided over parts of three continents. By choosing what “The People” wanted over the reliable man with a beard however, the Ottoman Empire became . . . Turkey, most well known for its goofy name, being rejected for admission to the European Union twice, and for producing Semih Erden. And I’d take Kyle Orton over Semih Erden.

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