There is no shortage of star football players who have done a little time – or more – in the pokey. Conversely, some football folks have ventured into the field of wine. I’ll take football over prison and wine over either of those choices.
The Longest Yard has Burt Reynolds – himself a former college football player – as a prisoner who heads up the inmate football team in a contest against the guards, a game which is more than just a game to those on the field. It’s fantasy football with real consequences. These football heroes have numbers a lot longer than one or two digits; their football cards are mugshots.
Former NFL stars Ray Nitschke, Joe Kapp and Ernie Wheelwright also appear in the film, which lends credibility to the football sequences. The same scenario was used in the football sequences in M*A*S*H. Joe Kapp was in that movie, too, along with Fran Tarkenton, Ben Davidson and Fred “The Hammer” Williamson.
We’ve covered the football and prison angles, now let’s get to the wine before Eddie Albert sends over a guard to whack us with a stick.
There are a handful of good choices for wines to pair with The Longest Yard. Some former football greats have made a name for themselves on the grape gridiron. Former NFL coach Dick Vermeil and former 49ers president Carmen Policy both have Napa Valley wineries. Former Partriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe makes wine where he played college ball, in Washington. Dick Butkus and “Iron” Mike Ditka both make wine, proving it ain’t just for sissies.
Some NFL teams are even getting into the wine business. The New York Jets and San Diego Chargers have both hired California winemakers to make a brand for their teams.
The pairing we’ll go with here is made by a former Penn State Nittany Lion, Gary Eberle. When he entered the wine business, he did it with the same sort of determination Joe Paterno no doubt instilled in him on the gridiron. Eberle helped establish California’s Paso Robles appellation in 1980, then opened Eberle Winery there several years later.
Eberle’s Full Boar Red – kinda sounds like a football play – is a manly blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Barbera and Tempranillo. At $15, you’ll have plenty of money left over for snacks and a bail bondsman.
Cornerback Charles Woodson is ready to put his name on 24 Wine, produced from grapes grown in the prestigious Napa Valley Stags Leap area. He can’t fully get behind that yet because of the NFL’s rules prohibiting a current player from promoting alcohol. Run a dogfight and you can get right back in the game. Try and sell some $150 per bottle wine, though, and you’re really getting on the warden’s – er, commissioner’s – bad side.
Woodson actually makes the trifecta for this piece. He was arrested in 2004 for public intoxication, but probably didn’t serve any serious jail time for that. It probably wasn’t even a pricey Napa Cab he was allegedly buzzed on, either.
Pruno – I don’t where you can buy this stuff. I don’t know why you’d even want to. It’s a wine supposedly made in prison, though. The directions alone kind of make the throw-up happen in the back of my throat, so click the link at your own peril.
Randy Fuller writes about wine at NowAndZin.com. He has spent a career broadcasting, writing, tasting wine and watching movies. In one fell swoop, this multi-media multitasking has converged to a single point – Blood Of The Vines. He writes the printed version on the blog and also voices the podcast version available at NowAndZin.com. He’s always ready to open a bottle of wine and watch a movie. Ask him about it on Twitter.