Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Most Dysfunctional Team in the League, Part IV

"Washington picked up RGIII’s fifth-year contract option for 2016, but it is guaranteed for $16.1 million for injury only. If things don’t change this season, they can cut him before the start of the next league year and not owe him a thing. But if he gets injured this season and requires the offseason to recover, his 2016 contract becomes guaranteed. That could also scare off some teams interested in trading for Griffin."
As far back as I can recall, Washington has sucked, because Washington is supposed to suck, and that’s why Robert Griffin III’s rookie year made no fucking sense at all. Fuck a jinx; we had Black Jesus! It wasn’t just that we were winning, but how. It’s important here to stress how bad Washington was this season, so that maybe you understand how so, so impossibly good RGIII was.

Griffin lit up the league in his rookie season, gaining 3,200 yards through the air and adding another 815 yards on the ground, scoring a total of 27 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl and won AP offensive rookie of the year. According to Doug Drinen’s Approximate Value metric, which assigns a single numerical value on any player’s season, at any position, from any year, Griffin’s 2012 campaign was the second most successful since 1970, narrowly behind Cam Newton’s coming out party the year before.

I remember, in these moments, being almost moved to tears with joy and disbelief that we had him for the next decade. Even then, even as I was screaming and laughing, my stomach would roil unexpectedly. There was no doubt that RGIII was a Hall of Famer, at the very least the best player to ever don a Washington jersey. I felt guilty, then, as if I was voyeuristically experiencing happiness the fucking Redskins didn’t deserve, that I didn’t even deserve.

As far as I can recall, the RGIII that enraptured the nation’s capital died on the cold, wet ground in Landover against the Seahawks. Knee injuries are the nastiest in that they can rob you of some combination of your explosion, your speed, and your agility. Worse, they can take your confidence, your fearlessness, your spirit. It feels a bit revisionist to say now that RGIII was a raw prospect with limited tools, but perhaps his fall was always destined, and an athlete seemingly from the future was finally overtaken by the evolution of NFL defenses. Maybe, as it’s looked this preseason, his team stopped playing for him long ago, and his coach stopped protecting him, as well.

Maybe Snyder in fact traded the future of his franchise for one cinematic season, and without the ability to draft talent, Washington fell behind. Maybe it’s possible to connect Snyder’s many shortcomings and failures as a human, to those of head coach Jay Gruden, to RGIII and the organization they run. Shit, maybe it’s karma.

Barring an unfortunate occurrence, or a few, the QB for whom Dan Snyder mortgaged three future first-round draft picks and a second—the very future of the franchise—won’t take the field again this year. Barring one or some disasters, RGIII won’t be in Washington next year; it’s just as likely that his stint here ruined his career before it got started as it is he’ll go somewhere else and make the Hall of Fame. Either outcome will feel an indictment on the team he’s left behind.

Three years ago, RGIII came to DC to save a franchise and city in spite of themselves. He almost succeeded. Soon, he’ll be chased out of town, a trail of smolders and ash in his wake. I don’t think I’ll watch much football anymore, but the one thing I’ll always remember, for the rest of my life, are the days he set my city alight.

More information:
» USA Today: Under Dan Synder, "The Redskins Have Started 16 Quarterbacks in 16 Years"
» Washington Post: "The Redskins QB Yearbook, from 1999 to 2015"
» NBC Sports: Dr. Andrews says most players can't recover like Peterson, RGIII
» ESPN: Redskins in Trade Talks, Meeting Resistance from Ownership

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Most Dysfunctional Team in the League, Part III

"It's a good problem to have to have three quarterbacks that are competing and working their butts off and I feel like all three of them are capable quarterbacks," he said. "Some people say when you have three, you don't have one and I disagree with that. We have three good quarterbacks that I feel good about. I just feel like Kirk right now gives us the best chance."
Ironically, Griffin's concussion is only serving as an inconvenient (or, perhaps, very convenient) delay to the real saga on the immediate horizon, especially following Jay Gruden's Monday pronouncement that "Kirk Cousins will be the starter for 2015 moving forward."

Behind the scenes, according to team sources, McCloughan is attempting to maintain his same blunt charm as he navigates what now feels like an inevitable reality: Not only is Griffin's tenure with the Redskins likely coming to a close, but another kerfuffle will soon ensue if this is not handled with decisive tact.

As the clock ticks for Griffin to undergo his second neurological exam -- which won't happen until Friday at the earliest, and possibly not until next week -- so too does a separate but simultaneous count for the team to pull the trigger on Jay Gruden's growing desire to move away from Griffin altogether.

And so, in the wake of Gruden's declaration that the Redskins are now "Kirk's team," it is time to cut Griffin as soon as he is cleared. It is seemingly the only sensible outcome.

For now, the quarterback can participate in non-contact drills, which was the case at Monday's 11 a.m. practice. But the moment Griffin is cleared by neurologist Robert Kurtzke to resume full activities, the Redskins will have a $16.1 million liability on their hands. That's the figure Griffin would be owed next season through the fifth-year option on his rookie contract -- a figure that is fully guaranteed for injury in 2015.

The Redskins would be indecisive and financially irresponsible to bench Griffin and still allow him to practice, but they would also be naïve to think this will end quietly if that's the path they choose. Which is why cutting Griffin, sooner rather than later, is the only diplomatic choice.

Otherwise, we're staring down an obvious path to the type of grievances filed by Steve McNair against the Titans in 2006 and Daunte Culpepper against the Dolphins in 2007. In each of those instances, the respective teams barred their quarterbacks from participating in team drills -- despite both being healthy -- to limit the possibility of injury. In McNair's case, the team was on the hook for a salary-cap hit of nearly $24 million if he got hurt -- so the Titans were trying to force a renegotiation. In Culpepper's case, which is perhaps more relevant, the team had traded for Trent Green to be its new starter -- so the Dolphins did not want Culpepper to suffer an injury while they tried to trade him.

In both instances, the players filed grievances for breach of contract while fueling major headlines in their respective cities. And you'd better believe, two weeks before the season's start, Griffin eventually could be forced to do the same. Don't think he won't. After all, Griffin is the same guy who still took the field before Saturday's game in Baltimore to throw 30 minutes worth of passes, even though he wasn't playing in the game. He is the same guy who, despite awaiting clearance to return from a dislocated ankle last October, took the field before Monday Night Football to throw passes in front of the pregame crowd.

He is not above a spectacle. He is not afraid of the drama.

So, the clock ticks ...

» The clock ticks on a football decision that already has been made in the mind of Gruden, who team sources say is entirely convinced Griffin is not the quarterback to make his team a winner.

» The clock ticks on a financial dilemma that was created by the Redskins' decision to pick up Griffin's fifth-year option this offseason -- which ultimately has landed them in a situation that is now far more urgent (because of the injury clause) as a result.

» And the clock ticks on a very real locker-room distraction for every day Griffin remains a backup quarterback.

Sure, if the Redskins do cut Griffin, it would cause them to eat the $3.7 million Griffin is guaranteed for this year and take a salary-cap hit of $6.7 million. But it still might be the best option for the team at this point.

A trade is highly unlikely, since any interested team would need to sacrifice a draft pick and/or player(s) while also committing to the same contract burdens facing the Redskins right now. Such a cost would only be worth it if a team wanted Griffin as its starter -- and very few teams have such needs this close to the season. A New York Jets team source, for instance, says Gang Green would not be interested in acquiring Griffin, which eliminates one of the most likely potential suitors from the mix.

So where does this leave this fluid situation?

Griffin, according to sources close to the player, had not asked to be traded or cut as of Monday morning -- but he certainly has had multiple people in his ear telling him it is time to accept the reality of an inevitable divorce. It seems, at least, like he sees it coming. At this point, who doesn't?

So don't let the weekend's situation involving bad communication about the status of Griffin's concussion -- yes, a blunder in its own right -- cause you to become so distracted that you miss the real story, which has been lurking for days. Concussion or not, the Redskins have been contemplating a decision that could end this odd episode once and for all.

Drama? Oh, the real drama still lurks.

And it is now up to the Redskins to make sure it doesn't rear its ugly head once more.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Our Current Presidential Candidates

Daily Beast:
Independent presidential candidate Deez Nuts is pulling some impressive numbers at the polls. A recent study by Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed the candidate polling at 9 percent in North Carolina, 8 percent in Minnesota and 7 percent in Iowa.

According to The Daily Beast the "Presidential Sensation is a 15-year-old farm boy." The 15-year-old behind the "candidate" is Brady Olson, who reportedly filed to run for President with the Federal Election Commission on July 26 using the pseudonym.

“When I heard about the Limberbutt McCubbins story, I realized I could,” Olson tells The Daily Beast. (Limberbutt McCubbins, by the way, is a cat from Kentucky seeking the Democratic nomination for president.)

Now he’s trying to figure out his path to becoming the first 15-year-old President of the United States under an assumed name.

“The next step is to get some party nominations, like the Minnesota Independence Party or the Modern Whig Party,” Olson says. “It would also be great to find a VP, preferably McCubbins because the Nuts/McCubbins ticket sounds amazing."

Dozens of real Deez Nutses or Deez Nutzes do live as citizens in the United States of America with legally changed names, from Phoenix, Arizona, to West Hartford, Connecticut, from sea to shining sea, but a potential president does not appear to be one of them.

“Anybody can fill out a Form 2,” says FEC Deputy Press Officer Christian Hilland. “We do vetting, but it’s more about did they fill out the information correctly? Did they review the fields? It doesn’t speak to the authenticity of the individual who filed the claim.”

“Nuts” did, in fact, fill out a Form 2—a statement of candidacy—on July 26. The form had no information other than the Wallingford address and his Independent party affiliation.

Fellow Form 2 filers for the 2016 election cycle include Sydneys Vuluptuous Buttocks, Kenny Rodeo, Eden, and Ole’ Savior. Savior, a Republican, ran and lost in four other elections since 2006. Savior and Nuts join President Emperor Caesar, Buddy the Cat, Buddy the Elf, Jack Sparrow, James “Titus the Great” Law, Princess Oawlawolwaol, and Donald Trump in the 2016 race for the presidency.

You can fill out your own Form 2 here and—good news—none of the fields are immediately checked against public records searches.

You, too, can be Deez Nuts from Wallingford, Iowa. The problems will only start to appear when your grassroots campaign for the presidency starts to receive the support of almost one-tenth of the residents of North Carolina.

“We check for things like, ‘What election cycle are you running in?’ If one or more of those fields are missing, we have campaign finance analysts who review those reports,” says Hilland. “We send a letter to the listed address that asks for clarification or an amendment.”

Also, if he or she raises $5,000, whoever lives at 2248 450th Avenue is going to have to come up with a real name. Nuts will then have to file a Form 1, which requires a name, phone number and address that check out.

Deez Nuts busted onto the scene thanks to his cheeky name and his some-of-both-sides politics (he's against illegal immigrants but for gay marriage).

The "deez nuts" joke is more familiar to kids his age through references on Adult Swim's The Boondocks, a viral People's Court clip and various Vine jokes. But the true origin of Deez Nuts traces back much further -- eight years before this high school sophomore was born, in fact.

"Deeez Nuuuts" is the sixth track on Dr. Dre's influential G-funk 1992 debut The Chronic. Featuring Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Warren G, the track includes a comedy bit from Rudy Ray Moore, best known as Blaxploitation action hero Dolemite.

Rolling Stone:
If you could pose one question to Hillary Clinton, what would it be?
Why can't you be more open and friendly like Bernie?

If you had to back another presidential candidate, who would it be?
Either Bernie Sanders(D-VT) or Gary Johnson(L-NM)

How far are you willing to take this practical joke?
As far as America wants to take it.

A Louisville resident named Limberbutt McCubbins had apparently filed to run for president, gaining attention in recent months from a campaign watchdog and, most recently, The Rachel Maddow Show.

It's not entirely clear whether everyone realized that Limberbutt McCubbins is a cat.

In an interview, Isaac Weiss, 17, a rising senior at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, said he thought it would be funny to enlist his friend's cat to run for president. The presidential candidate belongs to 18-year-old Emilee McCubbins, who is also a rising senior at Manual.

So Weiss logged on to the FEC's website this spring and created "The Committee for the Installation of Limberbutt." According to FEC filings, Limberbutt is a Democrat. Or as Weiss puts it, a "demo-cat."

Candidate McCubbins is not the first non-human to become a presidential candidate. Others include a pig named Pigasus the Immortal in 1968 and Molly the Dog in 2008.

Anyone can start a committee to explore running for president, but actually getting on the ballot requires fundraising, an FEC spokesman said. It doesn't break FEC rules, per se, for a committee to be launched for a cat, the spokesman added.

Weiss said he and his friends started this process — which already includes a Facebook page ("The time is meow, watch out Hillary!" declares one post) and campaign swag — mostly as a joke.

"We often joked around that Limberbutt would make a great president," Weiss said of the 5-year-old cat.

He said what stood out to him was that it was even possible to register a cat with the FEC.

"Anyone can easily run for president, which is why if you go to the FEC website you'll see over 200 people listed—including Limberbutt," Weiss said.


Sunday night, Taylor Swift presented Kanye West with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award and an impassioned West told the audience he's planning to run for president in 2020.

"I don't know what I finna lose after this. It don't matter, though; It's not about me. It's about ideas. New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truth," West said. "And yes, as you probably could've guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president."

More information:
» NPR: "This Guy is Running for President, and So Are More Than 200 Others"
» Urban Dictionary: Deez Nuts and Bofa Deez

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Most Dysfunctional Team in the League, Part II

“That’s the coach’s decision,” Griffin said. “As we like to say, I just work here, man. And I just want to go out there and every opportunity that I get, just try to execute the plays like they need to be executed, make a play when I have an opportunity, and let the coaches do the rest.”

Brian Mitchell: “I watch this team. I’m passionate about this team. And I see this one dude who we talk about every day too damn much because he doesn’t know to shut up and perform.”

Chris Cooley: “I’m going to tell you that it wasn’t great offensive line play, but it wasn’t like you’re going to have to get killed if you’re behind that offensive line. And when you ask the question, does this coaching staff have this [film]? Do the other players see this? Yes. And you can talk all you want, you can have whatever hype you want. But when you show up every week and play and put it on film, the people that understand the game see what you’re doing. So they do know. Everyone knows what’s going on here.”

Joe Theismann: “The thing that disappointed me the other night is one of the things that is stressed very, very diligently by the coaches is protect the football in the pocket. Protect the football when you’re trying to escape the pocket. The ball just fell out of Robert’s hands when he wound up getting hurt. That’s a concern for me. That has nothing to do with the offensive line, absolutely nothing to do with the protection. That has to do with the fundamentals of the position, and those are the things that Robert, he can’t be a continuing work in progress.”

Jay Gruden: “We just have to make sure we do our best to put Robert in a good place, with play calls and and getting things going offensively. Hats off to Kirk and Colt. They’ve taken advantage of their opportunities in the second, third and fourth quarters and done some great things out here in practice every day. Robert’s done some good things out here in practice, and we’re judging — not just three drives in preseason games, but the performance through OTAs, training camp, and that’s why we’re going the way we’re going.”

Jerry Brewer (Washington Post columnist): "This should be a year to eliminate tumult and establish an atmosphere in which players, coaches and executives compete like crazy to change a culture. That is not happening as thoroughly as it should right now. And if the Redskins want to be more than a perpetual disaster, then they had better commence with honesty now. The starting quarterback situation can’t be full of factions and determined by the man signing the paychecks. There needs to be a final, frank conversation by all parties about whether Griffin is truly the unquestioned starter, and if so, how long he should have to verify those beliefs. There needs to be better accountability for all the players, veteran or rookie, McCloughan guy or not, star or role player, to create true competition. And there needs to be a crystallized understanding of what this franchise wants to be, in every aspect, that permeates every decision made. Then perhaps the pandemonium can bow to shrewd reinvention."

NBC Sports:
Griffin was sacked 33 times last year while throwing only 214 passes. How rare is that? Not since Hugh Millen of the 1992 Patriots has a quarterback been sacked so many times while throwing so few passes.

The NFL started counting quarterbacks’ times sacked as an official statistic in 1963, and in the 52 seasons since then, only six quarterbacks have been sacked as many as 33 times while throwing as few as 214 passes: Griffin, Millen, Randall Cunningham in his first season, Mike Rae of the horrendous expansion Buccaneers, Bobby Douglass of the 1969 Bears, and Archie Manning — who did it twice while playing behind the awful New Orleans Saints line of the 1970s.

It would be tempting to blame the offensive line any time a quarterback gets sacked that often, but in Griffin’s case it would be incorrect. Washington’s other two quarterbacks, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins, weren’t sacked as often as Griffin. McCoy was sacked 17 times while throwing 128 passes, and Cousins was sacked eight times while throwing 208 passes.

NBC Sports:
As Robert Griffin III morphed from the rookie of the year in 2012 to a huge disappointment in 2013, questions started to be raised about whether his offensive line disliked him. At one point late in the 2013 season, it was observed that Washington’s offensive linemen hardly ever helped Griffin up after sacks, and reports out of the team’s locker room began to indicate that players were tired of Griffin’s refusal to take the blame when things went wrong.

Two years later, Griffin still doesn’t seem to be winning any friends in the locker room.

According to Jason Reid of ESPN, Griffin sidestepping his own responsibility for making the line look worse than it played is exactly the kind of thing that causes him problems in the locker room. Reid wrote on Twitter after Griffin’s press conference that coaches say “several” offensive linemen dislike Griffin.

There seem to be two problems facing Griffin. The more important one is that he simply hasn’t played very well since suffering a severe knee injury at the end of his rookie season. But another problem is that he hasn’t shown that he has the leadership qualities that a quarterback needs. And until he starts playing better, it’s hard to see how he’ll be able to rally his teammates around him.

Earlier this month, Frank Gore told NFL Media's Nate Burleson that Andrew Luck is a "different breed" who "runs the huddle" like no other quarterback he had seen in a decade with the 49ers.

Now Gore is convinced that Luck is a gridiron deity.

"He runs meetings like a coach. Basically, I'm playing with a coordinator on the field," Gore told The Jim Rome Show on Wednesday. "He's a football god. He sees everything. He sees the big picture of everything. ... He lets me know when [there's] something I don't see. He's just different. How he's in the huddle, off the field, in the meetings, he runs it. He runs the show, even in the off-season, he ran it. One day he had running backs, the next day he has receivers. He's just different. He's a football God."

High praise indeed, but it's not just limited to Luck's teammates.

Back in May, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton pointed out that Luck's perspective and understanding is already at the level of an NFL coach after just three years in the league.

"It's well documented that he's a smart guy," Hamilton explained, "but now I think his overall football acumen, or should I say football aptitude, is at a point where his feedback and/or his suggestions, I really take heed of the advice that he gives."

We've lauded Luck's incredible pocket movement as the "eighth wonder of the world." In addition to ideal size and athleticism, his arm talent and willingness to make tough throws rank with Aaron Rodgers as the best in the league.

For all of those obvious physical gifts, though, it's Luck's football aptitude and leadership that have led Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, former Giants coach Jim Fassel and NFL Media analyst Charley Casserly to predict that the Colts' quarterback will end up joining the pantheon of all-time greats.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Book of Mormon

"We modern-day sorts love to rib Latter-day Saints. There’s such rich material: the Osmonds, the bans on drinking, premarital sex, and caffeine(!), the back story (Jesus coming to America and converting the Indians, Joseph Smith digging up the golden plates), how teenaged missionaries are called 'elders.' Now Mormons are in for further teasing with The Book of Mormon (tagline: 'God’s Favorite Musical') opening on Broadway."
Matt Stone, one of the show's creators, described The Book of Mormon as "an atheist's love letter to religion."

For research purposes, the quartet took a field trip to Salt Lake City where they "interviewed a bunch of missionaries—or ex-missionaries." They had to work around Trey Parker and Matt Stone's South Park schedule. In 2006, Parker and Stone flew to London where they spent three weeks with Robert Lopez, who was working on the West End production of Avenue Q. There, the three wrote "four or five songs" and came up with the basic idea of the story. After a disagreement between Parker and Jeff Marx, who felt he was not getting enough creative control, Marx was separated from the project. For the next few years, the remaining trio met frequently to develop what they initially called The Book of Mormon: The Musical of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "There was a lot of hopping back and forth between L.A. and New York," Parker recalled.

There are numerous revealed changes from original script to final production. A song named "Family Home Evening", which was in early workshops of the show, was cut. The warlord in Uganda was called General Kony in previews but later changed to General Butt Fucking Naked. The song The "Bible Is A Trilogy" went through a major rewrite to become "All-American Prophet". The earlier version was based around how the third movie in movie trilogies is always the best one and sums everything up which led to a recurring Matrix joke where a Ugandan man said 'I thought the third Matrix was the worst one' which later changed to 'I have maggots in my scrotum' in the rewritten version. The song "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" was originally called "H-E Double Hockey Sticks".

The Book of Mormon premiered on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on March 24, 2011, following previews since February 24. On April 25, 2011, the producers confirmed that "counterfeit tickets to the Broadway production had been sold to and presented by theatergoers on at least five different occasions". An article in The New York Times reported, "In each case, the tickets were purchased on Craigslist, and while a single seller is suspected, the ticket purchases have taken place in different locations each time. ... [T]he production’s management and Jujamcyn Theaters, which operates the O’Neill, had notified the New York Police Department".

In the Broadway cast recording's liner notes, Frank Rich wrote that "The Book of Mormon scrupulously follows the old testament of Broadway circa 1945–1965, A.D., even while fondly spoofing it":
  • "Hello!" (the opening number) and "Turn It Off" evoke, respectively, "The Telephone Hour" in Bye Bye Birdie and "I’ll Never Be Jealous Again" from The Pajama Game. Other songs, Rich writes, owe much to the parodies of Tom Lehrer.
  • The reprise of "Orlando" harkens back to "Maria" from West Side Story, while "You And Me (But Mostly Me)" uses very similar chord progressions to "The Wizard and I" and "Defying Gravity" from Wicked.
  • "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" is strongly reminiscent of Alan Menken's "I wish..." ballads like "Somewhere That's Green", "Santa Fe", "Part of Your World" and "Out There".
  • "Hasa Diga Eebowai" starts as a gentle parody of The Lion King's "Hakuna Matata" and mentions the song before taking a radical turn.
  • In a series of interview segments for, Casey Nicholaw describes the scene of the Africans performing the "Joseph Smith American Moses" pageant before the Mission President as a "total riff" of the Siamese performance of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" for the British envoy in Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I.
  • Both Rich and Kristin Rawls see roots for "I Believe" in The Sound of Music—he in "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", and she in "I Have Confidence".
  • The opening scenes of Act I and II parody the Hill Cumorah Pageant.

"I don't think anybody would want to see a two-hour-long Mormon-bashing, and we wouldn't want to see that either," Parker tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "We love the goofiness of Mormon stories. Some of them are incredulous, and we loved almost all the Mormons that we had ever met. So this was sort of this conundrum that we like to talk about — we think what they believe is really, really ridiculous, and yet they seem like pretty happy people."

Take the creators of South Park and the composer of Avenue Q. Add solid musical storytelling, Mormons, Uganda, AIDS, a chorus line and a healthy amount of smut — and you have The Book of Mormon, Broadway's blasphemous, hilarious and oddly endearing new hit.

Because this is Parker and Stone, that dire setting is the frame for a show that features tap dancing and pop anthems, a Greek chorus and a Lion King-esque ensemble number. Along with critical acclaim, the musical has received largely positive feedback from Mormons who have seen the show, Parker says.

"The official church response was something along the lines of 'The Book of Mormon the musical might entertain you for a night, but the Book of Mormon,' — the book as scripture — 'will change your life through Jesus,' " Stone says. "Which we actually completely agree with. The Mormon church's response to this musical is almost like our Q.E.D. at the end of it. That's a cool, American response to a ribbing — a big musical that's done in their name."

"Before the church responded, a lot of people would ask us, 'Are you afraid of what the church would say?' And Trey and I were like, 'They're going to be cool.' And they were like, 'No, they're not. There are going to be protests.' And we were like, 'Nope, they're going to be cool.' We weren't that surprised by the church's response. We had faith in them."

Matt Stone: "We did take a field trip to Salt Lake City with Bobby Lopez, our co-writer, who had never been to Salt Lake City. And we interviewed a bunch of missionaries — or ex-missionaries. For us, it was pretty easy to find [these people]. We just talked to waiters in downtown Salt Lake City. Almost every single waiter had been on a mission. So that was where we got a lot of our research."

More information:
» The New Yorker: "God Squad"