Sunday, November 28, 2004

Rooting for the Devil?

Who do you root for when first place is on the line? That's the dilemma that Chargers face on Sunday night when the Broncos and Raiders squared off. Do you do the obvious and root against the Raiders at all cost? Or do you root for the Raiders, as an Oakland victory would give the Chargers sole possession of first place?

You are not a member of the Hater Nation if you debated the question for a second. There is no reason to ever pull for the Raiders. The only time it would be debatable would be if the Raiders lined up against Al Qaeda.

Just kidding.

Al Qaeda would still be the team to root for.

CHARGERS BREES INTO FIRST PLACE

It's getting to the point where it's foolish to even imagine that Drew Brees will be allowed to walk away from the Chargers at the end of this season. Brees was near perfect again on Sunday as he passed for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns. Even the cement-headed Chargers front office must recognize how valuable Brees is to the team.

Brees carried the team on Sunday after a good, but not dominant, performance from LaDainian Tomlinson. If the Chargers reach the playoffs (and yes, it's still too soon to get excited about the postseason), Brees is going to be a big reason why.

Maybe that and Dante Hall's inability to hold onto the football.

INSULT TO INJURY

Even fantasy football isn't a compelling reason to root for the Raiders. But how degrading is it when the Raiders win a game, and also allow Reuben Droughns (on your opponents team) to rush for more than 100 yards and a touchdown?

Typical Raiders. Thanks for nothing.

ROUGH DAY FOR ELI MESSIAH

The Manning-loving press will likely praise Eli's 6 for 21 with 2 interception performance on Sunday. A lot of critics liked to point out this week that guys such as Troy Aikman and John Elway struggled in their rookie seasons.

Yeah, Ryan Leaf, Tim Cough, Jeff George, and Cade McNown also struggled in their rookie seasons, too.

OWENS UPDATE

Terrell Owens, as shown on the FOX broadcast on Sunday, likes to prance around the field before the game in skin-tight catsuit.

If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly...

NEWS AND NOTES AROUND THE NFL

TWO CARDINALS QUARTERBACKS COMBINE FOR THREE INTERCEPTIONS IN LOSS TO JETS The Cardinals could have drafted Rivers or Roethlisberger, and could have signed Kurt Warner, too. Dennis Green is so distraught, he might knock up another secretary.

THE BEARS ARE EXPECTED TO SIGN 36-YEAR OLD QUARTERBACK JEFF GEORGE ON MONDAY. That's good news for Eli Messiah. No matter how poorly he plays in the next 12 years, he can still expect to find a job.

AND FINALLY

The Raiders and Broncos battled in the snow on Sunday Night. Here in the home office in Sunset Beach, the temperature dipped below 50 degrees last night. So we know exactly how those fans felt at the game.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Friday Morning News

Timing is everything for the NFL. In a week that saw an NBA riot in Detroit, the NFL announced that it was going to allow certain teams to have four on-field seats added to its stadiums. This is exactly what the NFL--and sports in general--needs, more fans with a clearer shot to professional athletes.

Unfortunately, Detroit was not one of those teams that will be conducting the study.

The experiment will start this week in Minnesota, and will include Chicago, and Miami. The teams will pick who gets to use the seats, meaning that corporate fat-cats that are willing to fork over $10,000 will get a chance to watch the game from the field.

Why stop there? Here are some ways these four "cash-strapped" teams can make some extra money in addition to on-field seats.

A mere $5,000 in Minnesota will allow a fan to get squirted in the face by Vikings receiver Randy Moss.

If you pay $10,000 in Chicago, you will get one series as the team's quarterback. Hey, it can't be any worse than what the Bears put on the field on Thursday.

For $25,000 in Miami, each fan sitting on the field will get a free exam from holistic medical student, Ricky Williams.

IS THERE A WILLIAMS COMEBACK IN THE WORKS?

Don't be fooled by recent reports, Ricky Williams does not want to come back to the NFL. Williams just doesn't want to pay the Dolphins $8 million he owes to the club. Williams is completing the paperwork in order to avoid a lawsuit over his outstanding balance.

This puts the Dolphins in the position of either welcoming back the enigmatic running back, or cutting him loose. Williams, and his lawyers, are betting that the Dolphins do not want him back and will forfeit its share of Ricky's gold.

And if Williams is welcomed back to the Dolphins, there is this business of an NFL suspension that will likely mean that he won't see the field in 2004.

DROUGHNS V. SAPP, II

Reuben Droughns told Warren Sapp that he was washed up in the Broncos 30-3 victory earlier this season, a point that did not sit well with the giant underachiever.

Why not? Sapp is one of the biggest free-agent busts of the year with only a half sack this season. Sapp is clearly one of the biggest "Fonzie" players in the NFL. Sapp has a reputation of talking big, but never seems to back it up on the field. It's much like Fonzie, who had a reputation of being a tough guy, yet you never saw him throw a punch during the series, Happy Days. Even when Richie Cunningham contracted mono from one of Fonzie's squeezes, the leather-clad tough guy wouldn't even strike the freckled-faced Freshman. It was Potsie who slammed Cunningham with the bathroom door.

Is there any way to fit Sapp with a leather jacket, #99? There's a good costume for one of those moronic Raider nation followers.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Why does anybody stoop to doing a "Turkey of the Week/Year/Decade/Millennium Award?" It's more tired thank John Madden's "Turducken" which thankfully died when he went to Monday Night Football.

Seriously, we get it. It's a play on the Thanksgiving Day tradition... zzzzzzzzzzz.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, ST. LOUIS

Think it's bad working on Thanksgiving? Mike Martz decided to have his team report for work on the holiday, despite the fact that it has an extra day to prepare with a Monday night game this week.

Yeah, that extra practice time should do the trick. It gives Martz more time to work on his excuses.

Martz called out the Bills this week for a couple of "cheap shots" on its defensive backs in St. Louis' 30-17 loss. St. Louis has a reputation of shying away from physical contact, and these comments don't help. Even Jm J. Bullock took time out this week to tell Martz and St. Louis to "butch up" a little bit.

Martz also was miffed that St. Louis had to conduct its post-game security check at Buffalo-Niagara Airport, instead of at the field--a service that most teams provide. After the way St. Louis performed on the field, they should be happy that they were allowed back in St. Louis at all.

THANKSGIVING FOOTBALL

The lack of quality football almost made the Hater Nation long for the return for the NHL. Ah, not really.

Does anybody else get the feeling that Tony Dungy has Peyton Manning on his fantasy team as he continued to call for passes in the Colts route of the Lions? Dungy has become like a geeky-Madden 2005 gamer that is concerned mostly with stats than winning football games.

Go ahead, Peyton Manning. Throw your 60 touchdowns and set a meaningless-record. It will be something to cherish when you are sent home during the playoffs by the Steelers or Patriots.

And did anybody catch those videos of a 3-year-old Manning during the game? It seems like his disposition hasn't changed much as he was crying when his older brother, Cooper, roughed him up.

Fans of NFL-contraction received a huge boost by the Cowboys and Bears game. Two NFL teams, zero NFL quarterbacks.

The fans in Dallas were upset when rookie Drew Henson was pulled for Vinny Testaverde. But Parcells actually did the right thing. The Cowboys, with four ones, are in the thick of the playoff hunt in the NFC. Look at the standings. Even Detroit has a chance of making the field.

Can't the NFL adopt it's World War II policy and combine two teams to make one mediocre franchise? If you combined the Bears and Cowboys, they might make the playoffs in the AFC... barely.

AND FINALLY

How do the Chargers celebrate their winning this season? By raising ticket prices, of course. The Chargers have only sold out on game during the NFL-required 72-hour deadline (they were given an extension for the Raiders game).

Typical Chargers, one step forward, three steps back. This should endear the fans as they push for a new stadium in 2006.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Who saw that coming?

The NFL prides itself on its unpredictability. One constant that remains is Mike Martz and his inability to have St. Louis focused week after week.

Martz was praised around the NFL last week when St. Louis responded to the coach's criticism to beat Seattle. Many thought the Rams had finally turned the corner.

Readers of the Hater Nation (both of them) knew differently.

But just before you think, "Maybe he's not that dumb," wait until St. Louis folds at Buffalo this week.

So it comes as no surprise that St. Louis was blown out at Buffalo. St. Louis typically does not respond well outside of the confines of the Eddie James Dome, and it was confirmed in its opening drive.

St. Louis opened the game with a time out followed by procedure penalties on Tom Nutten and Isaac Bruce. and St. Louis once again stalled in a promising drive when Martz called for a pass to the end zone on third-and-two at the Buffalo 22. The club settled for a field goal, just as it accepts mediocrity from week-to-week.

St. Louis was especially brutal on special teams, but that has become a tradition in the Gateway City. The club scape goated special teams coach Bobby April at the end of last season.

April went on to land a job with--you guessed it--the Buffalo Bills.

The only disappointing part of the game was Martz's post-game comedy routine, cleverly disguised as a press conference.

"We were pitiful," Martz said. "I really don't know what to do at this point. ... It's going to be hard to win another game until we get that cleared up. That's the worst thing I've ever seen."

Martz must have missed Terrell Owens' opening skit on Monday night.

But where was the condensation on Martz's part? The fans have grown accustomed to his musings and this was the best he could muster? No chips on the table? Nothing?

It seems that Martz comedy act was as flat as his team.

THE GREATNESS OF THE RAIDERS

What does it say when a Chargers win over the Raiders falls to second-billing at the Hater Nation? A site devoted in its hatred of all things Raiders.

But there's something missing with these Raiders. Bragging about a win over the Raiders would be like Carl Lewis bragging about a win in the Special Olympics. The Raiders have become just another non-discript, faceless franchise in the NFL.

Even with fans such as SombreroRaider, Migrant Farm Worker Raider, and the bunch, this win wasn't that much fun.

Maybe it's because the Raiders are--to borrow a phrase from Bill Parcells--one of the dumbest teams in NFL history. Announcers like to point out that the Raiders always won despite being the most penalized teams in the NFL. But what they fail to recognize is that the Raiders of the past were flagged for penalties such as necessary roughness and roughing the passer.

That was the Raider mystique.

Now the Raiders are called for defensive holding, false starts, and other infractions that kill their drives or keep their opponents moving. You can't win a football game like that.

It's a disgrace to compare the two.

IS IT TIME TO GET EXCITED YET?

It's tempting to dive into Chargers eurphoria, but there's still a little bit of nagging doubt with San Diego. Two games against the Broncos and Chiefs still loom on the horizon. The popular phrase seems to be "cautiously optomistic" at this point. Most Chargers fans seem apprehensive to get too excited, thinking that moment that they do, the famous Chargers slide will begin.

Too bad they don't play the Raiders every week.

WHERE IS CHILD SERVICES?

Why are parents allowed to dress their children in face paint and spiked shoulder pads at a Raiders game? America doesn't need a bunch of 10-year old thugs learning to make shivs out of their Swiss Army knives. They probably already know how to hotwire a car.

America can complain about Terrell Owens and a 40-year old botox bimbo, but this is really something the NFL should appologize for.

ELI MESSIAH HAS ARRIVED IN NEW YORK

The media can't seem to stop raving about Eli Manning's peformance on Sunday. Manning completed 17 of 37 passes for 162 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Prepare his bust for Canton today.

Nice work Manning. Did everybody forget that Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger has not lost a game yet? Maybe if Roethlisberger would have thrown a temper tantrum before the draft he could get as much recognition for winning, as Eli Manning did for losing his first start.

They said that the Giants got a glimpse of the future. Did they? Manning showed nothing in his first start as a pro. Other than he's no Peyton. The eldest Manning brother completed more than 50 percent of his passes and tossed for 302 yards and one touchdown.

Eli's first start compared more with Ryan Leaf's first NFL start.

WELCOME TO THE NFL

The headlines have not been as forgiving for rookie Drew Henson who made his NFL debut with a fumble on his first play. Now might not be the time to point out to the Cowboys that maybe they should be looking for quarterbacks instead of failed minor league baseball players.

It was worth a one-time risk to go after a converted baseball player like Quincy Carter. But then they brought in Chad Hutchinson. Now it's Henson. It's hard enough to play quarterback when it is all that you do. But these guys have taken time away from the sport and it's hard to capture the promise that they once had.


NEWS AND NOTES AROUND THE NFL


Peyton Manning inches closer to Dan Marino's single-season touchdown record with four on Sunday. Manning, like Marino, will likely retire from the NFL without a Super Bowl ring. Manning was a loser in college, and he's a loser in the pros. The window of opportunity is closing in Indianapolis.

Dolphins lose first game of the post-Wanstedt era. It's like he never left.

Nate Goings scored two touchdowns in Carolina's victory over Arizona. Now fantasy owners are scrambling to add Goings to their team. Here's a news flash, the Panthers don't play the Cardinals every week.

And how bad of a quarterback do you have to be if you are replaced by Shaun King?

Joe Jurevicius has two touchdowns after a publicized blowup with coach Jon Gruden. Why don't receivers get along with Gruden? He's supposed to be an offensive coach. But credit Jurevicius for actually stepping up instead of pouting like another former Buccaneers receiver.

Jake Plummer has thrown a career-high 21 touchdown passes this season. Keep making your jokes as the Broncos fly under the radar.

Daunte Culpepper tossed two touchdowns in the Vikings win. If you didn't start him for a second consecutive week, don't blame the Hater Nation.

AND FINALLY

The NBA has become unwatchable over the past couple of years. The league that has given you Dennis Rodman and Therapist (oops, The Rapist) Kobe Bryant, sunk to a new low with a brawl in Detroit on Saturday night.

Basketball hasn't seen a brawl like that since Salami decked that guy from Central High on The White Shadow years ago.

The NFL should spend it's PR hours this week pointing out that Terrell Owens hasn't climbed into the stands to deck a fan. At least not yet.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Friday Morning News

The NFL has announced that it was disappointed with Terrell Owens and ABC for a "steamy" Monday Night Football introduction that featured the Eagles wide receiver and Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sheridan.

NFL spokesman Greg Rove, er, Aiello said that the fans lost because of the ABC's indiscretion.

No, the NFL fans lost because they were forced to watch the Cowboys defense. The NFL fans lost because Marcellus Wiley and the rest of the defense have joined the witness relocation program. The NFL should be apologizing for putting that game on the Monday Night schedule.

According to Jim is more risque than that promo.

And dare the NFL hold any indignation? Would the NFL have signed off if Owens had announced that he had just popped a couple of Levita--the NFL's official picker upper?

Mike Ditka can talk about errectile disfunction on Sunday afternoon, but this was over the line. A pair of twins can bounce around with Kid Rock on Sunday afternoon, but this was in poor taste.

But hypocrisy and the NFL seem to go hand-in-hand. Otherwise why would the NFL allow the Eagles cheerleaders to advertise a lingerie calendar on the NFL's website?

Hey Aielo, who loses there?

If you are going to be indecent, you had damn sure had better be lining the league's pockets.

AND THE EMMY AWARD GOES TO

Kudos to Owens for being able to feign interest in a women for at least 10 seconds. Owens told entertainment news guru Pat O'Brien that it took eight takes for him to finally act like he was attracted to women.

If it was a naked Dennis Franz or James Belushi, Owens would have nailed that on the first take.

FINALLY THE RACE CARD

It took until Wednesday until somebody--Colts coach Tony Dungy--finally dropped the race card about a black man being seduced by a blonde woman.

"I think it's stereotypical in looking at the players, and on the heels of the Kobe Bryant incident I think it's very insensitive. I don't think that they would have had Bill Parcells or Andy Reid or one of the owners involved with that."

A couple of things here.

Sheridan was a willing participant. That's a big difference right there. Maybe if Owens had bent her over the chair and asked if he could "do his thing" (read the Smoking Gun), then it might work.

But this clearly wasn't a black/white issue and to compare it to the Kobe Bryant rape is wrong. Even the Hater Nation won't go that far against Owens.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Martz, The Smartest Man Alive!

Mike Martz might not be a good football coach, but he does have a pretty good stand up act to fall back on when his NFL career is over. Martz called out his team this week and said that he wasn't "going to take a bullet" for their underachievering.

But that was only the beginning.

Martz, when asked if his players were going to have a problem with his comments, launched into one of the best "bits" in NFL history.

"No. Nobody is going to say anything to me," Martz said. "We don't hold hands, get in a seance and (sing) 'Kumbaya, my Lord.' I'm not into that."

Wow. That's not bad. But Martz will always be the Carrot Top to Jim Fassel's Jerry Seinfeld.

When Fassel "put his chips on the table" a couple of years ago, a legend was born. The Fassel mid-season melt down and subsequent chips on the table became a yearly tradition in the mold of the Thanksgiving Day game. The phrase never gets old. And you can count on one player in your fantasy football league dropping a "chips on the table" reference every season.

Martz has not reached that level yet.

But you have to give credit to Martz (which pains the Hater Nation) as he did two things right this week. First, he didn't guarantee a victory. That has become as contrived as rappers in throw back jerseys (more on that later) or trucker hats. Fassel can get away with a guarantee as he is a legend. Martz is one the cusp but he is not quite there yet.

Martz also made a wise calculation by having his well-conceived blow up before St. Louis played host to the Seahawks and Mike Holmgren, who always finds a way to blow a big game. Any coach that plays host to a Holmgren team indoors is bound to look like Paul Brown.

So Martz picked a game he was sure to win; had his temper tantrum; and now the St. Louis and national media will praise him for it.

But just before you think, "maybe he's not that dumb" wait until St. Louis folds at Buffalo this week.

MARTZ GETS SMART

These two things might not be related, but is there any coincidence that St. Louis won as Marshall Faulk rushed for a season-high 139-yards? The response to Martz's tirade will generate the headlines, but St. Louis ran the ball and it ended up winning.

This game isn't as hard as Martz, Holmgren, and the other geniuses make it out to be.

ONE COACH WHO ISN'T

Paul Hackett, who must be tortured by the success that Pete Carrol is having at USC, isn't having a much easier time as offensive coordinator of the New York Jets. The New York media has figured out that Hackett is about as exciting as a new season of the Simple Life, and they have blasted him for it.

So how does Hackett respond?

With the Jets leading by 14 points, and about to punch the ball into the end zone, Hackett calls for a halfback option. And it gets intercepted and leads to the Ravens 20-17 overtime victory. Quincy freaking Carter was a perfect seven-for-seven before that play. But Hackett had to show the world how smart he is.

Anybody notice a theme here?

It's like that line from White Men Can't Jump, "You'd rather look pretty and lose, than look ugly and win."

Hackett should remember that when he's unemployed next season.

FANTASY ADVICE

The Hater Nation is not in the business of handing out free fantasy advice. (Look for a sister site next year.) But if you have Daunte Culpepper on your team--start him. Culpepper and his 42 points will not do you any good sitting on your bench.

Don't ask how this information was obtained.

WHERE IS OLIVER STONE?

Atlanta's Chris Draft said returned a fumble for a touchdown, but the play was nullified by a coach's challenge that gave the ball back to Tampa Bay. Draft was livid after the game, despite the Falcons huge victory.

"It's a conspiracy," Draft said. "They saw me working hard, and they didn't want to give me that thing."

Most fans then asked, "Who the hell is Chris Draft?"

Yeah, the NFL conspired to keep Draft out of the end zone. Like anybody in the league office would set its sights on a nondescript linebacker from on of its non-marquee franchises.

Stupid Draft.

Doesn't he realize that the NFL only screws the Raiders, not some marginal linebacker from the Falcons? The NFL spends far too much of its time and resources to ensure that the Raiders don't win a Super Bowl. That's why the Raiders have only won four games this year. If Draft doesn't believe us, he can ask any Raiders fan.

Bill Parcells though he had some of the "stupidest" players in the NFL.

AROUND THE NFL

The Packers hang on to beat Minnesota, 34-31. Mike Sherman had better start working on his comedy material if this keeps up.

The Chargers are considering using the franchise tag on Drew Brees. This move is only surprising because it seems like the right thing to do. What happen to the Chargers we all knew and loved?

Browns running back Willie Green and Steelers linebaker Joey Porter are ejected because of a pre-game brawl. It turns out that Porter, a Kerry backer, was upset that Ohio gave the election to George W. Bush.

And it's nice to see an actual rivalry in the NFL. The league has gotten too lovey-dovey for the Hater Nation's taste. It's time the fist-fights shouldn't be limited to the Raiders fans.

The Raiders have a flawless week. How do the Raiders go a full week without embarrassing themselves? They take the week off.

The Bears win again! Quarterback Craig Krensel seen wearing a headband that said "Tagliabue."

Moments after the Saints beat Kansas City, Joe Horn said, "To those that said good-bye to us, we ain't' done yet. The Saints play host to Denver this week and at Atlanta next week. They trail the division-leading Falcons by three games.

Bye, bye.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning tossed five touchdown passes in a 49-14 victory over the Texans. Make up your own Tee Martin joke here.

The Radskins fall again, 17-10, to the Bengals. Chris Cooley is no John Riggins and this isn't 1982. Should have stuck to NASCAR, Joe. Maybe Tommy Lee Jones could star as Gibbs in a new movie, Space Redskins.

What's next for Dan Snyder? Will he exhume the body of George Allen?

The 49ers squandered a 17-point lead and lose to the Panthers, 37-27. And they chased Steve Mariucci away for this? Bill Walsh sure isn't that smart when Joe Montana isn't around. And too bad there isn't a franchise out there to donate a player of Steve Young's caliber to save them.

AND FINALLY

A Jack Youngblood jersey at Sports Treasures in the Westminster Mall will run you well over $100. Why?

Because rappers decided that throwback gear was the new fashion trend of the millennium. A fan can't buy a Vince Ferragamo jersey without missing a rent payment because guys like Old Dirty Bastard (RIP) and the rest of his buddies thought it would be cool to wear one. And how many of them even know the history of the player they are wearing?

Does Coolio wake up in a cold sweat thinking about the interception Ferragamo threw to Jack Lambert? Probably not.

In any event, here is a list of what would be the coolest throwback jerseys that nobody has.

Green Bay #14 -- Don Huston's old jersey. Yeah, who didn't see that coming?

Cleveland #76 -- Before there was Jim Brown, Marion Motley was punishing defenders for the Browns.

Philadelphia # 60 -- Chuck Bednarik. Just for fun, you could wear it to a Kathie Lee Gifford concert.

Chicago #14 -- Willie Thrower, the first black quarterback in the modern era.

LA Rams #39 & #13 -- Woody Strode and Kenny Washington, the first black players in the modern NFL. They both played for the Rams a year before Jackie Robinson crossed the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Question of the Week

If you were the Dallas Cowboys, would you have George Teague on the sidelines in case Terrell Owens tried to make a mad-dash to the star on Monday Night Football?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Martz Stars in Punchline 2

That old Bum Phillips used to say that Don Shula was such a good coach that "he could take his and beat yours, and take yours and beat his."

That's probably how Mike Martz feels about Bill Belichick today. Martz is so inept, he could take his and lose to yours and he can take yours and lose to his.

There was a time when Martz was highly regarded in the NFL. St. Louis panicked and rushed Dick Vermeil into retirement so that Martz wouldn't leave to take another job. And this was days after Vermeil had led St. Louis to a Super Bowl victory.

It's hard to imagine that Martz was lauded as a genius and Belichick was considered a failure.

My how times have changed.

Martz remained a genius all the way until Super Bowl XXXVI when heavily favored St. Louis was felled by the New England Patriots, in the biggest upset since Super Bowl III.

And coincidentally, the loser in Super Bowl III-the Colts-were coached by Shula.

But from that day, Martz became the comic foil to Belichick. The Gilligan to his Skipper. The Lewis to his Martin. The Barney Rubble to his Fred Flinstone. The ... you get the picture.

Martz had one chance to reinvent his sullied name against the Patriots on Sunday. And once again Martz came up short. There was an old adage that a team, coming off a bye against a nonconference opponent, had a significant edge. Ask any gambler (or former NFLP staffer). But with Martz, all bets should be off the table.

With one extra week to prepare for the Patriots, this was the best effort St. Louis could muster? St. Louis could only score 22 points against a New England team that was using wide receiver Troy Brown as a defensive back?

But the biggest difference between the two teams can be measured in its reaction to trick plays. Martz called a direct snap to Marshall Faulk while quarterback Marc Bulger pretended to walk toward the sideline to call a time out.

The Patriots were not fooled. A well-coached team shouldn't be.

New England kicker Adam Vinatieri, however, was able to throw his first-ever touchdown pass to Brown on a fake field goal attempt that caught St. Louis napping.

A well-coached team does not fall for plays like that.

"I don't think that's the trickiest thing in the world," Martz said. "I mean, where was he going? To the John? We've got to pay more attention than that."

That's Martz, always joking.

Too bad nobody in St. Louis is laughing.

T.O. NOT PERFECT

Terrell Owens showed his sensative side this week when, in an attempt to deflect from his childish behavior, threw his "friend" Ray Lewis under the bus. Owens referenced Lewis' brush with the law a couple of years ago to show what a real "bad guy" is.

But what Owens fails to recognize is that Lewis was innocent of a double-murder charge. Owens is still guilty of being an a-hole.

But give Owens credit. He has no established himself as one of sports all-time great heels as he ranks with some of the best--Ric Flair, King Kong Bundy, the Iron Shiek, et al. And that's why most of America probably pulled for the Steelers, who put an end to Philadelphia's perfect season on Sunday.

But the big story was the arguement between T.O. and Donovan McNabb on the sidelines. Obviously both participants claimed it was just a case of two competitive guys that vented some frustration.

And it probably was.

These type of things can be swept under the rug when a team is 7-1. But what happens if the loses start to mount? Will T.O. be the model citizen he has proclaimed to be?

To quote T.O. from Playboy magazine, "If it looks like a rat, smells like a rat, by golly, it's a rat."

T.O. looks like a malcontent, smells like a malcontent, by golly, he's a malcontent. T.O. will start to point the fingers. And at that point look for McNabb to pull out the metal folding chair and knock it over T.O.'s head.

San Diego Super Chargers

The Chargers fans have been through this before. The club wins a couple of games early, fans get excited, and then the roof caves in. Look at Marty Schottenheimer's record in December. So you can excuse Chargers fans if they aren't making their reservations in Jacksonville just yet.

One thing that is certain is that Drew Brees has made himself the most coveted free agent since Rachel Hunter finally ditched Rod Stewart.

But what do the Chargers do in this situation? You can bet that no matter what the Chargers decide it will be the wrong thing. The Chargers just can't help themselves. If Amanda Peete showed up naked on Dean Spanos' door, he'd probably just send her away. (Probably to Arthur Blank's place.)

The Chargers should already plan to put the franchise label on Brees. Even if they don't want him for the long haul, they can't let him get away for free. The Chargers also owe it to their fan base to keep Brees if he leads the team to the playoffs. You can't have a situation like the one in Cincinnati where they squandered a possible playoff appearance in order to suffer with Carson Palmer.

You can't do that and sell tickets. Or get a new stadium, which might be more important than anything right now.

NEWS AND NOTES AROUND THE NFL

The Cowboys lose their fourth in five games Maybe Bill Parcells should dye his hair again.

Parcells also called his team "stupid" after they lost at Cincinnati. Was he talking about Keyshawn? And who was stupid enough to think that Vinny Testaverde was going to be the answer at quarterback? Which team tried to fill its quarterback position for the future by signing minor league baseball players?

Parcells shouldn't be so glib to throw around that phrase.

The Raiders defeat the Carolina Panthers in a rematch of the past two Super Bowl losers. Now the Raiders can call themselves the best loser of the past two years.

The Cardinals and Dolphins engage in brawl on the field before the game. The Dolphins lost that too.

Jake Plummer throws four touchdowns in Broncos win. More amazingly, Plummer does not complete one pass to a Texans defender.

Michael Freaking Pittman scores three touchdowns in the Buccaneers win. His first big game since the Raiders made him a star in the Super Bowl two years ago. At least Mrs. Pittman won't have to worry about him crashing his car into house tonight.

Brian Griese is reborn in Tampa Bay. Bobby Lane is spinning in his grave if Griese is doing this sober. What happened to the good ol' drunk quarterback? Come back Ken Stabler... we need you!

The Bears steal a win at New York. Craig Krenzel? When are teams going to stop drafting quarterbacks? Look at the list of past Super Bowl winners... Tom Brady, Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer, Kurt Warner. It's time to stop looking at colleges, and more into rec leagues. And Dallas is starting Vinny Testaverde. Who's stupid Parcells?

Peyton Manning appears in a new ad in a gallant attempt to give him a personality. You have to give credit to his handlers for trying. But no matter how many ads Manning appears in, he still looks like a an idiot savant. Manning is like "Rain Man." Sure he can recognize defenses and call audibles, but he looks like he has trouble tying his shoes in the morning.

Grant Winstrom will appear in Monday Night Football's halftime feature, "You've been Punk'd... err... Sacked. Is Ashton Kutcher getting any royalties for this?

AND FINALLY

San Francisco receiver Brandon Lloyd responded to critics this week--teammates Fred Beasley and Kevan Barlow--with his best performance of the season.

"That's my regular game," Lloyd said. "I'm going to have fun and dance around and be silly."

What is with 49ers receivers—former and current—and the dancing? Doesn't anybody want to win football games anymore? And yet with all of this dancing, Jeff Garcia is questioned about his sexuality.