Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Raiders Galley

Jackpot!

The Hater Nation likes to observe idiots, so we spend a lot of time on Raiders message boards. It's funny that you always seem to think of Raiders fans as cartoon characters; something fictional. It's a little disturbing to think that people like this actually exist.

And it's downright frightening when you see pictures.

Good sense and common decency would dictate that we don't reprint the pictures here. But as Keanu Reeves said in The Replacements, "That's just not our style."

We give you...

THE RAIDERS GALLERY

Here's a handsome couple.

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What is the photographer that snapped this photograph thinking? Odds are he or she changed vocations moments after this photo session commenced.

Is that lady his wife or his mother? (HE probably still lives in her basement.)

But look at this guy. Nothing says poser more than that "wannabe badass" look he has on his face. The only reason this guy ever became a Raiders fan is so he could act like a hoodlum; on Sundays at least.

You have to love a man that is not afraid to wear a porn mustache in public. Is he not tough enough to go with the goatee? And Abner Goldstein called... He wants his glasses back.

He's also going for that tough guy/grabbing the crotch type of thing, but he can't quite seem to pull it off. Seriously, this guy must have got his ass kicked every day in school. Maybe it hasn't stopped.

Why do you put this picture on the Internet? Why, why, why?

A RAIDER ROOM

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How old is the person that lives in this room? Ten? Twelve? Try 48.

And notice the cross above the door way? It's funny because most prison cells contain a cross, too.

ANOTHER FAMILY PORTRAIT

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This is the first time that the young boy finally got to meet his father.

That lady might not be a looker now, but she bedded Darryl Lamonica and Ken Stabler in her prime.

RAIDERS GIRLS

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Raiderette tryouts were a little thin this season.

We won't have to worry about Raiders fans reproducing with broads like these.

If somebody put a gun to your head and told you that you had to have sex with one of them, most men would ask, "How many bullets are in the gun?"

Hey look, it's desperate Raiders house wives. At least the desperate part is right.

I guess guys can't be too choosy when the get out of the joint.

These are the kind of girls your are left with if you wait until closing time to hook up.

SOMBRERO RAIDER

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Don't you hate it when your dad embarrasses you in public?

Sadly, the Raiders bimbo in the background (on the left) is wearing more makeup than the guy.

SCOTTISH RAIDER

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The guy in the middle is from Scotland. That means nobody in this picture paid for a beer. The guy to the immediate right of the Scot looks like an a tall dwarf.

Ben Davidson (second from left) sure has let himself go.

Hey, they can't all be gems.

BAD BOYS

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It never fails. Every episode of cops shows at least one suspect with his shirt off.

GROUP SHOT

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Somebody call America's Most Wanted... I found them all!

HEY FUN BOYS, GET A ROOM

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These two spent the better part of Sunday debating who was the best Raider of all-time... They made out an hour later.

COOL TAT

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We've often felt that idiots should brand themselves. These guys obviously agree.

AND SHE'S SINGLE

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This is for anybody who ever wondered what became of Joyce DeWitt.

The hottest chicks always have that Peter Brady hairstyle.

She's yours for a box of Franzia or a six-pack of Pabst.

GOOD ROLE MODELS FOR THE CHILDREN

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You think we're making this stuff up about Raiders fans. But what other parents would allow their child to hold up that shirt and flip off a camera? Can we report this to Child Services?

That little boy has likely already stabbed a Chargers fan.

A RAIDERS FANS AND HIS DOLLS

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Don't laugh, he made that in prison out of potatos.

He might play with dolls, but he'd still shank you in the neck for rooting for the Chargers.

COME UP WITH YOUR OWN

Feel free to add your own suggestions. You won't win anything, but it should keep you busy this week. If you want, you can email at the_haternation@yahoo.com.

Where is everybody?

Imagine waking up on Fremont Street today excited about the big game only to learn that the Super Bowl is next week. No wonder the rooms were so cheap.

Just kidding. But that's not far from the truth of a certain Chris Farley-look alike that would typically get to Las Vegas on Tuesday for the Super Bowl and wonder why he was burned out before the game even started.

And for the record that is not us. We instead look like the Fat Chandler, not Farley.

WHO'S THE FAVORITE?

This is a complex Super Bowl. The experts are so overwhelmingly against the Eagles that it seems like it would make sense to bet on Philadelphia and look like a genius at the sports book.

A plus for the Eagles would be that nobody took the Patriots seriously prior to their Super Bowl victory over St. Louis. And that's a compelling argument. The only problem is that this game seems to smack more the Giants and Raven in Super Bowl XXXV.

St. Louis did not have a defense in its Super Bowl loss. The Patriots do. Plus the Patriots seem to have a better balance between offense and defense to seem like a mortal lock.

But there is the sticking point of having New England fans happy again. Do they really deserve a World Series victory and consecutive Super Bowl victories?

It's a tough call. Call this a game time decision. And the deciding factor might come down to which fans are the most well behaved on Fremont Street next week.

ARE YOU SERIOUS?

Ron Eldard is starring in a new drama on ABC called Blind Justice. The same Ron Eldard that once starred in Men Behaving Badly.

Pass.

WILL T.O. PLAY OR NOT?

The Hater Nation does not like Terrell Owens. But why are the critics calling him out for trying to play in the Super Bowl? If this was Peyton Manning, ESPN would be fellating Manning as the bravest quarterback ever to put on a pair of cleats.

Instead Owens is called "selfish" because he's trying to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. Owens is guilty of many things, but this certainly isn't one of them.

BAD FORM

NFL.com has asked its expert panel of columnist where the Patriots will rank--in terms of a dynasty--when they win their third Super Bowl in four years. Do you really want to put your money on this team with bad karma like that? It's enough to make you want to wager on the Eagles.

Until you see highlights of McNabb throwing bounce-passes to his receivers.

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Why do women's sports have a credibility problem when pictures like this are published?

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It's a mystery, no?

AND FINALLY

When you get tired of all of the Super Bowl b.s., be sure to check out the Hater Nation this week. We're working on something so huge, it's bound to be talked about for hours, no days to come.

Alirght, it might not be that great, but be sure to check back soon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Patriots are the new Cowboys

The New England Patriots became the most beloved team in the Hater Nation in 2001. The feisty Patriots knocked off both the Raiders and St. Louis on the way to their first Super Bowl victory.

What was not to like about this team? They ran out as a team during the Super Bowl introductions. Tom Brady seemed like one of your beer-drinking buddies. Bill Belichick seemed like the guy who would grouse at the black jack table.

And did we mention that they knocked off the Raiders and St. Louis in the same season?

The Raiders game was satisfying in the sense that the tuck rule might be the stupidest rule ever created, but it was the best rule for a night as it screwed the Raiders. New England's subsequent victory in the Super Bowl was easily the most lucrative as most members of the Hater Nation had the money line in the game.

But those days have passed.

The most entertaining part of Super Bowl XXXVI was watching a pessimistic Patriots fan fidget in the corner as St. Louis mounted a comeback. The joy on the faces of long suffering--and drunk--Patriots fans in the Piano Bar at New York, New York casino in Las Vegas was almost as memorable as the guy who plunked down $150 to hear "Eye of the Tiger." It was actually fun to be around New England fans after that game.

But Anxiety has given way to arrogance.

That earnestness of four years ago has given way to a smugness of Patriots fans. In other words, they have become Kennedys. New England fans, who seem to forget that did not have a Super Bowl title or recent World Series ring at the turn of the century, are now officially the worst fans in football.

Even ESPN Page 2's own Boston beat writer--the Sports Guy--has become insufferable. But there are those (like us) who would say that this happened a long time ago.

The Patriots are now one of those teams that the Hater Nation would love to see lose. The team might still be a joy to watch, but the fans have ruined the experience for everybody.

So the Hater Nation officially endorses the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the team is still not forgiven for Super Bowl XIV.

WAVE THE TOWEL

Of course the real reason the Pittsburgh Steelers are endorsed...


Wait for it.

Wait for it.


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Who were you expecting?

DONOVAN MCNABB LOOKS TO EXTEND HIS RECORD

Who is the biggest fan of the Eagles this week? It has to be this guy...

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McNabb, along Danny White, are the only quarterbacks in recent history to have lost three consecutive NFC Championship Games. McNabb could hold that dubious distinction himself with an Eagles loss this week.

TRIVIA TIME

The Los Angeles Rams were the first team to lose three consecutive NFC Championship Games. Who were the three quarterbacks?

BARRET ROBBINS UPDATE

Here's the story on Robbins, the robber.

It's a shame that Robbins couldn't be arrested in Oakland. At least he would be surrounded by many Raiders fans.

Robbins lawyer insists that his client is insane and that he didn't know what he was doing. Perfect. The Warden can convince Robbins that he's actually staying at the team hotel when he's locked in prison. Robbins will be too insane to know the difference, right?

The biggest shame is the timing. Robbins probably could have scored a role in the remake of The Longest Yard if he had done this a few years earlier.

TRIVIA ANSWER

James Harris (74), Ron Jaworski (75), and Pat Haden (76).

AND FINALLY

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You didn't think you were going to get off the hook without seeing that picture, eh?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

It worked!

Call it the Hater Nation Hedge. Apologies to those that thought the Hater Nation was being serious about an Indianapolis v. St. Louis Super Bowl. There was no way that it was going to happen, but that doesn't mean that we won't stoop low enough to jinx both teams.

It's a cheap ploy, but you just can't take any chances.

THIS WEEKS WINNER OF THE MIKE AWARD

The most surprising thing of the playoff weekend was that the biggest coaching blunder wasn't turned in by one of the "Mikes." Instead it was Jets coach Herman Edwards.

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What game was Edwards watching last week when the Chargers ended its season by sitting on the ball and settling for the field goal? Did he not learn from the sins of Marty Schottenheimer?

How does an NFL head coach watch a team implode like the Chargers did last week and do the exact same thing at Pittsburgh? There is no explanation for what happened.

A CLOSE SECOND

Bill Cowher is going to blow a playoff game at Pittsburgh this season. Many fans might think that the Steelers dodged a bullet on Saturday. Instead, it was just fore shadowing about what is going to happen the Steelers play host to the Patriots this weekend.

But there is a way the Steelers could rise up and beat the defending champions. How, you ask? It's simple...

1. Run the ball effectively. The Patriots are not going to score a lot of points, as evidence by Sunday's game. The key is to...

Just kidding. The only way for the Steelers to win is to go with...


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Yes, you all saw that coming, but the Hater Nation does not want to disappoint. Unlike the Colts.

MANNING IS REALLY A NAG



Peyton Manning, the modern day Dan Marino, may break every passing record in NFL history but he just can't seem to win the big game. It's a trait that haunts him all the way back to the University of Tennessee when he couldn't seem to get over the hump against the University of Florida.

Now the Patriots are his NFL Gators and it will not get any easier in the future. The pundits can point to the Colts defense and Tony Dungy, but it was Manning that killed the Colts on Sunday.

Nearly every NFL pundit tried to convince the masses that Manning was a different quarterback this season. This year would be different.

It wasn't.

The Indianapolis defense held New England to only two field goals in the first half. But Manning could not punch the ball into the end zone. That is where the game ended. Manning threw a ball that should have been intercepted at the end of the first half, as the Colts blew their best opportunity to take the lead.

But that's Manning. A great fantasy quarterback, but not a good playoff quarterback. And it's almost unfair to even compare Manning to Marino at this point. Marino never had a running back like Edgerrin James and as many weapons as Peyton enjoys at this point in his career. You can talk about the Marks brothers, but they are pedestrian receivers compared to what the Colts have on offense right now.

And all Manning has to show for it is a meaningless record and a bad commercial.

MARTZ

Could you imagine John Facenda doing an NFL Films presentation on Mike Martz?

Martz... a certain magic still lingers in the very name. It speaks of disappointment in the show and name synonymous with mud.

How does Martz feel today being the first coach in NFL history to lose a playoff game to a member of the Mora family? That's quite a distinction to go from Super Bowl winning coordinator to that in only a handful of years.

And where is the media that was trumpeting his recent success? It's funny how Schottenheimer is called out for taking teams to the playoffs and losing, while Martz is applauded for it.

either that or they are making excuses for him.

St. Louis Post columnist Bernie Miklasz said that blame should lie with defensive coordinator Larry Marmie. That's it.

Forget the fact that Martz spends most of his time preparing for football games like most of us play Madden 2005. It's throw the ball first and see what happens. The team also allocates most of its salary cap money to offensive players, while the defensive line is in shambles.

And don't forget that St. Louis penny-pinched themselves out of the playoffs last season when it place Kim Herring on injured reserve and put Jason Sehorn in the defensive backfield.

The blame should start and end with Martz.

St. Louis was fortunate to be a member of the NFC West. It was another boon when the team drew Seattle in the playoffs. But don't kid yourselves into thinking that this was some great St. Louis team that is just a defensive coordinator away from making a big push to the Super Bowl.

Atlanta should have ended any of those dreams on Saturday night.

If it was any other team, the Hater Nation would call for a general overhaul of the organization starting with the head coach. But since it's St. Louis, the Hater Nation says, "Keep up the good work, Mike."

MOSS LEFT BEHIND

Was there any other way for the Vikings season to end?

No.

HE'S NOT BIPOLAR, HE'S A DRUNK



Former Oakland Raiders center Barret Robbins was shot and critically wounded during a struggle with a police officer investigating a burglary at a South Beach office building.

Robbins, a former All-Pro known best for going AWOL during the 2003 Super Bowl and other erratic behavior, was hospitalized in critical condition.

The real sad part of this? Robbins would be getting the full support of the Raiders if he could still snap the football at an all-pro level. The fans would rally around him if he was clearing holes for Oakland running backs.

But he's no longer viable to the Raiders organization so he was hung out to dry by the God Father, Al Davis.

AND FINALLY

The big news in Southern California this week was the decision by Matt Leinart to remain for his fifth season at USC.

And it was the right call.

Leinart is basically the starting quarterback of Los Angeles' "NFL" team. His celebrity will never be higher than it is right now. He's going out with Jessica Simpson's friend for crying out loud.

What do you expect him to do, lose 14 games with the 49ers next season?

Leinart did the right thing. He has a chance to make NCAA history with three consecutive national championships. He can make another run at the Heisman Trophy. He can hang out with the "Newlyweds."

He's doing the right thing. The NFL money will be there next season, so what's the rush?


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

What the hell was that?

Not to go "Sports Guy" on all of you, but does anybody remember the football scene from Not Another Teen Movie? The hero, Jake, runs on to the field and launches a would-be game-winning touchdown... into the stands. A stunned school janitor, played by Mr. T, looks on and says, "What the hell was that?"

That was what it was like watching Nate Kaeding miss a potential game-winner on Saturday night.

The Chargers offense rolled all season, but the inevitable Marty-ball took over and turned the Chargers into the Raiders. Most fans had started to believe that the Chargers could be a team of destiny. Not to use a tired baseball analogy, but in a year where a scrappy team over came the odds to win the World Series, anything seemed possible.

Yes, Cal State Fullerton's victory in the College World Series had inspired some Chargers fans to believe that if George Horton could overcome his playoff shortcomings, certainly Marty Schottenheimer could do the same.

But it just wasn't to be.

BUT IT GOT WORSE

It was inevitable, but Mike Martz is in the second round of the NFC playoffs. But that's only part of the bad news. St. Louis is going to win the NFC. It will win the NFC with a home playoff game next week.

St. Louis is going to knock off the Falcons, who will likely prove that Jim Mora, the younger, is a chip off the old block. Mora the elder did not win an NFL playoff game in stints with the Saints and the Colts and that bloodline will be too much for the Falcons to overcome.

And when the Vikings go to Philadelphia and deliver the knockout punch to the TO-less Eagles (who look a lot like the Cardinals without him), St. Louis will host the NFC Championship Game.

How did this work out so perfectly for St. Louis?

HANDICAPPING THE AFC

So who do you pull for when the Chargers are out of the playoffs?



But don't expect the Steelers, even with Touchdown Tommy, to reach the Super Bowl. Bill Cowher has done a great job of making Pittsburgh downright hospitable for the AFC Championship Games. Both the Chargers (1994) and Patriots (2001) have advanced to the Super Bowl after playing in Pittsburgh.

The Colts would have won at Pittsburgh too in 1995, if Quentin Coryatt could hold on to an interception.

But that just means that the winner of the Colts v. Patriots game is going to advance to Pittsburgh and ultimately the Super Bowl. And don't go thinking that it's going to be the Patriots that advance. The Hater Nation's luck is not that good.

Look for Idiot Savant Manning to lead the Colts against the Martz of St. Louis. Is there really any other way this thing could go?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Raiders Fans in the Mist, Volume II

You can learn a lot about Raiders fan on this site. But there is no substitute for actual hands-on experience. Book-learning will only get you so far.

But not everybody has the guts to go into the wild with Raiders fans and see how they work. And nobody is blaming them--it's dangerous work. But the Hater Nation is committed to giving you an upclose look from the safety of your computer screen.

The Hater Nation first made contact with Raiders fans in Raiders Fans in the Mist

And that was during a winning season.

We recently met up with Raiders fans in Las Vegas, a conceivably daunting task given the Raiders performance this season. Then again, most Raiders fans are likely convinced that their team is going to win the Super Bowl this season.

Without further delay, the Hater Nation presents:

Raiders Fan in Las Vegas

In the movie version of Stephen King's The Stand, the soldiers of Satan gather in the post-apocalyptic downtown Las Vegas for one final battle with the forces of good.

Fittingly it seemed downtown Las Vegas was the most appropriate place to find a Raiders fan.

But it's not easy to easily identify Raiders fans in this section of the city. Downtown is the home of numerous transients, looking for handouts. With missing teeth and dirty clothes, it's sometimes hard to tell them apart from the Raiders fans.

The homeless are the ones in nicer clothes. Plus a homless guy wouldn't be caught with one of those hideous beer-filled plastic footballs.

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The Vegas Club seems to be the preferred spot for Raiders fans to place their bets, as it was late on a Saturday night. Obviously the Vegas Club is the only place in town that allows fans to wager with food stamps. A group of parolees dressed in Raiders jerseys were conjugated at the Vegas Club talking about that Sunday's big game at Atlanta.

The Falcons were favored by 7.5 points, an insult to true Raiders fans.

"(Expletive) the (Expletive) Falcons. They suck, man," the first Raiders fan said.

"Yeah. Michael Vick is a (female dog). The Raiders are going to kick his (expletive) (donkey)," his buddy said.

"(Expletive) the Falcons, dude. Those (female dogs) got killed in the Super Bowl," a third added.

Nobody, except for those with intelligence and football knowledge (which obviously excludes Raiders fans), noted the irony of that last statement.

"Let's bet on the Raiders," the first guy said. "And (expletive) the (expletive) points. We don't need no (expletive) points. Only (kitty cats) take the points. (Kitty cats) like that (female dog) Michael Vick."

All agreed and took the Raiders on the money line.

The Falcons won the game 35-10.

How many Raiders fans families go hungry during the football season because of this logic? Obviously Raiders fans can't read, but you would think that they could listen to sports talk radio and figure out that their team is terrible.

The highlight of the trip was watching the Chargers battle the Buccaneers at Jillians, Downtown.

Actually, the highlight of the trip was sitting behind this guy:

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A lot of people believe that these stories are made up. There is no way that human beings could behave in the way described here. But looks at this guy. He has the classic "grey" jersey on that shows that he's a little too cheap to spring for the full-priced black jersey. That replica looks like it was bought at TJ Maxx for $12.95.

He must have had the Raiders on the money line, too.

But look at his feet. What in the name of Britney Spears is this guy doing? Does he know that it is illegal to be in a public restaurant bare footed? He's lucky that he's not in California. This could have been his third strike.

He did put his shoes on when he went to the bathroom, unlike Britney.

This ringer for Ice-T was in the establishment with his family (the one he didn't run out on) and his good friend who happened to be a St. Louis fan. Perfect. These things just don't happen any better. It's like sitting down at a table and being dealt two consecutive black jacks. It's the most you could ask for.

Both Ice-T and Martz's son noted that a Chargers fan was sitting behind them, so they both rooted for the Buccaneers. Seriously.

A Raiders and St. Louis fan were rooting for the Buccaneers. Obviously they both had money on the Buccaneers (and the money line). But what other fan would do this?

The Buccaneers embarrassed the Raiders in the Super Bowl two years ago (on the same field) and have been an NFC rival of St. Louis since 1999. Yet these two "fans" had no problem rooting for Tampa Bay.

Who else would do that? Gambling does make some strange bed fellows, but there are just some lines that you don't cross.

Would an Eagles fan ever put money on Dallas or Washington? No.
Would a Packers fan ever put money on Minnesota? No.
Would a Chargers fan ever put money on the Raiders or St. Louis? Never, never, never.

Only a Raiders or St. Louis fan would even think of this. So both guys rooted for the Buccaneers like it was the Super Bowl. It must have felt like a Super Bowl to both of them when Donnie Edwards returned an interception for the game winning touchdown.

Both guys were quiet as they were likely calculating how many hours of washing dishes they were going to endure in order to cover that $20 bet that they had just lost.

Both beaten dogs immediately went into typical Raiders/St. Louis spin, talking about how the "real" Chargers will lose in the playoffs, and Drew Brees isn't a real NFL quarterback.

Whatever.

The Chargers are going to the "real" playoffs. Fans of the Raiders and St. Louis can name their excuse, but it doesn't matter.

So it was a perfect Las Vegas vacation. The Chargers win. The Raiders and St. Louis lose on the field. Their fans lose their money. The only downer was that the poor server waiting on them probably got stiffed (but he should consider it a minor miracle if they even paid the check).

AND FINALLY

Does anybody watch "The Club" on Spike TV? We made a side trip down Harmon Avenue to take a look at the Venue. There's no way that we'd ever go to a place like that. In a town where they serve $1.75 beers in bars, why would you want to go into a club and pay $200 for a bottle of booze? But there is one more interesting question.

Which has more viewers... The Club? Or Hater Nation? Does the total even reach double figures? Probably not.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The NFL needs a BCS system

Proponents of a playoff system in college football took a big hit on Sunday, thanks to St. Louis and the Vikings qualifying for the NFC playoffs. St. Louis and Minnesota might be the two worst NFL teams to ever qualify for the playoffs and also illustrate that no playoff system is perfect.

The current roster of the NFC playoffs looks mighty thin, especially since two the conferences hottest teams--Carolina and New Orleans--didn't even qualify for the post season tournament.

The Vikings should be quickly dispensed by the Packers next week as Minnesota has lost 20 of its last 21 outdoor games. The last time the Vikings won outside? It was at Green Bay in the season opener in 2003. Don't look for a repeat.

St. Louis will travel to Seattle, which means that either Mike Holmgren or Mike Martz is going to get into the second round of the playoffs.

Yeah, the playoff system works.

ST. LOUIS IN PLAYOFFS AGAIN

There are those in the St. Louis media that want add Martz's name to the Lombardi trophy for getting his team to the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

But these are the same guys that continue to believe in Tony LaRussa.

How quickly people forget that the NFC West is one of the worst divisions in the NFL. The Cardinals, 49ers, and Seahawks have not set the NFL ablaze in recent years. While other franchises have risen and fallen, the NFC West seems content to flounder.

The Cardinals, save a few years, are an enduring image of futility. The 49ers have not been the same since the early 1990s, and the Seahawks recent playoff string has only been a recent phenomenon.

Props to Martz for keeping the cruise control at 63 mph and holding the franchise afloat. Much like Andy Reid of the Eagles, both coaches have many playoff appearances in recent years but neither have been able to capture the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl.

And that trend doesn't look like it will be snapped this season.

ERIC DICKERSON, ST. LOUIS LEGEND?

It's bad enough that St. Louis named it's 1995 expansion team after the Los Angeles team that folded the previous year. But now St. Louis wants to hijack the tradition and history of Los Angeles football by naming players such as Dickerson and Merlin Olsen to the St. Louis Ring of Fame.

Think about that last one for a moment.

Olsen's main nemesis for years was tackle Conrad Dobler.

St. Louis Cardinals tackle Conrad Dobler. How much did Olsen detest Dobler? During a scene in Olsen's Father Murphy, there was a tombstone in the graveyard that read "Conrad Dobler. Gone. But not Forgiven."

And that was 20-years after they had stopped playing.

Now Olsen is in the St. Louis Ring of Fame and Dobler--who played for the home team--is not.

And St. Louis fans refer to Georgia Frontiere as the savior. Don't worry St. Louis, she's going to live long enough to screw you, too.

ONE THEY MISSED

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If you want to honor somebody that truly put St. Louis on the map, why not go with the late Nathan Cook. Many of you remember him as Milton Reece on the White Shadow, but to us he'll always be the guy that gave faulty directions to Clark Griswold in Vaction, while his partners swiped the hubcaps from the car.

NEWS AND NOTES AROUND THE NFL

The Bills, Birds, and Panthers miss the playoffs. Too bad there couldn't be a third conference with the fun teams. You could throw the Saints into this group and we would take all four against the NFC right now.

The Eagles drop their second consecutive game. The 1967 Packers were the last team to drop it's final two regular season games and still win the Super Bowl.

It's understandable that Reid didn't want any of his players to get injured, but football players can't turn off and turn on the switch in the playoffs. It will be a month between meaningful games for the Eagles. And without Terrell Owens? This could be an upset special.

Tommy Maddox leads the Steelers to victory.

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Was there ever a doubt?

Integrity is lost as some teams rest starters. The playoff scenarios were as confusing to most fans as shoe laces are to Peyton Manning. A team like Baltimore needed to win on Sunday, but it also needed help from the Colts, who did not play their regulars.

Is that fair? Actually it is. If Raven would have won enough games, they wouldn't have to rely on another team to do its dirty work for them.

The true losers in all of this are the fantasy leagues that still play in week 17. What about the accountant that reached the title game of his fantasy league on the arm of Drew Brees? How was he supposed to compete on Sunday?

Eli Messiah and Phillip Rivers get their first NFL wins on the same day. But only one will be going to the playoffs.