Friday, September 30, 2005

What's Up For Week 4?

The NFL landscape is starting to divide itself into those who have a seat on the lifeboat and those that are going to go down with the ship. There are still some questions and we have the answers.

Is this the week the Raiders turn it around?

No. There is nothing to turn around for the Raiders. They played good teams close. That seems to be good enough for Raiders fans these days. The fall of the Raiders fans has been quite steep. Most Raiders fans used to consider meaningless regular season games against the Cardinals the Super Bowl. Now they gage their team's credibility on staying close to the Patriots. So figure the Raiders will stay close to the Cowboys and that will be good enough for Raiders fans.

Who had the best quote after week 3?

You would figure Terrell Owens or Randy Moss. Instead it was Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil who responded to Champ Bailey's criticism that Kansas City was not playing hard.

"I know this - - none of our players said Champ Bailey did not play hard when we beat them by three touchdowns last year out here. Eddie Kennison did not say that Champ Bailey was not playing hard."

Ouch.

How screwed are the Jets?

You obviously did not see the Jets this season if you have to ask that question. Teams that lose star players always seem to rise to the occasion the following week. Then again, Chad Pennington is not a star player.

Does that mean the Patriots will play good without Rodney Harrison?

Yes, for a week. Eventually this will grease the skids of their season. The downfall of the Cowboys dynasty started with the loss of tight end Jay Novacek and defensive end Charles Haley. Losing players like Tedy Bruschi and Harrison will make the difference this season as some new challenger in the AFC emerges.

One thing in the Patriots favor is that Robert Craft did not fire Bill Belichick in the offseason.

Who will be that team that emerges in the AFC?

The obvious answer is the Colts. Their defense has slowed down the offensive juggernauts of the Ravens, Jaguars, and the Browns. If that does not spell the rebirth of the Monsters of the Midway, nothing does. The real pick is the Cincinnati Bengals. They have an offense that can score (remember that Indy?) and a real defense that can shut teams down. Look for Chad Johnson to mimic the originator, Bill "White Shoes" Johnson in Houston this week.

Are the Lions going to surge after the bye week?

No.

Who are your fantasy picks for this week?

Trent Green, T.O., Dre Johnson, Roy Williams, Willis McGahee, Tiki Barber, Atlanta, and Nate Keading.

How did Gary Hogeboom do on Survivor last night?

He was traded to Big Brother and was replaced by Steve Pelleur. Hogeboom then flamed out on Big Brother and went to the Surreal Life, followed by a stint on Elimidate where the young lady selected Timm Rosenbach during the final cut. Tough break, Gary.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Jay Mohr: Hater Nation Member

Funnyman Jay Mohr, best known for his work in the movies Go, Mafia, and Small Soldiers along with the hit television series, Local Heroes, has penned an excellent column on dealing with Raiders fans in Las Vegas. New fans of this website might also want to check out our experience with Raiders fans in Vegas last year by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Raiders Lead League in Moral Victories

"A lot of people are counting the Raiders out already. They started at the Patriots, then played a talented Chiefs team and than at the Eagles. They competed in all of those games and I think it's a little too early to count them out of a playoff spot with easier games to come." -- Alex NFL.com Squib Kicks

This is the reason we love Raiders fans. You can log on to any website, message board, or the league's official site to see that the Raiders faithful are still trying to put a happy face on 0-3. The team leads the league in moral victories. It is also never the Raiders fault. It is either the referees fault, or the league who had the audacity to schedule the Raiders against actual NFL teams to start the season. You would think that if the Raiders could make their own schedule they would open with UC Davis, Golden West College, and the P.S. 84 flag football team. (They would at least be 2-1 right now.)

Most fans, like Alex, are also predicting big things for this season such as a 10-6 mark, the AFC West crown, and a run to the Super Bowl. It is like all of those interviews with convicts who claim that they will walk the straight and narrow when released. Six weeks later they are often picked up for a parolee violation. But do not worry Raiders fan, Norv Turner has an excellent record against the Cowboys.

THE BIG QUESTION: If Raiders fans think that their team is playoff caliber, why the complaints about be scheduled against playoff teams? The Patriots have faced two potential playoff teams (Carolina and Pittsburgh) in the first three weeks and the Raiders. New England will play host to San Diego this week, followed by trips to Atlanta and Denver. All three were playoff teams last year.

Raiders fans just admitted, through its complaints, that their team is not playoff worthy.

STAT OF THE DAY: Turner has lost his last five games to the Cowboys.

CONSPIRACY THEORY OF THE DAY: A clock error added 52 seconds to the fourth quarter of the Patriots-Steelers game Sunday. The extra time aided the Patriots during a winning drive that ended with Adam Vinatieri's 43-yard field goal with 1 second remaining.

The Patriots won 23-20, their fourth victory against the Steelers in five games since 2001, including AFC championship game victories during the 2001 and 2004 seasons.

The NFL acknowledged the mistake Monday, with director of officiating Mike Pereira issuing a statement: "The on-field officiating crew, which oversees the official game clock operated in the press box, failed to recognize that the clock was improperly reset."

That is great, but how about a little retribution to all of those people who lost football pools because of the gaff.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Let the Baby Have His Bottle

The Chargers finally got over on ol' Eli Messiah. One cathartic night Chargers fans were able to let Eli have it with boos and signs that proper decorum will not allow to be reprinted here. No statement was bigger than LaDainian Tomlinson and his three touchdown runs. LT even added the exclamation point with a touchdown pass of his own, to show Eli that this quarterbacking thing is not that hard.

The Manning-loving media, however, was quick to point out that Eli Messiah did not lose that game on Sunday night. That is true. The Giants did not win the game because of the wunderkind either.

It was a typical Manning-family day with gaudy passing statistics and little to show for it. The Messiah can rest comfortable with a high passer rating, but not with a victory. At least his older brother finally learned his lesson, even though he is killing fantasy football owners all around the world.

STAT OF THE DAY: Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins is 3-13 as a starter in Oakland.

PENNINGTON OUT: Jets quarterback Chad Pennington is out for the season, and the team signed Vinny Testaverde to replace him. Obviously Richard Todd was unavailable. This should serve as as warning for Eli because the New York media will no longer have Pennington to kick around anymore.

MARTZ THE SPURRIER OF THE NFL: It seems like Mike Martz is looking to end the career of Marc Bulger as quickly as he rendered Kurt Warner ineffective by refusing to set up passing protection. The St. Louis football team cannot win if they do not protect the quarterback.

In other words, you are doing a great job, Martz.

MONDAY NIGHT THOUGHT: So much for the rebirth of the Chiefs defense.

TEAMMATE OF THE YEAR: When Cowboys kicker Jose Cortez missed his first extra point tackle Larry Allen not only got in Cortez's face, but he yanked off his helmet and shoved the kicker.

Owner Jerry Jones had this to say about Allen almost beheading Cortez, "Well, the whole team should have seen that," Jones said, because that shows he cares. He's passionate."

What other line of employment does this work? Could you imagine beating the crap out of an annoying co-working and having the boss shrug it off because you are passionate?

MORE CORTEZ: Cortez got into a shouting match with some 49ers fans on the sidelines. It is obvious that the San Francisco fans are still bitter about Cortez, and his Los Angeles Xtreme teammates, defeating the Frisco Demons in the XFL title game.

WHY WE HATE REALITY SHOWS, TAKE 452: Former NFL quarterback Gary Hogeboom is currently competing in this season of survivor. Hogeboom, convinced that his former NFL status will hurt him, is trying to keep it a secret. Only Danni, a sportscaster from Kansas City, recently recognized and "outted" the former Cowboys quarterback.

Yeah, right.

It was an obvious plant by the producers of the show. As Last and Ten contributor Rob in Tampa said, "I would not have recognized that guy if he came over to my house for lunch. And I am a long-time Cowboys fan."

What a stupid ploy? Why did Survivor not get a more recognizable quarterback for this game show? Oh yeah, they were all trying out for the Jets this week.

College Polls Released

The Oregon football team made a gigantic leap in the AP polls released on Monday that showed the Ducks as the number 2 team in the country. Coaches and fans from Texas to Tennessee were surprised by the move after Oregon was defeated by the University of Southern California, 45-13, over the weekend.

One AP pollster, who wished to remain anonymous, said the reason for Oregon jump was easy. "They were beating USC by 13 points," he said. "How many teams can say that? We might never see something like that again. I bet Texas would just love to win the coin-flip."

Monday, September 26, 2005

0-3

Good teams win the "must-win" games they need, which explains why the Raiders remained winless on the season. Oakland was beaten by a one-legged kicker on Sunday, 23-20. The futility of the Raiders was illustrated on the final play of the game as Chris Carr made like Benny Hill and ran out the final nine seconds of the game. Carr rambled aimlessly around the field without direction or a sense of purpose. It was a perfect metaphor for the Raiders season. Most players from a well-coached, well-heeled team would have run out of bounds to give Kerry Collins a chance to throw a jump-ball to Randy Moss.

But that is not the way the Raiders roll.

Penalties and the inability to make big plays, especially on defense, doomed the Raiders who were flagged 13 times. The Eagles were able to convert two third downs on their final drive and also climbed out of a first-and-20 hole to set up the game-winning field goal.

The upside for the Raiders is that they have a legitimate chance to go 0-16. Keep your fingers crossed.

SOCCER UPDATE

Leave it to Eagles primadonna David Akers to exhibit his inner soccer player with all of his theatrics during his kicks. We get it, your leg hurts. There has not been this much overacting since Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls.

KICKING KARMA

Do you think that all the problems the Eagles have with Akers could be payback for the Buddy Ryan era? The Eagles once placed a bounty on Cowboys kicker Luis Zendajas and Andre "Dirty" Waters also broke the leg of a Redskins kicker. Call it karma if this costs the Eagles down the road.

And yes, we are big Carson Daly fans.

RAIDERS A MONEY LOSING PROPOSITION

Leave it to the Raiders to cost the Hurricane victims money. Here is an anecdote from Peter King.

When the league held its fundraising telethon for Hurricane Katrina victims last Monday, one of the operators taking phone calls was former Raiders lineman and coach Art Shell. At one point during the evening, the phone at his station rang. He picked it up.

"NFL Hurricane Relief, this is Art Shell," he answered.

"Raiders SUCK!" said a guy, who promptly hung up.


You have to give the NFL some heat for putting Raiders on the phone lines. We do not blame the guy for hanging up. Could you trust Shell, Marcus Allen, or Tim Brown to not pocket the money? You cannot put criminals on the phone lines during a telethon. What was the NFL thinking? Were Violator and Darth Raider not available for this thing?

Also from King, in the things he likes about week 3:

The Raiders guile.

If guile means choking dogs, then we would have to agree with that assessment.

Actual Headlines From Around the NFL

Arizona Starts Negotiations with Matt Leinart

Raiders Lose Ass-Kicking Contest to One-Legged Man

Eli Fitted For New Prom Dress

Peyton Manning: Admits To Sabotage of Fantasy Footballers

Chad Johnson to Battle Kelly Monaco, John O'Hurley in Dancing With Stars, III

Pennington Passes Taylor on All-Time Injured List

Sherman: Finally Admits He Has No Clue

Martz: Admits He Gets His Playbook from Madden Football

Friday, September 23, 2005

Breaking News

NEW YORK The National Football League has announced that Sunday night's game between the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers has been moved to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. League sources indicated that the predicted marine layer and the overcast sky will make playing conditions unsafe in San Diego and felt there was no other recourse but to move the game across country.

Stadium operators in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Phoenix also offered up stadiums, but the league declined.

"We felt it was in the league's best interest to move this game to New York," spokesman Brian Gobberman said. "But this will not be an extra home game for the Giants. No, sir. We will make some half-hearted attempts to recreate the atmosphere of San Diego by painting 'Chargers' in one end zone and importing some Raiders fans to harrass the local fans."

Kickoff is still set for 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

What's Up for Week 3?

"It's insulting. And mark my words, it's going to come back on him. You start thinking about a guy like Pat Tillman, who turned down millions to go fight for his country. Then you think about Eli crying about where he wants to play football, and it just puts everything into perspective." – Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson on Eli Messiah.

Something to think about as Eli Messiah comes to town.

Are the Chargers going to be motivated to beat Messiah?

Did you read the quote? But there is a part of all Chargers fans that hope that the team's aversion to the blitz for the first two weeks was a way to setup the Messiah for a whole host of defensive looks that will render him as incapacitated on the field, as that one beer did to him in the picture above. Sure, it is a conspiracy theory to think that the Chargers tanked two games just to beat the Giants. But there has to be some reasonable explanation for Marty Schottenheimer's play calling. Not that some Chargers fans would disagree with the desire to defeat the Messiah.The Chargers stadium staff also is getting ready for a rowdy crowd as they emailed this message to ticket-holders on Thursday. They do not even do that before the Raiders game.

How will Hurricane Rita affect this weeks games?

The Houston Texans have a bye, but the NFL has already announced that the Texans will play its next home game at the Meadowlands.

Which 2-0 team is for real?

The Colts are the obvious choice as they have been an annual playoff team under the direction of Peyton Manning. The Chiefs, however, look like they have finally put it all together both offensively and defensively. But the Buccaneers are probably the most legitimate of all of the undefeated teams in what is arguably the best division in football, the NFC South.

How good is Buccaneers running back Cadillac Williams?

Cardinals running back J.J. Arrington was the pick for proverbial rookie running back who leads his team to victory. Former NFL.com columnist Jim Gigliotti went so far to pick Arrington as the rookie of the year in the sites magazine. Arrington has yet to show that form. Williams has been so good, you would have figured that Tony Dungy drafted him for the Buccaneers.

Which 0-2 team is in the most trouble?

The Raiders. Normally you would like a desperate team with the offensive firepower of Oakland to win its game when facing an 0-3 start. But Eagles receiver Terrell Owens will likely make it his personal mission to bury the Raiders and Randy Moss. Owens still wants a new contract and what better way for him to illustrate that point than to out-gain and out-play Moss? You get the feeling that Owens probably wants this game against Moss more than the Super Bowl.

Which 0-2 team can make it to the playoffs?

The Packers and Vikings are only six games from taking the NFC North. But that might be a stretch. It could take five.

Which 2-0 team is the biggest fraud?

Washington. The Redskins might be the only team in NFL history to play 117 minutes without a touchdown, yet still remains undefeated after two games.

Who will win the grudge match between Pittsburgh and New England?

The Steelers have won 16 consecutive regular season games, so they get the edge here. It would be a different story if this were a playoff game. Especially if it was an AFC Championship Game played in Pittsburgh. A storyline to consider is that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has begun to put together a Peyton Manning-type career where he is unstoppable in the regular season, and brutal in the playoffs. Tom Brady only loses regular season games.

What happened to Brady last week?

Brady just was not used to that kind of defense. It was a defense that he had never seen before that rendered him as useless as your average college freshman. The defense from the Panthers? Nope, we are talking the steady defense of Mary Kate Olsen who rejected the Patriots quarterback like she rejects a Big Mac.

What is the biggest grudge match of the week?

It is not the Messiah and San Diego, the Ego Bowl between Moss and Owens, nor Brady's Patriots against Roethlisberger and the Steelers. The most heated rivalry in sports will be settled Thursday night as the Dancing With the Stars -- Dance Off is finally settled between Kelly Monaco and John O'Hurley.

Kelly will win this thing if there is any justice in the world. Sure O'Hurley has worked harder and danced better. But to give him a win will be sending a very bad message to the youth of America. Kids need to learn that no matter how hard you work and sacrifice to achieve your goals, the hot girl will always win. It is the American way.

USA! USA! USA!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Caption This Photo



Here is what all of the fashionable bank robbers will be wearing this season.

Ego not included.

You can read more about the mask here. Add your caption in the comments section.

Wednesday Evening Post

The New York Giants played host to the New Orleans Saints in its first home game after the September 11 tragedy in 2001. The league did not panic and force the Giants to play the game in New Orleans, although fans would have understood. Anxiety was still high in New York and who would want to play a game while the smoke still plumed from the World Trade Center wreckage across the river?

The NFL felt that life needed to go on. That a football game might help settle the nerves of a community that needed a three-hour break from the worries of the world.

It is a shame that the NFL could not provide the same relief to the New Orleans Saints, its fans, and the battered region of the gulf coast. Instead the NFL showed that the football world still revolves around New York. But thankfully, some members of the Saints came forward on Tuesday to voice their displeasure.

"They could have done that anywhere," Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "They could have played that game in Baton Rouge. They could have played it in San Antonio and could have done the same thing.

"To play it in Giants Stadium, to give them another home game and to put us in a situation where we couldn't hear. ... It wasn't why we lost that game, but ... "

NFL apologists will note that it is only a football game. With all the destruction is it really appropriate to even care about a football game? It is. To try to sweep the NFL's knee-jerk reaction under the rug using that logic is the type of tactic typically reserved for Barry Bonds when he is asked about steroids.

"It wasn't a home game," Haslett said. "I look up at the scoreboard and there are signs, 'Let's Go Giants'. The referees, when they flipped the coin, they asked us if we wanted heads or tails. They had no idea who the home team was and who was away. The crowd noise we had to deal with, we never had to do a silent at home."

The NFL, to its credit, did raise $5 million for Hurricane Katrina relief. But couldn't the league have held its telethon in New York while the game was played at Reliant Stadium in Houston? Couldn't the league have, instead of charging for tickets, offered free admission to displaced New Orleans residents at Reliant Stadium?

"They made this seem like the Super Bowl," quarterback Aaron Brooks said. "We played a team that outplayed us today, but it was way overdone. Setting up a stage, traveling out here, was uncalled for. Try not to patronize us next time, traveling us to New York, saying we're playing a home game."


If the situation was reversed, would the NFL had made the Giants play a "home" game in New Orleans? History says no, and the Saints players and coaches have a right to be upset.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tuesday Morning Rewind

If you think that you hate the Dallas Cowboys, you have nothing on Joe Gibbs. When asked about his thoughts on defeating the Cowboys, 14-13, in an improbable Monday night comeback, Gibbs said, "It was one of the greatest moments in sports for me."

This is a guy that won three Super Bowls and two NASCAR championships.

Gibbs' squad pulled off the impossible win with two fourth-quarter bombs from Mark Brunell to Santana Moss proving the old NFL adage, you cannot ever--and we mean ever--beat the Redskins 15 out of 16 times.

The Monday night duo of Al Michaels and John Madden spent the better part of the evening talking about what a genius Cowboys coach Bill Parcells is. Yet, with the game on the line, he could not remind his safety Roy Williams about one of the most basic principles of playing with a lead—do not let your man get behind you. It happened twice.

But do not give Gibbs too much credit for his coaching genius. The Redskins offense did not budge until Brunnell decided to play "three flies up" with Moss. That is something you would only figure to find in the Raiders playbook.

TRIPPLETS HONORED: It would have been fitting to have Jay Novacek and Charles Haley added to the ring of honor along with The Triplets. The downfall of the Cowboys dynasty could be linked to the retirement of those two players (along the dismissal of Jimmy Johnson).

NUMBERS LIE: Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe passed for 261 yards in the loss to the Redskins, and the total pushed him past Johnny Unitas (40,239 yards) and into ninth place in NFL history. Bledsoe now owns 40,295 career-passing yards. Joe Montana (40,551) is next up on the list, and then Bledsoe needs roughly another 2,500 yards to reach Dan Fouts in seventh place. This is why passing and receiving numbers of the modern era are meaningless. Bledsoe deserves to join Tim Brown in the Hall of Average.

OTHER MONDAY NIGHT THOUGHTS: The Saints sure did look sloppy playing in front of its loyal hometown fans.

TERRELL OWENS FOUND THE PERFECT WOMAN: The Philly paper says he's engaged. To Felisha Terrell. So in other words, he will be married to Felisha Terrell-Owens.

MORE OWENS: Owens' abdomen was bothering him during the course of Sunday's win over the 49ers, coach Andy Reid said at his Monday morning press conference. Reid intimated that the cause of the injury was too many driveway sit-ups.

DESPERATE TIMES FOR LIONS: Quarterback Jeff Garcia, is due back in October. In the least compelling vote of confidence of the week, coach Steve Mariucci says he stuck with Five-Pick Harrington because "there was nobody out there that would have come in and played this game." How bad are things in Detroit? Shaun King was brought in for a workout.

GIVE LT THE DAMN BALL: Count LaDainian Tomlinson among those wondering why he's averaging only 19 touches per game—and hasn't caught a single pass—through the first two weeks of the season. "I don't know, and it hasn't really been talked about [internally]," he said. "I can't tell you I don't wonder, because I do."

There are a number of explanations for L.T.'s lack of touches. First, the Chargers play calling is brutal. Second, their offensive line is horrible and Tomlinson has been required to stay in to help pass protect. Third, the Bolts have this ridiculous desire to increase Darren Sproles' role on offense, specifically in the passing game. But it does make sense to get the 5-foot-6 rookie involved instead of getting the ball to the best running back in the NFL.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Los Angeles Awarded Expansion Team

LOS ANGELES The NFL blackout in Los Angeles has finally been lifted. The National Football League announced late Sunday Night that it was awarding an expansion team to the Los Angeles area, effective immediately.

The University of Southern California will immediately begin play in the AFC West on Sunday as it goes on the road to play defending NFC Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Oakland Raiders, to make room for the Trojans, have been demoted to the Pac-10 and will begin this week at the University of Oregon.

Odds makers have already installed the Ducks as a three-point favorite.

NFL spokesman Brian Gooberman said that the league wanted to insure a competitive balance, something that was not likely to happen as long as the Raiders were in the league. Oakland had dropped to 0-2 and it was unlikely to improve. At least not with Kerry Collins at quarterback.

Penalties were a major concern regarding the Raiders, who committed 16 penalties in their opening week loss at New England. The Raiders committed only seven penalties as they lost to Kansas City on Sunday, 23-17. But what big penalties they were.

Randy Moss was flagged for pass interference on an apparent touchdown pass in the second quarter, and two violations halted another Raiders drive in the fourth quarter.

"Until the Raiders can finally play by the rules, we have no choice but to send them back to college to learn about the game," Gooberman said.

Reaction amongst the Raiders players and coaches were mixed. But a number of players and coaches were excited about the opportunity to be in a division they could win.

"To play this schedule and not go to class will be like I never left Marshall," Moss said.

Added coach Norv Turner, "It should be a lot easier to coach against these college guys. There is no reason why I cannot be just as successful as my good friend, Dave Wanstedt."

The Trojans, on the other hand, were very excited to be taking on the new challenge. Quarterback Matt Leinart said that the Trojans offense could finally show what it could do, instead of sitting on the ball in the first quarter to avoid running up the score. The Trojans scored 70 points against SEC fraud Arkansas on Saturday, even though it looked like it could have scored 170.

Rival college coaches, for that reason, rejoiced in the fact that the national championship race was wide open again. Even with the Raiders in the mix.

"We finally have something to play for again other than second place," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "I had pretty much written off the season since it was painfully obvious that USC was going to win the whole thing. This gives us a fighting chance.

"And I am not really concerned with the Raiders, either. They would be the third or fourth best team in the Big XII."

WHO WOULD CHOKE FIRST?

It seemed like the Chargers and Angels were in a race to see who could choke first. The Chargers were gagging a lead to the Broncos on one television, while Scot Shields was doing his best to give the Tigers a lift on the other screen.

It was the Chargers in the end (for the record).

The Chargers bullied the Broncos in the first-half of Sunday's 20-17 loss. The game turned early in the second half before most of the Broncos fans returned to their seats from halftime. Champ Bailey returned an interception for a touchdown that demoralized the Chargers offense, which never looked the same after that moment.

The Chargers are now 0-2 and will play at New England and play host to Pittsburgh after the New York Giants come to town. The team could easily be 1-4 when it plays USC on October 16. The team should stick with Drew Brees until that time, and give Phillip Rivers the start against the unproven Trojans secondary. It is starting to become clear that Brees had a Brady Anderson type of season in 2004 and it is time for the Chargers to make a move to salvage the 2006 season by giving Rivers experience this year.

Stat of the Week: Eighty six percent of teams that have started 0-2 since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990 have failed to reach the postseason. The number drops to 96 percent for teams that are 0-3.

Stat of the Week, II: No playoff team in 2004 started 0-2.

Class Action Suit: Fantasy football owners across the country are coming together for a class-action suit against the Indianapolis Colts and its players. Ran Carthon scored the only touchdown for the Colts, who managed only 10 points.

NFL Shops Update: The worst selling replica jersey in the NFL? Randall Gay of the Patriots.

Patriot Act: Thanks to all of those NFL experts that have built up the Patriots to such a juggernaut that you believe the team is invincible. The Panthers are one of the top teams in the NFL so it should come as no surprise that Carolina, facing an 0-2 start, beat the Patriots at home. Yet it was. Remember, good teams rise to the challenge to avoid 0-2 starts.

Tough Question: It would be hard to pick the worst quarterback in the NFC North right now. Chicago's Kyle Orton looked like the best on Sunday.

Mike Pool Update: If you have Mike Tice on your list of Mikes (Martz, Shanahan, Sherman, and Tice) to be fired first, your confidence level must be high today.

Premiering This Week: Is it wrong to think Criminal Minds was really an NFL show hosted by Raiders fans? Is it wrong to do a joke about CBS commercials while most of the world is watching DirecTV?

Jake the Snake: There should be a study as to how Jake Plummer can look like Joey Harrington through the first three quarters of the game, but look like Joe Montana when the game is on the line.

Tough Question, II: How could Moss mean so much to the Vikings offense, yet so little to the Raiders? Think how bad the Raiders would be today without Moss.

Hardly Knew Ya: Hope San Francisco had fun last week.

AND FINALLY

The Green Bay Packers honored the memory of Reggie White on Sunday. Any Hispanics that could proved they lived with 20 other people, blacks that jump around in church, white business owners, or any Asian that could turn a television into a watch was given free admission.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush was on hand for the coin-toss.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

What's Up For Week 2?

Did you football pool take a little bit of a hit in week one? You are not alone. But you have some questions for week one, I will try to provide you with some answers.

Who was the biggest surprise in week one?

Some could point to the defensive resurgence of the Colts and Chiefs or the offensive futility of the New York Jets. But the biggest surprise of them all is the prognosticators that still continue to pick the Arizona Cardinals year after year despite overwhelming evidence that the team will not be any good. Maybe Kurt Warner is washed up.

Who has the better defense, the Colts or the Chiefs?

Before you anoint the Colts as the second coming of the 1986 Bears, remember one name--Kyle Boller. You know an offense is bad if the Ravens signed Kordell Stewart. The Chiefs need to stop Randy Moss on Sunday to prove that they are for real. But remember, the NFL takes at least a month before the true underdogs emerge. Give it time.

Which team will make the biggest comeback in week two?

The Chargers should get well in a hurry at Denver this week. Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said that he learned his lesson and will get the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson. Tight end Antonio Gates will make his first appearance of the season. The Broncos looked absolutely pathetic against the Dolphins. The running game was a complete mess. Champ Bailey will miss the game with a shoulder injury. It only means one thing ... the Broncos will win on Sunday. It is the NFL, it does not have to make sense.

Which team will take the biggest drop?

The Saints are going to come crashing down to Earth despite how unpopular it will be to say that. The Saints ability to rise up from Hurricane Katrina and knock out the Panthers is similar to teams that suffer the loss of a star player--at least for one game. Living out of a suitcase for three weeks, along with the emotional toll, will start to affect this team sooner or later. There are only so many times you can go to the emotional well with letters and pleas from the mayor.

Who is in a must-win situation for week 2?

The Broncos and Chargers do not want to drop to 0-2 even this early in the season. The Carolina Panthers, however, really need to make a proverbial statement against the Patriots. Aside from not wanting to fall behind Tampa Bay and Atlanta in the division, the Panthers need to validate the confidence that was heaped upon them in the preseason. The only problem is that Bill Belichick has had an extra couple of days to cook up a new scheme for the Panthers.

Has Joey Harrington finally arrived in Detroit?

No.

Who has a better chance of making the playoffs, the Jets or Yankees?

The better question might be does it matter? Neither team is better than its Boston counterpart. And so much for blaming the Jets offensive woes on Paul Hackett. Chad Pennington’s hairline is going to look an awful lot like Joe Torre’s if the losing continues.

Which New York quarterback had the worst weekend?

The easy answer would be Pennington who was shutout by the Chiefs. But why are fans and the media so quick to give Eli Messiah a free pass? The Messiah had a passer rating of 62.2 after he completed only 10 of 23 pass attempts and threw two interceptions. Only five quarterbacks had worse statistical weekends. The Messiah would be yanked if he was the Redskins quarterback.

Is Mark Brunell the answer in Washington?

There was not a bigger insignificant move in Washington since FEMA Director Mike Brown stepped down. But both moves are considered meaningless when you consider the incompetence at the top.

How good are the 49ers and Dolphins?

The Dolphins are probably better than the 49ers, but San Francisco is closer to a divisional title, needing only six more to win the NFC West. The Dolphins could be a legitimate contender this year if they continue to display the same attitude from week one, but they have to battle the Patriots and the Bills. Nick Saban has his team believing that they can win. It is just the rest of us that need a little bit more convincing.

WEEKLY PICKS

You can find our .500 picks here at The Writers. The hard part is picking the eight that will be correct.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Caption This Photo



If you do not cheer, the terrorist have won.

Three cheers for Al Queda!

The cheerleaders could not spell "Katrina."

Do not laugh, some of the girls do not know why they are promoting 11-6.

Bills Cheerleaders teaching police safety to children.

The cheerleaders relay the score of they Yankees game being played at the same time.

Add yours in the "comments" section.

Wednesday Evening Post

The Giants announced that they would try to make the Saints feel at home for their game on Monday night. Stadium officials will only allow 25,000 people into the stadium to mimic the average attendance for the Saints in the SuperDome. Giants officials also announced that fans of the game will refrain from throwing objects on the field, which is the hallmark of Giants fans.

MORE DONATIONS: Giants running back Tiki Barber started the pre-game trash talking by announcing that he would donate $100 for every yard and $500 for every touchdown he scores against the Saints. Barber said that he would spend a minimum of $10,000. Wow that is arrogant. Barber would have to rush for 50 yards and 10 touchdowns to reach that total. Fantasy owners, you have been warned.

ST. LOUIS OFFICIAL REPRIMANDED: An executive with the St. Louis football team will be reprimanded for leaving a threatening phone message on the voice mail of a St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist.

The club told the Post-Dispatch that team executive Samir Suleiman faces discipline, but declined to say what it would be. A call to the Rams on Wednesday was not returned.

On Aug. 28, sports columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote that he was disturbed by "infighting and politics" within the St. Louis organization, and said executives owe any head coach their support.

"Be it (Mike) Martz or another man, I don't care who sits in the head coach's office at St. Louis Park. The head coach should be backed, not back-stabbed, by associates," Miklasz wrote.

Suleiman left a message on Miklasz's voice mail, stating, in part, "tell your source that I'm not a back-stabber, I'm a (expletive) throat slasher, and he'll know the difference before it's all said and done."

That is not the way the St. Louis football team rolls. They do not stab people, they drown people.

Allegedly.

RAVENS QB WOES OVER: The Ravens announced that they have signed Kordell Stewart to a free agent contract. Said coach Brian Billick, "We wanted our fans to actually look forward to the return of Kyle Boller."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tuesday Rewind

Chargers GM A.J. Smith and coach Marty Schotteneheimer faced the music on Monday to answer questions about the inability for the Chargers two best players, LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, to touch the ball on the final drive in Sunday's 28-24 loss to the Cowboys. The Hater Nation will read between the lines in a feature we call, "What they really meant."

Here is what Smith said: "I think if [Gates] were just on the field, just the threat would have made a difference."

What Smith meant: "I am an idiot."

Here is what Schotteheimer added: "As we reflected back on it we probably could have tried to get the ball to [Tomlinson] more than we did."

What the old ball coach meant, "I am an idiot."

Other NFL Notes

Record breaker: St. Louis coach Mike Martz set an NFL record for the quickest coaching blunder of an NFL season. St. Louis return man Chris Johnson fielded the opening kickoff while standing out of bounds at the one-yard line in the opening second of the game. Martz, of course, challenged the ruling despite in-stadium video evidence that showed that Johnson was clearly out of bounds. So it only took one second for Martz to illustrate his incompetence once again.

But hey, it is not like those timeouts are useful or anything. The non-reversal on the replay also extends Martz's record for most challenges without an overturn up to 49.

No evidence to back this up: St. Louis' special team problems are directly related to the release of kicker Remy Hamilton (right).

Instant karma: Packers receiver Javon Walker held out of training camp fearing that an injury would cut short his season and hurt his chances for a contract extension. NFL players talking about injuries should be treated like baseball players not talking about a no-hitter in progress.

News item of the day: Benched Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey wants to be traded? Ramsey has the self-awareness of that 40-year old guy in a dance club trying to pick up young girls. Memo to both: nobody wants you. Another reason we need to bring bring back the XFL to develop quarterbacks.

Coaching move of the week: Falcons coach Jim Mora, who sent in his nickel back to start a fight with the Eagles Jeremiah Trotter, resulting in the expulsion of both players. Brilliant. Sending somebody to "Gillooly" Terrell Owens would have been too obvious. Not to mention completely unnecessary.

Injury update: Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins missed practice on Monday because of a bruised hand. Backup Andrew Walter stepped in to overthrow Randy Moss all day.

Cheap ploy: Collins will make a $1,000 donation to Katrina victims for every touchdown pass he throws and every game the Raiders win this year. It is cool if you do not want to donate money, but do not pull a stunt like this. In related news, Mike Martz said he would donate $ 1 billion if the St. Louis football team wins the Super Bowl.

Other players have also jumped up to donate:

The Patriots will donate $1,000 every time they feel they are disrespected.

Mike Martz will donate $1,000 for every time a challenge he has made is overturned.

Kyle Boller will donate $1,000 for every game his passer rating is below 70.0.

John Madden and other announcers will donate $1,000 every time they say, "Brett Favre is having a lot of fun out there."

Peyton Manning will donate $25,000 when his team chokes in the playoffs again.

Jake Plummer promised to donate $10,000 every time he flips off the crowd at Invesco Field.

Joey Harrington promised to donate $100 every time he holds on to the ball too long.

Terrell Owens had offered $500 for every driveway sit-up he performs during his next temper tantrum.

Mike Vick will donate $1,000 for every girl he infects with gonorrhea.

Jon Gruden, Martz, and Bill Cowher have each pledged $250 they are caught mugging for the camera.

Dennis Green has promised $400 for every preseason publication that picked the Cardinals to finish in first place.

Charles Woodson will donate $500 every time he is burned for a touchdown.

Mike Tice will donate 10 percent of his sales from his allotment of Super Bowl tickets.

Priest Holmes will donate $500 for every touchdown he has screwed fantasy owners out of for accepting the running platoon in Kansas City.

The Hater Nation will donate $5 every time it lets a joke go on a little too long.

Injury update II: X-rays on Gus Ferotte's bruised right index finger were negative. Ferotte bruised his finger when he pounded the wall after a touchdown. Will he ever learn?

NEWS UPDATE

Chiefs running back Larry Johnson was arrested Monday after an altercation with his ex-girl friend on Saturday.

When asked if he had any remorse for what he had done, Johnson explained, "Dude, I ran for two touchdowns the next day. I'm going to push her again this week."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Post Mortem, Week 1

How many people play in those office pools where you pick games and rank them in order of confidence, with 16 being the highest? You would have to feel mighty low today if you had selected the St. Louis football team as your No. 16 (most confident) pick.

You would have to be a bigger idiot if you wrote, just days ago, that the only consistent thing about St. Louis was its inconsistency and yet still picked the St. Louis football team. But it happened and we have only ourselves to blame.

St. Louis again was out-coached and over-matched by an inferior opponent, falling to the 49ers, 28-25, on Sunday afternoon. San Francisco was the worst team in 2004 and figured to be on hard times again this season, but leave it to St. Louis to change that perspective.

St. Louis did put together a furious rally at the end of the game, but fell short when Marc Bulger threw a game-ending interception. The play illustrated the St. Louis struggles during the Mike Martz era--the challenge of the team to always over compensate for its inferior coaching. It is a battle the team can win only half of the time.

"That interception was a play I wish I could take back," Martz said. "It's just a bad play call that cost us the game. That's my responsibility. It's hard to look those guys in the eye in the locker room, knowing full well that I could make a better call there. I was proud of the way they fought back.

"That's coaching. That's just poor play selection on my part. Pure and simple. You get down there and don't score touchdowns. The old coach didn't do a good job in this one."

We could not have said it better ourselves. The most interesting part of the season will be to watch how Martz changes his tactic from blaming the coaching to blaming the refs, his team, the terrorists, etc. Do not worry, the Hater Nation will be here to document it each week as the team closes in on an 8-8 finish.

One bright spot for fans of the St. Louis football team is that the players are always magnanimous in defeat.

"It goes to show that the best team doesn't always win," receiver Torry Holt said, oblivious to the score board. "I think that we were the better team at times today, and the stats showed that we were the better team."

Stay classy St. Louis! It is too bad points and not statistics decide games. Otherwise Peyton Manning might have a Super Bowl trophy by now.

CHARGERS LOSE

The Chargers had the ball first-and-goal from the eight-yard line with a chance to win the game. But why did the team not go to Antonio Gates in that situation?

Oh yeah, he was suspended during the preseason. At least that decision did not come back to cost the Chargers. But fans should not be critical of the Chargers coaching staff. They did do the next best thing and gave the ball to the best football player on the field, LaDianian Tomlinson.

Damn, they did not do that either.

Marty Schottenheimer showed that he was in playoff form the way the Chargers folded down the stretch at the end of the game. Thank goodness the Broncos looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL on Sunday (outside of the St. Louis football team, of course) so the Chargers can hopefully improve to 1-1.

BALTIMORE GAMBLES WITH TIMEOUTS

The Indianapolis Colts were rightfully upset at the end of their drubbing of Baltimore as Ravens head coach Brian Billick called useless timeouts with the Colts leading 24-0. Indianapolis was trying to wrap up the victory by taking a knee, but Billick kept calling timeout in the final minutes. Was Billick playing fantasy football or something? The Ravens did score one final touchdown, ruining the shutout, and costing fantasy owners who had the Colts defense.

"Man, I don't even do that in Madden," Colts safety Dexter Reid said.


Does this mean the Colts actually have a defense this season? Nah. Give Billick credit, the ploy has fans talking about the timeouts and the lost shutout instead of the Ravens inept offense. Remember that the Colts shut out Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright looked pretty impressive in relief. Matt Stover also missed three field goals in a game for the first time since 1998, so we will wait and see before we start comparing the Colts defense to the 1986 Bears.

QUICK OUTS

* Still think the Jets are a playoff team after scoring seven points against the Chiefs defense?

* Joey Harrington is still the only thing holding back the Lions. The former Oregon quarterback passed for 167 yards in the Lions victory, but the Packers are not a good football team on defense. And Marcus Pollard with five receptions and a touchdown? There goes a wasted Roy Williams fantasy draft pick.

* The Bills Super Bowl prediction does not seem so bad now, eh? The Bills defense is dominant and Willis McGahee really did not get a chance to showcase his skills. But so much for picking Houston as a sleeper team. Look for the Texans to get well at home against Pittsburgh this week.

* How bad is the Chargers secondary? Keyshawn Johnson scored two touchdowns. This is a guy that could not find the end zone with a Thomas Guide.

* Maybe Jake Plummer will never be a good NFL quarterback.

AND FINALLY

Why is Scott Stapp making terrorist threats against the cities of Los Angeles and Melbourne? Stapp has done enough damage with his horrible music.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Raiders Not Ready for Prime Time

Now what are all of those Raiders fans going to do with all of the hotel rooms and plane flights they booked for Super Bowl XL in Detroit?

Raiders fans all over the country had likely fired in to Expedia or Travelocity to book flights and rooms after the team drove for a touchdown in the opening drive of the season. You could almost hear the pitter of a keyboard as the inmates scrambled to their computers to type "Raiders Rule" on their message board of choice. Raiders fans likely got so bombed on Budweiser that they missed what happened next--their team getting exposed by a Super Bowl caliber team that illustrated just how far the chasm to a championship really is.

All on prime time television. Saved by the Bell had more drama than this game.

The Raiders definitely looked like a team that had gone 9-23 over the last two seasons. It was typical Raiders football as they were penalized 14 times for 139 yards. Lamont Jordan might have reminded some people of Bo Jackson by donning number 34. Raiders fans were probably waxing poetic about the Harvey Williams as Jordan looked like a pedestrian backup running back by the games conclusion. Where was the offense that was supposed to put up points like an Arena League team? Kerry Collins threw jump balls like a bewildered college quarterback.

And do not forget about the lousy defense, either. The Patriots looked like they could have scored at will. The Tyler Brayton and Grant Irons experiment lasted a quarter. The Patriots look like a team that could win another championship. The Raiders, on the other hand, should start sending scouts to USC practices and games.

The coach also was awful. The Raiders held a lead early in the game (back when Raiders fans were booking their trips), but you knew it was only a matter of time before Norv Turner was out-coached by Bill Belichick. The Patriots made the second half adjustments, Turner turned into a Little League parent whose attitude was reflected in the team.

"I thought we played a competitive game against a championship team," Turner said.

"New England is not a C-average team," Moss said. "They're an A-plus team. For us to hang in there with them ... that's something you can really smile about."

Is that what the greatest of Raiders is all about? Being competitive against the good teams? It is hard to imagine that the Raiders acquired Jordan and Moss so they could avoid blowouts against championship teams. What happened to the Commitment to Excellence? Now the Raiders have a Commitment to being Competitive.

Even that looked shaky at times.

NEW ENGLAND BRACED FOR RAIDERS FANS

Fans arriving at Gillette Stadium on Thursday were greeted by the sight of automatic-rifle toting Massachusetts State Police, a bomb squad and bomb-sniffing dogs, as well as pat-down searches. That is something to be proud of Raiders fans.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I've already whupped up on them every time they've seen me, so I say the day they beat me is the day I retire, because I am no longer able to play this game like I should." -- Warren Sapp, 2004

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The NFL Season Starts

The Kerry Collins and Randy Moss era opens in New England tonight as the NFL kickoffs its road to Super Bowl XL. Sometimes you really do have to believe that the NFL is out to get the Raiders, going on the road to play the defending Super Bowl champions. But why delay the inevitable? It is not like the Raiders are contenders this year.

Here are some predictions for the upcoming game, thanks to our
June 22 issue. Check out the full column if you are new to the site. Or even if you an old-timer who wants to remember when this site was entertaining.

Kerry Collins clearly won't tuck the ball during a sack against New England during the NFL opener, but the referees will still rule it a fumble. Rioting in Oakland and Los Angeles begins immediately afterwards. A rioting Raiders fan in Los Angeles will add, "What, Kerry Collins fumbled? Oh ... yeah ... uh ... we're rioting because of that bad call, right." ...

The tuck rule will never get old. ...

The Tom Brady "tuck" play will be shown at least ten times during the season opener. It will be mentioned once every seven plays during the broadcast. ...


FINAL OUTCOME

Here is a surprise. The Raiders will shock the world and upset the Patriots on Thursday night. Two reasons here. Norv Turner is one of the best early-season coaches in the history of the NFL. (But do not ask for numbers to back this up.) Second, no team signifies the term September Champions better than the Raiders who have a commitment to excellence in early-season games.

Raiders 41-31.

Hey Look, More Meaningless Picks

Let us join in as one of the 1,503, 396 sites that put up their predictions in the brief hope that the blind nut will find the squirrel.

AFC East
1. New England. Have to prove that they cannot win.
2. Buffalo. Losman cannot be worse than Bledsoe was last season.
3. New York Jets. With a kicker named Nugent, you would figure they would have a strangle hold on the division.
4. Miami. Insert your own Dolphins "Up in Smoke" joke here.

AFC North
1. Baltimore. Losman does not look too bad now, eh?
2. Pittsburgh. Touchdown Tommy saves the day in Pittsburgh.
3. Cincinnati. Yeah, one of these years will be the breakthrough. It will not be this one.
4. Cleveland. Cleveland sucks.

AFC South
1. Houston. Think Cowboys 1992.
2. Indianapolis. Those annual losses to New England hurts mental approach.
3. Jacksonville. Blah.
4. Tennessee. Leinart reunited with Chow in 2006.

AFC West
1. Raiders. Ha, just kidding.
1. Kansas City. It is time.
2. Denver. Why not?
3. San Diego. Sand bagging.
4. Oakland. Too bad Moss and Jordan are not cornerbacks.

Wild Cards: Indianapolis and Buffalo.
AFC Champion: Buffalo

NFC East
1. Dallas Cowboys. It is all fun and games now.
2. Philadelphia. Too long on top. This is not the 1980s.
3. Washington. Should have stuck to NASCAR.
4. New York Giants. Eli Messiah cannot work miracle.

NFC North
1. Green Bay. Somebody has to win this division.
2. Chicago. Orton could have a Roethlisberger-type season if they can run the ball.
3. Minnesota. Moss was bad for team chemistry catching all of those touchdowns.
4. Detroit. Playoff hopes rested on Jeff Garcia.

NFC South
1. Carolina. Hate this pick because everybody loves them.
2. Atlanta. Winning with running and defense.
3. Tampa Bay. Chucky will join Martz and Shanahan in ex-genius club.
4. New Orleans. Early season surge falls under weight of situation.

NFC West
1. Arizona. Time for the Birds to fly. (First said in 1999.)
2. Seattle. Peter Warrick cannot catch, either
3. St. Louis. Martz could not win when his players were in their prime.
4. San Francisco. Gunning to have Alex Smith and Matt Leinart.

Wild Cards: Chicago and Atlanta.
NFC Champions: Carolina.
Super Bowl Champions: Carolina.

Nothing shocking here. But we have been on the Panthers bandwagon since 2003 (read below).

NFL INSIDER PICK

What about the NFL Insider sleeper pick? Each year, one team emerges from the pack of also-rans to make a run in the playoffs. The formula, started by the NFL Insider staff, picks out variables that will contribute to a team making a run at the playoffs. The most recent success was Carolina in 2003, which was well documented in the Post Mortem column on NFL.com. Last year was not a success (Cleveland). But this formula is good one year and bad the next, kind of like Tiki Barber.

What you look for is a team that has starting a new quarterback, new full-time running back, had a losing season the previous year, has never won a Super Bowl, and does not play on Monday Night Football. This year's pick?

Arizona.

MORE USELESS PICKS

If you need a good laugh each week, I will be representing The Hater Nation in The Writer's NFL picks each week at the The Writers. Keep track as we lose our dignity each week.

AND FINALLY

A new Last and Ten list is up on the left, thanks to contributors Mikey Two Beers and Rob in Tampa. Last and Ten reasons why Jerry Rice retired.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Non-Traditional Fans Miss Rice

Jerry Rice was one of the best receivers of all-time to a generation of NFL fans that grew up in the Bay Area, rooting for the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. But Rice also was an icon to a generation of Bay Area masseuses, who mourned the retirement of the former NFL star and massage parlor patron.

Writers and pundits moved quickly on Tuesday to galvanize the image of Rice as a classy and professional receiver, ignoring his seedy indiscretion. Why should Tuesday be any different than Rice's playing career when any imprudence was pushed to the back pages? The story is still buried, save a few reputable websites.

But there are still a whole generation of working girls that will not forget the past and are apprehensive about a future without one of their best customers.

"He was one of the greatest to ever play the game," said Mitzy from Lady Lucy’s Massage and Donuts in San Francisco. "But he was also an all-star customer for us, too. Especially in the later years when his body started to break down. He really need a 'deep tissue' message in his years with the Raiders.

"I know that I speak for a lot of girls when I say that we helped Jerry prolong his career for a couple of years. Hopefully when he is elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he will remember us and everything we did for--and to--him during his career. He owes us that much."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Greatest of All-Time

Jerry Rice finally retired from the NFL after 20 glorious seasons. So what better occasion than to sit back and look at the career of the greatest receiver that ever played professional football ...

Don Hutson.

You will not hear Hutson's name mentioned in the upcoming days as writers and broadcasters tumbled all over themselves with glowing praise of Rice being not only the greatest receiver of all-time, but maybe the greatest player of any sport, ever. You will hear how it took Rice six days to create Heaven and Earth, and on the seventh day he rested.

It needs to stop.

Rice is one of the greatest receiver since the 1950s and is an automatic Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate. You cannot argue with the numbers, the championships, and what he brought to the field. Rice lapped the competition like nobody else since, well, since Hutson was catching balls for the Green Bay Packers. Think of the numbers that Rice put up against the competition.

Hutson bettered it.

Hutson also dominated the league. Rice has put up a lot of impressive numbers during his career, a lot of them a nod to his dedication and work ethic that allowed him to play 20 years at a high level. Hutson's numbers are dwarfed by Rice, but put the statistics into context with the rest of the league at the time they were playing. For instance:

Jerry Rice
Led the league in receptions: 2
Led the league in receiving yards: 6
Led the league in receiving touchdowns: 6
Led the league in touchdowns: 2

Don Hutson
Led the league in receptions: 8 (including five consecutive years)
Led the league in receiving yards: 7
Led the league in receiving touchdowns: 9
Led the league in touchdowns: 8

Who dominated their competition? It also should be noted that Hutson led the league in interceptions in 1940 (six) and had 23 for his career. Hutson also served as the Packers place-kicker from 1941-45.

Huston, the inventor of the pass route, also changed the way the game was played. Nobody had ever thought about double coverage or triple teaming a player until Hutson first walked onto the field. Jock Sutherland, the Brooklyn coach, once scoffed at the thought of putting more than one man on any one receiver. In Hutson's first game against the Dodgers, he had six sensational catches and two touchdowns.

Hutson made a believer out of Sutherland that day, but his legacy has never registered with football fans. There was no ESPN during the 1940s and highlights of Hutson are rare, if not impossible to find. Critics also like to point out that World War II took away a lot of potential football players and that is true. But today's NFL shares athletes with the NBA, is watered down with 32 teams, and the salary cap has meant that some of the best players are priced out of the sport. When you add in all of the rules changes over the past decades that have favored the offense, you have to call it a wash.

One pundit noted that Hutson could not have put up those kinds of numbers during the 1980s, and that point was absolutely true. But remember, Hutson would have been 72 in 1985. You can argue today that automobiles are more sophisticated than in the 1920s, but how can you argue about Henry Ford's contribution? The local Daewoo dealership might sell more cars than Ford ever did, but that does not mean that the cars are better.

Rice deserves his moment in the sun as it sets on his glorious career. But do not insult the intelligence of true football fans that recognize that Hutson deserves to be mentioned in any talk of the "Greatest of All-Time."

BAD NEWS FOR TIM BROWN

Brown, with the retirement of Jerry Rice, will be placed on the same ballot together. Is there any way that a rational voter can look at the careers of Rice and Brown and think that they both deserve to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Friday, September 02, 2005

The NFL's Top Villains

What would Star Wars be without Darth Vader? Not as much fun. Movies need a good villain to make your favorite characters more compelling. Likewise the theater of football thrives on its scoundrels. Guys you tune in to see your team (at least for the day) triumph over. But who are the NFL’s greatest villains? We’ll take a stab at it.

10. There is an American tradition where families gather around the television on Thanksgiving Day--and root against the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are America's team, a country polarized by red states and blue states. Likewise, America is just as divided over the Cowboys, you either love them or you hate them. Most hate them, right down to the fair-haired quarterbacks from Roger Staubach to Troy Aikman who seem an awful lot like Adams College quarterback Stan Gable from Revenge of the Nerds. As the cliche goes, you have two favorite teams--the hometown team and whoever is playing the Cowboys.

Movie equivalent: Storm Troopers, Star Wars. They are nameless villains in their home white uniforms and helmets.

9. The Tennessee Titans hoped to get the next Deion Sanders when they selected Adam "PacMan" Jones in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. And they did--at least off the field, including PacMan referring to PacMan in the third person. Jones, the only rookie on the list, held out for more money, lashed out at teammates Keith Bullock and Albert Haynesworth, and was arrested for assault and felony vandalism all before he signed his first contract.

Movie equivalent: Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), Goodfellas. Short guy with an anger problem.

8. A lot of players on this list talk the talk, but most walk the walk. Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey is not one of those players. The brash tight end took the league by storm in 2002 with his tough talk and ability to run over defenders--in preseason games. Now he is now known more for his late-night party habits than scoring touchdowns (10 in three seasons).

Movie equivalent: The Swede (Peter Koch ), Heartbreak Ridge. The Swede was built up as an inconvincible force for the first-half of the movie. Flamed out in his first scene.

7. Movies often have the same basic formula. So do enigmatic receivers. Terrell Owens fell out of favor in San Francisco when he challenged his head coach, Steve Mariucci, and questioned quarterback Jeff Garcia's manhood. Owens teased a turn to the good side last year in Philadelphia before he again challenged his coach, Andy Reid, and questioned quarterback Donovan McNabb's manhood recently. Owens would rate higher on the list if the sequel were not so predictable. Here is hoping that the third installment is fresher when he is traded in the offseason.

Movie equivalent: Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), A Nightmare on Elm Street. Krueger put up solid numbers at the box office, but became more cartoon-like as the series dragged on.

6. Have you noticed that Raiders receiver Randy Moss has been on his best behavior lately? Moss has been the model teammate, saying the right thing and being supportive of his peers. So was Terrell Owens last season. Moss said that he will be having fun—as long as the team is winning.Uh, oh. Hopefully Moss finds Kerry Collins interceptions and overthrows fun. Moss, at least, already has apologized for any bad behavior.

"There is no telling what you are going to see," Moss said.

Sorry Randy, we actually have a pretty good idea of what we are going to see; and it is not good. The recent admission that you still smoke pot, "once in a blue moon," is just the beginning.

Movie equivalent: Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), Stars Wars Episode III. Always knew he had evil in him, but just finally turned to the dark side.

5. Former NFL quarterback Archie Manning became the ultimate "Little-League parent" when he ordered the Chargers not to select his boy, Eli Manning. Archie, a perennial loser for years with the Saints, reasoned that he did not want his youngest boy to take a beating for a losing organization like San Diego. Funny thing about the NFL, the difference between winning and losing is very slim and it is not uncommon for a team to finish last in its division one season and turn into a Super Bowl contender the next. The Chargers won the AFC West in 2004 and are tabbed as a Super Bowl contender by most experts this season. Eli finished just 1-6 as a starter in New York. Look for Eli to demand a trade back to San Diego if this trend continues.

Movie equivalent: Charlie Dillon (Matt Damon), School Ties. Spoiled rich kid that can never live up the gridiron reputation of his older brother.

4. Former coach Bum Phillips once said of Don Shula that "He could take his and beat yours, and take yours and beat his." St. Louis coach Mike Martz often seems so inept, he could take his and lose to yours and take yours and lose to his. Yet Martz remains condescending and self-important like the NFL version of U2's Bono.

It is hard to imagine there was a time when Martz was so highly regarded in the NFL, that St. Louis panicked and rushed Dick Vermeil into retirement days after winning the Super Bowl. Martz remained a genius all the way until Super Bowl XXXVI when heavily favored St .Louis was defeated by the New England Patriots in the biggest upset since Super Bowl III. America stood and cheered as the smug look was whipped from Martz's face. At least for a day.

Movie equivalent: Professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton), Real Genius. Supposedly the smartest guy in the movie, outwitted by a couple of teenagers.

3. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wants you to know that he is just a regular guy. Brady recently admitted to GQ Magazine that he hated his golden boy image and even let the world know that he too, sometimes searches for porn on the Internet. There has not been a publicity episode that staged since Tom Cruise jumped on a couch during the Oprah Winfrey Show and proclaimed that he loved Katie Holmes.

But give Brady a break. He is just a regular guy like us with the movie star girlfriends and million-dollar contract.

Movie equivalent: Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), The Talented Mr. Ripley. Sent in as an injury-replacement for the starting quarterback, and eventually assumed his life.

2. It is hard to believe that there are still fans in Southern California that root for St. Louis. Especially after owner Georgia Frontiere pulled a Major League when she tanked the team and moved the club. Rooting for the St. Louis football team is akin to rooting for your girlfriend to hook-up with guys on the Real World, win an Emmy award for bedding half the town and proclaiming in her acceptance speech that cheating on you was obviously the right thing to do.

Which is what happened when St. Louis won Super Bowl XXXIV.

Movie equivalent: Mama Fretelli (Anne Ramsey), Goonies. Gold digger. Tried to drown one of her kids.

1. There is hate and then there is hate. There is, "I am kind of pulling for this team to lose," passive hate. And then there is, "If this team wins, I am going to become an alcoholic," piss and vinegar hate.That is what Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said about the NFL's top villain, Warren Sapp.

Jenkins, who missed most of the 2004 NFL season, told the Associated Press that he became dependent on alcohol when he saw Sapp celebrate on the Carolina Panthers home field last year.

Jenkins did not pull any punches when it came to talking about Sapp.

"I hate him. Everybody says I'm supposed to be polite when I talk to you all, but I hate him," Jenkins said. "He talks too much, he doesn't make sense, he's fat, he's sloppy, he acts like he's the best thing since sliced bread. He's ugly, he stinks, his mouth stinks, his breath stinks, and basically his soul stinks, too. Not too many people have personalities like that and survive in life. I don't know how he does it."

Which of the 12-steps is forgiveness?

Remember, Sapp is the same guy that called Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington an "Uncle Tom;" referred to the NFL office as a "slave master;" threw a tantrum at practice because Buccaneers high coach of the week, Mike DePue "made eye contact" in 2003. And who could forget that Warren tried to start a fight with Packers coach Mike Sherman after he threw a cheap shot at Chad Clifton?

Jenkins has the right idea. We would like to buy Jenkins a beer and watch together as Sapp and the Raiders struggle this year.

Movie equivalent: Scot Farkas (Zack Ward), A Christmas Story. Nothing but a big bully. Charles Woodson leading candidate to be sidekick Grover Dill by still crying about the "tuck rule."