Sep 5, 2009
John Facenda, Andy Dick, Pavlov's Dog, the Madden Curse, Girls Gone Wildcat, a Cambodian river basin plague, kettle korn, and an electric sperm army
“Professional football in America is a special game, a unique game. Played nowhere else on earth, it is a rare game. Pro football is a mirror of early America, reflecting toughness, courage, and self-discipline. The game is perpetual motion, a swirl of flying bodies and constant collisions. A two and a half hour carnival of color, sound and action. There’s glory in the legends of this hard-muscled life, and there’s poetry in each season made of sweat and strife. Do you fear the force of the wind? The slash of the rain? Go face them and fight them, be savage again. A time for achievement. A time for purpose. A time for glory.”
Listening to those words as read by the legendary John Facenda over the hard-charging rhythms of a full orchestra sends chills marching down your spine. If it doesn’t, well, then I'm afraid you’ll need to take your Man Card to the front desk where you can exchange it for a smoothie machine, a Bedazzler, and a signed copy of Celine Dion’s Greatest Hits. For the rest of us non-homosexuals, finally, football is back! And not a fucking moment too soon.
It’s been roughly seven months since Kurt Warner decided to hit James Harrison in the numbers right before halftime and hand the goddammed Steelers the Lombardi Trophy. Seven months? Is that all? Feels like forever. Sure, there were a few things to divert our attention here and there. We had the NFL Draft in April. The NBA Finals were mildly entertaining. The Reds stayed in the race until mid-June. What else happened?... Oh yeah, Jon dropped Kate and now just visits the Eight. Chris Brown TKO’d Rhianna in the front seat of his car. Big Brother 11 kicked off this summer (my money’s on Kevin....and no, I'm not gay). A foul-mouthed, insecure, wax-faced robot calling itself Joan Rivers won Celebrity Apprentice. And of course the big news was the death, er, murder of an alien-faced pedophile with a penchant for moonwalking. We also lost Farrah Fawcett, Ted Kennedy, Ed McMahon (Hey-Oh!), David Carradine (Oops), Paul Harvey, and, of course, Billy Mays. Okay, so a lot has happened. But it’s all just biding our time from Super Bowl Sunday to the beginning of the next NFL season.
I’m pretty jacked-up about this season. You could say I'm just about as excited as Andy Dick at a bratwurst festival. Probably because of all the activity in this past offseason-- Brett Favre is a Viking, Jay Cutler’s a Bear, Mark Sanchez is the new poster boy in NYC, T.O.’s in Buffalo, Housh is in Seattle, Vick is back from the joint, Plaxico is on his way to the joint, Madden is out, Collinsworth is in, Gruden replaces Kornheiser on MNF, Dungy, Shannahan, and Holmgren are watching from home, the Cowboys have a new $1,000,000,000 house, and Brandon Marshall is now, well, kinda unstable… Or maybe I’m excited because of all the things that haven’t changed-- Mike Vick still has street cred, Tom Brady’s still married to a supermodel, the Browns are still having quarterback trouble, Jeff Fisher’s still sporting a ferocious cookie duster, Bill Belichek’s still rockin’ the hoodies, the Jaguars still can’t sell enough tickets, the Broncos and Dolphins still have smokin' hot pom pom wavers,Chris Berman is still working with material from 1993, and Al Davis is still, um, completely insane.
The playmakers and newsmakers move and change constantly. An ebb & flow not unlike the momentum of each individual game. No one is bigger than the game yet everyone is bigger for being a part of the game. The game draws a crowd due to its look, its sound, its speed. The NFL is, as Facenda said, “a carnival of color, sound and action”. It’s a gorgeous blonde pulled alongside in a cherry red Mustang with the top down and the engine purring. You can’t help but to look… and keep looking. And then follow her for approximately 8.2 miles before being pulled over by a policeman dispatched after a frantic 911 call from the blonde about a creepy dude following her in a late model Honda Accord. *sigh* We watch, we leer, and we follow. We follow because we’re conditioned to follow. We truly cannot help ourselves. When I hear those first four notes of the Monday Night Football theme, I can appreciate what Pavlov’s dog was feeling. We’re conditioned to respond to this game, this league, because it thrills our senses and feeds our need to experience, albeit vicariously, violent competition. They are the gladiators, we are the Romans.
So friends, Romans, countrymen, please join me in a ceremonial lighting of the grills. Fill your coolers, unpack your finest meats, don your colors, and prepare to revel in yet another glorious season of NFL football. To steal a line from a badass fictitious gladiator, “At my signal, unleash hell.”
Now, on with the matchups….
Titans at Steelers-
For the Titans, the part of Albert Haynesworth this season will be played by Tony Brown. That’s the bad news. The good news is, if Lendale White can add just one more buttered pancake to his breakfast table each morning, he should be able to make the move to nose tackle. As for the Steelers and Troy Polamalu, I have just three words for you: The. Madden. Curse. Sweet dreams, pineapple puncher.
Dolphins at Falcons-
Two of last year’s biggest surprises squaring off here in Week 1. Last year, Miami whipped out the Wildcat offense and made a bunch of defensive coordinators whiz down their legs. This season, word has it that Sporano & company have a new weapon they’re set to unveil. They call it the Girls Gone Wildcat formation. They line up eight hotties from South Beach to distract the other team and put the Kardashian sisters in the backfield to run the option. I'll let you go ahead and guess which sister is going to lead block.
Eagles at Panthers-
To say that Jake Delhomme’s playoff performance went okay last season would be akin to saying that Amy Winhouse’s rehab has gone well. It’ll be interesting to see if he can shake those ghosts or if that playoff game was the beginning of the end for him.
Now let’s see, any other quarterback plots in this game? Hmmm….thinking, thinking…. Nope, I got nothin'.
Broncos at Bengals-
Who’s had a worse first eight months on the job, Josh McDaniel or Barack Obama? Obama initiated Cash for Clunkers which, arguably, was at best a moderately successful short term solution. McDaniel initiated Cutler for Clunkers which, arguably, was at best a horrible trade. Obama unveiled an expensive stimulus package which seemingly has yet to do anything to help the ailing economy as he promised. McDaniel unveiled a new 3-4 defense in Denver, seemingly without the proper personnel to pull it off. Obama’s health care reform bill has been greeted by angry protestors at town hall meetings across the nation. McDaniel’s Brandon Marshall reform plan has been greeted by a now angrier wide receiver mouthing off and punting balls away from ball boys in practice. All in all, I’d say it’s a tie.
(And yes, I know that I probably just jinxed the Bengals.)
Vikings at Browns-
Everyone in Minnesoooota is seemingly happy now that the gray-haired interception machine in on the ship. By all reports, he’s settled in, drinking his Ensure, eating his tapioca pudding, and curing sick children with just a wink and a smile. Meanwhile, the Browns are still trying to decide if they would rather have Brady Quinn throw interceptions for them instead of Derek Anderson. Isn’t that kinda like pushing away a plate of brussels sprouts in favor of, well, a plate of brussels sprouts?
Jets at Texans-
J! E! T! S! Suck! Suck!! SUCK!!!
Jaguars at Colts-
The bad news for Jags fans is that their team will have to start the season on the road against Peyton Manning.
The good news for the Jags fans is that their team gets to start the season on the road against Peyton Manning and therefore the game will not be blacked out.
Lions at Saints-
So let me get this straight. The Lions are coming off the worst season in the history of the league, failing to win a single game. They select a potential franchise quarterback with their well-earned #1 pick in the draft. They sign him on draft day, get him in camp, get him his reps, and instead of easing him in after watching for a few weeks, they’re gonna’ throw him to the wolves by facing this schedule to start off the season:
@ New Orleans
I think it would be prudent, at this juncture, to put the entire Lions fan base on a suicide watch.
Cowboys at Buccaneers-
Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait another week to watch professional punters drill the Cowgirls new 2,160-inch high-def scoreboard. But at least we get to see the Bucs. Hell, I haven’t heard a word about this team since Gruden got axed. I thought maybe they all decided to hop in a van and tour the country as a traveling carnival. I sure hope they bring me back a candied apple and some kettle corn. I loves me some kettle corn. What’s that? They just fired their offensive coordinator the week before the season? He probably stole someone’s kettle corn.
Chiefs at Ravens-
So, KC follows the Bucs lead and also fires their offensive coordinator the week before the season starts. What in the heck is the deal there? I mean, how in the world does that-….. Their offensive coordinator was Chan Gailey?.... Nevermind.
Niners at Cardinals-
Damn the Niners. Damn them straight to hell!
Redskins at Giants-
That creaking sound you hear is me going out on a limb. It’s creaking because I’m about to disclose that one of my two “sleeper” teams this season is the Washington Redskins. For me, the math is simple. They’ve added Haynesworth and Orakpo to what was already the #6 defense in the league last season. Offensively, Jason Campbell now has a chip on his shoulder the size of Jay Cutler. Head coach Jim Zorn is seemingly on that sweet spot of being desperate yet confident. Add in the always underrated talents of Clinton Portis, Santana Moss and Chris Cooley, the personnel losses of their divisional foes-- T.O. in Dallas, Plaxico in New York, and D-coordinator Jimmy Johnson in Philly-- and you’ve got the ingredients for a nourishing-yet-delicious fall upset treat.
Rams at Seahawks-
That even louder creaking sound you hear is me going out further on an even less-stable limb. Yep, I’m picking the Rams as my other “sleeper” team this season. I don’t have a whole lot of argument to support this one, it’s just a gut feeling. Then again, I did have Mexican for lunch, so maybe it’s more indigestion than anything else. I’ll pop some Tums and get back to you on that one.
Bears at Packers-
Time for this week’s pop quiz. Without cheating, what is the name of the Packers current head coach?
e)None of the above
Answer: e) ....The Packers head coach is named Mike McCarthy.
Mike Smith is the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Mike Nolan is the former head coach of the San Fransisco 49'ers. Mike Myers is the creepy killer from Halloween. And Andrew McCarthy is a washed-up actor who reportedly has spent his last two decades of obscurity as a janitor at Lambeau Field and is still on the payroll despite the strange yet understandable habit of carrying around an attractive female mannequin while singing Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.
Bills at Patriots-
Yep, Tom Brady is back and healthy. Yep, they still have Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Yep, they added Fred Taylor and Derrick Burgess. Yep, the hoodie still has magical powers. To quote Al from Happy Days, “Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep…” (Hey, if Chachi can make a comeback, so can Al. He’s dead? No, Arnold’s dead. Al’s dead, too? For real? Well then who in the hell is running Arnold’s!?)
Chargers at Raiders-
Nice choice, ESPN. The most talented team in the league vs the least talented team in the league to provide the nationally televised capper for Week 1. And for the record, my early pick for AFC Champs is San Diego. Despite the presence of Norv Turner, they do seem to be deepest, most talented team in the conference. Plus, ever since they’ve gone back to the white helmets, they look like an electric sperm army. You can’t stop an electric sperm army. Not unless you’re the Spokane Sponges. And they dis-banded back in the fifties.
Update: Shawne Merriman was apparently just arrested for allegedly assaulting a woman. Apparently that woman is his girlfriend. Apparently his girlfriend is a reality tv star. Apparently that reality tv star is….wait for it……Tila Tequila. Yep, he took a shot at Tila Tequila. In his defense, however, she was allegedly out of control and trying to break his kick-ass Cheerios necklace. Elves love Cheerios.
Yep, the NFL is indeed a carnival. And we all know you can’t have a carnival without a quality freak show.
Good luck, wiseguys.
Posted by Smitty