The Worst of NFL Week 1: The Most Boneheaded Plays, Calls and Quotes
It's so amazing to have football back in our lives. Like all fans, I celebrate the incredible athletes, the spectacular plays and the hard-hitting action.
We're still allowed to enjoy the hard-hitting action, right?
The safety police have allowed us at least that much, I hope. Forget red states and blue states. I feel like the nation is divided between people who still love football and the big-city intellectuals who are going to try to make us feel guilty about loving football.
When you rip it out of my dead hands, that's when you can have my football.
Anyway, in addition to all the great stuff that happens on a weekly basis, the kind of stuff that makes you happy to live in America and not some third-rate country where they watch bicycle races for entertainment, there is also a lot of goofiness.
Dumb coaches. Dumb players. Dumb announcers. And really dumb referees.
I'm here to celebrate these less than magical snapshots in time with you—14 of the worst moments of NFL Week 1. Enjoy, or, if they affected you or your team, enjoy banging your head into your desk one more time before gearing up for Week 2.
Replacement Refs Need Replacing
If you didn't hear, in every series of every game all day long, the NFL's replacement officials are terrible. Like Tim Donaghy bad, only without the excuse of wanting to mess up the games with bad calls.
I'm not sure how much worse they are than the regular officials, who are plenty bad in their own right. Yes, the new guys certainly seem to make decisions in committee, with said committee meetings taking place on national television. But, as a whole, were they worse than the regular motley crew of retired lawyers and "Muscles" Hochuli?
Just kidding. I don't have it in me to troll you with an extended defense of the scabferees. They, well, they aren't good.
If one decision defines a day of embarrassing ineptitude, it was the final stretch of the Seahawks-Cardinals game. The refs there granted the Seahawks an extra timeout, then tried to cover up their mistake by essentially making up a reason they went ahead and granted the timeout.
It was a bad look, especially when Fox's Mike Pereira immediately called BS on their spurious excuse.
We did learn that an NFL team can call a timeout it doesn't have with impunity. Only a competent official stands between a team and a free break period, and last weekend, competent officials were few and far between.
Thanks to Chris Webber, we know that calling a non-existent timeout in basketball can have dire consequences. Not so on the gridiron.
Aikman and a Replay Refusal
Troy Aikman is generally a solid analyst, but he suffers from a bit of Dan Dierdorf-itis when it comes to instant replay. Aikman, no matter what the video seems to indicate, will remain steadfast in his initial take despite any and all visual evidence to the contrary.
To his credit, he actually stepped back and reevaluated things when 49'ers defensive standout Aldon Smith was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after his first-quarter sack of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.
Officials thought Smith had removed his helmet in celebration, and Aikman supported that view.
"Clearly," the Hall of Fame quarterback said "He took it off himself and you can't do that."
Actually, what video evidence "clearly" indicated was that Smith's helmet was knocked most of the way off by Rodgers' foot as Smith hit the ground hard (see above). Aikman, at the prompting of Joe Buck, came to his senses.
But nothing would make him alter his opinion later in the game when Packers linebacker/commercial spokesman Clay Matthews hit San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith both late and high, but Aikman refused to budge.
"Clay Matthews did nothing wrong on that play."
Note to Aikman—it's not cheating to actually look at the replays before rendering an opinion. That's what they are there for.
Brandon Weeden Is Epically Bad
Poor Brandon Weeden. The Browns rookie quarterback got surrounded by the troops before the game even started, enveloped in a giant American flag. He was eventually rescued by security—Browns fans probably wish he could have stayed missing.
That's right: Getting buried underneath an enormous American flag, like car dealership big, was actually the highlight of Weeden's night.
Read 'em and weep, Browns fans.
Oh no Brandon Weeden... he had a 1.5 Total QBR, the worst for a rookie in his starting debut since 2008
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 9, 2012
Sartorial Mistake of the Week
"I haven't had any negative progress," LaRon Landry tells NBC's Michelle Tafoya, openly talking about his offseason stem cell treatments.
I come away from every interview with a football player thinking one thing—football players should never, ever give interviews. They are invariably horrible, a series of awkward answers to awkward questions, men who barely broke the minimum on the ACT (and then likely suffered a series of brain-crippling concussions) trying to think quickly on their feet.
There's nothing inherently horrible about this statement, beyond his complete misunderstanding of what "progress" means. What I wanted to highlight here is Landry's ridiculous, painted-on Under Armour shirt.
This is a man obsessed with his muscles. That's cool and all. They are indeed big. But LaRon, that's a shirt designed for a 12 year old kid on the cusp of puberty, not for a 245-pound LaRon Landry.
If Landry is ever, God forbid, found dead on the street, the culprit will likely be that shirt or one like it. Blood needs to circulate freely throughout the body and that shirt just cannot be healthy.
Your muscles are enormous they are going to look big as all hell, even in a shirt that actually fits. Please drop a pittance, just a small chunk of that $4 million you stole from a soon to be sorry Jets and get yourself a shirt that has an "L" on the tag. Your straining veins will thank you.
The World's Most Famous, Incompetent Backup Is Back
ESPN's Ron Jaworski didn't miraculously get any smarter when he left the Monday Night Football booth. It turns out it wasn't "Chucky" Gruden making Jaworski dumb by osmosis. Jaworski was bringing plenty of dumb to the table all on his own.
How can one man be so smart in print, yet so glaringly stupid on camera? When the red camera light turns on, Jaworski gets this terrible, empty feeling, the complete and utter panic of a man with nothing to say. And yet he has to say something. That's how he ends up pumping up this phony Tebow-Sanchez controversy:
Sometime today, sometime this season, Mark Sanchez is going to struggle just like I did in year five when 70,000 people are booing and screaming and they want the backup quarterback or they’re screaming, ‘Tebow, Tebow’ – that’s when Rex Ryan is going to have to come over to Mark Sanchez just like Dick Vermeil did to me and say, ‘you’re my guy.’”
It was one thing to try to make this a "thing" before the game. But after Sanchez dropped 48 points on the Bills? You're better than that, Jaworski. We expect it from the New York tabloids. We expect it from Skip Bayless.
Et tu, Jaws?
Jaworski wasn't alone in bringing Tebow madness into Week 1 of the 2012 season. Despite a mediocre 11 yards on five rushes, Tebow was still on the tip of the tongue, at least if the tongue was attached to a hacky journalist.
I understand that. I really do. The pressure to achieve a certain number of viewers, readers, commenters. I know that pressure well.
That gives the Jaworskis of the world a partial pass. But you, Von Miller, you have no excuse.
How dare you bring the "Tebow" back? The much-mocked celebration, perfectly designed so that overweight and underbred Baptists from DesMoines could execute it, was the "plank" for people who would have a heart attack if they tried to actually plank.
That was 2011's move. Why you bringing up old stuff?
Quote of the Week: Bart Scott
"You guys treat us like we're a (bleeping) joke. You all want us to feed your papers, but then you all talk (bleep) about us. So why would I want to give you all quotes to sell papers with if you all treat us like (bleep)? That doesn't make sense.
"You all talk stuff about us, and then when we win you flip the story. You all win either way.''
-New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott to the assembled press corps.
What's great about what Bart Scott said: He refused to be interviewed, yet said something that'll be quoted in EVERY NY paper #Impressive— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 9, 2012
Get the feeling that the Jets are in complete "us against the world mode?" If not the Jets, at least Scott, who was fined $10,000 at the end of last season for flipping off a cameraman.
It's the kind of quote you'd expect midseason, after about seven weeks of "Tebow-Sanchez" drama and 3-4 record. But Week 1? After a win?
You'd think after a 48-28 rout of the Buffalo Bills, Scott might flash a smile or two. But I respect him staying in character and look forward to more explosive quotes as his media "boycott" continues.
The Questionably Literate Legend
"Bradford, Stafford that is ...(laughter heard)... Be quiet Howie."
Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw botching yet another highlight during FOX's NFL coverage.
Look, as a Steelers fan, I love Terry Bradshaw. It's required, no matter how awful his accent or his horrific decision to show his ancient backside in that one Matthew McConaughey movie you didn't watch.
Sure, he's not the sharpest tack. He didn't have to be. He played in an era before the quarterback was the coach on the field. Bradshaw simply handed it off to Franco Harris a million times a game, occasionally throwing a bomb 45 yards down the field and praying Lynn Swann would somehow end up underneath it.
Terry Bradshaw is awful. But you can't say he rides the broadcaster short bus. Only we can say that—it's up to Steelers fans to police our own. And it falls to me to do it.
Howie Long started cracking up during this horrible misread, but he should be used to it by now. Have you ever watched FOX's halftime show and not been forced to listen to Bradshaw butcher names, mislabel plays and even forget which teams are involved in the highlight he is currently reading?
I mean, we aren't asking a lot of this guy. Just be able to recognize the teams that are playing in the highlight that is ON THE SCREEN.
Hype Train Pulling a Heavy Car
You probably won't see the crew from NBC's Sunday Night Football in this space very often. Al Michaels is smoother than Colt 45, and Cris Collinsworth is the most fearless broadcaster in all of football. They're the best broadcast team in the entire sport, and I'll probably grant them plenty of leeway.
That said—NBC, please stop showing Rob Ryan during every series of any Cowboys game you broadcast. Ryan was a constant presence during Wednesday night's season-opening broadcast.
For those who don't know, Ryan is the sloppier, beardier, less talented brother of Jets coach Rex Ryan. He's been a middling defensive coordinator for the middling Cowboys (according to Football Outsiders, literally middle of the pack when it comes to defenses), but you'd never know it watching NBC's coverage.
Straight out of Stockton
"It will be for five years. I mean five yards."
-Legendary play by play man Dick Stockton, attempting to call a pass during the Eagles-Browns game.
Dick Stockton is 70 years old. God bless his service, but if you were broadcasting football games before the south was completely integrated, it might be time to turn over the reigns to some younger blood.
Let's get this man a gold watch and get someone else in the booth. Surely he's got a half-competent kid we could gift a position to with the sweet, sweet power of broadcast nepotism?
Quote of the Week 2: Tom Brady
Tom Brady, the pretty boy New England Patriots quarterback who was born when a GQ was placed just a little too close to a Vogue in magazine rack in San Mateo, California, looked a little shocked to discover that football's "blood, sweat and tears" mantra wasn't just metaphor.
Brady had his nose busted and sported a enormous white bandage on his nose at the post-game press conference. Was his nose broken? Brady, it seemed, had no idea:
"I don't know," he said succinctly.
When asked in a follow up if he had suffered a broken nose previously, Brady joked with a grin, "In my life? No. Previous life? I'm not sure."
Celebrations Gone Wrong
I'm glad it wasn't just me. Bleacher Report's Gabe Zaldivar was rolling:
Davis decided to go with the tried and true dunking of the football at the goal post for his celebratory dance. It's just too bad nobody told him such an act involves more hops than he has and the post itself does a great impression of Serge Ibaka.
There have been better blocks brought to you by the NBA, but not many. The 49ers star is sent packing as he stumbles to the ground in an act that no doubt made 49ers and Packers fans laughing.
I've heard a lot about what a magnificent athlete Vernon Davis is. But when 700-year-old Tony Gonzalez can still dunk a football and you can't, it's time to rethink your go-to celebration. Maybe a simple spike of the football will suffice?
Celebrations Gone Wrong 2
Scratch that. Maybe even the standard spike of the ball, invented by Homer Jones in 1965 to punctuate a New York Giants score, is a little too hard for today's titans to master.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is the master of many things—pass-catching, porn-star canoodling and drinking. Maybe next year he can find some time during his busy offseason to work on his celebrations?
After all, it seems like he's going to be spending an awful lot of time in the end zone.
Coaching Genius of the Week
I'm not going to say Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy is a wuss, but I can tell you what he'd wish for if he visited the wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Down 16 late in the third quarter, McCarthy punted on 4th-and-3 from just inside 49'ers territory. Despite having one of the league's top offenses, McCarthy wanted no part of making a risky, but statistically advantageous attempt at going for the win.
Minutes later, again on the 49'ers' side of the field, McCarthy once more punts instead of going for it on 4th-and-6. Advanced NFL statistics tell us he should have gone for it both times.
Instead, he cowardly kicked it away, choosing to put the onus on the players, instead of on the coach, for the loss.