NFL 2009 Season Predictions
* Terrell Owens immediately endears himself to the Buffalo faithful when, after grabbing a 65-yard touchdown bomb from Trent Edwards in the Bills' home opener against the Buccaneers, he pulls a chicken wing from his sock and takes a bite, then leaves a greasy handprint on the jersey of Tampa cornerback Ronde Barber.
As a chicken wing is considered a "prop" in the NFL's touchdown celebration rules, Owens is fined for the act.
* The Dallas Cowboys host an open house, allowing commoners a chance to tour their new $1.1 billion home in Arlington. Owner Jerry Jones personally guides a tour of the stadium's 300 luxury suites, promising that there is something for everyone.
From the most extravagant models, named after Cowboy greats like Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, to the more basic layouts, such as the "Nate Newton" suite, a 4' by 4' room constructed from Venetian cinder blocks, modestly accessorized with a bunk bed, a sink, a toilet, and a chin-up bar.
Jones also reveals the team's most private model, the "Tony Romo Honeymoon Suite," the master bedroom of which features a king-size bed, as well as a single bed, suitable for an interloping tight end, or a meddling father-in-law.
* Newly-signed Raider quarterback Jeff Garcia engages in a heated, tension-filled battle for the starting position with incumbent JaMarcus Russell. The situation reaches a boiling point when the feisty Garcia confronts Russell and gets all up in his face, until Russell rises to his feet, gives Garcia a wedgie, and stuffs him into an empty locker.
* Brett Favre comes out of retirement to fight Larry Holmes at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Favre separates his right shoulder in the third round, but gamely continues, until a TKO stoppage in the 11th hastens his retirement from the ring.
Favre ends his brief retirement when he joins the Birmingham Barons, the Chicago White Sox Class AA affiliate.
Favre bats .145 and throws 13 interceptions, and announces his retirement three games into the season. After a short hiatus, Favre makes a final comeback, laying down some guest lyrics on Jay-Z's third "comeback" album.
In late July, the Vikings make a last-ditch effort to sign Favre, offering him a $7 million, one-year contract, and full creative control of a weekly television show, tentatively titled the "Vike-O-Den." Favre opts to remain retired, however, citing his need to spend time with his family, as well as contemplate a 2011 return.
* British comedian and trickster Sasha Baron Cohen, posing as a 32-year-old former division III college quarterback named Timmy Nevada, infiltrates the Cleveland Browns training camp, easily winning the starting position over Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson.
Nevada leads the Browns to wins in their first two games, throwing four touchdown passes and only one interception. Then, Baron Cohen decides to reveal the ruse, but not before a naked wrestling match with Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers erupts in the banquet room of the teams' hotel prior to Week Three's contest against the Ravens.
* Larry Fitzgerald leads the NFL in receptions, 109, receiving touchdowns, 13, and encouraging hugs to discontented teammate Anquan Boldin, 23, further solidifying Fitzgerald's status as the league's preeminent receiver and consummate teammate.
* In an Aug. 30 preseason game in Denver, former Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler roams the Bear sideline sporting a white headband bearing the word "McDaniels" in black lettering.
Cutler is mercilessly heckled by the Denver crowd, and in an embarrassing twist, he turns and gives the middle finger to a particularly raucous Broncos fan nearby, who turns out to be former Denver quarterback Jake Plummer.
Cutler's comeuppance, however, is not complete until he is spoofed on the Sept. 14 episode of South Park, in which Cutler's character is killed in a grisly accident while mooning a helicopter piloted by Kenny.
* The Detroit Lions new, fiercer-looking logo heralds a new era for the franchise, and opposing teams take notice, with many commenting that they were "slighty more afraid" while beating the Lions. The logo is also selected to grace the cover of Cat Fancy magazine's 2009 NFL preview issue.
* In a late August appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Tom Brady professes his unconditional love for Gisele Bundchen, gushing to Oprah that "he heard fireworks" during their second round of nuptials in Costa Rica in April.
Winfrey gently breaks the news to Brady that those sounds were not "fireworks," but the echoes of gunshots from Brady's trigger-happy security detail opening fire on unarmed paparazzi.
* Sales of Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Ochocinco's No. 85 jersey remain at a virtual standstill, with most fans disgruntled with Ochocinco's diva-like behavior over the last two years. One enterprising pro shop employee stumbles onto a gold mine when he alters a jersey, removing the nameplate of "Ochocinco" and replacing it was a more appropriate, Spanish-flavored alternative. The Bengals No. 85 "Has Bien" jersey becomes a best seller in Cincinnati. Johnson graciously is a good sport about it, but only after his attorneys negotiate a cut of the jersey sales.
* Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen's season comes to an abrupt end when, while on an elk-hunting trip at Alaska's Kodiak Islands during the Vikings' Week Nine bye week, he is mistaken for an ape and shot from a helicopter by Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Left for dead, Allen is rescued by a herd of manly bull elks, nursed back to health, and returned to civilization, with a new respect for an animal he once mercilessly killed, as well as an appreciation for the four-point stance, and being "mounted."
* Matthew Stafford, the first selection in the 2009 NFL draft, gets the start in the Lions' first preseason game against the Falcons on August 15th, facing Matt Ryan, last year's third pick. Stafford begins his first NFL preseason game just as Ryan began his first regular-season game last year by throwing a touchdown pass ... to a Falcon.
Stafford's first pass is intercepted and returned 35 yards for a touchdown by Atlanta cornerback Chris Houston.
* New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, the fifth pick in the draft, becomes an instant fan-favorite in the New York-New Jersey area, and a local Big Apple eatery honors the former USC star with a dish in his name, a fish taco smothered in mustard and Worcestershire sauce known as the "Dirty Sanchez."
Later in the year, Sanchez declines an offer to appear on the cover of men's alternative fashion magazine GQ wearing only a No. 12 Joe Namath jersey and fishnet stockings.
* Michael Vick meets with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in early November to discuss reinstatement. The meeting goes well until Vick, in his excitement at a possible return to the league, furiously humps the leg of the Commissioner, then urinates on the floor of Goodell's office.
* Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson is a consensus first pick in most fantasy football drafts, and doesn't disappoint, breaking the 1,000-yard mark in the Vikes first seven games. However, Peterson is again plagued by fumbling issues, which, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners, cuts into his goal line touches.
Nevertheless, Peterson's endorsement worth skyrockets, and he becomes the face of several big-time products, most notably Butterfinger candy bars.
* On Sept. 1, just in time for the NFL season, resident New York Times writer/stalker/fictionalist/man-hater Selena Roberts announces the release of her controversial new book, titled Peyton Manning: Satan's Signal Caller.
In the book, Roberts paints a damning picture of Manning as the supreme leader of a worldwide cult of immoral beings and hedonistic decadents.
Manning good-naturedly laughs off the book, citing Roberts' penchant for sensationalistic journalism practices, while Raiders owner Al Davis angrily files an injunction to the book's release, accusing Roberts of outright plagiarism of his own autobiography.
* After the Browns suffer a humiliating 31-10 loss to the Chargers in Cleveland on Dec. 6, Jamal Lewis vents his frustration at the gall of some of his teammates texting on their cell phones in the locker room afterwards, calling them a "bunch of Twitters" on his personal blog.
* As the Patriots prepare in London for their Oct. 25 game versus Tampa Bay at Wembley Stadium, many of the players use their down time for sightseeing. Unwise to British traditions, Randy Moss makes a particularly large splash across the pond when, during a visit to Buckingham Palace, he high fives Queen Victoria instead of properly bowing.
Moss then tells the Queen he loved her in The Naked Gun. Then, upon learning that the Queen is married to a prince, Prince Philip, and not a king, Moss presents her with a 40 of King Kobra malt liquor.
Suitably impressed with his exploits, Moss declares himself heir to the throne, excuses himself to the Palace's parlor restroom, and emerges minutes later to announce that he "just abdicated. But don't worry, I royally flushed."
Moss is skewered in the British press, but is quickly forgiven at Wembley when he bows to the crowd after the first of his two touchdown catches. New England whips the Buccaneers 41-10, and the headline in the following day's edition of The Sun read "English Snuffin.'"
* In a Dec. 13 game at New England, disgruntled Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, who expressed his desire to play for the Patriots before being franchised by Carolina, returns a Tom Brady fumble 66 yards, the wrong way, for a Patriots safety.
Peppers celebrates with former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall, who, coincidentally and conveniently, watches from the Patriots end zone. Peppers then confronts head coach John Fox and proclaims, "Now do you believe I wanted to play for the Patriots?"
Fox immediately disenfranchises Peppers, stripping him of his Panther status. Peppers is later picked up on waivers by the Harlem Globetrotters.
* Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard finds a new favorite target in veteran wide receiver Torry Holt, the Jags' biggest offseason free-agent acquisition.
Garrard immediately clicks with Holt, and after Holt catches 10 passes for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns in a Week Two win over the Cardinals, Garrard expresses his joy at being able to throw to an ex-Ram as opposed to an ex-con.
* Former Buccaneers coach John Gruden makes a seamless transition from coaching to the "Monday Night Football" team, joining Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski in the booth after Tony Kornheiser's departure.
Gruden's knowledge of the game and quick-wittedness adds a sharp-tongued presence to the team, and ratings soar after Gruden promises, prior to Week One's Buffalo/New England contest, to put the "MF" in MNF.
* Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, Washington's $100 million free-agent prize, continues his dominance as the league's finest interior lineman. Haynesworth's No. 92 jersey quickly becomes a hot seller in D.C., matching the popularity of the No. 8 Capitals jersey of NHL superstar Alex Ovechkin.
In October, Haynesworth and Ovechkin are invited to the White House for an honorary dropping of the puck to celebrate the Capitals season opener.
Haynesworth gladly obliges, but Ovechkin, after learning of Haynesworth's more infamous NFL exploits, declines to attend, telling the White House that "there's no way I'm participating in a 'face-off' with Haynesworth."
* Referee Ed Hochuli, his once-sterling reputation sullied by last year's blown Jay Cutler fumble call, promises that he will not make anymistakes in the upcoming season. However, Hochuli can't make the same promise in regards to his line judge, Tim Conway, nor his back judge, Don Knotts, nor his head linesman, Jerry Lewis.
* On Conference Championship Sunday, the visiting Patriots take down the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers, 23-20, behind 98 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns from Fred Taylor.
In the NFC, the home-standing Eagles defeat the Falcons in the title game, 30-24.
In Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, Donovan McNabb engineers a late game-winning drive with seven completions and two first-down rushes, leading the Eagles to a 28-24 win over New England. McNabb makes history, becoming the first and only black quarterback to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, then vomit on it.
* Pacman Jones, displaying the entrepreneurial spirit of a disgraced former NFL star hard up for cash, opens the nation's first adult entertainment venue/shooting range. "Money Shots" opens to much fanfare in Jones' hometown of Atlanta, but ultimately fails due to financial, safety, security, health, sanitation, child care, and homeland security concerns.
Broke, Jones' accepts a role on NBC's critically-acclaimed cop drama Southland, playing a former superstar athlete turned streetwise hustler with an itchy trigger finger, a role Entertainment Weeklyhails as one "Pacman was born to play."
* Already with one connection to the Saints (Kim Kardashian dates New Orleans running back Reggie Bush), the Kardashian clan adds another when Khloe, Kim's younger and more robust sister, signs with the Saints as an offensive lineman. Thus, the Amazonian Khloe becomes the second Kardashian charged with opening holes for Reggie Bush.
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