In an unfortunate and politically incorrect grouping of performers during halftime at Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, disgraced R&B crooner Chris Brown and singer/songwriter Jackson Browne join English electronic/industrial group The Prodigy for a rendition of the band’s controversial single “Smack My Bitch Up.”
The Lions set a lowly precedent for inept NFL franchises, suffering through their second-straight 0-16 season. However, the dismay is offset when the team collects yet another No. 1 draft pick, as well as a Tony award for More Misérables, a play based on Detroit’s 2009 campaign.
In a symbolic gesture aimed at exorcising the painful end to the 2008 season from fans’ memories, Carolina Panther quarterback Jake Delhomme releases a dove with an olive branch into the sky from the 50-yard line of Bank America Stadium. Unfortunately, the olive branch is intercepted by a cardinal before it can reach its intended destination.
Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison declines an invitation to attend his oldest brother’s wedding, claiming that his brother “wouldn’t have invited me if I weren’t his brother.”
Michael Vick, conditionally reinstated by Roger Goodell in July, is signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars in mid-August. In one of the many NFL-mandated conditions of reinstatement, Vick is ordered to further his role as a canine activist by periodically tweeting his thoughts on his PETA-sanctioned blog, “Woofer And Twitter.”
In week 6 against the Rams, Vicks sees his first action, when, in response to a rash of injuries to Jacksonville’s safeties, he is inserted at the rover position. Vick records an interception and six tackles in four games, but is cut on November 11th after he is spotted feeding Alka Seltzer to sea gulls on Jacksonville’s Intracoastal Waterway.
Eager to cash in on the success of “The T.O. Show,” which revealed a side of Terrell Owens few knew existed, VH1, in association with a disgruntled Bills coaching staff, debuts Owens’ new reality show, “T.O. Go.”
Kim Kardashian, fresh off her breakup from Reggie Bush, is photographed in a Nashville night club getting cozy with Titans running back duo Chris Johnson and LenDale White. Later, when Johnson and White are seen leaving Kardashian’s hotel room the next morning, gossip web site TMZ breaks the story with a headline reading “Smash And Dash And Kardash(ian).”
Embattled former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress is sentenced for weapons charges stemming from an incident in which he accidentally shot himself in the thigh in a Manhattan nightclub in November. A compassionate judge orders Burress to serve 18 months in a maximum security prison in upstate New York, with a reduction in the sentence possible for good behavior.
There, after two months of exemplary behavior, Burress inexplicably resorts to his old ways and embraces the hardcore prison lifestyle. After inking himself with a homemade tattoo that reads ‘Lifer,’ Burress fashions a shank from a kicking tee. Then, in response to an unannounced bed check, Burress hastily conceals the weapon in his pants, nearly severing his manhood in the process.
Luckily for Burress, teammate Antonio Pierce is again there to pick up the pieces.
Denver running back Knowshon Moreno is an early breakout rookie in the 2009 season, rushing for 311 yards and three touchdowns, with a punt return score as well, in the Broncos' first four games. Moreno is also a star in the marketing arena, and one of the most popular ads in the Denver area spoofs the drug problems and affinity for frequent, unprotected sex of former Broncos Travis Henry. Several billboards picture Moreno enjoying a Coca-Cola in a Henry jersey, surrounded by eleven children. The “Coke And A Smile” ads boost sales of the popular cola by 33%, while teen pregnancy decreases by that same percentage.
Moreno goes on to win the AFC Offensive Rookie Of The Year Award.
At the Packers August 22nd preseason home game versus the Bills, Brett Favre’s tearful farewell speech is interrupted by Vikings coach Brad Childress, there to announce that he’s named a starter for the Vikes regular season opener against the Browns.
As Favre wipes his eyes, Childress gives the nod to Sage Rosenfels, and Childress acknowledges that a decision would have been made sooner if not for “special circumstances,” none of which he details.
In Washington, prized Redskins newcomer Albert Haynesworth displays early domination, and the Skins rush defense leads the NFL early in the year. Haynesworth’s ability to hold his position, even in the face of double- and triple-teams, earns him the nickname “The Washington Monument.”
Haynesworth is photographed at the base of the D.C. landmark for the October 25th issue of Sports Illustrated, one week after ‘hitting for the cycle’ against Matt Cassel and the Kansas City Chiefs. In a 23-13 Redskins win, Haynesworth records a sack, secures a Cassel fumble, picks off a Cassel pass, and accidentally steps on the helmet of the K.C. quarterback.
Tom Brady returns to form, dumping pregnant wife Giselle Bundchen, just months before she is to give birth to the couple’s first child, for actress Florence Henderson.
In October, video filmed through the hotel door peephole of Tony Siragusa surfaces on the Internet, showing the portly former defensive lineman primping naked in front of a mirror. Siragusa and his attorneys rush to have the video removed, and succeed, but not before the former Raven is saddled with the nickname “Goose Pimple.”
Later, Siragusa markets the video with a collection of some of his zaniest and most rambling sideline reports in a DVD package called “Goose Gone Wild.”
Sales reach 17, well behind the 1,245,000 discs sold of fellow reporter Erin Andrews’ boxed set.
The NFL’s most surprising team is the Kansas City Chiefs, who, after a dismal 0-5 start, reel off seven wins in their last eleven games to finish second in the AFC West. New head coach Todd Haley credits his predecessor, Herman Edwards, with instilling a ‘play to win the game’ attitude in the team, while crediting himself for supplying the missing ingredient: “coaching to win the game.”
In October, Jessica Simpson appears on the Barbara Walter’s Special, and the celebrity interview queen immediately presses Simpson about her breakup with Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Simpson confides that she is not bitter, and states that “I shouldn’t have reasonably expected Tony to put a ring on my finger when he can’t even put one on his own finger.”
San Diego’s Shawne Merriman, who missed all but one game last year because of a knee injury, roars out of the gate, eager to prove his health and quell conceptions of performance-enhancing drug use. Merriman records four sacks in the Chargers' first two games, including three takedowns of Joe Flacco in a 16-10 win over Baltimore in Week 2. The beastly linebacker cites a grueling offseason conditioning program, and an even more intense attitude, fueled by Pop Rocks and cola, for his quick start.
Merriman records 19 sacks on the year, and is named AFC Defensive Player Of The Year, which he celebrates by sending Jason Taylor a signed copy of his latest drug test.
St. Louis rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis, son of legendary professional wrestler Road Warrior Animal, is put through the rookie initiation wringer at Rams training camp in Earth City, Missouri. Laurinaitis good-naturedly accepts the mild humiliations initially, such as being forced to “clothesline” the sweaty undergarments of the Rams veteran linebackers.
But when the vets handcuff him to a whirlpool and make off with his belt, Laurinaitis snaps. As Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” is mysteriously queued over the public address system, Laurinaitis breaks free and systematically overwhelms and pins his tormentors, as referee Ed Hochuli offers a quick three count.
Early reports from training camp on the Buccaneers quarterback battle, featuring Luke McCown, Byron Leftwich, Josh Johnson, and rookie Josh Freeman, note that the race has the competitive feel of an open tryout, and the talent to match. Freeman impresses with his strength as well as a lightning-quick release. Freeman’s seven-step drop and release is timed at 2.1 seconds, well ahead of the 2.1 minute time of the veteran Leftwich’s.
McCown eventually wins the starting job, but is pulled in favor of Freeman in Week 6, and Freeman completes the year as starter.
Excitement abounds in Seattle, mostly created by the free agent signing of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the biggest thing to hit the Pacific Northwest since Twilight. In Seattle’s Week 1 game against the Rams, Houshmandzadeh runs afoul of the NFL’s draconian touchdown celebration rules, as well as teeny-boppers jaded by romanticized vampire novels, when he howls like a werewolf celebrating his first touchdown as a Seahawk.
Houshmandzadeh loses nearly all of his 12-to-16-year-old female fan base, but gains a Coors Lite “Silver Bullet” spokesman gig, as well as an audition for the next installment in the Teen Wolf movie franchise.
Oakland rookie wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, thrust into the starting lineup at the behest of owner Al Davis, scores on a 99-yard, fourth quarter flea-flicker from JaMarcus Russell to give the Raiders a thrilling 27-26 win over AFC West rival Denver. As the defeated Broncos file dejectedly off the field at Oakland Coliseum, they are serenaded by a Black Hole chorus of ‘Sha Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na, Hey-Hey-ward, Good Bey!”
Arizona rookie running back Chris “Beanie” Wells, the Cardinals first-round pick, suffers through an injury-plagued season, as minor ankle and toe injuries keep him sidelined. With nine yards on four carries for the year, Wells’ earns a new nickname, “H.G.,” as his meager statistics render him an “Invisible Man.”
Colts safety Bob Sanders plays in 12 games for the Colts, thereby winning a preseason wager with Peyton Manning, who bet that his own commercial appearances would be greater than Sanders’ games played.