Gentlemen, start your seasons!
That's right, folks. Yesterday's snoozefest between the Giants and Redskins means that the 2008 NFL season is finally upon us!
There were a lot of happenings this week, so let's get right down to business.
Bye, Bye, Daunte
In a shocking move, former Vikings, Dolphins, and Raiders (oh my!) QB Daunte Culpepper announced his retirement yesterday...in an email to NFL Network's Adam Schefter.
A first-round pick in the much-hyped quarterback class of 1999, Daunte was a force to be reckoned with in his earlier days. He and superstar WR Randy Moss were a deadly duo, but they were never able to get far in the playoffs.
Moss, of course, signed with some team last year that went on to break some record, only to lose to the freakin' Giants in the Super Bowl.
Culpepper was never able to regain his Pro Bowl-caliber mojo after getting the axe in Minnesota. He was signed by the Dolphins in 2006, but injuries kept him from seeing much time. He was unceremoniously cut the next year, and he then was part of Oakland's quarterback committee last season.
He couldn't find a team this time around, so he decided to hang it up instead of wait it out.
Daunte will be missed, and the game will probably be the same without him.
(Oh, and if you were wondering: The only QB taken in the first round of the 1999 draft who is still employed? That's the Eagles' signal caller Donovan McNabb, taken second overall. The '99 draft, of course, featured such superstars as Akili Smith and Tim Couch.)
Burress Buried in Cash
Giants wideout Plaxico Burress just got paid.
One of the stars of Super Bowl XLII, Burress had been lobbying for a new contract during the offseason. His shiny new five-year, $30 million contract was announced just before kickoff last night. Burress proved he was worth the money by catching 10 balls for 133 yards.
This contract probably makes him the highest-paid player to wear No. 17.
Notes from NY
The opening game had the superstars and the glamour of a typical opening game, but there was one thing noticeably missing—a good football game.
The Giants scored the only touchdown of the night on their first possession, and neither team exactly impressed.
The 'Skins are looking like the worst team in the NFC East right now, which would probably make them the best team in the NFC West, if, y'know, our nation's capital happened to be on the other side of the country. Or something.
Anyway, both teams were sluggish in their execution, but it's early. As for their title defense season, Giants fans can't exactly gripe about a 1-0 start.
Introducing the New Chad John—I mean, Ocho Cinco.
Chad Johnson has done it, people. He has found a way to be more obnoxious than ever...without opening his mouth.
In the most bizarre story of the offseason, Bengals WR Chad Johnson officially changed his last name to Ocho Cinco.
It's bad enough that he had an off year last season, and that he made all kinds of bad press over the summer. Now he has legally changed his last name so that he can have "Ocho Cinco" on his jersey. Come on, man!
What did the NFL say about this?
"It's his legal surname."
That's right, kids! Get your Chad Ocho Cinco jerseys today!
Here's my question to all of you out there: If Ocho Cinco has another bad year, do you think the Bengals will regret not running off into the night with Washington's first-round pick?
Patrick's Fearless Friday Picks
One game is in the books, so now it's time to highlight some select games over the weekend.
Jets at Dolphins
CBS, 1 PM EDT
The only reason anyone not from New York or Florida would even consider watching this travesty of a matchup is for Brett Favre. Both teams were embarrassing last year, and this year figures to be no different.
Jets fans say that they've done enough during the offseason to make a playoff push, but I'm not convinced. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have made a serious case for being the worst team in football.
New head coach—I mean—Vice President Bill Parcells has exported half of the '06/'07 Cowboys roster to Miami. He even brought in former Jets QB Chad Pennington, who will get the starting nod Sunday.
This game might be fun for a quarter or two, but I seriously doubt it will be anything worth writing home about.
Still, I like the Jets on the road over the 'Fins.
Tampa at New Orleans
FOX, 1 PM EDT
The race for the NFC South crown is always fun to watch. These teams go at each other's throats every time they play, and this game should be no different.
Last year was a head-scratcher for 'Gnawlens. After making it to the NFC Title game in '06, the team couldn't get on a roll early and missed the playoffs. Injuries to RBs Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister didn't make things any easier.
Meanwhile, the Bucs, led by journeyman QB Jeff Garcia, enjoyed a 9-7 season. Head Coach Jon Gruden (and his quarterback collection) made it to the playoffs before being knocked out by the eventual Super Bowl-winning G-Men.
The Saints' funkadelic home-field advantage should kick in for the opener, especially after Hurricane Gustav nearly evacuated the stadium. I like 'em to start the new season strong.
St. Louis at Philadelphia
FOX, 1 PM EDT
Philadelphia rookie WR DeSean Jackson is likely to get the first start of his career against a St. Louis team that, frankly, is a big question mark. This game features two of the NFL's best backs, with the Eagles' Brian Westbrook and the Rams' Steven Jackson.
Despite going 3-13 last season, the Rams have the potential to make some noise in the absurdly weak NFC West. QB Marc Bulger is one of the best in the NFC, and he has some serious weapons at his disposal. The offensive line is slightly more intact this season, and the defense is improved.
Still, it's going to be a big test against a speedy Eagles defense. The Birds' new squad is led by Rich Uncle Penneybags (a.k.a. Asante Samuel), who was signed to major dollars this offseason.
Philadelphia's offense has greatly improved as well, although they will likely be missing starting wide receiver Kevin Curtis.
Interesting side note: Curtis is a former Ram.
I frankly don't see any way the Rams can pull this one off, barring another Week One of muffed punts for Philly. I like the Eagles at home.
Chicago at Indianapolis
NBC, 8:15 PM EDT
Ah, Super Bowl rematches. They usually make for good watching. As for this rematch of Super Bowl XL? Eh...we'll see.
Chicago has fallen pretty far since 2006. They've lost both starting wideouts, as well both running backs—Thomas Jones to free agency and Cedric Benson because he liked to booze it up while operating a watercraft.
Still, the vaunted Bears D is still in tact, and it will probably carry the team's sad excuse for an offense all season.
The Colts may be losing some of their Super shimmer, but they're still dangerous, as long as Peyton Manning is behind center. He sat out most of the preseason, nursing his bursa sac (doesn't that just sound gross?).
He'll be ready for Week One, and so will the Bears' defense. It's a classic match between a great offense and a great defense. Still, it would be insane to bet against the Colts, so I'm not going to.