Every major NFL writer does a season in review where they hand out atypical awards like MVP, Rookie of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year. Since I have no interest in those awards, I decided to write a review with a little twist.
I am going to make up arbitrary awards to fit whatever category I felt like writing about. It’s like comparing the Oscars and the MTV Movie Awards. If you want to know if Heath Ledger will win a posthumous Best Supporting Actor, read Peter King. If you want to see a Best Kiss win from the epic Sarah Michelle Gellar/Selma Blair movie make-out session (iconic moment of my lifetime), then you’ve found the right place.
The Jake Delhomme Award for “Guys Most Fans Would Rather Go Tonya Harding on Than Watch Them Take Another Snap”
You know that you are a special kind of dreadful when you have a real shot at winning an award named after you for poor quarterback play. This was also a special year for atrocious play at the most important position in football. This year was so bad that I had to break down this made up award with made up runners up.
The likes of the San Francisco Smith tandem, Kerry Collins, Donovan McNabb (hurt me a little to type that), the Matt Hasselback/Clipboard Jesus duo, Derek Anderson and Trent Edwards couldn’t even crack the top three in my hypothetical rankings.
2nd runner up (tie): Carson Palmer/Jimmy Clausen. At the beginning of the year, respected NFL analyst John Clayton wrote, “The likes of Terrell Owens, Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley could allow Palmer to relive his 4,000-yard days.”
That didn’t exactly work out the way he planned. Palmer did, however, throw more fourth-quarter pick sixes than anyone else. I have to wonder whether this is all Palmer’s fault. The Bengals willingly paired two divas that had VH1 reality shows over the summer. This would be like a major studio bringing in a coked out Lindsay Lohan and Robert Pattinson (doesn’t need to be coked out) to do a remake of Bonnie and Clyde. On second thought, forget I mentioned this (The Manchurian Candidate remake, anybody).
The point is we having been giving Palmer the benefit of the doubt since the cheap shot that ruined his knee in the 2006 playoffs. I have to give it to him again for the sheer idiocy of the Bengals sticking him with Ochocinco. Nobody is saying he wasn’t awful. Just like you would not want to be the guy taking care of the two drunk, puking, crying, borderline hot girls this Saturday night, Palmer did not want to cater to two reality show divas.
The other guy is a Notre Dame alum (first strike) with a horrible celebrity name in Jimmy (second strike). The problem is the guy hasn’t been around long enough to garner the third strike. The Panthers were terrible, and he played for a lame duck coach. This was also a coach who decided to start a guy against the terrifying Ravens defense who had thrown eight passes in his entire career and was a stay-at-home dad two days before. I have to give Jimmy Clausen the benefit of the doubt for that reason alone.
1st runner up: Jake Delhomme. I feel bad not giving Jake his own award. Carolina fans were giddy with their first pick in the NFL draft performance this year for the sheer fact that it did not involve Delhomme. Cleveland’s consolation prize for Lebron leaving was Delhomme being signed as its starting quarterback (that alone should give you the award).
Delhomme was so dreadful that he was benched for Senecca Wallace and everyone started talking up Colt McCoy like he was the next Tom Brady. Of course Colt looked good in comparison. That’s like everyone who talks about enjoying the third Star Wars movie. Were you surprised after watching the first two train wrecks? Natalie Portman could have been replaced with Amanda Bynes, and you still probably would have enjoyed it. That doesn’t make it Return of the Jedi or anything.
Since it’s time for me to wrap up the nerd rant, Jake the Snake does not win simply because the Browns did not let him. Give him a few more weeks to rack up pick sixes and he is a shoo-in. He simply did not have enough time to earn the award.
Award Winner: Chad Henne (channeling my inner Bill Walton for this). You put in some epic work for this one Chad. You were the anchor that almost led the Dolphins to the ridiculous 7-1 away, 1-7 home record. Nobody is ever doing the 8-0 0-8 combo. You could have been the '72 Dolphins of suck. Only you were too awful to even garner a record memorializing how awful you were.
Why does this make you the worst of the worst? In Week 13, one of the all time worst quarterback duels took place between the award winner and the award’s namesake. Jake Delhomme had a 97.3 rating while throwing one TD and no picks. Henne, at home of course, had a 37.8 rating with one TD and three picks. Nuff said.
The Freddie Prinze I Turned on You for Personal Reasons and Now I’m Sorry Award
Since Freddie is getting a little outdated, let me explain his career highlights. The guy played in a bunch of cheesy high school chick flicks that were poorly acted even by Lifetime standards. They made a ton of money and every guy reading this had a girlfriend drag him to one these crappy movies.
Most guys hated Freddie, but I just didn’t have it in me. I usually give this the “what would I do in his shoes” test. In Freddie’s shoes, I absolutely would have churned out as many movies while I still had the charm and could make the money. I turned on Freddie because he started dating and married my longtime crush, Buffy Summers (it’s not that creepy).
I was wrong to turn on Freddie. In his shoes, I absolutely would have dated a co-star (Scooby Doo—talk about pouring salt on the wound) who was out of my league. The point is it wasn’t right to turn on Freddie, and I am man enough to admit it. I turned on him again when Freddie subsequently murdered my favorite show 24, leading to its premature demise and the first time I have openly rooted for Jack Bauer to kill a fellow CTU agent for no reason.
The Freddie analogy applies to the award winner in James Harrison. He is one of many current headhunters in the NFL that the league created. They sold greatest hits videos and former players turned analysts watched especially brutal hits while saying things like “you got jacked up.”
Then, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a phenomenal article detailing the effects of multiple concussions on former players that showed no post-concussion syndrome. We heard about Chris Henry’s brain being mush on the autopsy table even though he never complained of a major head injury. Sherriff Goodell came sweeping in with his made-up rules, applying retroactive fines without warning that they were coming.
Harrison dished out two brutal helmet-to-helmet hits (one legal and one definitely not) and the media turned on him. He didn’t help his cause with his “I play to injure people speech.” Harrison was the poster boy of everything that is wrong with the NFL this season, and I was happy to pile on.
Consider this my official mea culpa offering to James Harrison. I demonized Harrison after imposing my own personal issues with concussions and the lifelong migraines that accompany multiple concussions. People defended Harrison’s indefensible speech about playing to injure people and I did not react well. I wrongly argued to every person that would listen that the fines were not enough and Harrison should be slapped with a suspension.
I didn’t take into account the fact that the NFL created this gladiator mentality of leading with your head to hit someone. It is not Harrison’s fault that he has spent his entire career being encouraged to play that way. The NFL (Goodell) is also being extremely hypocritical with its emphasis on player safety while pushing for an 18-game season that will only lead to more injuries (Saints’ eighth-string running back, anyone?).
Am I against the NFL cleaning up and fining players for intentional, vicious helmet-to-helmet hits? Absolutely not. I also know that inadvertent contact will happen. The rules are now in place. James Harrison deserved the right to take time to adapt his style of play to those rules. Just like I apologized to Freddie, I apologize to James Harrison. Just don’t land a guest spot on The Walking Dead and kill that show for me like Freddie did with 24.
The Tom Cruise When Did That Guy Go Bats**t Crazy Award?
People always remember Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch and yelling at Matt Lauer, but they never remember that it was shocking at the time. Despite the cram-down-your-throat Scientology and the Katie Holmes kidnapping, Tom Cruise was a movie star machine that churned out No. 1 after No. 1. He played so many memorable and likable characters that we started imposing those characters into his real life. We really did not know Tom Cruise. His descent into crazy town was such a story because it was unexpected (unlike Mel Gibson’s racist, anti-Semitic rants that happened before).
Therefore, the winner has to have not been viewed as crazy before this season. This rules out Ochocinco immediately. It also rules out Rex Ryan and his fetish video. We’ve seen him awkwardly cry before, cuss like a sailor on 24/7 and rile up great QBs time and time again as a strategy ploy (which is starting to work). He already dipped his toes into the crazy pool, rubbed his feet on the crazy blanket and put his best foot forward on the march to crazy town.
The winner is two-time Super Bowl champion coach Mike Shanahan. He benched his proven All-Pro quarterback for the iconic Rex Grossman in the last two minutes of a winnable game against the Detroit Lions because of a lack of “cardiovascular fitness.” He went with the proven tactic of embarrassing your game-altering, diva defensive tackle. I am fine with this method if you do not then put the guy in the game in key moments and expect him to live up to his talent.
Shanahan spent the entire offseason and most of the regular season embarrassing his start tackle and separating him from the rest of the guys in the locker room. Then he expects the guy to come through on defense. When Shanahan subsequently turned on one of the classiest QBs in the NFL, Haynesworth received a heaping pile of credibility.
And last but not least…
The Bob Sanders My Body Is Made Of Paper Mache Award
This should go to Bob Sanders, who was put out early with another season-ending injury. Instead, this thing is going to Matt Stafford, partly because it is true and partly because I am a Lions homer that needed a way to sneak them into the blog.
The Lions had the lead in six of their 10 losses this year in the fourth quarter. They were within a TD in the fourth quarter in seven of those losses. They finished the season on a four-game winning streak that included wins against TB and GB by third-stringer Drew Stanton. What could the Lions have been with a healthy quarterback all year?
This is my huge what if for 2010. It may not be as big as what if Len Bias had not OD'ed and what if Flavor Flav had chosen New York (killing such memorable spin-offs as “I Love New York” and “Real Chance of Love”). But it is still important to me.