As the regular season draws to a close, I thought it would be fitting to reminisce on some stories that made headlines this season.
Some were controversial, others are just for fun. But they all have garnered media attention
With Christmas around the corner, I thought you might enjoy having it set to the popular tune "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Sure, there are more than 12, but these are the ones I think everyone would most enjoy. I know I do, and it took sic cups of coffee and two doses of Motrin to pick them.
Read on, and to everyone out there, Merry Christmas (or insert preferred seasonal greeting here)!
Good grief, is the NFL that hard up for cash?
I thought we were playing a contact sport here, people. What’s the big idea of fining players for clean hits that just happen to knock holy hell out of the opposing player? Isn’t that the point?
What’s next, putting the quarterback in his red practice jersey?
When a 205-pound wide receiver hits a linebacker so hard it breaks his jaw, that’s not worthy of a fine; that’s football as it is meant to be played.
It’s a violent game; if you don’t want to run the risk of injury, play chess. But don’t accuse a guy of being a cheap shot artist when you know full well you would take the same shot if you were in his shoes.
Okay, maybe I’m being a little hard on Adam “Don’t Call Me Pacman” Jones. At least he was trying to better himself and grow up a little (jury’s still out on how successful he’s been).
Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson is another matter. In an obvious attempt to woo Latin American football fans to vote him into this year’s Pro Bowl, Chad legally changed his name to Ocho Cinco to match his uniform number.
Couple of problems there, Chad ol’ buddy ol’ pal. One, the proper Spanish translation of your number is ochenta cinco, or eighty-five. You have renamed yourself eight, five.
Second, When Latin Americans think football, they are just as—if not more—likely to think of the game with the round ball you kick into a net as they are the game with the ball shaped like and inflated pig bladder that you throw and run with.
And my favorite: you failed to mention to your marketing team that you were planning a name change; as such, thousands of jerseys with “Johnson” emblazoned across the back were printed, and couldn’t (read: WEREN’T GONNA) be recalled.
In the words of Carlos Mencia, “DEET DEE DEEEE!!!”
What a year for rookie running backs. Tennessee’s Chris Johnson leads the trio with 1,159 yards, but Houston’s Steve Slaton and Chicago’s Matt Forte aren’t far behind.
All three are averaging four or more yards per carry, and all three have broken off at least one touchdown run of 50 yards or more.
With defenses increasingly adjusting to shut down the aerial attack, these three have a shot at long, illustrious careers if they can maintain this year’s efforts.
Yards have been hard to come by this year for offenses. Nine of the top 10 defenses in the league this year have limited opposing offenses to less that the 300 mark in yards this season, and for the most part this has been instrumental in their overall success.
All 10 of the top defensive teams are still mathematically alive for the playoffs; some need help, some already know they get a week off, but they all have a shot at the Big Show.
With only twelve available playoff slots, this is just another indication of how important defense is to a championship run.
Is it really going to happen?
Will the Detroit Lions, the NFL’s perennial cellar-dwellers, actually go winless this season?
No team has ever played 16 games in a season and lost all of them; a few have come close at 1-15, but so far they have all managed to achieve that all important “moral victory” before the season closed.
Things are not looking good for the Lions; with New Orleans and Green Bay left on the schedule, it’s a good bet that they will manage to reach this infamous benchmark.
At least they’re in good company this year; all of the Big Three automakers are big-time losers this year, too.
The current benchmark for Super Bowl rings for a franchise is five, shared by Pittsburgh, Dallas, and San Francisco. Both Pittsburgh and Dallas have a shot this year at winning No. six and establishing themselves as the all-time leader as NFL Champions.
With both clubs playing well defensively, the odds are better than average that one of them will pull it off.
Besides, who wouldn’t want to see a Pittsburgh-Dallas Super Bowl? Maybe we could convince NBC to let Bradshaw and Staubach to call it...
Yeah, I know there are two games left, and they haven’t done it yet. But the Steelers are poised to do just that if they can manage to contain rookie sensation Chris Johnson and pull off the upset against the Titans this week.
They are red-hot right now, even if they aren’t scoring huge numbers.
All you have to do is score one more point to get the “W”, and they have proven over the last few weeks that they can do just that. Here’s to hoping they can finish the deal.
Ed Hoculi and Walt Coleman both have this one at the top of their Christmas lists this year.
While they aren’t the only ones who’ve made questionable calls this year, the two they made were both pivotal, both controversial, and both resulted in heavy media attention being called to the NFL’s referee corps.
In some ways you can’t blame them for having issues; the NFL rule book reads like a college textbook on Philosophy; some of the rules are ambiguous, and it is left up the zebras to interpret them in highly charged, game-time situations.
But it’s a catch-22; without the replay, calls that are blatantly incorrect have no chance of being overturned. The refs can’t win this one for losing.
Let me preface this by saying that I am NOT a Patriots fan. Tom Brady is too pretty, Randy Moss is a whiner, and Bill Belichick is an arrogant jerk who is increasingly looking more and more like David Carradine on a bad day.
But the Pats are in serious danger of missing the playoffs despite having Arizona and Buffalo left on the schedule, which gives them a solid chance of ending up 11-5.
Because the playoff rules state that the top four seeds go to the division champions, either Denver or San Diego will be going to the playoffs, despite having below-average seasons.
San Diego only gets in with two wins and some help from Denver, the Bronco’s only need to win this week or have the Chargers lose and they lock up the spot.
With New England trailing both the Dolphins and Jets in conference play, New England may be sitting this one out despite potentially ending the season with the same record as the Steelers, who have already locked up the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
OK, so not everyone is going to be happy with Pro Bowl picks.
Regardless of who gets in, there are legions of fans out there who disagree, some so vehemently that they send hate mail to the players, the coaches, the Commish, and anyone else they feel slighted their favorite player.
This year’s picks, though, really stoked the ire of the fans. Not to single anyone out, but league leaders in key stats got overlooked, and some guys got in because their name is Brett Favre (oops; sorry, Brett).
There is no way to fix this as long as players are voted in; a few guys are going to get the shaft even when they are having an otherwise standout season.
Does anyone else seriously doubt the Titans’ assertion that Vince young is still their “quarterback of the future”?
With his on-field pouting and off-field issues, VY has a long way to go in the maturity department before he will be able to handle the rigors of a full NFL season. I’m not guaranteeing that Collins will be back at the helm, just doubting that Young has what it takes to handle the adversity that comes with being a star NFL quarterback.
Time to “man up,” Vince. You can’t win them all, no matter how hard you try. Accept it, learn to deal with it, and give the fans a reason to root for you again. Otherwise, you may end up with the nickname “Jefferson Street Vince.”
And that didn’t work out too well for the last guy who lived under that bridge.
I love the game of football. I’ve played it, watched it, and coached it at the youth level.
At its root, it is simple: Eleven guys line up against each other and spend the better part of 2-3 hours trying to beat the snot out of the guy with the ball, or protect the guy with the ball so your team can score.
Where else can large men gang up on the little guy without fear of being put in handcuffs and hauled away for assault?
Grown men playing a kid’s game and getting paid millions to do it? I’m there, if only vicariously.
In the spirit of giving, I have decided to leave this last slot open so you can insert your own memorable moments of the past year. I’m sure there are plenty; there was so much to choose from I had difficulty narrowing it down to these.
Enjoy the holidays, and I’m sure we’ll be talking again real soon.