You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch: How the Grinch Stole the 2008 NFL Season
Pardon me if I don't feel the Christmas spirit this time of year. I'm sulking at my computer, scowling menacingly at the monitor, and hissing at people trying to infect me with Christmas cheer.
I simply don't feel it—not after a 2008 NFL season where so many people chose to be naughty and ruin what's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
You can take your Holiday songs elsewhere. I'm not interested in your tree-shaped sugar cookies, covered in sprinkles. I hope your red-and-green sweaters get caught on nails, your pot roast comes out dry, and grandma gets run over by a reindeer—twice.
The people of NFL-ville suffered from too much wrong-doing in 2008, and in return everyone is getting a lump of something this holiday season.
Maybe it's coal. Maybe it's not.
The Grinch Becomes Ed Werder's Anonymous Source
...Maybe it happened, maybe it didn't
Ed Werder has it written, even if it isn't...
It's a shame when people hesitate to believe things they read in legitimate news publications. By rule, we're trained to disregard the supermarket tabloids.
That wasn't good enough for the Grinch this year.
Whenever Terrell Owens is involved, everyone believes there's a news story to be had. And when there isn't one, it's time for an anonymous source to come forward and divulge the details no one else sees.
Owens has the misfortune of being preceded by a reputation. Werder has the fortune of creating the controversy surrounding it.
While the Dallas Cowboys were in the thick of it all for an NFC playoff berth, Werder found it necessary to break anonymous news that would only serve as a distraction for a team with better things to do.
Were the words true? Who cares? I don't like everyone I work with, and I feel things would be better if I did them myself. There's no need to alert the media, is there?
The Grinch Steals the Pro Bowl from Philip Rivers
...Rivers run here and Rivers run there
Except to Hawaii, it just isn't fair...
It starts with 32 touchdowns, continues with 11 interceptions, combines for 3,802 yards, and rounds off with a 104 QB rating. Still don't know what it is?
It's the Grinch.
Pro Bowl voting across the board kept San Diego Chargers' QB Philip Rivers off the official roster for Honolulu this February. And it's one of the meanest things the Grinch did this year.
Rivers has single-handedly kept sparks surging through the Chargers this season, and it's a shame that it went completely unnoticed. Despite a rough start and an all-around average season, Rivers has managed to somehow keep his team in contention for the AFC West.
Playoffs are more important than the Pro Bowl at all times. But there's no denying that the recognition would've been nice. Unfortunately for Rivers, that's really not what the Grinch is about..
The Grinch Ruins Ed Hochuli's Reputation
...A good man he is, a good man he was
Ed Hochuli's honesty is no longer beloved...
You know that nervous twitch you feel every time you see the muscle-bound referee calling your favorite team's game? That's the Grinch's doing.
The once revered referee, famous for being bigger than most kickers in the NFL, saw his name dragged through the dirt this season when he made a bad call in the final minute of the Denver Broncos-San Diego Chargers contest.
He became the scapegoat for a nation of Chargers' fans looking to justify a poor defensive performance. Sure, Hochuli should've kept the whistle out of his mouth and let the play unfold as it would, but he deserves to get his reputation back.
The Grinch Makes Plaxico Burress Feel Worthless
...You've heard it, and you've read it—the news was everywhere
Plaxico's pathetic, but are the Giants better? Yeah...
There's no need to dig too deeply into the Plaxico Burress situation. We all know the details, or have very strong opinions on it at the very least. We've all read the jokes, made a few of them ourselves, and expected the Giants to be lost without their star receiver.
Instead, the Grinch allowed the New York Giants to continue playing well, clinch home-field throughout the playoffs, and be the odds-on favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
After demanding a new contract because he believed he was integral to the Giants' success, Burress is being forced to serve a suspension, handle legal proceedings, and watch his team continue down the road to repeating without him.
That might hurt more than the bullet wound.
The Grinch Fines Players for Hard Hits
...Was it legal? Does it even really matter?
We're taking your money for hitting and for chatter...
"The NFL has fined..." was read much too often this season. Players would be fined for doing their jobs, for having opinions, and for failing to reload the printer after using the last sheet of paper.
It was absurd. It came to a point where clean hits were being questioned for their legality.
New York Jets' terrible safety Eric Smith was fined $50,000—a fine which equates to about one-third of his 2008 salary—for a crushing hit on Anquan Boldin. It didn't matter that he was trying to make a play, or that Boldin was pushed directly into the path of Smith's trajectory.
And then Wes Welker was laid out against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a hit that would normally make highlight reels and be used in the introduction to next year's video game. It was the kind of hit that was so good, people thought Ryan Clark should be fined.
Blame the Grinch.
The Grinch Plays a Prank on Jets' Fans
...Dollars are spent and dollars are gone
New York will holler as their season is bombed...
Teaming up with Chad Pennington, the Grinch and the New York Jets' former quarterback convinced the front office that they would need a new quarterback to truly be competitive in 2008.
And they bought into the pressure, cut Pennington, and traded for Brett Favre to be the icing on the exorbitant amount of cake they paid out during the offseason. Instead of taking the AFC East as planned, Favre is leading the Jets to a season where being over .500 is absolutely meaningless.
Meanwhile, on the other side of AFC East-ville, Pennington is poised to take the division crown with 2007's worst team, against the team that cut him four months prior.
It's poetic, it's evil, and it's vile—just the way the Grinch likes it.
The Grinch Steals a Win from Detroit
...In a season without reason, or pleasing delight
An instance of treason would lead them to strife...
While the Detroit Lions sit one game away from being the first team to ever finish 0-16, fans are sitting in confusion looking for answers. How did it go so wrong? Who can you blame?
Singling out one instance in an abysmal season seems like a moot point, but it doesn't change the fact that the Grinch was hard at work early in 2008.
In Detroit's Week Six game against the Minnesota Vikings, referee Tony Corrente stole the one victory the Lions looked to have locked away. Corrente flagged Leigh Bodden on a terrible pass interference call which resulted in 42 free yards for the Vikings.
That deflating penalty put the Vikings closer to the field-goal position that would give them a 12-10 victory. Being on the short-end of the stick when it comes to talent doesn't help Detroit. How are they supposed to win when the Grinch makes referees throw unnecessary penalty flags at crucial points?
Is that penalty the reason the Lions are on their way to 0-16? Probably not.
But an organization with such a dark cloud constantly lingering overhead definitely doesn't benefit from having games stolen away by the men appointed to keep it fair.
Angel Navedo covers the New York Jets for Examiner.com. His work can also be found on NYJetsFan.com, where he is the Head Writer, and on MyGridironSpace.com—a premier social networking site built exclusively for NFL fans.
He is also a Senior Writer at the Bleacher Report, where he is one of the New York Jets Community Leaders.
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