Mike Tanier's Monday Morning Hangover: Josh Gordon and Late-Season Spark Plugs

Mike Tanier@@miketanierNFL National Lead WriterNovember 24, 2014

Jason Getz/USA Today

Josh Gordon looked a little paunchy in his return to the field Sunday.

Gordon didn't look paunchy by sportswriter standards (he could walk through standard-sized doorways) or even by slugging outfielder standards. But by speedy, deep-threat receiver standards, which are supermodel-strict, he looked a little thick.

Gordon was neither the old, girdle-wearing Vegas Elvis, nor the just-drafted, banned-from-the-waist-down-on-television Elvis. He looked like 1968 Comeback Special Elvis: great, but not ideal. Three months of riding a home stationary bike while watching The Chew may have taken its toll on his high-end conditioning.

Gordon caught eight of 16 passes thrown to him for 120 yards in the Browns' last-second 26-24 win over the Falcons. He caught screens and weaved his way upfield.

He caught shallow crosses and generated yards after the catch. (The shallow cross is an underrated weapon in the big-play receiver's arsenal. When Gordonor DeSean Jackson, etc.crosses in front of the safeties, they are likely to hold their position longer, creating opportunities for others downfield.)

Andrew Hawkins and Miles Austin combined for 11 catches and 157 yards, and both Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West were effective on the ground against a Falcons defense which a) was clearly being stretched horizontally, if not vertically, by Gordon's presence, and b) cannot tackle to begin with.

Gordon was also the target of two Brian Hoyer interceptions, though the receiver cannot be blamed for a pair of questionable decisions and throws. The Browns got a little carried away in their efforts to force-feed him: A Hoyer-to-West-to-Gordon reverse went completely haywire in the third quarter, forcing the wideout to throw the ball away after chasing a wayward pitch.

Gordon is ready to threaten opponents with his speed and elusiveness, but he and Hoyer were not ready to play pitch-and-catch in the corner of the end zone or down the right hash mark just yet. The timing is not there and, belly jokes aside (Gordon really did look like he had packed on a pound or two), he may not yet be at full game speed.

Cleveland needs Gordon to provide a spark in a division that is not going to grant an upstart team any favors.

Sunday was an encouraging start, but the Browns need the whole package—screens, drags, decoys and bombs—for a stretch run that includes the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Colts and Buffalo Bills, the latter in some as-yet-undetermined subtropical neutral site. Gordon is the late-season spark plug Cleveland needs for the next five weeks.

Other teams are also seeking that late-season spark plug. Some signed new players. Others welcomed back old friends. A few are desperate for someone to fill a huge hole. Let's tour the league and see who is (and is not) providing some necessary late-season sizzle:

C.J. Anderson, Broncos

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 23:  Running back C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos celebrates a fourth quarter touchdown against the Miami Dolphins at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 23, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Get
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

One of the most important (but easiest to overlook) components of a Peyton Manning offense is the running back. He is supposed to handle about 20 carries per game, catch some passes, block blitzers like a pint-sized guard and basically be ready to do something productive when Manning sees a six-man defensive box and audibles into a run. 

With Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball in various states of unavailability in the past few weeks, the Denver Broncos needed help. A predictable Peyton is a beatable Peyton.

Anderson fits the mold of Manning functionary at running back: short and stocky (5'8", 225 lbs) with a no-nonsense style between the tackles. Anderson rushed 27 times for 167 yards and a score in the Broncos' 39-36 comeback win against the Miami Dolphins, doing some of his best work when Denver trailed 28-17 and might have been tempted to abandon the run if it was not working.

Anderson carried three times for 37 yards in the late third-quarter drive that cut the Dolphins' lead to 28-25 (after the two-point conversion) and then added a nine-yard reception and 10-yard touchdown (in addition to some short runs) in the drive that gave the Broncos the lead. A 26-yard run in the final minutes killed the clock for good.

Denver is not going to reach the Super Bowl with a one-dimensional offense. Anderson's emergence should solve that problem. Unfortunately for the Broncos, their toughest rivals solved a similar problem using the more direct "sign talented headcase and insert directly into huddle" method.

LeGarrette Blount, Patriots

Steven Senne/Associated Press

So...nobody needed this guy? Colts? Cardinals? Lions? None of you needed 78 bruising yards and two touchdowns for the price of a waiver claim? Blount is not easy to get along with, but you don't really have to get along with a power runner, folks. Just give him the football when you need tough yardage and suggest a hole for him to run through. 

Sometimes, the New England Patriots seem like the only franchise that is just trying to gain the small, necessary advantages needed to win a series of football games, rather than establish a "Great Society" built on the neo-Lombardian philosophical vision of some career defensive coordinator.

Blount's a pain in the rear, but if your team chemistry cannot handle five weeks of broken tackles on a work-for-hire basis, your team chemistry probably is not ready to handle a lot of things.

Blount and Ndamukong Suh exchanged words after the Patriots' 34-9 win over the Lions. Lots of players stayed between them to make sure hostilities did not escalate beyond trash talk. But maybe Blount and Suh should fight. Maybe all of the repressed anger on earth would get absorbed by the conflict and released in a seismic blast of punches and jolly stomps.

After the shockwaves subside, free from our burden of pent-up rage, the human race can then abandon war and establish a Great Society, built upon the neo-Lombardian philosophical vision of some career defensive coordinator.

Patrick Lewis and Alvin Bailey, Seahawks

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 23:   Calais Campbell #93 of the Arizona Cardinals tackles Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks during their game at CenturyLink Field on November 23, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks games are becoming unbearably ugly to watch. At least one touchdown per game is negated by a penalty, and there are not many touchdowns to begin with.

Russell Wilson scrambles and options are about the only offensive highlights, making Seattle games look like Pop Warner games where the coach's kid is the only player who is any good. All of those Wilson heroics typically hide a dark secret: The Seahawks offensive line is horrendous.

Wilson endured seven sacks in Seattle's 19-3 win against the depleted Arizona Cardinals, and most of the Seahawks' productive offensive plays included some form of scrambling or quarterback desperation.

Lewis, the center filling in for Max Unger, looked decent, though I did not do any focused scouting on him (Broncos-Dolphins was far more entertaining). Bailey, now starting at left guard, got beaten repeatedly.

Russell Okung, the Pro Bowl left tackle who has not looked like a Pro Bowler very often this year, also made some mistakes, but it is sometimes hard to tell how much blame to assign to a lineman whose next-door neighbor is screwing up so badly.

At this rate, Wilson will not survive Thanksgiving against the San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks have to fix this line problem so they can start worrying about other issues, such as their complete lack of downfield playmakers, and figure out how to claw their way back into serious contention.

Ryan Mathews, Chargers

SAN DIEGO, CA- NOVEMBER 23:  Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers runs for a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams during their NFL Game on November 23, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Branden Oliver was fun to compare to Darren Sproles for a few weeks. (They are both short! They both wear No. 43! They...nope, that's it.) Oliver then spent a month racking up 13-carry, 17- to 36-yard stat lines.

Mathews has been instrumental to the last two Chargers wins, with 12-105-1 (including a 32-yard touchdown) in Sunday's 27-24 win against the Rams after gaining 70 rushing yards in last week's snoozer against the Oakland Raiders.

The upcoming Chargers schedule is like a playoff gauntlet before the playoff gauntlet: Ravens, Patriots, Broncos, 49ers, Chiefs.

They won't win many of those games playing the way they have the last two weeks, alternately going flat or giving away easy turnovers on offense. (On the plus side, they would not win any of those games playing the way they did before the bye either.) The Chargers need more from Mathews to reclaim some of that September luster.

Gio Bernard, Bengals

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Bernard did not put up big numbers in his return after missing most of the last four games with a hip injury. He carried 17 times for 45 yards, adding two catches for 22 yards. But Bernard spun his way for 19 yards to set up the Bengals' first touchdown and added 13 yards on a short pass on a drive that eventually led to a Texans safety.

His presence kept Jeremy Hill fresh for the fourth quarter, when the rookie power runner slammed out a 30-yard run to set up a game-icing field goal as Cincinnati won 22-13. 

The Bengals offense relies on the ability to create yards after catch and after contact. Bernard's toughness (he took another rib-rattling hit late in the fourth quarter) and Master of Spinjitsu running style provide a little of both for a unit that is more horizontal than vertical.

Any Third Receiving Target, the Lions

Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

Bill Belichick, trickster demon that he is, decided to assign Darrelle Revis to Golden Tate and then double-cover Calvin Johnson for most of the Patriots' 34-9 victory.

It was like a multiple-choice Matthew Stafford's "Worst Instinct Common Core Assessment": Would Stafford throw to Johnson in double coverage or try to force the football into bad spots against a Pro Bowl cornerback? The answer was "c: both of the above." Stafford targeted Tate and Johnson 21 times, earning eight measly receptions as a reward.

The Lions got tight ends Eric Ebron and Joseph Fauria back in recent weeks; in London in Week 8, they were down to fourth-stringer Kellen Davis.

Ebron, Fauria and Brandon Pettigrew theoretically gave Stafford plenty of extra capable receivers, but the trio caught just two of seven passes thrown to them, and the other receivers and running backs were nearly invisible as Stafford provided Revis with highlights he can use for his next contract negotiation (scheduled for March).

Stafford throwing to someone besides Megatron or Tate is like one of my kids "trying" spinach under penalty of no after-dinner television. My kids gag as the fork approaches their mouths; Stafford appears to be turning and calling for the punter at the same time he is cocking his arm to throw.

Lions fans have seen this routine for years, but Jim Caldwell was supposed to both reboot Stafford's software and install a tight end-heavy offense. Either the tight ends must announce themselves or Stafford must learn to eat his vegetables anyway. Otherwise, this Lions season will soon go the way of every other Lions season.

Participation Trophies

Not everybody earns one, but everybody gets one!

Fantasy Leech Trophy

(Awarded to the fullback, tight end, fourth receiver or moonlighting linebacker who scored so your fantasy first-round pick could not.)

Richard Rodgers' one-yard touchdown from Aaron Rodgers was not just fun because the quarterback kept peeking to his left at the backup tight end while rolling right, making up his mind if he really wanted to lob the ball to a lonesome obscure backup in the far corner of the end zone.

It was also fun because many of us, upon seeing news of the touchdown on various stat services, assumed that Aaron Rodgers threw to himself! Excitedly, we waited for some magical batted-pass highlight worth gonzo fantasy points. Alas, it was just a slightly more amusing variation on the "no one covers the backup tight end at the goal line" play.

To avoid further confusion, Richard Rodgers should follow Luke Willson's lead and change his name to Richard Rodgdgdgdgers.

Salvador Dali Melting-Clock Trophy

(Awarded for the strangest clock management of the week.)

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 23: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts to a play in the second half against the Cleveland Browns at Georgia Dome on November 23, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Matt Ryan's life now consists mainly of trying to succeed despite the idiocy of others. He spent Sunday afternoon running for his life (not a pretty sight when Ryan is doing the running) against the Browns defense.

When a Hoyer interception gave the Falcons the ball at their own 45-yard line with 2:42 to play, Ryan embarked on one of his silky two-minute scoring drives. He mixed runs with passes, calmly managing the clock until the Falcons faced 3rd-and-2 inside field-goal range with 55 seconds left and the clock ticking.

That's when Mike Smith called timeout.

The Browns had all three of their timeouts. They would likely have had to burn one if, say, the Falcons ran off tackle for no gain and then kicked the field goal. A first down would have forced them to burn all three. But Smith gave everyone time to think things over.

Ryan attempted a sideline bomb to Devin Hester. There was some wisdom to the call, as rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert (whose LinkedIn skills start with "Making Johnny Manziel Look Less Disappointing by Comparison") was isolated against Hester.

But the play failed, and after Atlanta's field goal the Browns got the ball back with 44 seconds left and three timeouts. Hoyer completed three passes over the middle of the field, and the Browns used all three timeouts to set up the final field goal.

Smith really had a hankerin' to use his timeouts Sunday. Browns kicker Billy Cundiff lined up for a 60-yard field goal before halftime, and Smith sent Hester back to possibly make some magic with a field-goal return. Smith then called timeout as the ball was snapped.

Hester caught Cundiff's short attempt and just stood there wondering a) why anyone would want to give a kicker two tries on a desperation attempt and b) what would be gained by alerting the whole stadium to the fact that he was deep for the return.

Hester caught Cundiff's second attempt—maybe Mike Pettine should have tested the Falcons with a Hail Mary instead of proving twice that Cundiff cannot kick that far—and raced 75 yards before lineman Joel Bitonio tackled him.

In summary, 4th-and-1 is not the only situation that brings out the worst in Mike Smith. But we probably won't be talking about it much longer.

Meaningless Fantasy Touchdown Trophy

(Awarded for the most unnecessary, yet fantasy-relevant, touchdown of the week.)

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 23:  LeGarrette Blount #29 of the New England Patriots carries the ball during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Gillette Stadium on November 23, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

LeGarrette Blount's second touchdown gave the Patriots a 34-9 lead in the fourth quarter and really put into perspective that midweek waiver bid you made using half your 401(k) and a kidney for Jonas Gray.

Mysterious Touch Trophy

(Awarded to the defender, lineman or specialist who got an unlikely carry or catch of the week.)

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Fletcher Cox batted a Zach Mettenberger pass backward into the hands of center Brian Schwenke, who adopted the offensive lineman YOLO philosophy and began rumbling down the field.

Mychal Kendricks stripped the ball just as Schwenke was going to the ground, Nate Allen pounced on it and the referees began sorting out yet another silly playground play in the Philadelphia Eagles' silly playground 43-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Referee Jerome Boger tried to explain the play to the crowd but got so confused that he gave up after forgetting who stripped the ball. A long replay review sorted things out and gave the Eagles the football; NBC wisely held Mike Carey until after the officials made their decision, lest the less-accurate-than-a-coin-flip officiating expert get mixed up and declare the play an example of the infield-fly rule.

Anemic Stat Line of the Week

(Awarded to the player who does less with more.)

Robert Griffin III completed 11 of 19 passes for 106 yards. Those were not his first-quarter or first-half stats. They were his stats. Griffin was sacked five times for 29 yards, so the Redskins netted just 77 passing yards in their 17-13 loss to the 49ers.

Griffin hit DeSean Jackson for a 32-yard catch and run. Pierre Garcon added a 24-yarder. That leaves 50 yards scattered among 17 attempts and nine completions. The Redskins were 2-of-13 on third downs. That they nearly won was a testament to the 49ers' ability to get in their own way for three-and-a-half quarters and then thud their way through one rugged fourth-quarter touchdown drive.

Griffin's anemic stat line may be a sign that Jay Gruden has finally figured out a way to escape the Redskins' quarterback conundrum. Instead of benching or shaming Griffin (or, heaven forbid, coming up with some method of getting the whole organization back on the same page, like holding a meeting), Gruden can just keep giving Griffin five pass attempts per quarter until the quarterback evaporates into a misty fog.

There will be no criticism or drama, just a vague sense that someone used to touch the football between the center snap and the Alfred Morris handoff, someone who seemed important but whose face you just cannot picture. It sounds crazy, but that's how they got rid of Jason Campbell.

Burn This Play Trophy

(Awarded to the most over-engineered play of the week.)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 23:   Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys throws a touchdown pass to  Dez Bryant #88 in the third quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on November 23, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Get
Elsa/Getty Images

The Giants forgot that it is 2014, not 2007, and tried to rush Tony Romo with just four defenders, while nursing a four-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Romo completed a pair of passes, including a touchdown to Dez Bryant, after spending enough time in the pocket to sing "The Alphabet Song."

NBC used a "pocket clock" graphic to record 7.61 seconds on one throw and 8.99 seconds (though the clock ran until the catch) for the Bryant touchdown. Any more time, and NBC could have switched to a sundial.

Monday Morning Hangover is officially taking a stand against the "fade-fade-fade" strategy in goal-to-go situations. Last week, Eli Manning attempted three fades near the goal line and then threw an interception on fourth down.

This week, Stafford attempted a fade to tight end Fauria on first down and picked up a defensive holding penalty. After an unproductive running play, Stafford threw a fade to Megatron (with Revis in coverage) and then another fade to Fauria. The Lions settled for a 20-yard field goal, which (in true Lions fashion) they nearly missed.

If you are going to throw three fades, throw three Megatron fades, Revis be damned; a one-in-three success rate seems likely. Backup tight ends are for play-action dives, not fades. See: Richard Rodgdgdgdgers.

Get Your Next-Level Stats Off My Lawn

Did you know that when Ryan Mallett releases the football for a deep pass, the ball is eight feet off the ground? No? Could you care any less about the height of Mallett's release? No?

The "eight feet" figure comes from one of those "Next Level" or "Next Gen" statistical graphics which have been popping up on pregame and highlight shows on every network this season. It's also probably incorrect for most Mallett passes.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Mallett is a little taller than 6'6". Extend his freakishly long arm well over his head (not ideal throwing mechanics, but he sometimes does it that way) and measure to the fingertips, and you get the other 18 inches or so.

Ideally, Mallett should have his legs spread and knees slightly bent when throwing, taking his effective height down to perhaps 6'3", and he should not throw with an overhand motion so similar to that of Nolan Ryan. But he sometimes does, and I would hate to use basic math to argue with the airtight fact-checking of a pregame show.

Mallett sometimes releases the football eight feet from the ground, or 5,288 feet above sea level if he ever faces the Broncos in Denver. Mallett is expected to miss a few weeks with a pectoral injury, so the discussion is largely moot anyway.

Even if Mallett's throws do begin from an eight-foot launch platform, there are several unanswered questions. Is throwing a football from eight feet off the ground a good thing? Is it better than launching the ball from, say, seven feet and seven inches off the ground?

How high is Joe Flacco's launch point? Russell Wilson's? What's the average "launch platform" for an NFL quarterback? It has to be close to seven feet. Heck, I am only 5'9", but I can reach the flour on the top shelf of the pantry.

The same pregame show that brought us the "Ryan Mallett Is Tall" statistic ventured into Pythagorean theorem territory moments later, showing a downfield pass that traveled 47 yards in the air.

To be precise, the ball's two-dimensional displacement along the field was 47 yards. If a quarterback throws 35 yards downfield but about 32 yards across the field (roughly a hash mark to the opposite sideline), the ball is actually close to 47 yards in two-dimensional displacement.

The real distance the ball travels in three dimensions can only be found if you know the ball's trajectory: Higher trajectories mean more total distance, but they require arc-length formulas to calculate, which is more calculus than you need in Hangover. The point is that we have no frame of reference for any of these numbers, except for the yards marked out on the field and the yards gained on a play.

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 23:  Ryan Mallett #15 of the Houston Texans during second half action against the Cincinnati Bengals at NRG Stadium on November 23, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

No one cares that a wide receiver screen actually traveled 22 yards sideways: If the receiver gets tackled immediately, it's a zero-yard pass. If I throw a football 30 feet in the air to clear an electrical wire and it lands in my son's arms 15 feet away, no one would consider that a 25-yard (or whatever) pass.

Picking out some semi-deep passes and applying high school math to make them more impressive is a great way to sound scientific while actually providing the exact opposite of information.

Regular readers know that I have been affiliated with Football Outsiders for years and use stats all the time. The key to those statistics is context. Tom Brady completed 71.4 percent of his short passes before Sunday's game. You don't know if that is a high percentage or low until I reveal that the NFL completion rate is 68.6.

You can still draw all sorts of conclusions from the Brady completion stat, but it was just an isolated tidbit of quasi-information without context, just like Mallett's allegedly eight-foot launch height of a ball that travels 47 yards sideways.

These new stats aren't really stats, you see. They are stat-flavored baubles fastened onto telecasts by television producers who like to create graphics that pretend to be colorful and informative but are simply colorful.

Kids love fantasy football and computer games! Let's trace the receiver's path with a thick blue line, then add a bunch of decimals! The "Next-Level Stats" are like the blinking lights on the bridge of the old Star Trek Enterprise: They do nothing except maintain the illusion that science stuff is happening.

After Latavius Murray ran 90 yards for a touchdown Thursday night, a highlight graphic tracked his miles per hour along the sideline, topping out in the high teens. If you want to turn anyone's 40-yard dash time into miles per hour, take the number 81.81 and divide it by that person's 40 time in seconds.

A player who can run a 4.40-second 40-yard dash—there are a few dozen of them in the NFL right now—can run at 18.6 miles per hour. Chris Johnson's combine record 4.24 40-yard dash works out to 19.29 miles per hour. Anytime a running back or wide receiver is sprinting full speed up a sideline, it is likely that he is running at about 17-18 miles per hour.

That does not make Murray's run any less impressive, though it again makes me question the graphic creator's mathematics: Murray ran some 4.39 40s entering the draft, but they were not on soaked grass after having already run 40 yards into the open field. Calculation errors aside, the NFL is full of guys who run that fast, who throw footballs 47 yards and launch them from eight feet in the air.

There's a wealth of data that could be gathered using the physics of the football field as a laboratory. We could time players' acceleration to full speed after cuts, collect the data and compare it, to determine the "quickest" players.

Measuring the real displacement of passes could help us move past the "rocket, cannon arm" stage of quarterback evaluation: Andy Dalton can throw accurately 47 yards downfield, but only between the numbers, while Aaron Rodgers maintains accuracy even on passes with 55 yards of displacement.

Maybe the height of a quarterback's throwing platform is a thing, and it can be used to scout a rookie or improve a passer's faulty mechanics.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

But nobody is doing that stuff right now. Instead, broadcasters are using their awesome resources to festoon highlights with "drama digits." It's silly, uninformative and it gives statistical analysis a bad name. Real statisticians want to tell you things that can help you understand the game better or make better predictions, not figure out if a player is breaking a residential speed limit.

There's an old saying about statistics being used the way a drunk uses a lamppost: for support instead of illumination. The broadcasters are using them the way junior high kids use glitter paint: not to make pictures look accurate or appealing, just bright and sparkly.

If the broadcasts really need stats, there are plenty of experts who can provide stats. If all they need is something futuristic to gussy up the highlights, they should stick with dancing robots.

Last Call

One last look at the compelling images from Sunday's action:

Odell Beckham Jr.'s Catch

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Spectacular stuff. David Tyree made the most important reception in modern Giants history, but Beckham's was the most beautiful I can remember. It is probably the best single-play highlight since Jerome Simpson's Spider-Man flip into the end zone for the Bengals a few years ago. And NBC foreshadowed the catch during Football Night in America by showing Beckham hauling in one-handed grabs during warm-ups.

When watching Beckham's catch for the 200th time, take note of the guy in the background among the still photographers who signals touchdown just as Beckham lands and the pass-interference flags fly.

The guy is among the photographers, in a spot on the field where only photographers are usually permitted. He is dressed like a photographer. He is holding something in his hand that appears too small to be a professional camera, but you never know these days. Instead of cheering for the most photogenic touchdown of the year, perhaps he should be...snapping a picture of it?

That's the kind of thing you wonder about when watching a replay for the 200th time.

T.Y Hilton's Bouncing Baby Fantasy Touchdown

Hilton's wife, Shantrell, gave birth Sunday morning, and Hilton's agent delivered the news in a way that reminds us that no one on earth quite has his priorities in order like a sports agent:

Erik Burkhardt @ErikBurkhardt

For all fantasy footballers: Yes, @TYHilton13 will make it to the stadium by kickoff & told me "it's the right thing to do to get her a TD"

Is there any more magical time in a young couple's life than the moment a paid representative announces to the world that the newly arrived bundle of joy will cause no inconvenience whatsoever to millions of strangers eager to make the daddy an ancillary part of their quasi-gambling-related weekend entertainment activities?

The Hiltons should get one of those plywood storks for outside of their home: "It's a girl! Four catches, 122 yards and one touchdown. Father's availability for endorsements remains high!"

AJ Mast/Associated Press

To be fair, Burkhardt did announce the baby's birth in a separate tweet before offering his hot fantasy take on the joyous miracle. And Hilton cradled the football after catching a touchdown pass against the Jaguars. Awwwwwww. Try cradling it at 3 a.m. when it is screaming and body fluids are flying out of orifices you didn't even know could secrete. The agent won't be there then.

Marshawn Lynch Speaks to Media

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 23:  Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on November 23, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 19-3.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Having been slapped with a $100,000 fine for not fulfilling his contractual obligation to speak to the media, Lynch offered mostly one-word answers instead of saying, "I have tremendous respect for my opponent," or "We're just taking it one game at a time," like a true font of witty repartee, the fiend.

How can I possibly provide NFL-flavored infotainment when Lynch will not spout the same cliches every other athlete provides? Lynch's refusal to speak to the media actually provided much better copy than Lynch speaking to the media, so he was really helping us with his silence. Helping me, anyway: I don't fill my articles with, "We're just taking it one game at a time."

Troy Aikman's Bristly Beard

Guy Gordon @newsGuy760

I was self-conscious about my beard until I saw Troy Aikman and Joe Buck. They look like extras in a spaghetti Western. #Movember

He's been growing that thing for, what, a month now? It still looks like an abandoned parking lot stretched across his cheeks. Some of us can grow awesome beards in the time it takes for the Eagles and Titans to complete a game, others can wear three Super Bowl rings and a Hall of Fame jacket to social gatherings.

Take what you have, Troy, and leave the rest of us with what we have.

Mike Tanier covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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