So I celebrated the first week of football by having people over to my place. They spent the afternoon eating my food, clearing out my booze and ridiculing me mercilessly. Meantime, I was forced to watch the team I own completely and totally under-perform. Now I know what every Sunday feels like for Daniel Snyder.
On to it…
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH:
FANTASY PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Rob Gronkowski
The Patriots’ All-Pro TE/Idiot Man-child caught three TD passes during Thursday night’s opener, prompting about five hundred gloating text messages from my buddy Robbie regarding the crack I made about about him overpaying for Gronk. I’m sure I’ll live that down…five minutes after either Gronk suffers a season-ending injury or Robbie drops dead.
Meantime, allow me to quote Gronk’s post-game comments. “Gronk have fun time. Catch many balls in end zone. Gronk have to catch balls or Pretty Man get mad and yell at Gronk. Gronk not see bad Roger man. He make Gronk mad. Gronk smash! Gronk know nothing about air in footballs. Mean Coach tell Gronk nothing. Gronk only pawn in game of life. Gronk go drink beer now.”
FANTASY OWNER OF THE WEEK: Robbie
Our defending champion again proved why he is the least popular player in the league (and this is a league that includes Stoner, mind you.) Not only did Robbie swipe Peyton Manning out from under Carol’s nose, there is the aforementioned series of gloating texts. Still, there’s no denying the 78-39 beat down he put on Hal. By the end of it, Ralph Wiggum was weeping and saying, “Stop! Stop! He’s already dead!” However, not everything was sunny for Robbie, because…
INSTANT KARMA AWARD: Carol
With Peyton no longer available, Carol was forced to go with her rebound hook-up, Tony Romo. Romo responded with over 300 yards passing and three TDs. Throw in the work of Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and Denver’s defense and Carol rolled to this week’s high score among owners. Robbie might have been able to top her, but, oh yeah, Peyton Manning had less than 200 yards passing and no TDs. Nelson Muntz? “Ha-HA!”
ASSCLOWN OF WEEK AWARD: Ndamukong Suh
Suh, who may or may not be Darth Vader, remained his reliable thug self by booting the helmet off Redskins RB Alfred Morris. At this point, it’s safe to say that Suh is never going to get his act together. Once upon a time, I thought it was the atmosphere created by Detroit Head Coach/Clearly Insane Person Jim Schwartz. Maybe it was, but Suh’s managed to cannily put himself in a situation where, team wise, he can act with impunity. Last season, he was in a contract year and dealing with a new coach in Jim Caldwell (never a pillar of player discipline in the first place), so he was largely untouchable. This season, he’s moved on to Miami and coach Joe Philbin, whose job is so secure he may not to have to worry about that milk in the fridge going bad before he has to move. So not a guy in a position to tell Suh what to do. And there’s the distinct possibility that Suh doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong, because there’s every reason to believe he’s a sociopath.
Well, leave it to commissioner Roger Goodell. He’ll…ah damn…
ROGER GOODELL IS SCREWING UP THE NFL AWARD: The Monday night doubleheader.
Opening Monday is the night when the NFL allows a network it barely trusts (ESPN) to broadcast TWO games. The second half of the doubleheader is always the fun one, since it’s done by the ESPN B-team. And since they don’t usually broadcast more than one game a week, ESPN doesn’t technically HAVE a B-team. So we’re treated to studio analysts getting in over their head due to the lack of a teleprompter. On the bright side, there’s an Anything Can Happen feel to a game being broadcast while three-quarters of the country has gone to bed.
CHRIS BERMAN: Welcome back. I’m Chris Berman. Joining me for the second half is Trent Dilfer; replacing Dick Vermiel, who died at halftime.
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart (sigh, no longer the funniest man on TV)…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: Tom Brady Starts Week One
This has been coming for the entire off-season, so I’ll use the first week’s platform to get this off my chest. Criticizing every bullcalf blunder of Goodell’s tenure would require far more time, space and interest than I have right at the moment. So I’m going to confine my comments to the mountain he made (and is still making) out of what should have been the molehill known as Deflategate.
If Goodell were not hard-wired to make every situation a test of his manhood, he could have easily made Deflategate go away. In fact, the out was sitting right in front of him. I’m not sure if the public realizes this (thanks to the disinformation the NFL spreads through its tame media allies), but the couple of footballs (not 11 of 12 as Chris Mortenson was ordered to lie about, but just a couple) whose inflation levels were found to be below regulation were used in the first half of the AFC Championship Game. That means the footballs used in the second half (the half in which New England outscored Indianapolis 28-0) were all at acceptable inflation levels. That means, say it with me now, THE FOOTBALLS THAT WERE ALLEGEDLY DEFLATED HAD NO AFFECT ON THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME.
As Goodell showed in the “We need to get this right” press conference following the Ray Rice debacle, he’s good at hammering home talking points until they become a mantra. And with aforementioned tame media on his side, Goodell has the option of pretty much controlling the league’s public relations agenda. I can guarantee you that if he had called a press conference and said, to this effect, “While the situation is unfortunate, we are going to make sure our officials are more diligent about measuring the inflation levels in the footballs going forward. And we will do everything in our power to make sure this doesn’t happen again. For the time being though, there is no need to investigate the incident because, as the results of the game clearly showed, THE FOOTBALLS THAT WERE ALLEGEDLY DEFLATED HAD NO AFFECT ON THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME.” If he had used that phrase somewhere in his answer to every single question of this hypothetical press conference, the entire issue would have dropped from the public’s consciousness by the time of the NFL draft.
Instead, Goodell commissioned the supposedly-independent Wells Report and then let Jeff Pash, the NFL’s general counsel, assist in editing it. With almost no evidence to support an accusation of any kind, he dropped the hammer on the Patriots, leveling fines and taking away draft picks. New England owner Robert Kraft (formerly a Goodell ally) could have challenged the penalty, but swallowed it instead, thinking if he did so the commissioner wouldn’t go after Tom Brady. However, Goodell hit Brady with a four game suspension, turning the flimsy Wells Report conclusion that Brady “probably knew about” the unproven scheme into Brady “definitely knew about” it, despite the lack of ANY additional evidence (or really, any evidence in the first place.) When Brady appealed the suspension (to Goodell, who somehow gets to hear appeals of his own decisions), Goodell denied Brady access to Pash (who co-edited the report that was being used as evidence against Brady) and the league’s investigative notes. (The same person hears both the accusation and the appeal and denies the defense access to the evidence being used against them. Webster’s dictionary could not define “kangaroo court” any better than that.) These and other procedural blunders led Federal judge Richard Berman to throw out Goodell’s arbitration decision against Brady. (You know how often Federal judges throw out arbitrator’s decisions? Think Bigfoot sightings and you’re in the ballpark.) The NFL has appealed, but Berman’s opinion was so definitive that the very rarity of the judge’s actions is about all the NFL has to hang its hat on.
By the by, the league’s tab for this little imbroglio is three million dollars and counting. And just what has that three million dollars bought? The NFL has yet another legal defeat, yet another public relations debacle and yet another instance in which the commissioner is being held up for ridicule. Oh, and Tom Brady’s starting the 2015 season, just as he would have been if Goodell had taken the out that was sitting in front of him nine months ago.
Shrewd, Roger. Always shrewd.
Peyton’s Heroes (Carol) 1-0
The Rat Pack (Me) 1-0
Chuck (Chuck) 1-0
The Winter Soldiers (Mike) 0-1
The Sex Machine (Lars) 0-1
Deflated Balls (Robbie) 1-0
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 1-0
Favre’s Dong (Jack) 0-1
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 0-1
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 0-1