The surviving members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins team have a tradition. Every year, when the last previously-unbeaten team is defeated and the Dolphins’ legacy is secure, they raise a toast to being the only people on the planet who still care about that accomplishment. In my fantasy league, we have a somewhat similar tradition. Every year, when the last previously-unbeaten team is defeated, most of us gather at The Tav and raise a glass in memory of the year Robbie gloated his way through an undefeated regular season and then got his ass handed to him in the first round of the playoffs. Robbie, obviously, skips this occasion. (I don’t know if the memory still rankles, but I do know that he didn’t leave the house for three months after the loss.) This year, we got together at The Tav and celebrated again, as Carol’s undefeated streak ended at three games. I’m happy to report there was a wonderful evening of laughing, drinking and sending Robbie text messages that he didn’t return.
And some other stuff happened. Let’s get to it…
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH:
FANTASY PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Devonta Freeman
Freeman, a second year running back for Atlanta, officially made the leap to Fantasy Beast with his second huge performance in a row, picking up three TDs, 68 yards rushing, 81 yards receiving, a 2 point conversion, 7 cheerleaders and 58 beers. This week, fortunately, it did somebody some good, as Jack picked up Freeman and threw him into the starting line up. It would have done a lot more good if the rest of Jack’s team hadn’t spent the weekend performing a group toidy. The final results: Freeman scores 25 points. The rest of Jack’s TEAM scores 27. And Jack loses. Normally, enough for a Kick in the Nuts Award, but…
KICK IN THE NUTS AWARD: Lars
Lars and I battled in this week’s version of the Incompetence Bowl, neither of our line ups exactly setting the world on fire. Things were close going into Monday night and Lars was banking on a possible contribution from Marshawn Lynch. Yes, Lynch was supposed to be a game-time decision, but this is Beast Mode, right? Nothing can stop Lynch except a Mack Truck and maybe a crucifix. On Sunday, though, Pete Carroll announced that Lynch was out for Monday night, too late for Lars to make a change, as the rosters were locked. On the bright side, Carroll is now the most hated fantasy-related coach since the Evil Mike Shanahan. Didn’t do Lars much good. (Although Peter King referred to Lynch as “iconoclastic”; a variation of the word Lars used to confuse Jack and win the bidding war for Lynch. And Lars is about the only one who could be comforted by a thing like that. So he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.)
ASSCLOWN OF THE WEEK, PART 1: Ndamukong Suh
I’m thinking about renaming this the Ndamukong Suh Memorial Assclown of the Week Award (in anticipation of the glorious day when this particular turd is flushed from the NFL.) Suh was his usual self this week, but on a different continent. This week, Suh’s bag of tricks has included: kicking Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the head, getting run over by Jets RB Chris Ivory then loafing after Ivory as he gained 17 yards, doing yeoman’s work to get his coach fired and generally playing the part of a sociopath who got a big pay day and has no desire to work for another one. Jim Caldwell’s Detroit team is 0-4 and yet I’ll bet every day Caldwell pours himself a scotch and celebrates not having Suh in his life anymore. By the way, before we get to Part Two of this award…
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “No. Not at all. I’m worried about getting this team straightened out, fixed.”- Joe Philbin
That was Philbin’s post-game response to a question asking if he was concerned about his job status. Less than 24 hours later, Dolphins owner Steven Ross canned Philbin. No word on whether he let Philbin get all the way back to Miami or if he just opened the plane door and shoved Philbin into the Atlantic Ocean.
ASSCLOWN OF THE WEEK, PART 2: Josh Scobee
On Thursday night, the Steelers’ kicker managed to shank two FGs that would have put the game away and dropped their hated rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, to 0-4. Once the game reached overtime, Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin TWICE attempted to convert fourth downs rather than let His Shankness try to win the game. Neither attempt worked and the Ravens ultimately pulled the game out and probably saved their season. Scobee was released the next day, hopefully after he’d been pantsed and swirlied by the rest of the team.
I’ve heard more than a few retired NFL players talk about their hatred of kickers. You can put your whole effort into winning the game, only to have it undone by a guy who literally HAS ONE JOB TO DO! It’s like baking and decorating the perfect cake, only to have your aunt Marge write “Hapy Birthday” in the frosting. Fortunately, kickers are about as disposable as red Solo cups, so Scobee will be easily replaced by, I don’t know, Phil from accounting.
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart, (sadly, no longer the funniest man on TV…sigh) I give you…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: Ref-less in Seattle
On a night in which ESPN announcers Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden spent time reliving the Fail Mary TD/Act of Highway Robbery from a few years back, the refs, again, managed to screw over a Seattle opponent. With the Lions deep in Seattle territory and trailing by 3 in the closing minutes, Calvin Johnson took a Matthew Stafford pass and dove toward the end zone. Before he could get there, though, Seattle DB Kam Chancellor managed to knock the ball free. As it bounced near the back of the end zone, Seattle LB K.J. Wright batted the ball out of bounds. The refs called the play a touchback and Seattle ran the clock out to win the game. Watching the game at home, I turned to Lars right after the bat and said, “Can he do that? That’s got to be illegal.” My suspicions were confirmed after the game when former referee Gerry Wright, now an ESPN analyst, said the play was illegal and the Lions should have gotten the ball back, half the distance to the goal and first down. This absolutely flabbergasted ESPN talking heads Steve Young, Trent Dilfer and Ray Lewis (with a collective 46 NFL seasons under them) who had no idea such a rule existed. It led to this faux-exchange:
YOUNG: Gerry, is this a new rule? What about when a punter kicks the ball out of the back of the end zone?
ME: That’s because he’s trying to get a safety, not a touchback, you idiot!
(Sadly, Young did not hear me, but my neighbor across the hall did. She politely asked me to keep it down.)
Of course, the referees will receive a slap on the wrist and the outcome of the game will not be changed. (Roger Goodell’s fetish for draconian punishment only extends to players and coaches.) This now makes TWO victories Seattle’s been gifted in the past few seasons; gained through nothing other than officiating incompetence. And it’s not likely that anyone will say anything. It makes you wonder if there would be the same level of indifference if this sort of thing took place in another NFL city, like say, just to bat around a name, FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS?
Peyton’s Heroes (Carol) 3-1
The Rat Pack (Me) 3-1
Chuck (Chuck) 2-2
The Winter Soldiers (Mike) 2-2
The Sex Machine (Lars) 1-3
Deflated Balls (Robbie) 3-1
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 2-2
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 2-2
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 2-2
Favre’s Dong (Jack) 1-3