For those of you not in the know, I have a ritual with my closest friends, Mike, Carol and Lars. Every Sunday, we gather at one of our places (it works on a rotating basis) and spend the afternoon (and sometimes evening) drinking, eating bad food and throwing snarky comments at the screen. It’s like Mystery Science Theatre 3000 with bad football rather than bad movies. Sadly, this past week, my parents were in town and I spent Sunday afternoon showing them around the Cities while I pretended to be interested in news from my old hometown and they pretended not to be horrified by the city. (They are small-town folk to a fault.) So, most of what I’m writing about this week is cobbled together from recaps and the bits I was able to watch on Thursday and Monday nights. Bear with me…
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH:
FANTASY OWNER OF THE WEEK: Lars
When Lars drafted Aaron Rodgers and followed up with Marshawn Lynch, not to mention a couple of canny speculative choices further down the board, he seemed like he’d have the team to beat. Instead, while Rodgers has been as good as always, Lynch has spent most of his time eating bonbons and reading Martha Stewart Living and the rest of his team has apparently been on a field trip to Flushing Meadows. The result was a 1-3 start and a series of disappointments for the once-mighty Sex Machine. (I’ll let you insert your own joke here. Wait, I might have already done it.) This week’s output of 48 points wasn’t any more impressive, but Lars gets this award based on: a) his canny decision to replace the Beast Formerly Known as Marshawn Lynch with Thomas Rawls, Lynch’s replacement for the Seahawks and b) his defeat of Robbie, thus preventing a week’s worth of “You can FedEx me the trophy right now” texts. Lars, I am in your debt.
FANTASY PLAYER OF THE WEEK: The Denver Broncos defense
As I said, I spent this past Sunday with my parents. While this prevented me from watching football, it did not prevent me from surreptitiously checking my phone about 500 times during dinner. My parents are probably under the impression that I am either a) dating a woman that wouldn’t approve of or b) a drug dealer. What kind of son ignores his parents and the trappings of a fine Italian restaurant? The kind who’s locked in a battle with Carol for fantasy league supremacy. The entire afternoon was a back and forth affair, each of us enjoying fantasy surprises and misfires…until the Denver Broncos D took the field. By the end of the afternoon, they’d amassed two fumble recoveries, four sacks and a pick six; turning the game into a lopsided win for Carol and leaving me cursing into my spumoni. Clearly, it’s not just the Corpse of Peyton Manning who’s benefiting from these guys.
PICK UP OF THE WEEK: Me Taking Allen Hurns
Short at receiver, due to Brandon Marshall’s bye week, I took a flyer on the Jacksonville WR. Hurns delivered over a hundred yards receiving and a TD, putting me in line for Fantasy Owner of the Week…until the Denver Broncos D took the field. (Seriously, I’m never going to enjoy spumoni again. Not that I liked it that much to begin with, but if I’ve got someone to blame for it…)
KICK IN THE NUTS AWARD: Matthew Stafford
To say this hasn’t exactly been a dream season for Stafford is sort of like saying that Scott Walkers’ Presidential campaign didn’t turn out like he hoped. Detroit is 0-5, Stafford’s thrown more picks (8) than TDs (6) and his quarterback rating resembles, well, Scott Walker’s poll numbers. On the bright side, he’s gotten the living crap kicked out of him on a regular basis. Things may have reached their low point this past Sunday when Stafford, after tossing three picks, was pulled in favor of Dan Orlovsky. Yeah, THAT Dan Orlovsky. The guy who once got a safety because he didn’t realize he had scrambled five feet beyond the back of the end zone. (I was at that game. The funny part was that Robbie, Stoner and I were convinced Orlovsky had stepped out on the previous play, but the officials didn’t call it. Surely, we thought, he wouldn’t be dumb enough to do it ag…nope, there he goes.) I’d like to think this was rock-bottom for Stafford, but the last time Dan Orlovsky appeared in a Lions’ game, the team wound up going 0-16 that season. On the bright side, it enabled them to draft Matthew Staff…man, there’s no bright side to this, is there?
ASSCLOWN OF THE WEEK: Ryan Mallet
Though Mallet didn’t play horribly in the first half of the Texans’ game against the Colts, he was pulled after getting his bell rung on a Roughing the Passer penalty. His replacement, Brian Hoyer, tossed a 42 yard TD pass on the next drive. Mallet’s reaction, to a score that put his team back in the game, mind you, was to stand on the sidelines and act like somebody just keyed his car. The word on Mallet coming out of college was that he had a million dollar arm and a two cent head. Fortunately, he’s proved the naysayers…right.
FOSSIL OF THE WEEK AWARD: Matt Hasselbeck
Mallet’s frustration might have been eased somewhat if he wasn’t getting his ass kicked by Hasselbeck, the Colts’ backup QB. It’s safe to say that nobody outside of Colts’ HQ or Hasselbeck’s immediate family had any idea he was still in the league until about a week-and-a-half ago. Seriously, if you had glanced at ESPN when you got the news that Andrew Luck was hurt and you found out that Joe Namath was the back up, would you have been any less surprised? The fact that Hasselbeck has done reasonably well (48 of 76, 495 yards, 3 TDs, no picks) only adds to the surprise. Now we need Hasselbeck to go away before Trent Dilfer starts getting any ideas…
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart, (sadly, no longer the funniest man on TV…sigh) I give you…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: The Return of Greg Hardy
There is nothing about the saga of Greg Hardy that makes anyone involved in the NFL look good. Hardy, as you may recall, got into legal trouble last year for physically abusing his then-girlfriend; an incident that culminated with him pushing her down on a sofa covered with firearms (the sort of thing that would give Wayne Lapierre a woody, but is horrifying to most of us.) A judge eventually found him guilty, but Hardy appealed and requested a jury trial. When the victim failed to appear in court, the charges were dropped. Roger Goodell, using the league’s Make S**t Up As We Go Along disciplinary policy, placed Hardy on the exempt list, effectively suspending him with pay. This past April, Goodell gave Hardy a 10 game suspension. As is the case with Goodell’s every suspension, it was reduced by an independent arbiter, down to 4 games. The Panthers had the good taste to release Hardy during this time. Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, for whom good taste has never been a stumbling block, promptly signed Hardy.
Fast forward to this past week, in which Hardy was activated and allowed to join the Cowboys. During his initial press conference, apart from bizarre comments about Tom Brady’s wife (although in this case, who HASN’T made a bizarre comment about Tom Brady’s wife), we got this gem:
“I hope I come out guns blazing…full of juice.”
At best, that quote is stunningly tone-deaf. At worst, it represents the thoughts of a sociopath who truly doesn’t understand what he did wrong. You know a quote is bad when Jerry Jones, the crown (or some would say, clown) prince of loquaciousness, is left speechless. Well, not quite speechless. Jones’ actual reply was:
“Oh my goodness.” Then a long pause and then, “Well, you’re not allowed to have guns on the football field. We all know that’s just a way of expressing yourself. I hope his guns are a-blazin’.”
And WE all knew Jerry would find a way to enable his high-priced idiot man-child, but that it took him several moments to get there speaks volumes. In the days since, many commentators have been moved to condemn Hardy and, to a lesser extent, Jones. Jim Nance took the time to state how despicable he finds Hardy and this is a man who has to put up with Phil Simms on a weekly basis. Even Terry Bradshaw, not normally a lightening rod for controversy, joined the fray, saying a man who puts his hands on a woman should not be allowed in the league. (I’m guessing Terry either misspoke slightly or he was giving us more insight into the 70’s Steelers locker room than we really wanted.)
As I said, there’s nothing redeeming about anything in this saga. Ironically, the central figure, Hardy, is so irredeemable he’s not worth noting. In the words of the underrated Ron White, you can’t fix stupid. Jones can justify his signing Hardy as a business decision and most folks will let it go at that. The saddest part is the realization of WHY Greg Hardy is allowed to play and Ray Rice is treated as if he’s radioactive. What both men did was despicable, but Rice made the fatal mistake of a), getting caught on tape and b) being perceived as past his prime. Since Hardy doesn’t have to contend with either of those, he’s back to drawing a paycheck.
Speaking of which, Greg Hardy collected 13 million dollars for sitting at home last season. The average salary for an EMT is $31,000. Next time someone tells us they hate football, maybe we ought to give them a minute to state their case.
Peyton’s Heroes (Carol) 4-1
The Rat Pack (Me) 3-2
The Winter Soldiers (Mike) 3-2
Chuck (Chuck) 2-3
The Sex Machine (Lars) 2-3
Deflated Balls (Robbie) 3-2
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 3-2
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 2-3
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 2-3
Favre’s Dong (Jack) 2-3