I’ll admit that being an NFL fan is becoming more and more problematic. The NFL Commissioner is that lovely cocktail of cluelessness and decisiveness. A growing number of sociopaths seem to occupy roster spots. And the less said about concussions, the better (which is pretty much the NFL’s policy on the subject.) Not to mention the kerfuffle about Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest has brought out the worst jingoism in NFL players, fans, coaches and talking heads (and I will be mentioning it later.) So I hope you’d understand if I just decided to give the whole thing a miss.
On the other hand…
I wouldn’t know what to do on the first Sunday after Labor Day if I wasn’t hosting a football gathering. Carol brought a variety of baked goods. Mike contributed chips and copious amounts of beer. Lars even hauled his grill up from downstairs to do the cooking (for all his other faults, Lars is a grill-master. Which comes in handy because the cheap-ass propane grill I bought a few years back comes with two settings: Off and Towering Inferno.) Spending the better part of a day with my friends, getting drunk and throwing smart ass remarks at the screen? I can’t give that up. It’s like that exchange in Clerks. “You hate people.” “Yeah, but I love gatherings.”
Let’s just do this…
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH
FANTASY OWNER OF THE WEEK: Stoner
Reports of Stoner’s death have been greatly exaggerated. After seeing Stoner get out-Stonered by Chuck at the draft, everyone figured we were seeing the end of an era (an era of evil, but you can even get used to evil after a while. We may find that out in a few months.) With that in mind, this week’s game between Stoner and Chuck looked like a passing of the torch. Instead, Stoner stuck the dagger in Chuck and pulled out his first win. While his point total wasn’t impressive, Stoner’s team has the same “plenty of tools in the toolbox” feeling that’s served him so well in the past. Chuck’s luck was so bad, he even lost Keenan Allen for the season (although I wouldn’t be surprised if Stoner took out a hit on Allen’s knee.)
DUMBASS OWNER OF THE WEEK: Hal
In one sense, I really shouldn’t take Hal to the cleaners on this. Dumbass Owner, ideally, goes to someone who missed an obvious move and lost in an excruciating way. There was really nothing wrong with Hal’s lineup. But when you lose by 3 points and DeMarco Murray, Latavius Murray and Willie Snead are all playing pinochle on the bench, well, I’m sorry. My hands are tied.
FANTASY PLAYER OF THE WEEK: The Minnesota Vikings Defense
Until last year, we had two unwritten rules in my fantasy league: let Carol have Peyton Manning and let Jack have the Vikings’ defense. Robbie shattered the former rule last year by outbidding Carol for Manning (joke was on Robbie. Sure, Peyton won a Super Bowl, but in fantasy terms, he was only slightly more useless than Irving the Towel Boy for the Cobb-Cook Elementary team [Go Cougars!]) The latter rule, at least, was honored again this year, despite the growing worth of the Vikings’ D. Jack and the Vikings had parallel games on Sunday. Neither team could score for crap, looked to be on their way to a season opening humiliation, only to be saved by the Vikings’ D. I get the feeling both Jack and Mike Zimmer reacted the same way: locked themselves in a room, uncapped a bottle of gin and dissolved into tears.
CM PUNK REAR-NAKED CHOKE AWARD: (tie) Graham Gano & Chandler Catanzaro
(I promised Robbie, the biggest MMA fan I know, that I would use this award, no matter how homoerotic it sounds. Probably doesn’t help that I’m giving it to two guys. Insert your own homoerotic…y’know what? I’m going to stop here.)
Eons ago, when TNT still broadcast Sunday night games, I remember one of their analysts, a former football player, talking about how much he hated kickers. He said, in essence, “You work your butt off the whole game and it comes down to this flaky idiot with one job to do. And you have to hope he does it.” That was reinforced this past weekend as BOTH participants in last season’s NFC Title Game lost their season openers on a shanked field goal at the end. I think football needs to amend the team concept slightly; adjust it to: “We win as a team, we lose as a team. Unless that little nose-picking bastard over there f**ks up the ONE thing we ask him to do. Then the loss is ALL his fault.” So Gano, Catanzaro, Blair Walsh, Gary Anderson, Scott Norwood, you can all go suck a monkey. You get no sympathy in this corner.
THE MAGIC JOHNSON HOUSEGUEST WHO WOULDN’T LEAVE AWARD: Peyton Manning
Foolishly, I thought the end of Peyton Manning’s playing career would be the end of his career as a pitchman. Clearly, the NFL has moved on, but Madison Avenue has not. Peyton is still on my TV screen, both in the usual Papa John’s commercials and for Direct TV. In fact, there’s a whole slew of Direct TV ads, also featuring Lionel Richie. (At least, I think it’s Lionel Richie. If you told me it was some dude in a Lionel Richie mask, I’d believe you.) THIS version of Peyton Manning may never go away. My six-year-old niece loves Peyton and doesn’t even know he was a football player. He’s more TV character than man now. He’s basically a taller Fred Flintstone.
(ALSO, one of my favorite lines from yesterday: Carol watched the Peyton-makes-cupcakes ad and said, “Does it look like they CGI’ed Papa John into that commercial?”
VANDAL SAVAGE “THE GUY WILL NOT STAY DEAD” AWARD: Larry Fitzgerald
Last season, Larry Fitzgerald had a “How The Mighty Have Fallen” moment in my draft when he was picked in a low round for virtually no money. I’m not going to say it motivated Fitzgerald to make a comeback. Because that would be utterly stupid. Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t know I exist and I don’t think that particular bit of ignorance is keeping him up nights. Regardless, Fitzgerald DID have a great season, to the tune of a career high in receptions and the best season he’d had in TDs and yardage since 2011. Coming into this season, we’ve started to hear rumblings that Fitzgerald is considering retirement. This exchange pretty much sums up my feelings on that.
Mike: You hear Fitzgerald is thinking about hanging it up?
Carol: (watching Fitzgerald catch his umpteenth pass of the game) Why?
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart (whenever he chooses to show up, the funniest man on TV)…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: The Colin Kaepernick Kerfuffle
If you’ve clicked on this blog and gotten this far into it, you’re enough of a football fan that I don’t need to go over Kaepernick’s recent refusal to stand for the National Anthem; protesting social injustice that has been in the spotlight the last few years. In an election year that’s nasty enough to begin with, Kap’s protest has brought out a diversity of opinions. Some support Kaepernick’s stand. Some do not, but recognize his right to do it. Some think it’s across-the-board disgraceful. Some think it’s simply an unnecessary distraction.
ESPN talking head and poster boy for Teams Who Won The Super Bowl with A S**ty QB Trent Dilfer jumped on this last point, saying Kaepernick was guilty of not putting the team first. Hey Trent-o, maybe if the whole country put the TEAM first, Kaepernick wouldn’t have anything to protest. Kate Upton called the protest disgraceful, saying it was disrespectful to the military. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the military protecting our freedoms, particularly with the way they photograph themselves with naked guy piles, but I would like to point out that it is the NATIONAL Anthem, not the military-only anthem. It belongs to dissenting as voices as well. And of course, there are those who come down on Kaepernick by saying he has no right to do this, conveniently ignoring that his right to do this is enshrined in the Constitution, on the line above the right these yahoos quote every time someone shoots up a school.
Where I have a hard time following the likes of Dilfer and Upton is the lack of awareness in their opinions. The hardest thing Kate Upton ever had to deal with was a bunch of junior high girls making fun of her big boobs; the same big boobs that are the only reason I know who the hell Kate Upton is in the first place. And Trent Dilfer’s tragic flaw is the creeping awareness that he was paid millions of dollars to do a job he wasn’t very good at. Neither of these people, or millions like them, know what it is to be discriminated against, to live in fear of people who are supposed to be protecting them, to realize that rising and falling by your own merits means you must first be given the OPPORTUNITY to rise and fall by your merits. But while I vigorously disagree with people like Dilfer and Upton, I will gladly recognize their right to express these opinions.
So let’s give Colin Kaepernick the right to express his.
Brian’s Song (Carol) 1-0
Teddy’s ACL (Robbie) 1-0
War Machine (Jack) 1-0
The Rat Pack (Me) 0-1
The Winter Soldiers (Mike) 0-1
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 1-0
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 1-0
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 0-1
The Flaming Envelopes (Lars) 0-1
Chuck (Chuck) 0-1