I have to admit, folks: I’m not in the best of moods this week. My girlfriend, Toni, has decided to date other people (the main criteria being: they must not be me.) I decided to drown what passes for my sorrows by giving the apartment a thorough cleaning. This included the one household chore I’m not good at doing regularly: cleaning the oven. Fortunately, I have a self-cleaning oven, so I just have to set it and wait. Unfortunately, I did this right before bedtime and the burning of the melted cheese that had dripped to the bottom of the oven made the house look like a London fog. So I slept with the windows open. The result is that I have hypothermia and the whole place smells like burning ass.
On the bright side, I don’t play for Cleveland, so…
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH
FANTASY OWNER OF THE WEEK: Carol
Yeah, I’m giving this to Carol for the second week in a row and I don’t like it any better than you do. Carol certainly did her level best to contribute to my foul mood by breaking my two game winning streak. But I’ve got to give Carol her due: in a year in which nobody seems to have a dominant player or team, she’s managed to Energizer Bunny her way to a 5-0 record. Given the way the rest of the league is going, she may have already clinched a playoff spot. But if it furthers a narrative in which a qualified woman beats the living crap out of a mediocre man, I’m all for it.
DUMBASS OWNER OF THE WEEK: Mike
If I gave out a Dumbass Owner of the Draft, Mike certainly would have won it for spending over two-thirds of his mythical money drafting BOTH Cam Newton and Drew Brees. The postscript to that little bit of dumbassery arrived this week, much like a box of dog turds someone sent via Fed Ex. Newton was declared out after entering the NFL’s concussion protocol…on the same week that Brees and the Saints had a bye week. Mike was forced to pick up Ryan Tannehill, who Tannehilled his way to two whole points. Mike and I were sitting next to each other on the couch and I asked, “Which of his two points do you think was more impressive?” Mike didn’t respond, but he positioned his hand on his beer glass so that he spent the rest of the afternoon giving me the finger.
FANTASY PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Tom Brady
Brady returned from his Goodell-imposed suspension and had Angry Tom Brady on full display. He threw for 406 yards and three TDs, pissed on the NFL logo and drank blood out of a baby’s skull. The Patriots were clearly glad to have Brady back, none more so than Rob Gronkowski, who issued this quote:
GRONK: Gronk have good game. Mean Coach real mean when Pretty Man not here. Pretty Man throw ball to Gronk. Make Gronk have good game. Gronk missed him. Have deep feelings for Pretty Man. (Responding to follow up question.) No! Gronk straight!
SNATCH DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY AWARD: The San Diego Chargers
Chargers coach Mike McCoy seems like a good guy. A bit in over his head as an NFL coach, but otherwise a decent human being. Which makes me wonder why the football gods are so unfair as to make him suffer like this. To recap: in week 1, the Bolts blew a 17 point 4th quarter lead and lost in overtime to the Chiefs; a game in which, just for kicks, they lost WR Keenan Allen for the year. In Week 3, the Colts converted a 4th-and-7 play late, then followed up with a 63 yard throw-and-go TD to T.Y. Hilton to take the lead. The Chargers did their part by fumbling TWICE in the last minute to preserve the Indianapolis victory. As covered here last week, the Chargers fumbled twice in the last ten minutes to turn a 34-21 San Diego lead into a 35-34 New Orleans win. And this week, the Chargers had a chance to kick a tying field goal late against the Raiders, but rookie holder Drew Kaser fumbled the ball after the snap hit him in a difficult spot: his hands. But for about a minute’s worth of head-from-rectum extraction, the Chargers could be 5-0 right now instead of 1-4. At this point, I assume McCoy ends every post-game speech by screaming, “Hallelujah! Holy s**t! Where’s the Tylenol?”
ASSCLOWN OF THE WEEK: Roger Goodell
STAT OF THE WEEK: The price of Deflategate
$359,000. That, according to a calculation from ESPN’s Darren Rovell and broken down by SI’s Peter King, is the cost to each NFL owner for the court battle that upheld Roger Goodell’s collectively bargained right to make the rules up as he goes along. Now I realize that to a billionaire, $359,000 pretty much represents tip money. I will also point out that one generally doesn’t become a billionaire by TREATING $359,000 as tip money. But hey, what’s that compared to intangibles like deteriorating the relationship with the players, eroding public confidence in the NFL commissioner and possibly moving the league closer to a strike when the current CBA runs out in four years? As King put it, if I were an owner, I’d suggest to Goodell that next time, unless there’s actual smoking gun evidence of wrong-doing, a $25,000 fine and a strongly worded letter will suffice.
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart (whenever he chooses to show up, the funniest man on TV) I give you…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: The sidelining of Mike Tirico
I’ll admit: for years, I didn’t care for Tirico, the former voice of Monday Night Football. I had to finally realize that the antipathy was entirely based on a ridiculous statement Tirico made one night. While breaking down the Tony Dungy coaching tree, he mentioned Rod Marinelli (then in his first season as Lions’ coach) and said, “He’s changed the culture in Detroit and is getting good results.” The Lions were 2-11 at that point and still two seasons away from Marinelli authoring the NFL’s first and to date only (but we’re rooting for you, Cleveland!) 0-16 season. So yes, it was a dumb observation on Tirico’s part, but dumb of ME to hold it against him lo’ these many years. The fact is, Tirico might be the best play-by-play announcer in football. His work is smooth as silk, he NEVER stumbles over his words and he catches everything of significance in real time. (The number of announcers who need multiple replays to spot what I can see AS IT HAPPENS is staggering. And I’m not even that observant. If I was, I might have seen the Toni breakup coming. Sigh.) And Tirico did all this while spending years being tethered to Jon “I can’t believe they pay me for this s**t” Gruden.
At any rate, Tirico jumped ship earlier this summer, leaving ESPN for NBC and becoming Al Michaels’ likely successor. As part of that transition, it was expected that Tirico would handle NBC’s portion of the new Thursday Night Football agreement with CBS. However, the NFL nixed that by saying they made the agreement thinking they would get Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth and not what amounted to the B team. (That Tirico was viewed this way after hosting Monday Night Football for 10 seasons tells you just where MNF sits in the NFL’s eyes.) Tirico has been added as one of the hosts of Football Night in America (not exactly prestigious when you consider there are 36 people who serve as on-air talent for that thing) and has called a few Notre Dame home games with Doug Flutie. That benefits me as a Notre Dame fan, but I feel a bit like a barfly in a dive watching a kickass band play a sleepy Thursday night. “What the hell are you guys doing here? You should be in the big time!”
So now, Al Michaels is the only thing standing in the way of watching the best play-by-play announcer in the game get paired with the best color commentator in the game. But hey, it’s not like Al’s prone to hijacking a broadcast at the first sign of a game not meeting his exacting standards for excitement or that his only relevant moment as a broadcaster pre-dated the Reagan Administration.
Sigh. Life sucks.
Brian’s Song (Carol) 5-0
Teddy’s ACL (Robbie) 3-2
War Machine (Jack) 3-2
The Rat Pack (Me) 2-3
The Winter Soldiers (Mike) 1-4
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 3-2
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 3-2
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 3-2
The Flaming Envelopes (Lars) 1-4
Chuck (Chuck) 1-4