So it was nine-thirty in the damn morning this past Sunday when someone knocked on my door. I had no idea who the hell it could be, but I figured it must be a stranger. I mean, nobody who knows me would dare knock before ten am (and even then…) I managed to get out of bed and stumble to the front door. I was wondering if I should reach for a weapon when I peeked through the peephole and saw my buddy Lars standing in the hall. Then I knew I should reach for a weapon.
“Lars,” I asked, after opening the door, “What the hell are you doing here?”
“I’m picking you up,” he said, “The football gathering’s over at Mike’s. We’re late. Chop-chop.”
“Football doesn’t start for two hours yet.”
Lars waved his finger at me. “Not today. There’s a London game. It just started. Now let’s go. Chop-” And I slammed the door in his face before he got to the second chop.
When Lars DID pick me up for the game, two hours later, I wondered if he’d give me the silent treatment. Did I say wondered? I meant, hoped. Sadly, he was his old gregarious self and I had to listen to his plans to start a birthday-gram service using mimes.
Tuning him out, though, gave me the opportunity to wonder about the NFL’s attempts to bring American football to Europe. Certainly, NFL Europe was greeted with the indifference it deserved. Undaunted, the league continues to send teams over to London to play actual games. While the attendance has been strong (only two games have drawn less than 80,000 people, though one of them was this past weekend) you have to wonder how long that’s going to last. Sending the likes of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the LA Rams doesn’t give the Brits the impression we’re sending our best and brightest. It’s like tossing a box of nude Whoopi Goldberg photos down the bottomless hole. Eventually, the hole is going to throw them back. And for the idea of putting a team over there? Forget about it. You really think the NFL wants to negotiate the logistics of 16 trans-Atlantic flights per year? Much as I’d love to see the Silly Nannies come into being, it’s just not practical.
Oh well. At least I got to sleep in…
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH
FANTASY PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jay Ajayi
Ajayi ran for 200 yards for the second consecutive week and added a TD for good measure. This would’ve made him a candidate for his second consecutive Fantasy Player of the Week, however…
DUMBASS OWNER OF THE WEEK: The entire league
While teams around the league have done a decent job of shoring up their RB spots, NOBODY is so well off that they couldn’t use Ajayi. The fact he could run for 200 yards and two TDs in Week 6 and have NOBODY pick him up is unfathomable. There are enough putrid teams–and enough putrid games this week–to think somebody could’ve used Ajayi. I get the feeling the waiver wire will be a little more lively this week. (Which means, of course, that Ajayi will be held to 31 yards and no TDs in his next game.)
THE DUMBASS BOWL: Chuck vs Stoner
Speaking of putrid games, Chuck and Stoner did their level best to set Fantasy Football back a few generations. Between bye weeks and injuries, the two managed to field lineups that included Doug Martin (declared inactive before the game), T.J. Yeldon and Arian Foster (who apparently found the experience so mortifying, he retired after the game.) Meantime, Stoner left Jeremy Hill (his 168 yards, his TD and his orchestra) on the bench while Chuck failed to capitalize on one of the few times having Isaiah Crowell in your lineup would come in handy. When I slid my laptop over to Mike to show him the scoring, he recoiled like I’d just offered him a turd. Carol, actually, summed it up best: “It was a shame somebody had to win that game.”
RECORD OF THE WEEK: Adam Vinatari’s 43 FG streak
Vinatari, one of the few kickers you can truly term a future Hall of Famer, broke the NFL record for consecutive field goals, previously held by Mike Vanderjagt. (Although, Vanderjagt’s real legacy is getting verbally slapped around by Peyton Manning during the Pro Bowl.) The fact that Vinatari accomplished this at 81 years young is truly amazing. In fact, I’m willing to call it my second favorite NFL record. (“Wait, Joe, what’s your favorite NFL record?” Glad you asked…)
In 1951, LA Rams QB (and future Vikings coach) Norm Van Brocklin threw for 554 yards in the season opener against the New York Yanks (yes, there was once an NFL team called that.) This came at a time when the passing game was about as sophisticated as the Duck Dynasty guys wearing makeup and frilly dresses. And for 65 years, through the eras of Unitas, Staubach, Montana, Marino, Favre, Brady and Manning, through Air Coryell and the Greatest Show on Turf, NOBODY has broken that record. I’ll be honest, I get the bends every time a QB gets close to 500 yards and there’s still a decent chunk of time left on the clock. I hope Van Brocklin’s record NEVER gets broken.
ASSCLOWNS OF THE WEEK: Josh Brown, the New York Giants and the NFL
Brown, the Giants placekicker, was released this weekend after confessing to spousal abuse charges. There’s a boatload of blame to go around in this sorry incident, but here’s what we got…
Brown: Well, this one’s a no-brainer (much like Brown himself.) He’s guilty of spousal abuse. He also said, in a statement to ESPN’s Adam Shefter, “It is important to share that I never struck my wife, and never would. Abuse takes many forms, and is not a gray area.” So if not physically abusing your wife isn’t a cop out, why mention it? Other than to use it as a cop out? While it’s laudable that Brown claims he wants to be a voice for change, that sort of equivocating undercuts everything else he says.
The Giants: The team knew in May of 2015 that Brown had abused his wife and kept him on the payroll for another year and a half. Cutting Brown wouldn’t have solved the abuse problem, but neither did keeping him around. And now the Giants are involved in what amounts to a shabby cover up. Despicable on a number of levels.
The NFL: For the second time in two years, the NFL had all the evidence it needed to suspend a player for domestic abuse…if only they’d bothered to look. Deadspin’s Diana Moskovitz got a hold of the file from Brown’s divorce proceedings, detailing a pattern of abuse. Of course, the NFL didn’t think to look for such a thing, much like they never DREAMED there’d be a camera inside the elevator to record Ray Rice knocking out his girlfriend. (Because a league whose existence generates billions of dollars in gambling money every year was apparently unaware that everything in a casino is recorded.) While there’s nothing to suggest a cover up on the league’s part, you can certainly make a case for misplaced priorities. When it came to Deflategate, league investigators left no stone unturned (even if there was no evidence under nearly all of those stones.) Apparently, when there’s an opportunity for commissioner Roger Goodell to publicly wave his dick around, the NFL will spare no expense and put their best men on it. But when it’s a situation where the league might be embarrassed by another domestic violence issue, they just send in deputy Barney Fife and hope for the best.
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 Cards-Seahawks debacle
First off, this is what I get for tuning into a game for reasons other than fantasy implications. I genuinely thought these two teams were going to entertain me. After all, how could we go wrong? The Cards have Carson Palmer, David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald. The Seahawks have Russell Wilson, Christine Michael, Doug Baldwin. Sure, things would be a little tight in the first half, maybe even into the third quarter, but then it would devolve into a glorified track meet. Right?
Wrong. (And jeez, do I mean WRONG.)
For sixty minutes of play, in perfect conditions, two of the best offenses in recent years produced…six points. No, not each. Total. The Cards had the better chances, but managed to find creative ways to screw them up. Kicker Chandler Catanzaro had a FG blocked after the Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner leaped the entire Cardinals offensive line. (Seriously, if Wagner had leaped the Grand Canyon, I wouldn’t have been more amazed by what I was looking at.) The Cards had a shot at a late first half field goal, only to allow a Carson Palmer sack and fumble to snuff it out. After the teams exchanged field goals in overtime, the Cards looked to have the game in hand when they drove to the Seahawks’ six yard line. Catanzaro, however, managed to boot his FG attempt into the left upright. (QUICK TANGENT: I think football needs to do away with the “hitting the upright means the kick is no good” rule. Seriously, look at the damn upright. It’s harder to HIT one of those things than to put the ball between them. You want a four point field goal? That’s your winner, right there.) At any rate, the Seahawks could’ve sat on the ball and played for the tie, but one of the few things I admire about Hawks’ coach Pete Carroll is his aggressiveness. The Hawks drove down the field and had a chance to win it with a 28 yard FG in the waning seconds. Hawks kicker Steven Hautschka, having taken careful notes on Vikes kicker Blair Walsh last January, shanked the kick so badly that “shank” doesn’t seem to do it justice. Seriously, the ball came down somewhere around Cabo San Lucas, that’s how badly he missed.
So the game ended in a tie. And I could have been doing literally ANYTHING else during that time. Not since Mary Margaret Cassidy let me get to third base before telling me she didn’t believe in pre-marital sex have I gone to bed that unfulfilled. (Although, honestly, the Mary Margaret incident was FAR more disappointing. Still…)
Brian’s Song (Carol) 6-1
Teddy’s ACL (Robbie) 5-2
War Machine (Jack) 4-3
The Rat Pack (Me) 3-4
The Winter Soldiers (Mike) 1-6
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 4-3
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 4-3
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 3-4
The Flaming Envelopes (Lars) 3-4
Chuck (Chuck) 2-5