So, you don’t usually get an NFL Sunday that polarizes a country quite like this one did. I’m kind of sorry I missed most of it. My parents got back from the Bay Area and I spent much of Sunday ushering them about. It gave me the chance to ask my Dad, a Vietnam vet, if he’d kneel for the National Anthem.
“No, I’d stand,” he said, “Unless someone told me I had to. Then I’d kneel.”
And you wonder where I get it from?
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH
FANTASY TREND OF THE WEEK: The NFL Wakes Up
No, I don’t mean in a political sense (although…) Tracking fantasy teams these first few weeks hasn’t exactly been riveting. The games have been fine, but nobody was breaking the bank racking up fantasy points. This week, the players seemed to end their glorified pre-season and started piling up the points, led by the likes of Todd Gurley, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Jordan Howard. Welcome to the season, guys! Grill’s over there. Beer’s in the cooler.
HORSESHOE UP ASS AWARD, Part 1: T.J.
The season continues to go back and forth for T.J. This week, his team bounced back, going against Jack. But as Monday dawned, Jack needed only five points from Cowboys K Dan Bailey to draw even with T.J. and win on the Franchise Player tiebreaker. Jack got four points out of Bailey and a Gary Anderson-like kick to the nuts. T.J. lives to suck another day.
Speaking of which,
HORSESHOE UP ASS AWARD, Part 2: Stoner
Stoner was like Jack, but in reverse. He needed 8 points out of Ezekiel Elliot on Monday in order to tie best friend/hated rival Robbie. He got 9. Robbie was last seen shoveling dog turds into a box and heading in the general direction of Dallas, Texas.
KARMA AWARD: Carol
As I pointed out last week (and continuously in seasons prior) Carol has had a knack for always scoring JUST enough points to win. Whatever “magic” Carol possessed, though, seems to have deserted her. Again this week, she racked up enough points to beat most teams in the league…except the one she was playing. I would like to reiterate that I am merely reporting these facts and taking absolutely no delight in Carol experiencing the kind of soul-crushing fury the rest of us have experienced lo’ these many years. No delight at all. None whatsoever. (No, YOU have a s**t-eating grin on your face.)
ASSCLOWN OF THE WEEK: Odell Beckham Jr.
This is not OBJ’s first trip to the Assclown Sin Bin, nor am I kidding myself into believing it will be his last. This week, Beckham “celebrated” a touchdown by getting on all fours and pretending to be a dog peeing on someone. When asked, about the penalty, OBJ said, “I don’t know if the rule book said you can’t hike your leg. [The ref] said I peed on somebody, so I was trying to find the imaginary ghost that I peed on. But I didn’t see him.” So, in essence, his defense was that he didn’t ACTUALLY pee on someone, so it shouldn’t have been a penalty. On Monday, Beckham said he did it as a form of protest against comments made by Donald Trump. As plausibility goes, that’s on the level of Homer Simpson claiming to be a political prisoner because he kicked a giant mouse in the butt. Giants owner John Mara was said to be displeased and that the matter would be dealt with internally. In all likelihood, that means OBJ will be called into Mara’s office and told, “C’mon, man.” I’m sure he’ll have learned his lesson.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK, Part 1: Jim Caldwell
The Lions’ coach opened his post-game press conference by saying, “No SOBs in this league.” Well, coach, I appreciate that, but there are. Many of them have been colluding to keep Colin Kaepernick out of the league for the last several months. But they were on the right side this week, so we’ll let that go for now. For now.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Part 2: A random fan on Twitter
I wish I could find this person’s Twitter handle, but between regular columns and beer, I only have so many hours for research in a given day. Anyway, this person said, regarding former Vikings’ OT Matt Kalil: “The only thing he can block is someone on Twitter.” Well played, sir or madam. Well played.
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart (we still need you, brother) I give you…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: The NFL vs Donald Trump
This week, the alleged President of the United States once again displayed his gift for tackling the tough issues when, in the face of another failed healthcare bill, a hurricane demolishing Puerto Rico and an armageddon-scale crisis in North Korea, he took aim squarely at…the National Football League. Specifically, he told a rally in Alabama (where he was actually campaigning for the LESSER of two evil candidates) that NFL owners should fire those “sons of bitches” who kneel for the National Anthem. This inspired the crowd to much yee-hawing and revving of pickup trucks and whistling through gaps where teeth used to be.
The NFL, on the other hand, was rather appalled. Not only were they being told to breach the Constitution’s freedom of expression guarantees, but their employees were being classified as “sons of bitches” for using said freedom of expression. Furthermore, owners were being put in this position by a guy they thought was one of their own. Several NFL owners contributed handsomely to Trump’s campaign and his inauguration. And they were shocked (SHOCKED) to discover that a guy who ran on what amounted to a white nationalist platform could be so divisive.
What was NOT particularly divisive, though, was the league’s response. Team owners universally condemned Trump’s rhetoric. Many of them joined their players in linking arms and some knelt for the National Anthem. Three teams stayed in the locker room altogether. The entirety of the Dallas Cowboys, INCLUDING owner Jerry Jones, knelt for the anthem.
Just think about that for a second. Think about what you saw. The entirety of the National Football League, the most militant, right-wing sports league in North America, took on the President of the United States*. The guy who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution had to reminded what’s IN the damn thing by a collection of football players and fellow billionaires. You can live a long time and that might be the most surreal thing you ever see.
Of course, it won’t make a damn bit of difference. Trump is congenitally unable to admit he might have gone too far or chosen his words poorly (something that would have deflated this whole thing in about eight seconds.) And in some corners, the backlash has already begun. People giving away their tickets, burning their merchandise, etc. Republicans have never entirely understood that separation-of-church-and-state thing, so they can’t get their heads around the idea that the anthem isn’t a religious display and should not be considered sacrosanct. (By the way, don’t ever try explaining that word to one of them. It’s like showing a dog a card trick.) White Americans can’t understand why African-Americans can’t find a better form to protest. Y’know, one that isn’t going to get anyone’s attention. But for one completely surreal Sunday, the various forces of the NFL came together to give one man the finger. Meantime, I’ve gone from actively hoping the NFL gets a ratings rap on the knuckles (over their treatment of Kaepernick) to actively rooting for the league to succeed.
Allow me to bring in the great Vince Lombardi:
The Rat Pack (Me) 2-1
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 2-1
Chuck (Chuck) 2-1
Brian’s Song (Carol) 1-2
The Defenders (Mike) 0-3
Lethal Injection (Jack) 2-1
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 2-1
Rodgers Blows (Robbie) 1-2
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 1-2
The People in the Band (Lars) 1-2