I’ve got to admit: I’m not enjoying this football season. Yes, the anthem controversy (which I will write about for the final time a little further down) has been a bummer. And while that’s distracted from the incompetence of the current Presidential administration, it’s also distracted from the incompetence of the NFL’s leadership. Sooner or later, we’ll have to get back to both items. And there’s the fact that no player’s really set the world on fire, fantasy-wise, through the first quarter of the season. But all of that pales to how crappy our Sunday football gatherings have gotten.
See, for the second year in a row, Mike’s put together a team that’s Betsy DeVoe-incompetent. And all of the shake-your-faith-in-a-just-and-loving-God luck that’s propelled Carol for the last several seasons seems to have abandoned her. Even Lars got off to a slow start until getting it together the last few weeks. Add in the fact I’ve gotten off to an inexplicably great start and there’s a distinct chill in the room when I show up for Football Day. Believe me, it only gets worse as the day progresses and everyone checks their fantasy football scores. Since I was the host of this week’s gathering, everything had a vibe of, “I’ll eat your food and drink your beer, sir. But, by God, I will not make eye contact with you or speak to you with anything resembling human warmth in my voice. By the way, are you going to finish those boneless wings?”
Friendship. Can’t beat it. Even with a stick.
All right, let’s get to it…
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH
DUMBASS OWNER OF THE WEEK: Jack
I’ll be honest: this the only league-specific award I’m handing out this week. Not a lot of exciting stuff is going on. Teams are winning. Teams are losing. But nobody’s doing anything particularly brilliant or awful to bring that about. Even giving this award to Jack goes against the general principle of the award. He lost to me by 28 points and that can’t be chalked up to one specific move Jack made or didn’t make. But he didn’t do himself any favors with his rampant homerism regarding the Vikings. The bye week hit Jack’s starting lineup like buckshot and he countered by putting in THREE Vikings: Latavius Murray, Stefon (One Leg) Diggs and the Vikings D/Special Teams. While coming up with 39 points on a Monday night would have been a tall order no matter what, there’s no excuse for having three roster spots taken by guys from a team that isn’t exactly the Greatest Show on Turf. Jack, just hire a general manager. He or she will draft some Packers and you can pretend you had nothing to do with it. And you still get credit for the victories. Think about it.
NFL MAN OF THE WEEK: Chris Foerster
The Dolphins’ offensive line (oh, there’s a joke in there, isn’t there?) coach resigned on Monday after video surfaced of him snorting a line of what appeared to be cocaine in a video sent to…someone (apparently, the same someone who broadcast the video.) I have two immediate thoughts. First, why do people still do stuff like this? Smartphones, hell, cell phones, have been around long enough that we should all know how this stuff works. Boudoir photos, sex videos, chugalug videos, what have you, do not stay trapped in that little box we hold in our hands. Once you’ve recorded it, there’s always a chance it’s going to get out there in the world. This is not shocking, new information. This is something people have known for a couple decades now. So WHY would you tape yourself snorting coke when you have a job that most definitely frowns on that sort of behavior? WHY would you ever send it to somebody? When whatever relationship Foerster was in went belly-up (and I’m probably safe in assuming that was the circumstance here) he had to be thinking, “Boy, I hope she keeps that coke-snorting video on the down-lo…ah, there’s no chance of that, is there?” How would you even get out in front of a thing like that?
FOERSTER: Uh, coach, there’s half a chance there’s going to be a video of me snorting coke out there on the internet. I want you to know that it’s completely out of context.
ADAM GASE: What IS the context?
FOERSTER: Well, it’s…okay, let me put it another way. If you saw me snorting coke in a video…
The other thought I have is: how do you move on from that? Obviously, the NFL is out. Most any college job is almost certainly out. I’m guessing the high schools need not even bother. I have to hope Foerster has made enough to retire on. Otherwise, he gets this:
POTENTIAL EMPLOYER: So, tell me about your last job? Why did you leave?
FOERSTER: Uh…I…uh…well…hey, I gotta ask. I didn’t see a requirement for a drug test in the ad. I was reading that right, wasn’t I?
ASSCLOWN OF THE WEEK: Cam Newton
Yeah, this one was sewn up before there was a down of football played this week. Last Tuesday, the Carolina QB responded to a question from Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue by saying, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about ‘routes,’.” One could tell Newton was truly sorry about his poor choice of words. First, he dismissed Rodrigue in a confrontation after the press conference. Then, THIRTY hours later (right around the time sponsors were beginning to bail on him) he delivered a heavily-scripted, largely insincere “apology” that never one mentioned Rodrigue by name. Then on Sunday, after the Lions’ game, Cam said, “My sarcasm trying to give somebody kind of a compliment turned in ways I never would have even imagined.” Oh, so you didn’t do anything wrong. Rodrigue just can’t take a compliment.
First, Newton’s statement after the game is complete gobbledygook. How do sarcastically compliment someone? I’ve done it many times, actually, and I can tell you: they were never intended as compliments. So that’s a bit of an oxymoron (heavy on the “moron”) right there. Secondly, when you mix the original statement with the insincerity of the apology and the backhanded retraction of said apology on Sunday, you get the picture many of us have been trying to paint about Cam Newton since he was in college: the dude is as fake as Pam Anderson’s breasts. Finally, can we ditch all of the “Cam just needs to grow up” defense of this B.S.? The man is 28 years old. If he hasn’t figured out how to talk to women respectfully by now, it’s not because he has some growing up to do. It’s because he’s an a**hole. And it will take more than time to cure that.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: David Letterman
At the ceremony retiring Peyton Manning’s jersey this past Sunday (something you probably weren’t aware even took place, for reasons I’ll make clear in a minute) the retired Late Show icon had this to say: “By the way, if you like football trivia, so far this year Eli and Peyton have the same number of wins.”
God, I miss that man. Dave, I mean, not Eli or Peyton. Although…
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart (we still need you, brother) I give you…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: The Last Word on the Anthem Protests
I’m calling it that because this is the last time I will write about this subject, for reasons I’ll make clear at the end. But the whole issue was thrust back into the spotlight this past weekend when Vice President Mike Pence spent $250,000 of the taxpayers’ money to go to Indianapolis and walk out of the game to protest the anthem protests. (Apparently, grossly misusing government funds for a confessed publicity stunt is worse than invoking the Constitutional right to protest.) Pence’s stunt was part of a general movement by the white reactionaries who own the league to get the upperhand in this situation. Lions’ owner Martha Ford promised to donate to any causes players chose as long as they didn’t protest. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he would bench any player who did not stand for the anthem (Sure, Jerry. And if Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant all called your bluff?) Dolphins’ coach Adam Gase ordered players who would not stand for the anthem to stay in the tunnel. And NFL commissioner/clown-in-charge Roger Goodell is said to be looking for ways to strengthen the league’s “suggestions” that players stand for the anthem. If no one has said it up to now, let me say it: the protest is over. The protesters lost.
(Okay, hold on tight. I’m going A LONG way out in order to come back and make this point.)
My nephew, Ty, is 10 years old and he’s, as they say, “on the spectrum.” This means that while he doesn’t necessarily have Asperger’s Syndrome, he displays many behaviors consistent with those who do. (If there’s such a thing as having a little bit of Asperger’s, that’s what Ty has.) When Ty and I get together, I’ve made it my personal mission to teach him how comedy works. (Don’t get me wrong. Ty is plenty funny, but some aspects of humor escape him.) The first, most important rule I’ve tried to teach him (particularly important for a kid who doesn’t pick up social cues all that well) is: know your room. Don’t try a particular joke if you don’t think the audience is going to be with you.
The same principle applies to these anthem protests. (That’s either the smoothest or the clumsiest transition I’ve ever made. I’m not going to stop to think about it.) In one large sense, the anthem protests were doomed the second Colin Kaepernick took a knee for the first time. Because the key demographic in the NFL’s fanbase, white males between 35 and 54, were never going to go along with it. What this entire kerfuffle has laid bare is the basic dichotomy in the NFL. It’s a game played primarily by young black men and watched primarily by old white men. You could say that the owners are caught in the middle, but they’re really not. The cash flow in the NFL moves from one of those groups, through the owners and to the other group. In other words, push-come-to-shove, the owners were ALWAYS going to be in sympathy with what most of the fans said, no matter what lip-service they gave to supporting the players. Because that’s how the bills get paid.
So Trump will claim victory on this. If I didn’t find he and the rest of his minions so utterly despicable, I could almost admire the way they’ve created and perpetuated this “controversy” while making it look like the players’ fault the whole time. (Then again, we knew this administration was good at blaming victims before it was even elected.) He’s managed to temporarily obfuscate his administration’s various failures by grabbing the low-hanging fruit of loyalty to country. (Need proof? Trump’s initial attack occurred as he was stumping for a Senate candidate who was ultimately defeated. I think only three people remember that and Trump isn’t one of them.) So it’s time to move on. In the words of Leonard Cohen: “Everybody knows that the war is over/Everybody knows that the good guys lost.”
The reason I won’t be writing about this anymore is admittedly selfish. For nearly, a year I’ve been trying to keep my sanity while the living nightmare of the current administration has unfolded. One of the places of solace I’ve turned to is sports. Whenever the headlines or the various quibbles on social media get to be too much, I go to espn.com or si.com or some such place to get away from it all. For that last couple weeks, it feels like even that’s been taken away. As a citizen, I’m not about to play Trump’s game of getting into petty arguments as a way of ignoring his various crimes and failures as President. As a sports fan, I’m just going to concentrate on the game.
If only the politicians thought that way.
The Rat Pack (Me) 4-1
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 4-1
Chuck (Chuck) 3-2
Brian’s Song (Carol) 1-4
The Defenders (Mike) 0-5
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 3-2
The People in the Band (Lars) 3-2
Lethal Injection (Jack) 2-3
Rodgers Blows (Robbie) 2-3
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 2-3
JOE DAVIS is the main character in a series of mystery novels by Randall J. Funk. Mr. Davis and Mr. Funk are delighted by the shocking similarities in their opinions and writing styles.