I so frequently write about how my buddy Lars annoys me that people sometimes ask, not without good reason, why I’m even friends with the guy. So I thought I’d share a little bit about the morning he and I spent together this past Sunday.
It’s understood that when there’s an early game in London and he’s the host of the weekly football gathering, I’m welcomed to come down to his place prior to the traditional start time of noon. I don’t normally take him up on it, but I woke up early this past Sunday. (I recently went through a rather painful breakup and among the parting gifts was a case of insomnia.) So I grabbed a cup of coffee and, still in my pajamas, went down to join Lars for the game. I discovered he’d made a delicious breakfast eggbake, just on the off chance he could share it with me. He asked how I was doing with the breakup, but didn’t push it when I gave him a terse, “I’m okay.” And we had this little exchange:
ME: Mike and Carol are having another Don’t-Call-It-The-Breakup Bowl. Both of their teams are pretty bad, though. It’s kind of sad.
LARS: Sort of like their whole relationship.
Lars so rarely comes up the truly sarcastic bon mot that it left us both giggling for about five minutes. He also asked about my dad’s birthday, reminding me yet again that he knows the birthdays of everyone in my family and everyone in my extended family (many of whom are completely bewildered when they get birthday cards from him.) And at some point we broke into a raucous version of “Blue Suede Shoes” for reasons neither of us could quite remember. All in all, it had been a full rich day even before Mike and Carol showed up to officially start the football gathering. And those are just a few of the reasons I like Lars as much as I do.
Okay, in the words of Sledge Hammer: enough warmth.
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH
FANTASY GAME OF THE WEEK: The Don’t-Call-It-The-Breakup Bowl
For the benefit of those who tuned in late, Mike and Carol dated for about a year. That’s been over for a while now and everyone is (mostly) friends. But their participation in this fantasy league means that they play each other once or twice a year. We used to call it the Breakup Bowl, but Carol banned us from using the name. So now its the Don’t-Call-It-The-Breakup Bowl. Both Carol and Mike have lousy teams this year, but Mike had won two in a row and showed signs of life. A win over Carol and the whole season would be on the verge of being saved. But Carol slammed the door on Mike once again, eking out a victory in what was a pretty lousy game. So…
THE ACTUAL FANTASY GAME OF THE WEEK: Robbie vs Hal
The first–and possibly only–game this year to come down to the Franchise Player tie-breaker. (Each owner designates one player in the starting lineup as the Franchise Player. In the event of a tie, the team whose Franchise Player racked up more points gets the win.) You could practically hear Robbie’s head bouncing off his desk when Denver’s D gave Hal enough points out to pull out the tie and the win. Oh, and…
FANTASY OWNER OF THE WEEK: Hal
Needing a kicker for the week, Hal selected Jake Elliot of the Eagles. And he picked DeAndre Hopkins as his Franchise Player, thus getting the benefit of the Seattle-Houston shootout. Well done, Hal!
ASSCLOWN OF THE WEEK: Bob McNair
Yeah, this one was decided early in the week. During a meeting between team owners and players to talk about the national anthem protests, Texans owner issued this gem: “We can’t let the inmates run the prison.” McNair tried to tell anyone who was listening that it was just an expression and he didn’t mean anything by it. Let’s just take a look at this:
-Just an expression, Bobbo? Fine. Trying using this in your next negotiation (assuming you haven’t already): “Hey, don’t try Jewing me out of this.” Then go tell someone who’s Jewish that it was just an expression. I’m sure they’ll let you right off the hook. Words have meaning, Bobby. That’s why we have a language.
-Keep in mind, this was during a conversation about how to deal with the anthem protests. The result? Most of the Texans knelt for the national anthem this week. Shrewd move there, Bobarino.
-Anquan Boldin wrote this about these meetings: “The concerns that many players have been expressing about racial inequality in our justice system and society were finally heard. I consider it an example we can all use as we seek justice. The commissioner listened to why players were protesting and then played a key role in putting these players in touch with owners willing to listen to their concerns. He brought us together—and he did so in a highly charged environment and despite outside forces seeking to divide, rather than unite. I was pleasantly surprised by how genuinely receptive the owners were to the issues we raised and how truly respectful they were of our point of view. They more than simply accepted that the players have a point of view. These owners respected and even demonstrated pride in the players for standing up for what they believe in.”
But thanks to McNair’s rock-headed statement, nobody’s going to remember any of that. He managed to obliterate any progress the negotiations might have made AND confirmed the players’ worst suspicions as to how they’re viewed by management. It was like adding a stick to the wedge that already exists between the owners and the players.
But hey, they were just words, right, Bobby?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: My friends.
They get it for this exchange, after yet another viewing of that damn Bud Light commercial where the medieval king gets pissy if you don’t bring him his favorite beer:
CAROL: What do you suppose they do in the Pit of Misery?
MIKE: Force you to drink Bud Light until you die.
KICK IN THE NUTS AWARD: Me
Yeah, this could be a case of burying the lead, but my feeble attempts to ward off the Fantasy Gods in last week’s Notes were all for naught. Despite the Kansas City D pulling me back to within striking distance, I came up short against Chuck this week. Still, my 59 points were respectable. In fact, it was more than all but two teams in the league…and I happened to be playing one of them. Excuse me a moment (Steps into next room. Lewis Black-sized cry:) SON OF A BITCH!
SHREWD MOVE OF THE WEEK: Travis Benjamin
The Chargers’ kick returner fielded a punt at his own 10 yard line and then gave us this thing of beauty…
After a moment of stunned silence, the room had this exchange:
MIKE: Where the hell was he going with that thing?
STAT OF THE WEEK: Jim McElwain’s contract
The ousted Florida head coach will get a $13 million buyout for his trouble. Meantime, I’m 34 years old and still searching for a job that will pay me $13 million dollars to not be very good at it.
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart (we still need you, brother) I give you…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: The NFL Trade Deadline
Okay, be honest: you had no freakin’ clue the NFL HAD a trade deadline, did you? I’ll be honest, at least: I knew the NFL had a trade deadline, that it was sometime around the middle of the season and that nothing interesting every happened around it. But I had no idea it was coming up or that some blockbuster deals were in the works. So like most everyone else, I was absolutely gobsmacked (to use a disgusting British-ism) when I was glancing at the newswires on Monday and Tuesday. To whit:
-New England back up QB and Goodfellas extra Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to the 49ers for a second round pick, that new fur coat for Karen and maybe a couple years off Big Paulie’s sentence. The move looks rather curious, as it leaves New England with no usable options if 40 year old Tom Brady either gets hurt or suddenly passes his expiration date. Truthfully, it’s completely in keeping with New England’s M.O. during the Bill Bellichick era. They would have had to offer Garoppolo a new contract at the end of the year and weren’t going to pay him decent money to hold a clipboard. And it follows through on the idea that Brady is the only player Bellichick has ever coached that is NOT expendable. But it DOES create the kind of high-wire act that’s out of character for Billy Bananas. The man’s always got a backup plan. He’s the living embodiment of Roddy Piper’s credo: “Just when they think they have all the answers, I change the questions!”
(BTW, if you think Bellichick’s entirely heartless, he was polite enough NOT to say: “I like Jimmy. I wanted to him to go some place where he’d get an opportunity to start. And that there’d be virtually no chance of this coming back to bite us in the ass.”)
-Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin being traded to the Buffalo Bills for 3rd and 7th round picks and a GIGANTIC bag of Tostitos corn chips. This move was a tad shocking, but makes sense when you consider that the Panthers were due to pay Benjamin at least 8 million dollars next year to be one of approximately 17 underneath receivers. Benjamin’s role now goes to Devin Funchess. And hey, you can’t spell “fun” without “chess”. Am I right?
-Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 4th round pick and a flaming bag of dog turds. At this point, Mike, who went all in on a backfield of Ajayi and LaSean McCoy, would be willing to trade Ajayi for a small stack of used porno books. Dolphins’ coach Adam Gase is apparently in the same boat, having grown frustrated with Ajayi’s constant attempts to break off a big run in lieu of taking what the defense is giving him. The Eagles, though, feel they can coach Ajayi to change his ways, which feels A LOT like a female friend going, “I know he drinks too much, refuses to get a full-time job and hits on everything that moves, but I can change him!” You immediately start planning the time when you’ll get together for drinks and listen to her kvetch about him for hours. If the Eagles’ very promising season goes off the rails, we may be able to pinpoint the moment it happened.
-The Cleveland Browns DON’T make a deal for Bengals’ backup QB A.J. McCarron. Apparently, the Browns were ready to send a 2nd and 3rd round pick and future considerations for the Rock’ n’ Roll Hall of Fame to the Bengals for the guy holding the clipboard and daydreaming. This would have felt like a very lopsided deal, but the Browns managed to screw up in reverse. Since head coach Hue Jackson is not on speaking terms with his own front office, the paperwork for the deal wasn’t sent to the league offices before the trade deadline passed. I swear I am not making this up. The non -move might have been the best thing for all parties involved. 2nd and 3rd round picks are an awfully steep price to pay for a guy who’s less a franchise QB and more an addition to the Pu-Pu Platter the Browns already have at that position. It works for McCarron because it keeps him the hell out of Cleveland and allows him to retain some value as a player. And the whole thing solves the mystery of why the Browns have been 1-23 (and counting) over the past few seasons. Hard to believe a bunch of neophyte Sabremetric geeks in the front office don’t gibe with the control-freak head coach who lost his only other head coaching job because he tried to wrest control away from the OWNER (although it was Raiders’ owner Mark Davis, so not much of an owner.) Tune in next week for more As The Browns Turn…
The Rat Pack (Me) 6-2
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 5-3
Chuck (Chuck) 5-3
The Defenders (Mike) 2-6
Brian’s Song (Carol) 2-6
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 6-2
The People in the Band (Lars) 4-4
Rodgers Blows (Robbie) 3-5
Lethal Injection (Jack) 3-5
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 3-5
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.