Thursday, November 24, 2005

NFL Week 12: "THANKS" for the memories.

Yes, Thanksgiving truly is a wonderful day when the three ‘F’s are in effect:

Feasts, Family and FOOTBALL!

You’ve heard the cliché of the three guarantees in life: Death, taxes and the Lions and Cowboys hosting games on Thanksgiving Day.

Allow me to flash back to the 1998 match-ups:

Lions hosting Pittsburgh, game headed to overtime. You remember? The Steelers’ Jerome Bettis called the OT coin flip “tails” which referee Phil Luckett thought sounded like “heads”. It came up tails, allowing the Lions to accept the kick off, much to the vigorous protests of Bettis. Invariably, the Lions took the kickoff and marched down the field for a game winning field goal. I still wonder to this day: What if the coin flip had come up “heads”? Would Bettis have gone with Luckett’s assertion that “heads” was called.

I guess we’ll never know.

The second game featured a team which would go on to set a single season record in points scored (the Minnesota Vikings) taking on the Cowboys. Randy Moss was a Vikings rookie then, causing more havoc on the field than off it in those days. Although, we caught a glimpse of what Moss would later offer after this contest featured him catching three passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns. After the Vikings’ 46-36 win, the local media attempted to get some quotes regarding such an outstanding performance. Moss declined, saying “Y’all aren’t TV.” Ah yes, the chip on young Randy’s shoulder was merely a boulder then. It has since blossomed into the Rock of Gibraltar.

Now for the disclaimer:

The following picks against the point spread……Ah, who am I kidding? In the two weeks I have been doing this lame bit I am a combined 11-19. Do I really need to emphasize that these picks are merely recreational and not a basis for actual betting?

Well, here goes:

Falcons (-3) at Lions: After a third consecutive week of throwing for over 200 yards, Falcons QB Michael Vick now wants every NFL team to retire jersey number 7.
Pick: Falcons

Broncos (-2) at Cowboys: Is it me or does Drew Bledsoe look like he’s participating in the shot put whenever he throws a pass?
Pick: Broncos

Ravens (+9) at Bengals: One week after facing the Colts’ offense, the Bengals take on the Ravens dreaded O. That’s like racing a Ferrari one week, a Pinto the next.
Pick: Bengals

Rams (-3) at Texans: The first 10,000 fans entering Reliant Stadium will receive a David Carr bobble head doll complete with “Crash Test Dummy” gear.
Pick: Rams

Panthers (-4) at Bills: Aside to Willis McGahee: Is Drew Rosenhaus still your agent? If so, I thought I would issue a friendly reminder. If you rush for 105 yards Sunday against the Panthers (which would put you at 1,000 for the year), it is Buffalo Bills policy to not recognize such milestones.
Take that for what you will.
Pick: Panthers

49ers (+8) at Titans: So the 49ers are in Nashville this weekend. My boldest prediction of Week 12: Niners QB Cody Pickett will throw a touchdown pass in the afternoon then successfully rope a calf in the evening.
Pick: 49ers

Patriots (+3) at Chiefs: QB Tom Brady of the Patriots no longer wears a laminated sheet of plays on his wrist band. Due to all the injuries, that sheet has been replaced by a list of players on offense.
Pick: Chiefs

Bears (+3) at Buccaneers: The Bears defense will ensure Bucs QB Chris Simms will see more of the Raymond James stadium turf than has the fertilizer.
Pick: Buccaneers

Chargers (-3) at Redskins: The Chargers are attempting to recapture their 60s glory days. Last week they invited Hall of Famer Lance Allworth to the game and wore the powder blue uniforms. This week head coach Marty Schottenheimer will exhibit the Sid Gillman scowl.
Pick: Chargers

Browns (+4) at Vikings: Whenever Vikings kicker Paul Edinger lines up for a field goal, coach Mike Tice will tell him there’s 3 seconds left in the game, scored tied.
Pick: Vikings

Dolphins (+7) at Raiders: When asked about his lack of enthusiasm over QB Kerry Collins, Raiders’ wide receiver Randy Moss replied, “I endorse when I want to endorse.”
Pick: Raiders

Jaguars (-3 ½) at Cardinals: Rumor has it that Cards’ head coach Dennis Green is looking to leave by agreeing to a settlement on the last three years of his contract. Man, I haven’t seen this rotten a rebounding career since Jason Alexander went from “Seinfeld” to “Bob Patterson”.
Pick: Jaguars

Giants (+4 ½) at Seahawks: Watching Giants QB Eli Manning throw passes to WR Plaxico Burress reminds me of my childhood when I tossed peanuts to a giraffe at the zoo.
Pick: Giants

Packers (+4 ½) at Eagles: Samkon Gado, running back, Green Bay Packers. In listening to my Wisconsin relatives, one would have thought Gado was the second coming of Walter Payton. During last Monday night's game he looked more like Walter Brennan.
Pick: Packers

Saints (-1 ½) at Jets: Jets owner Woody Johnson vowed coach Herman Edwards would return to the team next season, saying Wednesday "Herm's not leaving." Aren’t there laws in place against false imprisonment?
Pick: Saints

Steelers (+8) at Colts: To the relief of Steelers fans, Ben Roethlisberger is probable to start at QB Monday night. Man, there’s never been this much fuss over a faulty “Big Ben” in London.
Pick: Steelers

Saturday, November 19, 2005

NFL Week 11: Hernia not for kids anymore

There’s an epidemic raging through the National Football League this season. The dreaded “sports hernia” has reared its ugly head.

Some of its victims include Minnesota Vikings center Matt Birk, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Cato June, and now, most notably, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb.

Poor McNabb can’t catch a break. Just a week earlier he had gotten rid of that pain in his rear called a “T.O.”. Now this.

When I hear the term “hernia”, I think of the lower-stomach ailment for which I had surgery as a six-year old.

But what is a sports hernia?

In a recent Associated Press story, Dr. William Meyers of Drexel University explained it this way:

Think of the pubic bone as a joint and certain muscles are attached to it and what happens is you rip one of those attachments.


And what’s worse, I can almost guarantee that any of these NFL players who had surgery for the sports hernia didn’t get a ride on a toy fire engine or receive a plastic fire hat like yours truly!

Well, chalk up another injury term hijacked by sports. Do you remember when “Tennis elbow” was merely called “lateral humeral epicondylitis”?

With my picks against the point spread last week, I guess I can be deemed “Prognosticationally challenged” after a pathetic 5-9 showing.

As always, the following picks against the point spread are not to be taken seriously.

Panthers (-3) at Bears: If it is as windy this Sunday in Chicago as it was last week, Bears kicker Robbie Gould may want to attempt Field Goals from sidelines.
Pick: Panthers

Jaguars (-4) at Titans: Travis Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans: 32 carries, 99 yards. “Not a bad game” you say? That is his FIVE game total.
Pick: Jaguars

Colts (-5) at Bengals: WR Chad Johnson of the Bengals says his end zone celebration against the Colts will be “Martha Stewart-like”. Is he going to change his jersey number to 55170-054?
Pick: Colts

Saints (+9) at Patriots: In last weeks’ game against the Dolphins, the Patriots lost another defensive starter to injury. At this rate, they’ll be ready to call Raymond Clayborn out of retirement.
Pick: Saints

Cardinals (+9) at Rams: The Rams have had significant injuries and scuffles on their team this year – amongst the COACHES.
Pick: Rams

Buccaneers (+6) at Falcons: After throwing for over 200 yards last week, Falcons’ QB Michael Vick now wants his bronze bust placed in Canton, OH.
Pick: Falcons

Raiders (+6) at Redskins: Randy Moss’ lack of endorsement for Raiders coach Norv Turner took the media by surprise. I’m shocked myself. It’s been almost 12 months since Randy publicly dissed a head coach.
Pick: Redskins

Lions (+7½) at Cowboys: Lions QB Joey Harrington has a built-in excuse for throwing interceptions this week. “Hey, coach, don’t yell at me. You told me to throw it to Roy Williams.”
Pick: Cowboys

Eagles (+7) at Giants: This week’s Eagles injury report: Out: Donovan McNabb (groin); Terrell Owens (inflated ego).
Pick: Giants

Dolphins (+2½) at Browns: The Scouting report on Dolphins RB Ricky Williams: Performs best on grass.
Pick: Dolphins

Seahawks (-12½) at 49ers: All you need to know about 49ers offense: Joe Nedney, the KICKER, has been responsible for all the 49ers points the last three games. QB Tim Rattay is their leading passer in terms of yardage – AND HE DOESN’T PLAY FOR THE TEAM!!!
Pick: Seahawks

Bills (+10½) at Chargers: At the rate he’s going Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson is projected to lead the Chargers in rushing TDs, receiving TDs AND passing TDs.
Pick: Bills

Jets (+13½) at Broncos: Jets QB Brooks Bollinger has not had a pass intercepted in his last one attempt(s). That’s exactly 170 shy of Broncos QB Jake Plummer’s current streak.
Pick: Broncos

Steelers (-3½) at Ravens: Tommy Maddox will start at quarterback for the Steelers this week with WR Antwaan Randle El being the emergency QB. Ah, there will be an emergency during the game – TOMMY MADDOX WILL START AT QUARTERBACK.
Pick: Steelers

Chiefs (-7) at Texans: In Houston they are renaming the quarterback sack a “Carr crash”.
Pick: Chiefs

Vikings (+4½) at Packers: Free to the first 10,000 fans entering Lambeau field on Monday night: Green and Gold knee brace!
Pick: Packers

Sunday, November 13, 2005

NFL Week 10: Owens saga makes one want to "ralph"

Don’t you love it when the politicians get involved in professional sports?

You’ve got Congress trying to impose sanctions on Major league Baseball regarding use of steroids by players. Hey, it’s not like we have an illegal immigration problem or a screwed up tax system. The guys and gals on Capitol Hill need something on which to focus their attention.

Now, according to an story, former Presidential candidate Ralph Nader has written a letter pining for the return of suspended Philadelphia Eagles WR Terrell Owens.

In the November 10 letter written to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Eagles CEO Jeffrey Lurie, Nader wrote:

"If the Eagles management declines to remedy its mistake, commissioner Tagliabue, you should intervene to overturn the team's decision, which dishonors this country's traditional respect for free speech and cheats fans of an opportunity to see arguably the best receiver in football. Let him play."

The team’s decision dishonors this country’s respect for traditional free speech? What, you mean Owens has been jailed for his comments?

The whole spirit of the First amendment to our Constitution is for a citizen to be able to speak out against our government without fear of incarceration. The last time I checked, the Eagles are not a body of government and Owens banishment is not to a jail cell.

Although, how much worse could jail be compared to Drew Rosenhaus having his hand up your back, mouthing your words?

Be advised that the following picks against the point spread are for parody purposes only.

Kansas City (+2½) at Buffalo: Chief’s coach Dick Vermeil cried after an emotional win last week versus the Oakland Raiders. Like when women cry to get out of speeding tickets, maybe Vermeil could conjure up tears to get his team out of a holding penalty.
Pick: Chiefs

Washington (Pick ‘em) at Tampa Bay: After a stellar start to his rookie season, Bucs’ RB Carnell “Cadillac” Williams lately has looked more like a Ford Fiesta.
Pick: Redskins

New England (-3) at Miami: With all the injuries suffered by the Patriots this season, the new team logo will feature a Paul Revere-like figure wearing a sling and on crutches.
Pick: Patriots

San Francisco (+13) at Chicago: The only way the Bears, and their woeful Offense, cover the point spread here is if they shut out the 49ers. That said….
Pick: Bears

Minnesota (+9) at NY Giants: Since the Vikings are so woeful on the road this season, they will attempt to make something productive out of this trip by picking up litter on the Jersey turnpike.
Pick: Giants

Arizona (+3½) at Detroit: A new scientific experience to take place at Ford Field: The stoppable force (Lions’ offense) against the moveable object (Cardinals’ defense).
Pick: Lions

Baltimore (+6) at Jacksonville: The over/under line on this game is 33. That indicates the number of expletives used by Brian Billick in halftime speech.
Pick: Ravens

Houston (+17) at Indianapolis: Texans’ officials ask for some sort of extra advantage to make game competitive; Colts’ QB Peyton Manning to throw left-handed.
Pick: Colts

NY Jets (+8 ½) at Carolina: Jets’ QB Vinny Testaverde is now at the age where, if released by the team, he’ll have to sign a waiver not to sue for age discrimination.
Pick: Panthers

Denver (-3) at Oakland: This weekend’s Broncos-Raiders game will be broadcast in Navajo. I always wondered how you’d say “Moss took that play off” in Indian.
Pick: Broncos

St Louis (+6½) at Seattle: What’s the difference between Rams’ players Richie Incognito and Marshall Faulk? One’s named Incognito; the other is incognito.
Pick: Seahawks

Green Bay (+9) at Atlanta: Listed on this week’s Packer injury report: QB Brett Favre (bruised ego) is probable.
Pick: Falcons

Cleveland (+7 1/2) at Pittsburgh: Steelers’ QB Charlie Batch, in his first start last week since 2001, initially took the field in a stocking cap.
Pick: Browns

Dallas (+3) at Philadelphia: The Eagles are out to prove that they can win without Terrell Owens and his big mouth. Not exactly “Win one for the Gipper”.
Pick: Eagles

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Randy Kelly: Man of conviction

My first foray into politics took place in the Fall of 1986. To say I was disinterested in anything political is the equivalent of saying the Elephant Man merely had a little puffiness around his eye. Nonetheless, I felt it was my civic duty ….OK, it was a requirement I was to fulfill for my High School government class….to perform volunteer duties for a local candidate running for office. We had several candidates visit our classroom who were running for State Senate as well as the Minnesota House. Since my Dad and his entire family were such passionate Democrats the battle lines, in my mind, were clearly drawn. Although I had no idea what differentiated a Democrat from a Republican, I had decided on a local DFLer to assist in his campaign.

What’s more, that candidate was also somewhat of a sentimental pick since he was an alum of my High School, St Paul Harding.

That candidate was running as an incumbent legislator in his district.

That candidate was none other than Randy Kelly.

There were approximately five of us from local St Paul high schools whose first task one Fall evening was to go door-to-door registering people to vote. Needless to say, I was scared to death at the prospects of talking to strangers. But there was something which inspired me to climb out of my comfort zone and knock on those doors. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what that was. I can tell you that I went forward with a determination which I had never felt before. I realize now I must have been inspired by Randy Kelly himself. There was an incident where we were attempting to enter a secure apartment building to knock on doors. There couldn’t have been more than 20 units in this particular building. However, we were denied access by the building manager on the grounds of “No Solicitors”. This infuriated Mr. Kelly, as he justifiably felt people were being denied the opportunity to register to vote. I learned that evening that if you push Randy Kelly into a corner, he will come out fighting. He was determined to get in to that apartment building, even if it meant going so far as to obtaining a court injunction. For all he knew, the entire building would have voted for his opponent. No matter. It was the principle of exercising one’s right to vote.

There’s an old saying: “You live by the sword, you die by the sword.”

St Paul mayor Randy Kelly’s 2004 endorsement of President George W. Bush was a source of contention between Kelly, DFLers and apparently 70% of St Paul voters. In Kelly’s bid for mayoral re-election, he was soundly defeated by Chris Coleman.

As I learned one evening in 1986, Randy Kelly will take a stand for what he believes is right. In his concession speech last evening, Kelly again stated he stands by his decision to endorse President Bush and accepts the consequences of that decision.

Even in defeat, Randy Kelly has demonstrated one incontrovertible truth: Stand by your convictions. In victory and defeat, your convictions are things you can truly call your own.