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Newz Forum: OTHER: The Sports Curmudgeon on The NFL, TJ Duckett, Seattle Mariners plus more...

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posted on Dec, 24 2004 @ 05:33 PM
After getting to see most of three NFL games on Saturday and Sunday and parts of a fourth game on Sunday, I will have seen portions of half the games played this weekend once I check out tonight's game. That's the good news. The bad news is that the parity that the NFL has sought for about the last 35 years has evolved something quite different from the drama-producing concept of "on any given Sunday..." Make no mistake, there is a gulf between the good teams and the bad teams; and that gulf is wide and deep. I'm not sure that the difference between the good and bad teams is any less today than it was in the days of Lombardi's Packers or Halas' Bears or Brown's Browns.

Some of the bad teams can show up on any given Sunday and play hard and play over their heads and give one of the good teams a game. But most of the time, the bad teams just play badly. Popeye the Sailor used to say, "I yam what I yam." In the NFL, that would translate into, "You are what you are." And when you are 2-11 going into a bleak December weekend, that means you are pretty miserable and the reason you are miserable is that you are a bad football team. The gulf between 2-11 and 12-1 is not the bounce of a football or a couple of bad calls by referees or the wrath of the football gods. That chasm is created and maintained by mediocre owners and confused front offices and substandard coaching staffs all trying to play nursemaid to about 5 dozen athletic egos that do not perform on the field to nearly the level they pretend to.

If you happened to watch the game between the Washington Redskins (now 5-9) and the San Francisco 49ers (now 2-12), you saw players from both teams celebrating and emoting after "big plays" such as a tackle for a 2 yard gain or a completed 8 yard pass at the sideline for a first down. What could those celebrations really mean?

Holy cow, I finally found an opponent that is as mediocre as I am and so I can do what I'm actually paid to do more than once or twice a game. I hope everyone notices that I am the one who just did that because then maybe I can collect paychecks to do this kind of stuff again next year.

TJ Duckett missed this weekend's games for the Falcons. He had his knee "scoped" during the week. The weekend before the "scoping" he averaged over 5 yards per carry and scored 4 TDs against the brutally substandard Oakland Raiders. Imagine what he might have done to them had he been 100% healthy...

When Butch Davis was canned in Cleveland, some folks foresaw the possibility that Terry Robiskie would fire the team up and have them play more emotionally. I said at the time that was unlikely based on what I had seen of Robiskie as an interim coach here in Washington, but for Cleveland fans it cost them nothing to invest themselves temporarily into that illusion. The precincts have reported and the results are in; the Browns have scored 22 points in their 3 games under Robiskie; it was, is and will remain a gentle illusion for Cleveland fans. Now comes word from Roger Brown in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that there is a serious rift between QB, Jeff Garcia, and the Browns' "management". In a recent column, he reported that Browns' officials went to a local advertiser who has a promotional "deal" with Garcia and suggested to the advertiser that they drop Garcia and substitute rookie QB,Luke McCown, in his place. I know that Garcia did not have a great year in Cleveland and I know that he was brought into town with some fanfare and expectation that he would make things a lot better than they were, but for this kind of estrangement to happen so soon speaks very poorly about either Garcia or the Browns' "management" - - or both.

In Sports Illustrated, they reported the results of a poll in which 354 pro football players responded to an inquiry about where is the toughest place to play in December. Green Bay and New England and Buffalo got a lot of mention. One vote went to "Phoenix". Excuse me, but I would love to know the SAT scores for the genius who gave that answer. Unless of course it was a Cardinals' player who was answering from the perspective that it is tough to play in Phoenix in December because by then all hope for this team being successful has vaporized...

I want to say one thing about the NCAA Division 1-AA championship game last Friday night. If and when the NCAA ever comes to its senses and puts on a football tournament for Division 1-A football, they must - repeat MUST - find a field to play the games on that is better than the typical middle school field at this time of the year. The game between Montana and James Madison may not have been a game that defined the pinnacle of football, but you cannot allow it to be played on a field that was in such a horrid condition. Remember, this was not a home game for either team where the venue could have been dependent on local factors. This was a neutral site game, which had been previously designated. It was the responsibility of the NCAA and the game organizers to assure that the game would be played on a field where the grass was actually connected to the Earth by something more adhesive than Scotch Tape. What an embarrassment and what a show of disrespect for those two teams and the players!

There was another interesting tidbit from Roger Brown in last week's Cleveland Plain-Dealer. It seems that one anonymous player from the Ohio State football team in 2002 has put his championship ring up for auction on e-Bay. The appropriate opening bid was $15,000. The player is anonymous so we'll probably never know who it was, but wouldn't it be nice to find out that it was Maurice Clarett and the money was going to pay his lawyers for their futile attempts to get him into the NFL last year? I know that would give me a warm feeling during these cold winter days...

I'm not sure why this is, but the brouhaha between Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant over what Malone said or did not say or meant or did not mean in his conversation with Vanessa Bryant reminds me of the ridiculously unfounded grievances amongst professional rasslers that fuel their “hatred for each other”. Whatever. Here's an indicator that I would take to be meaningful regarding what happened or did not happen in this matter. If Mrs. Karl Malone shows up somewhere with a $4M rock on her finger...

The Seattle Mariners signed Adrian Beltre for 5 years and $64M. Here is the question. Did they get the outstanding player who hit more than 45 home runs and played all-star quality baseball all last year or did they get the mediocre and often listless player that inhabited third base for the dodgers for most of the prior three or four years. The jury deliberations begin in about 8 weeks.

Finally, right after being relieved of his responsibilities in Cleveland, Butch Davis let it be known that he had suffered a panic attack prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals - the one in which the Browns lost to the Bengals by a score of 58-48. Bud Shaw of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer had this observation:

"Five out of five doctors recommend that if you are seriously panicked over playing the Bengals, get out before New England comes to town."

But don't get me wrong, I love sports...

Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon

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