Monthly Archives: November 2004

Calling for a Moratorium on the Peyton Praise

Can we all just admit that we’re very proud of Peyton Manning and be done with it? I mean, we can tune in to wish him congratulations when he eventually breaks Dan Marino’s single season touchdown record and all but until then, can we maybe cool it a bit on the Peyton worshipping? Perhaps it’s just me and I’m getting a little tired of the fact that outside of New England, my quarterback gets all the airtime of one of those homemade commercials for “Bob’s Discount Furniture” but come on, I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that the NFL and everyone involved in either promoting and/or reporting on the state of it seems to be hopelessly in love with the elder Manning can I?

I spent Thanksgiving watching Senor Touchdown Pass dismantle the Lions “defense” all the while wishing someone would at least try to make it hard on him. And yes, I use the term “defense” loosely when referring to the Lions methods of stopping the ball from crossing the goal line. But you know what, Indianapolis’s defense can be regarded in the same manner. Yes, Manning is all well and good, probably, when all is said and done, he will be one of the top 10 NFL quarterbacks ever, but unless I’ve missed something, he can’t personally keep the other team from scoring 45 points.

This is why I love football. It’s a team game. At least, it should be if it’s played correctly. Sure, you have your “Me, me, me” guys (I’m talking to you, Terrell), and you have your blustering bad-asses, (paging Mr. Lewis, Mr. Ray Lewis), but if you’re doing things right, what you have at the end is a complete football team.

The way I look at it, there are three complete football teams in the NFL, the Eagles, the Steelers and my Patriots. True, the Eagles have superstars McNabb and the aforementioned loquacious Terrell Owens, the Steelers have Jerome Bettis and rookie phenom Ben Roethlisberger and the Patriots have Corey Dillon and Tom Brady, but all three teams are deserving of the hype. While I wish dearly that Terrell Owens would shut the hell up and catch a touchdown pass without turning it into a Broadway production number, there’s no denying that the Eagles are a good team. I also wish that Roethlisberger would succumb to a particularly bone-crushing hit as a “Welcome to the NFL, rookie” bit of hazing but I have to admit that, were he on my team, I would love the guy. As for the Patriots, their most popular member may, in fact, be their coach, I wish nothing but continued success, parades with confetti and endless hugs and affection for years to come. Hey, I never said I wasn’t biased. My point is, there is a reason that these three teams are all 10-1. They are complete teams. The Indianapolis Colts, golden-armed Manning included, are not.

The Colts are 8-3 with losses to New England, (courtesy of Willie McGinest or, as we like to call him, Big Willie Style), Jacksonville, (courtesy of a defense that can’t hold a halftime lead), and Kansas City, (courtesy of that same shoddy defense which won’t allow them to win a game even when they score 35 points). This is pretty indicative of what’s wrong with Indy, if you ask me. They are not a “team” in the truest sense of the word.

They’d like you to believe that the “team” consists of Manning, running back Edgerrin James, wide receiver Marvin Harrison and a bunch of other guys who put on horseshoe helmets and run around banging into things. But here’s the thing, those three guys are all on offense. Defense gets no play. And no ink. And if the Patriots recent run of success and the good times that Pittsburgh is enjoying right now tell us anything, it’s that defense not only wins football games, it wins championships.

Manning, as good as he is, and I am not disputing that, is not the football team. He can’t be. And as smart as he is with his crazy, OCD, fake-audible, chicken dance thing at the line of scrimmage, there are still some people he can’t fool. Namely, Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel. Manning is extremely talented, I would not argue otherwise. He will surely break Marino’s record and more congratulations to him, it is well-deserved praise. He is a human highlight reel and is fun to watch provided he is not making your team look like a bunch of Pop Warner players. Furthermore, I am sure he is a lovely person. His United Way commercials crack me up. He seems like the kind of person that would help old ladies put their groceries in their cars. But as far as football goes, I’m beginning to think that other teams are starting to believe his hype. They’re all drinking the Peyton Manning Kool-Aid and psyching themselves out, convincing themselves that he has outsmarted them and is about to pick them apart with long bombs down the field. The people that don’t believe the hype, the Belichicks and the McGinests of the world, will be successful against Manning. And until the Colts front office decides that they should give him a defense to render it unnecessary for him to throw six touchdowns a game to secure a win, people should keep their Peyton praise in check. Making one player bigger than their team and, by extension, bigger than the game is a dangerous thing. And until the Colts can either score from the one-yard line with four attempts to do so or stop their opponents from scoring 45 points (Hello, KC!) they will be sporting no hardware on their ring fingers.

I hope that Peyton’s touchdown record keeps him warm on those nights when quarterbacks with less TDs but better defenses are duking it out in the Super Bowl.

Don’t even get me started on Eli…

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True Confessions of a Sports Junkie

Admittedly, I grew up in the Drew Bledsoe Era of New England Patriot football. I was not around for the decades of wretchedness or the horror of 1-15 seasons. I do not remember John Hannah, Steve Grogan or Gino Cappelletti. My formidable years were spent watching Bledsoe toss to Troy Brown or Ben Coates. Bledsoe was big in my family. We all loved him. My dad did say that he had a tendency to throw off his back foot and that he was pretty immobile in the pocket but it didn’t matter because he won games. My dad, by the way, may actually be psychic when it comes to sporting events. But more on that later. So you can imagine that when Bledsoe took that hit from Mo Lewis three years ago (and can I just say that even upon replays, the hit doesn’t look that bad? I’m not questioning his fortitude, not at all, I’m just saying that it didn’t look bad. To me.) , and some young punk named Tom Brady came off the bench, we were understandably distressed. Needless to say, it did not take long for us to get over our fears. A Super Bowl championship goes a long way to assuage your fears of being stuck with an inexperienced sixth round draft pick at QB. So we got on board this Tom Brady bandwagon. We backed the kid. And we knew, after the season and the Super Bowl, wherein the new kid got to take home a Cadillac and a shiny Super Bowl MVP trophy for himself, that it was time for Bledsoe to go. The Tom Brady Era had arrived. So we wished him well. He took out a full page ad in the Boston Globe thanking the fans of New England and we hoped for the best for him because he was a great guy. He told us “thank you” and we said “good luck in Buffalo.”

That said, after watching his performance quarterbacking the Buffalo Bills against these very same Brady-led Patriots this past Sunday night, I kind of just want to give Bledsoe a hug, hand him a blankie and a juice box and say, “Drew, honey, go have a nap. We’ll wake you when it’s over.” Poor guy.

It’s not like the Roger Clemens thing. The thing where Clemens said that he would only play for a team other than the Red Sox if it would take him closer to his home in Texas. So naturally he went to Toronto. Which I guess is closer if you’re using the metric system. Or something. And then he went to the Yankees which was the metaphorical ice pick through our collective hearts. Bledsoe hasn’t done us wrong. If anything, we want more for him. The man is only 32-years-old but since I grew up knowing him as “our QB,” I feel a little guilty over the way he was cast aside. So to speak. The Patriots are not his team anymore. And at this point, neither are the Bills.

I guess this is why I’ll never be a successful general manager. I’m too emotional. I wouldn’t be fair to the team, the players or the fans because I would make all decisions based on gut feeling and I wouldn’t make anyone happy. It wouldn’t have been fair to Tom Brady who performed at a league MVP caliber (I do not even want to get into the Peyton Manning discussion right now) to have to constantly be looking over his shoulder, wondering if he was going to lose his job. It wouldn’t have been fair to Drew Bledsoe, just 30 at the time, to be a bench warmer when he had many years left in that right arm. And so things worked out like they did. And though I’m happy about it – deliriously so if my behavior after both Super Bowl victories is to be believed – I still think Drew needs a hug.

Some other sports-related confessions:

  • Despite the fact that I never, ever watch the NBA, I think the whole Ron Artest thing is hilarious. I turn on SportsCenter every morning secretly hoping that he will unload another gem of a sound bite like “I’ve been doing a little bit too much music, just needed the rest. I’ve still got my album coming out November 23rd. After the album comes out, I’m going to make sure all of my time is focused on winning a championship.” Honestly, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. “Well, my reality show where I advise Clive Davis on what bands to give a recording contract to has been taking a lot out of me. That’s why I missed the road trip. But it’s cool. As soon as the finale comes out in times for sweeps and I pick up my tux in case I get that Emmy, I’ll be ready to help lead this team to a championship.”This encapsulates perfectly what is so preposterous about the NBA. I love it.
  • I find Yao Ming fascinating. Especially in the commercials where he has this look on his face like, “I realize I don’t speak the language and I’m a token 8-foot Chinese man to you people, but you all should see yourselves from up here. You look ridiculous.”
  • I think “Roethlisberger”is harder to spell than “Mientkiewicz.”
  • I’m really, really, really, a thousand times really tired of hearing about Peyton Manning. Really. Shut it, already.
  • I think Peyton Manning’s new commercials are hilarious. For shame.
  • I also think the Chunky Soup commercials, while not making me want soup, do make me want to hang out with Donovan McNabb’s mom.
  • I want something really bad to happen to Eli Manning. I don’t know why. He’s never done anything to me. I just think he could use a few “welcome to the NFL, punk” hits.
  • If the Red Sox don’t re-sign Jason Varitek and his thighs, I will picket Theo’s house. If you ask me, each of those legs is worth a good $20 million and the ass is worth at least $10 million. So there’s your $50 million right there. As many years as possible.
  • My dad is a sports psychic. Back in 1993, my dad, my 10-year-old brother and myself were watching the World Series between the Phillies and the Blue Jays. My dad said something like “Joe Carter will hit one out here.” And then he did. From that moment on, I’ve thought my Dad knew everything when it came to sports. When I called him, in tears after last year’s devastating Game 7 loss to the Yankees, he said, “Kristen, I haven’t read the book and I didn’t see the movie but I know how this story ends.” he said the same thing to me after Game 6 this year when I called him and said, “The Red Sox don’t win games like this, Dad. Maybe it’s going to happen after all.” When the Red Sox finally did win it all, and all my dad could say was “How about that?” I realized that maybe he didn’t know everything.
  • I secretly hope that the Red Sox were drunk when they beat the Yankees. If only because it would make the colassal choke that much harder to swallow.
  • I’m beginning to think that the Red Sox front office had Mark Bellhorn killed. He does not appear on the roster nor is he listed as a free agent. What state of flux do you have to exist in to be neither tied to a team, nor a free agent? His body is going to be discovered in a ditch somewhere soon, isn’t it?
  • Between Adam Vinatieri’s foot and Curt Schilling’s ankle, we’re cornering the market on Heroic Lower Appendages here in New England, aren’t we? How long before we develop a six-state-wide foot fetish?
  • I think Orlando Cabrera should come back if for no other reason than the look on his face is endlessly amusing. Every single time you see him, he’s smiling idiotically with a look that says, “This is awesome! I played in Montreal in front of, at most forty people. There are forty thousand people here. These people gave me a nickname. They call me O.C. This rocks!” His enthusiasm is contagious.
  • Johnny Damon? Needs to be medicated. [Johnny Damon! Ahhhhhh! – Amy]
  • I’m thinking of attending a Celtics game. This is how starved for sports I am. Actual conversation I had with my dad. Me: “Would you want to go to a Celtics game with me?” My dad: “Why? None of your friends want to go?” Me: “They’ll go, but I thought you might want to. I thought it might be more fun to see a game in person.” My dad: “It’s not.”
  • The Improper Bostonian is sporting an especially attractive picture of Jason Varitek on the cover this month. No less than seven people informed me that I needed to pick up a copy. I think my reputation has preceeded me.
  • Come to think of it, Corey Dillon kind of has the Orlando Cabrera-I-just-escaped-from-a-doomed-franchise-look too. Or maybe he’s just psyched that he can stop dressing like candy corn.
  • You know it’s a slow day in New England sports when The Revolution make the front page of the Globe’s sports section. The Revs? Really? Aren’t those the guys who keep Razor Blade Field warm for the Pats?
  • And speaking of the Razor, the garlic fries at Gillette are delicious.
  • My brother has a rule that it’s not officially a football game until Rodney Harrison gets called for an unnecessary roughness penalty. I think my brother might have a problem with unexpressed anger.
  • Anyone remember Cesar Crespo?
  • Why do I picture Nomar and Mia sitting in front of the TV eating sad little Hungry Man TV dinners off tray tables with Mia saying, “Hey, your old team just won the World Series.” And Nomar replying, “Whatever. Is Wheel of Fortune back on?”
  • You know who I miss? Jerry Remy.
  • Can I take issue with the fact that Gary “does this mustache make me look like a seventies porn star?” Sheffield was second in AL MVP voting? I think I can. BALCO doesn’t get a vote, right? All right, consider my complaint lodged.
  • Meanwhile, congratulations are in order for Vladi Guerrero. Dude is scary good. And has been for some time. But no one knew it because he was langushing away alongside the O.C. in Montreal. One of these days, he’s going to homer a ball that bounces 3 feet in front of the plate. Have you ever seen him run? He looks like a creaky old man or a pubescent kid who hasn’t gained control of his limbs yet. Nevertheless, Scary. Good.
  • If you were going into a bare-knuckle fight and you could pick one member of the Red Sox to be on your side, you’d have to go with Trot Nixon, wouldn’t you? All respect to Varitek, Kapler and Ortiz but Nixon has a little extra crazy in him, doesn’t he? Johnny Damon knows from crazy too but he’s more the “I’ll fight with you, yeah, I’m ready, hey, does that cloud look like a bunny rabbit to you? Do you think rabbit’s feet are real rabbit’s feet? My feet hurt. I need to cut my toenails” kind of crazy, whereas Nixon looks like at any moment he could snap and bite the head off a clubhouse attendant for not properly respecting the Jesus Stick.

Those are my observations for now. I’m sure more will pop up from time to time. In the meantime, I’m off to try to explain to Theo why a no-trade clause for a 32-year-old catcher is a good idea.

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