Here is Andy’s latest entry, a look at the current state of the NFL and more in his inimitable fashion.
1. Shame, Disgrace, Embarrassment – Once we got past Week 1, there’s been a steady drumbeat acknowledging that The Replacements weren’t working out so well. After Monday night, The Beast was of Out of the Cage. There was a rare convergence of opinion on the part of fans, players, coaches and even the resolutely contrarian Sporting Press that this is an abomination. The Tipping Point had been reached.
The 2012 season will officially go down in history as the year The Billionaire Boys Club and their stupendously overpaid houseboy (who shall remain nameless; let’s call him Roger) decided to put the squeeze on the hired help for short money. This may well be the single most embarrassing, short-sighted thing the NFL has ever done. It is an utter insult to the fans who ultimately pay the bills and shows a total lack of respect for the players and coaches who put on the show. Although an agreement with the officials may be near, the NFL damaged its brand and put the legitimacy of an entire season in doubt.
Well, it blew up in the owners’ faces. But the message is clear. Money – it’s more important than the fans, more important than the players and coaches, more important than the game.
2. Real Men of Genius – Never mind naming and blaming the replacement refs themselves. Fans deserve to know just who it was that thought using them was a good idea in the first place. Who could have possibly believed that employing untested officials from the lower levels of college, high school, Pop Warner and lingerie football had even the remotest chance of success?
Where I work, anyone doing something this monumentally stupid gets fired. So – just maybe – if NFL Owners/Captains of Industry decide that the House Stooge should take the bullet for this, our close personal friend Roger will find himself sitting in front of 280 Park Avenue with the plastic trash bags by this time next week. So maybe it’s not all bad. (Okay, I’m really searching for a silver lining here.)
3. Make It Stop – I missed all the controversy Monday night because once the flags started flying, I turned off the TV. Having been traumatized by the blizzard of yellow handkerchiefs on Sunday night, my brain began to throb and my eyeballs began to spin in different directions – I simply couldn’t stand to watch another minute.
4. Oh Yeah, About the Game – I don’t believe you can state with certainty that the officials cost the Patriots the game Sunday night. The problem is that you cannot say they didn’t either. This was one of the showcase games of the season. Two of the very best in the business set out to play the game with their characteristic pride, precision and passion only to see the game turn into a sloppy, uncoordinated, incomprehensible mess that was barely recognizable as football. Inconsistent officiating makes the outcome of any close game random. Might this have something to do with the upside-down results we’ve seen so far this season?
5. Sunday Night Football – Hard to tell for sure whether Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were doing play-by-play of the game or hosting a 3½ hour documentary/infomercial on the transcendent greatness of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. How pathetic was it for both NBC and professional sycophant Peter King to fawn over Lewis’ infantile pregame rant (“revenge is a dish best served cold”) which Ray-Ray ripped off from a 30 year old Star Trek Movie. Didn’t know Ray had a thing for Ricardo Montalban.
6. Long Way to Go – It is true that during the course of a game, any player might find himself called upon to make the decisive play – the difference between winning and losing – at any time during the game. There are numerous examples of this for the Patriots over the last two (unfortunate) weeks. One can only hope that the young players can learn and apply these lessons. Despite a rocky start, this team has great potential provided they work diligently to improve as the season wears on. As much as I admire the Patriots’ determination to compete at the highest possible every single week, recent history suggests playing at peak levels down the stretch may well be more important than playoff seedings.
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