For New Year’s Eve we have a treat: another special guest appearance from Zeus.
Best wishes for a happy new year to everyone!
This and That (What I Like About You)
1. What I like about the 2013 New England Patriots is how they have taken the coaching of Bill Belichick to heart. They have faced adversity on and off the field. And yet, they have not given in to distractions and they have never, ever made a single excuse. Instead, they study film and practice hard. They focus on what they can control and they prepare, prepare, prepare. And most remarkably, no matter which 46 players dress for the game, when they take the field, they expect to win. How this works out in the tournament is anyone’s guess. But I think the Patriots have the resolve, focus and discipline to at least have a puncher’s chance. One game at a time …
2. Tony Dungy may be right when he calls the Broncos the team to beat in the AFC but goes too far when he says that he can’t see anyone in the AFC beating them. St. Tony’s longstanding man-crush on Peyton Manning has blinded him to certain facts obvious to even the most casual observer, most notably that the Broncos have already lost to three of this season’s AFC playoff qualifiers (Indianapolis, New England, San Diego). So Tony, just what is it that makes them unbeatable now?
3. The Pressure is Building – Dungy also conveniently ignores Mr. Manning’s well-documented penchant for competing in the postseason with a large bone lodged in his trachea. Manning is attempting to become the first QB to reach the Super Bowl without throwing a single spiral pass since Joe Kapp did it in 1969. The next two weeks of ruminating about past failures, lousy weather and the sorry state of his flaccid noodle-arm will clench Manning’s sphincter so tight that his lips will pucker, rendering his visage gaunt and toothless. While this year’s record-breaking performance has cemented his legacy as a greedy, stat-obsessed glory hog who is also one of the greatest regular season QBs in pro football history, Manning will once again take the field in the playoffs wallowing in a morass of uncertainty and self-doubt.
4. How the West was Won – Is it a coincidence that the Broncos are the top seed in the AFC while two other teams from the same division qualified for the tournament? Thank the pathetic NFC East. The Broncos, Chief and Chargers went a combined 11-1 against their so-called opposition from the NFC.
5. The NFL Rule Book has gotten overly prescriptive and far too technical to expect the current crew of geriatric part-time officials to enforce all of the rules with any degree of consistency. The idea that any problem, whether it be player safety or a short-term dearth of scoring, can be addressed with yet another arcane rule change, has gotten way out of hand and the byzantine interpretation of existing rules is beyond mind-boggling. Officials, coaches and players do not have a common understanding of what constitutes pass interference. Every week, the outcome of yet another game hinges on the enforcement a some bizarre, obscure, highly technical rule that no one has ever heard of before. When you can no longer shake the feeling that rule enforcement is random, subjective and capricious, the integrity of the game is called into question.
6. Hall of Blame – The roots of this go back to Bill Polian’s manipulation of the Competition Committee to change the emphasis and interpretation of pass defense rules. This was done not in the best interests of the great game of professional football, but rather in Polian’s naked self-interest. There’s an especially hot corner in Football Hell for Mr. Polian whose greed and shortsightedness have irreparably damaged the game.
7. Billionaire Boys Club – Monday was Decision Day for the captains of industry, the high achieving, brilliant geniuses who guide the fortunes of the NFL. What a freak show:
- Jim Haslam (Cleveland) and the Glazer family (Tampa) did little to dispel the notion that they are petulant, impatient trigger-happy spoiled brats who will stamp their feet and fire everyone in sight if they don’t get their way, right away.
- The Ford family in Detroit mysteriously awakened from a catatonic stupor to find their talented football team in shambles, something that was apparent to Lion fans years ago.
- Erectile Dysfunction Icon Woody Johnson affirmed his lifelong commitment to mediocrity.
- Mr. Daniel Snyder added another notch to his belt, a testament to the fact that that Mr. Daniel Snyder is wholly incapable of establishing a constructive working relationship with a single sentient human being anywhere on God’s green earth.
- And Jerry Jones – oh, brother, don’t even get me started on Jerry Jones.
- The fact that such obvious and epic mismanagement has no discernable detrimental effect on these owners’ ability to make huge money is tangible evidence of just how much people love the game of football. It’s a great business. But life needn’t be fair, so while the coaches and players are held accountable for their transgressions, the owners can be monumental screw-ups for life and still end up rolling in cash.
8. Tournament Time – 256 regular season games are in the record books. Twelve teams enter the eleven game tournament to determine who gets to hold The Big Parade. It is the most compelling event in sports. The next five weeks are going to fly – I dread the end of the season almost as much as I love the tournament.
Here’s wishing everyone a healthy, happy and fulfilling New Year!
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