Monthly Archives: December 2003


THE OL’ BALL COACH BAILS: I can’t say I’m surprised Steve Spurrier failed as an NFL coach– he really did have “Rick Pitino” written all over him when he took over the Redskins. But you’ve told me that he’d only last two years- and willingly leave the remaining $20 million on the table- I’d have told you you were nuts.
My lord do Washington’s sports teams suck- when was the last time any of them were any good? And the thing is, not even Spurrier, or Jaromir Jagr, or even Michael Jordan can help. I don’t think the curse will be broken until the inevitable arrival in town of the Expos…
Even more disturbing news- the Vikings will both not fire Mike Tice, and not hire a general manager. Way to learn from your mistakes, Red.
Meanwhile, without further ado, I only plan to do this once:
First round:
Colts over Broncos, Titans over Ravens
Packers over Seahawks, Cowboys over Panthers
Second Round:
Chiefs over Colts, Titans over Patriots
Rams over Packers, Eagles over Cowboys
Title Games:
Eagles over Rams
Titans over Chiefs
Super Bowl XXXVIII:
Eagles over Titans (keeping with my pre-season prediction)
Oh yea, and…
NFL Coaching Carousel predictions:
Giants: Tom Coughlin
Redskins: Romeo Crennel
Falcons: Lovie Smith
Bears: Kirk Ferentz
Cardinals: Jim Fassel
Raiders: Dennis Green
Bills: Charlie Weis


REBEL WITHOUT A CHANCE: There’s an interesting piece by Franklin Foer (reprinted here) in the most recent TNR about how Howard Dean’s lack of religiosity could be a liability in a general election against the president. At issue is Dean’s decision in the early 1980s to switch from the Episcopal to Congregationalist church due to a dispute over a bike path (I’m more concerned with his Yankees/Red Sox conversion, but that’s just me.) Anyway, the piece quotes the brother of the candidate on the subject:

Indeed, when Dean first explained his denominational switch on ABC’s “This Week,” George Stephanopoulos was incredulous: “Over the bike path?” Most people respond that way, even Dean’s friends and family. My questions about the centrality of the bike path take them by surprise. “I have never heard that before,” says his brother James Dean.

Yes, Howard has a brother named James Dean. How did this escape notice until now?


BEST-EVER REFUTATION OF THE “LORD OF THE RINGS IS RACIST” ARGUMENT: From Jonah Goldberg, at the time of the last movie, but still relevant now:

Many of the Orcs (and the super-Orcs) are dark-skinned and have slant-eyes. They are also how shall I put this? Orcs! Ya frickin’ idjit!
One is tempted to ask who is the real racist here? On the one hand we have people like me who see horrific, flesh-eating, dull-witted creatures with jagged feral teeth, venomous mouths, pointed devilish ears, and reptilian skin, and say, “Cool, Orcs!” On the other hand we have people, like Mr. Yatt, who see the same repugnant creatures and righteously exclaim “black people!” Maybe he should spend less time vetting movies for signs of racism and more time vetting himself if, that is, he free-associates black people with these subhuman monsters.

As for me, I loved “Return of the King,” unquestionably my favorite of the three LOTR films. Among its many accomplishments, it set a new all-time record for Most False Endings (6) in an American film, breaking the previous record of 5, set by Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.”


QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It doesn’t matter to me whether a candidate is a secular Protestant, such as Dean; a Catholic, such as John Kerry; or someone like Wesley Clark, whose father was Jewish and who apparently switches to a different Christian denomination every couple of years. Then again, I suppose I’m one of those secularists who Joe Lieberman’s mother warned him about.” –Dan Kennedy, the Boston Phoenix.


VIKINGS CONQUERED: There are a few expectations that every football fan has, even in the unpredictable world of the National Football League. One is that if your team gets off to a 6-0 start, they will make the playoffs. Another is that if they are able to beat a team (Kansas City) that themselves got off to a 9-0 start, they should also be able to defeat at least one of the four worst teams in the league (Giants, Raiders, Chargers, Cardinals). And a third is that if all your team needs to win its division is a Week 17 victory over the single worst team in the league, and if they are leading by 13 points with five minutes left, that your team will manage to pull out the victory.
You would think wrong, if your team is the Minnesota Vikings. Then again, you’d also think your team would manage to make its first-round draft pick in time to beat the clock
The Vikings entered Week 17 needing any one of three results to clinch the NFC Norris Division title- a Seattle loss to San Francisco, a Green Bay loss to Denver, or a win themselves over the sorry, no account Arizona Cardinals. None of the three results, alas, came to pass, as the Seahawks and Packers both won, and the Vikings gave up two touchdowns in the final two minutes to lose to Arizona, thus spoiling what would have been the first year in history in which Minnesota teams in all major sports qualified for the playoffs.
Watching the finish was the most uncomfortable football moment since the Joe Namath “I want to kiss you” interview.
Thus concludes a season which began with the team neglecting to make their first-round draft pick on time, continued with owner Red McCombs entering the locker room to berate his players after a Week 7 loss knocked them all the way down to 6-1, and featured the Vikes losing to the league’s four worst teams. The entire season was plagued by McCombs’ whining about the team’s “need” for a new stadium to line his pockets- which has only had the effect of hurting the ballpark chances for the Twins, who actually do need one. Now that Art Modell is selling the Ravens, McCombs officially becomes the worst owner in pro football. Yes, you could make an argument for the Cardinals’ Bill Bidwell, but then, which team won on Sunday?
According to Patrick Reusse of the Strib, the lack of playoffs may lead to the firing of coach Mike Tice. Now I’ve been clear all along in my low opinion of Tice, and my belief that he had no business being hired as an NFL coach in the first place. But for McCombs to toss him at this point, after two years as the lowest-paid head coach in the league, would be nothing less than backstabbing, especially after the year Tice spent as Red’s locker-room Narc when Denny Green was still coach.
Oh well, at least Tice will always have a spot warm on George O’Leary’s staff at Central Florida


NOTES ON WEEK 17: More thoughts:
-Tice, if he gets the boot, would hardly be the only NFL coach tossed on his keister this week. Dave McGinness, Dick Jauron, Gregg Williams, and Bill Callahan either are or will imminently be out the door, along with the already-cashiered Dan Reeves and Jim Fassel.
– If the Detroit Lions have a legitimate justification for continuing to employ Matt Millen as their general manager, I’d love to hear it. Do they have some Moneyball-like system in which they consider road victories to be “overvalued”?
– Something tells me Jauron’s firing isn’t being received in Chicago with anything close to the anger as Mike Ditka’s was ten years ago this week. But as long as the Bears canned Jauron, why not general manager Jerry Angelo as well? I don’t know how any executive who purposely signed Kordell Stewart to be his starting quarterback can keep his job for long. (UPDATE: Angelo today signed a four-year contract extension. Yes, I’m as puzzled as you).
-Microcosm of the Giants’ season: one of them blocked a punt against Carolina, and while no Giants were able to fall on the ball, one player did manage to accidentally knock out the ref, in something I’ve seen happen hundreds of times in pro wrestling but never in football.
– Now that Mike Vanderjagt has gone an entire season without missing a field goal, playing a big part in the Colts’ first division title in years, are all those asshole NFL pundits (led by Sean Salisbury) about to apologize for comparing him to a “waterboy” during his feud with Peyton Manning last year?
– For pure symmetry, nothing beats the Patriots 31-0 victory over the Bills on the last week of the season, after New England lost to Buffalo by that same score in Week 1. Does this mean the Bills will cut Lawyer Milloy tomorrow, and he’ll re-sign with the Pats?
– Also enjoyed ESPN’s live feed of Eric Dickerson at his house, watching Jamal Lewis’ unsuccessful attempt to break his single-season rushing record. But why no questions for Eric about his upcoming coaching gig in the Lingerie Bowl?