Monthly Archives: December 2003


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?


MORE ON HIPSTER JEWRY: Salon has a piece on the “Jewsploitation” craze, pretty much summing up what I’ve been saying for the last several months. Money graf:

Today’s Jewish tastemakers lust not after inclusion but the edginess that comes from exclusion. Trendy and creative contemporary Jewishness is – as it has been at least since the Jazz Age, but more so in hip-hop America – about the coolness factor that its players associate with being black.

I also love the revelation that Jonathan Kesselman, writer/director of “The Hebrew Hammer,” has never read a Philip Roth novel, or seen more than a handful of Woody Allen films. Not as bad as Mayor Bloomberg never having seen “Seinfeld,” but still.
One aspect of this I can get behind, however, is Mattisiyahu, the “Hasidic reggae superstar” who I saw perform in Brooklyn last week. Not merely in costume or in character, Mattisiyahu is an actual Hasid who is well-versed in both rap and reggae. A highlight was when he stopped between songs to recite that evening’s Hannukah blessing.


WAS NEYER RIGHT ABOUT ROSE?: Apparently he was. A press release for Pete Rose’s upcoming pre-book interview with Charles Gibson:

In an exclusive interview to air on both Primetime Thursday and Good Morning America, ABC News Charles Gibson talks with baseball legend and major league hits-leader Pete Rose, who, for the first time, will tell the full story about his controversial past including allegations that he bet on baseball and on his own team while managing the Cincinnati Reds. Rose was banned from Major League baseball in 1989, and has consistently denied betting on baseball.

Rose has told the “full story” numerous times before, but never the truth- that he bet on baseball. Looks like Rob Neyer scooped everyone the other week.