Notes of a Football Addict (Vol. III)
The ancient Chinese knew precious little about football
By John Razook,
12:33PM, Thu. Sep. 16, 2010
"May you live in interesting times."*
– ancient Chinese curse
We can surmise that the ancient Chinese knew precious little about football. They did know a thing or two about making profound statements, though, which is precisely what the Baltimore Ravens did in obliterating the New York Jets in the kickoff to the 41st season of Monday Night Football.
Think about that: 41 years. Of Monday Night Football. The game itself, by now, seems as ancient as the Chinese, though it has certainly evolved. Forward passes, empty backfields, bionic men, dogfighters … what could possibly be next?
*Interesting to note that the above curse is the first of three of ascending severity. The second? "May the government be aware of you." The third is not important.
We've come a long way since the halcyon Howard Cosell days to these modern times, the Gilded Age of Gruden, the Time of Tirico. Jaws, for crying out loud! I have it on good authority that once upon a time broadcasters drank scotch in the booth. I think I'd enjoy watching games on TV a little more if the producers would worry less about technological innovations (how many laser graphics do we need?) and add some actual personality to their broadcasts. And not the "that's one of the most amazing plays I've ever seen!" and "he's such a gamer!" jibber-jabber these so-called analysts spout almost nonstop during a telecast.
Scotch, everybody knows, does wonders for personality.
Broadcasts have become simply intolerable. And I'm the kind of football fan who prefers holing up in the relative bunker of my home (or someone else's home with the necessary supplies of strong drink, ribs, and gambling money) to being trapped in a frenzied crowd of lunatic fans. The halftime of NBC's Sunday night telecast now features a segment called "Tiny Football League" or something similar, which purports to follow the trials and tribulations of a group of children learning the dark arts of the form of tackle, stiff arm, and yes, the forward pass. Did anyone other than me notice that NBC ran the exact same clip last week, offering absolutely nothing new this time around? Did they not get the footage they needed? Were the kids bad interview subjects? The coaches too profane? I expect this kind of terrible broadcasting from ESPN and by god, ESPN delivers. NBC has its work cut out for it in matching the Worldwide Leader in wasting people's time but is well on its way to being competitive.
So yes, the Jets were exposed as frauds last night. And make no mistake, the Ravens did obliterate the Jersey Boys, even though the scoreboard said 10-9. The game was not close. The Jets are all talk (and a lot of it at that), no walk. Not much caulk, either. The team is held together by a wonderful defense but the Mark Sanchez-led offense was pathetic, just as it appeared to be in the preseason. Maybe Rex Ryan can pull everyone together, circle the wagons, right the ship. He better do it fast. New England comes calling in a few days.
I believe that once, in the not-too-distant past, I mentioned something of the Oakland Raiders reaching the doorstep of the playoffs this season. What I meant, of course, was that this team would knock, only to be turned away like the lepers they appear to be once again. And that's probably being too harsh toward the leprous. Tennessee may be a decent team. Chris Johnson is quite a nice running back. "Vince Young" and "quarterback" may even actually belong in the same sentence together. Time will tell. Time has already told us, though, that the Raiders of today are an embarrassment to the Raiders of yore.
And that's embarrassing.
On a personal note, I'm embarrassed that I intended to write about the Houston Texans beating the fighting Peyton Mannings of Indianapolis but got sidetracked by rage and general befuddlement about these broadcasts. Houston put together a fine game, and I'll admit to being one of those people who said, "Who in hell is this Arian Foster fellow?" Turns out to be a nice story. The guy finished as the No. 2 all-time rushing leader at the University of Tennessee (a once-relevant program) and could have been a top draft pick had he left school early. Instead, he stays and gets his degree (in philosophy) but loses his starting job and ends up undrafted.
Arian Foster certainly earns this week's "Gamer of the Game" award.
And yes, I did just make that up.
I also planned on devoting a few notes to taking an in-depth look at the remarkable ineptness of the Dallas Cowboys, especially the last play of the first half, in which Tony Romo and Tashard Choice combined for maybe the single dumbest play I've seen since Leon Lett played for the Dallas Cowboys. Somewhere in his hyperbolic chamber, the Botox in Jerry Jones' face must be wearing off with all this nervous twitching.
That play, though, seems to sum up everything about Dallas and it's football team under the Jones-Romo-Wade Phillips triumvirate. Simply absurd. I can't wait to see what America's Team springs on our once-proud nation next.
Meanwhile, some college football was also played on campuses near and far. Virginia Tech proved itself to be the undergraduate equivalent of the Jets or Cowboys, while Florida State did a fairly decent imitation of the same. In the Big 12, only Colorado disgraced itself, but we are used to that by now, aren't we? If it comes to pass that the Buffaloes stick around the conference for an extra year, count me among those who will be lining up to heap public scorn on Ralphie and everything he stands for.
Not that I don't already.
This week's Question of the Week comes from J.W. of Austin and is, I will admit, more of an observation than a question, but hey, it's the only bit of correspondence I received.
Said J.W.: "OU looks pretty good."
To which I responded: nothing. Having thought about it a great deal, though, I can conclude that Florida State looked pretty bad.
Texas at Texas Tech this Saturday. That should be fun. I must get my bunker in order, and fast.
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arian foster, tony romo, howard cosell