Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The NFL Recap, Week Seventeen

I do these every week at work as part of my duties as Sports Czar, so why not share with the public?

We apologize for the late recap, but we were busy obtaining a tan on a beach in Belize last week. Actually, we originally planned to write a recap while on the beach, but we think we can summarize the decision not to do so pretty easily. Actually, we'll do it via haiku...

Drinks on the beach, or
Write jokes about the Redskins.
Pass me the mai tai.

So now, we're stuck writing this on the plane, feeling like Steve Spurrier facing an NFL defense... What do we do?

Luckily, some things are certain in life. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's marriage, for instance. So we have the tried and true cheap way out -- the awards column. In no particular order...

Most Surprising Team: This one's easy. Jacksonville's late fade cost them a shot at this honor. All due credit to Jim Mora, Jr. and his overachieving Falcons, but they played in the NFC. We're pretty sure most of the NFC, save Philadelphia, couldn't even defeat France. So we're giving the award to Marty Schottenheimer and the Chargers, whose spirited run to a division title allowed Drew Brees the opportunity to resurrect his career and Schottenheimer the opportunity to choke away another playoff game (we swear, we wrote that Thursday). The good news for Marty is that the win allows him to place the family's gardener, chauffeur and black Labrador on the team payroll.

Most Disappointing Team: As usual, plenty of competition for this (dis)honor. We'd give this to the Giants, except no one expected them to do anything until midseason, when they turned a 5-2 start into a 6-10 finish, while also making us wonder if rookie QB Eli Manning is actually adopted (if he's Peyton's real brother, could he really play that badly?). The Vikings and Rams made spirited runs at the prize, but made the playoffs in the NFL's version of a belated Christmas gift to coaches Mike Tice and Mike Martz, neither of whom can coach their way out of a paper bag (this doesn't mean they won't make the Super Bowl -- with Terrell Owens out, the NFC isn't as tough as the proverbial paper bag). Since entry to the playoffs disqualifies you from the running, we'll have to give the award to Kansas City, which will give Dick Vermeil one more chance to cry. Yes, their defense stunk worse than a CBS News report, but people were still picking this team to make the Super Bowl in the preseason. 7-9 after that much hype makes them the choice.

Most Comical Team: Again, we invented this category so we could make fun of the Redskins, but they keep on earning it, even without Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, and Danny's unforgettable glove. We learned last week that former Redskins safety Ifaenyi Ohalete has sued Skins star runner Clinton Portis for $20,000. Portis apparently promised Ohalete $40,000 to give up his jersey number after Portis arrived from Denver in the offseason, following "months of negotiations." No, we're not talking about the trade for Portis -- that only took a couple weeks. The negotiating over the jersey number took months. Then Portis only paid Ohalete $20,000, which showed that he'd quickly learned about being a Redskin and only delivering about half the effort you promise. Even better, we got to watch the videotape of rookie Sean Taylor's arrest for DUI, where he failed to correctly recite the alphabet, missing the letters "W" "I" and "N". Hey, it's not like a Redskin would be familiar with those letters.

MVP: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, for his commercials, if not the TD pass record. Nothing funnier than watching Peyton chant "Cut that meat!" at a deli manager.

: That stands for least valuable player. We'd like to recognize Kordell Stewart as the man who first inspired this award, but he didn't play enough to kill the Ravens this year (Brain Billick handled that all by his lonesome with his brilliant coaching). We also want to give credit to Warren Sapp, who left Tampa for Oakland but forget to bring his talent along, and Rams backup QB Chris Chandler, who seemingly forgot the fact that QBs should not throw the ball to the other team. But the winner this year is Bears backup QB Jonathan Quinn, who may or may not have been Jane Seymour's co-star on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Actually, we're pretty sure Seymour would have been a better quarterback. Quinn was so bad he allowed Jeff George to come out of exile from the Isle of Elba, or wherever he was.

Best Game: Some great choices, starting in Week One with the Patriots-Colts AFC Title Game re-match. Two week Nine Games (Tampa Bay-KC and Indy-Minnesota) also stood out, as did Week 12's snow-fest between Oakland and Denver. The Monday night affair between the Cowboys and Seahawks in Week 13 was unexpectedly good as well. But the most entertaining game was the Bengals' 58-48 win over Cleveland, which ousted Browns coach Butch Davis on a day when his backup QB threw for over 400 yards. The two teams combined to set several records, and even made the outside world take notice of Ohio for reasons other than the Presidential election... not that we liked what we saw.

Worst Game
: Take any game played by the San Francisco 49ers. Owner John York fired his GM and coach after the season. He's reportedly trying to hire USC coach Pete Carroll. We'd personally suggest demoting the Niners into the Pac-10 and bringing USC up to the big leagues.

Best Endzone Celebration: Randy Moss' post-season entry will not be considered, although we recommend, for his own safety, that he not try the same thing this weekend in Philly if he visits the endzone. Let's give this to Terrell Owens, for his brilliant mocking dance of Ravens LB Ray Lewis after he scored against the Ravens back in Week 8. We all need and deserve one more endzone celebration from T.O. in the Super Bowl.

Worst Sense of Timing: Ricky Williams, for opting to leave the Dolphins just prior to training camp, waiting for the day that America and the NFL legalize marijuana use. Williams had to pay back most of his signing bonus, declared bankruptcy and was stunned to learn that the Grateful Dead were no longer touring, leaving him with nothing to do.

Worst Pre-Game Speech: Cleveland interim coach Terry Robiskie, who inspired his troops so much with a bucket and shovel before playing the world champs that they allowed Pats kick returner Bethel Johnson to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown. We're guessing that Robiskie probably won't get to keep the job, but maybe Tony Robbins has an opening.

Worst Decision by a Coach: Anything Denny Green did with his quarterbacks. In a year when a.500 record would have earned the Cardinals a playoff berth, Green opted to play musical chairs at QB in midseason, dropping youngster Josh McCown in favor of Shawn King, John Navarre and several other people from the Witness Protection Program. We're not saying they would have made the playoffs (these are the Cardinals, after all), but they would have had a chance.

Best Decision: Me, for taking a vacation.

Super Bowl Prediction... it won't be the Cowboys and Bills.


Eagles 24, Steelers 21.


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