Manly House of Football: A sod opera

Something felt wrong as I watched Bocephus kick off last night's game with his All-Star Band designed to hit every demographic ... then I figured out what the problem was: They have Bootsy Collins playing an acoustic stand up bass. You have got to be kidding. Making Bootsy play a bass he can't funk-slap is like drafting Peyton Manning and making him run the wishbone. It's just wrong.

Know what else was wrong?

All the whining about the rain and the turf. I tuned in a football game, and I got a sod opera! It had me so confused, for a minute I thought I was watching Dancing With the Stars. Okay, the game's gonna be a mudder -- so what? Yes, the field looks like one of those high school games we all played in when you had to make a mental note not to step on the exposed metal drain grids. When did football become so damn precious? I happen to enjoy being treated to countless shots of pitchforks stabbing the soil! I'll even go so far as to say that as exciting as it was watching the Eagles and Patriots shoot it out on Sunday night, Monday's anti-game gave me a strange high ... and not because Ricky Williams was back.

The game was exciting because every single down counted in a special way -- every coach and player knew that if they screwed up, just once, and it led to the other team scoring, it would be game over. Talk about stakes!

Shtoink city!

My wife thought the game was so ridiculous, she called it "banana peel football." I went the opposite way -- I found it riveting. Every play was an adventure, especially when both teams finally managed to drive deep enough to entertain us with two of the most amusingly bad field goal attempts ever. Both attempts literally made me laugh out loud.

What can you say about an NFL game boiled down to its most basic ingredients? A game so futile, you have to go all the way back to the replacement era to match it?

It was like an NFL game as seen through the eyes of Bizarro Superman: "Ugly am beautiful." I found the tension of waiting for anyone to score delicious, and the Steelers and Dolphins milked every single second out of regulation before we had our answer. It even brought the best out of the announcers, who often found themselves giggling in amazement as they searched for a way to keep talking about the sheer nothingness of it all. It was like watching "Mystery Science Football 3000."

Seeing a final score of "3-0" in the box scores didn't do this one justice. I guess it's small consolation, but the Dolphins have impressed me with the way they authentically play hard every week. In the world of lame compliments, I guess that's the winless football team's version of "For a fat girl, you don't sweat too much." On the flip side, rain or no rain, the Steelers looked like the artist formerly known as a team I thought could give New England a game. At one point, I truly thought they might be more primed to beat the Pats than even the Colts -- until they looked really crappy, two weeks in a row, against the one-win Jets and the winless Dolphins.

More MNF musings ...

Did the Dolphins draft Ted Ginn No. 9 overall ... so he could fair catch every single punt? In the rain, when the defender can't cut? You have got to be kidding me.

Mind you, this is coming from a guy with my hair: It's time for Kornheiser to drop the comb-over. It's giving "Bacon strip" a bad name. Maybe I'm getting too technical here, but I've spent the last 20 years dealing with a vanishing hairline, so I'm qualified to say that bacon can actually make it all the way across your dome. Tony's barely makes it halfway. It looks more like Etch-a-Sketch granules. You've conquered the media world in every possible incarnation -- print, radio, TV, and now game coverage -- we like you, you can trust that. It's time to let those three strandlets go ...

And what's with the anti-weed Ricky harangues? Tony went to college in the late '60s -- either he was the squarest dweeb ever, or it's time to get off the weed high horse. How about less judgment, more dealing with DeShea Townsend blatantly stepping on Ricky's shoulder within a half-hour of when the entire nation sees it on replay? This one is on the production staff, for sure. You've got at least 30 people in the truck scrutinizing every second of your broadcast -- tell the real story because all of America saw the cheap shot and yet his injury is being blamed on being rushed back into game shape.

As for Sunday night ...

The not-so-sweet spot: It's time once again for my annual complaint regarding the bumper shots on the Sunday night game. In particular, those that feature local food delicacies being prepared. Oh, don't get me wrong -- the image of chicken wings getting sauced or massive sandwiches being cut in half, or etouffee, or sausages, or any food product represents one of my favorite parts of prime-time football. Until they mess it up. Mark my words, you hear that John Williams Gladiator music, and you're lucky if you get a nano-glimpse of a porterhouse sizzling in a pan before they fly in the sponsor logos ... right smack in the middle of the screen! Right over the food! Instead of jambalaya, I'm staring at a logo for Hampton Inn -- a chain that doesn't even have room service, I might add!

Note to second-unit crew: Yeah, you know who you are -- the producer and cameraman who get sent out the night before with the thankless task of grabbing the food footage. Frame left! Frame right! Up, down, I don't care! Just keep the food away from the logo parade!

Note to self: I think you're a little too food-obsessed. There, I said it!

So ... is Donovan McNabb a Chicago Bear yet?

Stranger things, my friends. We all had the feeling his Eagle days might have been numbered before A.J. Feeley came within one throw of beating the mighty Patriots. Now? Let's be honest, that Eagle offense didn't look half this good with McNabb at the wheel this season ... a change of scenery seems the order of the day, and since he's a Chicago kid and the Bears are unclear who should be taking their snaps, why not? Of course, with rumors swirling that it'll take a ton of picks to pry him loose, where else could he land?

Dolphins: Excellent option here. The Dolphins are a mess, and more importantly, they toss draft picks around like after-dinner mints. Young John Beck isn't going to suffer learning the position for a few years.

Giants: Wow - not too likely within the division, but I had to list the Giants, if only to create a reason to congratulate myself. After all, a few weeks back I did plant the thought that Eli could be holding a clipboard elsewhere, and he got my back by tossing three picks that turned into TDs.

Vikings: Okay, this one has a real shot. I mean, why not? No one has nailed the QB gig here, and with that D and Peterson running wild, they might be the proverbial "one player (& 2 viable wide receivers) away..."

Panthers: They need to shake things up in a big way. I mean, the Vinny thing is compelling, but, yikes ...

Falcons: Petrino needs a QB something fierce, and McNabb would certainly wipe all that Vick stink away in one clear swoop ...

49ers: Donovan sure would look great in red and gold, like the new Steve Young, but I guess it's crazy to think they could fit him and Alex Smith under the cap and still field a full squad.

Bills: Hey, he made his bones up the road in Syracuse. This could be great ... however, if I have any sense of the way Marv Levy is building this team, he ain't parting with any picks. No way. Also, it might be too reminiscent of Bledsoe II, electric stinkaloo.

Jets: A big splash move for a big market? Why not ... except you get the vibe that McNabb might not thrive in that NYC press pressure cooker.

Ravens: Billick and Ray Lewis are in the twilight; why not finally score on the premise that once was Steve McNair?

Chiefs: I like this one, too -- tell me Herm wouldn't love finally getting some dynamic QB play?

Whatever happens, I'll tell you one more thing I suspect -- if the Eagles don't lock down Feeley, I bet the Patriots do. They showed some footage of him knocking 'em off the unbeaten pedestal when he was a Dolphin, and here he is again Sunday night making them actually sweat for four quarters. The big fear in New England is what would ever happen if Brady got hurt -- you don't sense the same enthusiasm for Matt Cassell now. I say they take a run at Feeley just like they ran at Wes Welker after seeing him deliver against them.

Dog redux

Last week, I went out on a limb with some underdogs worthy of your attention, and we actually hit a few -- sure the Bills and Texans went down hard, but I'll be damned if the Vikes and the Raiders didn't win outright. Tune back in before week's end for another swing at some upset specials.

Until then, keep livin' that dream ...

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