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Manly House of Football: Bret, Lou and other guilty pleasures

So they finally sat Travis Henry, and across the land, fantasy football owners who grabbed Selvin Young four weeks ago can exhale ... not as deeply as those who had Bengals kicker Shayne Graham in their starting lineups, but still ...

So I'm sitting in Team Bakay World Headquarters banging out last week's column while Louisville-West Virginia graces our 60-inch flatty. The game goes to commercial, I seek out the bar to revive my tragically empty double old-fashioned glass, and return to find my all-world wife Robin intently studying a Fathead commercial. She seems fascinated, then takes a long, thoughtful beat and asks me if they happen to make a Fathead ... of Tommy Lee.

Yep, I'm still livin' the dream, one step at a time, and note to the good folks at Fathead: You might sell more Tommy Lees than, oh, say… Jon Runyans. Speaking of Motley Crue, if you still haven't taken my advice and picked up a copy of band bio "The Dirt," then do so and thank me later. If "Hammer of the Gods" is the original master-chronicle of debauched rock 'n roll excess, then "The Dirt" is the next level -- the greatest vicarious lower-chakra thrill ride to date. Trust me, you can hate Motley's music and still have a great, illicit read. And let's face it -- the embarrassment of being seen reading it is part of the fun. It's what guilty pleasure is all about.

Even guiltier pleasures

And if you're in the market for more hair band saturnalia, you are in for treat as soon as VH1 decides to reward you with a rerun marathon of Poison singer Bret Michaels' Rock of Love. This was so over the top, I have no doubt they'll cook up a sequel and run the original again to rev it up, so keep your eyes peeled. Why you? Why Rock of Love?

You can actually feel parts of your soul leaving your body as you watch it -- what more can you ask for?!

The premise is perfect:

  1. Take one '80s-era front man searching for "true love" (which has somehow eluded him despite a good 30 years worth of road strange)…
  1. Add a silo full of desperate, camera-hungry ladies of the night ready to make his dreams come true (or at least let him violate them in exchange for face time) ...
  1. Shove them together in the prerequisite reality show house…
  1. Shake and pour the kind of good times that make you feel so much healthier than you actually are!

And last but not least ...

5) Play Every Rose Has Its Thorn endlessly under every poignant moment -- like when that acoustic strum added such poetry to the night Bret had to hold a girls' hair back while she yacked…

Every episode ends with Bret dangling an "all-access" backstage laminate around the necks of his chosen ladies, and uttering the now immortal words: "Will you stay in this house, and continue to rock my world?"

Then they all hoist cans of "Bret Beer" in a toast to further exploitation and hilarity -- which, in our house was always accompanied by the lovely Robin adding, "Ladies, be sure to chug every drop of your antibiotics."

What can I tell you? Rock of Love is all the proof you need that we are entering the Dark Ages. It's over, Johnny. Lock up and turn the lights out when you leave.

It's also time to rewrite Andy Warhol: "Everyone is going to be exploited in a hot tub for fifteen minutes."

Lou Holtz pep talks:

The guiltiest pleasure?

And speaking of great TV and guilty pleasures, no mention of ESPN's college football coverage would be complete without a mention of one of the more mind-boggling TV segments in recent years -- Lou Holtz giving mythical pep talks to different college teams before a big game.

Haven't caught this one yet? Run, don't walk, my friends! I can honestly grant it my highest form of TV praise: I can't decide whether it's fantastic or awful. It's the same feeling I get when I watch an old, scratchy episode of Davy & Goliath -- it's trying to be helpful, it's creepy, you can't believe it's really happening ... and you can't turn it off.

Why can't I turn Lou off? Because I love conviction. Even fake conviction, so long as it's sold and sold hard. I don't have to agree with the message -- the message is for chumps. I want to hand out style points, baby! I love a speaker who is selling his snake oil with the right kind of mustard on it. It's the same reason I have a minor obsession with televangelists. To hell with the message, I just love the theater, and conviction is the sizzle that sells the steak.

I get so into it, Robin recently busted me watching Jimmy Swaggart! I was as shocked as you are that he's still on the air, but despite his fall from grace he's bringin' it -- playing piano, singing, and most of all selling -- annotated Bibles, music CDs, you name it.

Swaggart's still got it, as does Holtz, whose success as one the world's most popular corporate motivators is all the proof you need that this is a world-class snake-oil salesman. Riveting, banal, and slathered in that signature Sylvester the cat lisp that turns "No more essshhcusshhhesshh!" into a festival of spittle. It's part of Lou's charm -- that "Esh" sound makes him vulnerable, homey, and approachable.

In a world of cold, corporate honchos like Lou Saban, here's a down-home fellow with corny stories about how, as a jug-eared youth, he learned a great life lesson while swimming across the Ohio river. Holtz is self-deprecating, and always leaves you on an up-note. It's a little like getting psyched up by a 1940s paperboy. "Aw shucks, Mishter. Lesh go win thish one!" Of course, beneath all that is a man Machiavellian enough to get the Notre Dame job and keep it for a lot of years. Maybe that's why he also seems a little rushed. Holtz doesn't take a beat to let a thought land, and the words tumble out with no sense of discovery, creating a subtle suspicion that maybe he's given this speech a few too many times at a few too many Walmart retreats. Or maybe it's a stage manager on the studio floor giving him the "hurry up" sign so they can cut back to some C-USA highlights.

Regardless, I love the way he makes me feel like I'm back in pads and cleats, on one knee in the gym flood room before a game, getting an earful from the coach. I love the delicious internal tug of war: I want to believe and I'm stifling a laugh. The older you get, the more you realize those moments don't grow on trees anymore.

And now some actual NFL notes ...

» Seriously, I have never seen it called despite seeing flagrant infractions over and over again. Sunday night alone, Shawne Merriman hauled down Joseph Addai by yanking the back of his jersey, collar dead center, from behind. Later in the same game, we all saw LT get horse-collared just as flagrantly by a Colts defender. Here you had two of the best running backs in the NFL -- big stars, marquee names who put fannies in the seats, both of whom could have left the game on a cart. No flags. You'd think the league would protect its assets better.

» While we're in Sunday Night Gameville, coupla' three more things: With all this talk of Brady, Favre and Moss for MVP, don't the last two Colts losses build a pretty good case for ... Marvin Harrison? The old saying, "They are a different team without him" doesn't even come close, and now the defending world champs have two consecutive losses to back it up. They haven't missed the Edge -- but Marvin? Not even Reggie Wayne can fill those shoes. The comeback was remarkable - they won that game save for the previously inconceivable Adam V. Shtoink-a-doodle-don't. They can sit him this week and still beat the Chiefs -- I say do whatever it takes to get him playoff healthy.

» Meanwhile, regardless of the Chargers victory, it's safe to say the AFC West is the worst division in football. I mean, no one wants this enough to win it -- not the way the Chargers are -- or more appropriately aren't -- playing offense. Now they go on the road to Jacksonville. We'll see what they're made of.

» You could make a case for some other divisions -- the NFC West is a mess, except Seattle is a proven playoff team with a crazy home-field advantage. At least you won't see fans screaming mad when the division winner automatically locks down a slot. The AFC East is similarly rescued by New England, with a nod to those resilient Buffalo Bills, who face the Patriot acid test Sunday night (gulp!).

The closest argument might come from those who sneer at the NFC South. The Saints found a way to pull the Rams back from oblivion, and ruin any confidence that they might return to their 2006 form. However, I think Tampa is a good team -- if they played the Chargers right now, I'd expect the Buccaneers to take it. Either way, you hate to see the season end with an exciting wild-card runner up sitting on the sidelines while watching incomplete teams like the Chargers, Broncos, or even K.C. make a mess of an automatic bid.

Throw in Oakland, and what is the common denominator that connects the dots on the mess that is the West? Not one team is getting sufficient quarterback play. I mean, what can I say -- Philip Rivers found a way to look shaky -- even juxtaposed with Peyton Manning tossing 6 interceptions! Career to date, he's no Derek Anderson - ouch. Yet there's a good chance we'll be watching him in round one, while Anderson or Vince Young is the odd man out.

» Speaking of QB jitters, do you ever get the feeling that, oh, three years from now, we might see Eli Manning toting the ol' Ty Detmer clipboard, backing up a starter on another team? It could happen. In fact, it happens all the time ... remember David Carr? Follow the money, baby -- Eli was a No. 1 pick, he strong-armed the Chargers into trading him, he is getting paid huge money, and ... he just isn't good enough yet. Despite the fact that they live, work and play in New Jersey, the Jints are a NYC thang, and big misses get amplified in Gotham. You only get so many at-bats in New York -- just ask A-Rod. I mean, would you feel good about giving Eli another 40, 50 million when he hits his option year? I didn't think so.

» While we're on the Jints, it may be the day of a kinder, gentler Tom Coughlin, but maybe he should go back to some of his old tricks. After all that ruckus over "Coughlin Time" requiring people to show up for meetings a Lomardi-esque 15 minutes early, how does such a time freak allow his Giants offense to literally kill itself with delay of game penalties?

Until next time, I close with a thought from the heart ... Break up the Rams!

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