Manly House of Football: The love connection

It's time to play The Dating Game!

Look, the writers are still on strike, the TV shelves are now being stocked with the dregs of the dirty ring reality TV has left around the bathtub that is our pop culture. Why not wave the white flag of surrender and at least dive into a reality show that has zero pretensions?

None of this humiliation cloaked in the "spirit of competition and gamesmanship." Nope - this one is just as venal as it sets out to be. That's right -- for those of you who missed out on one of last year's guiltiest pleasures, "Rock of Love," starring Poison front-man Bret Michaels, the good news is that even as we speak, you're getting a crack at a second season. Get a crack, indeed, as season one featured its share of bodily invasions once Bret was ensconced in a house in the Hollywood Hills festooned with drag racing flames, an open bar, and more crazies than a Flava Flav paternity suit.

The end of the world as we know it? Nah. When Satan rides out of hell on a pack of rabid hellhounds to haul us to the big Arena Football game down yonder, I doubt he'll resemble five pounds of derivative hair band survivor stuffed into a four-pound spandex sack.

What the hell does this have to do with football? Plenty… and not by my choosing.

Anytime you see a playoff loss blamed on a paparazzi-fueled weekend in Cabo, followed by the chin-quivering Terrell Owens press conference hysteria, then it's time to admit we are now in the tabloid era of pro football, and matchmaking is the new uber-storyline.

Tony Romo may not deserve to have the Cowboys' ouster pinned exclusively on his shoulders, but this whole Jessica Simpson thing has added a ridiculous, gossipy energy to a game that, believe it or not, is still won and lost in the trenches.

Don't get me wrong - Hollywood-Sports romances are probably as old as the first time primitives played keep-away with a human skull (no doubt a great way to impress the girl with the prettiest prehensile tail). But they used to be kinda cool. Joe DiMaggio, a.k.a. the Derek Jeter of his day, had Marilyn Monroe. Cut to: Romo and Simpson? Oofuh.

He's yet to win a big game, and she is an exceedingly mediocre talent who made her fame on a reality show that revealed her to be remarkably stupid and uninformed, even by the flaccid standards of this day and age. Stupid just ain't sexy - never has been -- yet Jessica charmed an entire nation by repeatedly telling her equally bland first husband she needed to go "drop the kids off at the pool"… Yum, let's go heat up the hot tub!

You got the feeling Joltin' Joe was a control freak who just couldn't resist the vortex that was Monroe, and let the record show that despite her humble beginnings, Norma Jean never showed up at a World Series game wearing a pink Yankee jersey.

Who am I to judge true love? But pending a fabulous marriage that lasts for eternity, Romo just comes off as a clever, PR-hungry kid who previously dated Carrie Underwood -- another vapid blond chanteuse who provided us with some of American Idol's most ignorant moments. One can only assume that somewhere, Kelly Pickler is pumping helium into her head and counting the minutes until she can snag Romo on the rebound.

Oh, for the days of Broadway Joe Namath carousing all hours of the night with the famous and the anonymous, bedding half the female population of New York City, and doing it all with a devil-may-care smile beneath that Fu Manchu. It's called style, and it's lacking these days. Tom Brady may have a nice roster of current and former flames - all world-class beauties, none of whom have gone and ruined the whole thing by speaking on reality TV, but Mr. Perfect dumped one when she got pregnant, making an uncool situation uncooler and weird. Not so good on the vicarious admiration scale.

All that being said, I can complain all I want but it isn't going to change an ugly truth: When it comes to high-profile dating, the NFL seems to have jumped the shark, and now we find ourselves in the tabloid era. With that in mind, it's time to suggest some other couplings that make sense on TMZ and on the field:

Tony Romo and Ashley Simpson

When things inevitably flame out with older sis Jessica, Tony might as well keep it in the family. As a modern NFL quarterback, he doesn't call his own plays, and she lip-syncs her own songs - perfect.

Cover 2 Defense and Kim Kardashian

Yet another young "starlet" who is famous for… nothing, except copying everything her famous friends did to get some attention. It's become so damn easy -- release a sex tape, star in yet another reality show about an impossibly scarred and venal family, and boom, you're a sensation! And is it just me, or haven't we all bought a Kardashian-level beauty a bloomin' onion at Chili's? So I ask you -- who better to have a weekend fling in Cabo with Kar-trashian than the defense every other team in the NFL seems to have adopted in lieu of any true creativity?

Bill Belichick and Dita Von Tease

Who better to pair with the king of the NFL tease than Marilyn Manson's former squeeze/victim? Oh sure, Belichick delivers in the "W" column, but no one plays it faster and looser with the injury report -- back me up, fantasy owners!

Jared Allen and Lydia Hearst

Who better to hook up with a 25-year-old mega-heiress and party girl than a 25-year-old free agent who can boast 3 DUI's in four years to go along with 13.5 sacks this season on a bad team? Don't let the sexy outfits and exhibitionist tendencies let you forget that Hearst's mom is one of the most famous hostages in American history, and heading into his free-agent year, Allen is going to hold the NFL hostage next year. Honorable mention: Albert Haynesworth. But I don't think Lydia has stomped on any heads… yet.

Bobby Petrino and Pam Anderson

The queen of the meaningless marriage finally meets her match - a man who bailed before the end of his first NFL season to go to… Arkansas? Kiss me!

Mike Vick and Lindsay Lohan

While I have no evidence that Ms. Lohan has ever destroyed animals, both of these talents have done a remarkable job of taking a ton of promise and flushing it down the drain. Here is a match that could really steam up visitor's day at Leavenworth!

Philip Rivers and Britney Spears

It's hard to say which one of these two acted out more last week. Yes, Britney had a police standoff, but when was the last time you saw an NFL QB spend so much time jawing with the fans during a road game? Answer: Never. Especially when their backup leads the team on the critical TD drive. I think these crazy kids might make it - especially when you also factor in Britney has been seen making out with a paparazzi photographer - which might help Rivers gain access to some footage of stolen sideline signals.

Billy Volek and Hilary Swank

She made her fame playing sexually androgynous characters, but now we are being force-fed a serious Hollywood PR machine image change. Witness Swank in all those girly dresses on all those magazine covers, to go along with a spate of romantic comedies and super-girly roles. "I'm a girl!" And guess what, come the AFC Championship Game, Volek might just be undergoing his own transformation, as in: "I'm a starting QB!"

T.O. and Paula Abdul

How do Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb feel watching Owens finally stand up for his quarterback during a season-ending presser? Probably no weirder than anyone who survived watching an episode of Abdul's reality show, Hey, Paula, which would have done more good if it had been titled Hey Paula - you need to be in therapy! They both scare me, and if that don't spell "love match," I don't know what does.

Computer-generated first-down line and Carmen Electra

Just to show I'm not immune to true love, I thought I'd play matchmaker and introduce two of the coolest things that have blessed us all in this young millennium.

I guess you can call me a romantic…

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