Astral Geeks S06E02: What’s Old is Old

tom brady pick six astral geeks 2020
Feed us Tom Brady Pick Sixes like fistfuls of chocolate chip brownies stuffed with crack. Can’t get enough!

“This hurts. Gotta stand tall through it all though. Next year.”
-Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles

I just finished watching this year’s All or Nothing on Amazon, which follows the entire season of the 2019 Philadelphia Eagles. Defensive End Graham said this in the aftermath the crushing Wild Card loss to the Seahawks, after they had pulled together the scattered scraps of a broken and battered team and squeaked into the playoffs by winning their last four games straight (and by playing in the NFC East, where the other three teams had 15 total wins between them, making 9-7 just enough to take the division title).

They had been crippled by injuries all season and in the final weeks the field looked like the set at the end of Hamlet –littered with bodies (and wooden swords). But this was the same team whose quintessential “next man up” mentality (I mean, in reality, every NFL team has this mentality by sheer necessity) won an epic Super Bowl shootout with backup Big Dick Nick at QB, so if any team could be counted on to go all the way with a scrabble of scrubs and broken down misfits, it was the Eagles.

That didn’t happen, of course. Carson Wentz, finally at long last playing in his first-ever playoff game (he had missed the last two years of playoffs due to injuries, including the above-mentioned Super Bowl), got, well… knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a concussion, never to return. Forty year-old Josh McCown, a 17-year vet rostered on his 11th NFL team, came in to play QB in what was also his first playoff game ever.

It didn’t go so great. The defense kept them in the game, holding Russ the Golden God to a measly 17 points. And the scrubs on offense fought valiantly, but down their starting QB, all three starting WRs, two All-Pro O-Linemen, and their RB1; and with Ertz playing in a Blue Tent Vicodin haze meant to mask the pain of taped-up fractured ribs and a lacerated kidney (just… fucking ouch), they were consistently outmatched by the visiting team, which by all rights should have been the higher seed but for having played in the NFC West and having blown it against the Niners in Week 17. McCown and His Downtown Clowns managed just 2 FGs in 3 quarters, losing the game 17-9.

The journeyman QB was utterly distraught after the game. Ertz tried his best to console him, assuring him he battled as hard as he could, but all McCown could manage to choke out was “It wasn’t good enough.” The final shot of the last episode was him alone, slowly collapsing into tears in the tunnel, and Ertz coming up to comfort him yet again and pull him to his feet so that he could go get dressed and face the press. This is how the season ends for every team but one – in pain, standing tall, and looking forward to next year.

Well guess what, folks, here it is! It’s next year. A clean slate. A new set of downs. Injuries healed. Scoreboard reset. A new group of teammates to forge a bond with through the blood and the mire, miracles and magic, hairline victories and gut-punching losses. Anything and everything is possible. Come February, it could be Mahomes again hefting the Lombardy, or the next Big Dick Nick – some overlooked backup, leading a scrabble of upstarts to the Promised Land with a new Philly Special, a few dashes of luck, and nothing to fucking lose.

The only thing we know for sure about this 2020 season is… the Ayatollah of RocknRolla will be knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. Continue reading “Astral Geeks S06E02: What’s Old is Old”

ASTRAL GEEKS S06 LAUNCH: Rally Round the Rancor!

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH YEAH!!!!

FOOTBAW TIME!

Boy golly, I do love me some fackin’ footbaw.

What can I say, fellow Geeklets? Regardless of whatever else is going on – or however emphatically the nuance-blind, mask-eschewing, fact-denying, saliva-spraying, can-only-nut-in-the-presence-of-the-stars-and-stripes (while thinking of teenage niece Brailynne in those NASCAR booty shorts), tailgating-in-Klan-hoods ‘necks try to claim sole ownership over its fandom; and no matter how badly the liver-spotted, black-hearted, ivory-dentured, arm-candy-gobbling, cancer-of-the-soul (oh thank the Big Sky Guy it ain’t of the prostate) kazillionaires try to smear the sport with the shadowy sludge of greed, myopia, stupidity, and outright racism – I keep coming back to it with forgiveness, love, and open arms. I know, I know, I say it every year. Whatever swampy moral compromise the NFL devolves into each season, I still try to chew around the rot and see if I can swallow enough of the tasty parts without getting a jagged little bone fragment stuck in my throat (or even worse, any recklessly mixed metaphors).

This year the madness surrounding the NFL season is like a category 5 diarrhea hurricane, and I honestly don’t even know what to think. Are we even doing the right thing in allowing this sport to continue under these circumstances? We know that the bottom line for the NFL is always relentless, devouring greed, and in that way it has long been the perfect stand-in for the whole of late-stage American Capitalism and the soulless, oily culture of its enterprises. So any concern NFL executives might show for player health and safety, or any financial resources marshaled toward containing and limiting the impact of COVID-19 – each and every bit has a very tight profit margin attached to it, down to the penny.

You know damn well every single owner (and even a good chunk of the fans) would feed their players to the fucking Rancor if they thought they could suckle another couple billion out of the marrow of the economy by televising it.

Jerry Jones distraught that Dak’s perfect dart throw brought the gate down on his mucus-drooling monster baby’s skull

I know I sound horrendously cynical, but can you blame me? It’s 2020, and the path of our cosmic doom spiral is crystal fucking clear. It’s Twenny-Twenty, and in hindsight… maybe we shouldn’t have elected the worst goddamn person in America to the most important and dangerous position of power in the world. It’s Twennay-Twennay toys and gulls, and we’re all blind with fear and rage – either because we are the unfortunate heirs to a communal legacy of hate… or are gullible enough to believe slimy little dickshits like Ted Cruz and Matt Gaetz have our own best interest at heart… or are so fucking stupid that a sordid little fairy-tale dreamed up by some zit-faced 4-Chan incel purporting that the gravel-brained Nazi McRiblet currently smearing Adderall sweat and bacon grease on every remote control in the West Wing, and whose second-use Depends form the only barrier between a half-gallon of leaky Taco Bell shart and the bed that Abraham Lincoln slept on — is somehow secretly (stay with me now), despite his five deferments from the Vietnam draft and his inability to walk down a simple ramp without aid, the only pure and true American Warrior left, and the (White, of course) Nation’s only hope to break up a staggeringly broad and convoluted Satanic Pedophile Ring run (Hosted? it’s kind of a party, there’s pizza and shit, right?) by the Clintons and Soros and every Democratic Party bugaboo they could conjure… rather than the more glaringly plausible scenario: Continue reading “ASTRAL GEEKS S06 LAUNCH: Rally Round the Rancor!”

ASTRAL GEEKS SEASON FINALE, PART 1: America Loves a Winner

I had dinner with Dan Marino. I said, “What is it like playing quarterback? He said ‘Think of the freeway and you’re walking up the freeway with traffic coming at you while you’re trying to read Hamlet.”

-Al Pacino, with one of many classic quotes from the Ringer’s characteristically awesome and revelatory Oral History of Any Given Sunday.

 

Late to the Party

There was a time, about ten years ago, when I could write like Grantland Rice. Not necessarily because I believed all that sporty bullshit, but because sportswriting was the only thing I could do that anybody was willing to pay for. And none of the people I wrote about seemed to give a hoot in hell what kind of lunatic gibberish I wrote about them, just as long as it moved. They wanted Action, Color, Speed, Violence.”

-HST, in his Rolling Stone coverage of Super Bowl 7, which happened to run when I was exactly 17 days old.

 

Hello there. Why yes, hello. Howdee. Not dead. At least not in any real mortal sense, of course. Nor even in the dedder ‘n a hobnail sense of the second decade of this so far overall (in any reasonable estimation) horrid Millenium we just flushed down the shitter of history. Nope, still breathing (through somewhat shredded, pulpy bronchioles… that gray mid-winter dreck is hanging tough this year… difficult to shake) and relatively upright, though the fantasy season is kaput and all my teams are dead, done, and buried right along with it. And yours are too. Sad, but also relief, perhaps like the end of any hard, often painful thing (provided you care whether you win or lose, which I very much to my own chagrin do). I was there for a lot of it ending, but sadly this is also the time of year when a whole fuck lotta other shit happens too, like working long-ass days, and of course the holidays and traveling to see family in far-away desert oases, and somehow in an attempt to have a sort of normal life schedule and share a weekend day off with my wife, I ended up with Saturdays off and I work an 11-hour day on Sundays, starting at 10 am, just as the first round of games is starting. So I haven’t been parked in front of Red Zone all day like some Sundays past, maniacally clicking back and forth between Fanduel and Yahoo and Monkey Knife Fight and Twitter and all y’alls wack-ass text streams of shit-talk, all the while slowly losing my mind and health and desperately searching for an excuse to go the fuck outside and, well, not always finding one.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the lady and I moved on December 1st? Like every single thing we own into another house? It’s pretty great. We’re happy. But we’re both swamped and exhausted (not stopping her from running her second half-marathon in a month though… she’s the crazy one, not me). Oh, and we no longer have the dirt cheap mega-cable that came with our old place, so I’m doing my best to compensate. I got Red Zone on Sling and you know what, to see that epic fucking Week 17 Seattle/SF battle, I broke down and dropped 45 bucks for the last scraps of this season’s NFL Game Pass.

I may have a problem. I don’t know. I like football way too much, against all my better judgment. So grotesque, so monolithic, so venal, so miraculous. I know I always say it, but quintessentially American in that way.

But man, at the very damn least, it is so much fun watching the 49ers kick this much ass again. What an amazing surprise all that ended up being. We always try to see the best in our teams, but even the best ones are still utterly surprising when they manage to pull off being in that final mix of greatness.

Still…yeah anyway, writing this fantasy season post-post-posty-Post-cereal-poster-boy-mortem makes me feel a bit like the clueless gawker wandering into the party two days late (or two weeks in this case) after all the streamers and confetti and glitter have been swept into piles, and all the smashed flute shards (hopefully) poured into some Republican hamlet’s water supply (I kid…mostly… though you’ll pry the shimmering champagne shards from my cold dead hands, you fuckin’ Commies — President Ben Franken promised me I could have as many as I wanted in the Second Commandment of the Consternation! Besides, you know exactly whose water supply those glass shards are really going into if they are going anywhere, and they won’t be white people…), and the purple and green puke stains are nearly scrubbed out of the couch fabric (give it another swoosh with the Bissell, and it’ll be butt-spankin’ new, baby), and nobody has any idea who the bald fella in the three-piece suit sleeping in the tub in the third upstairs bathroom on the right is, though he seems at home enough, so they’re letting him sleep off the haze of whatever designer drugs the Fuck You I Won Percent are doing these days… And the event planner has had every drop of cortisol squeezed from her poor shriveled adrenals since three days before this shithouse even got going, but she’s used to that and all she needs is say something unbearably cruel to one of her assistants and maybe let that one caterer with the chin scar who takes too many smoke breaks and has definitely done time fuck her in the commissary freezer with a rolling pin until she screams loud enough to shatter the intertwining ice dolphin sculpture that’s sitting there, all ready for the next event…

…so, yeah….

Still reading?

Apparently I’m still writing. Or trying, anyway. Where the hell was I before we started in on designer bath salts and dolphin flute orgasms and all that?

Oh yes, late to the party. Continue reading “ASTRAL GEEKS SEASON FINALE, PART 1: America Loves a Winner”

WEEK 13 RECAP: Fighting For Our Lives

The Spice is Life

[This recap originally got all kinds of things wrong — how the fight for the first seed went down, who ended up with the second and third seeds, and “no love for the Champ!” We also mixed up Seahawks receivers David Moore and Jaron Brown. These errors have since been fixed. We do not regret the errors as we were busy as shit all week with work and moving, but we fixed them anyway because that’s what we do.]


“H
ow am I doing? I’m fighting for my fucking life.”

Al Davis, as quoted by Cowboys coach Jason Garrett in All or Nothing, the Amazon series that followed the Dallas team for the entirety of the 2017 season. According to Garrett, this iconic growl emerged several years back when some poor, naive assistant passed Davis in the hall  and made the mistake of asking the NFL’s crypt-keeper how he was doing.

This was supposed to convey to a struggling 2017 team the old school NFL grit, as embodied by grizzled, broken warriors whose very souls hung on the outcome of every snap on the field. Garrett is far too gregarious and kind to claim that kind of grit, but he’s a good story-teller, and clearly a romantic, and the story hits home. For the players? I don’t know. They didn’t actually make the playoffs that year. But as a part of the great NFL mythos, yeah it works.

Garrett’s on-field coaching decisions (and compulsive clapping) have long made him the bane of the Cowboys Kingdom and an easy target for buckets of Haterade, and yet I can see in this behind-the-scenes footage something of why Jerry Jones loves him so much. He’s a genuine guy, has a good heart, is an inspiring speaker, loves his guys, loves the game, is uncompromising in what he wants, but willing to take the blame when it all goes south. He’s the kind of guy you can see staying loyal to, even beyond reason, which in the cynical, ruthless world of professional sports, is refreshing in its own way.

Of course, even unreasonable loyalty has its limits, as we explore further below.

That’s my role model, a guy that’s been doing it forever, over 20 years. I’m only alive for 20 years.”

-Deshaun Watson on Tom Brady, after the former’s Texans shazomped the latter’s Patriots Sunday night. The final score,28-22, sounds closer than it was, even if you factor in the ever-looming Brady comeback potential, especially in that particular building, which is where he staged his (in)famous 25 point comeback against the Falcons in Super Bowl 52. But the mega-hyped Patriots defense proved once again they are not the ‘85 Bears (or even the ‘17 Jags) and allowed Watson to look like the better QB all game. Which wasn’t too hard, after all. Garbage time did help Brady to accrue 326 yards and 3 TDs, but for most of the game his completion percentage was less than 50%, a decidedly un-Brady-ish figure. He did have 24 completions, but it took him 47 passes to do it.

Which of course leads to the inevitable “Brady is washed” nonsense, or at the very least “He looks 42,” neither of which are true. He may look older than 25, but he definitely doesn’t look 42. Even the fittest dude who “looks 42” would be a quivering pile of bone jelly out there, much less hucking it to double-covered Edelman all day with only one INT to show for it. No, that Brady/Bellichick voodoo is still strong, and no one will be surprised if the Patriots find their way past the in-all-ways-including-the-eye-test superior Ravens for their fourth consecutive Super Bowl berth. It’s what they do. And as Kevin Clark said on the Sunday Ringer NFL Show, these are two of the greatest problem solvers in NFL history, and in this case the problems to be solved seem more a lack of receiving firepower and a Gronk-sized hole in the lineup, than Brady’s diminishing “pliability” or pocket prowess.

Tom Brady, age 51

No, when the guy who has been dominating this league for as long as Deshaun Watson has been alive is finally done, you’ll know he’s done, and even then, he’s going to have at least one horror movie villain final resurrection before he goes down for good. But the Pats are currently 10-2 and the AFC 2-seed. That movie is still a long way off. Continue reading “WEEK 13 RECAP: Fighting For Our Lives”

WEEK 12 RECAP: #WINnIN

This is your new bed, Lie down for a bit, get used to it. Gonna be here a lot.

WRITTEN BY:  Solomon Lovejoy (Lovejoy FC)

Well, well, well, here we are. The last November, Thanksgiving, and non-Playoff Fantasy week of the decade. Did that make you all feel old? No? Well what if I said that this time last decade, I was only 11. Yup. (I bet that did it) Eleven, with nothing on my mind but youth league basketball, the cute girls in my class, and trying to convince my mom I wouldn’t get scared watching Paranormal Activity. (Yeah, that premiered in 2009. Other prominent movies that came out in 2009 include, but are not limited to Avatar, The Hangover, Up, Taken, Inglorious Basterds, 500 Days of Summer, and Slumdog Millionaire. Not too shabby eh?) No, not too shabby at all.

It’s been quite the decade.

Now, I don’t want to abuse the platform Todd has generously provided with all my sappy 21-year-old-ness, so I’ll get right to it.

After two quick stories.

The first, happened about a week ago. I’d been job hunting pretty seriously for an entry level marketing gig. Chicago, Los Angeles, and Phoenix, were all options, but being in Arizona, I was leaning toward staying in the desert more so than I was packing up all my things and moving to a whole new place, with little regard whether I’d actually like said place or if it would be a good fit. Which, if you know me at all, has been a common trend of mine in the little time on Earth that I’ve had. So this was a positive revelation.

After enough applying to get discouraged, lose full faith in the whole getting a degree thing, and start planning a reality where I would obviously never get hired anywhere in my entire life, I got a call for an interview. I’m usually one to withhold good news until there is, at minimum, a 99% chance of it coming to fruition. But with this one, I told my mom, my friends, my cousins, etc. It was going to be a big step.

So, the night before, I’m researching the company to make sure I’m prepared, and link by link, article by article, and truth starts to peek it’s head out, as it always does. Nothing explicit, just small things, interesting things. A website that looks below standard of what I could make, social media pages that have just started posting last month, and of course, nothing but 5 Star reviews on Indeed from current employees who had absolutely no complaints, all complimented/thanked the manager, and unsurprisingly, were all posted on the same day.

But! Nonetheless I gave it the ‘new company’ the benefit of the doubt. And the result was…exactly what you think it was. A classic pyramid scheme. In hindsight, not even including the online presence, I don’t know what gave it away. The office that had seemingly been set up yesterday? The motivational pictures on the wall that even Getty images would be ashamed to post for their clichés? The purple-tinted ‘award’ for $200,000 that hung behind the managers desk? Or the fact the manager told me he was trying to open 30 offices as fast as possible, and each one he’d opened so far generated 7-10 million dollars each in subscription-based charity donations? Hmmmm. No clue. Continue reading “WEEK 12 RECAP: #WINnIN”

WEEK 11 RECAP: MAGAts and Martyrs

 

“Stand Up” by Charly Palmer (1)

It feels like we lost.”

-Baker Mayfield, after last Thursday’s game, which the Browns of course won 21-7 over hapless MAGA Rudolph and the Steelers. Odell Beckham echoed his quarterback’s feelings right afterward by saying “It does feel like we lost.”

We all know why these guys were being such Gloomy Guses despite a much-needed two-game win streak and finally establishing something closer to the kind of dynamic connection we expected these two to have. It has been discussed ad nauseum from the moment Aikman and Buck lost their collective shit (“Aaah gosh!” “Oh my goodness!” “Barbaric!” “Horrible, horrible”) in the waning seconds of the game. So we don’t necessarily have any thoughts you haven’t heard yet, but it would seem odd to leave it out of this recap entirely.

I watched almost the entire game — a gritty, ugly slog typical of AFC North division battles, full of brutal roster-depleting injuries — but then actually shut off the TV when there was a little less than two minutes on the clock. Rudolph had thrown his fourth interception and the game was clearly over. So I didn’t know what had happened until I stumbled into the mayhem on Twitter about twenty minutes later.

I don’t have many strong opinions about the incident other than Holy Shit! Others do, obviously, because that is the world we live in. There are those who think it implicates the entire sport, others who think Rudolph got off easy for starting the skirmish (some even saying the color of his skin was a factor), others who believe Pouncey shouldn’t have been suspended three games for kicking Garrett in the face when he was on the ground, and others who think the whole thing was not that big of a deal, citing numerous other instances where helmets have been used as weapons in on-field brawls. My general feeling is that yes, fights happen, Garrett was way out of line, Pouncey was in the right fighting for his QB but still deserves some consequences, and yeah, Rudolph is probably getting the benefit of being a QB, being white, and having suffered a horrific concussion injury just a few weeks before.

But the fact is, Rudolph (and Garrett, as the perpetrator) is damn lucky he got hit with the soft part of the helmet. Full contact with the top part, with its hard rounded alloy, could have easily collapsed his skull and either killed him instantly or given him severe brain damage. Now from what I understand, according to his social media activity, Rudolph is a Tomi-stumping, anti-Kaep MAGAt shitstick, which indicates its own kind of brain rot, but is hardly unique among NFL players. The NFL is full of shitty, stupid people. That’s why the bottom line usually just has to be the quality of the sport itself and not the personalities involved, or the heinous crimes or politics they participate in outside of the game.

But many have spent time combing through Garrett’s recent history, looking for evidence of over-aggressiveness, including several unnecessary roughness penalties earlier in the year. They also point out his thoughtfulness, his quiet demeanor off the field, and of course his love of poetry. They seem to indicate that there is some dangerous dysfunction there, a kind of insular psychosis that was just waiting to explode with little provocation. But no one that I know of has looked into Rudolph’s side of things. Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree, but it never occurred to anyone that Rudolph could have said or done something that provoked Garrett to such an extreme act of violence. You can’t be a MAGAt without being a racist. And you can’t be one without saying stupid shit out loud that nobody with any dignity should ever say. I’m not leveling any accusations, but I do find it curious that no one is even curious. We know that the NFL has its own prison-like code of silence about such things, so maybe nobody is willing to reveal what really happened. But I’m pretty sure we don’t have the whole story.

[UPDATE: It takes long enough to finish some of these recaps that inevitably the news will change several times in the course of writing it. Case in point, as of today Garrett claims Rudolph called him a racial slur before the brawl (I believe him).]

All that said, for me the most fascinating piece to come out about this incident was Kevin Clark’s piece at The Ringer where he looked at the incident through the lens of Vince Lombardi’s philosophy of “controlled violence.” It’s worth a read if you are interested in the numinous marrow of this savage, beautiful sport.

 

If it were me, I might have just done the workout the NFL set up.

I too would have been crazy suspicious when the league — out of nowhere — offered a workout. My hustle detectors would have sounded off like sirens in the ‘hood once they said it had to be on Saturday, not the customary Tuesday, and that I had just 48 hours to agree. I, too, would have presumed when they said they would record it and they would send the film to all 32 teams, that the roughest cut possible of my workout would have been sent out. Why wouldn’t Colin Kaepernick think the worst regarding the NFL?

It is clear as day Kaepernick is being blackballed from the NFL. It can’t be because of talent. Too many really bad quarterbacks are on a roster, several are playing. Distraction, as weak of an excuse as it is, can’t possibly be a universal reason. Such has never stopped teams from signing players before, and a peaceful protest is hardly a legit reason to start. Whatever the case, it has been clear for years the league doesn’t want him in it.

And suddenly, the league is extending an olive branch days before Week 11? That reeks of a setup in the works.

Yet I’d do it anyway. Because I’m just a guy. I wouldn’t feel big enough, strong enough, to take on a multibillion corporation. I would know I was being hustled but just take the chance I was wrong. Because, in the end, what other option would I have? Some forces feel too great. Some defeats seem too inevitable. This is how most people feel. You take what you can get. Often, you settle for what is less than you deserve. You put up with what you know is wrong because it is not as bad as it could be. Continue reading “WEEK 11 RECAP: MAGAts and Martyrs”

WEEK 9-10 RECAP: Fuckboys, UpDawgs, and Pigskin Pusses

Here comes the new kicker…

That was one of the most emotionally draining games I’ve ever been a part of.”

-Kyle Juszcyk, 49ers fullback, in the aftermath of Monday Night’s explosive, heart-stopping, brain-melting, gut-punching instant-classic fiasco/showdown with the Seahawks, ushering in this kick-ass, wild new era of the storied 2010s NFC West rivalry.

You’re telling us, Kyle! The game started slow but absolutely delivered on its promises as the NFL matchup we have been waiting for all year, regardless of how you felt about the quality of play (I thought it was better than most others did). And yes, at times it was sloppy, even ugly, particularly the dozen Jimmy G passes dropped by both 49ers receivers and Seattle defenders. It was a defensive slugfest, with a truckload of turnovers and both hopped-up defenses scoring touchdowns, with just enough real offensive burst to keep the momentum going. It had Jaquiski Tartt pulling the ball out of DK Metcalf’s hands on the goal line for a takeaway; Russell Wilson getting hammered by the pass rush one play, then slipping their grasp on another and making one of his patented impossible dime throws; Wilson throwing an interception at the goal line just as the ‘Hawks were about to win in overtime. It had a rookie replacement kicker make a crucial 47-yard kick to tie the game as regulation went to zero, and it had the same rookie miss another 47-yarder that would eventually lose the game in overtime (the kick went into the Visitor’s Tunnel). It had Jason Myers, who missed a potential game-winning kick last week, redeem himself with a kick that was about four feet to the left of the one he shanked the week before, but that proved to be just enough to sneak inside the upright as the overtime clock bled out.

In the end, the difference was probably the Niners missing their two best receivers, Kittle and Sanders, the former inactive before the game and the latter knocked out with an injury in the first quarter. Shanahan schemed as best he could for his QB, but the Seahawks had the run-game stifled, and it fell to the Jimmy Handsome to make throws all night to a bevy of lesser dudes. It sorta worked. Deebo, Dwelley, and all the other usual suspects chipped in, but there were times when the pass was either deflected right off some Niner’s hands and toward the nearest Seahawks corner, or Jimmy G just decided to throw it right to his favorite green and white jersey.

There was a clear difference between how both QBs handled the wild ups and downs of this game. Garoppolo looked rattled by the pressure, had a hard time settling in and making plays. He should have had five interceptions, easy. Meanwhile, Wilson looked as cool and unfazed as only a dude who loves Jesus that much can look. I mean, he’s already going to the promised land, why not take in a few glorious sights on Earth along the way? I mean, having been to two Super Bowls already probably helps in these big moments. Wilson continues to turn in quite a resume for 2019 MVP, though I think it’s going down to the wire with Lamar on that one.

Wish Sherm coulda got an INT or two, and of course the win against his former team. But good to see him and his old frenemy making nice again. Hope he at least told him he sucks, even just for old times’ sake.

There were other epic games this weekend. The Panthers-Packers November Snow Game saw youngster Kyle Allen matching haymakers with Aaron Rodgers as the frosted flakes poured down, and it all came down to the eternally unstoppable McCaffrey being stopped at the goal line on the final play of the game. Vikings-Cowboys saw two NFC 1B powerhouses duke it out, while going in different directions in the standings (Vikes shooting up, Cowboys sliding toward a not-very-distant cliff). In fact, every game but two this week was decided by one score and came down to the final minutes or seconds to be decided.

“Quick! Before they realize there is no way we can actually be 8-2! Also, my face is frozen like this.”

Yet, Niners/Seahawks rises above, LSU-Alabama-style, because so much was at stake, and because the drama was relentless. In fact, after McLaughlin missed the would-be winner, and it looked like the game could very well end in a tie, it seemed absurd that all this sound and fury might end in the blasphemous, bangless whimper of a draw. Some weird part of me feels more settled in losing, and with the Niners no longer being undefeated, than having that unsightly third number attached to the standings. Stupid, I know. I’m an avowed pinko, but I still can’t get used to those socialist ties. Regrettably, when it comes to sports, I seem to maintain the heart of a meat-scarfing, climate-destroying Randian. Continue reading “WEEK 9-10 RECAP: Fuckboys, UpDawgs, and Pigskin Pusses”

WEEK 8 RECAP: Ten Feet High and Risin’

I came out of the fucking sticks to take over the fuckin’ world.”

-John Lennon

He said, ‘Cris, I could write a book about every position.’”

-Darth Bellichick several years ago to Cris Collinsworth, after expounding for a half an hour of the defensive end position. Collinsworth, impressed by the breadth of obsessive detail with which the coach spoke about a single position, suggested he write a book about the Defensive End. With complete earnestness, Laughing Bill made it clear that would just be the beginning of a multi-volume encyclopedia. And you know what? I have to admit it, I’d absolutely devour those books. Why not? Bellichick’s most endearing trait is also his most insane one: his unmatched devotion to every bit of minutiae related to the game of football, from its most obscure rules and situations to the weird iterations and strategies for Special Teams. Go ahead, ask him about Special Teams. The man loves Special Teams like nobody else, not even Special Teams coaches. He probably loves them more than he does his own kids. And while that might sound hyperbolic, the weirdest part is that it may not be.

Now he may carry each and every tiny morsel of football knowledge around in his brain, but he is of course a defensive mastermind before anything else. He took over coordinating the defense this year, and well… to put it simply, they are ripping every single offense to shreds at a historical pace. The Pats D is currently the seventh best player in fantasy, slotting in between Dalvin Cook and Patrick Mahomes with 181 points on the year. They have only allowed a measly 61 points in 8 games. They have 31 sacks, 19 interceptions, and 25 total turnovers, and they have scored SIX defensive touchdowns. In 8 games. Unreal. People keep saying “They can’t keep this up. Regression will come.” And yet, here they are, Week 9. Keeping it up. 

The Ravens this week will be New England’s first real test: a living, breathing, won’t-back-down, aggressive offense. It will be a blast to see how the two really match up. I hope the Birds knock the Pats flat on their asses and then rifle through their shit, taking them for everything they have.

But you know,  whatever happens it will be a good game.

Okay, so Nick Bosa seems pretty all right. Right? Cool, even. Clearly smart, humble. He seems fun. Chill. So what about all that hubbub a few months back over the kid’s Trump-touting tweets, and calling Kaepernick a clown, and generally playing the tired alt-troll shitstick part far too casually? He did apologize for his tweets, but we know how deep that usually goes.

I’m not sure what he’s doing now, and I don’t wanna know. Nick, you just keeping fucking muthafuckas up and slidin’ in the rain and I will shamelessly keep stanning you. Just maybe keep your thumb off the Twitter button and perhaps refrain from mentioning who you plan to vote for.

What am I gonna say? You see Michael Jordan, some of the great athletic plays, you gotta tip your hat to the guy.”

-A doleful post-game Jon Gruden, tagging third-year QB Deshaun Watson with some serious GOAT shine, after his go-ahead (and eventually game-winning) touchdown against the Raiders on Sunday. To be fair, it wasn’t just any TD. As Watson rolled right out of the collapsing pocket, he was grabbed from behind by Raider Defensive End Arden Kay, and as he spun out of would-be tackler’s not insignificant grasp, Kay toppled to the ground and the tip of his cleat went through the QB’s facemask and into his eye. Watson sprung free, only to have another DE, Maxx Crosby, grab him around the ankles. As he fell toward the ground, essentially blind with one eye shut and the other half-closed from the shock of the hit, he sidearmed a 12-yard rocket into traffic, which TE Darren Fells snagged for a touchdown. Continue reading “WEEK 8 RECAP: Ten Feet High and Risin’”

WEEK 7 RECAP: Luck Works Every Time

“Devonta, you have failed me for the last time.”

A little Jones on Jones crime.”

-NFL Red Zone anchor Scott Hanson, narrating one of Cardinal linebacker Chandler Jones’ four sacks of Giants’ QB Daniel Jones.

Dude, just… No.

As with just about any sports personality, some people love Hanson, and others can’t stand him. I happen to think he’s pretty all right for a bro-y football dude and self-proclaimed Christian, especially after seeing this reaction to the Diggs catch against the Saints two years ago (you may want to turn your volume down first before hitting play).

I don’t mind listening to him all day Sunday, and I don’t tend to trip that hard when people say stupid shit like this, especially when it’s clear they had no real malicious intent and were just trying to be funny on the fly. I mean the dude is in the studio entirely alone for about seven straight hours, just trying to fill the time and be entertaining while talking about what he sees on the screen. But when stuff like this pops out on the air it does offer a glimpse into the weirdo conservative bubble most of these guys live in, and it probably never even occurs to them that echoing one of Fox News’ ten thousand shitty, racist, shamelessly fabricated catchphrases is just a tiny bit fucked up, especially when you’re talking about actual dudes that are directly affected by that kind of evil white supremacist propaganda.

Also look, I wasn’t personally offended by the reference. I am rarely offended by even the most inadvisable joke, as long as the people telling it aren’t obviously shitty. I’m not the so-called “comedy police.” But I will still listen when people say that they are offended by something like this, even if at first it seems ridiculous and overly uptight. Because I know that I don’t know everything, I haven’t walked in everybody’s shoes, and I wanna have as many backs as I can have. I also get that when you are making jokes on as big of a platform as NFL Red Zone, well, you just gotta be careful how you say things. Now I haven’t heard anyone else mention this unfortunate turn of phrase, so maybe I’m the only one who noticed it. But it sure popped out at me when he said it.

Still, later on in the broadcast Hanson made the same dead-on Vader joke that everyone else later made when he was showing Aaron Donald pick 206-pound Devonta Freeman up by jersey during their on-field brawl (for which Freeman was tossed from the game for throwing a punch at his tormentor).

So all is forgiven, right?

I love luck. I’d much rather be lucky than smart. Smart– smart you gotta execute. But luck works every time.”

-David Tepper, owner of the Carolina Panthers. Tepper seems like a pretty decent guy for a billionaire NFL owner, at least from what I’ve seen. He seems more in the down to earth, actual human mold of the late Paul Allen than his predecessor, fly-ridden shitweasel Jerry Richardson. Richardson was forced to sell the team in 2018 for being an overtly racist sleazebag, which given the sort of people who own NFL teams and the culture of the league in general, says a lot about how horrible this dude was. Tepper, a self-made billionaire investor and a previous minority owner in his hometown Steelers, bought the Panthers outright when Richardson was pushed out (part of the condition of the sale, famously, was that the team had to keep Richardson’s giant creepy statue out in front of the stadium forever, despite his being run out of town in a cloud of shame). Continue reading “WEEK 7 RECAP: Luck Works Every Time”

WEEK 6 RECAP: For Whom the Clock Tocks

Welp, it clearly tocks for me…

-Jerry Jones’ ‘boys lost to the 0-4 Jets on his birthday, and that feels like my fuckin’ birthday. I don’t care if Dak is my QB, I’ll always take the L if it means I get to watch the Cowboys lose in a spectacular fashion.

I’m ready to go for a ring.”

-Poor fucking Matt Bryant, talking out his ass about returning to the Falcons this September. But somehow being duped into thinking (or more likely pretending) that this team had a shot at a ring in the near future seems significantly less terrible than what happened to him this last Sunday. The 11th most accurate kicker of all time was cut from the Falcons last February after ten years, due to a relatively high salary cap hit, but after his replacement missed 5 of 9 FGs in the pre-season, they begged him to come back, and so he did, at the age of 44 (two years younger than my rickety old ass). He was 160 for 163 on extra points since they made it a 33-yard attempt in 2015, and he hadn’t missed one so far this season, going 13 for 13 all the way up until 1:53 was left on the clock in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against Arizona.

The Falcons had just driven down the field, down 34-27, and Devonta Freeman scored a TD that brought the score to 33-34. At this point, as I was watching the game, I actually thought “Damn, this is kind of a lot of pressure for a kicker. I wonder if he’s feeling it.” Then I immediately followed that thought with “No, of course not. This guy’s a professional. He’s among the elite at what he does.” Then I sort of drifted off, glancing at my phone, and then I looked up just in time to see the kick sailing wide right and hear announcer Thom Brenneman shout “Aaaaand it is no good! Can you believe it?!!”

And well, yes I could. I’d momentarily forgotten about the cruel gypsy’s curse of being an NFL kicker (and a Falcon). I’ve said this a jillion times before, but you could not pay me enough to be an NFL kicker, no matter how good I was at it. Maaaybe $100 million could cover the pain and humiliation, but you know, probably not. Because when you make the kicks, your rarely get any credit or acclaim – you’re just doing your job. When you miss, which is an inevitable, if far less common, occurrence (in Bryant’s case, less than 2%), it is always a gut punch. You get all the misery and blame when you miss, and the hero’s treatment, such as what Vinatieri got after the Super Bowl in 2002, is as rare as a six-leaf clover.

Bryant sat alone on the sideline for the remainder of the game, near the 30-yard mark, looking utterly devastated. The camera made sure to focus on him as much as possible, and it was never entirely clear to me whether he was actually crying, or merely just wanted to. Meanwhile, they flashed close ups on various shell-shocked faces, such as that of Defensive End Takkarist McKinley, who looked like somebody he loved had fucked him over for the kajillionth time, and he was just too exhausted and resigned to even get pissed off about it.

It is one of the great tragedies of human nature that our worst defeats ring so much louder in our heads and hearts than our victories, even if the latter far outweigh the former, as in the case of the kicker. Some psychologists theorize that this is evolution at work, that the neural networks built by various stimuli are geared that way for survival. If hundreds of thousands of years ago we were to find a tasty mushroom in the woods, we might get a little shot of dopamine or oxytocin to help us remember where we found it. Yet, when we happened to eat a poisonous one and puked and sharted and hallucinated purple saber-toothed tigers for two days, that experience was burned much more deeply into our psyche.

Unfortunately, Bryant will carry the weight of this loss, but his biggest mistake was more a matter of timing than anything. Had he missed the same kick earlier in the game it would have been a drag, but nowhere near the catastrophic gaffe it turned out to be. Also, a defense that gave up 34 points should shoulder as much or more of the blame for the loss.

But I don’t think that’s going to help him sleep any better this week.

I’d wear Jimmie Ward’s jersey on the sideline if they’d let me”

-Kyle Shanahan, referring to 49er Safety Jimmie Ward, after he and Nick Bosa led the stellar Niners D in yet another ass-walloping, this time of the defending NFC Champion Rams, whom they trounced 21-7 — a score that sounds much more competitive than it was. They held Jared Goff to 78 passing yards, and the QB lost 30 himself on all the sacks he took. The oft-injured Ward, in his sixth year on the team, has only played one full season, but so far this year, he is showing up as a key part of the NFC’s top defense, which ranks second in the NFL in Defensive DVOA, in DST Fantasy Points, and several other defensive categories, behind only the league-leading Patriots. Against the Rams, Ward single-handedly thwarted two third down conversions late in the game with bone-crunching, drive-killing tackles.

Even after they took Bosa second overall in this year’s draft, I still don’t think anyone expected this team’s defense to be as dominant as it has been. Last year they had a record-setting (in a bad way) two interceptions all year and seven total turnovers. In sixteen games. Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh’s group was expected to make a decent leap forward this year, but nobody saw this coming, and if they say they did they are goll-dang liars and they are probably trying to get into your knickers or your wallet, or both. Shanahan is supposed to be the offensive mastermind. Pretty Boy Garoppolo was 12-2 in his NFL career coming into the game (now he is 13-2). They had Tevin Coleman and George Kittle and a bevy of other playmakers. People were definitely expecting some pop on that side of the ball. Continue reading “WEEK 6 RECAP: For Whom the Clock Tocks”