Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and the 1992 Olympic basketball champions are still guffawing midway through November of 2011, and it’s not because Dr. Bunsen Honeydew tampered with the teleprompter so it would fire golf balls at Charles Barkley.
The Philadelphia Dream Team squawks into Sunday Night’s rematch with the first place New York Giants at a lurid 3-6, needing to secure all of their remaining games to finish the season with ten wins and a gratuitous miracle to fly higher come January and earn more reasonable standards for the future. So when a glorified check such as this one bounces in the manner of an eagle carcass being tossed and recoiling off of a whoopee cushion, which offseason purchase is to blame for the derisory failure? It can’t be benchwarmers Vince Young and Ronnie Brown – they’ve barely touched the ball (and Brown is so buried at the line of scrimmage that they couldn’t even trade him at the deadline). You’re tempted to scapegoat the defensive secondary acquisitions of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but adapted schemes and chemistry amongst cornerbacks mean nothing when your front seven is crowded with raw rookie linebackers and an exhausted veteran defensive line.
Can you just pile it all on top of past-his-prime Head Coach Andy Reid? Sure his team hasn’t reached the NFC Title Game since their Super Bowl loss in 2004, and the lack of hardware at this point in his career topped by the gnarliest collection of salary cap blunders in the span of a few weeks has officially supplanted him in the hot seat, but it’s less general than that. You can predictably direct the communal energy of this Nightmare towards a single 100-million-dollar mistake.
Reid evidently saw something in Michael Vick that few others did (or at least boldly admitted to see) when he controversially signed the former league-superstar quarterback and imprisoned dogfighter merely a month after being conditionally reinstated. I have no leverage to protest that he never should have been granted a second chance – to protest a debated insincerity in his reformation for the larger priority of playing rather than paying – and to slander the rapid rise back to illustriousness that could have just as easily taught him nothing instead of helped him realize everything, because I am not there and we are all human. Reid very well may have successfully diagnosed an ethical potential in Vick, but in the unfortunately current production-first mentality of the sport, what truly irritated me back in August 2009 and then two years later from the news of the record-setting contract was what he neglected to see when it blared in everyone else’s line of sight: a flawed and fragile quarterback.
Reid saw the highlight reels and leg commercials. He didn’t see the Vick-ignored arm strength, self-served pocket escapes, interceptions and limited playoff resume. He saw the 12-yard touchdown dive against the Panthers. He didn’t see the brittleness in a meaningless preseason scramble that resulted in a broken leg and dampened spirits for the Atlanta Falcons in 2003 (ironically one of the possible reasons the Eagles flourished in the conference). Reid saw Randall Cunningham. He didn’t see that Vick wasn’t Aaron Rodgers. And now the ultimate Wildcat is purring on the sidelines with broken ribs preventing him from starting this weekend, after failing to lead the Dream Team to more vicktories.
Michael Vick is an above average contributor to the NFL, and his season or career is not over by any means. But if Vince Young miraculously leaves MetLife Stadium in triumph, that is a lot of money being flushed down the toilet. And Sam Eagle takes Andy Reid’s job and reinstitutes culture and good taste in the American way. Seriously, though, whether it’s the necessitated vindication of frantic post-lockout decisions or the highly anticipated and critique-ready opening of a childhood-friendly movie, these upcoming days are pivotal in the timelines of financial mediocrity and iconic reputations. Movin’ right along:
-*(6-3) New York Giants over (3-6) Philadelphia Eagles*
Of course the G-Men will stomp all over these dirty birds. Young has in the past proved himself a winner, but no Camilla dinner. Meanwhile, with the universally undervalued position of linebacker in focus, bone cancer survivor and rookie Mark Herzlich will make his starting debut for the Big Blue, and if he can perform with half the stature of Thog, Vick will be eternally thankful he isn’t a part of this game.
-*(6-3) New England Patriots over (4-5) Kansas City Chiefs*
The Mafia Sports Quick Poll asked you to recruit your favorite Muppet to an NFL team, and “badass” Miss Piggy ended up spurning the Giants to rush the passer from the Pats’ defensive line, easily labeling her their MVP. With Bill Belichick additionally signing Sweetums to bolster the O-line, and Tom Brady still being Tom Brady (first time I believe I’ve said that all year), they should commence their second-half surge with a karate chopping of the depleted Tyler Palko-led Chiefs on Monday Night.
-*(9-0) Green Bay Packers over (4-5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
Kermit the Frog swoons about the hardships of bein’ green, and it is understandably due to his role as backup kicker for the New York Jets. Aaron Rodgers and the Verde Packers are not aware of such problems, skimming the swamps of this summer’s stoppage and the bays of this matchup to carve into Thanksgiving undefeated. Now for a Muppet News Flash: Josh Freeman has been disappointing and Tim Tebow is God.
-*(5-4) Oakland Raiders over (2-7) Minnesota Vikings*
It’s a battle of trash talking between Animal (because the Raiders have been void of detrimental penalties lately) and the Swedish Chef (because, and I quote: “gersh gurndy morn-dee burn-dee, burn-dee”). Sadly, the Scandinavian will not be able to cook up a conquest with this Vikings roster, for if Oakland can somehow harness Animal’s…he eats iron bars…into a constructive contribution, then they won’t just be clinching the AFC West crown by default.
-*(6-3) Chicago Bears over (4-5) San Diego Chargers*
“Fozzie Bear should play for the Chicago Bears because he is a bear! That is an NFL team, right, the Chicago Bears?” Yes, Mom, they are, and thanks for the laugh. But it is downright hilarious how Norv Turner still has a job in San Diego after dropping four straight attainable games, and quarterback Philip Rivers is simply bombing this – oh no!
Crazy Harry: Did somebody say bomb?! (Explosion)
-*(5-4) Atlanta Falcons over (5-4) Tennessee Titans*
The encouraging fact that Chicago offensive savior Matt Forte was one that did NOT prematurely cash in big bucks this offseason before explod…um…breaking out…was validated by Tennessee’s Chris Johnson, who held out in the preseason, received his unwarranted reward, and has since played as small as Rizzo the Rat. These monster contracts are ridiculous and here is perfect proof. On the other side of the field, the Atlanta Falcons’ huge gamble – trading six total draft picks for rookie wide receiver Julio Jones – is paying massive dividends, and whether not he is healthy enough to suit up, karma will be constant.
-*(8-1) San Francisco 49ers over (3-6) Arizona Cardinals*
It’s amazing how Michael Vick, Minnesota’s Donovan McNabb, and Arizona’s Kevin Kolb will all not be playing this Sunday – do not swim in Philly’s jacuzzi if you dream of being a quarterback in this league, okay. Jim Harbaugh is making an Andrew Luck out of Alex Smith and a Roger Craig out of Frank Gore.
-*(6-3) Cincinnati Bengals over (6-3) Baltimore Ravens
Remember when coach Marvin Lewis was on his way out the door, Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco were begrudgingly replaced by draftees Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, respectively, and Cedric Benson sold his apartment or whatever for a jail cell? Well, the first two issues have reversed themselves tremendously, and the Bengals will prove they are for real by outlasting the Ravens. Joe Flacco has no business trying to be considered elite until he can follow up a Pittsburgh beatdown with a WIN over the SEAHAWKS! Yeesh.
-*(5-4) Buffalo Bills over (2-7) Miami Dolphins
The additions of Matt Moore and Reggie Bush are surprisingly bubbling up this Miami offense as of late, while my Bills are beginning to plummet back to reality, but when wildly forgotten top-10 draft pick and D-line staple Marcell Dareus elevates to the next level, they’ll be on their way to New York City to try and break into public television.
-Other Week 11 Games: *(6-3) Detroit Lions over (2-7) Carolina Panthers (the league’s next mega-star Cam Newton will be overshadowed as the Lions prepare for the Green Bay Pilgrims); *(5-4) Dallas Cowboys over (3-6) Washington Redskins (it’s about time Mike Shanahan realizes that neither Rex Grossman nor John Beck are the answer at QB in D.C.); *(3-6) Jacksonville Jaguars over (3-6) Cleveland Browns (Blaine Gabbert will flourish by evasion of Vick’s Madden disciple Peyton Hillis); *(2-7) St. Louis Rams over (3-6) Seattle Seahawks (and I shouldn’t be as subjectively harsh to the “Hawks as I am, so I’ll give them this: at least they didn’t sign Tarvaris Jackson for $100 million).
Last Week: 7-9…
This Week: 1-0