I hope everybody had a lovely Texans bye weekend (insert lame joke about "Texans giving up fewer than 300 yards passing to BYE" here), and that you're refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for the back half of the football season.
I'm on vacation this week visiting my children (James 12, Judy Anne 12 and Sammy 11) who live with my ex-wife in the lovely Chicago suburb of Naperville, home of Texans' tight end Owen Daniels. Lots of football and soccer games to attend, and even a Sunday trip to Benihana already in the books! Nothing says vacation like watching the onion volcano or awkward messages from our chef like "I (HEART) U" spelled using chicken fried rice on the grill.
My ex-wife and I took the kids to Benihana because the parent-teacher conferences for all three kids were sparkling. So if you're keeping track, since I moved to Houston in 2007, the grades and athletic performance of my three Chicago-based kids have all improved! So yeah, I may be the first parent to ever get a "Ewing Theory" designation from Bill Simmons.
(Benihana side bar -- Our chef for the Japanese meal was named "Juan." My ex-wife and I decided that Juan was on some sort of crazy "Chef Exchange Program" and that somewhere at a Chuy's in Houston, there is a chef named "Kensuke" rolling up burritos.)
Anyway, my vacation doesn't mean that there are no winners and losers in this world. There are. And I intend to write about them...like, right now.
1. The Texans schedule. I love the wild overreaction from week to week with respect to the Texans remaining schedule and how difficult or uber-difficult it may be. In talk radio, we're as guilty as anybody of basing the next ten weeks on what's happened in the last 24 hours. So while I'm not going to arrive at a conclusion on the Texans schedule difficulty (mostly because, in the end, it doesn't really matter how we label the rest of the games -- they have to go play them), I just want to illustrate the crazy swing in one week.
Last week, after a nail-biter against Kansas City (who as it turns out is pretty good) -- a win, mind you -- we went game by game over the schedule and, to a man, almost everyone we had on our show said they would finish with seven wins, maybe eight. Now let's look at what the Texans' future opponents did this past weekend -- Jacksonville got crushed by the Chiefs and are playing like a "bottom five in the league" team, Denver gave up 59 to Oakland, Philly lost by three scores to Tennessee, Baltimore needed overtime to beat the Bills at home, San Diego lost (again), the Colts lost more players to injury and suspension on a bye week than most teams lose in an actual NFL game...my point is this. The Texans are going to win more than 7 games. More than 8 games even. Let's let it play out.
2. Lovers of drama. The gold standard comparison for any betrayal, where a lifelong fan favorite plunges the proverbial knife into the back of his fans and announces he's aligning with the enemy, is Hulk Hogan turning heel and joining the New World Order in 1996. (Famously depicted in the video below when LeBron James made his "Decision.")
When Brett Favre signed with the Minnesota Vikings back in 2009, I got an e-mail from one of my favorite listeners, Chris Hill, who sent me the following e-mail. Read through it, appreciate its genius and then at the end watch the chilling foresight of one Chris Hill (I'll warn you when it's coming...)
Been discussing this with a couple buddies, and I figured you are more qualified than anyone to agree or discredit the theory.
Has there ever been a professional athlete whose career so mirrored a pro wrestler than Brett Favre mirroring Hulk Hogan?
Favre was a golden boy for years and years, the most beloved player in the NFL, much like Hogan's run with the WWF. Both were truly Real Americans as Hogan's theme song opined. Their similar career paths are uncanny.
The Packer years & Hulk's WWF heyday.
Favre's wild popularity masked the flaws in his game from stupid throws to boneheaded plays to untimely INT's. Nobody cared, though, because he was such an icon. Just like Hulk, who as a wrestler was very marginal when it came to technique. Terrible finishing move to boot, which mirrors Favre's late game INTs. But both were bigger than life figures. This was the pinnacle of their respective careers.
The season with Jets & Hogan's 1st year with WCW.
Brett started out great, just like Hogan started out well in the WCW after leaving the WWF. Brett threw 6 TD's vs the Cards, Hogan beat Flair for the title. But it just wasn't the same. Hogan ends up testifying against Vince McMahon in a steroid trial and admits to using roids. After leading the Jets to an 8-3 record, the Jets lose 4 of the last 5 and miss the playoffs. Just a really forgettable period for both.
Then we get to today.
Brett with the Vikings and the Hollywood Hogan parallels.
If Favre had a painted on beard and mullet, he flat out would be Hollywood Hogan. Favre, for all intents and purposes, just turned heel. He slapped the faces of all the Packer fans and now plays for their biggest rival. This almost exactly follows Hogan attacking Randy Savage at Bash at the Beach and then turning NWO. He goes from the fan favorite to all-time heel.
I think anytime Favre is mentioned they should start playing Voodoo Child like Hollywood Hogan used to play. Sans hitting Bart Starr over the head with a chair when he isn't looking, Favre IS Hollywood Hogan.
Now watch this....brilliance about to happen...
Really all that is left to happen is for Favre to get a reality show, then a National Enquirer article coming out saying he had an affair, followed by Deena Favre filing for divorce and then dating one of their daughters high school friends. With the way things are going, I would not surprised to see this come to fruition.
Chris Hill wrote this email in September of 2009. Hill, send me today's lottery numbers. Stat!
3. Any future Porky's remake. Of course, Favre saying that it was him on the voicemails but not in the dong pictures to Jenn Sterger immediately makes this hilarious scene from 1980's cult classic Porky's relevant again...(and that's a good thing, by the way)...
4. Overcompensation. When the BCS standings were released on Sunday night, Auburn jumped to the top of the BCS rankings on the strength of their hard-fought 24-17 win over LSU this weekend, leaping over undefeated Oregon and Boise State in the process. After leaving an undefeated Auburn out in the cold in 2004, the system is making damn sure an undefeated SEC team doesn't get left behind this year.
(Sidebar #1 -- While Auburn is third in both human polls, if you want to argue that it's the computers bumping them up to number one, not humans, that's fine -- all I ask is that you read Dan Wetzel's Death to the BCS to understand how skewed the computers are to ensuring that the six families of the BCS gets what they want. WARNING: The book is so chilling in its exposure of the unseemly side of the bowl racket, that you will feel compelled to shower each week after perusing the BCS standings. It's that infuriating.)
(Sidebar #2 -- And yet even with Auburn undefeated, it still feels like more people want to debate whether a one-loss Alabama team deserves to go in ahead of undefeated TCU and Boise State. Alabama still has a ton of work to do.)
5. Turkey. I'm not afraid to admit that Allen Iverson is one of my top five favorite basketball players ever. I was sad (but not all that surprised) to see the way his NBA career ended -- with a press release from the Sixers in March of this year saying Iverson was done for the 2009-2010 season (after he had missed several games reportedly to attend to his ill daighter). The fact is Iverson always wanted to be "the guy" everywhere he went. When he was moved to Denver in 2006, he never really meshed with Carmelo Anthony, and in Detroit and Memphis he was openly angry about being moved into a "bench role." If making sure you're not going to be a bench player is the most important thing, then I guess signing a two-year deal with a team in Turkey makes sense. Not sure what the practice policies are in Turkey, but hopefully they've discussed this with Allen....
1. Brad Childress. On the one hand, we in the media are constantly harping on people that give canned, cliched answers to questions, so there is part of me that likes the fact that Brad Childress came out and said the things he did about Brett Favre's inane penchant for throwing the ball to Green Bay Packer defenders on Sunday night. I mean, at one point during the second half, "Favre flashing back and thinking he was on the Packers again" actually became a nearly plausible scenario. Okay, so Childress is right in saying that you can't afford to throw the ball to the other team. So he has pleased one category of person -- "media guy appreciating honesty and newspaper-selling, talk radio call-generating controversy."
Unfortunately, Childress' job is to keep his team undivided and win football games. To that end, his comments about Brett Favre's turnover-palooza Sunday night were a major fail:
"It still goes back to taking care of the football," Childress said. "You can't throw it to them. You've got to play within the confines of our system. Sometimes it's OK to punt the football and you can't give seven points going the other way. Not in a game like this. Not with a high-powered team."
Childress' comments would have been controversial enough if he were talking about a quarterback who has a history of sound decision-making, but we're talking about Brett Freaking Favre! I mean...melting down in big games, making heroes of previously anonymous defensive backs, THESE are the things Favre has been doing for years now! Childress sounds like a guy who had an affair with a married woman who leaves her husband to be with him, and then two years into their relationship is floored when she ends up cheating on him. Cheaters cheat, Favre throws picks. Don't want none, won't be none, Childress.
(By the way, with 10 picks in six games already this year, Favre's seven-interception season in 2009 is starting to look like a Top 5 Quarterback Deal With The Devil (DWD) of all time, right behind Eli Manning's 2007 playoff run, Randall Cunningham's 1998 season, Steve Beurelein's 1999 season with nearly 40 touchdown passes, and Kurt Warner's entire career (the max level deal for DWD's...I mean, dude was sacking groceries. Groceries.)
2. Opposers of recreational (and not so recreational) drug use. It's the World Series! It's Josh Hamilton (heroin) and Ron Washington (cocaine -- one time!)! It's Tim Lincecum (marijuana) and Brian Wilson (he's got to be on something, right?)! Only on FOX!!
3. Independent football. Back when it appeared the very foundation of college football was about to be turned on its ear when the University of Texas (and five of its friends that it would be vouching for at the door) was pondering a move to the Pac-10, I went on an extended rant about how Notre Dame and UT were the only functional independent programs left in college football. (Notre Dame is in actuality independent; Texas is independent in the same way that a divorced father of five is independent -- they can kinda sorta do what they want, when they want, but without dealing with the fallout of ignoring your kids. Yes, A&M, Tech, Baylor, etc....you're the kids.) Later last summer, it was huge news when Notre Dame and Texas announced they'd be playing each other four times later this decade.
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Well, fast-forward to this past Saturday where Notre Dame lost to Navy for the third time in four years (and not even in a fluky fashion; Navy was the better team.) and Texas followed up an apparent season-saving win against Nebraska by donating its season right back to Iowa State. Texas will recover from this, but with Notre Dame it speaks to serious foundation issues that frankly have worn me out. This is probably worthy of a bigger post, but if there's a point where you divorce your favorite team, I'm about there with Notre Dame football.
4. Lovie Smith. So Lovie contests a touchdown that was clearly down at the half-yard line by Earl Bennett, loses the challenge, and then on the very next play chooses NOT to challenge an obvious Jay Cutler reach over the goal line (on a play which resulted in a fumble and a turnover), and the Bears end up coming away with nothing? If this were blackjack, this would have been like hitting on 15 against a dealer's 6, busting, and then following up by staying on a soft 17 the next hand only to have a dealer drop a 21 on you with the card that would have given you a 21. If you don't play blackjack, you have no idea what I mean. If you do, you do know. Just know that Lovie Smith fucked up. (And yet somewhere, Gary Kubiak was probably fine with what Lovie did.)
5. Solicitation and gambling. Speaking of Chicago, so I landed in the Windy City late Friday night and rather than force someone to spend his or her Friday night picking me up at the airport, I decided to take the train to Naperville, which meant taking the "L" (Chicago's version of the light rail, only it actually works and it actually goes to more than two places) to Union Station to take the Metra rail into the suburbs. Well, I get on the L Orange line into the city and was immediately greeted with a recording on how (and I quote) "Solicitation and gambling are prohibited on the Chicago L." Um...really? Solicitation and gambling? So if I'm envisioning this correctly, does this mean that a few months ago hookers and blackjack tables were a fixture on these cars, but now the debauchery gestapo is wiping them clean? Clearly, I needed to travel on the L more when I lived in Chicago four years ago.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 P p.m.weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.