Friday, November 2, 2007

Just Win, Baby.

I've been thinking about this for a while, ever since Gregg Easterbrook wrote his "Good Vs. Evil" column last week. I thought about it even harder watching "Inside the NFL" on HBO the other night, which seemed to devote the entire first half of the show to the upcoming game, even splicing together an NFL Films Mega-Highlight with both the New England/Washington and Indianapolis/Carolina tilts, complete with a panel discussion about whether or not the Patriots are running up the score and an interview with former Chargers/current Patriots Rodney Harrison and Junior Seau.

I'm going to take these in reverse order, starting with Junior and Rodney. Actually, I really only want to talk about Rodney Harrison, since I've always respected Junior and I feel bad for him that his house burned down last week.

The thing about the Patriots that has bugged the shit out of me--other than the Tuck Rule, which we'll get to later--during their run of success this decade is the sense that they're so good, and so well-coached by Belichick and well-led by Tom Brady that they can bring in any malcontent or headcase and not just rehabilitate them but turn them into team leaders. We saw it with Corey Dillon, we're seeing it now with Randy Moss.

But the one that galls me the most is Rodney Harrison. I'm not saying he's not a good player. And I'm not even saying that the sinner-to-saint narrative I've just described is not valid, because in a way, it is. But even after his HGH suspension (and what it is it with players with connections to the Chargers and performance-enhancing drugs?), he's still considered an elder statesman. The Rodney Harrison I remember with San Diego was the dirtiest player in the league. Just ask Tim Brown, who was the victim of attempted murder every time he went over the middle for a pass. Now because he's on the Patriots and he's won a Super Bowl he's a hero?

The thing about this sinner-to-saint narrative is that it's not sinner-to-saint at all; it's sinner-to-sinner-who-wins-a-lot-football-games. Randy Moss isn't all of a sudden a team leader. He'll never be a leader--he sure as hell wasn't when he was in here in Oakland. But surround him by ballers, and he's all-world.

As for running up the score, that's just ridiculous. Everybody asked on Inside the NFL agreed that it wasn't; I even found myself agreeing with Cris Carter who said, basically, if you don't want them running up the score, stop them. BLITZ their asses. As John Clayton points out in his sidebar on the Raiders vs Steelers in the 1970s in the "In Their Own Words..." article at

Bill Belichick wouldn't have gotten away with running up scores in the 1970s,
when the Raiders and Steelers were battling each other for AFC superiority. From
the physical play on the field to the verbal and legal battles off of it,
Steelers-Raiders was great drama.

Which brings me to the TMQ column. He takes great pains to make sure everyone knows why Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning are the epitome of everything that is good about America and why they should be beloved, and how Belichick, et. al. are the epitome of everything we should hate.

But he's wrong. And, sorry, Dan, but you're wrong, too. If the Patriots deserve an asterisk next to their dynasty, it's courtesy of Walt Coleman, not the "cheating" scandal. You know how Eric Mangini (and can his nickname be officially changed from "Man-genius" to Man-gina?) knew that camera was there? Because he used to work for Belichick. Shit, he probably started out as camera boy before working his way up to coordinator.

The point I'm getting at here is that Easterbrook made me kind of like this Patriots team, because the words he used to describe them in his column--arrogance, hubris--are words that people use to describe Al Davis. Who do you think invented not speaking to the media? I can't help but to think that the way the Patriots are destroying teams right now, with Randy catching everything in a 10-yard radius, is what he envisioned when he brought Randy here in the first place. The problem is that he brought him to play for Norv Turner, and then for Art Shell and Tom "My Own Private Idaho" Walsh. Just like the Raiders were the team everyone hated in the 70s, accused of being part of a "Criminal Element," the Patriots are being piled on and hated on now.

So I think New England wins this Sunday. I wouldn't even be surprised if they blow Indy out. It reminds me of when Michael Spinks fought Mike Tyson on my birthday in 1987. Everyone was so desperate for someone to beat Mike Tyson that they were talking themselves into things like "Well, Spinks never LOST his crown," and "finally someone who can put Iron Mike in his place." He got smoked in 90 seconds, and my dad was pissed that he paid $45 for that just because it's what I wanted for my birthday. Seriously, that was my worst birthday present ever. And from then on I decided if someone looks clearly dominant, it's because they ARE.

So, NE wins, 31-24, with Indy making it look close with a couple of late TDs.

The Niners will win a...err, dogfight in Atlanta, 13-9.

And the Raiders, with McCown under center and Fargas rushing for a buck-fifty. Sllaacs is already wrong about Daunte getting sacked.

1 comment:

Sllaacs said...

Let's see about that. "McClown" may not even finish the first quarter. Then it's 'Pepper' Time.