Football’s finally back. And with the Colts opening the season with a 41-10 massacre of last year’s #1 offensive team, the New Orleans Saints, you’d think I’d be utterly happy. Completely delighted. In hog heaven. etc.
Well, I have been at times. During the aforementioned Colts game for instance, and during the exciting parts of last night’s reasonably exciting Bengals/Ravens game. There is a strong possibility that Steve McNair will have to be reassembled like Frankenstein’s monster pretty soon due to his frequent and painful-looking injuries, which I’m very enthused about. The Jacksonville Fucktards lost to the inferior Titans on Sunday, which shut their big fat mouths (and those of their fans) for at least a week, and that’s never a bad thing. So yeah, the NFL has brought me happiness.
But it’s also brought me sadness. Not in the form of Randy Moss in a Patriots uni, though that hardly fills my soul with delight. No – what’s troubling me today is the renewal of my annual war against the sports media.
The problem with the people who write about sports and those who talk about sports on the TV and radio is that those people are all idiots. To a man, to a woman, down to the fiber and the essence and the molecular structures of their beings, they are all complete fucking idiots; and it’s increasingly difficult to listen to their bullshit without kicking in my TV, throwing my computer monitor out a window, ripping my copy of ESPN The Magazine in half, etc.
The thing is, it’s hard to be a football fan and not listen to the idiots prattle on. NFL games are typically played most of the day on Sunday, for a few hours on Monday night, and maybe occasionally on Thursday night. The entire rest of the week there is no football happening, but there’s this little buzz in the back of my skull. It goes like this: bzzzzzzzzzzzzNFLzzzzzzzzzzzFOOTBALLzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzCOLTSzzzzzzz. It recedes at times – while I’m eating, when I get some irritating problem to resolve at work, during special time with the little lady* – but it always returns promptly and with a vengeance. And when it does, I can’t turn on a game to satisfy it. I have to tune into the sports media if I want a fix. Plus, the media dominates the games themselves. They talk before and after and during; they do halftime and pregame and postgame and pre-pregame and post-postgame (not kidding). Basically you couldn’t get away from them even if you wanted to. At times I envy the deaf.**
The deaf, for example, wouldn’t have had to listen to ESPN’s Monday Night crew babble mindlessly while the Ravens ran an ungodly number of plays inside the Cincinnati six yard line last night. It wasn’t so much what they were babbling about as what they were not. The Ravens, you see, were down seven points, and this was their Last Chance. They were in Four Down Territory.*** This was their Alamo. When this sequence began, the Ravens had about three yards to go and four attempts to get there, and being in a situation where a turnover is completely unacceptable, and having in the off-season signed pretty good runner Willis McGahee, and having a pretty solid offensive line at his disposal… you would think that the Ravens’ alleged genius of a coach Brian Billick would call four run plays in a row. I’m guessing that even people who don’t know football at all can follow that logic. All you need is to gain less than a yard average per run. …Oh, and I should also mention, washed up and broken down QB Steve McNair was hurt and out of the game. So the Ravens passer at that point was Kyle Boller, a name synonymous with mediocrity laced with a fine marbling of failure. If Kyle Boller’s career is a steak, the meat part is performing adequately at best, and the fat part is chucking the ball into triple coverage while yelling “Oh God! Someone just broke my clavicle!” and falling over to cry like a little girl. …So yes, at this point in the game, I was guessing that the genius Billick would call some effin’ RUN PLAYS.
What happened instead was this: 1st down, Ravens run for a yard gain (good, now just do that two more times, guys). 2nd down, Ravens throw incomplete (why??). 3rd down, Ravens run for another yard (bringing them to the 1 yard line – note that they would have scored if they had run for another yard on the previous down). 4th down… surely a run is coming!… Ravens throw to Todd Heap in the back of the end zone. Heap is penalized for offensive pass interference and the Ravens back up to the Cincy 11. Now, forget for a moment that the penalty was crap and the throw was a good one. Why, WHY, did Billick call two passes out of four plays when running 3-4 times would have almost certainly got them a touchdown? No comment from the babbling Monday Night crew. I think they were complimenting the Cincinnati defense, who was stonewalling one of the most inept offenses in the league, led by a man who apparently gave himself a lobotomy before the game.
On the next snap, Cincinnati was penalized, bringing the Ravens back to about the six. Now you’d think Billick would learn from his error and RUN THE BALL four times in a row… right? 1st down, Ravens run 4 yards to the Cincinnati two yard line (great!). 2nd down, Ravens throw (what the fuck??) and it falls incomplete. 3rd down, Ravens throw (AAAAAAARRRGH) to Todd Heap again, who is surrounded by defenders who appear to be having sex with him, or at least engaging in some high energy frottage. The ball pops up in the air and the Bengals intercepts it to end the game.
And the announcers talk about how Brian Billick is a colossal moron, right? Wrong, Diane. (Haven’t you been paying attention?) Instead they talk about how Heap should have caught the ball. Heap, who appeared to have grown extra arms on the play and outfitted them in Bengals uniforms. Yes, let’s talk about that.
This morning, hoping for some validation, I went to ESPN.com, and the Baltimore Sun online. I read a total of five separate articles about this game. I scanned each of them repeatedly for mentions of Billick’s playcalling. Instead of a single reference to how the man flushed the game down the toilet, I found two mentions of how Heap should have darn well caught that pass because it hit him “right between the numbers” (a pet phrase of football announcers, and one that was used twice during the broadcast last night). Nobody who is paid to do so is criticizing Billick. Instead they’re parroting the idiots who criticized Heap last night – the idiots who were apparently only watching the game with their peripheral vision as they stuffed their faces with mini sausages from the catering tray. In other words, a team of about eight men who all watch and analyze football FOR A LIVING missed the completely obvious reason that the Ravens failed to tie the game with seven short yardage attempts.
I swear, Diane, the sports media is going to ruin sports.
* We don’t call it special time, and I don’t call her my little lady.
** But they didn’t get to hear the New York fans cheer when their starting quarterback was injured while playing a solid game of football on Sunday.
*** …which for the football-uninitiated, means they don’t just run three plays and then kick a field goal if they fail to cross the goalline; they have to score a touchdown. Therefore they will run an offensive play on the fourth down if they fail to score on the first three.