splash-footballmond

I’m a big Steve Almond fan.  I think he’s one of our smartest and gutsiest writers.  His latest book, Against Football (Melville House), is surely one of the year’s most provocative titles.  Almond offers a searing analysis of America’s most popular sport, going deep where most sports writers tend to stay safely in the shallows, challenging the reader’s assumptions about what the game means, and what its massive cultural import says about our society.

Steve and I had a great conversation on my podcast1 not too long ago, and this past week I had the chance to catch up with him via email for some follow-up questions.

 Dawidoff__NicholasExplain the term “Collision Low Crosser.”

Football has its own language. This defensive term describes players, usually linebackers, making legal contact with potential pass receivers crossing the field within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Beyond five yards, collisioning someone is a penalty. Since football is a game of precise timing and geometry, the point is to disrupt the pass route by diverting the receiver. The real inspiration of the phrase is how instantly it evokes the most basic elements of the game—speed, aggression, the interplay between space and time, plans that likely won’t come to fruition, how there’s always someone out there waiting to ruin your life. I like terms that imply a fresh, strange world existing within a world that seemed previously understood. Full Metal Jacket; Zero Dark Thirty; Collision Low Crossers.

29book"COLLISION LOW CROSSERS" by Nicholas DawidoffThe year really began in the last days of February, at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The Scouting Combine is an annual invitation-only event at which more than three hundred of the country’s most promising draft-eligible college football players gather to audition for NFL teams by running, jumping, lifting weights, taking intelligence tests, and sitting down for private interviews, where each one might be asked about almost anything, including his injured shoulder, his bar brawl, his decision to save himself for marriage, and, as had happened the year before with the receiver Dez Bryant, whether his mother was a prostitute. When Eric Mangini led the Jets, he sometimes began a Combine interview by requiring the ten or so people in the room to introduce themselves to the player, after which the coach turned to the player and asked him to repeat all the names he’d just heard. This did not always go over well. LSU’s Dwayne Bowe, now a Chiefs receiver, believed Mangini was trying to humiliate him, and he shut down, producing a lengthy awkward moment that Jets officials still can’t recall without shuddering.

Dear Jeff Bezos,

Congratulations on your recent purchase of The Washington Post, one of the finest institutions in American journalism, as well as my hometown newspaper. I further applaud you for immediately speaking up and calming the speculation about what changes might be on the way for the paper. It’s comforting to know that you plan to keep the values and leadership of the Post intact.

They have arrived. The NFL playoffs. Back in September, thirty-two teams had their football eyes on the prize. High hopes. Expectations. Experts making predictions. Boneheaded waiters and balding fathers playing football prophet and talking shit.

The Eagles will take the NFC East.

This is the year the Ravens will put it all together.

The Raiders will suck ass.

The Pack will repeat and Favre will hang himself from a sycamore tree.

Blah, blah, blah.

It’s now come down to twelve teams. The talk is over. In the AFC, the Patriots, Ravens, Bengals, Texans, Steelers, and Broncos will be taking the field. In the NFC, the Packers, 49ers, Lions, Saints, Falcons, and Giants will be in the hunt for the Lombardi.

It’s a thing of pure beauty.

Almost more beautiful than Tamron Hall.

Almost.

Let’s see what’s doing.

 

 

The Moody Coach and Mountain Jesus: The AFC

The AFC had a crazy year.

The Bills started off the season winning and had their fans forgetting Scott Norwood. But then the Bills remembered that they’re the Bills and began losing—badly. Their fans quickly remembered Norwood and started choking on chicken wings en masse.

Al Davis took a dirt nap and, surprisingly, Raiders fans didn’t tag and burn the country to a crisp.

The Jets and their fat coach stunk up the field and the world was a better place for it.

The Colts slowly died, week after week, and finally disappeared with a whimper.

Three of the six teams playing in the tournament weren’t considered contenders at the beginning of the year. The Bengals? Most people didn’t even know Cincinnati had a football team. The Texans? For years people have been picking them to finally sink the Colts and take the AFC South, and for years they sucked dog ass and ended up watching the playoffs from their couches like the rest of us poor saps. The Broncos? Good, god. John Fox is as dull as a pair of house slippers and coaches the most boring game of football in the league’s history.  I bet he only fucks in the missionary position.

Most football junkies picked the Patriots, Ravens, and Steelers to make the playoffs. They are who they are, and it is what it is. Solid players. Great coaching. No mystery. One of these teams will be in the Super Bowl.

Wildcard weekend will see the Bengals take on the Texans and Pittsburgh travel to Denver. I like the Bengals’ story. They played tough all year, and we saw promising rookie QB Andy Dalton make a name for himself. He very well could be one of the league’s premier quarterbacks of the future, football smart, with a rifle for an arm. Going on the road and winning in the playoffs is a tall order. Especially with a young team that has no post-season experience. But I like Cincinnati and see them squeaking out a victory. The Texans are good, no doubt. They have a good defense. But they’re injured and don’t have any character. This is not a winning recipe. Sure, they might take this game, but it will end for them soon after that.

Pittsburgh and the Broncos. The story here is about Tebow and his Jesus-ness. He loves Jesus. Carries him in his backpack. Takes him to McDonald’s. Tebow’s positive god light has the whole team reading sappy Hallmark affirmations and running to confession. It’s a lame story that has the ESPN gang and everyone and their mother saying stupid things like “divine intervention.” And that the Donkeys are winning because of Tebow’s heavenly ways and have made the playoffs because “something else is at work.” It is, by far, some of the most ridiculous crap I’ve heard, in or out of sports, in my lifetime. The truth is, Tebow sucks as a QB, the teams he beat were shit or gave the game away, the Broncos made the playoffs because the AFC West is pathetic. End of story. The Steelers are beat up but should win the game easily and end the Second Coming.  Thank god.

Finally, the Patriots and Ravens, the conference’s one and two seeds.  They have a bye this week and await the winners of the wild card round.  Brady and his receivers are flying high on offense, but they have a pitiful defense and this is why they’ll eventually lose. There’s nothing that their moody coach, Bill Belichick, and his massive football brain can do about it.  Prediction:  The Ravens—with Ray Lewis’ big mouth and Terrell Suggs’ piranha teeth—will go to the Super Bowl.  A nasty, swarming defense and an effective running game.  That’s the recipe.

 

Packing Heat and Killing Marino: The NFC

The NFC playoff picture is loaded with surprises. Who thought the 49ers, with their obnoxious coach, would be a second seed? No one. The Lions? Most of us thought that bloated pig Matt Millen had ruined the team for good. Guess not. The Giants? Hey, they’re a good squad, but the Eagles with their “dream team” roster were supposed to eat up the NFC East. Didn’t happen. The Falcons?  Well, that’s not too much of a stretch, but their spot was reserved for the Cowboys. And speaking of the Cowboys: I think it’s about time we bury these amateurs for good, or pray that their rich, hillbilly owner either splits or joins Al Davis. He’s looking more and more like good ol’ Al everyday. And that, my friends, is not a good thing.

Just win, baby.

The Lions are heading into New Orleans to get a beatdown like they’ve never experienced. It’s going to be ugly. The Saints have a lousy defense, but they have Brees and that ass-whooping offense. They’re deadly. They’re cool. They’re tenacious. Brees is a badass and I was thrilled to no end to see him squash Dan Marino’s single-season passing record. I don’t like Marino, just like I don’t like Mercury Morris, just like I don’t like Don Shula’s nose, just like I don’t like Miami’s pansy colors, just like I don’t like Miami, just like I don’t like the Heat and loved it when they got their asses handed to them in the NBA finals.

Shoo fly.

The Falcons are going into New York, where they’re going to get slapped around. The Giants are playing solid football coming off a perfect dismantling of the Cowboys last week. Watch out for the Giants. They can play spoiler.

I don’t have much to say about the 49ers. I can’t buy into them. I see a so-so QB in Smith, a good defense, and a cocky P.E. teacher for a coach. That being said, they’re not a second seed for no reason. But I’ll be smiling when they leave the field crestfallen. Especially Harbaugh.

The Packers are the Packers. They’re good. Real good. But like the Saints and the Patriots, they have a weak defense. I see them getting into a shootout or two. Probably not the way you want things to go (especially, against gunslingers like Brees and Eli Manning). But Rodgers is a pure killer and I see him taking the Pack to the Super Bowl where they’ll play the Ravens, win another championship, and Brett Favre will either be found dead or pack up his Wranglers and play in the CFL.

Let the games begin.

 

Time flies.

It seems like just yesterday I was depressed because the NFL players and the owners were in a lockout. Months of negotiations. Months of nightmares. It was an anxious time that had many of us lost and nervous. A year without pro football? The reality was a soul killer. I think I read somewhere that alcohol sales doubled in that time. I think. Well, I’m happy to report that that’s a thing of the past, the world’s a better place, and now we’re halfway into the season. As expected, it’s been a beautiful thing. Big hits. Quick slants. High drama. The Pack is undefeated. The Bills are winning. Peyton is broken. Tebow loves Jesus. Yeah! I’ve won some picks and have lost some picks. I’ve sat on my lazy ass for hours watching and yelling at the TV, texting people, calling them losers, and feeding my fat face like it’s nobody’s business. I’m bona fide. There’s a lot of football to be played, people. It’s a week by week deal. Anything can happen and probably will. Here’s a quick recap of what’s going on.

Cheeseheads and Dream Eagles: The NFC

I wrote a while back that by the time Aaron Rodgers hangs up his cleats he’s going to have a championship ring. Well, now he does and is looking for another one this year. The dude is a fantastic quarterback and in my opinion the best QB in the NFL right now. Better than Brady. Better than Brees. Better than all of them and back again.  Green Bay is my pick to win the Super Bowl. Right now they’re playing lights out. The Bears stink. Cutler is about as animated as a dead armadillo. Fuck Ditka. Enough said. The Vikings. They stink, too. They’re looking at a future with Ponder, who looks pretty sharp for a rookie and just won a shootout against Cam Newton, the NFL’s darling. Their season is over (2-6), the McNabb trade a big fat bust. Here’s the deal: I like Donovan McNabb. I think he’s a great ambassador for the game. Doesn’t walk into a club with a gun and almost blow his dick off. No DUIs. Nothing. But it seems his playing days are over. It happens. If I was his ass I’d get a job yapping it up at ESPN and hug up to Erin Andrews. And what about the Lions? Good god. I wrote on these very pages that the Lions would lose for all eternity. That the stench of the lousiest football jerk-off that is Matt Millen had doomed Detroit to wallow in fresh dog turds forever. But no. Something happened. The Millen root was lifted. The Lions are winning! They have a fine QB in Stafford, a madman in Suh, and a cornerback’s nightmare in Megatron. Megatron! They’re not up there with the Pittsburghs and the Green Bays of the league, but they can make the playoffs. There’s no doubt about it. Good for them, you know? They’ve been horrendous for millions of years. Suck it, Millen.

The NFC South is all about Brees and the Saints. I like this team. I like the coach. I like his bunk knee. And more importantly I like their helmets. That’s right.  I said it. If all things stay the same they’ll take the division and make the playoffs eyeballing the Super Bowl. WHODAT! The Falcons are up and down. They have a decent running attack and their QB knows how to manage the game. That’s a good recipe for winning. This division is competitive and looks like it’ll be competitive for years to come. I think the Falcons can take the Saints. I think the Bucs can steal one from the Falcons. It just depends. And what about Cam and the Panthers? He’s no joke, and if he continues on the path he’s on we could be looking at the new kings of the South. Maybe even a championship ring. Same goes for Tampa. Why not? Like I said it’s a competitive division and that’s yummy for any football aficionado.

Right now, the Giants are the best team in the NFC East. They’re not getting much media attention, but are winning quietly. Eli knows how to win. It wouldn’t surprise me if they take the division which was supposed to be won either by the Cowboys or Eagles. The Redskins are another soul-sick team meandering around. That whole organization from top to bottom needs to be canned. Shanahan and his eye. The waterboy. The owner. All of them motherfuckers. The Cowboys are confused. Let it be known that their record doesn’t reflect how talented they are. Saying that, they’re in shambles. They look good one week and horrible the next. They just got their asses handed to them by the Eagles in front of god and everyone. It’ll be interesting to see how they react. They’ve been a favorite to take the East for years but have nothing to show for it. Mike Vick and the Eagles. When the season started they were the team to challenge the Packers. The press was all over their schnitzel. The ever moronic Vince Young (their back-up quarterback) dubbed them the “dream team.” That they were all that. But no. They weren’t. And they’re not. They just gouged Dallas, but they’re still hit and miss, and if their season goes to shit the Philly faithful will want Andy’s head. Despite their losing record, I think they’re going to make the tournament.

Okay.

Whodat.

McOver.

Ndamukong Suh.

The NFC.

 

Bad Necks and Chick Boots: The AFC

The North is a battle of two teams: the Steelers and the Ravens. They don’t like each other and will never like each other. And this makes for good football eats. The Ravens dismantled the Steelers earlier this year. They have a so-so offense, but the defense is solid, and I think it’s enough to get them to the Super Bowl. They can beat the Pats. If Flacco can step up his game and Lewis goes on a praying binge god knows what could happen. The Steelers are winning, which is to be expected. Typical story: they should get into the playoffs and make a run for the Lombardi. Ben is a playmaker and Polamalu is a monster. The Bengals are making a little noise. I like it. It would be cool to see them make a playoff run, but I don’t see it happening. Too young. Tough division. Pay no mind to the Browns. No one does. Well, except for those two drunk hot dog eating b-holes I met at The Palms last weekend.

“Go Brownies!”

The AFC South has been owned by Manning and the Colts. No other teams in that sad division have given them a fight in years. They all suck. In fact, this year the whole division sucks, including the Colts, who are minus the one person that makes them the Colts: Peyton Manning. Poor Manning. His latest neck surgery (he’s had three neck surgeries to date) will most likely have him sidelined for the entire season. There’s some speculation that he’ll never return to play again. If so, that’s horrible. Peyton is arguably one of the greatest QBs in the history of the league. He’s a great guy on and off the field. Let’s hope his days aren’t over. Anyhow, you can put your cashish on the Texans taking the division and going into the playoffs, where they’ll lose in the first round.

The Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC East. Brady is lighting up the field and has already thrown for a trillion yards. Must be those cute boots he’s walking in. Or the girl. Their defense is shabby, but as long as you have Tom throwing the ball you have a shot. The Jets. Jesus. I don’t like them. And it’s only because I don’t like the coach. Yeah, I know that’s ridiculous, but so what. They’ll probably make the playoffs. And that sucks. Buffalo! Who would have thought they’d have a winning record right now? No one. Not even Buffalo fans. I don’t think they’ll make the postseason, but they have a shot. Like the Browns, pay no attention to Miami. They’re the worst.

The AFC West has been owned by the Chargers, and they should take the division again this year. The Chargers are good. Rivers is a competitive bastard. But when they need to win they don’t. And won’t. Right now they’re a bit shaky coming off a pathetic loss to the Chiefs, but they have the talent to fix things. The Raiders don’t look too bad. McFadden is a punishing running back and they just got Carson Palmer in a trade. But he’s been sitting on his ass the whole year so we’ll see. They won’t make the playoffs. The Broncos are horrible, but they have Tim Tebow to save the day. Well, that’s what some people believe. Others believe he blows. I couldn’t care less. The Chiefs are not looking bad. They started off the season like crap, but have steadied themselves and won the last four straight games. Sweet.

So, there you go. This is the time of the season when things get really interesting. Some teams get it together and head into the tournament peaking. Others who started off the season winning fizzle out in November and December. Injuries. Spoilers. Flukes. It’s all at hand. Thanks for tuning in. Eat, drink, and remarry.

Go Brownies! 

 

Throughout the season my phone rings at all hours. My facebook inbox is full of notes from football heads from all over the globe. But it’s my email that gets hit the hardest. Vicious, drunken utterances on how my picks for the week suck, how I suck, how my girlfriend sucks (I don’t even have a girlfriend), how I don’t know a damn about football, how the Steelers (I’m a Steelers fan) come from some stiff hillbilly state and that if I was a true tree-huggin’ liberal then I’d be a Seahawks fan. Or a Saints fan. Or a Niners fan.

I write them back.

Fuck off, I tell them.

The only thing from Seattle worth my time is Brad.

That I like Reggie Bush, but I like his ex-girlfriend more.

That I would never be a Niners fan because my uncle would turn in his grave or may surge with life, find me chowing down at In-N-Out and do me in mid-bite.

Most of the notes come from old friends. Bastards that feel they can write anything, say anything to me. One of them I call Lips because Lips has no lips. All you see is teeth. He looks like a mummy. He looks like Fire Marshall Bill. He packs my email to the gills.

I grew up with Lips.

He’s knows everything about me.

My mother’s name.

My therapist’s name.

The drugs I did.

The food I like.

He calls me Weed.

Weed,

I read your latest bullshit on The Nervous Breakdown. Really, loser? The Cowboys? They suck. Tony Homo? He’s a fag. And do you really like Rodgers or are you trying to bang some slut from Wisconsin? He’ll take GB nowhere. The Packers are nothing without Favre. They’re nothing with that old man. Brett needs to go back to the sticks and do whatever it is those people do. You’re wrong about the Bears. Watch. They don’t need Obama. They play in a weak division and will take it easily. The Colts are rebuilding this year. Kind of like your ex-girlfriend with the plastic tits. Ha! I say the Saints and the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Fuck your stats, Mexican, the Saints are going back. Mail me some cash and I’ll put in your bets. Later.

That’s how it went.

That’s how it’s still going.

For the bones have been thrown.

The smoke has cleared.

The playoffs, people, are here.

In the NFC the Saints, Seahawks, Eagles, Packers, Bears, and Falcons. This translates into three birds of prey, one pious fucker, a fuzzy mammal, and a…what is a Packer? Well, in this case the name comes from a meat packer. Lovely. Packing meat. Nevermind. In the AFC, the Patriots, Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Colts, Chiefs made the grade. Need I translate again? Right.

As I wrote before, you never know how the year is going to pan out. Some folks thought the Cowboys would be in the hunt. Nope. They weren’t. And they’re not. They suck. The Titans, who I thought would be solid this year, were shot out all season long. Same goes for the Chargers and the Vikings both of which were favored to go into the playoffs with the Super Bowl in their sights. No go. It’s a wrap.

The Chargers, who in recent history don’t lose in December and go into the playoffs gunning, got their asses handed to them and now they’re sitting at home watching the playoffs with the rest of us saps. Brett Favre and Vikings? What can you say? Well, you can say that they stunk up the field from coast to coast. Their coach got canned and Brett Favre’s life and his limbs imploded right before our football eyes. He needs to split and leave us and the game of football alone. Please, Brett. I like you, bro, but please go the fuck home and stay there.

Please.

There’s no need to mention (but I will) that most of us predicted that the Lions, Panthers, Bills, Cardinals, Browns, Bengals, Niners, etc, would have shitty seasons. We’ve come to expect these atrocities to occur when these horrific teams take the field. And they did. I should mention that the Bills played tough this season and they’re record did not reflect the character of that team. But to hell with the rest of them. They offered nothing to professional football, its fans, and should consider joining a pee-wee league.

Okay, enough of that. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

The Wild Card Round

First up was the World Champion Saints against the Seahawks who farted into the playoffs with a 7-9 record. People bitched and complained that a team with a losing record shouldn’t get into the playoffs. But the rules state that the team that wins their division gets a ticket in. Period. So the Seahawks were in and hosting the champs. No one gave Seattle a chance. No one. Not me. No one. I settled in with a carne asada burrito and witnessed Seattle do the unthinkable: They won. It was one of the biggest upsets in playoff history. Matt Hasselbeck played lights out. That bald bastard threw four TD passes to Brees’ two. The Saints made a run, but in the 4th quarter Marshawn Lynch punched and pounded his way for a 67-yard touchdown that buried the Saints for good. It was one hell of a run.

My phone was ringing off the hook as the Saints were marching out.

Seahawks fly into Chicago.

Next up was the main event: The Colts against the Jets. This one had people talking. Peyton against Fat Ryan and his Jets. I’m no fan of either of these teams, but I like Manning and because of Jabba Ryan and his obese macho talk I now loathe the Jets the way I loathe T.O. So, I was pulling for the Colts. C’mon, Manning! C’mon, baby!

But it didn’t happen.

It was a slow-moving game. Both teams couldn’t move the ball. Good game for true football fans, but a bore to those who want to see some action. The Colts had the game wrapped up, but Blair White—a rookie out of Michigan State—couldn’t hold onto a Manning pass that would have pushed the clock down to a nub for Vinatieri to kick in the winning field goal. But it didn’t happen that way. White dropped the ball, the Jets got it back, and Sanchez and his crew marched down the field and won by one point.

Dead Colts.

Jets board their plane and head into Patriotville.

Damn.

I was 0-2.

On Sunday I opened the day with a three-mile jog in the freezing desert morning. I was chugging like Rocky determined to redeem myself after being blasted with emails and phone calls on how much my Saturday picks came up lame. I lost an Andy Jackson in the Colt game to a running buddy of mine. He hates football, thinks it’s for jerk-offs. He bet me because he wanted to prove his point that anybody can win a football bet whether you know anything about football or not.

“You have a fifty-percent chance,” he said confidently. “I’ll take the Jets. I like their helmets.”

“Helmets. Great. You’re on.”

I handed over the cheddar pissed.

The Ravens took the field against the Chiefs. I wanted the Chiefs to win, but I knew the Ravens would take it. But what I didn’t know was that they were going to dismantle the Chiefs to the tune of 30-7. I didn’t pay attention to Kansas City this year so I didn’t know what they did or how they did it. Apparently, they had a great running game all season long. Apparently, it wasn’t enough to beat the Ravens. Their running backs did look impressive at the beginning of the game. Fast strong fuckers hitting the holes like missiles. But then the Chiefs turned the ball over five times and watched the game turn into an ugly movie. Now they’re at home eating BBQ.

The game of the day was the Packers against the Eagles. Mr. Rodgers against Michael Vick, aka, Ron Mexico. I picked Green Bay to have a great season. I think Rodgers is a fantastic QB and if the Packers front office makes the right decisions they have a QB that could bring them the Lombardi. I also picked the Eagles to have a horrible season. I didn’t see Vick coming off the bench and having a good year. He was headline news all season long especially after his historic performance on Monday Night Football where he single-handedly beat the Baby Jesus out of the Redskins. Anyhow, these two teams took the field in Philly. I wanted the Pack and after the smoke cleared Green Bay was moving on and the Eagles weren’t.

Cheeseheads unite.

Mr. Mexico has left the building.

So now that’s left us with the Ravens/Steelers, Jets/Pats, Packers/Falcons, and the Seahawks/Bears. One of these teams will hoist the Lombardi. That is a sure bet. The Saturday games start with the Steelers/Ravens. I’m a Steelers fan so you know who I’m pulling for. I don’t like the Ravens. Not many people do. These two teams hate each other and this will be yet another ugly fight. A brutal yet beautiful way to open the weekend. Can’t wait. Pack/Falcons is the late game. Falcons have a great record at home and I picked them to make a serious Super Bowl run this year. I nailed it and here they are with home-field advantage. So what. I’ll take the Pack. Rodgers. Rodgers. Rodgers.

Sunday opens up with the Seahawks/Bears game. The Bears should take this one. They’re at home and I don’t see Seattle pulling out another miracle win. But one never knows. They took out the Saints and they can take out Da Bears which really would be fine with me because that means I don’t have to see and listen to Mike Ditka’s Eddie Munster hair and stupid dog eyes yapping it up in some mob suit. Next up is the Jets/Pats game. Geezus. I already told you how I feel about the Jets and their bloated coach. Fuck him and fuck them. Go Patriots. Brady, don’t let me down you handsome prick! Kick their ass! Period. I’ll be watching this one with a pile of chicken wings on my lap.

I might even ditch my root beer for a bottle of hooch for this one.

Well, that’s it. Four games of pure football heaven. I’m drooling and you should be too. So, order your submarine sandwiches. Fill up your coolers with beer and Sprite. Fire up the grill and let the games begin.

Cheers, folks.

Have a good one.

Well, folks, the NFL season is coming to an end. Which for me and countless others means depression is creeping in. No more deep passes and corner blitzes. No more audibles, hot routes, bruises, or broken fingers. Like Thom Jones wrote, “Oh, baby, I’m so depressed.” ESPN and its talking heads will be neck-deep in baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, and NASCAR. Not good. Don’t count me in. I’ll be watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians, keeping tabs on Kim’s sultry, almond-shaped eyes and manufactured bolt-ons. And let’s not forget Bruce Jenner! I’m fully bewildered by his 70’s haircut and his train wreck of a face-lift. It’s a wild sight. The man is truly weird looking. Anyhow, football. The 2009-2010 NFL season is almost a wrap. This is what happened.

Life is a Brees: The NFC

In the NFC the Saints came out of the gate punching and kicking. Their offense was prolific and they scored TDs like Costco sells frozen chicken fingers: in bulk. Brees was a badass and lit up defenses all season long. It was something to see. They butchered the Cardinals in the Divisional playoff game and squeezed out a victory in overtime against the Vikings. People predicted them to make it to the Super Bowl and that’s exactly what happened. They’re going to Miami, hoping to bring a Lombardi to New Orleans. We’ll see. Who Dat!

Favre and the Vikings made a run for the big game. They played the Saints in the NFC Championship game and had the thing won, but Favre threw a costly interception that sealed their fate. They had their chances despite five turnovers. Now, the big question is: will Brett retire once again and ride his dusty tractor off into the hillbilly horizon? Brace yourselves, people. Another teary-eyed retirement may be on the way. Whay.

The Packers had a good year and made it to the playoffs and had a shootout with the Cardinals that had both teams scoring a million points apiece. They came up short, but watch out for these guys next year. I like Rodgers and see him doing great things in the years to come.

The Eagles made it to the playoffs but got their asses handed to them by Romo and the Cowboys. In recent history the Eagles are the quintessential almost-but-not-quite football team. They’ve made the playoffs pretty consistently and even made it to the Super Bowl in 2004, but could never snatch themselves a Super Bowl ring. They might be cursed. But by who? Ron Jaworski? Terrell Owens and his big horse teeth? Regardless, I think their best days are behind them. Sorry, Donovan. Have some chicken soup and take a napper.

The Cowboys played well all year and in December—when they’ve historically imploded—they played their best football of the year. Their running game was solid, their defense was tough, and Romo was making plays. They smacked around the Eagles in the playoffs and then went on the road and got pummeled by the Vikings 34-3, sending them back to Dallas dizzy and crestfallen. Go figure. That whole sentiment of the Cowboys being “America’s team” has to go. Really. They’re just another team that watches the Super Bowl with the rest of us.

“They will never win with that pussy-looking coach,” a Cowboy fan yelled over the phone. “He looks like a fat eleven year-old with wrinkles.”

It’s true. He does.

So who are the teams that stunk up the field this season?

The Bears and Lions are perfectly miserable teams and thus had perfectly miserable seasons. Especially, the latter that have been eternally screwed by Matt Millen who’s an impeccable fool and a bona fide loser. As usual, the Redskins had yet another pathetic season. Don’t watch the Redskins snap another ball, folks. Don’t do it. Put on the Travel Channel and watch Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and watch that bald fucker scarf down a pair of sautéed bull nuts or gnaw on rabbit doused in a creamy chocolate sauce. It’s far more entertaining. Really.

The Seahawks, Niners, Falcons, Panthers, Bucs, and Rams were equally horrible (well, to be fair, the Niners and the Falcons didn’t look that bad) and should have quit a month into the season and worked on their golf game. They should have hired Tiger Woods for some pointers. But it seems to me that at that time Mr. Woody’s schedule was constantly booked with dewy waitresses and other assorted star fuckers.

There you go: The NFC.

Peyton’s Place: The AFC

The AFC will be sending the Colts to the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning is phenomenal and is arguably the best QB to ever play the game. Like the Saints, a lot of people saw these dudes making and winning the Super Bowl with ease and Manning getting sized for yet another championship ring and a healthy cash bonus to boot. Cha-ching. I do see them winning the Super Bowl.

Indy barreled through the Ravens in the Divisional playoff game, shutting Ray Lewis up until next fall. I saw the game in a dinky bar in Highland, California, and was thrilled. Now, don’t get me wrong, Ray Lewis is one hell of a linebacker but he’s arguably the most vacuous human being to ever put on an NFL uniform. He’s a five-star bore and his pre-game sermons are lame, dimwitted, and dull. It wouldn’t surprise me if Lewis becomes a TV evangelist after he hangs up his cleats drawing cheap boneheaded parallels between football and salvation. Lord have mercy! Please, Lord, have some damn mercy!

The Patriots made the playoffs but weren’t as good as people predicted. They looked flat and uninspired all season long and got their asses kicked in their own back yard by the Ravens in the Wild Card game. The Chargers played solid all year long. They scored big points and kicked in some teeth along the way, making them a serious contender to get to Miami. But then the Jets came into town and kicked in their teeth in the divisional playoff game and strolled into the sweet San Diego sunset eating fish tacos and eye-balling the ladies.

The Jets came out of nowhere this season. No one predicted them to win with a rookie QB in Sanchez at the helm. And definitely no one saw them making the playoffs. But they did and knocked out Ochocinco and his Bengals with ease and then zipped off to San Diego to piss on Rivers’ parade. Their Super Bowl dreams croaked when they got to Indy. But it took the best team in the AFC to eliminate them from the tournament. That’s saying something. It was a good ride loaded with a vicious defense and their obese coach flapping his insatiable gums every time a mic was in his face. That guy was a sound bite machine and has a body the size of a full-grown rhinoceros. Step away from the buffet coach. Please.

So, who were the teams that bored us with their inept football ways? Here they are:

Miami, the Raiders, Chiefs, Jacksonville, Texans, Titans, Buffalo, Browns, Steelers, and Broncos. I think that’s everybody. I may have forgotten somebody. But does it matter? The answer is no. Jacksonville and the Texans had a shot at the playoffs but came up short. The Titans—who started off the season losing a batch of games in a row—came back at the end of the season and had a slight chance at making the playoffs. But when the final whistle blew it was a no-go.

The Browns have been horrible for decades and will continue to be horrible for decades. The Steelers—the reigning Super Bowl Champs—delivered a perfectly shitty product this season that had Jack Lambert knocking out his choppers once again. The Bills and Dolphins are lousy and fully incapable of playing football on a professional level, period. The Chiefs were horrible this year. As usual. And the Raiders? Sure they had a decent defense but they suck and Al Davis sucks even more. That old fart needs to take a dirt nap or retire. He’s a disease. And the Broncos? Well, at the beginning of the season people were singing their praises. I was one of those that didn’t and was waiting for them to shit in their bed. And guess what? They did. A giant steamer that floated across this football land and beyond. Call me Ishmael. Call me Nostrareno.

Well, that’s it. That’s how it went down. Next stop: Miami. Colts v. Saints.

Watch it.

Order pizza and drink beer.

After all it’s a National Holiday.

Cheers, folks.