Friday, September 29, 2006

Random Image Department

This is from last week's Sports Illustrated. Check out the dad totally not protecting his daughter while ducking out of the way himself. Don't he feel the fool, I bet.

A Pig's Pigskin Picks



Week Four

Seahawks at Bears: It doesn't get much better than this. A nationally televised Sunday night game pitting the potentially two best teams in the NFC? Rock on. This is yet another big test for Rex Grossman, who last week showed that he can a.) win on the road, b.) come up with a big play late in a game, and c.) overcome a huge mistake. And, man, that interception he tossed up early in the fourth quarter last week was a mistake. For the sake of my healthy, let's hope Grossman never does that again. Ever. Lesson learned, OK?

The Bears would seem to have an advantage with Shaun Alexander out, but that passing game of the Seahawks is downright scary, and if the Bears vaunted defense has a weak spot, it's defending the pass. Just ask Steve Smith and Carolina, or Jon Kitna, who somehow looked good two weeks ago despite the Lions being routed in Chitown. I don't know how that happened, but it did.

Matt Hasselbeck will have to be crushed. Manhandled. Obliterated. I want to see him stumbling off to the sideline looking like the drunkest dude in the bar walking out the door at closing time.

Oh, and I want 100 yards from Thomas Jones and 50 from Cedric Benson. That can be done, right? Right.

The pick? Bears 20 Seahawks 10
Straight up: Bears
Spread: Bears -3.5

Colts at Jets: The Colts, as good as they are offensively, might be the most boring team in the NFL. I mean, why are they even playing the season, winning games, and building up hope? I'm serious about this. We all know they can't run the ball or stop others from running the ball and we all know their season will end with a playoff defeat as Peyton Manning looks close to tears while blaming the loss on teammates and Archie Manning comes one step closer to finally realizing his son is a choke artist. Ah, it's all so predictable.

Are the Jets really 2-1?
Straight up: Colts
Spread: Colts -9

Chargers at Ravens: Interesting game for the Chargers, who have built up all sorts of hope already, but have played nobody of any consequence. This trip to the East Coast should clear some things up.

Baltimore? I like the combo of McNair and that always nasty defense, but I can't help the feeling that we're real close to seeing Kyle Boller. McNair can't stay healthy all year, can he?
Straight up: Chargers
Spread: Chargers -2.5

Vikings at Bills: This game just stands out to me as easy money. Are the Vikings really the underdog? I understand the game is in Buffalo, but haven't the Vikings looked like a legit team while the Bills have been, well, crazy? They beat up on the 'Phins in Miami and then get pounded by the Jets at home? Come on now. And how do they get 300 yards from Losman and 150 from McGahee...and lose? I'll tell you why. They're crazy.
Straight up: Vikings
Spread: Vikings +1

Cowboys at Titans: The only good thing to come out of the latest ridiculously dumb "saga" surrounding T.O. are the daily press conferences with Bill Parcells. Oh, that's prime entertainment right there, my friends. Parcells continues to waver between being completely flabbergasted while also looking slightly amused by the whole ordeal. And the way he refers to T.O. as simply "the player" is priceless. And for what it's worth, I think Parcells has been handling it all about as well it could possibly be handled. Big props to the Big Tuna.
Straight up: Cowboys
Spread: Titans +9.5

49ers at Chiefs: If he isn't careful, Alex Smith might just change my opinion that he will be a complete bust. He's looked solid. Meanwhile, who's playing quarterback for the Chiefs these days? Steve DeBerg? Steve Bono? Len Dawson?
Straight up: Chiefs
Spread: 49ers +7

Saints at Panthers: There definitely seems to be a little bit of magic in the air surrounding the Saints these days. And that's a good thing. They can use it. We all can. Their success is a fun story right now. But can it continue on the road in Carolina? Nah, they'll lose, but they'll keep it close.
Straight up: Panthers
Spread: Saints +7

Cardinals at Falcons: Just play Matt Leinart. Seriously. The Cards are dangerously close to letting another season slip away, so just play the kid and see what happens. Kurt Warner was done three years ago. Someone fill in Dennis Green with the news.
Straight up: Falcons
Spread: Falcons -7.5

Dolphins at Texans: Prediction? Mario Williams will get his first-ever sack while re-injuring Daunte Culpepper's knee and somewhere thunder will roar.
Straight up: Dolphins
Spread: Dolphins -3.5

Lions at Rams: The Lions are funny.
Straight up: Rams
Spread: Rams -5.5

Patriots at Bengals: If I'm Tom Brady, I'm fuming right now. The guy restructures his contract to create more cap space and now the Patriots remain $10 million under the cap while letting all sorts of important players go. Listen, that's the type of garbage that can make a good player get up and leave town the first chance he gets. This all sounds like something the Cubs would pull. The karma will be hitting the Patriots hard and swift real soon. In fact, I think it already is.
Straight up: Bengals
Spread: Bengals -6

Jaguars at Redskins: Here's hoping Maurice Jones-Drew keeps doing what he did last week for the Jaguars. Not only could the aging Fred Taylor use the help in the Jags' backfield, but I'll look like a genius for having Jones-Drew on my fantasy team.
Straight up: Redskins
Spread: Redskins +3

Browns at Raiders: Something tells me the Browns aren't as bad as they seem to be. Just a hunch. Meanwhile, Randy Moss continues to dance with karma. It's not a fun dance. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
Straight up: Browns
Spread: Browns -2.5

Packers at Eagles: I'll be honest - even though I'm a Bears diehard and thus supposed to hate the Packers, I'm enjoying the recent rennaissance of Brett Favre. The way the media and fans turned on Favre last year was quite repulsing. Talk about kncoking a guy from his pedestal out of pure mean-spiritedness just because you can, just because a guy is struggling. Ugh. Favre has carried himself with class and grace for his entire career, and then when he needs some time to decide whether or not to retire from the game he has been playing since childhood, he's portrayed as an asshole for not rushing the decision. It was all garbage, petty garbage. No, I'm no fan of the Packers, but it's nice to see Favre possibly having the last laugh here. Good for him.

Speaking of rennaissances, Donovan McNabb is enjoying one of his own at the moment, which is equally as enjoyable. After some yahoos actually portrayed him as a bad guy in the T.O. mess from last year, it's nice to see McNabb bounce right back to his winning ways while T.O. becomes more and more of a running joke. All, somehow, seems a little more right with the world.
Straight up: Eagles
Spread: Packers +11

Last week
Straight up: 8-6
Against the spread: 8-6

Season
Straight up: 20-10
Against the spread: 16-14

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Greg Couch Sucks

I've never been a fan of the Sun-Times Greg Couch. To be honest, he's always hit me as a whimpering, simpering, whiny hack, who writes an incredibly boring and time-wasting column (if you actually read it, which I wouldn't recommend.) So it was sort of ironic when yesterday he wrote a big, fat column claiming that Cedric Benson was "pouting" after the Bears win over the Vikings on Sunday.

Today Benson has been reduced to defending himself against these accusations, with Lovie Smith supporting him.

Now, I understand Benson has had his problems since arriving in Chitown, but this entirely unecessary ordeal reeks of Couch being a jagbag. The Bears came up with a big early season win that propelled them towards the shortlist of Super Bowl contenders and Couch couldn't think of writing anything better than a hacket job on Benson. How cheap.

Listen, a quote I read today from Benson mentioned how he was celebrating wildly with Grossman after Grossman's game-winning TD pass. And it was true. I saw it. Benson put Grossman in a big ole bear hug and was clealy having a jolly, joyous ole time living up the moment. Benson was totally into it and loving everything. He was stoked.

So fuck Greg Couch. Of coure, the Sun-Times is the same newspaper that continues to employ Jay Mariotti, so it's choice in writers remains very suspect - and sad. I wonder if Mariotti and Couch hang out and try to out depress each other.

NFL Overseas


No, really. This many people actually came to see the Cards and Niners. Crazy Mexicans.


The NFL is considering playing more games - more regular season games - in foreign countries. I guess this is what happens when you plant more than 100,000 asses in the seats of the magnificent Azteca Stadium for last year's - ahem - riveting tilt between the Cardinals and 49ers in la Ciudad de Mejeeco.

I can't say I blame the NFL. A franchise could probably thrive in Canada, Germans love the game, judging by the way nearly every European franchise seems to end up there, and with however many billion people it has, I'm thinking China could pack a stadium.

How about a game in Bagdad? (Hey, I'm trying to think outside the box here.)

Tonight's Likes


BYU (+7) at TCU. The Horned Frogs are always tough and are likely to win, but BYU should keep it close. The Cougars' two losses were both very close at Arizona and at Boston College, neither place easy to play.

BYU/TCU under 47. Last year's game between these two ended 51-50, but I'm just crazy enough to take the under here.

September record: 4-1

First Half of the Double? Done



You can add one more trophy to the Fire's trophy case, which is already bulging after only nine years of existence. With a 3-1 win over the Los Angelas Galaxy on Wednesday night in Toyota Park, the Fire captured the U.S. Open Cup in what, hopefully, will prove to be the first half of the "double" (ie, winning the upcoming MLS Cup, as well.)

Amazingly, this is already the fourth U.S. Cup won by the Fire to go along with the MLS Cup won in 1998. Equally amazing, the Fire is now 11-1-1 in its last 13 games. Man, I love tossing around the word 'amazing' to describe the Fire.

The 3-1 scoreline wasn't nearly indicative of how close the game was. After the Fire controlled much of the first half and took a 2-0 halftime lead with a pair of goals in a six minute period (Nate Jaqua in the tenth minute and Andy Herron in the 16th), the Galaxy dominated long stretches of the second half, halving the deficit on a goal from Alan Gordon in the 51st minute and then continually pushing forward and looking very much up to the task of finding the equalizer until Thiago settled things with a victory-sealing strike in the 88th minute.

Ironically, while many have been quick to bemoan Jaqua's inability to use his height to capitalize on headers, he actually had to dive low to head in his goal. Justin Mapp, whose crosses were involved in the Fire's first two scores, sailed in a cross from the left side that C.J. Brown and Herron both got touches to before the ball bounced nicely in the direction of Jaqua, who had to stoop to knock it in the net with his noggin. One of the several other Fire players who stand on the short side might have had to jump. (I jest, I jest.)

Herron's goal? If you can, catch the video of Herron's goal, which was pretty, pretty, pretty. A cross, again from Mapp but from the opposite side of the field this time, found its way to the head of Herron, who deftly touched the ball ever so lightly just past the inside the far post and into the side netting. It couldn't have been placed any more perfectly.

After Ivan Guerrero nearly turned the game into a 3-0 rout by hitting the left post early in the second half, the Galaxy survived the near death blow and attacked relentlessly. While it is hard to find much criticism with Fire coach Dave Sarachan at the moment, this brought about the old dilemma of his tendency to sit on a lead and play all defense, which can be maddening, scary, and often backfires. Sarachan didn't immediatley make any defensive subs, but it seemed clear that the orders were to hang back and wait for the counter attack. This provided for nearly an entire second half of intense moments as, at times, it seemed inevitable that the Galaxy would equalize. Far more than I would have liked, I found myself turning to the clock to see how much time we had to kill off - and, good Lord, that clock seemed to be moving slowly.

In the end, it moved just quickly enough.

Immediately following the game, the entire Fire team headed directly to the wild Section 8 crew of lunatic fans behind the north goal and thanked them for their endless chanting, singing, undying love and general craziness. It was nice to see a team who appreciates its passionate, dedicated, diehard fandom. It was also nice to see the giant trophy being paraded around Toyota Park. I can't think of a better way to christen the place in its first year of existence or a better way to get get the good vibes settling into every seat, nail, post, and rafter.

It was also nice to see Chris Armans involved in the celebration, though decked in a suit and heavy jacket. The ageless captain was unable to play after picking up a red card in the semifinal win over D.C. United, but we all know the Fire probably wouldn't have been there without him.

By the way, sitting in the fourth row, I got to see Landon Donovan pull his disappearing act up close. It's a neat trick, really. It's like he's there but he isn't. Yes, he's great at disappearing in big games and, though he was involved in the Galaxy's goal, did little in this one. I was also able to hear the plenty of heckling Donovan received. Now, maybe I'm mean-spirited for enjoying it, but I can't say he didn't deserve it. For a guy who wasn't accomplishing much himself, he certainly was prone to throwing hissy fits and commanding his teammates around. Blech.

Anyway, as hot as the Fire is at the moment, and with the U.S. Open Cup now safely in their possession and tucked away in the trophy case forever and ever, the mission at this point is clearly to reach the MLS Cup on November 12 and capture the double. Can this be done? The Unknown Column sees no reason why not.

Here we go now.

Player ratings (On a scale of 1-10; 10 being Maradona in the 1986 World Cup, 1 being Landon Donovan in the 2006 World Cup.)

GK - Matt Pickens - 7: Continues to play steadily in the place of the injured Zach Thornton. Looked shaky once or twice, but actually made two fantastic saves in the immediate buildup to the Galaxy's lone goal. Where was the defense at that moment? It was great to see Thorton immediatly race from the bench to his understudy after the final whistle to offer congratulations, bad hammy and all. Ah, team camaraderie.

D - Tony Sanneh - 7: Watching him commandeer the middle of the defense these days, I can't help but wonder if Sanneh wouldn't have been a better choice than Eddie Pope in a similar position for the national team in the World Cup. While Pope has clearly lost a step (or three), Sanneh seems to still be at the top of his game, or close to it, despite his age. He even came forward in attack to calmly set up Thiago's clinching goal with a patiently taken, well-placed pass.

D - CJ Brown - 7: Much like Sanneh, the vet seems to be as steady as ever. Involved in the first Fire goal and helped to keep Donovan and the entire Galaxy attack in check all night.

D - Gonzalo Segares - 6: Can look shaky at times, but all in all, the lefty did a steady job on the left side. The Galaxy was relatively quiet coming down its right side so credit to Segares is due here.

M - Nate Jaqua - 6: While I still feel uncomfortable seeing Jaqua man the right side of midfield, he did score the first goal, so credit where credit is due. Rather quiet for the rest of the night, but no big mistakes, so no complaints.

M - Logan Pause - 6: As usual, played a quiet role as a defensive midfielder. Nothing flashy, but the Galaxy attack was stymied and did little in the way of coming down the midle where Pause was located.

M - Diego Gutierrez - 7: Ejected for two yellow cards in the 89th minute, but left to a standing ovation for doing exactly what he always does - playing the role of the steady holding midfielder helping to control things in the center both offensively and defensively. Played without his partner in crime, Chris Armas, which made his work on this night that much more important.

M - Justin Mapp - 7: It can be argued that, on this night at least, Mapp was a better attacking midfielder than Donovan. His crosses were heavily involved in the Fire's first two goals. Mapp always looks dangerous when playing in the center just behind the forwards, as he did last night - and much better than when he plays on the flanks.

M - Ivan Guerrero - 6: Did his usual steady job on the left side of midfield. Rarely lost the ball and kept the Fire's attack in motion when called upon on the left flank. (He also had to deal with the annoying antics of Santino Quaranta for much of the night. For the record, I can see now why Santana played his way out of DC and why he hasn't been seen with the national team since the 2005 Gold Cup. He spent much of his energy jawing at the crowd and generally displaying a glaring lack of maturity. Which is a shame. He has some talent.)

Andy Herron - 7: His goal was a beauty and he was involved in several other near-misses and other various Fire buildups. Has scored in three straight games now and, as always, looks like the Fire's most dangerous option up top.

F - Chris Rolfe - 6: Relatively quiet, but found himself in the center of a handful of attractive Fire buildups. Seemed to drop back in the second half at times almost into a midfield role.

Substitutes
D - Dasan Robinson - 6: Came on as an added fourth defender in the 82nd minute and helped prevent the Galaxy from scoring the equalizer until Thiago sealed things.

M - Thiago - 6: Came on in the 85th minute and scored only three minutes later, though Sanneh did most of the heavy lifting on the goal.

D - Jim Curtin - Incomplete: Came on in injurty time so was never involved in the action, but it was nice to see his floppy red hair out there for the final minute or so.

Can We Please Stop Paying Attention to This Guy's Garbage?


"Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!"

A suicide attempt? Really? Is this the latest ridiculous Terrell Owens circus we are being forced to stomach? (Pun intended.)

This reeks of TO, the king of insecurity, desiring attention. I agree with ESPN Radio's Mike Greenburg this morning who wondered why, if it was a suicide attempt on Tuesday, TO would be back at practice on Wednesday. It's all more TO garbage. He's a broad/primadonna and probably loved being wheeled into that hospital knowing the bright lights would be right behind. He needs something now that he apparently can't catch the ball anymore or stay on the field. Ooooh, I took too many pills. Ooooh, I can't respond to my publicist. Ooooh, look at me, look at me.

Bullshit from a broad. I've seen worse acting on a soap opera.

Look, any dude who is as frightened to stretch out for the ball over the middle as TO is clearly doesn't have the balls to do himself in.

That said, I'd worry about TO once his career is over and nobody gives a shit about him anymore. He really is quite pathetic and only the media buying into his tripe in the meanwhile fills that gaping hole that obviously engulfs his hyper-sensitive soul. When the crickets come calling - and that isn't far away now - who knows what he might pull.

By the way, I still have TO on my fantasy team so his boring ass better stay alive and healthy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

At Home Now and Forever


I'm going to lay off of writing any flowery praise for all of the beauty around last night's Saints-Falcons game in the Superdome. That's been overdone in the last few day's like nobody's business. Sure, it was awesome to finally see some joy coming from down in New Orleans after we have been hit mercilessly for the last year with photos and news of disaster and suffering following Hurricane Katrina. It was a feel-good night all around, especially with the Saints winning in a rout. No doubt. But there really isn't anything I can say that hasn't been said already. Overkill is clearly not a concept people in the media understand (as if we didn't already know this.) Good Lord...Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser, and Joe Theisman were driving me crazy last night with their endless blabbering about the situation. Yeah, football back in the Superdome was a major storyline, but they were already repeating themselves for the umpteenth time by late in the first quarter. They beat that horse until there was no more horse carcass to beat. It disappeared into dust - and then they kicked the dust. And then they killed another horse so they could beat that horse carcass, too. Fuck. I had to shut the game off early in the third quarter. (Well, the fact that I bet on the Falcons to win and cover four points wasn't helping my inability to enjoy the game, either. But still.)

So all I will say is that it was a joy to see so many smiling faces down on the bayou and leave it at that.

I will, however, use this opportunity to say that I hope that all of this means we will stop hearing the constant rumors of the Saints leaving New Orleans, most likely for Los Angeles. Oh, this rumor has refused to die for years. It's been floating around since long, long before Katrina ever swept through town. Tom Benson was well known for being an asshole looking to pick up the team and leave, and everytime someone spoke of a NFL franchise moving to Los Angeles, the Saints were usually the first team mentioned.

This always pissed me off. For as long as I can remember, Saints fans have always been great, as diehard as anyone. I can't recall ever watching a Saints game in the Superdome with anything less than a packed house, or at least close to it, and that includes many forgettable seasons for one of the league's least successful franchises. The Saints were usuaully the only major sports team in town and, no matter how bad they were, the city was clearly in love with them. Always.

No, the NFL could never, ever use the excuse of poor fan support in an attempt to move the team. If the Saints were to ever be moved elsewhere, it would be an utter injustice and a kick in the face to a city full of fans who have supported the team through thick and (mostly) thin.

So as I watched last night I wanted to believe that if Hurricane Katrina taught us one thing (at least as far as football is concerned as I hope it taught us many things), let it be that the Saints are an integral part of the city of New Orleans and should never be moved anywhere, no matter what sort of disaster strikes, no matter how greedy and slimy Benson is.

OK?

What's Up, America?


I can't pinpoint exactly when it happened, but at some point in time, apparently, American sports have become the equivalent of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on the global stage. OK, maybe that's an exagerration, but what's going on here? We're awful.

Sure, we've already laugued at/cried over the struggles of our basketball, baseball, soccer, and hockey teams in recent times. That's old news. But this past week we may have hit a new low. In a mere matter of days, the following happened:

- Our golfers lost the Ryder Cup to the Europeans. Again. The most excitement the Americans stirred up was probably Tiger Woods taking exception to pics of his wife displayed in a magazine.

- The women's basketball team, which always seemed to do us proud while our men embarrassed themselves, fell to Russia in the semifinals of the world championships. The only good thing was that I recently switched to DirectTV (which gets the NBA channel) and I actually caught a few minutes of this game. (Don't laugh at me.) Anyway, Russia has some hoop hotties, which made the loss bearable, although Australia has the best idea with their one-piece, tight spandex uniforms. Even if you would never dare watch women's basketball, do yourself a favor and catch a few minutes of an Australia game. Those unis, my friends, are a stroke of genius. When will the rest of the women's basketball world catch on? (The Aussies won the gold medal, by the way, so maybe there's something to the unis.)

- Andy Roddick lost a fifth set marathon to some Russian dude I had never heard of as our men tennis team dropped out of the Davis Cup. Man, Russia must be living it up at our expense this week, eh? Too bad John McEnroe isn't the Davis Cup coach anymore. I mean, maybe we would have at least seen a priceless McEnroe meltdown.

Yup, apparently, we stink at most everything these days. Maybe it's about time we create a new sport or two that we could dominate. That's why we made snowboarding an official Olympic sport, right?

Primadonovan

With the Fire and Galaxy getting set to clash in the final of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night I figure this is as good a time as any to make fun of Landon Donovan. But then, when isn't it a good time to make fun of Donovan? You may think that's mean-spirited or unecessarily cruel, but hey, look at this way: At least if Donovan is being made fun of, it's sort of humorous. And if we couldn't look at Donovan in a humorous light, well, we'd be reduced to downright bashing the guy. Everybody else does.

I mean, I could go on yet another tirade defining Donovan as all that is wrong with the U.S. national team. (He is. Do you honestly want to build a team around a dude who disappears in the big games faster than Matt Millen screwing up a draft pick? Good luck with that.) Or I could argue that he is the most overrated American soccer player ever. (It pains me to think that he's probably the most recognizable American soccer player to the average, non-soccer following American sports fan. Ugh.) Or I could ridicule him for refusing to man up and play in Europe, choosing instead to hang out on the sunny beaches of Cali wasting away his prime years in MLS. (Reason 1A his role on the national team should be severely reduced.) Or I could poke fun at his shiny, prematurely balding dome or his embarrassingly high-pitched munchkin voice. (Always makes me chuckle.)

No, instead of the mean-spirited stuff I'll simply leave you with this funny pic and a smile. (Oh, and here's hoping the Fire runs him over tomorrow night.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Are the Bears for Real?


So I talked to my brother on the phone today. He's a native Chicagoan but lives in Seattle these days. I mentioned to him that the Bears-Seahawks game coming up this weekend is huge. Two undefeated teams. Early NFC supremacy on the line. The Sunday night showcase game with all of the country watching. Huge.

So my bro - who is still a Bears fan, by the way, but has developed a soft spot for Seattle teams - says something about how he thinks the Bears might suffer the same fate as the Giants did on Sunday against the Seahawks. You know, the Giants were also a supposed contender in the NFC before venturing into the Northwest and finding themselves on the wrong end of a 42-3 scoreline before making it more respectable late in the game. My bro says he can see the same thing happening to the Bears.

I paused for a moment. "Are you serious?" I asked him. I honestly thought he was joking. I thought that sweet Vancouver ganja was making its way down the West Coast and into my bro's brain. I thought he was just trying to get me riled up by razzing on Da Beloved. But he wasn't joking. He was dead serious. It quickly became obvious that he has little to no faith in the Bears. Blasphemer!

I suppose, though, that the less than complimentary opinion of my bro isn't all that rare outside of Chicagoland where the blue and orange faithful are becoming absolutely giddy with optimism. I suppose there are plenty of impartial NFL observers out there who feel that the Bears aren't the real deal, that once they venture out of the weak NFC North - on which they have fattened up on in starting the season 3-0 - they'll be exposed as frauds. Good defense, no offense, they must be saying. Or maybe they're muttering something about Rex Grossman getting injured soon or lacking experience. No, simply by reading and/or watching the national sports news outlets, I don't really get the sense that the media (and fans) puts too much stock in the Bears just yet.

Should they?

Well, yesterday's come-from-behind 19-16 win in Minnesota was a step in the right direction if respect is what the Bears seek. The Vikes were 2-0 and are always - always - tough in the Metrodome. Good teams do exactly what the Bears did yesterday: good teams overcome deficits in noisy places where the opposing fans would like nothing more than broken legs and crushed fingers for the visitors. And often, they win even when they don't play their best.

And let there be no mistake about it - the Bears did not play their best against Minnesota. To wit:

- Despite the late touchdown pass to Rashied Davis, Grossman was borderline awful. Two interceptions - including one returned for a TD on a play in which it looked like Grossman was giving Antoine Winfield the ball - were only the beginning. The Vikes dropped several others. Grossman's decision-making still has plenty of room for improvement.

- Where's the running game? Thomas Jones is extremely lacksadaisical and uninspiring, making me wonder if his solid 2005 season was merely a mirage and he's settling back into the form of early in his career when he was labeled a first round bust while with the Cards and Bucs. Meanwhile, Cedric Benson didn't hit the field yesterday. Not even once. Not even as a decoy. Come on now. The dude was the fourth overall pick. He's healthy. Give him a chance.

- The tackling was arguably the worst I've ever seen by a Bears team, and I don't think I'm exaggerating. Wrap a mutha up! You know, we always hear about how the staple of a Lovie defense is turnovers. They don't want to simply tackle an opponent, they want to strip the ball. And that's awesome and everything. Really, it is. But sometimes I get the feeling that Bears defenders are so preoccupied with stripping the ball that they forget to simply bring a runner down - and then that runner runs for several more yards. It happens way too often. Fundamentals, people, fundamentals.

- Lovie Smith remains awful in the review department, going 0-for-2 yesterday. So yet again I'll ask: Do the Bears have someone upstairs watching on a TV and communicating with Lovie in these situations? Please tell me they do. I'm assuming every NFL team is smart enough to do this. But you wouldn't know it by the way the Bears continually blow reviews on replay disputes that are seemingly obvious. It's reached the point of being maddening.

All in all, though, it was a great win. It was the sort of win a team must earn to take the next step, to learn how to deal with hostile environments, to overcome mistakes and poor decisions, to earn respect from a nation that, perhaps, might not be ready to give it just yet.

But there's only one way to earn respect for sure and that's to beat up on the defending NFC champs this coming Sunday under the lights with a national television audience watching.

Yeah, that'll make them come around.

Here we go now.

Still Hot, Officially in the Playoffs


It wasn't like there was any doubt that they would, but the Fire clinched a playoff spot on Saturday night with a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy. (Of course they did; nearly everyone makes the playoffs in MLS - more on that later.) More importantly, the Fire remained scorching hot, winning for the tenth time in the last twelve games (with a tie mixed in there as well.) With only four games left until the playoffs begin, hopefully the Fire continues to peak at just the right time.

Chris Rolfe calmly tapped in a handy, low cross from Justin Mapp to put the Fire up 1-0 only 38 seconds into the game and proved yet again that if he could only stay healthy he could be a good one. After Landon Donovan had tied the affair in the 78th minute, Andy Herron put the Fire ahead for good only six minutes later by being being taken down hard by LA's Tyrone Marshall and then converting the ensuing penalty kick.

The win was a nice first act for the Fire, who will play the same Galaxy team on Wednesday in the final of the U.S. Open Cup.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Pig's Pigskin Picks



Week Three

Jets at Bills
Straight-up: Bills
Spread: Jets +5.5

Bengals at Steelers
Straight-up: Bengals
Spread: Bengals +1

Jaguars at Colts
Straight-up: Colts
Spread: Colts -6.5

Titans at Dolphins
Straight-up: Dolphins
Spread: Titans +10.5

Redskins at Texans
Straight-up: Redskins
Spread: Redskins -4

Bears at Vikings
Straight-up: Bears
Spread: Bears -4

Panthers at Bucs
Straight-up: Panthers
Spread: Panthers -3

Packers +7 at Lions
Straight-up: Lions
Spread: Packers +7

Ravens at Browns
Straight-up: Ravens
Spread: Ravens -7

Rams at Cardinals
Straight-up: Cardinals
Spread: Rams +4.5

Giants at Seahawks
Straight-up: Giants
Spread: Giants +3.5

Eagles at 49ers
Straight-up: Eagles
Spread: Eagles -6

Broncos at Patriots
Straight-up: Patriots
Spread: Patriots -6.5

Falcons at Saints
Straight-up: Falcons
Spread: Falcons -3.5

Straight-up
Last week: 12-4
Season: 12-4

Against the spread
Last week: 8-8
Season: 8-8

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Random Image Department

Racist or hilarious?



Would you hit it? How 'bout drunk?

A full-scale model of "Lucy," the celebrated skeletal remains of a female hominid who lived 3.2 million years ago, is seen at a prehistoric museum in Bidon, France.




Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez railing, as usual, against the United States at the United Nations on Wednesday. Does it look like the lady behind him is laughing?

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez holds up a Spanish language version of Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky as he addresses the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006.




Hurricane Gordon as seen from the Space Shuttle Atlantis on Sunday...



Alex Rodriguez Just Doesn't Get It


No wonder so many people, even his own team's fans, dislike Alex Rodriguez. Dude is a pompous dickhead of the highest order. Listen to him completely miss the big picture...

"Mussina doesn't get hammered at all. He's making a boatload of money. Giambi's making [$20.4 million], which is fine and dandy, but it seems those guys get a pass. When people write [bad things] about me, I don't know if it's [because] I'm good-looking, I'm biracial, I make the most money, I play on the most popular team...." - A-Fraud


I don't know what's worse - A-Rod bringing his teammates into the mess of his own making, or A-Rod calling himself good-looking. Dude is a phony and completely into himself.

Maybe the Unknown Column can help out A-Rod here. I'll give it a shot: The reason people don't like the guy is because he sold out a winning Mariners team to become unecessarily rich with lowly Texas. When he realized that his very contract was proving to be an albatross to the Rangers ever winning (well, that and the fact that he's no leader no matter how good his numbers are), he weaseled his way into New York where winning comes a bit easier. And ever since then he's tried to pass himself off as a true Yankee when all he really is is an imposter, a hired gun, a dude along for the ride that the likes of Joe Torre, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada lead. He's a follower.

Look, Alex Rodriguez is a sellout and a phony and he crawled to New York to take the easy way out rather than winning on his own. The saddest part is that he came into the league with a Seattle team that was damn near close to a title...and he ditched that team.

And that is why people don't like him.

I will now go plead with the baseball Gods to please, please, please allow anyone but the Yankees to win the World Series. There is no way I could stomach watching A-Rod "earn" a cheap ring. Fuck that.

Pics of Wags are Always Welcome

Wags (ie, footballer's wives and girlfriends). Someone is ranking them and, more importantly, supplying pics. Go, enjoy.

Part of the Deal


Tiger Woods is upset that a Dublin magazine has printed photos of a topless woman that it erroneously identified as his wife, the lovely Elin Nordegren.

This leads me to two questions:

1) Where can I get my hands on this mag here in the States?

2) Does Woods really have a reason to be upset?

Well, I suppose that, yes, he has a reason to be upset. No dude wants to see his wife spread out in all her glory on glossy magazine pages for all the world to see, except for maybe Hugh Hefner. However, I don't really know what Woods expects. He married a woman that is magnificently gorgeous and who posed for plenty of pics before they even met. We live in an age when it is damn near impossible for any exceptionally attractive woman not to find herself plastered all over the Internet for men everywhere to ooh and aah at - especially when that woman is married to a world famous athlete.

Bottom line? If Woods thinks his wife hasn't already been thoroughly examined from head to toe by by millions of Web-surfing dudes all over the globe, he's crazy. This Dublim mag only added a drop in the bucket.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

God Has No Army, Fool

This genuinely scares me. Honestly. American children are being "groomed to be soldiers in God's army" by Christian religious freaks. As if "God" and "army" are two words that should ever be in the same sentence unless that sentence is something like, "God frowns upon those who use His name to build an army." This all seems to be yet another step on the path an ultimate Holy War. These people are no better than the Muslims who teach their children to hate through religion as soon as they're able to comprehend words. Fools, all of them.

This can't end well.

Has Roethlisberger Sold His Soul?



Did Ben Roethlisberger sell his soul in exchange for the chance to sit atop the world at such a young age? Did he make a pact with the devil? Am I crazy for wondering about this?

Roethlisberger encountered success, and lots of it, faster than most athletes would ever even dream of attaining it. Fortunate enough to be drafted into a team that was already an annual contender rather than a rebuilding situation, he led the Steelers to a 15-1 record as a rookie and followed that up with a Super Bowl win last year. Off the field, he scored golfing goddess Natalie Gulbis and only God knows how many other random hotties, which is all the more amazing when you consider - and let's be honest here - he is not an extraordinarily handsome man. He even has a Fathead likeness of himself and we all know you haven't truly made it as a professional athlete until you have your own Fathead.*

Suddenly, however, Big Ben has encountered an ongoing rash of bad luck faster than a Muslim gets offended. There was the infamous crash on his motorcycle that almost took his life. There was the appendectomy. There was the bad thumb. Last night, as he was finally about to play his first meaningful game since the Super Bowl, he caught a fever that, at least according to ESPN, reached 104 degrees. (Um, wouldn't that leave him almost dead?) And how did last night's game go? Roethlisberger and the Steelers were manhandled and shutout by the Jaguars, 9-0.

Point is, if I'm Roethlisberger, I'm keeping my eyes peeled for black cats, ladders, and falling pianos. The universe seems to have turned on him in a bad way. Things really couldn't be going much worse for him, could they? In fact, it's reached the point of being downright odd and eery.

So, did Roethlisberger sell his soul for all of the rapid success he experienced? And is he now in the process of paying it all back?

Listen, we all know that the Steelers beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl courtesy of several calls that were...questionable. I won't say the calls were blatantly bad, or that the Seahawks were outright jobbed, but I will say that the Steelers should consider themselves very lucky. I still think they were the better team, but it's a shame that we'll never know how that game would have went had the referees not become such a negative and influential factor. Someone - the refs? the NFL? the football gods? the universe? - was definitely looking out for the Steelers on that day.

Perhaps it was all part of Big Ben's deal.

Sure, this all sounds absurd. But something almost otherwordly is going on here and if I'm Roethlisberger or a Steelers fan, I'm very concerned. I'm wondering real hard what exactly is going on and I'm wondering real hard where it all ends - or if it ends at all.

Me? I sense bad things in Steel City this season. When is the Devil satisfied? When does he feel one's debt has been paid? I fear Big Ben is about to find out.

(* You've seen the Fathead commercials, right? The lifesize stickers of pro athletes that can be hung on your wall? Well, a buddy of mine is a teacher at Mount Carmel High School deep on the South Side of Chicago. If you're unfamiliar with the school, it's a monumental football power here in Illinois, routinely winning state titles and coming close when it doesn't. The Caravan (as they're called) is also routinely ranked nationally and even played in a game that was televised on ESPN a couple of weeks ago. They routed fellow powerhouse Providence 30-8. The school has produced several NFL players, most notably Donovan McNabb and Simeon Rice. Anyway, my teaching buddy was contemplating purchasing a Fathead of McNabb to hang in his classroom, which is a sensible idea. After all, McNabb has been a huge success on the field and has carried himself with class off of it. You know, let the kids know he came from the same place they do. Give them something to aspire to, right? So my buddy went online to check out the price. Do you know how much those things cost? $100. No shit. One. Hundred. Dollars. What in the name of all that is holy is that about? Aren't those things essentially just big stickers? Ridiculous. For $100 I'd expect the player to personally come hang that sticker on my wall.)

Monday, September 18, 2006

I'm Assuming...

...this is from Japanese television because Japanese television always has the craziest shit.

Japan TV Dude #1: "You know what would be funny?"
Japan TV Dude #2: "What?"
Japan TV Dude #1: "Let's get a couple of bear cubs, put them in shirts and boxing gloves and have them beat the crap out of each other."
Japan TV Dude #2: (Thinking for a moment.)
Japan TV Dude #2: "I'll get the camera!"


Put a Fork in Them


It's over. It's all over. Put a fork in the White Sox because they're done.

Tonight's sad 8-2 loss to the Tiggers was the proverbial final nail in the coffin. Ozzie and Kenny Williams can begin thinking of what moves they'll be making in the offseason because this team needs a major shakeup. I'll stop short of saying a complete blow up is necessary, but there are some dudes who need to be gone.

Listen, I can stomach not making the playoffs. The Twins are consistently one of the smartest, most successful franchises in baseball and the Tiggers have a good thing going with a fantastic young pitching staff and a wise old general in Jim Leyland. The Sox were beat out by good, solid baseball teams and I can handle that.

What I can't stomach is the shocking lack of fire displayed by this team. There was never any sense of urgency no matter how late into the season it got. There was never any inclination that they were going to go down with a helluva fight. Hell, there was never even a look of panic in their eyes, which would have at least been something - and much better than the depressing, lacksadaisical, carefee manner with which this team carried itself with. Yes, the worst part was the blank stares, the empty faces, the looks of utter nothingness. They were like walking dead.

Lifeless. Depressing. I've seen more spunk in a morgue. I think some wide-eyed, anxious youth is needed next year in the dugout because these guys had me contemplating things while looking at bottles of pills and ropes and razors. Sylvia Plath had nothing on this group of joyless, melancholy losers.

It has all been pathetic. No stealing bases. No hustle. No nothing. Just one guy swinging for the fences after another. What happened to so-called Ozzieball? What happened to manufacturing runs?

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. The 2006 season is eerily similar to what the Sox have done for most of the decade. They finished in second place in 2002, 2003, and 2004. In each of those years they were in the race and had a chance to make a run in the second half and each time they went down with the same depressing fade as they did this year. Look, 2006 is much more in line with recent Sox history than the glory 0f 2005.

How ironic is it that a day after Frank Thomas finished putting a whole bunch of nails in the Sox's coffin over the weekend, Magglio Ordonez hit a home run that put the Tiggers up 4-0? The ghosts of the Sox's recent past are out and about. Ozzie and Williams must be thoroughly embarrassed. Of course, until Big Frank or Maggs have a World Series ring, the Sox will always have the last laugh, but still, for the moment at least, they've made the Sox look like chumps.

All I know is this: Ozzie and Williams better stack next year's pitching staff like a mofo. Pitching, pitching, pitching.

Pitching.

Pitching.

Right Back On Track


After having its nine-game unbeaten streak briefly halted in Colorado, the Fire got right back on track with a 1-0 win over DC United in a match that was marred by both rain and questionable (dirty?) play from DC. Andy Herron's goal in the 61st minute - which was set up beautifully by a Brian Plotkin pass - was all the Fire needed. That and the petulance of DC, which resulted in them finishing the game with only nine men. That always helps.

Yup, by the time this one finished, DC was missing two dudes, courtesy of two yellow cards for Bryan Namoff and a horrible tackle on Thiago by Joshua Gros, which appropriately earned Gros a straight red card. It was also Thiago who was taken down by D.C.'s Facundo Erpen in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals only 11 days ago - an ugly, dirty tackle that led to both Erpen and a retaliating Chris Armas being ejected. What does DC have against Thiago? And is this the type of play Peter Nowak encourages? I realize Nowak is a Fire legend and probably my all-time favorite Fire player, but I gotta say, I'm not real impressed with the way his players handle themselves, especially late in a game when they're behind. I'll stop short of calling DC a dirty team, but some of their tackles are borderline heinous. And when a team plays that way while trailing, well, it doesn't look good. It looks sort of petty.

Bottom line? This rivalry could eventually explode. This is the second time in a week and a half that a match between the two sides has ended with dudes being taken out by tackles of ill intent and red cards fying. And with the two teams pulling away atop the Eastern Conference standings, they could very well meet again in the playoffs. That should be interesting, eh?

It was also a day that saw the 1981 Chicago Sting honored for winning the NASL championship, which at the time, was a big deal in Chicago. You see, it was the first title by a Chicago team since the 1963 Bears. So soccer enthusiasts or not, desperate Chicago sports fans were willing to embrace that team. And that team has yet to be forgotten.


Yes, I realize this is a pic of the 1982 team, but the Internet isn't always as deep as you'd like. And the funny haircuts are still there.


I've always secretly wished that the Sting were somehow incorporated into MLS. You know, as an expansion team or something. It's a pipe dream, I know. Admittedly, the 1981 team was a bit before my time and I don't recall witnessing their title, but I do have hazy recollections of going to Sting games in the old Comiskey Park before NASL folded in 1984. I also watched the Sting play numerous times in the indoor league (MISL) at All State Arena. I have fond memories of those yellow and black jerseys.

When the Unknown Column becomes disgustingly rich, he fully plans on buying an MLS expansion team and bringing back the Sting.

As an aside, I was a tad disappointed that MLS delayed yesterday's game for 25 minutes. Yes, I realize lightning is dangerous and the safety of both the fans and players is first and foremost, but you just don't see soccer games halted elsewhere around the world for weather. Or at least I've never seen it. Never. I've just never seen professional soccer players scamper off a field in the middle of a game because of the conditions. Sure, safety should be considered at all times, and maybe I'm just too old fashioned, but it struck me as being...soft. (Pun intended. "Struck." Get it?)

I was watching the game with two friends, one of whom is not a soccer fan and likes to razz me about being a huge fan of the sport. He's always giving me a hard time, saying soccer is for foreigners and for wusses and that it's boring. It's all in jest, a running joke, and it's been going on for years. But he refuses to budge from his less than complimentary opinion of soccer. Normally, I simply ignore him as he entertains himself with his jokes.

However, yesterday during the delay I actually had to concede that, on this occasion, I agreed with him. I told him I had never seen a pro soccer game delayed because of weather. I wanted him to know that it had nothing to do with the players or the sport of soccer. Hell, if the game was being played in any other part of the world, it would have continued. It was the doing of MLS, not to mention America, which gets softer and fatter by the day. I assured him that we wouldn'r see this anywhere else. My friend just kept laughing and saying that he was right all along - that soccer really was soft. I had to cringe. On this day, he was sort of right.

Ah, hell, maybe I just need to change with the times. If stopping games for lightning is the way things are nowadays, who am I to complain? I guess it's for the best. I just found it odd, especially when you consider that the match was being televised alongside Sunday afternoon NFL games. Suppose there were NFL viewers who were changing channels during commercial breaks and saw a soccer game delayed for rain. What must they have been thinking? Would a (non-preseason) NFL game be delayed for weather? How about an EPL game? Bundesliga? Serie A?

Or let me ask you this: Would the old Chicago Sting delay a game for bad weather? Hell no they would not! And they played in Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field - right there on the swamped-with-rain dirt infields! Of course they would play on! And they liked it! They were real men back then! Where have you gone Karl-Heinz Granitza?

All of that said, I had to chuckle at the crazy fans in Section 8 who continued to proudly wave their gigantic flags during the delay. I wonder if any of those flag poles were made of metal.

Just Like a Dream



This dream is beautiful. In fact, I never want to wake up. In this dream a Bears quarterback threw for four touchdowns, three of which went to - get this! - tight ends. In this dream the Bears roster is ripe with capable receivers. In this dream the Bears have a return man that is dangerous. In this dream the Bears seem more than capable of being described as - dare I say it? - explosive.

Let me sleep forever.

Yes, the Bears offense is suddenly something beautiful and, no, it's not a dream. It actually happened yesterday. Rex Grossman was a gunslinger and he couldn't miss. Those positive glimpses that were always there in his brief appearances in the past are finally morphing into the big picture. The receivers, meanwhile, were popping up everywhere, finding any available soft spot in the defense and making the grabs. Bernard Berrian, if he isn't careful, is on his way to quietly becoming a star. His diving, all-fingertips touchdown catch was the prettiest Bears score in years. It really was. Tight ends Desmond Clark and John Gilmore combined for three touchdowns and, miraculously, the tight end position no longer looks like an endless black hole.

Special praise has to be saved for offensive coordinator Ron Turner. The last time the Bears had a solid offense - or any offense at all, come to think of it - was the 1995 team that was quarterbacked by Erik Kramer, who set all sorts of club passing records that year. The OC then? Turner. The OC now? Turner. Hmm. And don't I feel stupid. When the Bears rehired him before the 2005 season, I was thoroughly opposed. Yes, I admit it. I figured he had had been out of the NFL for a decade, and in the meantime, had suffered through a less than successful career as the head coach at Illinois. I thought he was damaged goods and that the Bears were desperately reaching into the past.

Well, I was wrong. Very, very wrong. It looks like the position of offensive coordinator is Turner's comfort zone and one he should have never left.

But let's not forget the Bears' bread and butter. As impressive as the offense may look, this team still belongs and will always belong to the defensive crew, which as one would expect, was its usual dominant self, aside for a brief letdown following halftime. (Let's not allow that to happen again, eh?) In fact, it's been a while since I've seen a Bears team compile so many hits that were downright nasty. They were absolutely killing anyone in a Lions uniform. There were a good five or six hits that were almost scary, like someone was going to get seriously hurt. My favorite moment of the day was when Lions WR Furrey took shots on consecutive plays. After the second, he tried to get up but quickly laid back down. He simply collapsed. He'd had enough. He was like a boxer who wants to stand but his body just won't allow it. It was symbolic of the entire day. Unfortunatley, Roy Williams - he of the guaranteed Lions win - was left standing, though he must be feeling pretty foolish this morning, eh?

Dogs after loose meat, baby, dogs after loose meat!

But let me pause for a moment. Here in Chitown, the praise and love of the Bears is abundant everywhere. As it should be. They have looked as impressive as anyone in the first two weeks and there is nothing wrong with pointing this out. However, instead of merely adding to all of the compliments, let's try to keep things in perspective and point out a few things that need to be worked on (Sorry to be a party pooper, but it has to be done):

1) The next two weeks will be road trips to Minnesota and Seattle. No more pickinng on NFL bottom feeders like the Packers and Lions. The Vikings are 2-0 with both wins over 2005 playoff teams, while the Seahawks are also 2-0 and defending NFC champs. These will be tough tests, indeed. The ride really begins now.

2) As nice as it is to see the passing game for once not look like the running game's weak sister, I'd like to see a bit more production out of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. Yes, they both showed a few promising flashes, but in the end, TJones averaged only 3.0 yards per carry. Hopefully, as they continue to recover from their preseason injuries, the pair become the scariest 1-2 combo of running backs in the league. I think this more than possible. I really do. I want these dudes running over, around, through people. Seven yards at a time, baby, seven yards at time. Eight!

3) Lovie Smith and his staff must improve in the replay department as they were horribly wrong on two occasions. One was a hit - and this was a hit, baby! - by Jerome Williams on a special teams play that resulted in Lions fumble and a Bears recovery - but Williams was flagged for a bad hit. But the hit was clean. (Listen, Williams almost too the dude's head off.) The FOX announcers were all over it and imploring Lovie to throw the flag as it was a reviewable play. The Bears have someone somewhere watching this stuff on the telly and communicating with Lovie, right? It was a no-brainer, a challenge the Bears almost surely would have won undeniably. But Lovie never threw the flag. Then in the second half, Lovie did throw the replay flag on a play in which there was clearly not enough evidence to reverse the call. He lost. Bottom line? Lovie and his staff were a glaring 0-for-2 in the replay department. Luckily, it didn't matter in this blowout, but such a play could prove huge in a closer, possibly bigger, game down the line.

4) Where's Mark Bradley? As awesome and the wideouts have been, they could be so much better if Bradley gets involved. Remember, Bradley was really coming on last year before his injury and entered training camp as the favorite to start alongside Muhsin Muhammad. But he's been mostly unseen. If Bradley can get on track, Grossman has one more toy to work with.

5) Grossman's interceptions. Granted, when Boss Bailey intercepted Grossman and ran it back for a touchdown, it was negated by a Lions penalty. Still, it was an ugly throw, and if not for yet another dumb flag on the Lions, that TD would have made the score 24-14 and completely changed the complexion of the game. Grossman, as good as he has looked, still has plenty of room for improvement.

OK, I'm done with the bad stuff. I just wanted to get it off my chest. I will now return to basking in the glow of the Bears great start.

Punch to the Gut

If you're a White Sox fan, well, on this fine Monday morning (actually its suitably gray and dreary) you're trying to slowly stand up straight and catch your breath following the tremendous punch to the gut you took this weekend. That hurt. That hurt bad.

The Sox went into Oakland and were swept. Now, Oakland has traditionally been a house of horrors for the Sox. It always is. Ask any knowledgable Sox fan what road trip annually causes the most strife and struggles for the team and they will immediately respond with San Francisco's ugly sister, most likely before you can even finish getting the question out. The Sox just can't win there and the losses usually involve some weird and/or appalling circumstances.

So it was no surprise that if there was any city that could prove to be the tipping point (in the wrong direction) for the Sox in their struggle to reach the playoffs, it could very well be Oakland and it could very well be this past weekend. But to make matters worse, it was Frank Thomas, he who was cast aside and mocked by the Sox, who went nutty sticking nails in the Sox coffin. Whether or not that included the final nail remains to be seen.

Yes, Big Frank must be laughing hard today. After being tossed aside by the Sox, seemingly done, and subjected to some extremely harsh criticism from GM Kenny Williams, Thomas must feel like, now that the dust is settling, he has won. On Saturday it was his four RBIs that doomed the Sox and yesterday it was his three-run homer that put the A's ahead for good. To be fair, Saturday's Sox loss was largely the result of a horrendously awful bullpen (AWFUL!) and yesterday Jose Contreras was so nice as to practically groove a pitch to Thomas on a full count when putting the big guy on base should have been obvious to even the most novice of Little Leaguers. Let's not praise Thomas' achievements too much without first pointing out that the Sox doomed themselves just as they have done too many times this season.

But still, it was huge weekend for Big Frank. The A's are in cruise control awaiting the postseason and, to top all that, he was able to bend the Sox over, lube up, and give it to the club who so offended him, though to be fair, nobody gets offended easier than Big Frank.

Of course, the Thomas all Sox fans know and love/hate was still evident. At one point in the series, after moving a runner over on a broken bat groundout, his teammates came over to him in the dugout to congratulate him for getting the job done. How did Thomas react? He was visibly ticked off that he wasn't able to pad his stats.

Yup. Same old Frank. Still a big selfish baby. Me, me, me.

But with, oh, such a tremendous bat. Damn, the guy could always hit and still can. Right now this very instant, as we speak, RIGHT NOW, I'd say he's as scary standing at the plate as anyone in baseball. And I mean anyone. Think about it. Williams, Ozzie, and Jerry Reinsdorf must be feeling foolish and embarrassed this morning.

As for the White Sox, they're like that knight that gets his assed whupped by King Arthur in Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. You know the guy. The knight who gets his limbs chopped off one by one. (My favorite scene, by the way.) The Sox, at this point, are missing both arms and a leg. They're hopping around foolishly on their remaining leg trying to catch up to the Twinkies and Tiggers. They're five games out in the AL Central and four out in the Wild Card. It's not dark yet, but it's getting there.



Black Knight (ie, White Sox): Have at you!
Arthur (ie, Twins/Tiggers): You are indeed brave, sir knight, but the fight is mine.
Black Knight: Oh, had enough eh?
Arthur: Look, you stupid bastard. You've got no arms left!
Black Knight: Yes I have.
Arthur: Look!
Black Knight: Just a flesh wound!

If there is any hope it's that the Tiggers are in town starting today for a three game series, followed by the Mariners. Listen, the Sox need to sweep these six games. Have to. There is no more time for fooling around or waiting for things to click, as we have been told a million and one times they eventually will. It's all meaningless words at this point. It hasn't happened. If the Sox are going to make a stand it has to be right now. This week. To be fair, the starting pitching has more than held up it's share. They've been superb. Unfortunately, the bullpen has been incompetent, not to mention Ozzie's handling of it. Maybe the starters have to go 8 innings? More?

Whatever. Just win, baby.

Sweep the Tiggers. Just sweep them. Then go from there.

Here we go now.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Why is Religion Good Again?

Oh, splendid.

Pope Benedict XVI, by citing some ancient, medievel text that describes Islam as "evel and inhuman," has spurred the latest Muslim outburst of folly and violence. They're dancing in the streets and destroying things, and if the past is any indication, it could very well get worse before it gets better. Yet again, religion proves to be more touble than it's worth.

NABLUS, West Bank - Two West Bank Christian churches were hit by firebombs early Saturday, and a group claiming responsibility said it was protesting Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks about Islam.

Pakistan’s legislature unanimously condemned Pope Benedict XVI. Lebanon’s top Shiite cleric demanded an apology. And in Turkey, the ruling party likened the pontiff to Hitler and Mussolini and accused him of reviving the mentality of the Crusades.

Across the Islamic world Friday, Benedict’s remarks on Islam and jihad in a speech in Germany unleashed a torrent of rage that many fear could burst into violent protests like those that followed publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

By citing an obscure medieval text that characterizes some of the teachings of Islam’s founder as “evil and inhuman,” Benedict inflamed Muslim passions and aggravated fears of a new outbreak of anti-Western
protests
.

How dumb is the Pope (if I may be so blasphemous)? Why cite such a thing? Why even look it up? The whole world knows how too many Muslims will react. Like children. We all now this. It's all very predicatble. We've all grown wearily accustomed to their neverending violence. So why even mention it? Why push buttons? Dumb. I don't care if the Pope says he was misunderstood or quoted out of context. Why shake the cage and rile up the animal unecessarily? And no, I'm not calling Muslims animals. I'm simply making an analogy. The Pope has rattled the cage and we all know what that does.

And why half ass it? If the Pope was going to be a funny guy then he should have held up one of the cartoons that caused so much trouble a few months ago. Now that would have been funny. Something like this...

Oh, Be Quiet

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Pig's Pigskin Picks



Week Two

Raiders at Ravens: A few years ago I came perilously close to completely losing interest in the NBA. It just got to the point where it seemed like there were way too many guys who were...well...assholes. They dogged it in games, the were always being arrested, they beat up coaches in the locker room, etc. It just seemed like the NBA had become unlikeable. Luckily, it's improved in recent years.

Sadly, I'm starting to sense a bit of it in the NFL these days. Oh, I'm not losing interest or anything - at least not yet - but there is an alarming amount of assholes in the league, and it seems to be getting worse. T.O. is only the tip of the iceberg. It's Steve Foley and the Cincinnati Bengals and anyone who played college ball at West Virginia. And so on and so on. There is far too little class anymore.

The point I'm getting to in a roundabout way is that the Raiders' Jerry Porter is rocketing to the top of the list of NFL assholes. First, he doesn't want to play for the Raiders and criticizes Art Shell. Then he, allegedly, was pumping his fists and laughing as his team was pummelled on Monday night by the Bolts. Then he denied that charge by saying he wasn't even paying attention to the game.

Look, kick this fucker out of the league. Now. And anyone like him.

Oh, and the Raiders are garbage. Ravens in another rout.
Straight up: Ravens
Spread: Ravens -13

Texans at Colts: Peyton Manning is surely anxious to get rolling after being limited to one mere touchdown pass last week. The turf in Indy will look real appealing to him, not mention the Texans lining up opposite him. Granted, the Colts are going to have a hard time stopping the run this year, which will cost them a shot at the Super Bowl. (Again.) Unfortunately for the Texans, they have no running game, at least until Reggie Bush becomes acclimated to their offense. Oh, wait.

Meanwhile, can we please, please, please stop with all the talk of the Colts finally reaching the Super Bowl this year. I can't believe how many people think this is their time. The Colts window has closed, baby. Hell, with Manning there to pull his annual choke job, the window was never really open. It was all a mirage and still is. The Colts are going downhill at this point. Mark my words.
Straight up: Colts
Spread: Colts -13

Browns at Bengals: You know, this should really be a great in-state rivalry game. Too bad.
Straight up: Bengals
Spread: Bengals -10

Bills at Dolphins: I caught a bit of Dick Jauron's press conference following the Bills' loss to New England last week and it all seemed so familiar. Here in Chitown we know all about Jauron's Mr. Nice Guy routine. Not that it's fake. Oh, he's a genuinely nice guy. But as a fan it becomes nauseating to witness, week after week, your coach explain away another loss in a tone that would make Mr. Rogers look scary. I get the feeling that Jauron's wife or daughter could be raped and he'd say something like, "Well, now, this is certainly a bad situation, but we all get sexually frustrated sometimes. I'm sure this guy has some issues, but hopefully, he can deal with them and come back stronger than before. I'm confident this can happen."

One of Life's great mysteries is the Bills' fascination with horrible, yet undeniably handsome, quarterbacks. First it was Rob Johnson. Now it's J.P. Losman. (Admit it, you think they're good-looking dudes, too. It's OK. It doesn't make you gay or anything. OK, maybe a litte - but just a little.) Look, they're the same guy...and that guy stinks. It's as if when a guy looks like a quarterback - and both Johnson and Losman have that Hollywoodesque, handsome QB thing going on - then the Bills are convinced that if they trot the dude out behind center enough times he'll eventually be adequate. Wrong. What the Bills need to do is find the ugliest motherfucker they can and start him. Immediately. Think Steve Buscemi with a decent arm.
Straight up: Dolphins
Spread: Dolphins -6

Lions at Bears: What's the over/under on the number of catches Roy Williams makes this week after guaranteeing a victory? I'm putting it at three and I'm taking the under.

For Rex Grossman, this is great opportunity to show that he's arrived. The Lions defense limited the Seahawks to three field goals last week, which is none too shabby. Let's see what Grossman can do against them.
Straight up: Bears
Spread: Lions +9.5

Panthers at Vikings: For all of the ample talk of the Panthers being the Super Bowl favorite in the NFC, I have a question: Does any team in the league depend offensively on one player as much as the Panthers depend on Steve Smith? I'm not jumping off the Panthers bandwagon. I love me some John Fox and think they'll be there when the dust settles, contending away as usual. But it seems that even when Smith returns to health, if you can stop him (or at least slow him down) then the Panthers suddenly are very ordinary. He's clearly the heart, the pulse, the soul.
Straight up: Vikings
Spread: Vikings -1

Giants at Eagles: After being dragged through the mud by the T.O. disgrace last season, I'm a big fan of the Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb revival in 2006. I was left speechless last year when people - and there were more than a few out there - were actually pointing fingers at Reid and McNabb as if they somehow had anything to do with T.O. being a selfish dickhead. It was unreal. Both Reid and McNabb have been nothing but class acts in the NFL and the willingness of some to forget that and side with T.O., who has been nothing but trouble wherever he has been, was truly baffling. I'm certainly hoping that the Eagles bounce back to their winning ways just so Reid and McNabb can have the last laugh.

Meanwhile, the possibility of Eli Manning falling to 0-2 has me giddy with excitement, not to mention the thought of Archie Manning watching in horror. Please make this happen. The only thing that would make it even better would be if Eli throws a late pick or two to seal the Eagles' win. And I bet that's how it actually goes down - just as it usually does with the Mannings. I can't wait.
Straight up: Eagles
Spread: Eagles -3

Bucs at Falcons: Speaking of things that baffle me, I was thoroughly confused by all of the love Chris Simms received in the offseason. Has everyone else been following the same Simms career I have been? Dude has been an underachieving, mediocre quarterback ever since he arrived on the Texas campus as a college freshman. So he had a few solid games in 2005? So what? Look, if Simms is your starting quarterback, you're in big trouble. He's not starter material. He just isn't. Trust me on this. Yeah, I realize this truth might break the heart of Phil Simms, but oh well. His son is mediocre at best, and I'm seeing bad things happening to him in the loud Georgia Dome this weekend. Give it a few weeks and John Gruden will be sorely missing Brian Griese.
Straight up: Falcons
Spread: Falcons -5.5

Saints at Packers: Ugh. The only important question surrounding this dirty diaper of a game is this: If the Pack doesn't win here, might they go 0-16?
Straight up: Saints
Spread: Saints -2

Rams at 49ers: Prediction time: Alex Smith will fail to pass for half of the yards he did last week (288). Just watch.
Straight up: Rams
Spread: Rams -3

Cardinals at Seahawks: Supposedly, this is the year the Cardinals finally turn their fortunes around. They have a new stadium, Edgerrin James, a stellar stable of receivers, and football's Golden Boy, Matt Leinart. Well, if it's going to happen then this is a huge game for 'Zona. Going into Seattle and playing tough against the division heavweight would go a long way in establishing their validity.

However, I don't have much condfidence in a Cards defense that gave up 27 points to Alex Smith and the Niners, especially when the Seahawks are returning home and looking to shake off the doldrums they experienced last week in Motown.
Straight up: Seahawks
Spread: Cardinals +7

Patriots at Jets: Interesting timing for this game considering the Pats have just accused the Jets of tampering following the Deion Branch debacle.

Does anyone else feel like the Pats are messing with karma? They've always been remarkably cheap, but somehow managed to make it work. How often have we heard the media praise the Pats for their ability to penny pinch their way out of a situation with a vet only to adequately replace him with a cheaper, younger player? Oh, how smart the Patriots are, we've been told and told. But this whole Branch thing strikes me as the Pats foolishly angering the football gods. It seems they're letting their stubbornness get the best of them and letting go their best receiver merely to prove a point that they won't be held hostage by anyone. Will it come back to haunt them? I think so. Yeah, Tom Brady is great, but at some point you have to wonder if he has enough toys to work with, maybe not now, but in January.
Straight up: Patriots
Spread: Jets +6

Titans at Chargers: The Chargers will roll to a 2-0, most likely in comfortable fashion, and still nobody will know exactly how good they are. Beating up on the Raiders and Titans proves little, though it is a fantastic way for Philip Rivers to ease his way into the starter's role at QB and gain a little confidence.

Here's hoping Vince Young sees some action if only because it'll be a lot of fun to watch Shawn Merriman try to run him down. Merriman is a man, baby!
Straight up: Chargers
Spread: Chargers -11.5

Chiefs at Broncos: So how long until the Chiefs sign Jeff George? Good lord, their quarterback position is a mess now that Trent Green is out. It shouldn't be long now before Herm Edwards has a meltdown and we all get to witness an absolutely classic postgame press coference. I'm looking forward to it.

I hate to bore you with my fantasy concerns, but I have a request for Mike Shanahan: Forget Mike Bell! Run Tatum Bell left, Tatum Bell right, and Tatum Bell up the middle! And for the love of all that is holy, give Tatum Bell the ball deep in the red zone! Please! The Unknown Column needs it.
Straight up: Broncos
Spread: Chiefs +10.5

Redskins at Cowboys: Hmm. The Cowboys first home game. A national television audience on a Sunday night. Their biggest rival in town. Yup, this seems like a great time for the inevitable T.O. attack of Drew Bledsoe, no?

One of these coachs, Bill Parcells or Joe Gibbs, is about to fall to 0-2 and begin planning what they'll be doing at this time next year.
Straight up: Cowboys
Spread: Redskins +6

Steelers at Jaguars: Great. We get a Monday night telecast to hear all about Ben Roethlisberger's appendectomy. I'll be sure to have no sharp objects near me so as not to be tempted to plunge something into my ears.
Straight up: Steelers
Spread: Steelers -1.5

Last week
Straight up: 0-0
Against the spread: 0-0

Season
Straight up: 0-0
Against the spread: 0-0

Thursday, September 14, 2006

We Need Better Heroes, Real Heroes


Meathead?


I realize that America is a country where a no-talent dimwit like Paris Hilton is a pop idol and incompetent, cruel men like Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld get to run things, and continue to run things long after their idiocy has been uncovered for all the world to see. It's all false bullshit. All of it. No, America is not a country of much substance anymore and I shouldn't be surprised at who is deemed heroic or appealing or memorable.

I also realize that Pat Tillmam is a man who is dear to the hearts of many Americans, both liberals and conservatives, both pro-war and anti-war, both sports fans and not. Saying anything negative about the guy is likely to be viewed as blasphemous or unecessarily critical. Let the dead lie, right? Tillman is an American hero, right?

Sure. I understand that. But I don't agree.

I just read the article on Pat Tillman in this week's Sports Illustrated, an article that goes to great lengths to portray Tillman as a courageous man of unbreakable convictions and Pied Piper-like charisma, a man with a brave heart and unflinchable soul, a man the world could use a few more of, a rare man, indeed.

But I was left with the feeling that Tillman wasn't that rare at all. I couldn't help but think that Tillman, despite all of his admirable qualities, was your typical meathead, an over-excitable yahoo ready to blindly jump at an opportunity to fight without thinking clearly or without thinking much at all. Men like this are not rare. Not in the slightest. In fact, men like this have been the curse of mankind and tragically abundant for as long as Man has walked the earth. The History of Man's greatest follies is little more than the sad tales of preposterous, hideous leaders sneaking their way into power and all of the lesser, eager men who follow them. It has always been this way. It always will.

Millions of years and millions of Pat Tillmans and many millions more.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure Tillman was a nice guy. I'm sure he had a good heart and an open mind. I'm sure his large following of friends and admirers had/have ample reason to adore him. I have little doubt he really was a charismatic soul, the type of man who is easy to follow. Hell, just look at his football career. While at Arizona State - a team that rarely rises above being mildly interesting - he led the Sun Devils to a near-perfect season and within a field goal of a national championship. While in the NFL with the Cardinals - a franchise that can only be described as a joke - he helped lead the team to its only playoff victory in the last 59 years.

So, no, I have little doubt that there truly was something about Tillman special and memorable.

All of that said, the sports world is full of charismatic, dynamic men who lead their teams to heights they would never reach without their vital and compelling presence. Yet Tillman has risen to the status of American folk hero, and for what? For tossing aside a football and asking for a gun to frantically go blow up people on the other side of the world, people he didn't know, people who did nothing to him? For that?

Tillman got all fired up by 9/11 but none of the accused 9/11 suspects were from Afghanistan where Tillman so eagerly ran to with a weapon and a chip on his shoulder. He was told by our conniving, deceitful leaders that there were "bad guys" over there and Tillman fell in line just like any other follower, just like any other man, and said, "Let me fight. I want to fight."

The curse of mankind.

Was there wisdom in this? Was there poise?

According to the SI article, before his death, Tillman was growing frustrated in Afghanistan because he wasn't involved in any actual fighting. He wasn't faced with opportunities to actually fire his gun, to pull the trigger. He was anxious to see how he would react in the madness of battle, which if you ask me, is a pathetically dumb reason to want to engage in battle. There are many ways to test one's courage besides arming oneself and taking human lives.

When he finally did encounter gunfire, he was...well...this is an actual Tillman quote according to the article....

"Follow me! Let's go kill the bad guys!"


Hold on a second.

Follow me?

Let's go kill the bad guys?

This our hero? A man leading other men to war? (I won't even talk about the fact that Tillman's strategic moves in battle on the day of his death were largely viewed as over-anxious and, well, questionable at best.)

This is all laughable. The bad guys? Who exactly were the bad guys? Anyone with brown skin? The people whose lands American bombs were destroying? Who? Did Tillman even know?

There was a story in the article about a time when Tillman was only 17. He was at a pizza parlor and was told that a friend of his was being messed with in the parking lot. Tillman immediately ran out and pummelled the first guy he got his hands on, ultimately landing this person in the hospital with a head injury and sans several of his teeth.

There was only one problem: Tillman had assaulted the wrong guy and was ultimately charged with a felony.

Oops. Just like Afghanistan has proven to be one big "oops."

While reading that passage, I couldn't help but correlate the blind rage Tillman fell victim to on that night with the blind rage that landed him in a desert half a world away with an automatic weapon slung over his shoulder. It was all anger. Blind anger. Crippling his common sense, crushing his patience. Was Tillman really a hero, or was he merely a typical hot-head prone to irrational decisions?

The SI article makes sure to emphasize how saddenend and regretful Tillman was following his assult in that parking lot.

And ten years later he came to realize that the war that Bush and his cronies were selling was all bullshit. Yeah, Tillman was totally against it by the time he was killed.

Bad decisions, both. With heavy consequences, both. So what had he learned in ten years?

Passion should not be confused with recklessness.

Like I said, I'm not trying to trample on the grave of Pat Tillman. I fully believe all of the stories about what a memorable, charismatic soul he was to those who knew him. I believe he thought he was the doing the right thing when he pummelled that guy in the pizza parlor parking lot. I believe he thought he was doing the right thing by volunteering for battle. I believe he was a good guy.

And I think it's awful that nobody knows exactly what happened on the day of his death other than, saddest of all, he was likely killed by friendly fire.

But Pat Tillman wasn't a hero. He was a fuckin' idiot if you ask me. Just another inflammable meathead with a gun, his anger, and blind pride. Just another follower. Men who walk with guns and kill other men because their leaders speak of the "bad guys" are not heroes. And they never will be.

The cover of SI is a shot of Tillman posing on a tree in the desert in his army fatigues with his finger on the trigger of his gun. He's staring into the camera with a look that suggests nothing other than he's just some guy with a gun sitting in a tree in a hot desert thousands of miles from home waiting for someone to shoot at.

Fuckin' meathead. Just another dumb dude.

The curse of mankind.

When You're Famous...

...you get all of the chicks. All of the chicks. (Timberlake's face in this photo is classic.)

Tonight's Likes


West Virginia (-16.5) over Maryland. West Virginia, who will hear plenty of criticism about its schedule this year, will be anxious to put on a good showing against Maryland, a solid program from a BCS conference. Pretty soon the Mountaineers will be beating up on Big East bad boys like Cincinnati and Syracuse. (Emphasis on "bad.") It also helps that the game will be nationally televised and the center of plenty of attention on a Thursday night. Plenty of couches will be burned in Morgantown this evening - and all season. He'll be happy.

By the way, the Unknown Column has the Mountaineers playing in the title game this year. Part of this is because they're really good, part is because they have a very manageable schedule. It all adds up.

September record: 3-1

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Champions League Underway (In Earnest) Today


Now that the qualifying stages have come and gone, and all the minnows from fictional countries like Iceland and Cyprus have been cast aside, the Champion's League truly gets underway this afternoon with the start of the group stage.

As I've mentioned before, I honesttly feel that the CL will be huge in America someday - someday soon - so even if you're not a soccer fan by nature, it might be wise to enjoy the ride nonetheless. Just sayin'. It doesn't hurt.

So who will lift the trophy next May? Can Barcelona repeat? (AC Milan was the last repeat champ in 1989 and 1990.) Will one of the traditional big boys from the traditional big leagues win it, as is usually the case? Or will there be a surprise champ a la Porto in 2004?

We shall see. I'm going to take a wild stab and say Real Madrid beats Inter Milan in the final. Cannavaro will give Madrid the leadership and defensive mettle it has lacked the last few years and Inter Milan will reap the benefits of the Italian scandal fallout which landed them Veira and Ibrahimovic.

But my heart will be with Liverpool and Lyon.

Liverpool-PSV Eindhoven and Olympiakos-Valencia should be the best of today's openers.

Is Tiger Un-American?


So, apparently, some have been questioning Tiger Woods' patriotism after he was spotted sitting with Roger Federer's wife during the U.S. Open Final. I guess with it being the five-year anniversary of 9/11 and all - you did hear it was the five-year anniversary, didn't you? - the foolish yahoos of our nation (of which there are many) are all swept up with beligerent American pride and will question someone for something as silly as their choice of seats during a tennis match.

Tiger should have been cheering for the American, Andy Roddick, right? That would have been the upstanding, patriotic, all-American thing to do, right?

Listen, Tiger can root for anyone he wants to. It was a tennis match, not an arms summit. If Tiger was smart, he would have been in the guest box of that fine, lovely Russian, Maria Sharapova, cheering her on and working on a three-way involving Sharapova, his stunning wife, and him wearing a Communist-era military uniform while smoking a Russian cigar and chilling in a hot tub. Instead, he rooted for Federer, which is no big deal. His decision. It doesn't make him any less American.

That said, I did find Woods' presence in Federer's box to be odd, but for a completely different reason. I was instantly put off by the arrogance of both Woods and Federer, who apparently feel that because they're dominant at their respective sports, they need to, you know, hang out. As if they are the elite and the elite must congregate seperate from the rest of us mere peons.

This is laughable. Granted, the meeting was likely set up by an agent looking for some free Nike promo shots, but the whole notion that two people need to meet because of what they can do with their respective balls just smacks of arrogance - unless we're talking about porn stars, in which case, yes, get them all together and have them demonstrate what they can do with balls.

But whatever. If Tiger and Federer want to be buds and talk about all the titles they've won and all the money they've made, far be it for me to complain. To each his own.

It just amazes me that there are people out there who actually moan about extra, unexpected shots of Elin Nordegren on their television, regardless of the circumstances. If you ask me, that's about as un-American as it gets and these troubled souls are likely terrorists.

Dem's Fightin' Words


Roy Williams, come on down.

"We will win this game," Lions wide receiver Roy Williams told reporters Monday (of the Lions game at the Bears this weekend.) "You all can take that as a guarantee or whatnot, but we will win this game."

...

When we play the way we're supposed to play, like our defense played the way they played Sunday ... I don't think there's no team in this league that can beat us."

...

It was stupid how close we were to putting 40 points on the board, and it's ridiculous. Offensively, we beat ourselves. No defense can stop us, in my opinion. That's only in my opinion. We are our only defense."


Wow. On the one hand, I almost applaud Williams for his blind optimism. It can't be easy to stay positive when you play for the worst franchise in the NFL. (Yes, even the Cardinals have surpassed the Lions.) Lesser players would succumb to the malaise and allow themselves to simply go through the motions and be swept up in the dark currents of losing, as so many Lions before him have. But not Williams. He's coming out swinging. Good for him.

On the other hand, he's picked a very peculiar time to display his bravado. When you're about to enter the stadium of the team with arguably the best defense in the league - a team coming off a shutout, by the way - maybe you should pick your words a little more carefully. I doubt Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Tommie Harris and the rest of the Bears defense need bulletin board material to get fired up, but Williams' words certainly won't hurt the cause.

Oh, and it would also help your legitimacy if your offense wasn't coming off a game in which it produced a whopping total of two field goals. Just sayin'.

I sense very bad thngs happening to Mr. Williams come Sunday. Very bad things. And I very much look forward to it. I want to see this dude laid...the fuck...out.

Sort of like this fine moment from last year's Bears-Lions game in Soldier Field. (I could watch that all day.)