I’d like to talk to you about something that’s become an epidemic. Sports bars, in staggering numbers around this grand nation of ours, are not paying attention to what’s on their televisions. Come on. That’s what makes you a sports bar. You know what games are on; you know what your patrons want to watch. Have a plan. Put it into action before 1:05 on fall Sundays, so you don’t have six employees running around looking for the remote, making me feel like an asshole customer because I want to watch a particular game. If you can’t handle this, you’re not a sports bar. You’re a poorly-run bar with a lot of TVs.
Eventually, I do get the Chargers vs. Browns game on. In fact, I get it on the two TVs directly in front of me, which is perfect, because there are no other games on, because the NFL doesn’t play multiple games at the same time or anything. The first thing I see is Chargers fullback Le’Ron McClain turning some poor Browns DB’s lights out, reminiscent of old school Lo Neal. We’re turning back the clock today, baby.
As it turns out, I’m sitting next to a Browns fan. Normally, I’d be a little annoyed to sit directly next to a man who will, all day long, openly pull for the very things that make me unhappy. But he seems like a nice guy, and I’m assuming that he suffers from a pretty severe depression, being a Browns fan and all. I see no need to pile on. But if he is going to kill himself today, I hope he does it in the restroom.
Philip Rivers has a mustache. I repeat: PHILIP RIVERS HAS A MUSTACHE.
How did I not know this? And what does this mean for the future of the San Diego Chargers? And is it just me, or was he about the least likely guy in the league to show up one day with a mustache? So many unanswered questions. All I know right now is that as long as the lip fur remains, I’m calling him Philly. Philly Rivers.
If anyone thinks that Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen can get hurt, and I won’t start chanting “His name is Logan Paulsen,” they are wrong. They’re just wrong.
Concern: Mustachio’d Philly Rivers is not throwing the ball downfield. He’s handing off, he’s throwing short to running backs … the deep ball is absent. I think Norv just wants a more conservative, less turnover-prone offense after the bye week, but I’m not exempting the mustache from blame here. For normal guys, a mustache would increase the size of their balls by about 45%. It appears to have done the opposite here. Two weeks ago, clean-shaven Phil would’ve tried to force a ball into a one-armed dwarf in a straitjacket in triple coverage. Today, he won’t throw it farther than four feet. Someone explain to him how mustaches work.
With 12:56 remaining in the second quarter, Philly Rivers throws his first deep pass. It travels with the laser-like velocity of a hot air balloon and is only not intercepted because it was a Cleveland Brown trying to do the intercepting.
Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger has just completed his second touchdown pass of the day, this one to Heath Miller. It seems like I’m appreciating Roethlisberger more and more every week, which I’m not happy about. But the miscreant is just so good, even when the rest of his offense is not. Clearly, the Chargers managed to land the worst quarterback taken at the top of the first round in 2004, despite having the first pick. We’ve got a sterling track record with these things.
The fiancée of the Browns fan sitting next to me is vehemently anti-Chargers, which, in this part of the country, is odd. If anyone in this region is anti-Chargers, it’s because of this – DENNIS GIBSON IS HUNG LIKE A BULL – but for the most part, people are completely apathetic about the Bolts. I tell her I’m a Chargers fan, and she looks at me like Satan himself is sitting in my lap, using his iPhone to steer Hurricane Sandy. As it turns out, her ex-husband was a Chargers fan. Hence, the bitterness. Since he’s a Chargers fan, though, I’m going to assume their split was entirely her fault, he is blameless and a saint, and I hope he got the kids.
There probably weren’t any kids. I don’t know. If you happen to read this, nice lady who was at the bar with me, I apologize. I’m kidding.
Here’s a text I got this morning from my buddy Doug, an asshole Eagles fan:
“i’d sit all ur falcons if I were u. Theyre in deep trouble today. [Falcons QB Matt Ryan] wont break 15. Playin in his hometown, a lil nervous. The eagles will dominate.”
Matt Ryan has three touchdowns and something like one incompletion at the half. What I love about Eagles fans is their commitment to keeping realistic expectations regarding their team.
Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, brother of Chuck, has “#CHUCKSTRONG” written on the reverse side of his laminated play sheet. And it’s a nice gesture, and of course the man is thinking of his brother, but the way the Chargers are playing today, they shouldn’t be allowed to use the term #CHUCKSTRONG. #CHUCKSTRONG is about fighting when fighting is necessary. It’s about overcoming adversity. It’s about taking what life gives you and still being the best you can be. Today, the Chargers are not #CHUCKSTRONG, they are #PUSSYDAMP. If Chuck Pagano is counting on the Chargers for any inspiration, by the end of the day, he’s going to have leukemia and herpes.
It’s halftime of the early games, and I’ve got a chance to reflect a bit. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and it’s been just about as long as I’ve sat in a sports bar on a Sunday to simply observe football and football fans. Clearly, I have aged. Young men wearing football jerseys look slightly ridiculous to me, where before, they never did. I’m still not buying into any “Jersey Rules” or anything – wear what makes you happy – but someday, young jersey-wearer, you’re going to want a woman to like you, and your authentic Osi Umenyiora jersey isn’t going to further the cause.
Another observation: It seems there are fewer Crazy Fish Guys these days. Actual Crazy Fish Guy hasn’t been heard from in a while, but I’m talking metaphorical Crazy Fish Guys. The older gentleman, by himself, who just wants to sit and quietly watch his team or his gambling interests. It seems to be almost exclusively younger folks now.
Unless, of course … I’m the new Crazy Fish Guy.
Oh fuck. I might be the new Crazy Fish Guy.
Before the third quarter starts in Cleveland, they’re showing footage of Lake Erie in Cleveland, and it looks like something out of “The Perfect Storm”. Whitecaps are pounding rocks, shrubbery is whipping about, and the sky has turned a color too depressing for even Cleveland.
Browns fans are responding accordingly. At the start of the second half, I’m going to guess the stadium is about 15% full. That’s my honest guess. And the Browns are winning. The Weather Channel should use that as the dramatic statement that sums up just how unpleasant this storm is going to be. Years from now, we’re going to look back on this and, “Well, there was that one storm back in ‘12 that it was so bad it got Browns fans to leave a game they were winning – one of just 7 games they won over a 15-year period.”
A week after RGIII had people putting him in the Hall of Fame, the Steelers have him completely checked. He’s not throwing or running effectively. It’s clear which of these teams has the savvy veteran quarterback and which has the rookie. The Steelers, at certain moments, can be so impressive. Maybe it’s just that they’re at home, where they’ve been way better this year. Or maybe Ben Roethlisberger just feels comfortable in prison stripes.
Meanwhile, the Chargers, with the exception of Philly Rivers, seem totally comfortable with abject failure. Dropped passes and missed tackles are met with a gesture that says, “You know, a couple of Ho Hos would really be delicious right now.” Again, the exception is Rivers, who throws miniature fits every time an opportunity is missed, be it his fault or a receiver’s. I’m glad someone cares and all, but I’d really rather his fits looked less like the fits of a little girl who doesn’t get to go ride bikes with the neighbor boy because she didn’t eat her broccoli.
Speaking of poorly-behaved children, there are two behind me, two or three years old, who apparently have total permission to run around screaming and squealing like they just saw Spongebob take a shotgun blast to the face. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids – just not these two little pricks. I can’t imagine this behavior being okay with a parent. It seems to be, though. They think it’s funny. And at home, maybe it’s so goddamn adorable that it melts your face, but you’re in public now. There are other people around. By not reigning your child in, you make everyone hate your special little snowflake.
Antonio Brown of the Steelers returns a punt to the house, and in the classiest and most sportsmanlike of moves, he starts backpedaling at about the 20-yard-line. Is there an AND1 Tour for football? Because they’d love that move there. Brown, for some reason, draws an unsportsmanlike conduct flag, which was declined because a holding penalty also nullified the touchdown. I almost wish the touchdown would’ve counted, just so he could’ve been punished for being such a wang.
CBS statistic regarding Brandon Weeden: He’s had 21 catchable passes dropped this season, which leads the NFL. That’s just mean, Browns receivers. Have a little respect for your elders.
It’s not on a TV I can see anywhere, but apparently, the Panthers are beating the Bears. This, I did not see coming. Is it possible – is there maybe an outside chance – that Cam Newton isn’t the gigantic bag of shit he’s been made out to be over the last week? That maybe he has some redeeming quality, as either a quarterback or a human being? I don’t know. I’m not suggesting that Cam Newton is Canton-bound or anything, but I’ve never seen a quarterback take such a pounding over poor press conference body language before.
With 10:00 to play in the fourth quarter, the second half yardage totals look like this: Chargers 60, Browns 70. This is the level to which the Chargers have fallen. On Gameday Final on the NFL Network, this is going to be the game that gets the 15-second highlight package. Hopefully, that still provides Deion Sanders ample time to repeat the same word 9 times in a row..
Whoa, DeAngelo Hall is wigging out. This chiseled 28-year-old athlete in prime athletic condition, covered in armor from head to toe, looks very much like he wants to fight head linesman/insurance claims adjuster Dana McKenzie right now. He took his helmet off in the guy’s face, an acts that begs, nay, demands, a 15-yard penalty. Now Hall is screaming in the guy’s face, and I’m not an expert lip reader, but I believe I saw a “bitch” and a “fuck you” in there. This is the most contentious player/official confrontation I’ve seen since Orlando Brown, may he rest in peace, was hit in the eye with a penalty flag. I don’t know exactly what Hall’s beef is, but I highly doubt he’s got a grievance as solid as Brown’s. Calm yourself.
With 2:32 to play, the Chargers trail by a point, and Eric Weddle is back to return a punt. He drops it, because of course he does. By some miracle, he accidentally recovered it, and the Chargers will now have a chance to drive for a game-winning field goal. I am 100% certain that it’s a field goal they will never see.
Haven’t seen much of this game, but the Lions have a 3rd-and-1, at the one, to get in the endzone and beat the Seahawks. Titus Young was going to the ground as Matthew Stafford darted the football into the tiniest little window, just scraping by the turf and the defender’s arm. Best throw of the day
Aaaaaaand the Chargers just lost to the Browns. That collapse against Denver two Mondays ago was it, man. That was the end for this group. That just fried any confidence or sense of purpose that this already emotionally-fragile team had. They had a bye week and a Philly Rivers mustache, and they still couldn’t bounce back. They’re goosed.
CBS now presents the “GEICO Play of the Day” from the Chargers/Browns game, and … good fucking luck with that, CBS. What do they go with there? The grounds crew successfully mowing the grass before the game? Did Brandon Weeden successfully pick a booger at some point today? Did cameras happen to catch a fan masturbating in the stands?
The Panthers couldn’t hold on to beat the Bears, but Cam Newton did have 300 yards passing against the Bears defense. And no, his completion percentage wasn’t high, and yes, he did have two interceptions. Still. It’s the Bears defense. That’s something. I think it’s worth at least exploring the notion that maybe he still has a chance to be a decent NFL quarterback. Let’s just consider it.
Prettiest touchdown of the day goes to Vick Ballard of the Indianapolis Colts for this twisting, surging overtime job against the Titans. There are dolphins at Sea World who don’t make dives that smooth. That’s a big win for the Colts, too. They can call themselves playoff contenders without anyone objecting too much. Maybe Andrew Luck ought to get some attention at some point, too.
For the last fifteen minutes, the television closest to me has been displaying the DirecTV screensaver. Hey, it’s not like this is a sports bar or anything, and it’s not like it’s a fall Sunday at 4:00.
Finally, that situation is alleviated, and the screensaver is replaced with the Raiders/Chiefs game. I was hoping I’d get to be one of the 19 people in the country watching this. Whether or not this represents a bump in entertainment value can be debated. My personal rankings on the subject go like this, from most entertaining to least: Footage of Mr. Belvedere getting a tattoo on his hairy taint > Chiefs/Raiders > DirecTV Screensaver > Chargers/Browns.
Brady Quinn has been injured and replaced in the Chiefs line-up by Matt Cassel. I tell you this because I’m not sure anyone else will bother reporting it. I’m not sure anyone else has even noticed it.
Oh, sweet – there’s going to be an “A Football Life” episode on Chris Spielman. I’m excited about this for a couple of reasons. First, I was a Spielman fan, and what he did for his wife touched me. It should be an excellent program. Secondly, Wayne Fontes is interviewed in the trailer, and when I first saw his image flash on the screen, I honestly thought I was looking at “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.
A couple of Cowboys fans with a zeal for arts and crafts are borrowing a little bit of fan behavior from college basketball. They’ve got gigantic cut-outs of faces up behind the field goal posts in an effort to distract the kicker. I can’t identify these faces (little help, anyone?), but I like the trend. Suggestions for future faces are kickers’ parents and/or classmates who beat them up in grade school.
Oh, dear. Tony Romo just Romo’d a screen pass directly into the arms of Jason Pierre-Paul. JPP takes it to the painted grass, and it’s 23-0 Giants. I was counting on this game to entertain me. Maybe I can get that DirecTV screensaver back.
I’ve been enjoying the commercial for the new Microsoft Surface. I don’t know what makes it better or worse than an iPad or any other tablet, but I know this: When my friends and I are trying to select a tablet to use in our choreographed dance routines, we’re going with the Surface.
This is kind of a dick move on my part, but … there are bizarre things happening around me that I can’t tell you about. I’ll just pass along the moral of the story, which is this: Don’t owe a bookie money. Also, don’t be a bookie.
The cameras catch a shot of Chiefs guard Ryan Lilja on the sidelines, and he has the grayest hair I’ve ever seen on an NFL player. I don’t know if it’s for some Halloween costume or something, but that man is gray and grey. Take the vowel of your choosing. He’s like the white Roman Harper.
Oh, do I have good news for you, everybody. You know who’s providing the halftime entertainment during the Thanksgiving Redskins/Cowboys game? CHESNEY. And there’s more good news … Peyton Manning is free that day! His Broncos don’t play on Thursday, so Peyton can enjoy the show just like everyone else. Also from the “not totally surprising” category: Troy Aikman loves Kenny Chesney.
The Giants fail to cover Dez Bryant and Tony Romo hits him for a touchdown (just barely – Dez caught it like a punt), and there are faint signs that the Cowboys could make this a game. I was getting pretty comfortable with the idea of giving up on this afternoon of football.
Hey, there’s a Peyton Hillis sighting in Kansas City. He doesn’t look completely ineffective, either. By the way, have I ever thanked you, football fans of America, for voting Peyton Hillis onto the cover of Madden ‘12? Great call, everybody. I’m sure the appeal of his pure white skin had nothing to do with it.
At halftime of the Giants/Cowboys game, I’m calling it an afternoon. I’m finding myself watching more of Real Madrid pounding Mallorca than I am football (fine, American football, you pansy soccer snob), and that’s probably a sign that I should bounce. Much love, everybody.