DARKNESS CAME EARLY TODAY. At 5 p.m. it was pitch black outside, and some two hours later I stumbled out of work feeling groggy and wretched. Surely, I thought to myself, there had to have been some mistake. Surely the Oakland Raiders, one of the worst teams in all of football, hadn't somehow managed to defeat my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. Surely Pittsburgh's playoff hopes, and their hopes for ultimate sporting glory, didn't just enter into the dreaded "slim to none" category. Surely ... oh, God. Stick a fork in the Steelers' season. At this rate, we'll be lucky to make .500.
Already my conniving brother has sent out an e-mail noting that his team, the lowly Cleveland Browns, are listed ahead of the Steelers in the AFC North standings. Ugh. Even the Browns actually managed to win today. We, on the other hand, should have defeated the Raiders soundly, but failed to do so after a series of blunders. As a result, we now face a pretty much ruined season -- unless we manage to win nine games in a row.
We play Denver next week.
Anyway, with the encroaching polar darkness, the dropping temperatures and the noteworthy lack of football progress, I have a feeling this is going to be a long, cold, wretched winter -- barring those wonderful few days around New Year's, of course.
THE AF2 HAS ANNOUNCED its 2007 season will see at least seven new minor-league arena football teams in the league, after it recently approved four more teams for Texas and an additional team for Ohio, which had already been awarded an expansion franchise in the Youngstown area.
After all, it will mean more exposure for the game, more opportunities for the players, and plenty of new rivalries between teams. And since the additional af2 team will be based in CINCINNATI, it will likely mean the expansion* of the friendly sports rivalry between me and a Certain Cincinnati Bengals Fan. We'll have to see how the divisional alignments turn out, but God knows I would love to see Cincinnati in the same division as the Manchester Wolves.
* Were this scenario to take place, it would likely be a warm-up rivalry in the spring and summer, allowing both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals factions within the Kepple family to hit the ground running in late August/ early September.
It’s Time for Yet Another Edition of …
YOUR SEARCH ENGINE QUERIES ANSWERED
An occasional Rant feature
HALLOWEEN APPROACHES. How I remember its glory and majesty during the halcyon days of my youth! The excitement as the afternoon waned, the fun of carving pumpkins and dressing in costume, the joy of acquiring what seemed like an unlimited amount of sweets – how could any child forget that? Halloween has captured the imagination of so many that I could never do justice to their experiences, although I am certain Ray Bradbury has done so.
Of course, like so many of the antagonists in Bradbury’s stories, I have grown cynical and curmudgeonly. Yet even as I pore over account books and economic histories, my sense of wonder and imagination still has a spark of life about it. And I can assure you that upon reading my search engine queries recently, that spark has grown into a blazing fire, for there are few things as scary as my search engine logs.
I’m serious. The Rant’s search engine logs these past few weeks are so incredibly scary, I’m half-expecting the Harlem Globetrotters to show up as special guests for this post. That’s how alarming the searches are – generally speaking, of course.
I actually got many interesting and pleasing queries, which showed many of those arrving here via search engine were erudite, refined individuals with inquisitive minds. Then there were the people looking for information about the runaway bride lady and alpaca investment fraud and Peyton Manning. These latter folks brought to mind Mencken’s old quip about democracy: that the people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
Before we delve into the deeper recesses of The Rant’s search logs, though, I do want to note one alarming statistic I discovered from analyzing my site reports. This has to do with my earlier post in which I condemned the Molson Coors Brewing Co., its advertising agency and light beer which tastes like paint thinner. In this post, I had condemned a recent advertising campaign the brewer has been running ad nauseum for the past several weeks. Much to my surprise and dismay, however, nearly everyone else seems to like it, based on my site-search statistics. Consider this breakdown:
Searches based on “coors light bill walsh”
or related language: roughly 550
Searches based on “coors light commercials annoying”: 1
From this, I’ve concluded what any reasonable person would given such a result: that all matters relating to cultural standards, and perhaps even governance and public policy, ought be the sole province of me and my friends. Dammit.
Anyway, let’s get to the queries, because God knows we wouldn’t want to disappoint the drunken legions of light-beer swilling sociopaths with an alarming fondness for loser quarterbacks who crack under pressure and unfairly disparage their offensive lines.
QUERY: peyton manning mustache picture
ANSWER: Oh, God, it’s started already. I can only hope the Colts start losing games, or at least lose early again in the postseason, because you know we’re going to get bombarded with the inevitable “Will Peyton finally get a Super Bowl ring?” storyline this year.
Folks, if that actually happens and the Colts make it into the Super Bowl, I may just violate convention and root for the NFC squad – even if that team is Dallas. Hell, especially if that team is Dallas. If Terrell Owens actually gets a Super Bowl ring, it will cause several ESPN football commentators’ heads to explode, thus raising the possibility ESPN would hire commentators I could stand. Please, ESPN, for the love of God, fire Joe Theismann.
QUERY: what does quieres mean?
ANSWER: “Quieres” is a form of the Spanish verb “to want,” and this form, the informal “tu” form, means “You want.” One would use this in the phrase, “Que quieres?” which literally translated is “What do you want?” Of course, if you use the “tu” form of the verb, and you use it with the wrong person, you will be seen as a rude upstart who should be beaten about the head and neck. Use the “usted” (you, formal) form instead, and you will be seen as a man of character and refinement.
QUERY: what does cause celebrite mean?
ANSWER: I’m assuming it means “cause which results in a celebrity increasing his or her Q factor or other theoretically bankable trait.”
QUERY: what does the word laviscous mean?
ANSWER: This refers to thermal viscosity breakdown in your car’s engine.
QUERY: french for creepy croissanwich burger king commercial
ANSWER: Dude, “creepy croissanwich burger king commercial” needs no translation, for watching those commercials results in a universal experience of uneasiness and dread. There’s something wrong with the creepy Burger King mascot with the plastic mask, yet no one really knows what or why.
QUERY: rosie o donnell pleather
ANSWER: Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m scared.
QUERY: hideous chaos
ANSWER: Yeah, but the Oakland Raiders actually won on Sunday.
QUERY: 1970s corporate dress codes
ANSWER: Based on my analysis of Seventies-era culture, I’ve discerned the following rules: 1. Lapels which injure others, or knock over precious goods -- such as one’s small presentoir of cocaine -- are right out. 2. See point one.
QUERY: being sued by neighbor
ANSWER: Ooooooh. That’s gotta suck. Well, if your neighbor has gone so far as to pursue a civil action in a court of law, I would advise getting a very good lawyer and defending yourself vigorously.
QUERY: can a landlord refuse to rent to a 55 year old?
ANSWER: If a landlord is refusing to rent to a 55-year-old, I’m assuming he has a damned good reason for doing so.
QUERY: winning a car how much taxes do i owe
ANSWER: If you’ve won a car, you should receive from the agency handling the contest or giveaway an income tax form detailing the retail value of the vehicle. For instance, if you won a car worth $20,000, that $20,000 would count as income; you would thus owe tax on the $20,000 in whatever bracket(s) you find youself. If all the income were to fall in the 25 pc bracket, that would be $5,000. Congratulations!
QUERY: tab energy drinks dangers
ANSWER: Drinking Tab energy drink may cause light perspiration, extreme instances of polyuria and an affinity for those goddamned tortoise-shell sunglasses that should have gone out with the early Eighties.
QUERY: how to be swell
QUERY: clip from john belushi samurai on saturday night live
It’s like I have these things at my fingertips or something. Pardon the Turkish subtitles. Also, I don't know how long that clip will last, but hey.
QUERY: illinois football is classless
ANSWER: Well, as Coach Zook said, the program’s learning how to win. If you ask me, that’s a humble enough statement to win some style points. Besides, it’s not like Illinois went and desecrated the field at a school with a decent football program.
QUERY: did notre dame plant the flag at msu
QUERY: upscale americana diners irony
ANSWER: Isn’t that the equivalent of saying – oh, let’s say, cassoulet -- is ironic? That’s a bit … actually, that’s a pretty damn good thesis idea! “The irony of cassoulet in early 20th century French cuisine, and its relation to the development of mime artistry.” Go to it, kids!
QUERY: must quit smoking and wear pajamas to bed
ANSWER: Domestication. Awful thing, really.
QUERY: commodification taco bell
ANSWER: Yeah, if there’s any chain that has reduced the idea of food consumption to its logical terminus as a cheap, calorie delivery vehicle, it’s Taco Bell.
QUERY: my power window is stuck down taurus
ANSWER: It’s probably your window motor. That’ll be $250.
QUERY: what is the difference between high and low end vodka
ANSWER: What you pay for the stuff, of course. Go for the cheap stuff, particularly if you’re going to mix it with something twee and fashionable. Of course, you could always drink a decent and God-fearing drink, like gin. Mmmmm. Gin.
QUERY: how well does eharmony work
ANSWER: I wouldn’t know. The mere mention of the word “eHarmony” reminds me of that annoying scoundrel who appears in its television commercials, and as such sends me into apoplectic shock. Why you had to bring this up, I don’t know, but I must severely chastise you for doing so.
QUERY: eharmony dating disaster
ANSWER: Oh! Well. There we have it.
QUERY: suing a blogger
ANSWER: This is a really, really, really bad idea. Particularly because you’ll be exposed to ridicule from the blogger and all of his friends and compatriots from now until the next time the Cubs win the World Series.
QUERY: drawn and quartered
ANSWER: And they were the lucky ones.
QUERY: how much to build servants quarters or guest house
ANSWER: I have absolutely no idea. But if you’re considering servants’ quarters or a guest house, why would you really need to know how much it cost?
QUERY: vegetarianism gall bladder trouble
ANSWER: Peppers always gave me hell when I was having my gall bladder issues. Try avoiding them.
QUERY: sunset time in winter in kalamazoo
ANSWER: About five o’clock. But that’s not what will get to you, oh no. It will be the 9 a.m. sunrises that’ll get to you. You think I’m kidding!
QUERY: hourglass in 700 club news report
ANSWER: This refers to the projected end of the world, which is set to take place on October 12, 2019, or when the Detroit Lions win the Super Bowl, whichever comes first.
QUERY: in the state of kentucky does the woman have to return the engagement ring to the man if the marriage does not occur?
ANSWER: In the state of Kentucky, the last thing the man should be worried about is getting his engagement ring back.
QUERY: film critic employment statistics
ANSWER: Generally speaking, this comes down to questions such as, “Are you Roger Ebert?”
QUERY: did the tulip mania really take place
ANSWER: Of course it did! My God, what a question!
QUERY: nauseous dating women
ANSWER: Well, that can’t be good! Perhaps some anxiety medicine might help. Barring that, consider watching more college football.
QUERY: top ten reasons for dating a journalist
ANSWER: Someone’s managed to come up with TEN? Boy, I – oops. Uh, I mean, it’s understandable one would look for the top reasons to date a journalist, given there are so many good reasons, such as our incredible knowledge of a city’s top restaurants, for instance. Yeah. That sounds about right.
Anyway, that’s it for this special spooky edition of “Your Search Engine Queries Answered.” Next time, we’ll discuss important topics such as … why the creepy Burger King commercial guy is standing next to my desk with a croissanwich upon a silver platter. Jesus God help me!
THE RANT WOULD like to congratulate the Saskatchewan Roughriders, of the Canadian Football League's West Division, for successfully making it into this year's postseason.
I look forward to cheering on Saskatchewan as it fights for the Grey Cup, and I'm confident the Roughriders will make their fans proud during the November playoffs. Admittedly, in the eight-team Canadian league, only two teams don't manage to make it into the postseason; and with one game left in the season, Saskatchewan has a record of just 9-8. Still, getting in the playoffs is getting in the playoffs, and I think that's an accomplishment worth cheering --
READER: Hey! You haven't seen a CFL game on TV since late July! Aren't you just using this as an excuse to not talk about the Steelers?
Uh, no! Not at all! Never! I love talking about the Steelers -- I'm just not now prepared to discuss the team's performance today. I'm still digesting what happened with the game and I think I'll be ready to discuss it at a later point. But Sask--
READER: You've got to be kidding.
No, not really. I mean, it certainly was disappointing to see Pittsburgh lose in overtime, and I thought both Ben Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch played very well. But I still don't feel I can offer adequate judgment on other aspects of the game ...
READER: Wait a minute. Didn't you, earlier today, express what could reasonably called "incandescent rage" at what you termed the "ineptitude" of the special teams squad?
I'm not going to dignify that with a response, although I would note it does help matters when a punt returner successfully catches all his punts, and the special teams unit is able to tackle punt returners. Yes? We have a question over there --
READER: Four fumbles.
Yeah. Anyway, moving on --
READER: Let's talk about the Cincinnati Bengals! They won!
Let's not, please. The last thing I need to talk about is how the Bengals somehow managed to eke out a victory against the Carolina Panthers. Right now, Bengals partisans within my own family are preparing nasty insults and unfriendly e-mails to send out -- or even worse, being silently pleased with themselves and their team. Faugh!
READER: Well, at least next week the Steelers get to play Oakland!
Yeah, that'll be fun! Of course, the trouble there is that we might somehow end up losing that game too, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now, the important thing is to focus on ... uh ... well, how about the Michigan Wolverines? Woo hoo! Go Blue!
Oh come on. Give me that, at least. It's been a tough day for football -- a tough, tough, tough day.
ACCORDING TO this clever Web site, there's only one Benjamin Kepple in all of the United States. This is, in a way, quite flattering. However, I also happen to know it's not true. There is at least one other person named Benjamin Kepple out there, and the one of whom I know happens to be a first cousin (once removed) of mine. However, I have the domain name, and as such, I'll modestly declare myself first among equals until the other Benjamin Kepples also get an Internet presence.
By QUINN QUIMBLEY
Daily Rant Staff Reporter
MILWAUKEE, Wisc. -- Federal authorities have said the 20-year-old man responsible for a hoax threat against football stadia nationwide is "a disgruntled Milwaukee Brewers fan," despondent over his team's performance and "sick of hearing about football."
Investigators said the man, who has not been identified, was "pushed over the edge" when the baseball team failed to make the playoffs yet again. That, combined with saturation coverage in the media about Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, reportedly sent the man into a tailspin of despair and misery. Authorities interrogated the man on Thursday about the purported threat, which warned that radiological bombs would be set off this weekend at football stadia in seven U.S. cities.
"We found the man holed up in his mother's attic," an FBI official said on condition of anonymity. "I haven't seen anything that disturbing since ... well, it wasn't so much disturbing as it was pathetic. I mean, my God. The walls were splattered with blue and gold paint, and the man had written the words, "1982" and "4-3, 4-3" all over this dingy, musty attic. It could have been eerie, except it was just sad."
"It was like that scene in that movie, 'Dark City,' except not even remotely creepy," the official said.
Authorities' conclusion the man's threat was a hoax came soon after they reported "strong suspicions" about the warning, which had puzzled analysts due to its nonsensical threats.
"I don't mean to be rude, but this guy is clearly as dumb as a bag of hammers," said Arden Epperler, a Tulane University psychology professor. "Look at this list. Oakland? Miami? Houston? Come on. Nobody in their right mind, not even a terrorist bent on destroying the American way of life, would be anywhere near these cities' football fields on Sunday."
"Arizona at Oakland ... oooooooooooooh," Epperler added.
"What the hell was this guy thinking?" asked Marc Marcson, a development analyst with New York-based Scope Creep Leverage Drum PC. "Why the devil would anyone set off a radiological bomb in East Rutherford? Wouldn't you, you know, go for someplace that wasn't already screwed up?"
"By the way, I've got tickets to the Lions-Jets game on Sunday," Marcson added. "You can have them if you'd like -- I had a sudden appointment with my podiatrist crop up."
Officials with the National Football League said the nation's football stadia were well protected and had comprehensive security measures in place. However, NFL officials also weren't concerned about the matter, saying that even if the incidents were to take place as described, they would have "little to no impact" on league-wide football operations.
To some football fans, though, news the threats were a hoax was a disappointment.
"Well, for just a few seconds there, I had hope that a giant blast of radiation would have had some kind of Incredible Hulk-like effects for our offensive line," said Cleveland Browns fan and "Dawg Pound" regular Jay Matinski. "So much for that great idea. Well, if we're lucky this weekend, we can keep the Broncos within three touchdowns."
SO LAST WEEK, as I was about to go to bed on Thursday, I discovered an e-mail from the Rev. Uncle Dave, which merely contained the standings for the AFC North, the National Football League's toughest division. These standings showed Baltimore on top of the division with a 4-1 record, the Cincinnati Bengals next at 3-1, the Pittsburgh Steelers at 1-3 and the Cleveland Browns ... well, last.
Stung as I was by this message, I was pleased to see that in the days following, Baltimore and Cincinnati BOTH LOST, while Pittsburgh CRUSHED the Kansas City Chiefs. Why, even Cleveland ... well, they had a bye week, but the way things are going there, that's practically a win.
So now the plot thickens, and the chase for the AFC North championship remains close -- especially considering the Bengals lost to TAMPA BAY. Gad, now that's just pathetic. Tampa Bay! Oh, and it gets even better. This week, Cincinnati must face a decent Carolina Panthers team, while Pittsburgh will face a hopefully-weakened Atlanta Falcons squad. As for Cleveland ... well, they're playing Denver, so they're in trouble. But one can always hope things will turn out for the best.
UNFORTUNATELY, Wesley Snipes is learning the hard way that one messes with the U.S. Government at one's peril. Recently, federal prosecutors charged the veteran actor with not filing his taxes for several years, as well as charging he took part in an, um, interesting tax avoidance scheme.
According to the Government's allegations, Mr Snipes disregarded his long-time tax counsel and instead relied on advice from tax-scheme promoters, who claimed that under U.S. tax law, Mr Snipes owed no taxes on his domestic income.
Regardless of how the criminal case turns out, though, it's fair to say that reliance may have been Mr Snipes' worst decision since agreeing to star in "Boiling Point," a wretched 1993 detective movie that -- some thirteen years later -- I'm still angry about seeing.
Christ, everyone with whom I went to see "Boiling Point" was angry at the end of it. I mean, it was so bad that I half wished I had gone to class that afternoon, even though by that time in life I was approaching high school with a combination of nausea and ennui.
Anyway, the indictment -- which appears on The Smoking Gun's Web site -- is rather interesting to read. I must say that, given the allegations, I was surprised at how long it took for the Government to bring the action. Based on the Government's recounting of events in the document, it certainly seems like they gave Mr Snipes every possible opportunity to accede to the Government's demands, and it would appear they finally ran out of patience with his alleged refusal to follow the nation's tax laws.
As for Mr Snipes, his side of the story isn't known yet. That's because he is nowhere to be found, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. But for now, let's consider that an in absentia plea of not guilty.
GOOD NEWS! The Rant's e-mail capabilities are up and running again! However, any e-mail messages sent to The Rant's primary address in the last 36 hours have been lost. Sorry about that. Please resend any letters, communiques, receipts and other correspondence if necessary. Thank you!
Let us be thankful we have commerce. Buy more. Buy more now. Buy, and be happy!
On a serious note, The Rant would like to thank Dean Esmay for his generosity in again assisting me with these types of technical issues.
HELLO ALL. I'M SORRY for not posting lately, and I'm even sorrier for not keeping up on my e-mail correspondence like I ought. Unfortunately, The Rant has been having what can charitably be described as "e-mail issues," and these -- combined with the continued lack of comments on-site -- have rendered me somewhat mute for the moment. I'm working on fixing these problems and will hopefully have them dealt with soon. However, given the way my technological capabilities are being degraded, I might soon have to start sending audiotapes to television stations.
Of course, aside from all that, things here have been amazingly busy. I had a great visit with my parents this weekend, and have been quite busy with work in the meantime, and spending most of my free time doing things like "eating" and "sleeping." However, things are slowly starting to "cool down" here at The Rant and I do hope to resume a normal posting schedule shortly.
UPDATE: OK, I can apparently write e-mail -- I just can't receive any e-mail. So if you've sent me e-mail in the last, oh, 36 hours or so, I can assure you I haven't received it. This is being worked on.
"WE COULD HAVE SNOW at the end of the night here at Invesco Field at Mile High."
-- Mike Tirico,
"Monday Night Football"
You've got to love football season.
YOU KNOW, January 2007 is starting to look a hell of a lot bleaker than it did just a few weeks ago. Back then, it looked as if I’d have the chance to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers, America’s greatest football team, play in the postseason. But Pittsburgh’s loss to the San Diego Chargers makes it look as if the Steelers will instead spend the post-season at home on their sofas.
Let’s review the horrible facts.
First: we’re 1-3. Second: Not only are we 1-3, we’ve lost to the evil Cincinnati Bengals once, making it tougher for us to win our division. Third: Good God, we lost to Schottenheimer, which is really pathetic. After all, if there’s anyone out there who can lose a big game, it’s Marty Schottenheimer. As such, it’s time to address some alarming trends that I and other Steelers fans have noticed over the past few weeks:
One. Not Enough Yelling on the Sideline.
During telecasts of the games in which Pittsburgh has lost, there has been a noticeable downturn in the amount of yelling Coach Bill Cowher has been doing. Last season, Cowher’s outbursts were so noteworthy they were mentioned on the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” This year, we’re only seeing the Icy Glare of Disgust, and clearly it’s not working out. We need more outbursts. Hell, coach, throw your headset around if you must, just get the troops fired up.
Two. Fast Willie Not Living Up to Nickname.
There’s nothing like watching Yet Another Steeler Running Play in which the ball is handed off to “Fast” Willie Parker on first down. Why, sometimes Parker gains as many as two yards on these plays, which generally involve him running into the middle of the scrum and getting crushed by a defensive lineman. Pittsburgh, this isn’t working. Please find someone else – like that new guy from Green Bay you picked up – to alternate with Parker on running plays, so we can get back to that nice run/pass balance that worked so well for us last year.
Three. Trick Plays Need Improvement.
I like when Pittsburgh pulls trick plays, even when they don’t work. That said, trick plays need to be smart. That stunt with the fake punt? Not smart. Everyone, including me, had this figured out well before the play ran. Sadly, "everyone" in this instance includes the San Diego defense, which snuffed out the play in an instant.
However, I have to say I’m glad to see the trick plays continuing. When these work, they work very well, and I thought the flea-flicker tonight had a shot, so I can’t blame anyone for that despite the interception. But if you’re going to fake a punt, make it look like a punt from the get-go.
Four. For God’s Sake, Throw on First Down
Roethlisberger seemed to be shaking the rust off despite the loss, so I’m hopeful he’ll be back to throwing strikes sooner rather than later. Throwing more, particularly on first down, will help. After all, everyone expects Willie Parker to run up the middle on first, so this would be like running a trick play (see point three).
Five. You Have 12 Games Left. Win 10.
This should actually be easier than it sounds. Pittsburgh got an OK schedule this time around and still has two games each against Cleveland and Baltimore, all four of which are eminently winnable. Plus, we’ve got games against powerhouse teams like Oakland and Tampa Bay. As such, based on Pittsburgh’s schedule, a strong rest of the season is definitely possible.
Anyway, I hope this helps the Pittsburgh Steelers jump out of their slump, as otherwise I’m going to have a really grim January – particularly if the Colts manage to make it to the Super Bowl. God, can you imagine how wretched that would be? So please, Pittsburgh – in January, give me something to which I can look forward. As much as I like arena football, counting down the weeks until it starts -- while watching Peyton Manning choke in the Big Game -- is not how I want to start 2007.
KEPPLE'S LAW OF MEXICAN RESTAURANTS: A Mexican restaurant is good when one eats there and has an excellent dinner. A Mexican restaurant is great when one goes back the next morning for breakfast.
ON SUNDAY, the Dallas Cowboys will play the Philadelphia Eagles in the City of Brotherly Shove. It will be a game fraught with tension and emotion and a wonderful storyline, what with the flamboyant Terrell Owens returning to play the team which he treated so badly. Like most football fans in the United States, I find myself in a dilemma: do I root against Dallas, or do I root against Philly?
After all, like most football fans in the United States, I don't particularly care for the Eagles or the Cowboys. In fact, I hate both teams with a passion, and I would like nothing more than for both squads to beat the crap out of each other on Sunday. Few things would cause me more enjoyment than watching a Philadelphia lineman steamroll over Mr Owens -- except, perhaps, Mr Owens scoring a key touchdown over the wretched Eagles. In fact, this is one of those games where I'm tempted to simply root for both teams' defensive squads, which are too frequently overlooked in this day and age.
Yet that doesn't mean it's easy to choose whom to root against. Why, even on my list of NFL teams which I hate, Dallas and Philadelphia are remarkably close on the list (Dallas is No. 3, while Philadelphia is No. 4). Trust me when I say there's lots to dislike about both teams.
In Dallas' case, there's the jackass owner (Jerry Jones), the arrogant coach (Bill Parcells), and the team's long history of having players who either run afoul of the law or are incredibly irritating (or both). Plus, they beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX, which was really Not Pleasant. I'd give Dallas credit for having once had Tom Landry as coach, except Jones fired the guy. As such, the Cowboys can get bent.
In Philly's case, I don't even know who owns the team. As for the folks on the field, I actually only have a mild dislike for Andy Reid, who seems in an impossible spot. Hell, I actually feel sorry for most of the Philly players, because they have to play for the Eagles. But it's Philly's fans which I despise with a passion, because they're thugs and louts and an embarrassment to their city.
Everyone knows about how the Philly fans booed Santa, and how the Philly fans cheered when Michael Irvin suffered his neck injury. But even the good Eagles fans are scoundrels. I mean, it's pretty bad when the guy named the "Lincoln Financial Field Fan of the Game" later gets thrown out of the stadium for rowdiness.
Still, when all is said and done, I think I'm going to have to root for the Eagles, tough call as that may be. Were Dallas to actually win the game, that would represent yet another victory for Messrs Jones, Parcells and Owens. I could not in good conscience hope for such an event, primarily because I have frequently expressed my displeasure with those gentlemen. Besides, Philly will lose in the playoffs anyway, so an extra win here or there for them won't make much of a difference. So, Philadelphia, go out there and make us all proud!
Just don't expect bail money.
(via Steve Silver)
EARLIER TODAY, a devout Cleveland Browns fan whom I won't name was groaning at Cleveland's performance against the Oakland Raiders. The Browns were down 21-10 at the half and had been through a world of pain -- at one point losing 21-3. It was such a grim performance that he told me, dejectedly, that it proved the Browns were the worst team in football. But I shrewdly advised this Browns fan that he ought not give up hope, for surely the Browns could secure a victory in the second half.
I couldn't believe it, but they actually pulled it off. 24-21. Boy. Good for you, Cleveland!
Plus, the New England Patriots walked into Cincinnati and kicked the Bengals in the teeth. Wow. The way Carson Palmer's been handling the football, you'd have thought Kimo van Oelhoffen hit Palmer in his throwing arm and not his knee. So ... um ... even though I still hate the Patriots, I thank them for delivering what may prove a crucial loss to the Cincinnati squad.
As for Peyton Manning, he still sucks, even though he somehow managed to lead the Colts to a victory over the New York Jets, which also may help Pittsburgh down the line. Let's see if he can do that in the playoffs.
As for Baltimore, while I'm surprised the Ravens beat San Diego today, I was even more surprised to hear the first rumblings about the Ravens possibly making it to the Super Bowl this year. We'll see about that. Their first three wins were against uncompetitive teams and they have a much tougher schedule ahead. Still, I must say that I'd have no problem with the Ravens making the playoffs as long as Pittsburgh gets to knock them out.