By West Coast Craig
BERKELEY, CA â€“ Sorry folks, Iâ€™m making like Nate Kaeding and phoning this one in today. Let me explain, this has been whatâ€™s called a lost weekend, a swirling haze of booze, medication, bad wagering decisions, and testing my gastronomical limits in NoCal, whatâ€™s become a yearly January trip to watch some playoff football with old pals. Also, as a dutiful fantasy commissioner it was my duty to deliver our fantasy football trophy to this yearâ€™s champ, my host Berkeley Josh, carefully packing it in its velvet lined case and taking it on the plane with me. The trophy got its own seat in first class while I sat in the very back row of coach. I delivered it, made sure all the proper paperwork was signed, and with my responsibilities concluded I figured Iâ€™d raise a small glass of port to another year of the Lebowski Football League officially in the booksâ€¦ And thatâ€™s the last thing I really remember with any clarity.
With that shirt and that trophy, this kid’s a winner.
I know I was at a hockey game in San Jose Saturday afternoon, I found the ticket stub in my pocket. The Sharks took apart the once-proud Edmonton Oilers, and we watched in a suite with a fridge full of complimentary beer, at the Silcon Valleyâ€™s proud Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net Arena. The suite had a television on which to watch the Saints-Cardinals game, and it gave me the spins watching New Orleans score at will and knock Kurt Warnerâ€™s shoulder through his sternum. Reggie Bushâ€™s punt return in the third quarter made the total score 59. The over was 57. Thatâ€™s how it ended (how do those lines makers do it?).
After an In-N-Out Burger to help soak up the alcohol poison, we were back up in drizzly Berkeley. The first NFL game sucked – surely the Ravens and Colts would provide better entertainment. Hurting that hope, CBSâ€™s A team is Greg Gumble and Dan Dierdorf. Dierdorf’s days as disgruntled old guy blow-hard on Monday Night Football had cemented my opinion of him, and like old beer itâ€™s only gotten more bitter with age. Iâ€™m calling his plays minutes before him, and Iâ€™m inebriated. Itâ€™s easy; just press your lips to Peyton Manningâ€™s left butt cheek and donâ€™t stop smooching until the final gun. I hate the Ravens but even I felt bad that Manning, Dierdorf, the refs, and the football gods in general seemed to have aligned against them this night – with every bounce going against them, a magic clock at the end of the half giving the Colts another shot at the end zone, with Ed Reed and his jazzy beard doing everything he could to take the momentum back, only to have it smacked out of his arm or have it squashed by a suspicious pass-interference call – there was no way they were going to win.
Certainly Sundayâ€™s games would be better, so we started back at it not long after rolling out of bed, ready for the marquee match-up of the weekend. When it was over, all I heard is how Dallas took great strides this year just to win a playoff game. But the only strides I remember were those safety Gerald Sensabaugh made when he escorted Sidney Rice into the end zone on that first scoring strike. It was like he did everything he could not to knock Rice out of bounds there. Phil Simms proved to be the anti-Dierdorf by refraining from using the â€œheâ€™s just having fun out thereâ€ descriptive of Favreâ€¦and Tony Romo still has a ways to go before announcers can go to a stock clichÃ© about him, unless it has to do with him giving the ball to the other team routinely at the worst possible moments.
The worst weekend of playoff football ever – perhaps even the worst two weekends of playoff football ever – was salvaged last night by the New York Jets. Iâ€™m saying this as someone who lost money on the Chargers. So sure was I that I laid seven points -a number that would swell to nine by kick-off. If you recall last week I said theyâ€™d play scrappy and hang tough until San Diego took a two score lead in the third and briefly it looked like that would hold true, but the Jets D was tough, Nate Kaeding looked like a rattled rookie and two key picks – including Darrelle Revis’ impressively flukey one – led to two Jet touchdowns. Finally, a good game. Along with that Cards-Packers game last week, they were the only two good games of these entire playoffs.
And now the the Jet bandwagon grows. Can they beat the brilliant Peyton Manning and his big brain next week? Why not? Eli Manning and David Tyree say it’s possible.
Happy MLK Day, all.