By DJ Gallo
Special to Page 2

This column will start and end with the New England Patriots because it's the only respectful thing to do.

As you might have heard, Tom Brady claims the Patriots don't get enough respect. And I wholeheartedly agree. I mean, come on -- all the magazine covers, TV commercials, awards and constant media love the team has received over the past four years have been woefully inadequate.

That's why I want to share with you 12 simple steps I take each and every day to make sure I adequately show respect to Tom Brady and the Patriots. I hope you will incorporate them into your own daily schedule. (And it's 12 steps, of course, out of respect for Mr. Brady's uniform number.)

Twelve Ways You Can Better Respect Tom Brady and the Patriots
1. Genuflect whenever you say, read or hear the number 12. (That's four genuflections already this column. So do it. Do it! You don't want to disrespect Tom Brady, do you?! That's better.)

Tom Brady
AP
All hail our hero, Tom Brady.

2. Refer to the current year as "Year 47," not 2006, as history did not truly begin until the Patriots organization was founded in 1960.

3. Take a life-size cardboard cutout of a New England Patriots player with you wherever you go. And be sure to include it in all of your conversations so it doesn't feel left out. It will speak back to you when you are worthy.

4. Shave clean every day. It is disrespectful of you to think you can pull off the sexy stubble look as well as Tom Brady.

5. After lovemaking, apologize to your partner for not being Tom Brady.

6. Boycott network television until every commercial features at least one member of the Patriots.

7. Petition the NFL to have all of Tom Brady's fumbles over his career stricken from the official league record book because of the tuck rule.

8. Never call it a "butt chin." It's a cleft chin. And know that gazing deep into Tom Brady's reveals the secrets of life.

9. Refuse to attend religious services until your local church/synagogue/mosque acknowledges the Patriots' playbook as a holy book on par with any other.

10. Have all of Bridget Moynahan's movies playing on a continuous loop on every television in your home. But never ever gawk or leer at her in a lustful manner. Tom Brady knows and sees all, and you will pay for such a transgression.

11. Every time you come across a baby goat, give it a long and passionate hug. Tom Brady would expect nothing less.

12. (Genuflect.) And finally, just to be safe, begin every sentence -- no matter what it's about -- with: "No disrespect to the Patriots intended, but …"

Headlines That Are Probably in Newspapers This Morning …

Pittsburgh: "Steel Curtain defense holds Carson Palmer to just one completion"

New York: "Distraught Tagliabue promises Giants 16 home games next season"

Tampa: "Laissez-faire upbringing likely to blame for Chris Simms' loss-clinching interception"

Seattle: "Seahawks shocked, overjoyed to escape first round"

Indianapolis: "Manning's miscues prove deadly in playoff loss … but it's not our Manning this time!"

Ten Things I Thought I Thought While Bathing in a Tub of Hot Coffee …
1. What an absolutely terrible break for Carson Palmer to go down like that. And I mean for me personally, because just last week I had retained him for next season in my fantasy football keeper league. Yes, yes -- it was also kind of bad for the Bengals, too. But at least they have a backup quarterback. I have nothing. And that's simply not fair.

2. After Bengals rookie receiver Chris Henry was told by the team's training staff Sunday that his injury would keep him out of the game, I wonder how long it took for him to ask someone: "So if we win and I end up being out for the rest of the season … uh, how do I ask this … does the league still test, you know, for drugs and stuff … like, for instance … marijuana, if you're on injured reserve? Not that it matters or anything. I'm just curious."

3. I am intrigued by all of the Eli Manning apologists saying: "Hey, don't forget, his brother Peyton lost his first playoff game, too." As though that's somehow supposed to make the guy feel better. It would make him feel better, perhaps, if Peyton's disappointing playoff debut had been followed by years of postseason dominance. But, if I remember correctly, that hasn't exactly happened. In fact -- and again, I might not be recalling this correctly -- but I believe Peyton has developed a bit of a reputation for the exact opposite of postseason dominance.

4. How many Giants players do you think were trying to persuade Lawrence Taylor to run from the sideline onto the field during the second half Sunday and take Eli out Theismann-style? I'll set the over-under at 12. (Genuflect.) And how much do you want to bet that Taylor came to the game only because he thought the Panthers' cheerleaders traveled with the team?

5. Regardless, if you're a Giants fan and a Madden Football gamer, you might want to look into purchasing a 60-inch HD plasma screen if you have any hope of seeing Eli's passing cone when Madden '07 comes out.

Jerome Bettis
AP
Look at the big guy go!

6. Speaking of HD, that technology was made for moments such as the up-close, slow-motion replay of Jerome Bettis' 25-yard run down the right sideline in the fourth quarter yesterday. With regular TV, you could see his stomach fat jiggling. But in HD, you could actually see each fiber of his jersey screaming out and begging for mercy. It was stunning.

7. You have to wonder whether Pittsburgh's game plan prep for the Colts will be hurt by assistants Russ Grimm and Ken Whisenhunt interviewing this week for some open head coaching jobs. And you also have to wonder why any teams are even considering the clean-shaven Whisenhunt when Grimm already has the requisite head coach porn 'stache.

8. Fantastic new commercial for the NFL Network, the one about "getting your story straight" for the playoffs in which a fan in the preseason says: "Man, that Drew Rosenhaus … that guy knows how to manage his athletes." I can only hope that commercial aired while Terrell Owens and Rosenhaus were watching a game together this weekend. It would have been the greatest awkward silence of all time -- broken finally after a few minutes by Rosenhaus' screams from Owens beating him to death with his cell phone.

9. In all seriousness, I don't actually think Tom Brady believes the Patriots aren't respected. He's not stupid. But he uses the "no respect" line all the time because it still -- somehow -- fires up his teammates. Which makes me wonder -- if the Patriots actually believe they aren't respected by the media, they might be the dumbest collection of human beings known to man. Good football players, yes. But quite lacking in the intelligence and awareness department. That said, I might even root for them to win another ring because I know how important shiny, sparkly things are to those with lower IQs.

10. Just because I feel as though it has been a bit too long since I paid my respects: 12. (Genuflect.)

Divisional Round Previews …
Last week in this space, I not only predicted the winners of all four wild-card games correctly but nailed each of them against the spread. So, I thought I might as well try to luck out again.

Washington at Seattle
The Seahawks go up early, 17-3, and can extend their lead with a fourth-and-1 on the final play of the first half, but Shaun Alexander is stopped short of the goal line by a huge Sean Taylor loogie. Joe Gibbs' halftime decision to turn play-calling duties over to Coach Janky Spanky gets Washington's offense rolling again in the second half, but it's too little, too late: Seattle 24, Washington 20.

New England at Denver
Before kickoff, Tom Brady accuses God of disrespecting the Patriots by not adequately oxygenating the thin Denver air to the level New England has grown accustomed to. When the final gun sounds, the poor Patriots are disrespected yet again. By the scoreboard. Broncos 30, Patriots 20. (That's right, I'm sticking with the Patriots/disrespect stuff. Hey, it's no more lame than Tom Brady doing it.)

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis
On the Colts' second play from scrimmage, Steelers defensive lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen hits Peyton Manning flush across his left knee with a metal chair. The move backfires for Pittsburgh, however, as knocking Peyton Manning out of a playoff game is about the last thing an opponent should want to do. Bill Cowher's decision to go for an onside kick after every touchdown doesn't help Pittsburgh's cause either. Colts 30, Steelers 23.

Carolina at Chicago
In a contest between two evenly matched teams, the Bears have the advantage because their style is better suited to cold conditions. But more so because they can nestle deep within Kyle Orton's neck beard for warmth between series. Bears 17, Panthers 16.

And finally, God bless the New England Patriots.

DJ Gallo is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine, as well as the founder and sole writer of the award-winning sports satire site SportsPickle.com. He also contributes headlines to "The Onion."




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