By Tim Keown
Page 2

Archie and Olivia Manning said they didn't know which team to root for, like it was a hard decision or something. Giants or Colts? Come on, folks, get with the times.

Mr. and Mrs. Manning, don't you know that 90 percent of the football-viewing public doesn't know who to root for, either? Don't you know they make up their mind as soon as they decide to take the Eagles and give the points?

Peyton and Eli Manning
Evan Pinkus/WireImage
Peyton and Eli both put up pretty good numbers for their fantasy owners.

But even if you're not betting, you're not rooting, either -- at least not for something as old-fashioned as a team. Ninety percent of the guys who aren't betting (these percentages are approximate, by the way) are rooting for themselves.

Archie, you and Olivia -- and even you, Cooper -- never had a better chance to be hip to the fantasy football scene than Sunday night. Find a league in which you can play two quarterbacks, and your problem is solved.

So then who are you rooting for? Peyton and Eli, that's who. See how simple that is? With a little foresight, you guys could have done commercials touting this concept. The schedule's been out for a while, so you should have had your agent on this a long time ago.

Fantasy league fanaticism wasn't around when you were playing, Archie, but you would have been a perfect candidate to be the favorite player of a bunch of those guys who don't know who to root for.

Think about it: You were a very good player on a bunch of very bad teams. How ideal can you get? It seemed you were always down by at least two touchdowns (these generalizations are approximate as well) and if your team was going to score, it was most likely going to come on a pass by you, or a run-for-your-life scramble by you.

See? You were ahead of your time as a player, but behind the times as a dad. You guys still care who wins? Man, no wonder your kids are so competitive.

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And now, for the most amazing thing about this entire episode -- a T-ball playoff game? The lawyer for the T-ball coach from the Pittsburgh area who allegedly offered a kid $25 to bean his autistic teammate before a playoff game says intense media coverage makes it impossible for his client to receive a fair trial.

Maybe the T-ball coach will eventually end up coaching football at Colorado: The coach's lawyer said nobody was trying to hit the autistic kid, but the autistic kid got hit because "he was terrible."

No matter how strongly David Ortiz makes the case for himself, the AL MVP issue is a three-player race: Jermaine Dye, Justin Morneau or Derek Jeter.

Say what you want about Raiders fans, but at least include this much: It's not often you can find that many people willing to get that excited -- and that dressed-up -- to watch a guy punt.

Which brings up another issue that needs to be addressed by every game director: Hard to believe, I know, but most of us don't need to see some guy in the stands wearing team gear holding his head in his hands every time his team misses a field goal or drops a pass or commits a penalty or gets sacked or scores or punts or falls down.

The next time he complains about an official failing to throw a flag, they're going to remind him that it's apparently not as easy as it looks: Nick Saban.

I'd put it somewhere in the Napoleon Kaufman range: Trent Green's head hitting the ground was one of the most cringe-inducing sights in NFL history.

However, since we're on the topic: Aaron Brooks might want to get rid of the ball quicker, just because.

Like the Native Americans who put their ears to the ground to listen for approaching buffalo, I read this story and sensed another appearance for Lance on "The Larry King Show": Two of Lance Armstrong's former teammates, including long-time but now former friend Frankie Andreu, admitted to the New York Times that they took EPO to help Armstrong win the Tour de France in 1999.

Just as I thought, he's saving the impassioned defense for Larry: According to the Times, Armstrong refused repeated requests for comment.

This, apparently, is what it feels like when the walls close in: Three of Armstrong's former lieutenants, including Floyd Landis, have tested positive for one doping substance or another.

One final cycling question, since the opening week of the NFL is always the best time of year to talk cycling: Why doesn't somebody just come out and say the Tour de France is too damned hard to win without the assistance of banned performance enhancers?

Far be it from me to question the logic of advertisers -- besides, that guy really does look like he could teach me to draw like a pro -- but I have a simple question: Why would "illness and family emergencies" put me in a position where I owed more than 40 grand in back taxes?

His socks, however, were exquisite: In Week 1's most ridiculous example of overzealous officiating, Randy Moss was called for an unsportsmanlike taunting penalty for tossing the ball to the Chargers' kicker after being run out of bounds.

And finally, the long-running classic now starring Mike McCarthy as Jimmy Carter: Do you ever get the feeling the Packers are being held hostage by Brett Favre?

Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Page 2 here.



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