By David Schoenfield
Page 2

Days Nine, Ten and Eleven ...

I found myself rooting for the Browns on Sunday night.

One of the hardest parts of watching 19 consecutive days of football is not having a rooting interest in either team. If the game isn't exciting, I can easily become a little bored. When that happens, I compensate by eating too many chips and licking the salsa right out of the jar. So I hope for a close game, preferably one with lots of touchdowns.

Which is one reason I was rooting for the Browns. You know with the Ravens and their quarterback-eating defense, you aren't likely to see many points scored to begin with. And then they suck any remaining excitement out of the game since Kyle Boller is never allowed to throw a pass more than 10 yards downfield.

But mostly I just find the Ravens completely unlikeable. Ray Lewis is an amazing football player, maybe the best linebacker of all time, but I find his persona a little revolting. Jamal Lewis is a great, tough running back, but he was just returning from a two-week suspension for his little run-in with the law. Brian Billick is the kind of coach who hollers, "It's about being physical! It's about being physical tonight!" like he's being particularly profound. (Yes, thanks to being wired for sound Sunday, we learned Billick actually said that.)

Plus they were wearing those awful all-black uniforms, including form-fitting leotard pants. Look, those don't look good on the pregnant women at the grocery store and they sure don't look good on 300-pound offensive linemen.

So when my weekend of couch potatoing ended with Jeff Garcia throwing a pass in the final minute that glanced off the diving hands of Aaron Shea, who may or may not have been interfered with, and into the hands of Ravens safety Ed Reed, who returned the interception an NFL-record 106 yards to wrap up Baltimore's 27-13 victory, I actually yelled at the TV for the first time in 11 days.

I guess you can argue I'm either finally getting into this 19 days of football, or it's getting to me. I'm not one of those ranting and raving sports fans. I don't sink into depression when my teams lose. I don't usually scream at the television unless Tim McCarver is providing commentary or Alex Rodriguez punches the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove in the ALCS.

But I really wanted the too-short, too-scrawny Garcia to complete that pass and send the game into overtime.

Shucks.

*****

As for the rest of the weekend, I have to come clean: I cheated a little bit Friday night. The official 19 days of football game was North Texas at Louisiana-Lafayette. Unfortunately, that game didn't start until about 10:45 p.m. ET and it had been a long week for me. Fortunately, ESPN had another game that night, Marshall at Akron, which started earlier, so I watched that one instead. (My apologies to the Rajun' Cajuns, but you can read Wayne Drehs' story here.

Weekend Scorecard
Food consumed: Umm, lots of things not very healthy, unless you count the turkey sandwich on Saturday night. Trouble is, Mrs. Couch Potato and I had gone to see an early showing of "The Incredibles" and I had munched on popcorn (with butter).

Diet sodas: Several

Salsa: Seeds of Change, Certified Organic, Traditional Picante. Smooth and yummy. Three stars out of four.

Time spent raking and blowing leaves: One hour on Saturday, 90 minutes on Sunday.

Mental state of mind: It's a little easier over the weekend, since I only have to write one column. Helps me refresh. And the Monday night game looks like a good one.

Best commercial: Peyton Manning Mastercard commercial where he becomes a "fan," tailgating, shouting at his butcher "Cut that meat! Cut that meat!" and high-fiving fans as they leave work.

OK, I admit it: When I saw USC was trailing Oregon State as I was watching the Utah game, I did a little flipping back and forth.

Mama, don't let your son grow up to be a football player: ESPN flashed a note that Deion Sanders, at age 37, is the oldest active defensive player. I assume they meant in the NFL. My point is it's a reminder that NFL players have short careers. And severe health problems after they retire. And an average age of death much younger than normal.

Say, what? Not to criticize my fellow ESPN employees, but I really hope Mike Patrick, Paul Maguire and Joe Theismann don't wear those black shirts again.

Say, what, part II? After Baltimore scored to make it 18-13 with 7:03 left, Theismann suggested the Ravens go for 1 instead of 2. His boothmates quickly corrected him on this.

The game was dull until the fourth quarter, which produced perhaps the most exciting and heart-wrenching final five minutes you'll see in college football this season. Marshall led 28-14 with just under five minutes left when kicker Ian O'Connor missed a 27-yard field goal -- his third miss of the night.

Akron, behind quarterback Charlie Frye, drove down in 10 plays and scored on a TD pass to Jason Montgomery with 2:18 left. The Zips then recovered the onside kick.

On fourth-and-10 from the Marshall 18-yard line, Frye hit Montgomery for another TD to tie the game with 45 seconds left. Akron's Jason Swiger then booted the kickoff out of bounds, so Marshall had the ball at the 35 -- enough time to get into field-goal range, especially since QB Stan Hill had thrown for over 400 yards. But after a short gain and two incomplete passes, Marshall had to punt. O'Connor comes in, drops the snap, Akron gets the ball with six seconds left and Swiger boots a 43-yard field goal to win the game.

Stunning.

The cameras panned to O'Connor. Your gut ached for the kid.

Saturday's game was Colorado State at Utah, with a late start and the Utes decked out in all red (very nice!). They won 63-31 to remain undefeated, and it wasn't even that close. (Yes, I dozed off in the fourth quarter in this one, but I think it was the game didn't end till after 1 a.m.)

If you haven't seen Utah play, you should. They are fun, throwing all kinds of crazy formations at the defense and letting quarterback Alex Smith beat you with his arm or legs. I don't know if Utah deserves its No. 6 ranking in the BCS, but I'd like to see them get a shot at one of the big boys.

Final game scores:

Marshall-Akron: Four potatoes, thanks to that fantastic finish



Colorado State-Utah: Two potatoes



Cleveland-Baltimore: Two potatoes



E-mails of the Day
Mr. Couch Potato,

FOOTBALL IN AMERICA
  • Football In America Index
  • Drehs: Day 11: The band marches on
  • Day 11 Postcard
  • Schoenfield: Livin' La Vida Sofa
  • Forde: Why we love football
  • I appreciate the work that you are doing with this couch potato experiment. As a fellow couch potato, I've been perfecting my technique for the last 19 years, ever since I was 5.  My dad and I used to come home from church and plop on the couch. We would only move for bathroom and chip breaks, usually Doritos back then. However, I have since moved to the delicacy that is the combination of chips and salsa. It didn't matter what game, college or pro. We would watch. The teams didn't even matter.

    Through college, I would do homework while watching the games. The only breaks on Saturdays would be to head to the stadium and watch my Miami Redhawks in person. Our couch potato days have come to an end since I no longer live with him, but all that time sitting has given us practice. Now, he has season tickets to his alma mater, Wisconsin. We will be driving the seven hours one-way to see the UW/Minnesota game this weekend, and hopefully watch the Badgers hoist Paul Bunyan's axe.
      -- Matt Beck, Dayton, Ohio

    Well, Matt, the Badgers won big, so I know you and your dad enjoyed the game. How long of a drive is it from Dayton to the Orange Bowl?

    Hey, thanks for the report on commercials. I too tracked them during a Browns game; the commercials were better than the game. I was also amazed at the quantity of the interruptions. I also timed the breaks. See the first quarter below. The first column is the amount of time played, then the commercial time. Taking the first line of three minutes of football time, you can then move to the two minutes of commercial time. I particularly liked the 15 seconds of game time followed by 1:30 of commercials! So not only are there a ton of commercials, they happen after only a small amount of game time.

     

    Time Comparison
    Game time Commericals
    3:00 2:00
    1:30 2:00
    0:15 1:30
    5:00 1:48
    3:15 1:30
    3:54 0:20
    1:34 0:30
    4:45 0:10
    3:49 2:00

    -- Bradley Alexander

    So, if I watch about 60 hours of football over these 19 days, I'll be seeing about 20 hours of commercials. Hmm, does that explain my recent urge to buy an SUV and order some Viagra to go with my light beer?

    David Schoenfield is an editor for Page 2 in his day job. He can be reached at davidschoenfield@yahoo.com.




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