By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Before we delve into Part Two of the "Goodfellas"/NFL preview, let's clear up some controversy from Part One. Reader Scott G. from Chicago explains:

    "You incorrectly stated that there was no nudity in 'Goodfellas.' Actually, when Henry is pinning Karen to the bed, and she is wearing that copper nightgown, you can see her areola during the side view. Now, this may not seem like nudity to you but the Super Bowl almost got moved to Spice for showing less. I know it is sad that I picked up on this but in a movie with very little nudity you hone in on things."

Surprisingly (actually, not so suprisingly) a number of people e-mailed me about this. So I went back and checked the DVD. Around the 48-minute mark, yes, you can see maybe a side of Karen's bosom and maybe one-fifth of an areola. I'm just not sure how this can be classified as a nude scene. For instance, "Pretty Woman" has a similar moment with Julia Roberts, and nobody ever talks about the time Julia Roberts went topless in "Pretty Woman." I think it's a reach. And if you think this was all an excuse for me to keep writing the word "areola" and see if ESPN would edit it out ... well, maybe you're right.

On to Part Two, 20 more of my favorite quotes and exchanges from "Goodfellas," handed out to my favorite plots, subplots and X-factors for the upcoming NFL season.

21. "The guy's talented, leave it at that, he's very talented."

AFC PREDICTIONS
AFC EAST
New England -- 14-2
NY Jets -- 10-6
Buffalo -- 6-10
Miami, -- 3-13

AFC NORTH
Pittsburgh -- 10-6
Cleveland -- 9-7
Cincinnati -- 8-8
Baltimore -- 6-10

AFC SOUTH
Indianapolis -- 11-5
Tennessee -- 10-6
Houston -- 8-8
Jacksonville -- 5-11

AFC WEST
Oakland -- 9-7
Denver -- 9-7
Kansas City -- 7-9
San Diego -- 3-13

To the most underrated move of the off-season: The Browns signing Jeff Garcia, who was discriminated against because A.) he looks too much like Boggs from Shawshank, and B.) his dreadful performances in the Quarterback Challenge were almost as dramatic as Heather Locklear's golf game in the annual Michael Douglas and Friends Charity Classic. As Joe Theismann would say, HERE'S A GUY who just gets it done. Just going from that Holcombe-Couch debacle to Garcia has to be worth four wins, right? That brings them up to 9-7, right in line with Butch Davis's 23-year plan.

22. "Tommy's a bad kid, he's a bad seed, what am I supposed to do, shoot him?"

"Yeah, it wouldn't be a bad idea."

One of the worst ideas (the embattled restaurant guy joking that Paulie should shoot Tommy) goes to one of the worst ideas of the season: Atlanta sticking Mike Vick in a West Coast offense. Let's see ... we have the most gifted natural athlete who has ever played the position ... let's handcuff any chance of improvisation by tying him to a regimented offense that doesn't play to his strengths! And you thought J-Kidd being forced to run the triangle in Dallas could never be topped.

(And yes, I'm concerned about Vick: I'd hate to see him end up as this decade's Randall Cunningham, a guy remembered more for his video game exploits than anything else. It would be a shame if the Vick Era didn't reach its full potential, given that he's likable, exciting, talented, charismatic ... heck, he even has a black-sheep brother. All the elements are there for greatness.)

23. "Every once in awhile, I'd have to take a beating, but by then I didn't care. The way I saw it, everybody takes a beating sometimes."

To the up-and-coming Texans, a potential wildcard pick for me if Dom Capers wasn't prominently involved. Quick feel-good story: Back in December, 2001, I was covering the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl in Houston (don't ask), which took place the same week when the expansion Texans signed their first handful of free agents. I remember driving on one of the 78 highways in Houston, listening to sports radio as the hosts breathlessly analyzed each signing -- each of whom had roughly a 0.00007-percent chance of making the team -- and thinking to myself, "Man, this city REALLY needed its football team back." Seems like yesterday. Now they have a decent team.

Dikembe Mutombo
Needless to say, the Rockets will be relying on hand signals this season.

(Note: Big year for Houston, between the Super Bowl, the resurgent Astros, Clemens's return, T-Mac and Yao, the All-Star Game, a potential playoff team with the Texans, and the 7,300 Light Rail accidents. And now the Rockets have traded for Dikembe Mutombo, which could lead to the first-ever situation where Yao's translator needs his own translator to figure out what Dikembe is saying. Has any team ever had two translators before? I'm telling you, it's the Year of Houston.)

24. "Saturday night was for wives, but Friday night at the Copa was always for the girlfriends."

To the Sports Gal ... when we were watching "Goodfellas" this week, I asked what would happen if I was in the mob and we spent Saturday nights toigether, but it was implicitly understood that I would be spending Friday nights at the Copa with my homely mob mistress. That led to this exchange:

-- SGal (casually): "I'd kill you quietly."

-- Me (concerned): "What do you mean?"

-- SGal (concentrating on the movie): "I'd kill you quietly. With arsenic or something. I'd make it so they could never trace it back to me."

(And yes, I'm mentioning this exchange just in case I ever wind up mysteriously dead and you're watching one of those "Autopsy XIX" shows on HBO about me some day.)

25. "Relax, would ya, what's gotten into you? I haven't seen you in a long time, and I'm breaking your b---s a little bit, I'm only kidding with ya."

To poor Jesse Palmer ... I think he'll be hearing these words a lot this season. Does he care that he undermined his credibility as a professional athlete by appearing on "The Bachelor"? Or was the upgrade from "NFL groupies" to "C-List Celebrity Groupies" -- not an insignificant upgrade, by the way -- worth making that sacrifice? I really need to know. Maybe he came to grips with the fact that his career was headed nowhere, so he cashed in while he could. Whatever the case, I wish there was a channel that showed Giants games, only produced by the people who did "The Bachelor", as well as the announcer from "The Bachelor" ... and then they pretended that each game was geared around whatever Jesse was doing.

Coming up: Jesse gets Kurt Warner a cup of Gatorade, but was it the right flavor? And later, it's the most dramatic moment with a third-string QB talking into a headset yet!

26. "What did I tell you? What did I tell you? You don't buy anything! What's the matter with you? What's the matter with you? What the (bleep's) the matter with you?"

To Joe Gibbs ... don't you get the feeling he'll be screaming this at Daniel Snyder some time in the next 12 months?

27. "What am I? A schmuck on wheels?"

NFC PREDICTIONS
NFC EAST
Washington -- 10-6
Philly -- 10-6
Dallas -- 9-7
NY Giants -- 4-12

NFC NORTH
Minnesota -- 11-5
Green Bay -- 10-6
Detroit -- 7-9
Chicago -- 4-12

NFC SOUTH
Carolina -- 10-6
New Orleans -- 9-7
Atlanta -- 7-9
Tampa Bay -- 5-11

NFC WEST
Seattle -- 12-4
San Francisco -- 9-7
St. Louis -- 8-8
Arizona -- 3-13

To the Niners, who are just SCREAMING Ewing Theory right now. Too bad Dennis Erickson is prominently involved. And since I have nothing else to add, four random reasons why I love "Goodfellas:"

A. Tommy's mother in the movie (played by Scorsese's Mom, by the way). You know the scene when they stop by Tommy's house and her Mom makes them spaghetti and meatballs at 4 a.m., no questions asked? That was the most realistic scene in the movie. I'm not kidding. I could fly back to Connecticut right now, stop by my Aunt Jen's house in the middle of the night without calling, and she would have her famous sauce going on the stove within three minutes. Every Italian family operates like this. There's no rational explanation for it.

B. The scene when Henry crosses the street to confront the preppie guy who roughed up Karen. Just a perfect example of how you don't need 25 cuts and crazy camera angles to make a fight scene work. My favorite part is when the preppie goes, "What do you want, (bleep)-o? You want some?" and immediately takes a pistol to the temple. That always kills me.

C. Maybe we need Rob Neyer for an official verdict, but I'm willing to bet that the "Bad wigs to characters" ratio in "Goodfellas" blows away any other movie in the history of cinema.

D. The scene when the Lufthansa heist bodies start popping up, accompanied by the extended piano part of "Layla" by Clapton. That was one of those songs where, for years and years, you knew that piano piece would make for a dynamite movie scene ... and then Scorsese nails it. And yes, I felt the same way about "Old School" and "Dust in the Wind." All right, where was I?

28. "People are already walking away from me, I'm dead in here, you gotta get me out!"

To LaDainian Tomlinson, who apparently was given the "Great Back Destined to Toil Away On Crappy Teams" legacy key from O.J., Payton and Sanders. Every decade, it gets passed on to someone new. But while we're here, can everyone agree to stop calling him "LT"? We already HAD an LT. If a young NBA player named Malik Jeffries came along, you can be damn sure nobody would call him "MJ." This really bothers me. It's 600 times worse than Glenn Robinson stealing Antoine Carr's nickname.

29. "I'm (bleeping) kidding with you, you (bleeping) shoot the guy?"

"He's dead."

"You stupid bastard, I can't (bleeping) believe you. You're gonna dig the hole."

"Fine, I'll dig the (bleeping) hole. I don't give a (bleep), what's that the first hole I dug?"

This one goes to me ... it's reason No. 539 why I love "Goodfellas:" Tommy shoots Spider five times, poor Spider's lying dead on the ground and DeNiro immediately starts complaining about how he's not digging the hole. Fantastic.

Dennis Green
The NFL's greatest reality show gets new life this season.

30. "Today everything is different. There's no action. I have to wait around like everyone else. Can't even get decent food. Right after I got here, I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and I got egg noodles and ketchup. I'm an average nobody. I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook."

To Ricky Williams, who should be pulling a Bison Dele and changing his name to something like "Atticus Bongman" any day now. Let's just hope he doesn't take up sailing.

31. "You might know who we are, but we KNOW who you are."

To Bill Belichick ... say what you want about the Patriots, but you could make a pretty strong case that Belichick is the MVP of the league right now. Think about it. Has any single person had a more dramatic effect on an NFL franchise over the past three years, with the possible exception of Steve McNair and maybe Steve Spurrier? I think we should stick Belichick on the five-dollar bill. But that's just me.

32. "No-no-no-no ... you insulted him a little bit. You insulted him a little bit."

To the Carolina Panthers, the sleeping giant in the NFC. Other than a tough schedule and some minor o-line questions -- and who doesn't have those? -- they aren't any different from the team that dominated Philly, St. Louis and Dallas last January. And yet, Vegas has them listed at "$100 to win $105" to make the playoffs, which means they're slightly more likely not to make it (according to the odds). You're telling me that six NFC teams are better than the Panthers? Come on.

(Classic DeNiro in this scene, by the way. It's almost like they wrote this scene specifically so people would leave the theater and imitate him telling Billy Batts, "No-no-no-no ... you insulted him a little bit. You insulted him a little bit." And then he drops the old "Drinks are on the house" follow-up on him. An hour later, he's stomping him to death. What a movie.)

QUOTES THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE CUT
1. "Take this ... now I gotta turn my back on you."

2. "People all looked at me differently, they knew I was with somebody. I didn't have to wait on line at the bakery on Sunday mornings anymore for fresh bread."

3. "Jimmy was the kind of guy who rooted for the bad guys in the movies."

4. "He's hanging around my bleeping neck like a vulture."

5. "Hey, you wanna laugh, last week this p---k asked me to christen his kid."

6. "When there's nothing left... you light a match."

7. "My birth certificate and my arrest sheet -- that's all you'd ever have to know that I was alive."

8. "I just want to make sure I don't end up kissing (bleeping) Nat King Cole over here."

9. "Now he's moving! All right, so he got shot in the foot, what is that a big (bleeping) deal?"

10. "She'll never divorce him. She'll kill him, but she'll never divorce him."

11. "We had a problem. You know what I mean. He's gone. And we couldn't do nothing about it."

12. "That's when I knew I would never have come back from Florida alive."

13. "When I was broke, I'd go out and rob some more. We ran everything. We paid off cops. We paid off lawyers. We paid off judges. Everybody had their hands out. Everything was for the taking. And now it's all over. That's the hardest part."

33. "You're just funny, you know, the way you tell the story and everything, uh..."

The most panicked explanation goes to the most panicked explanation of the off-season: Mike Martz defending his decision to play it safe in regulation of the Panthers playoff game, claiming that it wasn't a lack of confidence in Marc Bulger ... he just didn't like the way the offense was playing at the time. In fact, according to Martz, he still has a ton of confidence in Bulger. Good to hear. If this doesn't end badly either this season or next season, I don't know anything anymore.

(Martz's improbable praise of Bulger brings back memories of my favorite Rick Pitino quote -- after the Kenny Anderson trade in '98, when he gave up on a young rookie named Chauncey Billups after 50 games, then told local TV icon Bob Lobel, "We didn't give up on Chauncey, we thought he was fantastic!" Coach P would have made a great mobster. You can almost picture him telling Maury's wife at the end of "Goodfellas," "We didn't have Maury whacked, we thought he was fantastic!")

34. "Where's the stuff that I left?"

"I flushed it down the toilet."

To the poor Dolphins, who still have the Henry Hill "You flushed it down the toilet???" face after Ricky's surprise retirement (even the Ewing Theory can't save these guys). I'm just sad that we won't get to see their annual Hannukah collapse this winter. That was fast becoming one of my favorite holiday traditions, right up there with "Christmas Vacation" on TNT and my stepmother buying her dogs Christmas presents from one another, then writing "To Maggie from Abbie" and "To Abbie from Maggie" on the gift cards.

(This seems like a good place to bring up Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco, who were basically the two leads in "Goodfellas," one of the best movies of the past 20 years ... and neither of them have done anything to approach it since. So the question remains: Were they good actors, just plain lucky to be involved, or both? I'm going with "good" for Liotta, "just plain lucky" for Bracco. But it's an interesting debate. And I mention this only because they carried the bloated drug sequence in the final fourth of the movie, which always feels a few minutes too long.)

35. "You want to see helicopters? Come on, I'll show you helicopters."

The strangest sequence in the movie goes to the strangest running subplot in the league: Everyone continuing to discuss Jake Plummer like he's an established QB with a history of leading successful teams. I mean, have you WATCHED him? Have you SEEN his stats? What am I missing here? Seriously. They lose Clinton Portis, they lose Shannon Sharpe, they have an average group of receivers ... and yet Jake Plummer's around, so everything should be okay.

Really? Since when? Check out his career stats on ESPN.com. What am I missing? I see an up-and-down guy who turns 30 this year; cracked 3,500 yards twice in seven seasons; has a 105-121 TD-INT ratio; and has won exactly one playoff game. Am I missing something? Please, fill me in.

(Then again, maybe we can make money from this. In fact, I'll shut up right now.)

36. "Come on, what are you doing? I have a better shot of letting him drive."

One of my favorite lines (Tommy telling Carbone to start the car right after whacking Maury) goes to one of my favorite subplots: Denny Green's dramatic return to the National Football League. Let the comedy begin! The NFL Channel needs to start following this man around 24-7 -- keep a camera on him and let Denny do the rest. And make sure you have at least 19 cameras on hand for Denny's post-game locker room speeches. Just trust me.

Ricky Williams
Ricky might want to check out Bison's story before he checks out.

37. "But, I'm funny how? I mean, funny like a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh? I'm here to (bleeping) amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How the (bleep) am I funny, tell me what's so (BLEEPING) funny about me?"

To Kellen Winslow Jr., who isn't just destined to become the first meaningful roto tight end from the post-millennium drafts since Jeremy Shockey was still alive, but a guy who apparently formed his personality from watching every "Real World/Road Rules Challenge." Can't you see this guy getting in the Miz's face after an especially heated "Who can eat more fish guts?" challenge, getting pulled away by Trishelle and Cyrus, then screaming "I'm a soldier! I'm a (bleeping) soldier!" in the Confessional Room? Maybe there's still time.

(By the way, my favorite part of the "How am I funny?" scene, which single-handedly won Joe Pesci an Oscar that year? Liotta over-laughing as he tells the story. Either he was really cracking up, or he's the greatest fake-laugher of all-time. I wish we could hire him for parties and stuff.)

38. "Here's an arm! Here's a leg!"

"Hey, here's a wing!"

To poor Jon Gruden, dealing with a rotting corpse on his hands with this 2004 Bucs team. When you keep losing key guys and screwing up draft picks, eventually, bad things will happen (just ask the Raiders last season). Now they're one of those "Looks good on paper" teams, like the guy in your roto draft who starts taking Curtis Martin, Tim Brown, Keyshawn Johnson, Eddie George and Joey Galloway in the middle rounds, and you glance at their team and think, "Man, they look pretty good!" until you remember that this isn't 1998 anymore. That's the Bucs.

39. "Listen, I got some beautiful Dior dresses, you want to pick some out for yourself?"

To the New Orleans Saints, who have successfully snookered people into thinking they were a potential Super Bowl contender for three straight years now. They even got me last year, and I knew they were trouble. Yes, they look good on paper. They always look good on paper. They also still have the same coach who presided over all the screw-ups and late-season breakdowns, and they still have the same QB who's too careless with the ball. So you can't bite when they're sending you down the street and telling you ...

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
ROUND ONE
NY Jets over Pittsburgh
Tennessee over Oakland
Carolina over Philly
Washington over Green Bay

ROUND TWO
New England over NY Jets
Indianapolis over Tennessee
Carolina over Minnesota
Seattle over Washington

CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND
New England over Indianapolis
Seattle over Carolina (OT)

Right down there... keep going. Right there, right on the corner. It's over there. Nah nah nah nah - it's right there, right over there, go in the store!

40a. "Why don't you go (bleep) yourself, Tommy?"

The most ominous line in the movie (Spider's last words) goes to the playoff teams with the most ominous futures: Namely, St. Louis, Tennessee and Kansas City. If we've learned anything from the Parity Era, it's these two things: A.) When a quality team starts heading in the other direction, it happens much more rapidly than you think; and B.) it doesn't take much anymore to change someone's destiny between 10-6 and 6-10.

For instance, let's say the young guys (Brown and Calico) don't pan out in Tennessee, and let's say McNair suffers his annual comic book hero-style injury where his left arm gets ripped off and has to be reattached or something. Suddenly you have a defense that has been quietly losing key guys, coupled with an offense that doesn't have a single playmaker other than Derrick Mason, plus McNair with a reattached left arm, and an overmatched Chris Brown running upright and stutter-stepping into the line every time ... I mean, it happens THAT fast. You never know.

Anyway, you have to take chances with these prediction columns. We also know that six of the 12 playoff teams won't make the playoffs again. Those are the rules. That's why I'm bouncing the Rams (too much Martz and Bulger, shaky D); the Chiefs (same crappy D, below-average WR's); and the Titans (just a gut feeling). I'm also crossing off Dallas (because of Vinny); Denver (half-Plummer, half-Shananan); and Baltimore (they didn't improve; everyone else in their division did). That makes six.

Since we already have the Pats, Colts, Panthers, Packers, Eagles and Seahawks, that means ...

40b. "Awwwwww, you broke your cherry!"

We need six more playoff teams. So let's go with these:

1.) Washington -- Using the Dave Campo Memorial "Any time you can upgrade from a horrible coach to a good coach, that's worth at least four wins" Corollary. I'm a big believer in that one.

Dave Campo
Campo was so dazed and confused in Dallas that he just realized that he's not the coach anymore.

2.) Minnesota -- You have no idea how close San Fran was to claiming this spot. Yes, the Vikings make me nervous after that December collapse. It's never good when a team appears as the loser in the climactic scene of four different "NFL Yearbook" shows on ESPN2 -- you know, the half-hour shows where they can make a 3-13 season feel like the last 20 minutes of the Longest Yard? In four of those shows, the Vikes were the Guards. Not good. I'm taking them, anyway.

3.) The Jets -- The J-E-T-S Jets Jets JETS!

4.) Pittsburgh -- Using the "Every two or three years, Cowher somehow slaps something together and makes the second round" logic. And yes, I think Rooethhthshlishsgsgfsbedgegr will be the QB by Week 10.

5.) Oakland -- I know, I know ... totally insane. This division just seems wide-open to me.

6.) Cincinn-

(You know what? Screw it. I can't go against McNair. I just can't.)

6.) Tennessee -- Any time you have a QB who's so tough, he's dragging around his bum leg in the fourth quarter of a playoff game in minus-8 degree weather, and one of the announcers casually says later, "His painkillers must have worn off," and that same guy still comes within a Drew Bennett drop of possibly tying the game on the road ... I can't go against him. He's like Michael Myers. You need to chop McNair's head off to finally feel safe.

Bonus Quote: "One day the kids from the neighborhood carried my mother's groceries all the way home. You know why? It was outta respect."

To the New England Patriots, winners of 15 straight, winners of two titles in the past three years, the most loaded Pats team of my lifetime. Of course, much like with life in the Mafia, you never know: One minute you're riding high, the next minute you're lying in the middle of an empty room, face down on an ugly carpet, blood pouring out of your head from a bullet you never saw coming. It can happen that fast.

And yet ... I'm still picking them.

The big Super Bowl pick: Patriots 34, Seahawks 27.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.




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