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Monday, November 4, 2002
Ready for some football?

By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

OK, OK.

Now you can cue up the music, Bocephus.

Is The Cooler ready for some football?

Hank Williams, Jr.
Cue it up, Bocephus. Louder, this time.
As a matter of fact, yes.

Finally.

Sometime back in early August, I think a game was played on AstroTurf somewhere near Canton. I think the game involved ABC and John Madden's debut and the Hall of Fame. I think Hank Williams, Jr. appeared somewhere on my TV screen and shouted, in a pitch to make Ella Fitzgerald spin in her resting place: "ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?"

To which those closest to me around The Cooler responded: "Uh, no."

Hank appeared the following week, sometime in August, and screamed, in a pitch to make Mel Torme weep in heaven: "ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?"

To which those closest to me around The Cooler responded: "Not even close, my man."

It went on through August, into Labor Day, raced through September, and barreled into October. Same Bat-Channel, same Bat-Time. Hank Jr., in a pitch to make Sinatra ever regret leaning into a microphone with all his heart: "ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?"

Quoth The Cooler, and those closest to the Sparkletts: "What are you, nuts?"

Jeff Kent
Until November, this town's only big enough for one Porn 'Stache -- and it's Jeff Kent's.
August, September and October is time for the grand old game. August, September and October is time for unexpected heroes in late innings -- like, say, Kenny Lofton's single to right, or Scott Spiezio's bat head on an inside fastball. August, September and October is time for crushing heartbreak on the diamond -- like, say, the Yankees' birthright denied, or Tony La Russa's mullet waving forlornly in a San Francisco breeze. August, September and October is not time for Jeff Fischer's Porn 'Stache. August, September and October is time for Jeff Kent's Porn 'Stache.

But even the thickest Cooler dweller knows to occasionally lift the head out of the Barcalounger and check the calendar.

It's November. Thanksgiving, the most boss of American holidays, is mere weeks away. Christmas, and its accompanying orgy of gift-wrapped DVDs, spiked egg nog and drunken lunges at hot secretaries at the office party, is mere weeks away.

In other words: "ARE WE READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?"

Where are my pork chop sideburns? Where's my 10-gallon hat? Where's my totally American sense of shamelessness and volume?

What's that? You say Hank Jr.'s got it?

Well, I'll be a pig's ass!

You bet your sweet you-know-what we're ready for some football.

On that eloquent note, with Winston Churchill joining Ella, Mel and the Chairman in postmortem shame, we present the Weekend List of Five:

1. The NFL: We sorta, kinda missed you. But not totally.

Spread out the sports page at The Cooler and check the standings and stats. The NFL season is halfway done, and let's face it: We have no clue what's going on.

Broncos Barrel Guy
Hmm, the outfit is missing something. That's right, a mansiere!
Show me a man confident in his NFL wager on Sunday, and I'll show you a man wearing a barrel on Monday. (That excludes the Broncos Barrel Fan Guy, who shouldn't be wearing a barrel under any circumstances, except to boomerang a comedy bit, which doesn't entirely work in his case, given the Male Breasts thing.)

Best in the AFC? Denver, Miami and San Diego.

Right.

San Diego.

All those who had San Diego 6-2 at the halfway point, step forward.

Now, those of you who had money on San Diego at 6-2 at the halfway point, step forward.

And please, bring your barrels with you.

Best in the NFC? Green Bay and Tampa Bay. Close behind: Philly, New Orleans and San Francisco.

Green Bay, we get. Brett Favre remains our Favorite Football Player of the current NFL landscape. We can do that.

The rest? A mess, with heavy emphasis on New Orleans as a Mess. If the Saints somehow host the NFC title game this year, there may be no saving civilization. The nation's sports cognoscenti dispatched in the Crescent City for the Super Bowl is one thing; total lawlessness and debauchery is par for the course.

But if those same scribes could be cut loose for a week of NFC Championship hype? Flying underneath the radar, in essence, with no Super Bowl hype to worry about? Not having to bring their wives or significant others because it's not the Super Bowl?

The mind reels. So do the expense accounts.

Please. Let's do the right thing and root for Green Bay to host that game. We need America's football writers on a tight budget of brats and Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts at Fuzzy's Shenanigans, no brothels involved.

2. More NFL wonders

I see Priest Holmes is leading the NFL in rushing yards and scoring.

Wait.

I don't think you heard me.

I see Priest Holmes is leading the NFL in rushing yards and scoring.

Priest Holmes
Not many people remember that Priest was a Longhorn.
Quick, NFL guru: Where did Priest Holmes play his college ball?

Yeah, now you're struggling, Mr. Fantasy Football.

Growing up, when O.J. toted the rock, we all knew he was a USC Trojan. Guy won the Heisman there. And when he was busy beating a double-murder rap, we all thought: Man, USC's own O.J. Simpson just beat a double murder rap!

Eric Dickerson? You can see him in the SMU jersey right now, dishing out malaprops to Dallas-area beat writers in post-game locker rooms. Emmitt Smith? You remember him racking up yards for Galen Hall's Florida Gators, then remember stout Galen Hall digging into a postgame sampler platter of deep-fried appetizers. Barry Sanders? Shoot, the guy won the Heisman at Oklahoma State. How could you forget, excepting the fact that you don't know where Oklahoma State is located?

Point is, how many of you -- Hook 'em Horns Fans aside -- remember that Priest Holmes played his college ball in Austin, TX., wearing the burnt orange of Texas?

That's what I thought.

The NFL is in a strange place, dwellers.

Either that, or I'm getting really freaking old. That part, I don't like.

3. A brief moment to pay respects to the PGA Tour, and its fine, dynamic champion, Vijay Singh

They held the Tour Championship in Atlanta this weekend, and Vijay Singh won.

Yeah.

So, uh, Vijay ... uh, yeah.

Vijay.

If you were stuck alone in an elevator with Vijay Singh, let me tell you how the conversation would go:

You: "Hey, aren't you Vijay Singh? Wow! I'm stuck in an elevator with Vijay Singh. It is you, isn't it? Vijay?"

Vijay Singh: "Yes, I am."

You: "Hey, cool. You won two majors. That's awesome. You really conquered the golf world. You're a great champion. It must be gratifying to know how well you've played this game. What's, like, your favorite memory?"

Vijay Singh: "Thank you. It is gratifying."

Vijay Singh
Hangin' with Vijay would be like an episode of "The Chris Farley Show".
You: "So, you won the Masters. How cool is that? The dinner, the green jacket, the history, the tradition, the fact that you're a guy and you could conceivably one day be a member, as opposed to any chick. What was that like, man?''

Vijay Singh: "It was nice."

You: "I hear you're a real practice range junkie! What's your best tip for me on the range? What do you do on the range for all that time? You must sing songs, or think funny things! What's the scoop?"

Vijay Singh: "Practice helps my game."

You: Long pause.

Vijay Singh: Long pause.

You: Long pause.

Vijay Singh: Long pause.

You: "Say ... you think this elevator's going to be fixed anytime soon?"

4. NBA intros: We don't love that game!

Eric Musselman is the new head coach of the Golden State Warriors, otherwise known as the "Ishtar" of NBA franchises. And yet, young Musselman is already on the road to Springfield, Mass., in the eyes of The Cooler and its dwellers.

Simple reason: Young Musselman banned the Absurd NBA Intro.

There is nothing more embarrassing than an NBA arena going dark minutes before tipoff on a December night, 8,000 of 18,000 seats empty. There is nothing more embarrassing than that same arena pumping dry ice onto the floor, playing "Rock 'N Roll, Part II" on the PA, volume 11. There is nothing more embarrassing than an arena provoking its PA announcer to sound like his wife is giving birth right in front of him as he announces the starting lineup of a team that is 15 games under .500, with only 25 games in the bag. There is nothing more embarrassing than a spotlight falling upon each member of that starting five of the team already 15 games under .500.

The Allied Forces liberating Paris didn't get the same treatment as an NBA team in December, playing out the string before a half-full Arena. Thank God the French didn't have dry ice, spotlights and "Rock 'N Roll, Part II" when Ike's boys came marching down the Champ-Elysees.

Bless you, Eric Musselman.

5. Don't do the special jerseys

The San Diego Chargers wore their ultra-cool, baby-blue throwback jerseys against the Jets on Sunday -- and got hosed.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame busted out the Green Jerseys for the first time since 1985, and if I'm not mistaken, that's Gerry Faust territory.

Notre Dame
Did Notre Dame make a Faustian bargain?
And Notre Dame got hosed by Boston College.

Moral of the story: The Green Jerseys at Notre Dame are now poison. What was once the coolest thing about ND football -- yeah, when we wear the Green Jerseys, we're unbeatable -- is now a laughingstock. Now, a fan shows up in his Green Jersey at a South Bend tavern, and he gets destroyed by all who lay eyes on him: Hey, turd boy! Thanks for reminding me of the '02 loss to B.C.! What, you want to urinate in my beer, too, while you're here?

And to think, all the Green Jersey guy wants to do is remember the '74 win over 'SC. Plus, he paid damn near 100 bucks for the Green Jersey at an apparel store.

Now, it's Mothball City for the Green Jersey.

Second moral of the story: When a myth hangs over your school's football team, do everything you can to keep the myth alive.

In other words, don't wear the Green Jerseys -- unless your head coach's bookie tells you it's OK.

Will these people never learn?

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.