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Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Updated: April 25, 12:29 PM ET
Cowboys' win better than ice cream

By Gregg Easterbrook
Page 2 columnist

With the Howard Dean bandwagon rumbling toward carrying two, three or perhaps even four states in the 2004 election, everybody wants on board. Time and Newsweek both had Dean on the cover. The Tuesday Morning Quarterback political action committee, TMQ-PAC, just covered its bases by donating the legal maximum to the Dean campaign. (Note: under campaign finance law, the "legal maximum" varies between $2,000 and unlimited, depending on your lawyer. Also, Federal Election Commission documents show that hundreds of Vermont cows have already donated the hard-money maximum to Dean's committee.)

And Ben & Jerry's ice cream has named an ice-cream sundae after Dean.

The Ben & Jerry's pro-Dean sundae is called Maple Powered Howard. Dean supporters have begun to chant "Maple Powered Howard!" at the rallies of other candidates, trying to drown out the opposition. You won't find Maple Powered Howard at your local outlet unless you live in Vermont, however; it is not an auspicious sign for the candidate's prospects that even Ben & Jerry's thinks no one outside Dean's home state would want a product bearing his name. And Ben & Jerry's does not even list the existence of Maple-Powered Howard on its inventory of flavors. Perhaps it worries about other candidates demanding equal-time flavors.

TMQ thinks other presidential candidates should demand their own Ben & Jerry's flavors! So, as a public service, here's what they would be:

  • John Kerry: Very Kerry Irish-Jewish-Czech Melting Pot. Flavors from all over the world, blended together until indistinguishable.

    Ben and Jerry's
    For running this promotional picture, TMQ wants a year's supply of free ice cream.

  • Bob Graham: Graham's Graham Cracker Special. Eat first spoonful at 2:06. Eat second at 2:07. Wipe face with napkin at 2:08. At 2:08:30, ask for sprinkles. At 2:08:45 ...

  • Joe Lieberman: Joe's Macho Java. Coffee-flavored ice cream bulked up with government-financed prescription drugs.

  • Al Sharpton: Al's Extra-Smoothy. It's processed!

  • Dennis Kucinich: Denny's Leftward Lurch.. Bubble-gum pink flavor, with lots of nuts.

  • John Edwards: John-Boy's Trial-Lawyer Delight. Every carton contains a dead mouse; bite into it and Edwards will represent you in your suit against the dairy.

  • Carol Moseley Braun: Carol's Incredible Fantasy. Only one-tenth of one percent of the ice cream is flavored, representing the share of votes she will be lucky to get.

  • Dick Gephardt: Dick's Missouri Hometown Lemonade. When you've run for the nomination as many times as he has, the campaign takes on a lemon flavor.

  • Wesley Clark: The General's Four-Star Favorite. Red, white and blue ribbons of strawberry, vanilla and blueberry, with candied purple hearts.

    Plus these delicious taste sensations for other prominent political figures:

  • Dick Cheney's Undisclosed Flavor.

  • George W. Bush's Ice Cream of Mass Destruction. The label lists nuclear, biological and chemical content, but inspectors have been unable to find these ingredients.

  • Al Gore's Dade County Surprise. Bittersweet chocolate with a sour grape swirl.

    And looking ahead to 2008:

    Hillary's Endless Fudge.

    Maurice Clarett
    TMQ believes an age-based requirement for the NFL is acceptable; for example, no mere teenager could excel at writing TMQ.

    In NFL news, the teenager Maurice Clarett seems increasingly likely to file a lawsuit attempting to overturn the rule that bars those younger than college juniors from playing in the league. Ohio State's official bio says of Clarett that he is "quiet off the field and keeps to himself." If only that were true! This is going to be a loud, nasty fight. And it's a fight the NFL must win.

    A decade ago, the NBA was being touted as the new juggernaut of sports; all its numbers (ratings, revenue, attendance, marketing sales) had risen for years. Since then, NBA popularity has been in free-fall decline -- regular-season ratings down 42 percent in the last decade, this year's Finals the lowest-rated in two decades. What happened, exactly, when the decline began? The NBA opened its doors to a wave of teenagers.

    If the NFL starts bringing in teenagers, what will happen is exactly what's happened to pro basketball. Quality of play -- by far the most important aspect of NFL popularity -- will spiral downward. Immature kids will boast and strut for the cameras but refuse to listen to coaches, turning off the paying customers who earn far less than the boasting kids. Experienced veterans who know what they're doing will be thrown overboard for sulking teenagers who end up busts, accelerating the decline in quality of play. Since football requires more cooperation than any sport, and teenagers are by nature uncooperative, fumbles, interceptions and blown plays will increase until every team looks like the Arizona Cardinals. The goose who lays the golden eggs will be tossed into the Crock Pot.

    And please don't tell me the league's anti-teenager rule is a conspiracy to stop young African-Americans from becoming rich. If black adolescents are handed huge NFL contracts, veteran players will be waived to free up the funds, and the majority of veteran NFL players are black. (The inevitable release of veteran players is the reason the NFL Players Association opposes allowing teenagers in.) Net monies paid to African-American athletes would remain the same in the early years of a teenagers-allowed system -- though payments would be shifted downward from older players who have learned to be serious about their lives and families, to teenagers who would blow the money. In the latter years of a teenagers-allowed system, net monies paid to black NFL athletes would decline, as the cooking of the golden goose causes the NFL to fall into the same downward spiral the NBA is currently in. Note that the NBA contract top scale, which is earned almost exclusively by African-Americans, has gone down since the league started letting teenagers in.

    Also, please don't tell me there is some kind of constitutional right to play professional football at age 19. Many occupations impose age minimums -- you don't run across a lot of 19-year-old police officers or 19-year-old airline pilots. Courts uphold such minimums if they are reasonably related to professional requirements. The reasonable relationship here is that quality of play is the NFL's golden goose, and putting kids on the field will clobber quality.

    So, Commissioner Tagliabue, fight this kid Clarett with everything you've got. Keep one adolescent whiner from taking down the most popular and successful sport in the observable universe. Force Clarett north to Canada. Better still, force him back into the classroom, which is what's in his best interest, anyway.

    Commish, commish, hold that line! Push 'im back, push 'im back, way back!

    And in other NFL news, the Giants had yet another kicking disaster. Seeming to win the MNF game on a field goal with 11 seconds remaining, Jersey/A sailed its kickoff out of bounds; Dallas got possession on its 40; one pass moved the ball to the Jersey/A 34; Dallas hit a 52-yard field-goal as the clock went double-zeros to force overtime; the Cowboys won in the extra session, long after all right-thinking people east of the Mississippi had gone to sleep. United Nations inspectors will report to the Giants' training camp today to begin searching for evidence of a kicking team.

    Jamal Lewis
    Running backs gone wild! Jamal Lewis' record day topped a huge Sunday for ballcarriers.

    The Non-Fantastic Five: Jamal Lewis of Baltimore began his record-setting day by rocketing 82 yards through the Cleveland Browns (Release 2.1) defense on the game's second snap. TMQ had to look at the tape twice: The Browns were in a five-man line on the play. That is, they gave up a huge rushing play while in a run defense.

    A non-fantastic five turned out to be the theme of the day! Consider:

  • Ahman Green ran 65 yards to the house on the Packers' first possession; Detroit was in a five-man line, overstacked against the run.

  • Deuce McAlister ran 24 yards for the first touchdown of the Saints-Texans contest; Houston was in a five-man line, overstacked against the run.

  • The Dolphins were backed up in their own end, leading 14-3 late in the second quarter, when Ricky Williams cracked a 22-yard rush that started a touchdown drive and left the Jets reeling; Jersey/B was in a five-man line, overstacked against the run.

  • Priest Holmes of Kansas City ran 31 yards for the fourth-quarter touchdown that put Pittsburgh out of business; the Steelers were in a five-man line, overstacked against the run.

  • Clinton Portis ran 25 yards on the Bronco's first rush attempt, setting the tone for the Denver rout of San Diego; the 'Bolts were in a five-man line, overstacked against the run.

    Non-fantastic five note No.1: Good thing San Diego got rid of that washed-up Junior Seau! The 'Bolts surrendered 197 yards rushing at home while the Dolphins held the Jets to 21 yards rushing on the road, with Seau having a superb game.

    Non-fantastic five note No. 2: Lewis' record-book day included rushes of 82, 63, 38, 23 and 18 yards. So if you just take away those five runs for 224 yards, Cleveland otherwise shut Lewis down! In the offseason, Cleveland released its entire starting linebacker corps. Sunday's replacements looked like they were auditioning for the Arena League -- interior linebackers Andra Davis and Kevin Bentley repeatedly bounced off Lewis, or sailed through the air in one direction as Lewis went, technically speaking, in the other direction. Two weeks ago, a TMQ reader foresaw presciently in haiku,

    Release 2.1
    Cut too many linebackers
    Six and 10 this year

    -- Brent L. Hasseman, Cleveland

    Martin Gramatica
    It appears Martin Gramatica did not leave his tithe to the football gods this week.

    Clang! Clang! Clang! Carolina defeated defending Super Bowl champion City of Tampa 12-9 in overtime at Tampa, by virtue of blocking two Bucs' field-goal attempts, then blocking a Bucs' PAT kick that would have won the game on the final play of regulation. Delightfully, Carolina players scooped up the blocked PAT and got most of the way down the field as zebras whistled madly. In college, a blocked PAT runback scores a point for the defense; thus, in college, Carolina could have won by running the conversion attempt back after the clock expired. In the NFL, a conversion try simply ends the moment the defense takes possession of the ball.

    The game snapped the champs' eight-game winning streak, stretching back to last season, and left City of Tampa reeling with the thought that a defending Super Bowl victor could manage only 9 points at home. Last week, TMQ noted that the Bucs gracelessly taunted the Eagles when beating Philadelphia in the MNF opener, and predicted, "The football gods will exact a vengeance on Tampa." Didn't take long! Oh ye mortals, trifle not with the football gods.

    Resistible Forces: At 3:26 PM Eastern on Sept. 14, the Cleveland Browns (Release 2.1) scored their first touchdown of the 2003 season. At 5:03 Eastern, the Philadelphia Eagles scored their first touchdown of the 2003 season. At 5:21 Eastern, the New England Patriots scored their first touchdown of the 2003 season.

    Stat of the Week: Jersey/A and Jersey/B lost games on consecutive days in the same stadium.

    Stat of the Week No. 2: Stretching through the first five quarters, Buffalo opened the season on a 45-0 run.

    Stat of the Week No. 3: The Browns had more punts and turnovers (11) than first downs (9).

    Stat of the Week No. 4: The Dolphins, Ravens and Vikings outrushed the Bears, Browns and Jets by a combined 571 yards.

    Stat of the Week No. 5: The Chiefs, Raiders and Rams won by a combined 27 points despite being outgained by a combined 389 yards.

    Stat of the Week No. 6: Donovan McNabb attempted 48 passes for an average gain of 3.5 yards. His longest completion, 21 yards, was to a running back.

    Stat of the Week No. 7: Stretching back to last season, the Eagles have had three consecutive home losses and been outscored 75-20.

    Stat of the Week No. 8: Stretching back to last season, the Giants have played three consecutive home games in which Tiki Barber and Kerry Collins have fumbled a combined 11 times.

    Good Seats Always Available! The Arizona (caution: may contain football-like substance) Cardinals opened at home before an announced crowd of 23,127. The figure included ticket give-aways, with actual attendance estimated at a Double-A-like 15,000. If we accept the official gate number, the Cards committed one turnover for every 3,854 customers. It is impossible to calculate how many points Arizona scored per customer, because in mathematics, you cannot divide by zero.

    Best 99-Yard Drive Leading Jacksonville 28-10 in the third quarter, Buffalo took over on its 1-yard line. In this situation, it's not unreasonable to go conservative and then launch a field-position punt. The Bills flew the length of the field in eight plays, breaking Jax's will.

    Trisia
    Little known fact: TMQ picked up a minor in dance education while in college.

    Cheerleader of the Week: This week's is Trisia of the Miami Marine Mammals, a college student majoring in dance education and coach of the Miami Carol City High School Diamond Dancers. Trisia's bio says she has been "a Dolfan since birth." Since before she could talk? Maybe her bottles were teal and orange.

    I Predict This Week's TMQ Will Be the Most Popular Ever! Congratulations to Jamal Lewis, but enough already with the gushing that he predicted he would set the NFL record. Even the normally level-headed Tom Jackson gushed on Prime Time, "It's amazing! I can't believe he actually predicted it!"

    NFL players endlessly predict incredible things for themselves. Listen to standard trash talk and half the gentlemen in the league are predicting they'll run for 300 yards or catch five touchdowns or get four sacks. A scientifically-estimated 99.999999 percent of these predictions turn out null and void. Lewis' prediction is receiving attention because of his monster day, but it's no more amazing than if the New York Times predicted that every single NFL game this year would finish 23-20 (see below) and then, when one did, cried, "We predicted it!"

    Note further that Lewis' incredible prediction happened in a phone call with a friend; presumably, he wasn't taping. When Babe Ruth "called his shot," he did so in public. If instead, after that game, Ruth had said, "You know, I was talking on the phone with this guy and I predicted I'd hit one over the centerfield fence in the fifth inning," people would have said, "Yeah, right."

    Best High-School Play: In overtime, the Cowboys lined up heavy left. Quincy Carter rolled left, and the line pulled left. Then Carter pivoted back to the right and threw to Dan Campbell, who was dragging right against the flow of the play; the 26-yard completion put Dallas into range for the winning field goal. This play is High School Football 101, and the Giants defenders looked like they'd never seen it -- or even been watching Sunday Night Football on ESPN, because this was the key play of Tennessee's win over Oakland last week.

    Sweet Play of the Day No. 1: Leading 7-0 in the first quarter, Buffalo lined up "trips" right -- three receivers on that flank. Jax defenders scrambled like mad to overload the trips side. Drew Bledsoe then threw deep to the sole receiver on the left, Eric Moulds, for a 29-yard gain. The Bills scored on the possession and the rout was on.

    Sweet Play of the Day No. 2: In goal-line situations, Minnesota often goes five-wide to spread the defense, then nose-tackle-sized quarterback Daunte Culpepper draws up the middle. Leading Chicago, 17-13, in the fourth quarter, facing third-and-goal from the 11, the Vikings lined up in an empty backfield. Culpepper took the snap and started forward as if to draw; the Bears bit, and came up. Culpepper then stopped on a dime and lofted a pass to tight end Jim Kleinsasser for the game-clinching points.

    A Spokesman for Pepsi Vanilla, the Official Flavored Cola of the Washington Monument, Denounced the Move As Crass Commercialism: Snapple will pay $33 million a year to be "the official iced tea and water" of New York City. "The mayor has long insisted that New York City is not just an important megalopolis but a powerful brand name with strong revenue potential," this report explained.

    Meanwhile at the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney declared that "America is not just an important regional power but a brand name with strong revenue potential, too." Cheney said negotiations to call the country "the United States presented by ExxonMobil" are not yet complete.

    T'Pol
    What would T'Pol look like if she were wearing a Philadelphia Eagles' cheer-babe costume?

    Now Accepting Volunteers: A UPN coming-attraction trailer for a repeat of "Star Trek Enterprise" declared, referring to the space babe T'Pol: "When T'Pol prematurely experiences severe symptoms of Pon Farr, the Vulcan mating cycle in which she has to mate or she will die, she begins to make advances on Phlox and Reed, and the crew is forced to find a way to help her." TMQ can think of a way they could have helped her!

    Reader Haiku: The last refers to Pittsburgh's new digs, which TMQ calls Ketchup Field.

    Pats versus Eagles:
    Football fans wonder who will
    score first this season.

    -- Rick Desper, Bethesda, MD

    Seahawks, Bengals, Bills:
    The XFL has folded --
    dress accordingly!

    -- Justin Isaac, Omaha

    Which Ram was concussed:
    confused, fumbling quarterback
    or idiot coach?

    -- Don Mecoy, Edmond, Okla.

    Ketchup Field? Not quite.
    Many thousand yellow seats
    are the Mustard Bowl.

    -- Jerry Wolper

    Where Are the Ice Creams of Yesteryear? TMQ sheds a tear over some great Ben & Jerry's discontinued flavors from ice cream history. My departed favorites include Berry Kaboom, Blackberry Cobbler, Cherry Amour, Concession Obsession, Peach Melba, Raspberry Cheesecake and Vanilla Caramel Fudge. And word is you'd better snap up the best-named Ben & Jerry's flavor of all time -- Karamel Sutra -- because it's on the way out.

    You can read Ben & Jerry's congratulating itself for being socially responsible here. By the strangest coincidence, you have to go deep into the Ben & Jerry's site via search engine to find any mention of the fact that the company is owned by Unilever, an enormous conglomerate. Unilever itself, under its brands index, pretends not to own Ben & Jerry's. TMQ's favorite fact about Unilever: It markets the waistline-expanding Ben & Jerry's and Hellman's Mayonnaise, and also SlimFast.

    Note to Jets Coaches: the Preseason Has Ended: Trailing the Marine Mammals 21-3 at home, Jersey/B got the ball on its own 20 with 14 seconds left in the first half, holding all three timeouts. Jets' coaches called a listless handoff to Curtis Martin, then trotted into the locker room without making the slightest attempt to do anything about the scoreboard. You've got all three timeouts! Two intermediate completions followed by instant timeouts, and at least you can heave-ho a Hail Mary. On MNF, Dallas had the ball in its end, just 11 seconds and one timeout left at the end of regulation, and scored.

    Were Jets' coaches anxious to get the game over with? They certainly acted that way. Jets coaches did not allow Vinny Testaverde to go no-huddle until four minutes remained and the situation was hopeless. One of the great comebacks ever, Jets back from 31-7 in the fourth to beat Miami in the Meadowlands, began when Testaverde went no-huddle at the start of the last quarter.

    Note to Jets' Coaches: Before Conversion Attempts, Look at Scoreboard: TMQ doesn't like going for two early in the game, cleaving to the immutable law: Take One 'Til the Fourth. Unless it's the fourth quarter, coaches should forgot those cards that say to go for two when ahead by five, behind by nine and so on. Twist and turns of scoring are too unpredictable; the forgone singleton early may mean the difference later. If the goal is most points, it's better to take a 99-percent chance of one than a 40-percent chance of two.

    All this changes in the fourth quarter, once the endgame is coming into view. Trailing Miami 21-3 at home, Jersey/B scored to make it 21-9 with 12:42 remaining. Jets' coaches went for one. Look at the scoreboard! A two-pointer would have cut the margin to a touchdown and a field goal; the singleton left the margin at two touchdowns. Had the Jets gone for two and missed, the margin still would have been two touchdowns, which is the hole they ended up in, anyway. There was no downside to going for a deuce at this point, and considerable upside. Forced to play only for touchdowns in the endgame, Jersey/B lost when Vinny Testaverde pressed and threw an interception with the team in field-goal range. Ye gods.

    Helicopter
    The R44: It's loud and it pollutes! Kind of like Jeremy Shockey.

    Fortunately for Everyone, Streisand Was Not Nude Sunbathing at the Time: Last year, TMQ did an item on the California Coastal Records Project, a husband-wife team (pilot Gabrielle Adelman, photographer Kenneth Adelman) flying the California coast, taking pictures of wealthy people's homes and offering the photos for sale on the Internet. Supposedly, this is done in the name of environmental awareness. According to the Project, photos of every meter of the California coast must be available for sale because structures there "include facilities like power plants and refineries that are enormously destructive to the environment [and] because access to these sites is in some cases restricted." Restricted access to power plants! Now, there's a sinister plot against the public. Why shouldn't anybody be able to enter any power plant?

    Last year's TMQ item made sport of the fact that these environmental crusaders are protecting our precious planet by flying around in a helicopter, the most polluting, fossil-fuel-slurping mode of transportation known to man.

    While auto tailpipe emissions are very tightly regulated, helicopter air-pollution emissions are unrestricted -- see this page from the New York League of Conservation Voters objecting that helicopters spew air pollution without limits. The more fuel your chariot burns, the more greenhouse gas it emits; and helicopters make SUVs seem like econo-boxes when it comes to fuel consumption. The Project's helicopter is a Robinson R44. According to the manufacturer, this bird burns 14 gallons of fuel per hour. In an hour of steady highway driving, the repulsive Hummer ultra-SUV would burn about five gallons of fuel. So from the standpoint of greenhouse gases, the environmental crusaders at the Coastal Records Project are buzzing around in the equivalent of three Hummer SUVs strapped together.

    There are also no noise restrictions on helicopters, another longstanding compliant against rotary aircraft. In their pursuit of environmental protection, the Adelmans are merrily making a deafening racket, spoiling the ability of others to enjoy the California coastline. Why is it when environmental crusaders waste fuel or make noise it's noble; but when anybody else does the same, it's evil?

    Comes now Barbra Streisand, who recently sued the Adelmans for posting on the Web highly-detailed aerial photos of her coastal estate. Is this a violation of privacy?

    Barbra Streisand
    Random thought: What are the odds Babs reads TMQ?

    The Adelmans cite California v. Ciraolo, a 1986 Supreme Court ruling that marijuana growers could not claim a privacy right against police aircraft spotting their fields from the air. But this isn't really the proper citation, since it involved criminal behavior. Presumably, being Barbra Streisand is not in itself a criminal offense. Note: recent movies excepted.

    It turns out that most private property receives little protection from distant cameras. Courts have held that the Fourth Amendment protects what you do inside a home or similar private area. Being enclosed behind walls and a roof is the key; what happens outside the walls of a home or similar property generally does not receive privacy protection. A realtor can photograph the exterior of your home from the street, for example; if you're standing on the lawn at the time, you can't claim a privacy right. Nor does light or heat emanating from a home or similar place qualify as privacy-protected. Photons bouncing off the backyard gazebo, revealing its appearance to distant cameras -- or infrared signatures emitting from the basement and signaling sun-lamp marijuana growing, to cite an actual Supreme Court case -- are not shielded by privacy law.

    Even outside areas enclosed by fencing are not considered private, relative to the sky. If you're out back in the hot tub with Miss Slovenia, anyone flying overhead may legally snap your likeness. (Note: have just created an excuse for the ESPN.com art department to append a swimsuit photo of Miss Slovenia. Flimsy justification: A swimsuit is what she'd wear in the hot tub!)

    Ms. Slovenia
    It's a shame they don't play American football in Slovenia.

    This is why satellite companies lawfully market space-taken photos of the entire face of the Earth. Terraserver.com lets you enter a latitude and longitude intersection of almost any place of Earth, and sells you a satellite photo of same. At no cost, I checked out this eight-meter resolution view of a randomly selected section of Tokyo. For cash, Terraserver will improve the view to one-meter resolution. That means you could buy a photo of the ESPN headquarters complex in Bristol, Connecticut (sorry, you'll have to look up the coordinates yourself) and actually see Mike Golic working over lunch in his rooftop cucumber garden.

    Aircraft are legally little different than satellites, meaning someone flying a helicopter near your beachfront estate and taking pictures is lawful. Only federal rules on minimum altitude -- generally, civilian aircraft may fly no lower than 1,000 feet except during takeoffs and landings -- apply. Staying out over the water on the coastline may allow the Adelmans to skirt altitude minimums.

    In two instances, aerial photographs are restrained by law. One is trade secrets being stolen from the air. A relevant case concerned a helicopter that snapped pictures of the interior of a Dow Chemical factory before the roof was put on; courts held this to be a violation of Dow's intellectual property rights, as there are manufacturer's trade secrets involved in the layout of chemical plants. So if there is anything proprietary about Streisand's home -- perhaps, patented fountain-of-youth technology -- she stand a chance against the Adelmans.

    The other restriction against prying aerial cameras is that no one may make commercial use of your name or likeness, taken in private circumstances, without consent. If Sean Penn gets his picture snapped at a public rally in support of Saddam Hussein, that likeness belongs to the metasphere. If someone takes Penn's picture in a private home, permission is required for commercial use.

    So is the California Coastal Records Project engaged in a commercial use of the photo it took of Bab's manse? Well, said photo is being offered for sale, which sounds kind of commercial to TMQ.

    Terrell Owens
    Terrell really needs to start working out, doesn't he?

    Warning! Beefcake! As part of TMQ's continuing attempt to appease female readers, here is a shirtless pose of Terrell Owens that appeared in the New York Times. Those ab muscles look like the shield of a Roman centurion! They're probably stronger, though.

    Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! No. 1: Trailing by a touchdown with 23 seconds left in regulation, the Squared Sevens faced fourth-and-eight at the Mouflons' 13. Since the typical NFL pass attempt averages six yards, all St. Louis had to do was play straight defense and the odds favored victory. Instead, it's a blitz! Six gentlemen cross the line, Terrell Owens is single-covered, touchdown, overtime.

    San Francisco then recovered a Rams' muff of the kickoff; and with nine seconds left had the ball on its 45, holding a timeout. Quick pass down the middle into field-goal range and instant timeout, right? Cedric Wilson caught the ball at the St. Louis 30 with four seconds left. Take a knee! Form your hands into the letter T! Instead, Wilson did one of those "Look, Ma, I can dance!" routines at center field, the clock expired and San Francisco lost in overtime.

    Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! No. 2: Game tied at 20, the Cincinnati Fudgsicles had the Raiders facing third-and-10 beyond field-goal range. Since the typical NFL pass attempt averages six yards, all Cincinnati had to do was play straight defense and the odds favored taking the defending conference champion to overtime. Instead, it's a blitz! Eight gentlemen cross the line, a tactic TMQ had never seen before and hopes never to see again. Eight Raiders blockers take out the eight gentlemen -- this was the best blocking moment of the weekend, other than Carolina's kick blocks -- and Jerry Rice is streaking to the end zone behind everyone. Fudgsicle cornerback Artrell Hawkins grabbed Rice's jersey to prevent the easy touchdown; the interference penalty put Oakland into field-goal range; the rest was a typical Cincinnati outcome.

    Worst Block: Game tied at 24 at the end of the third quarter, Atlanta faced first-and-10 at its own five against the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons. Doug Johnson dropped back. No one blitzed, but Atlanta formed the pocket all wrong, right tackle Todd Weiner turning inward while tight end Alge Crumpler turned outward, leaving an undefended lane directly to the passer. Persons' linebacker Jesse Armstead, whose assignment on the play was to cover Crumpler, saw the open lane and simply sprinted in unmolested to drop Johnson for a safety. The two points ended up as the Persons' victory margin.

    Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed at All, No. 1: Trailing the Broncos, 27-10, with 10:26 left in the fourth quarter, the 'Bolts reached first-and-goal at the Denver 6-yard line. A field goal this late against a big deficit means nothing; San Diego must score a touchdown. So did the 'Bolts -- who averaged 6.7 yards per rush attempt in the game, versus 4.4 yards per pass attempt -- just pound, pound, pound the ball, especially knowing it was a four-down situation? Incompletion, run, incompletion, field goal. TMQ writes the words "game over" in his notebook.

    Note to Jets' Coaches: White Reflects Sunlight: Home teams choose whether to wear their colored or white looks; visitors wear whatever's left. This is supposed to mean that for early-season or hot-weather games, the home team wears its whites, forcing the visitors to sweat in sun-absorbing colors. But on Opening Day, at home in early September in 70-percent humidity, Cincinnati debuted what TMQ now calls its Fudgsicles look -- all-black. The visiting Broncos wore comfortable whites, and pounded the Fudgsicles. This Sunday, Miami played at Jersey/B: The kickoff stats showed 79 degrees and 96-percent humidity, as if the Marine Mammals had brought their weather with them. The Jets choose to wear their greens, ceding the visitors the advantage of white jerseys.

    Speaking of the Jersey/B look . . . It's 2003, Jets. When are going to fix your look? Black shoes make the Jets seem like they are trying to run through excelsior. Aircraft designers say, "looks good, flies good" -- a reason the Lockheed Martin F35 beat out the Boeing contender for the next huge Air Force program, Joint Tactical Fighter, is that the F35 is a great-looking airplane that inspires confidence in pilots, while the Boeing contender was utt-bulgy, as they say. In football, looks fast, plays fast; looks slow, plays slow. Jets, get white shoes! Even green would be better.

    Clarett's Special Guest Star: A complication of the Maurice Clarett situation is that he is being advised by Jim Brown, one of the greatest NFL players ever, but one who has long been bitter against the league. Brown may be projecting his own anti-NFL feelings onto Clarett, and this is unlikely to be in Clarett's interest.

    Brown believes the NFL has shunned him since he got involved in black-power politics, and there's an element of truth to this. On the other hand, nobody made Brown appear in those ridiculous blaxploitation movies, which changed his image to a goofball. Brown bears ill-will toward the NFL, and may subconsciously long to screw the league. A confrontation that results in the collapse of the draft rules would certainly have that effect, but the end result would only be to kill the golden goose for both white and African-American players. Meanwhile, someone who really had Clarett's best interests in mind would counsel him to transfer, study, keep his nose clean and step up to the NFL when his turn comes.

    Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed at All, No. 2: Trailing the Packers, 14-0, on the road, the Detroit Peugeots had first-and-goal on the Green Bay 6-yard line in the second quarter. Did Detroit pound, pound, pound the ball, especially knowing that even if four straight runs failed, the Packers would be stuck on their own goal line? Rush, incompletion, dump pass for no gain, field goal; Detroit never threatened again.

    The Football Gods Chortled After calling Dallas coach Bill Parcells a "homo" in the offseason -- TMQ interjected that he must have meant to say a "homo sapiens" -- in the MNF game against Parcells' Cowboys, Jeremy Shockey dropped a touchdown pass. Shockey also dropped a perfectly-thrown bomb, and made no effort to break up an interception directly in front of him.

    Note to Jeremy Shockey: This is only your sophomore season and you're already wearing out your welcome. Unless a player is consistently great -- this is the Randy Moss exception -- the football gods punish vanity.

    Fine Whine of the Week: Jax failed to sell out its season opener, meaning no local broadcast. The team became angry when local CBS affiliate WTEV, denied the chance to show the home team, instead aired in that time slot Dolphins at Jets, a contest with obvious Florida appeal. Jaguars management wanted WTEV to show no game at all while the Jaguars were playing. So, Jax . . . Local residents should have been punished for failing to sell out the opener? Ay caramba.

    Wacky Food of the Week: On the family summer vacation to Alaska, TMQ sampled blackened halibut tacos at the Chair Five restaurant in Girdwood, Alaska, in the shadow of Mount Alyeska. Delicious! You don't know halibut until you've tasted it fresh in Alaska, and this fish worked well in tacos. Frank Easterbrook, an Official Brother of TMQ and a part-time Alaska resident, dubbed the dish the bow wave of a coming "AK-Mex" fad.

    Tuesday Morning Quarterback Insider Exclusive! Tuesday Morning Quarterback has learned on an exclusive basis that 40-year-old Raiders receiver Jerry Rice has tested positive for Visine. Remember, this is a Tuesday Morning Quarterback exclusive.

    Running Items Department
    Obscure College Score of the Week: Linfield 49, Redlands 10. Located in McMinnville, Oregon, Linfield offers "small classes which emphasize experiential and collaborative approaches to learning." Collaborative learning -- doesn't that mean that students have to pay the tuition and then teach themselves?

    One of TMQ's theories of small colleges is that somehow every one of them -- every last one -- advertises itself as highly-rated in the influential U.S. News & World Report college rankings. This can be possible because U.S. News creativity lists more categories than there are Academy Awards. Linfield's home page trumpets, "Ranked No. 1 by U.S. News!" Click to the details, and you find that Linfield finished tops in the category "Western comprehensive colleges -- bachelor's," besting Oklahoma Baptist, Texas Lutheran, Carroll, Master's College and Brigham Young of Hawaii.

    Obscure College Quirk of the Week: There were three contests -- West Virginia Wesleyan 29, Lenoir-Rhyne 2; Concordia Moorhead 24, Gustavus 2; Martin Luther 16, Waldorf 2 -- in which the loser scored only a safety.

    New York Times Final-Score Score Once again, the Paper of Guesses goes 0-16 in its quixotic attempt to predict an exact NFL final score, bringing the New York Times Final-Score Score to 1-865 since TMQ began tracking.

    Reader Ben Auer of El Cerrito, Calif., checked last year's NFL results and found that the most common score was 23-20, which happened on nine occasions. Auer therefore suggests that the Times and anyone else attempting to predict an exact final score endlessly forecast that every game end 23-20. And it was, in fact, on a prediction of Detroit 23, Chicago 20 that the Times last season recorded the sole correct exact final score forecast in the three-plus years that TMQ has been tracking the Times' quixotic quest.

    Reader Animadversion: Got a complaint or deeply-felt grievance? Register it at TMQespn@yahoo.com.

    Apropos TMQ's contention that French kissing should be renamed Freedom kissing, reader Scott Charlton of Albuquerque notes that 3,000-year-old Bible book Song of Solomon says at verse 3:11,

    Your lips, O my spouse,
    Drip as the honeycomb;
    Honey and milk are under your tongue;
    And the fragrance of your garments
    Is like the fragrance of Lebanon.

    Charlton interprets this ancient verse as the first written record of tongue hockey, which he therefore suggests should be called Hebrew kissing.

    HMS Dreadnought
    The HMS Dreadnought weighed over 18,000 tons and featured a steam turbine powerplant that pushed the ship to a maximum speed of 21 knots.

    Apropos TMQ's contention that the unsightly new Bills uniforms are dominated by a color that should be called Nineteenth Century Rusting Russian Dreadnought Aft Bulkhead Cyanic, a truly spooky number of readers -- including Jennifer Clarke of Fort Lauderdale -- knew that the HMS Dreadnought, which gave the class of warships its name, was not christened until 1906.

    Many readers, including Eric Meyerson of San Francisco, protested TMQ's assertion that the politics of sometime-football voices Dennis Miller and Rush Limbaugh "roughly cancel each other out, netting Pat Summerall." Meyerson wrote, "Miller has turned his politics around 180 degrees, and now performs at George W. Bush fundraisers." See this story.

    Reader Christopher Randolph of Glenn Dale, Maryland, wrote asking for more African-American cheerleader photos. He laments in haiku,

    TMQ softcore
    lacks enough integration;
    More chocolate cheerbabes!

    -- Christopher Randolph

    I've got the high ground here, because this request came in just after this September column featured a black Cheerleader of the Week. But anyway, see above.

    Last Week's Challenge: Apropos the numerous television shows and movies in which characters at secret military installations or aboard starcruisers crawl through air shafts large enough to accommodate paddlewheel riverboats -- reader Jimmy Fleck noted Obi Wan and Qui Jon scramble into an enormous air shaft to escape droids on the Trade Federation flagship in Star Wars Episode One -- TMQ asked if any reader had ever really crawled through an air shaft.

    Reader Evan from New Orleans, a test-and-balance technician, writes, "You can in some instances crawl inside an air shaft. The problem is not the size but that it can't support the weight," since air shafts are usually made of thin ductwork. Evan recommends this site, which contains voluminous technical information on the proper construction of air shafts.

    Reader Bill Z., who has worked in the heating and AC industry since 1976, cautions, "Do not crawl inside ducting. The inside of ducting is usually coated with insulation, has numerous sharp pins and edges, and square ducts have 'turning vanes,' essentially a rack of airplane-like wings that help air turn through corners without losing speed. You can also run into AC coils, large fans and other machinery."

    Reader Bob Mulks of New Jersey says he and some friends actually crawled through an air shaft in the abandoned Capitol Theater of Passaic, New Jersey: "The main shaft took us out over the stage and about 10 rows out into the theatre, but 40 feet up! We were standing on thin aluminum that we could feel sway. Not a pleasant experience." Reader Coray Seifert of New Jersey says he and some friends actually crawled through an air shaft in the abandoned North Princeton Psychiatric Hospital. So -- it's Jersey, it's a Saturday night. Let's get some beer, find an abandoned building and crawl through an air shaft.

    Reader Justin Favela of Riverside, California, once entered an air shaft aboard the USS Nimitz -- an aircraft carrier that is slightly bigger than Patriots DT Ted Washington -- to perform a wiring repair. "I can't say I was really crawling, though. I was more stuffed in and pulled out by my co-workers," Favela reports.

    Jennifer Garner
    We'd follow Jennifer Garner into an air shaft any time.

    Vince Keenan of Seattle notes that the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., has, as an exhibit, a large air shaft that museum-goers can crawl through, just like in secret-agent movies. It's even padded. "For my money, nobody does the air-shaft crawl shimmy like Jennifer Garner on TV's 'Alias'," Keenan proffers. "Please feel free to run a photo."

    And the winner is Ryan Brown of Pittsburgh, who reports, "My friends and I recently went down to Washington, DC. My friend Katie kept mentioning how she always wanted to climb into an air shaft -- she didn't have a reason, it was just a lifetime goal of hers. After a day of exploring the city, we eventually came to an accessible air shaft and she satisfied her goal. A picture of this experience can be found here." This, it turns out, is the air shaft exhibit at the Spy Museum. Supposedly, picture-taking is banned there, but do the Spy Museum's managers seriously think that a highly-trained operative, equipped with the right miniature camera, can be stopped? Meanwhile -- a woman whose lifetime goal was to crawl through an air shaft! She'd be popular in New Jersey.

    This Week's Challenge: Propose names and flavors of ice creams for NFL players or personalities. Submit your witty concepts to TMQespn@yahoo.com.

    Gregg Easterbrook is a senior editor of New Republic, a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is believed to be the first Brookings scholar ever to write a pro football column. You can buy his book, "The Here and Now" here ... and now.