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Wednesday, September 8, 2004
Updated: May 31, 2:24 PM ET
My NFL Preview, via 'Goodfellas'

By Bill Simmons
Page 2

On Aug. 17, 2004, Warner Brothers rectified the biggest injustice in DVD history: They finally released a decent "Goodfellas" DVD.

It's about time they reissued the DVD for "Goodfellas."
On the "How could this happen?" scale, the original DVD (released in the mid-'90s) ranked a solid 9.8 out of 10. Midway through the movie, the DVD actually stopped, so you had to stand up, eject the disc and flip it over to finish the movie. It was like building a state-of-the-art hoops court in your backyard, then tacking on a tilted backboard with a bent rim.

You would think the moronic concept of a "two-sided DVD" would be tested on failed Rutger Hauer movies, not the defining mob movie of the past 25 years ... and yet, "Goodfellas" became the ugly duckling of everyone's collection, as well as a legitimate conversation piece. Was this the first DVD ever made? Did the guy who was in charge of the transfer get whacked? Did they think people would say to themselves, "You know, watching a DVD from beginning to end is overrated -- I'd much rather have a random, inexplicable break midway through that forces me to stand up"?

Although the new double-DVD doesn't have any deleted scenes and the documentaries are pretty mundane, we can finally appreciate the movie for what it was -- the ultimate director's film, a pop culture classic, an inspired idea that paved the way for the "Sopranos" a decade later. Without further ado, here are 40 of my favorite quotes and exchanges from "Goodfellas," spread over two parts, handed out to my favorite plots, subplots and X-factors for the upcoming NFL season.

1. "Paulie may have moved slow, but it was only because Paulie didn't have to move for anybody."

To Vinny Testaverde, the best evidence we have that Bill Parcells has entered the "Vito Corleone stumbling around with an orange in his mouth" stage of his coaching career. First, the Tuna passes up Stephen Jackson to roll the dice with Julius Jones -- big, big, BIG mistake -- then he hands the keys to Vincenzo, who reached rarefied "Stop everything you're doing and bet against this team because of its QB" status with the Jets last season. Dallas only had to make two moves -- sign Mark Brunell, draft Jackson -- and they could have taken the NFC this season. Instead, the Cowboys have the same problems they had last season: An awful QB and a shaky running game. Unbelievable.

2. "You're a real jerk -- you wasted eight (bleeping) aprons on this guy."

To the Detroit Lions, who spent consecutive first-rounders on two blue-chip receivers (Charles Rogers and Roy Williams), as well as a running back (Kevin Jones), as if this would somehow salvage the disastrous Joey Harrington Era (8-20 in two years, 29 TDs and 38 INTs). Put it this way: Matt Millen could build a time machine, travel back to the '80s for Rice, Largent, and Dickerson, bring them all back to Detroit in their primes ... and it STILL wouldn't change the fact that Joey Harrington is Joey Harrington.

(Disclaimer: I think Steve Mariucci knows this, as evidenced by his answer to Peter King's "Is Joey Harrington still the long-time answer at QB?" question last month: "I say yeah. We've got to stay healthy, and we've got to help him. But we've built a good offense around him now. I think he's got the makings of a fine quarterback." Umm, not exactly a ringing endorsement.)

3. "You took your first pinch like a man, and you learned the two greatest things in life -- never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut."

To Terrell Owens, who never learned either of these things. Is there a more deplorable athlete in team sports right now? Between the way he sabotaged the Niners last season, the tasteless Garcia-bashing this summer and the way he childishly squashed that Ravens trade last spring, he's one of those rare athletes who drags you down to his level. For instance, I was looking at the Eagles schedule, noticed the Ravens game in Week 8 and found myself thinking, "Man, would anything be better than Ray Lewis pulling a Bednarik on T.O. in that game?" I feel bad about that one.

Actually, no I don't.

(Great advice from DeNiro in this scene, by the way. Other than "Midnight Run," this was probably his most underrated performance; he didn't even get nominated for an Oscar here. I love the scene when he decides to whack Maury -- Scorsese films him in slow-motion, sizing Maury up, his eyes darting around the bar, dragging from a cigarette and making the DeNiro Face. How many actors can make a moment out of nothing like that? And while we're on the subject, it's impossible not to watch this movie now without thinking of Alec Baldwin's dead-on DeNiro impersonation on SNL.)

4. "You're gonna let him get away with that? You're gonna let this (bleeping) punk get away with that? What's the matter, what's this world coming to?"

To the Chiefs ... any time people are discussing your defense during the playoffs with lines like "They would be better off onside-kicking after every TD," and those people are completely serious, it's probably not a good idea to bring back that exact same defense the following season.

Of course, that's exactly what they did, only with Gunther Cunningham in charge this time -- huh???? -- unleashing the rarely-seen "We thought these guys just needed another season to jell" logic on us. Imagine if Hollywood used this logic with TV shows? "Yeah, we know 'North Shore' was awful, but we're bringing it back -- we think the cast needs another season to jell."

(Whoops, that actually happened. Bad example.)

5. "Keep him here, keep him here!"

Norv Turner
Perhaps Norv Turner will succeed this time around as a head coach.
To Mike Martz, Dave Wannstedt, Butch Davis and Jim Haslett ... with Gregg Williams and Steve Spurrier gone, these are the only four coaches left who can consistently A.) singlehandedly convince a talented team to underachieve, and B.) snatch defeat from victory in big moments. For gambling purposes, I'm happy they're still around. And I look forward to three potential sleepers in this category:

A. Norv Turner -- A certified blast from the past. Although there's a 25-percent chance he could have learned from past mistakes (like Belichick). Then again, this was the same man who was once driven away from a blackjack table in Vegas by my friend Hopper.

B. Jim Mora Jr. -- He has the genes.

C. Mike Mularkey -- I mean, I watch a ridiculous amount of football. Just an insane amount. And there wasn't one Steelers game over the past three years when I found myself saying, "Wow, I wonder who's coaching that offense; this is a clinic!"

6. "Whenever we needed money, we robbed the airport. To us, it was better than Citibank."

To Deion Sanders ... it's funny how he got his "dog" back for yet another comeback once CBS told him to take a hike and he needed that seven-figure paycheck from someone.

(And while we're on the subject, do you think anyone said the words, "I can't believe CBS isn't bringing Deion back; I'm really gonna miss him on that show" this summer? I mean, anyone? One person? Whoops, I'm getting electro-shocked by my editors again.)

7. "And then there was Jimmy Two Times, who got that nickname because he said everything twice, like: 'I'm gonna go get the papers, get the papers.'"

This one goes to me, because I write the same thing about Brett Favre every year. In fact, let's just run last year's paragraph:

"To Brett Favre, firmly entrenched in the 'Marino in the mid-'90s' stage of his career. In other words, he's just great enough to win some games on his own, not quite as great as he used to be, and unable to accept the fact that he isn't quite as great as he used to be. So he forces balls in big spots, tries to do too much, and invariably ends up killing the Packers against good teams. And it has been happening for three seasons now. And counting."

Well, make it four. He blew the Philly game last January.

While we're here, a complete list of my favorite gangster names from "Goodfellas:" Sally Balls, Nicky Eyes, Fat Andy, Frankie the Wop, Freddie No-Nose, Pete the Killer, Jimmy Two Times, Johnny Roast Beef. At gunpoint, I think my favorite one was Frankie the Wop, since "Wop" is an old-school nickname for Italians -- not quite derogatory at the time, but not complimentary, either. (And yes, my Mom's whole side of the family is Italian, so I know these things.) And yet, everyone in Paulie's extended gang was Italian or at least half-Italian. So for someone to be nicknamed "The Wop," I mean, you had to be REALLY Eye-talian. That's like if Bird and McHale had nicknamed Greg Kite "Honky" on the '86 Celtics. It's almost a tribute.

8. "When they found Carbone in the meat truck, he was frozen so stiff it took them two days to thaw him out for the autopsy."

To Kurt Warner ... his shocking demise over the past two seasons made Dennis Miller's decline look gradual by comparison. Now he's playing behind a brutal Giants offensive line. Week 1 in Philly almost feels like a human sacrifice, especially when he can't move to begin with. Can you remember another elite player falling this far this fast, without cocaine, steroids or Bam Morris's haystacks of pot being involved? Even Roy Hobbs's career wasn't this strange.

9. "I said Bing, what are you doing here, I thought I told you to go (bleep) your mother?"

One of the funniest moments in the movie goes to the funniest paragraph in any NFL Preview this summer: Sports Illustrated's "Will They Still Be Smiling in January?" feature on Donovan McNabb and Owens:

The two have already discussed ways to celebrate touchdowns, but those plans remain under wraps for now. "We have a list," McNabb says.

I know this is crazy, but that single paragraph prevented me from picking the Eagles to make the Super Bowl this season. If you can point me to a Super Bowl team led by two guys about whom that last paragraph could have applied, please, let me know.

10. "Jesus, he's still alive!"

Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice might go straight from catching passes to collecting Social Security.
To Jerry Rice ... we're bordering on Julio Franco territory here. I don't even have the energy to make the annual happy ending joke. And since I have nothing else to add, here are three things that bothered me about "Goodfellas" only because I've watched it too many times:

A. During the famous scene when Liotta takes his date through the back entrance of the Copa -- almost as famously ripped off in Swingers -- they take a left from the hallway into the kitchen, followed by two rights, then another left back into the hallway. In other words, they could have kept walking down the hallway and never even entered the kitchen. Look, somebody needs to point this stuff out.

B. After the Lufthansa heist, when Jimmy starts whacking his partners so he could keep the money for himself ... I mean, after Frankie Carbone turns up in the icebox, or they find the guy and his wife in their new pink Cadillac, at what point did the other guys say, "Uh-oh, I might be in some trouble here"?

C. No nudity. Nothing. Not even a split-second. Where was the obligatory strip-joint scene? Or the gratituous sex scene with Liotta and one of his homely mistresses? I mean, even "The Godfather" threw in the scene with Michael Corleone's nubile young Italian bride. Umm, not that I care about this stuff.

11. "I mean, here I am this little kid, I can't even see over the steering wheel, and I'm parking Cadillacs!"

To three young QBs in big spots: Palmer in Cincy; Harrington in Detroit; Boller in Baltimore. Too bad Vegas can't issue odds for a "None of these guys will be starting by Week 9" bet.

12. "Don't make a jerk out of me, just don't do it. Don't do it."

You know the drill by now: I spend every summer searching for one sleeper that will become the "Where did these guys come from?" team, a below-.500 team that fits the parameters of my tried-and-true formula (crummy division, easy schedule, young coach, low expectations, playmakers on both sides of the ball). For this season, I ruled out Jacksonville (too popular); Houston (a year away); San Fran (although the Ewing Theory potential was enticing); Detroit (shaky QB); and Oakland (although I may still pick them for the playoffs tomorrow). One team stood out over everyone else.

(Here's a hint: J ... E ... T ... S ... JETS JETS JETS!)

Think about it. Nobody's talking about them. The Pennington injury derailed them last season, so nobody could tell if they were any good. They have some serious horses on both sides of the ball (Moss, Pennington, Mawae, Abraham, Ellis, maybe even Robertson and Vilma if they can get going). During the end of last season, they played the Pats as tough as anyone down the stretch. They signed two underrated guys this summer (Pete Kendall and Justin McCareins). Most importantly, they have the easiest schedule in the league. They start out with home games against Cincy, Buffalo and San Fran and road games in San Diego and Miami. Are you kidding me?

I think they start out 5-0, Pennington makes the cover of SI ... and nothing will be more enjoyable than watching Jets fans trying NOT to get excited about what's happening.

(Which reminds me, is there a stranger creature than the Jets fan? They remain adamant that they aren't getting attached to their team, then start throwing things as soon as something bad happens. Their ideal situation would be a Super Bowl victory in which the team blows a 30-point lead in the second half -- allowing them to demolish a coffee table and break their hand on the nearest wall -- followed by a draining come-from-behind win in the final minute, which means they could celebrate AND complain at the same time. You have to love Jets fans.)

13. "Whooooooa. I don't believe what I just heard. Hey Spider, this is for you. Thattaboy. He's got a lotta b---s, this kid."

To Jake Delhomme, who told the media last week, "Don't be surprised if I throw for 5,500 yards this season."

Actually, I just made that up. But Jake just seems poised for a monster season in Carolina, doesn't he? And yes, in my storied history of flip-flops on people, the Delhomme Era has to rank right near the top. But what can you do? The guy proved me wrong. Now somebody please talk Berman out of another year of "Daylight come and they want to Delhomme" songs. Please.

(Speaking of Spider, remember when Michael Imperioli was just "That Guy Who Played Spider," then slowly morphed into "That Guy Who Plays Christopher" on the "Sopranos," then ultimately became "Michael Imperioli," and now it's strange to watch "Goodfellas" because he's firmly entrenched in the "I forgot he played Spider!" stage of his career? It's always fun when that happens. As opposed to Lorraine Bracco, who's in her "I forgot that she used to be able to act!" stage in "Goodfellas." But that's a whole other story.)

Jamal Lewis
Jamal Lewis might stumble this year with all he has to deal with off the field.
14. "I mean, when I leave my house in the morning, I'm looking over both shoulders. This is no way to live."

To Jamal Lewis. Athletes can block stuff out like "My mom is sick" or "This divorce is a pain in the butt." But when you move into "Man, I hope I don't get sent to jail for the next 30 years on drug trafficking charges" territory, that's a whole new ballgame. And given that A.) He's coming off a career year; B.) The Steelers and Titans showed how to throttle him with the historic 9-2 stack; and C.) The Ravens have decided against pursuing even a below-average passing game this season ... I'm not exactly banking on another 2,000-yard season from Jamal here. Call me crazy.

15. "I want my money! I want my money!"

To Keenan McCardell ... I'm with Keenan on this one. He's 34 years old, he's underpaid, and NFL teams routinely force players to take pay cuts or restructure contracts. So why shouldn't this work the other way sometimes? And while we're here, if you were a 350-pound offensive lineman, wouldn't you hold out every year, then show up right before the first week of games? It's pure genius. Why wouldn't athletes in other sports try this?

16. "Who wants to go to Uncle Paulie's?"

"Meeeeeeeeeeeee!"

To Corey Dillon, freed from Cincy and saying all the right things in New England, many of them even in the third person. (Bill Simmons loves when Corey Dillon talks about himself in the third person.) Sure, there's a wide spectrum of possibilities here, ranging from "Bob McAdoo, Lakers, 1981-85" to "Carl Everett, Boston, 2000." I'm ready for anything. Right now, it looks like we might be okay. I mean, what's the worst thing that could happen ... other than him single-handedly ruining the winning streak and any potential for a dynasty?

(That quote always cracked me up, by the way. Ray Liotta sees his daughters as a free man for the first time in four years, hugs them for about 0.9 seconds and screams, "Who wants to go to Uncle Paulie's?", then they practically do backflips like they're headed to Disney World or something. "All right! We get to go over to that big scary fat guy's house who has people killed! Yippee!")

17. "They even shot Tommy in the face so his mother couldn't give him an open coffin at the funeral."

To poor Eddie George, inevitably pushed under a bus in Tennessee last spring. Probably should have happened two years ago. On the bright side, Distant Replays gets to add Eddie's Cowboys jersey to their "Throwback Jerseys You Tried To Forget Ever Happened" collection, joining Emmitt's Cardinals jersey, Franco's Seahawks jersey, Namath's Rams jersey, Hakeem's Raptors jersey, Robert Conrad's "Battle of the Network Stars" T-shirt from the year he competed for CBS, MJ's Wizards jersey, and every other anti-classic.

18. "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."

One of the all-time great opening movie lines goes to one of the all-time great opening games: Indy and New England on Thursday night, maybe the first time when a team's entire season (in this case, Indy) could be defined by Week 1. If they lose, they're back to Square 1. Again.

Of course ...

19. "If we wanted something, we just took it. If anyone complained twice, they got hit so bad, believe me, they never complained again."

To Belichick and the Patriots, who are being blamed for the tightening of the pass defense rules. In other words, the old rules were in place, the Patriots used those rules to their advantage and played accordingly ... and now, because the Colts were unhappy that they were pushed around like school kids in the AFC Championship game, it's almost like the Pats cheated last season.

Wait a second ...

Those were the rules! Those were the rules! Last winter, you were allowed to bring up your strong safety and have him belt Marvin Harrison off the line of scrimmage! You could do things like that! Which raises a bigger point ...

20. "Now go home and get your (bleeping) shine box."

If there's a greater put-down in the history of put-downs than "Now go home and get your (bleeping) shine box," I've yet to hear it. Of course, it ended up getting Billy Batts nearly stomped to death, then driven around in a hot car for three hours and ultimately stabbed 20 times, shot five more times, buried in the middle of Jersey, then exhumed six months later and buried somewhere else. So there were some repercussions. Still, great put-down. I think it was worth it.

Peyton Manning
The pressure will be on Peyton Manning and his Colts, starting Thursday night.
Anyway, this one goes to the Colts, who should have lost that AFC title game by 30 points. Everyone forgets this. I'm not sure why.

Here's what I wrote at the time: "The Pats doubled Indy's total yardage for most of the game; intercepted Manning four times; punished the Indy receivers to the point where they were tap-dancing across the middle like Gregory Hines; pushed the ball into the red zone seven different times; made every field goal; notched a safety; battered Manning like a piece of veal ... and there were the Colts with 150 seconds to play, attempting an onside kick for a chance to tie the score. Unbelievable."

Here's an e-mail I received at the time, from reader Bobby H: "My friends and I were talking after the Pats game, all relishing Manning's meltdown, and trying to figure what Shaquille O'Neal would have to do to have a similarly horrible performance in the conference finals. The consensus was five points (on 2-for-32 shooting), two rebounds, and 16 turnovers in 42 minutes. Your thoughts?"

Okay, this was only nine months ago. I'm not sure what could have happened to make people forget the actual facts. Still, I feel the need to apologize to the Colts and their fans. Under a different set of rules, with a quarterback who wasn't playing with both hands around his neck, with receivers who weren't turtling onto the turf, with a defense that could actually stop someone, with a coach who didn't have a history of coming up short in big games ... yes, you probably would have gone to the Super Bowl.

Now go home and get your (bleeping) shine box.

COMING THURSDAY: PART TWO

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.