Can't bear not to watch
This directive just in from the Dept. of Masochistic Simple Pleasures: Forget the legitimately good games on the NFL's schedule this weekend. Instead, train your gaze south. Farther. Farther south. Farther still.
Are you down there at the Raiders-Steelers tilt yet? The Redskins-Giants? Chargers-Lions?
Congratulations: You are in the land of bad/good sporting theater. And that must mean we've hit the home stretch of the season.
By December, NFL games essentially divide themselves along brutally unsentimental lines. On one side stand the games with playoff implications, either for qualification or positioning purposes. You might be thinking here of Baltimore-Cincinnati or New England-Miami or Denver-Kansas City or, heavens, Green Bay-Chicago.
Perfectly valid, perfectly watchable. But you want compelling? Come to the land of the endangered coach, the guy fighting for his job security. Come to the land of the man to whom the word "jeopardy" no longer conjures innocent images of Will Ferrell channeling Alex Trebek, the man attempting to win games with either a roster, a set of injuries or a collective team karma that seems to want to prevent him from doing so.
Come to the dark side. The water's warm. (Next stop: A roiling boil.)
Steve Spurrier, meanwhile, has found himself in the position of being able to turn on the TV and have top-level commentators essentially beg him to flee the NFL and get himself back to the college game. We hear there's an opening for a championship-minded self-starter somewhere in Nebraska. Surely that's not Dan Snyder over there, offering to charter the flight.
Now Williams is coaching for his future, but look around: The man has got company. They may be lousy games this weekend, this batch, but they'll be lousy in the sort of way that can change careers and alter perceptions.
It doesn't mean you have to abandon sympathy for the NFL coach with the 900-pound weight on his back. It just means you're inclined to want to see how he carries it. After all, we don't create the morbid curiosity. We simply respond to it.
Mark Kreidler is a columnist with the Sacramento Bee and a regular contributor to ESPN.com
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