|The beast from 4-4 fathoms!|
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist
-- R-Dub's NFL Proverb No. 252
But don't you people get it yet?
(Hey, don't get mad at me -- Charles Woodson told me to ask you.)
There are four seasons in an NFL season (ask Chucky -- he'll tell you). Four games per "season." You're not going to win all four seasons. But you can get blown out in one and still survive.
After Season 2, and a game into its Season 3, Tampa Bay is sitting well at 7-2 (most teams have had their bye and have even records adding up to eight). The Niners, Philly, Denver are 6-2 after Season 2. Green Bay won't be headed -- 7-1 after Season 2. The Pack could reverse its record to 1-7 over the final two inner seasons and still win the division. Second place in the NFC North is Detroit at 3-5.
Miami, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and New Orleans have won five games. Think they're not in it? Solidly. But here's both truth and beauty: Many of the teams that are 4-4, or even worse, are also still in it. If (when) any of them go at least 3-1 in the third of four seasons, they're 7-5 going into the last four games, and poised to punch.
One, if not more, of the 4-4 teams will get into this year's playoffs.
What, you don't think one lousy team among New England, Tennessee, Oakland, Kansas City, the Jints, 'Skins or Arizona, even Indy, can't run off three of four or six of eight? The Pats won it all from 4-4 last year. Even the Rams or Jets at 3-5 could run the Season 3 table, be 7-5 entering Season 4. Run that, they're 11-5. In there.
Could happen. Will happen, for somebody. The big question is, for whom? Let's probe the Week 9 unspoken thoughts of NFL stars, see if we can get a clue on whose mind is right for the job:
Jim Fassel, coach, New York Giants -- "Something smells. I know, it's the Jersey Meadowlands, but something smells even rottener than that. And I think I know what it is. It's not the running game. It's Sean Payton's play calling. I'm sure that's what it is (sniffs his own armpit). Yep. Sean Payton's play-calling, all right ..."
Mark Brunell, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars -- "I don't know what all the fuss is, over our team doctors. Only the guys who can't afford better use 'em. I always call around, me. What am I, stupid? I'm going to let one of them operate on me? Yeah, right. Sure I am."
Charles Woodson, DB, Oakland Raiders -- "People don't know how a fine difference there is. They never put it together. People like you don't help, R-Dub. Get out of my brain ... OK, I'll break it down for 'em this one time. After that, guess. We were 4-0 with me, then we were 0-3 without me. Get it? No? Run a clip of Herm Edwards saying, "Hel-lo-o?!?!" With me out, we lost two division games in overtime. Healthy, I'm the difference in those games. Got popped by the 49ers when I came back from my broken shoulder. T.O.'s a great cripple shooter. He'll never get from under Rice's shadow. What's he got as a Niner, 67 TDs? What'd Jerry have, 187, three rings? Good luck. I still got my ass kicked. Rust. So T.O. toasted me, 12 for 191. Never again. He kicked my ass. He makes it hurt, too. I'll visit him soon. Snake bit? Mad dog chew toy."
Kenny Watson, RB, Washington Redskins -- "So many people asking who I am. Who am I? I have few memories before Sunday. What memories I do have, can I be sure they're mine? Did I just rush for a buck-eleven in the N-Freaking-L? Is Spurrier my dad? Did he make me in a lab? Am I cloned from mountain goat DNA?"
Koren Robinson, WR, Seattle Seahawks -- "Well, I know who I am. I'm the guy who followed Torry Holt at NC State. Now I can't get arrested. Hasselbeck should be arrested, for impersonating a QB. Vapor lock. Man, me and Engram are like 7-11. We stay open."
Herm Edwards, coach, New York Jets -- "Hel-lo-oh!?!?"
Woody Johnson, owner, New York Jets -- "Yeah, I'm here. Who is this Mort person, saying I want a rebate on the multimillion dollar bonuses I threw down a rat-hole for a bunch of slag heaps? I never said I wanted money back. I do want it back, but I never said it. What does Mort mean, anyway? Frankie Fiveangels pronounced it "Morte!" He was talking about the Rosado Brothers. I'm talking about Herm. He'd better wear a steel turtleneck. Frankie thought $100 was a insult. Right now, I'd take it. He thought 'canapes' was 'can of peas.' I thought 'can of peas' was a name for our defense."
Jon Kitna, QB, Cincinnati Bengals -- "Take that! And that! And that! Am I a sadist? I can't be blamed. A man or a hermaphrodite can only take so much. It's madness, I say! Madness! I can't stop pouring it on! I just can't! Please! Stop me before I hit Westbrook again! Westbrook?! Where'd he come from? Never mind! It's all spilling out of me! God help me -- I liiike it! No, Carrie! Don't!"
David Carr, QB, Houston Texans -- "Artrell Hawkins pick-and-goed me for 102 yards? Hey, I'm happy for him. Only sacked twice, after 44 in the first half of the season. That's what I'm talking 'bout. Wonder when Tony Boselli will be ready to cover my backside out there at my trusty left tackle? The vets, they say never; he got picked first in the expansion draft off name, rep, they say; they say he stole money, they ask me if I'm nuts or something for asking, or what? No, just sore. Ig'nert. Tarred. Diapered out."
Jeff Fisher, RB, Tennessee Titans -- "If we can just hold on till we get 90 The Freaky Deak back. Good we're in the AFC South. We can be cryogenically frozen and still be considered in the hunt."
Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts -- "I've lost my edge. I mean, I lost my Edge. My Edgerrin. With Edge dragging a leg, now when I run-action fake, D-tackles and zone blitzers crack up laughing at me. Call myself running to the corner, but I'm not really going anywhere. The game moves so fast! ... Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, tomorrow's just a day away. How many times do I have to sing that dang song to myself? Now I see what Elway meant, not coming here ... I'm turning into my dad ..."
Dave Campo, coach, Dallas Cowboys -- "Anybody else notice how Gandolfino gets to tag a lot of hot babes as Tony Soprano? I'm in the wrong line here. I remember when he was just Leering Thug No.1 in "True Romance." Here I am, suffering Coslet, schmoozing a bunch of media jerks, valeting Jerry's car. Just don't seem fair."
Amos Zereoue, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers -- "I am not The Bus. I am not a Vulcan. I am not the Nigerian Nightmare -- but I lost money to one who conned me. Who is this P. Diddly? How many of these great watches should I buy from Africans in Times Square?"
Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles -- "Wonder if Halle Berry watches ball? Wonder if she's tired of what's-his-name, Eric Bidet? What would I say to her? 'I'm paid, baby. Just made Board of Trustees at Syracuse, baby.' Nah. Not her style. It's not like I want to marry her anyway ... although Emmitt didn't do bad."
Patrick Kerney, DL, Atlanta Falcons -- (as he scoops up fumble, rumbles 2 yards to the end zone, and considers a dance move) "And they were laughing, and singing, and moving to the grooving, and just then, it hit me, and that's when they started singing to me, 'Play that funky music, white boy, play that funky music, play ...' "
Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."