The Long, Winding Road to Glendale

February 2, 2008

It’s been a crazy year for the National Football League. Granted, every year has its own special sort of insanity, but this year seemed to be just short of Britney-Spears crazy. Maybe it was the history-making New England Patriots. Maybe it was the unintended aftereffects of Roger Goodell’s personal conduct policy. Maybe it was just Michele Tafoya’s dazzling, hypnotic eyes.

Anyway, the road to Glendale was bumpy indeed, unless you were Randy Moss. Then it was pretty smooth until you got within the radius of the restraining order. There are, indeed, many stories in this year’s NFL. Here are just a few.

Who Let The Dogs Out? And Let Them Fight Each Other To The Bloody Death?
Last summer, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was charged with dogfighting, which is a federal crime in those jurisdictions that have more dentists than ammo shops. Vick tried to mount a fairy solid defense, claiming that it was friends and relatives that were using his property without his knowledge for the fights. Yet everyone on the face of the earth knows exactly how the conversation went:

Agent: Okay, Mike, the new personal conduct policy is in effect, so you don’t want to do anything that would look poorly against the NFL. Watch what you do and say and, if there is one thing I can emphasize above all else, whatever you do, do not purchase a pit bull. It has connotations of urban violence and will bring unwanted attention to yourself. Do NOT get a pit bull.
Vick: No problem.

[Two hours later, at his house]

Vick: Hey, guys, check it out. I just bought a pit bull.

Cheaters Never Win. For the Most Part. The season started out normally enough, except for the fact that one of the league’s best teams got caught cheating, pretty much the pure definition of a Nixonesque activity if there ever was one. It was a fairly blatant cheating, too, with a staff member videotaping the sideline action to get information from the opposition. Presumably, this was done to unlock the secret and masterfully complex code that is the defense of the Jets. Still, in a professional sports league that prides itself as being above the board for the sake of the fans and, more importantly, the Nevada Gaming Commission, any hint of cheating is frowned upon. In this case, that particular frown was worth about $750,000 and a first round draft pick.

Fans look at the effects of this scandal in one of two ways: 1) The Patriots, aghast at being labeled cheaters about a simple misunderstanding, have something to prove and so start being the ragged piss out of every other team they come up against in the season, running up the score on purpose to shove the middle finger of spite at the other 31 teams in the league; or 2) the Patriots used the information gleaned from their first game to springboard a poisoned well of regular season victories, their perfect season a flawed product of unethically prying open the prize plum of…the crack defense of the Jets. I guess.

The Miami Dolphins Suck at 15:1 odds: Seriously, they do. I mean, every season has their dog, but this year the Dolphins just sucked in a magnitude unparalleled in modern times. Each day, the members of the Dolphins staff should thank their lucky stars for the mere existence of the occasional suck-even-worsedness of the Baltimore Ravens.

Adrian Peterson Becomes Breakout Star: Peterson was the rookie sensation, much like Reggie Bush was last year. Reggie Bush had the help of being part of the Feel-Good Story of the Year, the New Orleans Saints rising from the wet, messy ashes of Louisiana and serve as a bright and inspirational icon for all the poor and downtrodden who one day aspire to earn $300,000 as a college athlete in a bright and inspirational violation of NCAA rules. Peterson, of course, could use his nimbleness and speed on the field to run as far away from Minnesota as soon as free agency comes around.

Jessica Simpson Goes Home, Cries Softly To Herself, Still Has A Better Playoff Passer Rating Than Her Boyfriend:
Football fans are a superstitious lot, and often latch onto small, insignificant items in the daily lives of themselves and their team as portents of victory or defeat. Some people decided to hang the mantle of harbinger on one Jessica Simpson, who was the girlfriend of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Last season, Romo became an effective quarterback throughout the season only to blow it on a botched field goal attempt, dashing any hopes of a Superbowl game. This year, of course, things were different. He blew a last-drive pass and converted a sure touchdown into a sloppy interception, thus dashing any hopes of a Superbowl game. Most fans blamed sometime actress and sometime singer Simpson as “distracting” the young quarterback, who replied, quite correctly, “Yeah? So what? Have you seen the size of those things?” To which all fans silently nodded and agreed, and Tom Brady told Gisele Bundchen not to wait up for him tonight.

The Undefeated New England Patriots Meet…the New York Giants? Sure, why not? The Giants weren’t exactly the expected victors in the NFC this year. That honor would probably go to the Dallas Cowboys or the Green Bay Packers or about ten of the other teams in the conference. Eli Manning is looking to do what his brother did last year and secure a Super Bowl ring, as well as earn the respect of his peers, not act like a hillbilly in front of the slick Arizona city folk, not star in any commercials during the coming year, and cure cancer, all of which have about an equal chance of actually occurring.