Fellow Patriots fan Bill Simmons is getting on my nerves. His columns this year have generally been a tad bit arrogant, but that's to be expected given the Patriots success. I started feeling the bad vibes a few weeks ago, after the Patriots escaped from Indianapolis with a truly awesome come from behind victory. Rather than enjoy the greatness that is Tom Brady, Simmons responded to the win with a column entitled Sore Winner
that proceeded to turn a few bad calls into an anti-Patriots conspiracy theory. As fans of a team that started its dynastic run with the Tuck Rule call, I would think Patriots fans would adopt the teams own take-what-your given attitude before whining and name calling in a national column.
But, whatever. Then, just last week, there was Bill Simmon's last NFL column, the one that claims that the 2007 NFL season may go down as one of the most fantastic, memorable seasons of all time.
According to Simmons, here's why:
Think about everything that has happened since Labor Day: Brett Favre finding the Fountain of Youth; CameraGate turning the Pats into the Cobra Kai Yankees; Adrian Peterson threatening to become the Barry Sanders of his generation; the dueling quests for 19-0 and 0-16; the running-up-the-score debates (one of the top-10 sports radio topics ever); Michael Vick's incredible fall from grace; big-time years from two spectacular receivers (Moss and T.O.); an increasingly bitter Colts-Pats rivalry; Brady's quest to shatter the TD record; the Norv Turner Face climbing to new heights; another Ricky Williams comeback; Roger Goodell turning into Buford Pusser; the Cris Carter-Steve Smith interview; one of the greatest "Monday Night Football" games ever (Favre beating the Broncos with the OT bomb to Greg Jennings); the Saints improbably climbing back from 0-4; Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger emerging as big-time QBs; the Browns finally waking up as a potential playoff team; Jimmy Kimmel getting banned from "MNF"; Herm Edwards shattering the Unintentional Comedy Scale on "Hard Knocks"; Vinny Testaverde's improbable comeback; Andy Reid's bizarre season; Jon Kitna and God's Team potentially sneaking into the playoffs; the Travis Henry Show (which should really be a reality show); Tiki Barber's quiet run for the Ewing Theory Hall of Fame; and the Niners potentially handing over a top-three pick to the Patriots in 2008.
There's a lot there, some of it memorable, but very little of it fantastic. I mean, really, that '94 baseball strike was sure memorable. League-wide embarrassments don't a fantastic football season make. Before getting in to anything Simmons has said, I have to ask myself, when I've gone to coaches, my favorite local sports bar, and watched 5-6-7-8 games at the same time, do I spend more of my time gasping in amazement, or laughing at stupidity? So far this year I think I'd have to give the edge to laughing at stupidity. Just last week I watched Byron Leftwich look stupid against the Bucs, the Bengals continue to explode against the Cardinals, and the battle of QB greats between Daunte Culpepper and Tavarias Jackson. I also watched Herman Edwards stifle Peyton Manning and for some God forsaken reason, had to endure the hell known as Eagles-Dolphins. Oh and in case you were wondering, Ben Roethlisberger followed his Bill Simmon's mention as a big time QB in the late game last weekend by looking awful in a loss to the "we're just a bit better than Miami" New York Jets.
Before I mention some of the good things going on this year, let me just mention some of the reasons why this NFL season has been pretty damn ugly.
1- Tackling has been extra ugly throughout the league this year. Even the dominant Patriots haven't been immune. It's not that poor tackling can't be overcome or that it even is certain to have an impact on every game, it's just that it's sloppy and it certainly doesn't make the season any more fantastic.
2- The young QB's have not emerged. Vince Young has been terrible to mediocre, as has Jay Cutler. Matt Leinart was really bad, started to split time with Kurt Warner, and then got hurt. J.P Losman was so bad that he lost his starting spot for a while to someone named Trent Edwards. And Phillip Rivers has taken such a giant leap back I wonder if he has a future in the league beyond this year.
3- I know that Packer-Broncos game was great (so was Bills-Cowboys earlier this year) but most of the prime time games have sucked. Last Sunday night, John Madden was talking about eating "suicidal" buffalo wings because the Pats-Bills game was over at some point in the first quarter. And for whatever reason it seems like prime time viewers have been subjected to a lot of 49ers and Bengals this year ... and Ravens.
4- Bad teams that are no fun to watch. I should be fair to the Bengals I just mentioned because they can be fun to watch at times. The same can't be said about the aforementioned Dolphins, Ravens and 49ers, along with the Jets, Raiders, Falcons, and Rams. And lets be honest, do we really want to watch teams like the Eagles, Redskins, or Chiefs play another one of the teams on this list?
5- The Chargers and Bears collapses. At least the Bears can blame poor QB play and any number of injuries. The Chargers on the other hand, only have Norv Turner, Norv Turner, Norv Turner, and Phillip Rivers to blame.
6- The year of the dull running backs. Fantasy football owners know what I'm talking about. Larry Johnson? Frank Gore? Shaun Alexander? Steven Jackson? We've had to watch two of the years most exciting RB's, Ronnie Brown and Adrian Peterson go down with injuries. Reggie Bush hasn't done anything exciting, Willie Parker has 2 TD's, and Thomas Jones has none.
I could go on, but lets just say that the level of play in the NFL this year has not been superb. But what about the good? Obviously there are any number of great stories. The Patriots pursuit of perfection. Brett Favre's resurgence. Randy Moss. Terrell Owens. Tony Romo. And as Simmons mentions, the resurgence of the Browns. The problem is, these stories are confined to the league's elite teams. For those who want to tell me otherwise I have just one thing to say - Did you watch the Lions-Giants game last weekend?