Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Brandon Marshall Vs. McDonald's Bag. Brandon Loses

Well, isn't this just the kind of news I want to hear on the heels of the Broncos opening their offseason strength and conditioning program in Englewood today. Brandon Marshall, the Broncos' top WR, has some kind of arm injury that will keep him in a cast for a few weeks and a splint for months after that, although they say he will supposedly be ready for full-fledged training camp in July. Nor was it just a little cut, as he said, as the NFL Network has said that the injury is serious -- Marshall somehow having managed to sever an artery, a vein, a nerve, and tendons of five muscles, which sounds incredibly painful and pretty serious, especially when your job description involves hauling in footballs for a living. It's hard enough to catch them with two good arms and hands, and definitely close to impossible with one. Marshall is by far our best WR and this is not good news.

How did this little mishap coming about? Marshall evidently told the team that it was incurred by wrestling with his family members -- some wrestling match, I hope some deadbeat uncle didn't pull a switchblade or something. But in a published report in the Rocky Mountain News, he claimed he slipped on a fast-food bag, and when trying to break his fall, put his arm through an entertainment center. Naturally, I'm a little suspicious of both these explanations, and I pray that Marshall hasn't been doing something stupid like his teammate Marcus Thomas, or like Tim Hudson in the 2003 ALDS, getting into a bar fight in Boston. He's already waiting a delayed trial on DUI charges, and I have a really low tolerance for the consistently thuggish behavior of NFL players. Besides, the Broncos are doing their best to catch up with the Falcons or Bengals in terms of the All-Con team, and that naturally reflects poorly on the team and city. (They were also named as primary customers of a high-priced escort service, but I haven't heard anything more on that, yet...) I wish they'd give it a rest, and I hope that Marshall gets better quickly, as we need him catching passes. We also need him telling the truth and staying out of trouble. Le sigh.

With baseball season starting, I've been getting back to Sparks of Dementia more, and I know I have left the Quarterback Quizzes unfinished for the moment, with the Raiders, Seahawks, Cardinals, 49ers, and Rams left to go. When the draft rolls around on April 26-27, I'll probably be ready to post some football and will cover both draft results and (hopefully) finish the quizzes. Then again, I might even do that beforehand. Possibly.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tom Brady's Big Mistake

That is, of course, if you believe this story. Allegedly, Tom and his arm-candy supermodel could not contain their bounteous lusts, and had to give in to a session of the horizontal (vertical) mambo in a NYC restaurant wine cellar, which would have been standard-issue behavior for your young, insanely rich, attractive, famous power couple... if they hadn't been caught on videotape doing it. Yep, sounds like a juicy, and probably untrue, celebrity sex tape scandal to me, and if this by some chance actually did happen, then I hope it gets disseminated everywhere and Bill Belichick gives Brady a reaming. The funny thing is, Brady's incredible on the field and pretty much an ever-worsening douchenozzle off it, but even I can't see him having the phenomenally bad judgment to do this. (Assuming it is true, and not just some rabid anti-Patriots weirdo raving about a fictional tape that, to be honest, most Patriots fans would watch, if only to imagine themselves in Gisele's place... I mean, what?) Brady already isn't the most popular figure in the NFL, but he does have the image of the Golden Boy, for better or worse, and he had to know that things like this don't stay quiet. Does he really want Sextapegate looming over his head at every turn like Babygate (the fact that he has a son with his ex-girlfriend, which was returned to ad nauseam at various points during the season) did last year? Does he really WANT to give Patriots-haters even more ammunition, crumble his image, and kick away the last idea that he is anything other than your typical shallow, vain, overly horny and minimally intelligent celebrity?

Hey, you never know. Sticking it in a Victoria's Secret model on Candid Camera? That's worth a whole friggin' ton of lifetime memories, and I guess he has to console himself somehow for not winning that fourth Super Bowl ring. I mean, aside from playing football and not seeing his son, how many hobbies can a guy have? Besides, it was a traumatic loss, so after being the Giants' little bitch all night, he feels the need to prove his masculinity and the fact that he is still better than you. Idiot. If the boy isn't careful, he's going to have a little Brady-Bundchen to go with the Brady-Moynahan model already in existence, and wouldn't that be a tragedy? Although he might see this version a little bit more... don't worry, Tom, knock up seven more starlets and you'll be the glitterati version of Travis Henry! You will also need every penny of that $60 million contract to pay child support, although you might recoup it all if you go on Jerry Springer.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Aaron Rodgers Is Whooping It Up

...and waiting for the other shoe to fall. So in the 24 hours between now and Favre changing his mind, Aaron is living the good life, swaggering around to every suburban-Wisconsin restaurant and saying slyly to every pretty blonde thing, "You know I'm the Packers' starting quarterback, right?" and chartering private jets and drinking Cristal and hosting mad parties and yukking it up. This is a yearly routine for poor Aaron, because before the aforementioned time frame is through, Favre is going to say, "What, I'm letting the KID play? Arr! Gimme me my spikes back and get outta my way, whippersnapper!" and crush Rodgers' dreams all over again. He will be left to sleep off his hangover and think about long-haul truck driving in the offseason to pay off all the debts he has amassed. Unless, of course, he actually is the Packers' starting quarterback.

Yep, it's official. Cheesehead Nation is flying the flags at half mast. Brett Favre has retired.

This shifts the balance of power in the NFC North, even if it's not entirely certain to who. The Vikings need a new quarterback, the Bears re-signed Rex Grossman, and the Lions didn't fire Matt Millen, and now the Packers will be helmed by a rookie instead of the Cheesehead Messiah for the first time in 17 years. It'll be interesting to see who emerges from that scrum, and how long Packers fans give Rodgers to turn into Favre; he and Cutler will have a lot to talk about about succeeding a beloved, career-long franchise quarterback. Rodgers will, however, have to avoid playing the part of Jake Plummer/Brian Griese (inept and generally disliked) and jump straight to the Jay Cutler part (young and on the rise, could make them forget about Elway/Favre).

Favre says he can still play, but is "tired," and was upset by the Packers' failure to get Randy Moss, so he's deciding to hang it up on his terms, evidently. It's been confirmed, evidently that early post on Packers.com about his retirement ended up to be correct, but I'm still not buying it. Nor, I imagine, is Aaron Rodgers. Quick, Aaron, do your yearly max-out of your black AmEx and go talk to your Vikings friends about organizing a Love Boat... but only if you're sure Favre is in fact coming back. Otherwise, take it easy, son. You're suddenly going to get a lot more popular.

Perhaps I am not being charitable enough to a guy who spent his whole career with the team, who is one of the best QBs in the sport, who made himself beloved to a lot of people in subzero temperatures wearing replica dairy products on their heads. Maybe I should put an animated .gif of an American flag and candles, along with little dolls bowing and a tinkly background version of an Avril Lavigne song. I actually have nothing against Favre, believe it or not, aside from hating all his media fellatio -- he was pretty good for a quote (My favorite, to a referee while on the sidelines: "Here's some advice for you. Take two weeks off, then quit.") and he's genuinely a tough guy and did a lot, to say the least, over his career. I just can't bring myself to be that, you know, sad, since you know he'll probably be back anyway.

As a matter of fact, it already happened. Rodgers had a chance to cement his role, but sadly, he came in for his final training session still suffering the aftereffects of his party last night, which led to Favre un-retiring on the spot. I continue to imagine conversations between quarterbacks and their backups below. Stereotypes (first Quinn, now Favre) are fun.

Favre: And you're gonna throw it that far. Allll the hell way down thar. That's how you throw a touchdown pass, son, just rear back and air it out down there, one of them speedy lil' black fellers'll catch it.
Rodgers: [laughs incoherently]
Favre: 'Cuz that's what I done all this 17 long years. 17 years, boy! How old were you when I was startin' out? 2?
Rodgers: [laughs, distracted by shiny object]
Favre: You probably wasn't born yet!
Rodgers: [eats sweatshirt sleeve]
Favre: Goddamn, boy. You smell like WEED!
Rodgers: [giggles]
Favre: You want some damn Doritos?
Rodgers: [giggles]
Favre: Shuddup, you're screwin' with my concentration. I'm tryin' to bequeath you my legacy, boy!
Rodgers: [munches on Fritos from pocket]
Favre: I cannot f*ckin' believe I am handin' the keys to my empire to this here chickenshit.
Rodgers: Have any [laughs for ten minutes]... cookies?
Favre: What the sam hill is so damn funny?
Rodgers: I'm feelin' GOOD! I'm feelin' FLY! [laughs] [falls over]
Favre: Oh fer the love of cotton-pickin' baby Jesus... how the hell am I supposed to go if they give the Pack this ...
Peter King: That's the point, Bretty! [is muffled]
Favre: [nudges Rodgers with his toe]
Rodgers: [snores beatifically]
[Long pause]
Favre: Gimme the ball.
Packers Fans: Never leave us!!!
Favre: Gimme the damn ball or I'm leavin'.
[Long pause]
Favre: Wait.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Brady Quinn Is Not Amused

Derek Anderson got a new contract from the Browns, who were reluctant to tinker with the juju that brought them their first winning season in quite a while -- leaving Queen to warm the bench, hold the clipboard, and mutter fruitlessly and be in denial for another few years. Despite being rich and self gay-hating, Queen just CAN'T get to be the starter on his own TEAM! It was never this bad at Notre Dame! In any case, I don't think the two Browns quarterbacks are exactly friends at this moment.

Due to my super-powered listening skills, I have determined that the conversation at the time this picture was taken was going something like this:

Anderson: I'm rich now, Brady.
Queen (grumpily): So am I, Derek.
Anderson: And I get to start.
Queen (muttering): Up yours.
Anderson: I'll pass.
Queen: You're just jealous 'cuz YOU'RE not a sex symbol.
Anderson: [long look] [decides against commenting]
Anderson: Dude. Chill the f*ck out.
Queen: I hate my life.
Anderson: Sorry to hear that. You still have it better than 99.9% of the people on this planet.
Queen: Somebody buy me a Mai Tai.
Anderson: No.
Queen: Be my friend, Derek.
Anderson: No.
Queen: Want some skittles?
Anderson: No.
Queen: Wanna taste the rainbow?
Anderson: No.
Queen: Come on, Derek! It was just a question! Why do you have to be so tempera--mental --
Anderson: Mr. Crennel? Is that you, Mr. Crennel! Yes, of course, I'm ready to run a scrimmage!
[runs off]
Queen (suspiciously): The defense is on the field, genius. See, I'm going to be a starting quarterback, I should notice these things.
[Anderson fails to return]
Queen (depressed): I must suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune alone.
Queen (nobly): It is my destiny. I, Brayden Tyler Quinn, will be a star one day, and no one can tell me otherwise for following my heart, for living my dream, for doing my best, and standing aside and waiting until the opportune moment. I have only one life, I must live it to the fullest. I must put aside those who do not care for me, who do not love me, and trust in myself in this wild, strange, long journey across the heartland of America into the hearts of pigskin-loving souls the country over. They will love me then, and I will love them back, and I will show them all along, I have held them in the same tender regard in which they esteem me.
Queen: [bursts into tears]
Queen: Damn, Brady, that was good.
[Anderson runs by, muttering]
Anderson: I changed my mind. I think I'll go to free agency after all.

Roethlisberger Re-Upped, Other Signing News & Notes

Big Ben is now making big bucks, per the Rocky Mountain News. The Steelers QB and motorcycle enthusiast signed an eight-year, $102 million extension that will keep him in Pittsburgh black and gold through 2015, and includes over $36 million guaranteed money. Just think of how many motorbikes that'll buy! Hopefully, now that he doesn't have to, hem, pinch pennies, he can buy a few helmets to go with it. But this is a show of commitment by the Steelers to their playmaker, seeing how much space he'll now be taking up on the Pittsburgh payroll, and exceeds even the $98 million deal Manning signed with the Colts in '04. Steelers fans probably think it's worth it. Roethlisberger has proven what he can do for them, and this will move him further toward his stated wish of wanting to be like "the Dan Marinos, like the John Elways, guys who played with one team their whole career." (Props on citing Elway, Ben, always a good idea). Still, you'd think they'd spend a little of this money on guys who can actually protect Roethlisberger, who was sacked a whopping 47 times last season.

As for other market rumblings, Asante Samuel was snapped up by the Eagles almost as soon as free-agency period opened, despite some talk about the Saints being the front-runner. Randy Moss has said he is frustrated with the Patriots' lack of motion on getting a new contract hammered out after they declined to franchise-tag him, and that's led to some horrifying (if you're a Patriots fan or a fan of a team in the NFC East not Dallas) rumors of him landing with the Cowboys. Moss and Terrell Owens on the same team? Can the world take the united forces of douchebaggery (more than usual, that is) emanating from Texas? Will Moss yank out a machete if Romo throws to T.O. more often? Oy vey. I wouldn't envy anybody in that clubhouse if this should somehow take place.

Broncos DT Marcus Thomas has fallen back into iniquity with his (non) rocket-scientist friends, and was arrested after he was in the car with a friend who was busted for coke. Thomas's problems go back to his playing days at UF, where Urban Meyer was so convinced that he was hanging out with the wrong sort that he tried to stop him from going home. Yet again, it's the same old song, that Thomas is hanging out with all the wrong kinds of people, and he needs to wake up and realize that he's an NFL athlete and fulfilling the dream of playing pro sports isn't going to last forever. Dump those losers and put in some actual effort to change, Marcus... Unfortunately, being an NFL athlete these days entails being busted for just about every offense under the sun, so maybe he's taking notes. Thomas is also lucky he plays at DT, and behind him is The Ghost of Matt Lepsis (switched to the D-line instead of the O-line since there's practically no one else) and if we cut him, we'd be in even more dire straits than we are now. Denver is not going to have any leeway to point and snicker at the Falcons and Bengals if their offseason of arrests keeps up. Oy.

The Broncos also signed WR Keary Colbert, formerly of the Panthers, to a three-year contract. Colbert is only 25 and was a second-round pick out of USC, and had 47 catches in 2004, which he hopes to replicate in competing for the #2 WR job. This isn't exactly a stellar pickup, but the team is being quiet in free agency and hoping to get enough selections to address all their needs in the draft. (They did, however, sign Seattle linebacker Niko Koutouvides, Pro Bowler Lofa Tatupu's backup and special-teams ace, since they need somebody, anybody, to plug in the D-line). Brandon Stokley is not an every-down receiver and therefore will be in the #3 spot, no matter what that article says. Also, Denver has a surfeit of DEs with Jarvis Moss's return and Elvis Dumervil entrenched, plus re-signing Engelberger and Ebenezer Ekuban (who didn't play last year due to injury). Dumervil and Moss, if he's healthy, figure to be the starters on the frontline corners.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

John Lynch Makes It Back, A Couple Cuts

In news that comes as a relief, the Broncos and John Lynch have finally come to terms on a new contract. And the story as to how that happened is kind of amusing. Lynch had decided that he was, in fact, going to move on, had even drafted a letter thanking his fans and teammates, and then called Broncos owner Pat Bowlen to tell him about it. Fortunately, in one of those little coincidence/splinter of fate things that get traced back to turning points by weird people like me, Bowlen had gone out for a late dinner and didn't answer his phone, and when he got back and answered Lynch's call, Lynch himself had gone to sleep. When he woke up the next morning, the decision didn't feel right.

"I could probably go make more money elsewhere in the free agent market," Lynch said. "And I had really gone to bed excited about that.

"And then I woke up thinking, "What am I doing?" I've got four kids who are happy here. I've found a home here and I didn't want to be one of those guys going from team to team. I felt I had earned what I had coming to me but sometimes you have to step back and look at the big picture. And the big picture to me was: I had to find a way to make this work."

So he took a pay cut to play a fifth season in Denver and help stabilize an uncertain position. Nick Ferguson is an unrestricted free agent and is likely moving on, and Hamza Abdullah is a restricted free agent and will also garner some interest. Denver will still probably be drafting a young safety in April -- their secondary is thin, Lynch is 36 and suffered a neck injury last year similar to the one that almost ended his career, and the contract situations of their other safeties are unresolved. But in the age of athletic mercenaries, it's nice to see a guy waking up and realizing that there are more things that matter than simply getting the most money. Lynch has lost a step with age, and has never been blessed with blazing speed to keep up with the fastest receivers, but makes up for it by being one of the hardest hitters in the NFL and a guy who plays the game, both on the field and off it, the right way. He'll provide a voice of experience to all the kids and if things should go too dramatically south, it's still only for one year. I'm happy to have him back in orange and blue!

Also, the Broncos officially released Javon Walker, to no one's surprise, and after designating Stokley the number three receiver, need to look for a #2 to slot in between him and Brandon Marshall. It's doubtful they go for the WO with their first pick due all the help they need on defense, though; they also released linebacker Ian Gold. One boon is that they will have 17th-overall pick DE Jarvis Moss (hopefully) healthy this year, and when paired with Elvis Dumervil, can display a more effective frontline corner than we saw this year. They also brought DE John Engelberger back, and the contract situation with K Jason Elam is still unresolved. I say, sign the guy and have done with it. Elam can't make 50-yarders (not many except the Titans' Rob Bironas can) but he was responsible for four game-winning FGs last year and is relatively automatic from 40 yards.