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  1. #1
    Prophet Guest

    PFT Ten-Pack: Wk 3; Smoot Out

    PFT Ten-Pack: Wk 3

    As we embark on yet another effort to cobble together ten takes from the weekend that was in the National Football League, we've identified a new incentive for banging out an entertaining, thought-provoking presentation of our observations.
    From this point forward, the entire PFT team will celebrate each completed Ten-Pack by getting snockered on Scotch and Snapple, and we'll then pick the designated driver for the ride home by playing rock-scissors-paper-puke-out-the-window.

    So off we go.
    Dante will be back from the liquor store soon, and we want to get the party started because, surprisingly, booze makes him less of an asshole.

    (Editor's note:
    We're kidding about all of that.
    We don't drink.

    C-Coll Pokes Fun At K-Rob's "Disease."

    During Sunday's Football Night in America (and Portions of California), Cris Collinsworth livened up the British funeral home presentation of game highlights with a dig at Packers receiver Koren Robinson.

    After footage of Robinson (drum roll, please) catching a pass was displayed, Collinsworth blurted out, "Koren said, 'Let's go have a few drinks and celebrate that thing.'"

    We've taken plenty of heat for scrutinizing and/or poking fun at Robinson's relationship with the Reverend Al K. Hall, with indignant readers reminding us that Robinson has a "disease" and that it shouldn't be fodder for cheap laughs on a two-bit Internet site.

    Well, if that's the case (and we don't think it is), then those same folks should be bombarding NBC with complaints, since such comments definitely shouldn't be fodder for cheap laughs on a top-tier television network.

    And while Collinsworth's comment caused us to perk up during what otherwise is a yawn-inducing viewing experience, we thought it was a little too obvious and sophomoric, given the cachet of the broadcast.
    We would have preferred something a tad more subtle or humorous, such as:
    "It looks like Koren hasn't been spending time with my cousin Tom Collins.

    Meanwhile, we've noticed that the FNIA (APOC) highlight-review function is now incorporating less of the past tense, and more of the present tense (and variations thereof) while reviewing the action.
    As we explained last week, one of the big differences between the old ESPN Primetime show and the new NBC offering is that Chris Berman's narrative was always in the present tense, one of the subtle qualities that made the ESPN highlight show the paradise to NBC's parking lot.
    But even though the FNIA (APOC) thing is now trying to inject some more immediacy into the exercise, there's still a looooong way to go before Bob "I'm Too Big For This" Costas, Cris "I'm Too Cool For This" Collinsworth, Sterling "I'm Too Loud For This" Sharpe, and Jerome "Where's My Sandwich?" Bettis can ever get to the high level of performance that Berman and Tom Jackson generated over the years.

    Now, it's not a compelling review of highlights; it's four guys sitting around BS-ing.
    (Actually, it's only three guys BS-ing and one guy periodically saying "wow."

    Smoot Getting Shipped Out Of Minnesota?

    One of the details that has gotten lost in the shuffle of a busy weekend of football action is that Vikings cornerback Fred Smoot might be wearing out his welcome in Minnesota.

    Signed in 2005 to a big-money deal by the Vikes, Smoot generally has underachieved in Minnesota -- and he has embarrassed the organization by, um, burning the candle at both ends while on the Love Boat.

    On Sunday, Smoot was stricken from the starting lineup and replaced by rookie Cedric Griffin.
    Smoot later entered the game.
    Media reports suggest that Smoot was benched for disciplinary reasons.

    On one hand, it's further evidence that there are no longer any sacred cows in the land of Babe the Blue Ox.
    Brad Childress deactivated starting safety Dwight Smith for the regular-season opener, going instead with rookie Greg Blue.
    Now, Smoot has had a stint in the doghouse.

    The message to the locker room is clear.
    Follow the rules or face the wrath.
    It's an interesting contrast to the kid-gloves treatment given to certain misbehaving members of the Cincinnati Bengals, who have yet to face any real consequences for their inability to follow the rules and requirements that 99 percent of the rest of us honor every day.

    Of course, there was no discussion from the sock puppets on FOX regarding the whereabouts of Smoot or the significance of the move.
    Dick Stockton merely noted that Griffin had gotten the start in place of Smoot, with zero commentary from the Moose or the Goose regarding how a rookie could have ended up on the field over a guy like Smoot.
    Was it ineffectiveness?
    Was it discipline?
    Was it a sex toy injury?

    Instead, we got nothing -- even though Tony Siragusa's ample behind is parked down on the field for the entire game.
    And when Smoot entered the game no mention was made of it.

    While we're dumping on the FOX No. 2 team, we were slack-jawed (well, more slack-jawed than usual) when the Bears pulled off a solid kick return by faking a cross-field lateral, which froze the Vikes while the guy who faked the lateral continued the trek north (or south).
    The sock puppets never bothered to mention that a failed cross-field lateral provided the turning point for the Panthers on that same end of the field seven days earlier in a loss to the Vikings.

    Farewell, Robot Farts.

    We'd love to take credit for the eradication of the annoying metallic sound effects FOX was using when it displayed, and then removed, its down-and-distance indicator from the horizontal bar of data at the top of the screen.
    But our guess is that Rupert Murdoch's minions got plenty of heat from viewers regarding this useless distraction.

    What the heck.
    We'll take credit for it anyway.

    We're not sure when it was scuttled or whether it has been dropped by every FOX broadcasting team, but we noticed during several games on Sunday that the sounds of the farting robots had been silenced.

    Official Clarification On Rams-Cards Finish.

    We received plenty of e-mails from readers who were confused regarding the manner in which the Rams-Cardinals game ended on Sunday afternoon.
    With the Rams ahead by two points and facing a fourth down, St. Louis punted to Arizona.
    Time expired with the ball in the air.
    The Cardinals signaled for, and executed, a fair catch.
    Per arcane NFL rules, the Cardinals were entitled to attempt a 77-yard free kick, despite the fact that the clock read ":00".

    It would not have been a standard field goal attempt, with a snap and a hold and a rush from the other team.
    Instead, Neil Rackers would have been able to line up and kick the ball with any Rams player at least ten yards away.
    It's a technically called a "fair catch kick."

    Converting from 77 yards away would have been a long shot, but it would have been fun to watch the attempt.

    But, alas, the Cards were offside on the punt.
    Rams coach Scott Linehan declined the penalty, assuming that the game would be over.
    But then, when it became apparent that declining the penalty would give the Cardinals a shot at an unlikely-but-compelling 77-yard game-winning three-point try, the Rams opted to accept the penalty, took a knee, and the game was over.

    Some viewers concluded that the Rams were permitted to change their minds and accept the penalty once they were told that declining it would give the Cardinals a shot-in-the-dark chance at stealing the game.

    We contacted NFL spokesman Greg Aiello for an explanation, and he forwarded the following statement to us, from NFL Director of Officiating Mike Pereira:
    "Referee Bill Carollo first went to St. Louis and informed the coach that if the team declined the penalty the game would be over.
    St. Louis therefore declined the penalty.
    Carollo then found out that Arizona had fair caught the kick and would be entitled to a fair catch kick if the penalty was declined.
    He went back to St. Louis and in the presence of both head coaches notified St. Louis that, if it declined the penalty, Arizona would have an opportunity to attempt a field goal.
    St. Louis then accepted the penalty, which extended the period, and took a knee to end the game."

    Bottom line, per Pereira:
    "This was handled properly."

    So, then, this wasn't a case of Linehan taking his hand off of the checker after sliding it diagonally to a new square.
    Linehan apparently wasn't told that the decision to decline the penalty might have blown the game before he initially decided to decline it.
    Once the officials gave him an accurate explanation of his options, Linehan opted to take the penalty -- and take a knee.

    And while it would be easy to criticize the zebras (and fun, too) for not instantly knowing the rule, not even confirmed jerks like us expect the referees to instantly know the niceties of a rule that rarely gets utilized.

    FOX Needs A Seven-Second Delay.

    One of the potentially ugly byproducts of conducting a network pre-game show in front of a live, public audience, one or more of whom might be fit to drive an SUV full of Bengals celebrating a win, is that the mob won't always cooperate with the objectives of the network.

    For example, at one point during Sunday's show, Pam Oliver (and her incipient Esther Rolle neck) was trying to say something over loud chants of "Seahawks!
    Seahawks!" from the assembled throng.

    Later, a loud chant of "Giants Suck!
    Giants Suck!
    Giants Suck!" broke out during the broadcast.

    In our view, it's just a matter of time before someone in one of the cities to which the FOX show ventures will organize a cheer or a chant containing one or more of George Carlin's seven words that still can't be said on FCC-regulated television.
    Or, alternatively, they'll display a sign containing fortunate terms, such as the "Shockey!
    Give 'Em The Shocker!" placard we saw on Sunday.

    Then again, the issue of salty language isn't confined to FOX.
    Al Michaels pointed out a chant of "Bullsh-t!" during the Sunday night Broncos-Pats broadcast on NBC.
    (We also think we heard someone use the phrase "f--king dickhead" via the field-level microphone.)

    And a reader tells us that, during the CBS coverage of the Bengals-Steelers game, Cincinnati receiver Chris Henry said "Get the f--k off me, cuz" to an official who was breaking up a scrum between Henry and Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.
    (We hope that the officials -- and everyone else connected with the NFL -- will get off of Henry, permanently.)

    The Ernie Has No Clothes (But A Great Shock Of Jet-Black Hair).

    We've believed for a while now that one of the fundamental flaws within the New York Giants organization is that the roster and the coaching staff have been assembled without regard to the manner in which the various pieces of the puzzle will fit together.
    Especially when the puzzle is perched on a table with a wobbly leg.

    There are too many strong personalities at positions other than quarterback, and the quarterback at times has all the charisma of a cucumber.
    Plus, the head coach is a polarizing figure who needs a healthy complement of team leaders who buy in to the overall approach.

    Jeremy Shockey.
    Plaxico Burress.
    Michael Strahan.
    Tiki Barber.
    Antonio Pierce.
    LaVar Arrington.
    It's too much for a coach like Tom Coughlin to manage, especially when there isn't a Unitas-type figure at quarterback who can keep them all on the same page.

    And yet the guy who has thrown these various ingredients into the pot never gets any criticism for the state of the overall franchise.

    G.M. Ernie Accorsi.

    The guy is an NFL institution.
    He's a former beat writer who became a personnel guy who then served as G.M. of the Colts and Browns before joining the Giants.
    He has strongly suggested that 2006 will be his last season, making it even more delicate (and potentially unseemly) to lambaste a living legend.

    Still, someone has to take the blame for the mess of a team that parlayed a miraculous come-from-behind victory at Philly into a pathetic display in Seattle.
    Accorsi surely knew what he was getting in Coughlin, and Accorsi is surely smart enough to recognize that Coughlin and some of his players would mix about as well as Froot Loops and fertilizer.

    So we think that the ultimate accountability for this mismatched stew of ground beef and hot peppers and cinnamon and rutabagas and Pop-Tarts must land on his desk.
    It might not be a popular sentiment, and we suspect that plenty of media folks and league insiders would never say it.

    But we'll bet you that plenty of them are thinking it.

  2. #2
    Prophet Guest

    Re: PFT Ten-Pack: Wk 3; Smoot Out

    Our Weekly Cry of "No Maas"!

    We think we might have actually driven up the ratings for the Rams-Cardinals game covered by FOX's Bill Maas by commissioning our readers to provide us with examples of the analyst's errors and other instances of idiocy.
    We got a bunch of e-mails from readers pointing out various flaws in his performance, and we watched most of the game so that we could make our own assessment.

    We entered the exercise with an open mind.
    We don't want to grasp at straws in a strained effort to support a preordained conclusion that Maas is a doofis.

    Actually, we've already concluded based on his coverage of last week's Panthers-Vikings game that he is a doofis; we were just curious as to whether might have he snapped out of it.

    He hasn't.

    Here are the lowlights, based only on the portions of the broadcast that we saw live.

    Referring to the fact that the Cardinals offensive linemen were sitting on the bench in the same alignment in which they are arranged before a snap, Maas said that they are "animals by trade."
    We assume he meant "creatures of habit."

    In the second quarter, Maas waffled over whether a play should have been overturned by video review.
    He initially declared that a challenge would be successful but then tried to weasel as it became more obvious that the high standard of "indisputable visual evidence" to reverse the call on the field might not be met.

    At one point, Maas spent way too much time joking about the name of Rams defensive back "Fahkir Brown."
    It's funny in an obvious sort of drunken frat boy way.
    But a demographic wider than drunken frat boys watch NFL games, and not everyone will believe that repeated mention of "Fahkir" and "Fokker" and related gags is desirable on a Sunday afternoon.
    Especially if the viewer is watching the game with, say, his 10-year-old son who, fortunately, was sufficiently distracted by his new Sprint phone to notice.
    And we actually think we heard Maas, while having fun with Fahkir, take it one step too far and inadvertently utter a word that sounded too much like the one that Brown's first name resembles.

    Then there were the obligatory Maddenesque verbal effects, like uttering "Ooooh" multiple times and explaining a stinger by exclaiming, "It stings!"
    Maas also serenaded us with some circus music and the theme from The Addams Family.

    But the moment at which we concluded that Maas really is a boneheaded ex-jock who should at most be announcing on radio the games of his old high school team came when he tried to describe the benefits of throwing the ball deep to a quality receiver who is facing man-to-man coverage.

    "It's three to one," Maas said.
    "Three good things can happen.
    An incomplete pass.
    That's a good thing.
    A reception.
    That's a good thing.
    Pass interference.
    That's a good thing.
    The only thing bad that can happen of it is an interception."

    An incomplete pass.
    That's a good thing.

    Bill, maybe we've been reading the wrong rule book over the past decade or so, but we've been under the impression that, for the team in possession of the ball, a forward pass that either strikes the ground before being caught by an eligible receiver or is caught out of bounds is not a good thing.

    It's never a good thing, in our humble estimation, for a team to go from first-and-ten to second-and-ten, or from second-and-five to third-and-five.
    We can envision no scenario in which an incomplete pass is ever a good thing -- except when the quarterback gets outside of the pocket and throws the ball away to avoid taking a sack or forcing a throw into coverage.

    We think that Maas meant to imply that it's not ideal to have the pass fall incomplete, but the potential reward is worth the risk of losing a down.
    But, of course, he didn't say that.
    He said, "An incomplete pass.
    That's a good thing."

    His analysis also overlooks another potential "bad thing" that can happen.
    The receiver can be called for offensive pass interference, pushing the offense back by 10 yards or, as the case may be, half the distance toward the goal line.

    And maybe Maas's performances over the past two Sundays have nudged him half the distance to a real job.

    Decoy In Cleats.

    Saints coach Sean Payton is getting plenty of praise for using rookie running back Reggie Bush as a decoy during Monday night's game against the Falcons.
    We agree.
    It was a great game plan, aimed at taking advantage of the presumption that the Saints would try their best to finagle for Reggie a coming-out party.

    And the Falcons bit, focusing on Bush whenever it appeared that the play was going his way -- and opening up the field for the rest of the team.

    But the question, as we see it, is whether the Saints can continue to use Bush as a high-priced decoy without Bush getting frustrated by the ensuing lack of touches, and touchdowns.

    Bush didn't, for example, return punts on Monday night, even though the reaction to a patented series of Reggie's jukes and spins might have tested the limits of the Superdome's new Category 5-resistant roof.

    We understand the purpose of limiting Reggie's reps in order to keep him healthy and effective.
    The challenge for Payton will be to get Bush to understand it, too.

    Man, That Al Michaels Is Smooth.

    We're learning that one of the reasons the not-so-good announcers come off as not-so-good arises from the fact that, when they step in a pile of their own dookage, they can't gracefully recover and move on.

    NBC's Al Michaels sets the standard in many ways, and on Sunday night in New England he made a most impressive recovery from a rare error.

    The Pats had the ball.
    Third down, eleven yards to go.
    The Broncos were in the middle of a personnel change, with some guys running on the field and some guys running off.
    The end result was that Denver had more than eleven men on the field.

    So Patriots quarterback Tom Brady rushed to the line, got a quick snap, and took a knee in order to get an extra five yards -- and to set up a manageable third down and six.

    As the events were unfolding, Michaels said that it was third and one and Brady tried to sneak for the first down.
    He then wisely clammed up as the matter got sorted out.
    After the penalty was called and explained, John Madden said, "That's the old Peyton Manning trick."
    (Or words to that effect.)

    And then Michaels just kept going without any reference to the fact that he'd flubbed so badly.

    In an industry where perception truly is reality, Michaels' ability to keep his composure even with bird poop on his lapels is a powerful tool for insulating himself against criticism.
    After all, the critics can't carp about something they didn't notice, and Michaels is smart enough to know that, by not drawing attention to the booger on his chin, the yellowish snot clot might well be overlooked.

    More Tidbits From Monday Night.

    In our Live Blog from Monday night's Falcons-Saints game, we tried to cover each and every item of interest that we noticed or that a reader pointed out to us.

    We've gotten some more info from readers regarding things we missed while, for example, pasting "Cornholio" sound effects into the blog.
    One reader told us that ESPN's Tom Jackson referred during halftime to the "displaced" citizens of New Orleans as "dislocated."

    We also didn't say much about Michael Irvin this week, possibly because we're getting bored with his routine.
    (But we're still wondering when he's going to switch from those huge-knotted ties and just start wearing an ascot.)

    Many readers believe that the fix was in on Monday night, and that someone got to Jim Mora and persuaded him to take one for the good of the league.
    We don't buy it, but one of the lingering effects of a string of actual and perceived bad calls during Super Bowl XL is (in our estimation) a suspicion by some that the line between pro football and pro wrestling isn't as bright as previously thought.
    So then it's really no shock that people think the folks at Park Avenue helped to ensure that the Saints wouldn't go slinking out on the same night they came marching in.

    And, finally, the top five excerpts from Monday night's live blog, as determined by a panel of actual NFL broadcasters (and Bill Maas):

    "Why did you do the documentary, Spike?"
    ("To get paid, mutherf--ker.")

    Vick is 7-for-21.
    Good numbers.
    For a designated hitter.

    Blocked kick for the Saints.
    Really large female Saints fan is happy about it.
    (The flood apparently left her fridge unscathed, observes Dante.
    Adds a reader -- "But it did appear to wash away her toothbrush.")

    Kornholio needs T.P. for his bunghole . . . or he could just use Mike McKenzie's hair.

    Michelle Tafoya reports that Warrick Dunn had a temperature of 104.

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