For the first few weeks of the football season I had been putting out pieces on Fantasy Football entitled, Dear Mr. Fantasy…and then something clever about the subject matter.
When I started losing games (three in a row to be exact), I discontinued the column. No one wants to listen to a loser, and even less people want to listen to someone bitch about how poorly THEIR players performed in Fantasy Football. It’s like bad beat stories from a poker table. No one cares except you.
Then I started winning again. Rattling of a few wins in a row gave me the confidence to un-retire Mr. Fantasy.
I envisioned a Monday morning post that would see me back among the league leaders, and looking like a genius for some savvy reshuffling of a roster. But after my performance in Week 7, Mr Fantasy liked Brett Favre, should have stayed D…E…D….. Dead.
This was my Week 6 Roster;
QB Andy Dalton (picked up because Rivers and Hassleback were on byes, and I had dropped Josh Freeman)
RB Darren McFadden
WR Miles Austin
WR AJ Green
Flex Earnest Graham (picked up when Blount went down with an injury)
TE Jermaine Gresham
K Neil Rackers
On the bench was Felix Jones, Tim Hightower, James Jones, Malcolm Floyd, Mike Williams, Brandon Pettigrew, Rivers, and Hassleback. Dalton and Graham would become expendable in a few weeks, giving me the ability to pick up some free agents to cover bye weeks, and after getting back to .500, I was pretty proud of myself.
During Week 7, I continued to shuffle. I dropped Andy Dalton for Jackie Battle, and Felix Jones in favor of DeMarco Murray. Then I dropped Mike Williams for Victor Cruz and Malcolm Floyd for Darrius Heyward-Bay. Williams was a non factor for Tampa so far, and Cruz has been Eli’s go to WR. Jones was out 2-3 weeks and Murray would see a Lindsey Lohan sized bump in carries. Heyward-Bay seems to have been possessed by Al Davis’ ghost and was actually starting to play up to his potential, while Battle was rumored to be the featured back for the Chiefs now that he was healthy.
Adding those players to Rivers, who would eventually remember he was good, McFadden, who hopefully wouldn’t forget he was good, Miles Austin, who was now healthy and poised for a big season, and Baltimore’s D? I was thinking playoffs.
Then I got a little carried away.
All the talking heads around football were saying that Graham and Battle were better options than Murray. In some cases it was a slim margin but the consensus was start Battle over Graham, and Graham over Murray. In my deluded mind that made Murray expendable. So I dropped him. And picked up David Akers. That’s right. I dropped a starting RB for a kicker, so I could drop Neil Rackers before his bye week and use the empty spot to pick up another position player.
So I gave up 250 yards and a touchdown for a kicker who was on his bye week. Fuck me. I scored 35.36 points and without 75 points from Baltimore’s defense, I’m going down, and I’m going down hard.
It doesn’t help that Rivers and Austin combined for 10.66 points or that McFadden left early with a foot injury, but I have no one to blame but myself.
My hot hand on the waiver wire went cold, and Mr. Fantasy’s playoff hopes are looking D…E…D….Dead.
I hate the Yankees. If not for the self loathing connotation of a tattoo that said so, since Yankee also means a person from the North who can read, I would have it emblazoned across my chest.
But despite that hatred, I have found a few Yankees over the years who have won my respect. Derek Jeter and Joe Torre. Ok so it’s not a few, it’s a couple, but get over it.
Now that Torre is leading the charge to crucify the Red Sox for drinking during games, and trying to ban beer from all Major League clubhouses, he is just as D….E….D…Dead to me as all the rest of the boys in pinstripes.
Really Joe? Didn’t you manage David Wells? Who pitched a perfect game shit faced? Didn’t a Red Sox team that beat your Yankees in 2004 admit to pounding shots of whiskey to stay loose?
Now you want to sit up on a high horse and condemn beer drinking. Was this all some master plan that you concocted seven years ago? Have you been biding your time, waiting for a high level position in baseball, and waiting for the Sox to screw up so you could exact some revenge?
The Joe Torre who won my respect would never be so petty. And he would also never condemn a practice like drinking beer.
So the only rationale answer is that Joe Torre is in fact, dead, and being possessed by some Republican fun hater.
Since sitting down to write my thoughts on Jasper’s passing, much has changed in my life, the lives of us that knew him, and (more importantly) the lives of those that had the privilege to call him family; Jasper’s daughter is one year older, suspects have been prosecuted, and the lives of UConn students and football players have been changed forever. With the 2011 season in full swing, the games are still important, the day to day of football is still a grind to those fortunate to be in the mix, but even on their worst days, they know deep down it’s “just a game.”
I know Jazz wouldn’t want us to be upset, but it’s certainly hard not to be. He was a man of incredible work ethic and integrity and devotion—lessons that he continues to share with us, the friends and brothers he’s left behind
[Originally Posted October 19th, 2009]
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to a Monday night football game. In the stands, I sat with my former teammates, joking and laughing.
UConn’s star cornerback, Jasper “Jazz” Howard, sat next to me.
While Jazz and I were hardly best friends, we were teammates, on the same defensive unit, who shared many laughs and, of course, trying moments together.
“How are the guys doing?” I asked Jazz that night.
“Young, man,” he replied in a throaty, soft-spoken voice, which sounded strained but was always at ease. “Real young. But, you know, we still gonna bang.” (A smile crept across his face as he said this.)
Fast-forward to a homecoming game this past weekend, where I selfishly explored my own emotions on being at a place where, for five years, I was very much on the inside, metaphorically and physically. Inside the locker room, inside the huddles, inside the football mentality.
On Saturday, I returned to my home stadium, for the first time, and was very much on the outside. Outside the lines, outside the players’ box, outside the locker room.
After the game, I got to join my teammates, my brothers, in the fight song. I made my rounds, slapping hands, hugging and smiling, exchanging the typical locker-room jabs. I went over to Jazz, congratulated him on his excellent game (an interception, forced fumble and about 13 tackles). Laughing, he told me I was almost as skinny as he was, and I reminded him that he was still about 1000 times the athlete I’d ever be.
The entire time I was there, I was thinking, “Man, this is awful.” I am not yet at a place where I can enjoy watching the game from which I am less than a year removed. I was emotional about the smells, and on my long drive home, I had a lot of time to reflect on how much I missed playing, how important it was to me — things that in less than 24 hours would suddenly seem so much less significant.
I left that locker room. I came back to Boston. I went to sleep.
I woke up, and everything had changed.
The text messages said it all:
“Call me, we need to talk”
“Jazz is dead”
“S— went down last night”
I look back at that moment, from my Monday morning perspective, and I am embarrassed. A lot changed from Saturday afternoon’s pettiness to Monday’s deeper meaning. All my complaints about being done playing football didn’t matter. My teammate and friend had lost his life, leaving behind a family, a girlfriend, a daughter on the way.
Instead of enjoying the fruits of homecoming, remembering the good days, I am trying to make sense of something that is senseless.
How does a kid who makes it out of Miami — leaving the violence of his hometown by his own reckoning — get murdered in the seemingly safe setting of Storrs, Conn.?
These are questions without answers.
The violence of the football field is the stuff we can control, and Jazz was a master. Analogies between on-field violence and the outside world are often made, without regard to actual violence. And yet, in this instance, I have realized just how petty and fake that violence is. There are rules, whistles, referees.
Early Sunday morning, there were no such systems in place. My friend and teammate died at the hands of someone who clearly placed no value on life, and certainly did not consider the consequences of his actions.
Jasper Howard was a man of incredible character and work ethic. He likely would have risen to the rank of captain in seasons to come. I have no doubt that Jazz, while undersized, would have been an NFL-caliber player. He was soft-spoken when he had to be, but was a vocal leader on the field. He pushed, provoked and brought out the best in his teammates.
I am always grateful to have been a part of UConn football, but I am — without a doubt — a better man for having shared the same field with Jazz.
I am not sure there are deeper lessons to be learned here. I don’t want to live in a world where one of my friends has to die for me or anyone else to value life. But here I am, reflecting more and more, valuing my own life and my own situation in a way I never did before Jazz passed.
I wish that society allowed us more opportunities to stop and reflect, but it doesn’t. All I can do is lead my life, with my new lease on it, the way that Jazz did — with honor, integrity and a relentless work ethic.
Really? You’re going to boo a cancer video?
This started out as a fun little game to antagonize Philly fans. But as someone who has lost a loved one to cancer, you have now pushed me too far. I don’t care who is featured on the video. It is fucking reprehensible to boo something aimed at helping the fight against a horrible disease.
You guys are world class scumbags, who I’m not even going to dignify with another word.
All of the bitter, vapid, aesthetically enhanced women populating Atlanta, Orange County, New Jersey, or the home of a NBA player, could take a serious lesson from Red Sox ownership. Henry, Lucchino and Co, who have recently stepped up the game of back stabbing and gossiping like they were Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, would make any of those women afraid to step foot in The Bean.
Except Tami from Basketball Wives. That bitch is crazy.
The Sox Brass is firing shots at everyone like it was the end of Scarface, using inflammatory rumors as bullets. The only difference is, they are shooting their own men in the back as they make their way quietly and respectfully towards the door.
Had Francona blasted the team, and owners, on his way it would at least be understandable. But to paint the guy out as some pill popping degenerate, who can’t even keep his family in order, when he was respectful and classy? It’s caddy. It’s the kind of hair pulling, childish shenanigans that belong on VHI or Bravo. Not on a professional baseball team.
A few weeks ago I wrote that I would stand by the Red Sox players despite watching them turn on each other, and choke away the season. They have been a part of my life for 29 years and are like family. Family doesn’t turn on one another because of a few rough months. Family doesn’t tell strangers about the embarrassing details that their relationship has made them privy to.
Family stands next to family and takes the firing squad together.
It’s too bad the owners, with all that money, couldn’t afford a dictionary to look up the definition.
Baseball may not have a clue how to sell us on the four remaining teams, but there is still quality baseball being played. In order to help the suits get better TV ratings, I present the WE ARE STILL HERE!! Edition of the Weekend Recap.
Detroit Vs Texas.
Milwaukee Vs St. Louis.
Those are the matchups for the baseball’s American and National League Championship Series. For those of you not living in one of those four metropolises, the games started this weekend.
Major League Baseball has to be thinking about dropping a bag of flaming dog shit on the respective porches of Boston, New York, Philly, Atlanta, and San Francisco. With not one marquee name among the final four, ratings are sure to plummet. All four teams are middle of the country markets, and while they are solid matchups, there is little to get the average sports fan excited.
If you’re not convinced, think about all the stories that have been mentioned over the “water cooler” today. (I used the mock quotation marks because most people are far too environmentally conscious to have actual water coolers anymore. You fill up your Nalgene and you hustle back to your desk. No lingering. No wasted time. No wasted paper.)
Eagles fall to 1-4.
The BUFFALO BILLS improve to 4-1.
Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow. Yada. Yada.
In an ironic twist, someone threw a wiener at Tiger Woods while his back was turned.
LSU and Oklahoma cementing their place at the top of College Football.
The NBA is on the verge of canceling the 2011/2012 season.
Packers stay undefeated.
Patriots beat Jets.
Hockey is back.
Any comments on the AL or NLCS are probably along the lines of, “Wait, they started playing?”
That’s not good for baseball. But just because the baseball playoffs lost their sex appeal faster than a stripper once the sun comes up, doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to watch. For all those who forgot, the baseball playoffs are still here!
Here are ten reasons to tune in;
1 - Prince Fielder is a big fat homerun hitting machine, who doesn’t speak to his father, big fat homerun hitting machine Cecil Fielder. The possibility of a sumo wrestling match between the two men when Cecil shows up to congratulate his son, should have all of us rooting for the Brew Crew.
2 - Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball right now. It’s not often you get to see greatness on the biggest stage. I may not care who wins, but I will definitely tune in when Verlander is on the bump.
3 – Fox creating a new feature called, The Heart Attack Watch. It consists of high def close ups of Tigers manager Jim Leyland in any pressure packed situations.
4 – Josh Hamilton, a former addict who nearly blew his major league career, becoming one of the most likable stars in the sport. His reaction to beating Tampa, the team he let down, was one of the truly genuine moments in this year’s playoffs.
5 – Albert Pujols will hit at least one game winning homerun.
6 – Zack Greinke will have at least one panic attack.
7 – Despite not caring as much without them involved, the Yankees can’t win the World Series this year.
8 – You can finally see just how good Ryan Braun is.
9 – Nolan Ryan getting so fired up, that he suits up, storms the field, puts his starter in a headlock, and throws six innings of shutout relief.
10 – Tony LaRussa.
They may not be sexy, but then again neither are you, and there are still plenty reasons to watch.
Oh, the wild ways of Michael Vick. Sure the 2011 “Dream Team” may be dead, and their back up QB (yes, THAT Vince Young) may be pursuing a foot-n-month specialist, and YES, their starting quarterback and bone-i-fide (see what I did there) dog murderer may be a little worked up that he’s, “…on the ground every play” but what’s not to like about the Eagles? They’re nothing if not a humble, selfless bunch, who had high hopes are facing adversity with class and dignity.
I will say this with a wink and a smile, the Bills are so far from the dream team it’s not funny (or is it…?) but there’s been a drought in Buffalo since ‘95 and who knew it would take a Harvard grad to solve the issue. Nobody, and I mean nobody, circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. Not to mention there tremendous fan base…
A quarter of the NFL season is already in the books. That means it’s time to roll out a power rankings edition of the Weekend Recap. Last week I overheard a debate over whether Brad Pitt is a ‘movie star’, so I’ve decided, pretty much arbitrarily, to factor a list of his movies into the rankings.
31 and 32. The Mexican.
A horrible, nearly unwatchable movie. Pretty much sums up the Rams and the Dolphins at this point. The Rams because you want them to be good, you really do but they fall short every time, and the Dolphins because Pitt’s performance reminds me of Chad Henne. It was bad, but occasionally you forgot how bad, because it was Bradd Pitt.
30. Thelma and Louise.
Not a horrible movie, just one that no guy is going to watch. Kind of like Viking’s QB Donovan McNabb is not a horrible QB, he is just one that will never lead your team to a title. Also, Adrian Peterson will be thinking about driving off of a cliff at the end of a 2-14 season.
The Indianapolis Colts are bad. Peyton Manning’s absence makes them worse, but much like Troy, even though we all have faith in Pitt to make a good movie, nothing could have saved either ship from sinking.
28. The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.
The Broncos, and their fans, hopes for success are Jesse James, and Josh McDaniels is Robert Ford.
27. The Devil’s Own.
The Chiefs, much like Harrison Ford, have an assassin in their house (Jamal Charles’ injury), and once they discovered it, everything went to shit.
26. Spy Games.
Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones Drew sees his future, and any hopes of a playoff run, locked up tighter than Pitt’s character Tom Bishop was in a Chinese Prison. Does Blaine Gabbard remind anyone of Robert Redford? Me either.
25. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald probably feels like he is going in the wrong direction with a team that keeps getting younger, and worse, and that no one can seem to explain why.
Pete Carroll got released from the scandal and took over the Seattle Seahawks. At first it seems like he is harmless, much like Early, Pitt’s character in the movie, but as time goes on he will prove to be more dangerous than a recently paroled serial killer.
23. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Carolina Panthers were hoping that bringing in a talented rookie QB would help turn the franchise around. Cam Newton, like Pitt and Angelina Jolie, has done his job and created a buzz. But the Panthers still suck.
22. Burn After Reading.
All the pieces were in place for greatness. The Coen Brothers. Pitt. George Clooney. Frances McDormand. John Malkovich. In the end they couldn’t overcome a poorly written story, and it failed. PHUCK YOU PHILADELPHIA EAGLES!
21. Oceans Twelve.
The Steelers assumed that trotting out the same cast of characters, a year older, a year more wear and tear, would earn them the same results. They can’t protect the QB, and their defense is old. They are going to get exposed and it’s going to make for a bad movie, eh…season.
I’m too busy trying to figure out the Atlanta Falcons, and can’t decide whether to like them or not.
19. Oceans Thirteen.
I thought this would be the year that the Cleveland Browns took the next step. Now it seems like they can’t decide whether they want to make the leap, or go back to their old ways. They are smack dab in the middle of good and bad.
18. A River Runs Through It
The Cincinnati Bengals shouldn’t be good. On paper it’s a bad, boring team with little to no personality. But somehow, despite themselves, they are finding ways to win. Sort of like how a two hour movie about fly fishing and Presbyterians is sneaky entertaining.
17. Meet Joe Black
The Chicago Bears didn’t realize when they traded for Jay Cutler, they were inviting the man who would kill their Championship dreams into their home. Now it’s late.
16. Interview With A Vampire
I have to say, I’m impressed by what Harbaugh has done in San Francisco. They shouldn’t be winning games. They really shouldn’t. Especially when it means no shot at Andrew Luck next year. But they continue to win. They continue to compete. Harbaugh has taught a killer instinct, and a will to live, much like Pitt’s character Louis learned from Lestat (Tom Cruise).
15. Seven Years In Tibet
The Tennessee Titans are winning games by throwing the ball? Hassleback like Heinrich Harrer, has found shelter in Tennessee and in return, is giving them something they have lacked.
14. Legends of The Fall
Oakland Raiders. They have a great offense, led by McFadden, and even if it came against the Patriots, Jason Cambell looked almost like an NFL QB on Sunday. These Raiders could erase the years of damage that Al Davis has done. Davis is like Susanna, and his impact on the Raiders family has taken years to overcome.
13. Ocean’s Eleven.
With this many talented actors, it should be great. It feels like a huge letdown for it to be just good. It’s like the Dallas Cowboys. 500 just ain’t going to cut it.
12. The Tree Of Life
New York Giants make no sense to me, and it really bothers me.
Much is made about Rex Ryan, Sanchez, and the Jets D, but after last night, is there any question that Nick Mangold is their most important player? It’s like how Snatch, without Pitt, lacks an iconic character that people will talk about for years. With Mangold, Sanchez and the Jets offense is mediocre at best.
7, 8, 9, and 10. Sleepers.
The Bucs seem to find ways to win, the Skins defense is one of the best in the league, the Bills boast the league’s best offense, and the Lions have slowly built a complete team on both sides on the ball. The fan bases have been tortured and traumatized for years, and may be on the verge of getting their revenge.
6. True Romance.
The Baltimore Ravens appear on the brink of success, just like Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, but are undone by Joe Flacco. He is the equivalent of mobsters, crooked cops, and a drug addled roommate (Pitt), who all try and bring them down.
5. Money Ball
Billy Bean changed the way the way that the business of baseball operates. In San Diego maybe they have finally learned how to win, and are on the way up. It took lots of trial and error, but maybe Norv Turner has figured it out.
4. Inglourious Basterds
Opposing offenses were like Nazi’s last year, and with the help of Wade Phillips, the Houston Texans seemed to have found a Lt. Aldo Raine to help kill em all. I know they definitely left their mark on Roethlisburger.
Kevin Spacey knew that Pitt’s character had a fatal flaw, and would end up killing him in the end. The New England Patriots are similarly flawed and if they don’t figure out a way to get to the QB, there’s no way they can beat the teams at 1 and 2. Someone should remind Belichick that pride is one of the seven deadly sins and putting together a patchwork defense in order to prove you can whip them into shape, is simply his ego writing checks that his players can’t cash.
2. Fight Club.
Pitt and Ed Norton were brilliant in this movie. But they need each other. If you remove one, the other would have fallen. New Orleans is built the same way. With Sean Payton and Drew Brees, they’re an offensive machine. Without one, they aren’t a playoff team.
1. Twelve Monkeys.
The best performance of Pitt’s career goes to the Green Bay Packers, and the best QB in the league right now, Aaron Rodgers. It is not just Rodgers that makes the Packers the number one team, but much like Pitt’s character in Twelve Monkeys, it is fun to watch someone at the peak of their career realize their potential.
Phew!!! Was a little worried that this would be too hard to pull off.
There may be a few on the list that are stretches, but overall I think I did pretty well. If you disagree, well screw you.
First things first.
It is no secret to anyone who reads this site that I’m a Patriots fan. This immutable fact probably forces you to not like me very much. But despite my unfortunate upbringing, I’m capable of giving credit where credit is due.
CONGRATS TO THE BUFFALO BILLS AND THEIR FANS!!
You guys beat the Patriots at their own game, and exposed what I had feared was a fatal flaw of the team in the off season. It’s easy to forget that we don’t have a pass rush when Tom Brady is throwing the ball all over the shop. But the Bills were able to move the ball at will because the Patriots couldn’t get to Fitzpatrick.
That is taking no credit away from the Bills offense, which is for real, or Fitzpatrick, who I had bad mouthed in the offseason and who is far better, and tougher, than 80% of the NFL’s QBs. There are 32 teams in the league, so that means I have Fitzpatrick above all but 7 NFL signal callers right now. (Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Rivers, Vick, Schaub, and Ryan. I would have to put Fitzpatrick and Roethlisburger at 8A and 8B)
The Bills are 3-0, in sole possession of first place, and deserve credit for both.
Good luck this week in Cincy. Should be a cakewalk.
What? What do you mean jinxed?
Bills fans aren’t fatalistic, pessimistic, or superstitious, so they don’t buy into that, right?
After three weeks I find myself 1-2, due in large part to Gronkowski and Welker blowing up last week. I lost in fantasy because two players on my favorite team had career days in a losing effort. Ugh.
This week I plan on starting;
QB - Rivers. Had really high hopes for Rivers this year. He has underachieved so badly that I considered shopping him, but patience won out. I still think he has a monster season left in him, and who better to bring it out than the Dolphins.
RB - McFadden. Third week in a row (Rivers vs Pats, Me vs Welker/Gronkowski) that my fantasy interests have butted heads with my real life interests. Patriots fan or not, I’d have to be all hopped up on goofballs not to start McFadden this week.
WR - Malcolm Floyd. I dropped Roy Williams in favor of Floyd, who won’t officially join my team until Saturday. If the waiver request doesn’t go through, like the one I tried last week with Jahvid Best, then I will be starting AJ Green here.
WR - Mike Williams. has to be due for a breakout game, doesn’t he?
Flex - Tim Hightower. Been steady Eddie so far (averaging just over 13 points per game) and I think he goes off against a Rams team that will have a hard time moving the ball.
TE - Scott Chandler. Chandler agains the Pats is a better option than a banged up Pettigrew against the Cowboys.
K - Drum roll……….Neil Rackers
D - Baltimore. Sanchez should be good for a fumble, and an interception or two.
Matt Ryan. On the road against Seattle doesn’t seem like the right recipe to get the Falcons offense on track. I expect a heavy dose of Michael Turner this week which means you should sit Ryan.
Devery Henderson. Had a couple big weeks with Lance Moore and Marques Colston on the shelf. Production slipped drastically with Moore back in last week. Would only start in three WR leagues or if dealing with injuries.
Rashard Mendenhall. Houston should put up lots of points, even against the Steelers. That means Pittsburgh could have to abandon the running game early.
Malcolm Floyd. Big, big week for the Chargers offense means you should try and get Floyd into your lineup. I did.
Delone Carter. Colts are 0-3. The path to 1-3 doesn’t begin with Curtis Painter throwing the ball 35 times. Could be a big day for the rookie RB.
DeaMarco Murray. With Austin out, and Dez Bryant questionable, the Cowboys know they will need to run the ball in order to keep Tony Romo protected against Suh and the rest of the Lions D. That bodes well for any Dallas RB.
Good luck in Week 4 everyone. Enjoy the weekend.
One of the things that was said to have brought about the ‘alleged’ end of the world in The Bible, was people worshipping false Gods. If my catechism lessons serve me correctly, a golden calf to be precise.
Doing so now would certainly not be looked on any more favorably would it?
Probably not. Yet Theo Epstein gets to sit up on a pedestal serving up golden milk, even showering it on his followers, while people lap it up blindly. Epstein has been revered, and even worshiped by Red Sox fans for breaking the Curse, and bringing the city of Boston two World Series Championships. But it seems now, as it is Francona, and not Epstein, who is rumored to be facing the guillotine for the Sox collapse, that people are honoring Epstein before the God of common sense.
Surely such blind devotion in the light of names like Lackey, Drew, Crawford, Lugo, and Jenks, is going to draw the ire of whatever God gets to end the world next. (Side note: I imagine they decided this in an ancient form of ro-sham-bo.)
I say we stop following the Golden Boy, consider the possibility that he is a false prophet who got lucky a few times, not unlike the trailer trash who win the lottery, and attempt to save our eternal souls before its too late.