Carson Palmer's Robocall: The Translation
Recently the Marketing arm of the Cincinnati Bengals - who face off next week, in the "Crappy Job Intramural Softball League," against the Charitable wing of AIG - convinced Quarterback Carson Palmer to record a pitch to the possibly mythical creature that IS the Bengals season-ticket holder. This is what Palmer actually said. (Followed by what he possibly meant.)
"Hi, this is Carson Palmer, and I am calling today to thank you for keeping your Bengals season tickets. We know this is a tough time and your support means a lot."
("Hi, this is Carson Palmer. The people with the incriminating jpegs have promised to delete them if I call you today to thank you for somehow managing to live with the fact that you're spending money on season tickets to - get this - the Bengals. You do realize that means you have to buy tickets to EVERY GAME, including pre-season, right?")
"Last season was my most disappointing ever."
("Last season was so horribly depressing that it surpassed all others in what I think we can all agree is a pretty strong field of terrible seasons. Kinda like the Oscar race in this year's Best Lead Actor category. Sean Penn, Frank Langella, the dead dad from Six Feet Under... So many worthy options - how to choose?")
"But I am ready today to get back out on the field and win games."
("But I am ready today to get back out on the field and win 3 games.")
"This season will be exciting..."
("This season, now 100% Houshmandzadeh-free in Cincinnati, the continually double-teamed Chad Ochocinco has nothing left to lose, so perhaps he'll focus less on putting things on, like a mock-up Hall of Fame blazer, and more on taking things off. That'll be exciting, huh?!")
"...and we need you to keep the stadium loud and fun."
("You think management is cheap with free agent signings? You should hear the stadium's P.A. system. Really. You should. Except you can't. That's the point. So when the other team's on offense, please come yell - even if just in anger.")
"So I wanted you to know that we appreciate your loyalty to our team..."
("So I wanted you to know that we are blown away by the sheer magnitude of your inexplicable loyalty to our team. Does Boomer Esiason-related affection have that much staying power? Are you still working off the energy generated by over-liking the Ickey Shuffle?!")
"...and I will do anything I can to make the Bengals a season surprise Super Bowl team."
("I will do anything I can to make the Bengals a season surprise Super B-" Whoa. Just snarfed Pepsi out my nose. Okay, take two: "I will do anything I can - that's anything I CAN, the operative word there is CAN - to make the Bengals a season surprise Super Bowl team." A "season surprise Super Bowl team?" Um...guys? Are we stealing syntax from Japanese game shows again?)
(Here's the part where I crumple up the copy, hang my head, and let out a forlorn sigh as I exit the recording studio, right after saying, "Go Bengals. Just...just go.")
Navin R. Johnson Moment
Not to go all movie-quoting Jerk on you, but it's the time of year when fans get so geeked up about NFL schedule announcements that it's darn near impossible NOT to exclaim, "The new phone book's here, the new phone book's here!" (In this case, phone book = schedule of prime-time games on opening weekend, and Thanksgiving Day games. See why I went with the metaphor?) So without further ado, and because "Lord loves a workin' man" (and some other guy "hates these cans"), I am bound to offer up these highlights from the NFL's recently released, ahem, phone book:
The league kicks off its 2009 Monday Night slate with a pair of games featuring teams from the AFL's inaugural season of 1960. (You guys don't look a day over exactly 50!) The early game pits the presumably Brady-backed New England Patriots against the suddenly interesting, possibly in a train wreck kind of way, Buffalo Bills. It also represents the first chance to see how many hours ESPN can possibly devote to "RANDY VS. T.O. - WHO'S BETTER?" stories. I'm thinking low teens, all told.
In the second half of the twi-night doubleheader (the game East Coasters will "just have to read about at work tomorrow"), San Diego travels to Oakland. Gotta hand it to Goodell and his merry band of scheduling gnomes, using that "historic original teams" angle to justify sticking Oakland in prime-time to finish off Week One - pure genius. And, oh hey, cool - the Silver & Black play on Thanksgiving, too! Speaking of which, you may want to fire up the ol' Netflix for Turkey Day because, well...look what's in store:
Green Bay at Detroit; Oakland at Dallas; Giants at Denver.
I know, I know - the stuffing already tastes worse, doesn't it? Let's end on an up note...
Fresh off their post-season "Heyyy...didn't Flacco hold the ball WAY too long after the play clock went double-donuts?" loss to the Ravens, the Tennessee Titans find themselves in the unenviable position of opening 2009 in Pittsburgh. Why unenviable? Well, first off, playing in Pittsburgh inevitably requires "being" in Pittsburgh and, honestly, who wants that? Secondly, there's the whole "facing the Super Bowl champs the night they raise the banner" thing. No fun.
Third, they'll be showing up in a house full of people who don't so much "stomp on" Terrible Towels, a la the 2008 Titans, as "think of them like pets." (Fill in own Michael Vick "stomping" and "pets" joke here.) And finally, even if the Titans did want to reprise their terribly blasphemous behavior, Albert Haynesworth, Tennessee's most experienced Stomper, headed off to Washington for big bucks last month. (Stomper. Headed. You're. Welcome.)
LOST IN THE MAIL
Dear Faithful Readers (This is the last time. I promise. Kinda.)
I realize the following will be the third smack-down of NFL Whiner-in-Chief Jay Cutler in four weeks of "Out-Takes" but, I think we can all agree, the man - and I use the term loosely - has been asking for it, over and over, like Rush Limbaugh and Oxycontin. So one last time, with feeling...
Dear Jay Cutler...(&*@#%!)
Setting aside the sarcasm and pot-shots directed at your petulant, public and disproportionate response to SOP in the NFL, let me just say this - with no jokes, no faux screenplays, no whistles and bells, just the sincere, God's honest truth from your BFF at Out-Takes:
You should be ashamed of yourself. Honestly, literally ashamed. After a few weeks of carping on the one hand, and avoiding phone calls on the other, you finally had that face-to-face with new head coach Josh McDaniels, who sat down, cards on the table, and offered a way forward, while confessing a couple of cold, hard facts: Yes, the idea of bringing in Matt Cassel, a QB well-versed in Denver's new offensive system, was worth investigating. And no, the quarterback, while critical to any football team, is not in charge of it.
Ever since, you and your reps have ripped Josh and the Broncos, pressing publicly your demand for a trade. While you do deserve some credit for putting a fresh spin on a trite, overly quoted Movie Moment - "I can't handle the truth!" - it doesn't quite atone for the series of hissy fits you threw before the Cassel rumors; when your Binky-slash-offensive coordinator's rubber hit the road, heading off to USC and the Trojan Lifestyle. Therefore...let the sarcasm commence!
You are, and will be from this day forward, the Bratz Doll of the NFL. You are Bad Cop, not Good; Goofus, not Gallant. You are the petty, entitled jock, the embodiment of What's Wrong with Sports. You are Scottie Pippen refusing to return to the floor when Phil tapped Kukoc to take the buzzer-beater in that playoff game at MSG. You are the Manning family dissing SD on Draft Day. Palmeiro wagging his finger at Congress. Manny dogging it down the line. T.O. ripping the law firm of Garcia, McNabb & Witten. You are May-Rod slapping at balls in October and shouting his version of "Miss it!" at unsuspecting Canadian infielders. All bush league, all the time.
So go for it, Jay. Force Denver's hand, and your way to the Jets or whichever team is short-sighted enough to take you, let alone give something up. Whoever does will likely never be a champion, not with you at the helm. Because wherever you go...there you are.
~ What's hardest to believe: That the Vikings can win a Super Bowl with a QB named Sage? That they can win a Super Bowl with a QB named Rosenfels? Or that they can win a Super Bowl with a QB who threw 6 TDs and 10 picks last year? Frankly, I'm betting the TriFecta, except instead of winning a Super Bowl my money's on "nickel-and-diming your way to a loss in the 2nd round of the playoffs while simultaneously alienating your phenom running back." In a related blooper...
~ Dear Chicago Bears Front Office,
I realize you're still basking in the four-to-eight year glow of having your very own unbridled, Oval office-holding cheerleader of the free world, but just because Kyle Orton isn't named Sage doesn't mean you should feel totally confident about missing the boat on Cassel.
cc Detroit Lions Front Office, except you don't even have Orton. Or Obama. (Or a win.)
~ And speaking of the Lions... Recently, team president Tom Lewand announced the Lions wouldn't be losing the Thanksgiving Day game. (He means "wouldn't be losing" in the "we still get to host it annually" sense.) In a shockingly incompetent-even-for-them admission, Lewand laughed, "Well, duh - everyone knows we'll be losing the actually game!" (That last bit is one of those totally fabricated quotes that is not true but, rather, feels true.) To be absolutely clear, Lewand did NOT say that. (He just thought it.) Not really. (But probably.)
Pitchers & Catchers, et al, have reported, blossoms are beginning to bloom, and NFL sources are leaking the good, the bad and the ugly of everyone's favorite pre-draft Intelligence Test, the Wonderlic. And so, in honor of Spring having officially sprung, Out-Takes presents a new featurette, summing up a story...
...In 75 Words or Less
(The "Wonderleak" Edition)
Matthew Stafford more than six times smarter than Vince Young; Percy Harvin quick only ON the field; Andre Smith Wonderlic barely tops his bench-press reps (bad news on both counts); Matthews & Cushing both double up the USC LB whose name no one can spell, and who will get drafted higher anyway; and, finally, top-rated wide receivers not named Maclin confirm they don't need to know which side the hypotenuse is to remain top-rated.
P.S. Possibly more than 75 words. Not sure. (Failed Wonderlic.)
John Cockrell is a screenwriter, whose other work has run the gamut from "Sesame Street Parents Magazine" to Playboy TV's "The Weekend Flash." (He figures everything else is pretty much in-between.)"