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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Mon Aug 10 | 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM

Friday Out-Takes: Reverse Mailbag

Reverse Mailbag: The Shriek-quel!

Two weeks into 2010 seems as good a time as any to once again turn the traditional Mailbag on its head, and combine it with that old media standby, "An Open Letter to..."

Dear AARON RODGERS (Part I)...

You just went from spearheading a comeback for the ages to looking like some kind of cross between late 70's Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford and that ex-Redskins "Cheerleader Ambassador" whose bizarre, herky-jerky reaction to the Swine Flu vaccine rendered her unable to speak or walk forwards (it's Youtube-hilarious 'cause she's okay now) and, well, Aaron...watching you go heels-over-head to kick the ball into the arms of a waiting linemen...it just didn't feel right.

You deserved a better ending, kid, or, at least, a less ridiculous looking one. (The same can be said for this year's Survivor Finale, by the way. How does RUSSELL - the Big Easy's version of Taxi's little Louie De Palma, a guy who found multiple Immunity Idols without the benefit of clues, a guy who ruled the entire game like no one since Season One's Richard Hatch - how does HE not win that vote?! Petty jurors, that's how!) But back to the mailbag...

Dear BILL PO-LYIN'...

So let's get one thing straight: You chose to pull your starters in week 16 because stats and records - like, say, a perfect season - don't matter to you. Why risk injury when the sole focus should be on one goal and one goal only - winning the Super Bowl. Fair enough. But if that's the case, if that's your core governing philosophy, could you explain why you risked playing PEYTON MANNING in a Buffalo blizzard the following week? 'Cause it sure as heck looked like you cared about stats and records then. Avoiding catastrophic injury, Eli's big brother was able to continue his CAL RIPKEN-ish consecutive games streak - keeping you a scant 93 off Favre's pace, yay!!! - and stayed under center just long enough to help both DALLAS CLARK and REGGIE WAYNE complete their 100th catches of the season. Then - all of a sudden - all three players were lifted from the game. (We haven't seen this level of trivial stat-padding since the last sixteen baseball seasons in Seattle, Texas and the Bronx. The Indianapolis Colts: The A-Rod of the NFL.)

Not sure if you've noticed, Captain Temper Tantrum - rooting for injuries from the press box can be pretty distracting - but, in some sense, you now face a lose-lose proposition. Either your quest for another Peyton Era Lombardi ends in failure and a chorus of "You got rusty after a two-game vacation and a bye week!" or it ends in success and you spend the rest of your career staring down the barrel of "We were two wins against the dregs of the AFC East from going 19-0!"

Listen, life is never as black and white as we want it to be - certainly not as black and white as the scoundrels on cable news seem so insistent on it being. But from where we're sitting, that whole "stats and records don't matter" stance looks as unsteady as Snooki after the punch. You can't say you don't care about records because "we did not feel 16-0 was a historic achievement," on the one hand, and then shoot for a bunch of nickel and dime back-of-the-bubble-gum-card fine-print on the other. The only conclusion left to draw is that you didn't want the pressure of having to compete with the perfect-season monkey on your back. And if that's how you feel, fine. But it does beg one question: Are you a boy pussycat or a girl pussycat? We keep forgetting.

Dear OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR CHRIS JOHNSON...

There may be no one in the NFL more fun to watch play football than you. (And if there is, his name is JOSHUA CRIBBS.)

cc PERCY HARVIN, ED REED and VINCE YOUNG

Dear FOUR OF THE COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR VOTERS...

TOM BRADY played all of eight minutes in 2008, and the following season led his team back to the top of the AFC East and made the Pro Bowl, despite the rust that comes with such a long layoff and despite rumored injuries to myriad corners of his body. BRETT FAVRE, the player who received your vote, put up some gaudy stats in '09 and, so, deserves consideration for MVP - 'though we're happy to see the quarterback of the Indianapolis A-Rods take home that award. But Comeback Player of the Year? For Favre? Really? What exactly did he come back from, being a coach-killer? 'Cause according to sideline video from a few weeks back, old # 4 is up to his old tricks, jerking around his head coach like so many NBC Execs and CONAN O'BRIAN.

Dear AARON RODGERS (Part II)...

Nobody would've blamed you for going off on a post-game rant about that blatant FACEMASK the refs failed to call on the last play of your last game of the season. (See: "Tuck Rule," comma, "'01 Raiders still whining about the...") And what did you have to say in the shell-shocked days that followed?

"There's always going to be...plays where you wonder, Should there be a call, shouldn't there be a call, but those are out of my control. I made some mistakes in the game. Those are the ones I'm thinking about. Not a potential facemask. The one play I was thinking about laying in bed was the first play of overtime. Unfortunately, I just missed GREG [JENNINGS] on that one that could have ended the game. But they made a play in overtime. You have to give them credit."

Aaron Rodgers: The reason kids should still occasionally treat athletes as role models. Then again...

Dear DARNELL DOCKETT...

Here's your post-game quote: "Now Aaron Rodgers can go home and practice putting his little belt on and go and shovel some snow out of his driveway."

See the entry immediately above to realize that it doesn't always take more points on the board to be a winner. And it doesn't always take fewer to be a loser. A huge loser. Have fun in the Big Easy, Darnell. And hey - congrats on holding Rodgers and the Green Bay offense to just under 50 points, and then talking smack about it after. Class act, all the way, genius.

Dear TERRELL SUGGS...

We suppose you're a good enough player - a starter and star - to get away with the obnoxious, classless sideline behavior displayed in Foxboro last Sunday, taunting the fans with that throat-slash and wave routine, all the while yelling, "The Era is over!" You are, after all, a Pro Bowler, a major contributor to your team and a college prospect who made good on all that potential the scouts saw when you entered the draft. The thing is, Terrell, that wasn't YOU talking smack on the Gillette sidelines, it was KELLY WASHINGTON, the former # 1 washout and overpriced special teams ace for whom this season's 34 catches and two TDs constituted a career year.

So, Terrell, since Kelly's just a "nice, little role-player" - and since he appeared on Sunday's stat-sheet as often as we did - maybe you could tell him that next time he should probably leave the trash-talk to the guys who actually made more of an impact on the game than those costumed Musketeers in the New England end zone. And speaking of the New England "End Zone..."

Dear JUNIOR SEAU...

A la Aaron Rodgers, you, too, deserved a better ending. Thanks for the effort. Have fun surfing or...yelling-with-a-smile or whatever.

Dear DARRELLE REVIS...

Psst. Don't tell anyone, but we sort of agree with that enormous DB-not-defensive-back head coach of yours, if not with his whiny sorority girl M.O. You probably should have copped Defensive Player of the Year honors. Then again, this is often the way it goes, in football and otherwise - you don't win when you should, then you put forth a stellar, 'though lesser, performance the following year and get a make-up call. (See: RUSSELL CROWE taking home the Oscar for Gladiator * instead of *The Insider.)

Dear ARIZONA D...

Thank-you-thank-you-thank-you-thank-you-thank-you (times ten).

Sincerely,
NEIL "juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust a bit outside!" RACKERS

Dear NEW ENGLAND SPORTS FANS...

We realize that, in the A Tale of Two Cities story of your life, last week's game constituted the "It was the worst of times..." part, but it bears mentioning that your version of "the sky is falling!" centers on a team that went 10-6 in a rebuilding year, won its division (again) and boasts an ownership, head coach and QB triumvirate who have been historically excellent for quite some time. So settle down and gear up for what promises to be an active and fascinating next chapter, whose pathway could very well lead you back to what some dickens of an English guy, not to mention a band named STYX, once referred to, in wildly divergent ways, as "the best of times."

Meanwhile, take solace in the fact that few respond to adversity with more ruthless effectiveness than HC of the NEP BILL BELICHICK; that no one's gonna bust ass more than (AP ALL-PRO!) WES WELKER to get back ASAP from that ACL; that a P.O.'d, flip-the-domino-table-over TOM BRADY may be the best TOM BRADY of all, and that WRECKS CRYAN - the aforementioned DB who wasted part of his playoff week prep-time whining about someone he likes not winning an award - is poised on the brink of having his Swaggerlicious lunch handed to him by a pretty good trash-talker in his own right, some big-armed, big mouthed kid name of PHILIP RIVERS.

Seriously. It ain't all bad. (It just looked that way on Sunday.)

Blooper Reel: Divisional Round Predictions Edition

~ First of all, a disclaimer we should've put up front last week: Out-Takes never said we were good at this whole "predictions" thing. Which perhaps explains our 1-3 start. It goes without saying that we were this-close to going 2-2, if not for that freakin' uncalled Facemask penalty. (Aaron Rodgers didn't bitch about it. Doesn't mean we can't.) It also goes without saying that if we pull off a 3-1 this week you'll be hearing us crow about it for the next two.

{NOTE: Dear SHAYNE GRAHAM, Had you not shanked those two field goals against the Jets last week, our prediction - 24-20, Loudmouths - would've been dead-on PERFECT and Out-Takes might've felt some semblance of atonement for that ugly 1-3 record. Thanks loads.}

In any case, let's try this, once more with feeling...

~ NEW ORLEANS gets off the "late-season crap-fest" train (worst. train. ever.) and finishes the job the Packers just barely couldn't. Saints 48, Cardinals 34. STONE-COLD LOCK: WARNER continues to be cheered on by - quoting The Onion here - "Wire-haired Man Goblin."

~ BALTIMORE keeps running RAY RICE, et al, into the ground, but INDY manages to out shoot-out JOE FLACCO and his four-completions-per-playoff-game average. Colts 31, Ravens 24. STONE-COLD LOCK: MICHAEL OHER gives up at least one FREENEY sack on the blind side.

~ DALLAS saunters into MINNESOTA, a team that plays in a dome, thereby negating any weather bias Fate might have had in hand, and subjects all of us to at least one more season of BRETT "I'll retire if we win the Super Bowl" FAVRE. Cowboys 27, Vikings 24. STONE-COLD LOCK: Despite dreading another year of "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" from # 4, Out-Takes will twist and turn all night, trying to decide if this result is poetic justice or simply downright hilarious. (On this point, trust us - bet the over.)

~ Defensive Player of the Year runner-up (NELSON MUNTZ: HA ha!) Darrelle Revis takes away VINCENT JACKSON, causing the SAN DIEGO offense to stifle a yawn while they alternate between running LT and Mini Me SPROLES up the gut where KRIS JENKINS used to be and telling CALVIN PACE to have fun covering all-world tight end ANTONIO GATES. On the off-chance those don't work, Rivers and MALCOM FLOYD will exploit Revis's opposite corner all day long. Chargers 31, Jets 20. STONE-COLD LOCK: Rex talks smack after, win or lose, and Jet fans swoon, either way. (Again, bet the over.)


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.)

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