The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
(A not-so-storybook ending)
THE GOOD: Once upon a time the Texans had a running back named Ryan Moats, who had a wife, who had a mom, who had only hours to live as she lay dying in a Texas hospital. Informed by doctors that his mother-in-law's straits were growing increasingly dire, Moats loaded his family into the car, sped off with his hazards on – running red lights only after traffic had cleared – and delivered his wife in time for her to share a final, holy moment with the woman who gave her life.
THE BAD: Enter...Dallas PD Officer Robert Powell, who pulled Moats over, reportedly pointed a gun at Mrs. Moats, and threatened to tow the car and/or start making arrests, all while delaying the family's arrival at the death-bed of its matriarch. As his wife made her frantic way into the hospital, Moats offered a pleading explanation, but Powell didn't feel like listening. He was too busy telling the Houston running back – and we're not making this up – "I can screw you over." Well, officer...mission accomplished. Consider Moats officially screwed over because...
THE UGLY: His mother-in-law died, right inside the building, without him being able to see her one last time, without him being able to tell her he loves her or that he'll take care of her daughter, ya know...just sacred stuff; a Life Moment you can never get back. That's all.
Meanwhile, as reported a few days later, turns out officer Powell is the same Krupke-ish lout who once handcuffed and jailed linebacker Zach Thomas's wife for traffic violations. Yep. Traffic violations – an illegal U-turn, failure to provide evidence of insurance, that kind of thing. Jailed.
I think most folks would agree that there's nothing better than a good cop (and that if there is, it's just barely, and it's a fireman). Sure, we get tense when they drive behind us, and they're always good for a cheap "donut" joke, but they do a hundred tiny things a day that we all take for granted, things that make us safe, things that make life go. Having said all that, there may be nothing worse than a bad cop, and not just because it reflects poorly on all those good ones. So I hope you'll understand me joining the chorus and piling on with...
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Under enormous public pressure, Officer Powell resigned on Wednesday, freeing me up to say, "Hey, Powell, got a phone call for ya, and a lead on a job. It's a bunch of AIG Execs. They wanna hire you to stand next to them for the next few months. If that's not your speed, don't worry about it. They've got Michael Vick on line two." Speaking of...
NFL Rare-do-wells: The Final Four
1...MICHAEL VICK. Wow. The top spot. How'd he get here? Well, sure, there's the dog-fighting monstrosity. And, okay, it didn't hurt that the ex-Pro/ex-con once tried to smuggle a water-bottle with a secret compartment past security at Miami International Air-pot. PORT, that is. Airport. Yet, in a small but significant way, it was Vick's sudden, odd insistence that we all start calling him "Mike" that cemented him as my #1. (Just kidding. It was the dog murder thing.)
2...LARRY JOHNSON earns the number two seed to go along with his two years of probation, which stemmed from two separate incidents involving two women & two nightclubs. (Someone has a lucky number!) In February of last year, a 26 year-old charged that Johnson "pushed her head" at a late-night KC locale. Then, in October, at an entirely different Kansas City hot-spot – say this, it's nice to see LJ spreading the love – the Chiefs running back was accused of "spitting a drink" (classy!) at a 24 year-old after allegedly threatening her boyfriend, who presumably is NOT a 6'1" 230-pound professional athlete. So yeah, a solid #2 – that's what you are, Larry. By the way, enjoy that 9 PM curfew. I hear "Lost" is great!
3...PACMAN JONES. If I had to narrow down what qualifies this guy as our #3, and if I had to sum it up in a word or two, I'd go with "strip" and "clubs." As in ALWAYS AT STRIP CLUBS or... allegedly involved in shootings at strip clubs or...reportedly spitting on girls at strip clubs (looking for someone to blame for the uptick in spitting? Hi, VH1!) or – my favorite – going to strip clubs the night before talking to the commissioner about how you're cleaning up your act and not going to strip clubs anymore.
Ya know, PacMan, if you truly want to clean up your act – and there's no sign that you do – might I suggest, just as a start, that you, um...stop going to strip clubs? Don't worry, I'm sure you'll find other ways to land a top seed, even if you have to settle for the Rare-do-wells NIT. (That doesn't stand for "National Invitational Tournament," by the way. It's just short for NITWIT.)
4...THE QUARTERBACK WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED, despite a promise in last week's Out-Takes, bears a mention nonetheless, after a trade late Thursday to Chicago. In addition to his hissy-fits, unreturned phone calls & texts, and disingenuously coquettish 'Oh...you're trying to trade me – what ever FOR?!' routine, it's worth noting the haul required to land the Monstrous of the Midway: two #1 picks, a #3 and a serviceable vet QB in Kyle Orton. (Get used to the phrase 'Herschel Walker-lite.') Over the next few years, those lost picks ought to put a nice dent in your new team's ability to soldier on. In addition, your petulance ends up giving your old team new life – nice recovery, McDoogie & Friends – and forces me to rewrite my column well past midnight. If that doesn't qualify you as massively worthy of the #4 seed, I don't know what does.
(Dishonorable mention: The guy who put the 'Ow!' in Sham Wow. Not that he has anything to do with football, but in this case we'll stretch the conceit to offer up a much deserved slap-chop. No excuse for that kind of behavior, no matter the context. 'Sham,' indeed.)
Standing Up for the Status Quo
During the recently completed NFL Annual Meetings, Roger Goodell floated the idea of extending the regular season to 17 or even 18 games. In one fell swoop, the non-Chiklis Commish paved the way toward diluting the sport we love, insulted our intelligence with "Well, we actually already have a 20-game slate when you consider pre-season!" and begged the following question about the NFL: Is it broke? On many levels, the answer to that one is a resounding NO. So, pray tell, Mr. White Shadow look-alike, why are we trying to fix it?
Look, we're not naïve. TV networks, advertising agencies – businesses of every stripe, including sports and websites – are always looking ahead of the curve and down the road, in an attempt to shake things up. Variety is the spice of life, and all that. Coke subtracts sugar and adds a "Zero" to the can; Letterman moves his Top 10 from the B block to the C block; ESPN remodels its set and Patriots.com hits us with "Debate Fridays" & "Friday Out-Takes." We get it.
What we don't get is why the NFL feels the need to conjure up some new song-and-dance to keep us interested, and to sell that song-and-dance as the next step in the game's "evolution." Admittedly, in some cases the league may be wise. Rules geared toward tackling concussions and spinal cord injuries, while easily dismissed as turning hard-nosed football into soft-core "patty-cake," are arguably prudent, and in the long- and short-term interests of the game. If Troy Polamalu doesn't like it, well...tough break and cut your hair, you look ridiculous.
But when "change" comes in the form of adding games to an already grueling, war-of-attrition-style regular season – especially when you just got through pushing rules to allegedly help players avoid injury – well...the stench of hypocrisy, and that of your good old-fashioned bottom-line, is pretty tough to miss. You want a true bottom-line, try this on for size:
We like football. We're not going to stop liking football. Every season has built-in change (the draft, free agency, Chad Johnson's name, Brett Favre's mind...) without you pushing through new rules, old uni's and extra games. 16 is plenty. And, hey, the league has 32 teams so there's some nice mathematical sympatico. Keep OT, as is. No more expansion – of seasons, playoffs or teams. Less is more, Mr. Goodell, less is more. (Ditto to you and your ponytail, Polamalu. Now will someone PLEASE give that thing a yank? Or is that against the rules now, too?)
Blooper Reel (Wide Receivers Edition)
~ So T.O... Not reporting for voluntary workouts, huh? Yeah, we know, we know – we should go to the dictionary and look up the word "voluntary." Well, we did. Funny thing, that same book includes words like "impression" and "gesture," "example" and "leadership," along with "turning," "over," "new" and "leaf." One wonders if you'll ever learn, and we don't just mean the playbook.
~ In their bid to recycle not just former Patriots defensive coordinators (see "Crennel," comma, "Romeo" and "Genius," comma, "Man"), but also former Patriots speedy wideouts, the Cleveland Browns last week signed one-time # 2 New England receiver David Patten to eventually replace, deductive reasoning tells us, one-time # 2 New England receiver Donte Stallworth. Here's to it working out better this time, for everyone involved.
~ Just to show that Out-Takes is fully committed to bringing you commentary from every corner of the league, we're proud to present...our second consecutive week with a Bengals story! Chad Johnson has officially, legally and in all NFL-sanctioned ways, changed his last name to the oddly non-hyphenated, "Ochocinco." That's all the press coverage you'll be getting from us, Chad. But don't worry, with HoushmanzAlphabet gone, you'll no doubt be getting plenty of press coverage. (And zone. And safeties over the top, double-teams...)
~ When receiver Derrick Mason flew the coop in 2006 – "I prefer Baltimore," quoth the Raven – the Titans began looking for a new go-to guy. Ever since, the fact that Tennessee could use some wideout help has been about as big a secret as "Andre Smith likes carbs," "Michael Irvin had fun in the 90's" and "Charles Manson – honestly not that good in a crisis."
So, Jeff Fisher & Co., pardon us for asking the obvious question here but, since we all know you tried to trade for Holt prior to the Rams cutting him last month, WHY ARE YOU ONLY NOW SCHEDULING A VISIT WITH HIM?! The guy may not be the elite speedster of his yesterdays, but you read it here first: In 2009 Holt's gonna catch 80 balls and break the thousand-yard mark (again). Problem is, now that Jacksonville's entered the picture, it's beginning to look a lot like "too little, too late." But hey, no worries if you don't reel him in, Fish – you'll still get to see him twice a year. (He'll be the one in teal and gold, blowing past your secondary.)
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.)"