Out-Takes Goes West...and the Vikes Go South
This past Monday, as we sat in our Los Angeles hotel room, high above the twinkling lights of the tinseled town below, we settled into the happy groove that comes with a successful first day back on the Lot, free HBO, an extra double-bed to toss your luggage on, complimentary "writers room" cupcakes and the very best aspect of West Coast life - sporting events that end before the 11 o'clock news.
Flipping from TBS (The Baseball Station?) to ESPN (Egocentric Sexting Playmakers Network?), we couldn't help but think, Sure, we're far from the nest, and we miss Mrs. Out-Takes somethin' fierce, not to mention the brisk wind and crackling leaves of Autumn in New York, but hey - at least we can drown our homesick sorrows in a bit of unscripted drama! And what better way to get the old creative juices flowing - to really *earn * those
surplus cupcakes - than to draw inspiration from the twists and turns of Monday Night Football? I mean, according to the song, all of Hank Williams Jr.'s rowdy friends are comin' over tonight - you don't know what the Hell's gonna happen!
Except you do. You know exactly what's gonna happen. Okay, not the pre-game lightning storm or CEDRIC GRIFFIN's torn ACL, but you've got a pretty good idea that LADAINIAN TOMLINSON - this year's incarnation, anyway - is going to run with a practically criminal blend of power and...let's call it "dart-y-ness." You suspect Once and Future Viking RANDY MOSS will show up in a big way on the big stage and that "CHUCKY" GRUDEN will profess his "love" for "this guy" at least a dozen times before the first Coors ad. And, okay, odds are pretty good THE SANCHIZE will make a frisky play or two, only to brain-freeze a few minutes later, and BRAYLON EDWARDS is bound to drop at least one totally catchable pass. (NOTE to Jets Offensive Coordinator BRIAN SCHOTTENHEIMER: Try stenciling the words "Absolut" and "100 proof" on the ball. We suspect Braylon's hands will instantly become LESTER HAYES-level sticky.)
And yet, despite all that, despite all the things you spot coming down Broadway (or up Sunset or wherever), somehow you manage to get sucked into the story of the game; its ebb and flow, the back and forth, the twists and downward turns... And just as you're totally caught up in it, just as you start to believe, Hey, THIS THING AIN'T OVER, the least surprising moment of the whole damn game pushes its way into the room, pulling the rug out from under you:
FAVRE throws a pick-six. A back-breaking, gut-punching, game-clinching, hyphenate-inspiring pick-goddamn-six. Classic. But, every dark cloud of #4 going number two all over the New Giants Stadium turf carries with it a silver lining, in this case, a made-to-order column gimmick. So, without further ado, Out-Takes proudly presents our first List of the season, namely...
Things Only Slightly LESS Surprisingthan Brett Favre Throwing a Late Game Pick-Six
PAUL POSLUSZNY's knee injury. We'd rather bank on good box office from an ASHLEY JUDD rom-com.
A NORV TURNER-led team having a let-down game. It's pretty safe to assume at this point that KEANU will be using his put-on, Nicolas Cage-style "big boy voice" to utter the words "I'd like to thank the Academy" long before Norv "accountant waiting for a bus" (credit: RICKY REILLY) Turner manages to get even the most talent-rich squad to a Lombardi trophy.
BILL BELICHICK overpaying for DEION BRANCH because he "fits the system." (Welcome back,
The NFL and its enablers (Worldwide Leader, we're looking at YOU) doing everything humanly possible to keep the Favre-JENN STERGER "sexting" scandal out of the headlines and off the airwaves. By the way:
Dear BRETT FAVRE, We'd like to make one thing perfectly clear: You are never, ever, EVER to borrow our cell phone.
RYAN LEAF's alleged sketchy relationship with dubious agent JOSH LUCHS - and his subsequent, and also alleged, dumping of said dubious agent (with dying father) for LEIGH STEINBERG and a Jerry Maguire-style, "it's not show-friends, it's show-business" moment. Nice.
The NFL reconsidering a controversial rule, but not until the off-season! We refer, of course, to what most folks are now calling "The CALVIN JOHNSON rule." Nope, wouldn't want to nip that in the bud and give the refs some much-needed discretion! Let's "study" it in March.
~ One of our favorite American rituals is currently underway in Minnesota, namely Brett Favre's public apology for - quote - "causing a distraction." Nothin' like those "aw shucks, ahm just here to play ball" millionaire athletes being relegated to Victorian etiquette in the face of a squeamishly Puritan fan-base. Any chance our nation's sportscasters will now be forced to reexamine their man-crushes on Kiln, Mississippi's Favorite Son? Don't count on it. (What you can count on is Out-Takes pointing out to the man in question that "playing ball" is precisely what got him into this jam in the first place. That and being trash, we mean.)
~ No word yet if HINDUS the world over have decided to start referring to the tenet of KARMA as "Darrelle Revis's hamstring." We'll keep you posted.
~ Survivor: Nicaragua update - JIMMY JOHNSON got voted off the island a few weeks back, thanks in part to self-proclaimed "Patriots season-ticket holder" JIMMY T (who proceeded to get voted out the following week). Despite what we found to be Coach Johnson's fairly convincing insistence that he'd never win the million dollars - and, in fact, just wanted to help one of them win it - the randomly hyper-suspicious older tribe wasn't buying. Luckily, last night baseball cap-slash-safari shirt model JEFF PROBST and the gang scrapped the Older vs. Younger concept, invoking one of those only-on-Survivor-would-this-not-sound-filthy phrases - "drop. your. buffs." Unluckily, Tribal Council resulted in the last likable person being voted off the show. (Then again, Tyrone seemed genuinely excited about meeting Jimmy Johnson so we're guessing he'll survive.)
~ Now that we've had our first extended look at Patriots Assistant MATT PATRICIA, we thought we'd hop on what we assume is the vast bandwagon of people wondering how he finagled time off from starring in HBO's Eastbound and Down to coach defense in New England.
~ Since being selected as the #1 overall pick back in 2005, ALEX SMITH has suffered myriad indignities, many of them, admittedly, self-inflicted. Last week, though, he may have reached the nadir of his time in San Fran. Tens of thousands of people - "fans," even - went to the trouble of organizing themselves into a chant for the sole purpose of making it clear that they wanted to watch DAVID CARR play football. That's as low it gets. (Unless you're MICHAEL VICK with a pair of electrified puppy-tongs.)
~ You can go off (and on and on) about the compensation, the knee surgeries, the dip in quality of play, and the fact that he's no replacement for "that other #84" now snaring bombs while losing in Minnesota, but the bottom line is this: The NFL is a better place and a better product when DEION BRANCH is catching passes from TOM BRADY.
~ Quite a lot of time on this page is devoted to slamming the more distasteful characters around the league, folks like BEN ROETHLISBERGER, JAY CUTLER, MICHAEL VICK and, say, I dunno...Brett Favre. But we are fully aware that the media, ourselves included and especially, can go too far with the hyperbolic rantings, those personal shots that cross the line. (Apparently someone called the guy "trash" recently. Good GOD.) So, as a nod to fairness, civility and that thing we like to call reality, we just want to step back, take a breath and say this, loud and clear:
It is a thrill to watch Favre play the game. Whether he's hanging his head at the end of the game or running up the field with a single finger raised; rearing back and dropping a dime in a bucket to Randy Moss 40 yards downfield is more beautiful than that brutal pick-six was ugly.
So say what you will about Favre, and say what you probably shouldn't sometimes, but for 20 NFL seasons - twenty! - he's made things interesting. And he's made things happen. (And then he snaps a picture of it with his cell and sends it out to married women. Sorry, couldn't resist.)
John Cockrell is a writer for USA Network's "In Plain Sight," and 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.)