When Sacrificing Everything Gets You Paid

Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers

How ironic is it that in a league that tinkers with its overtime rules in order to minimize the chances of a tie, its biggest story becomes just that. Because that’s how I’m feeling after the Kaepernick/Reid settlement with the NFL. It feels a hell of a lot like a tie to me, and here’s why.

On the one hand, the dudes got paid. And by virtue of the gag order attached to this, the NFL has admitted to some form of collusion. Granted, we might never know to what extent and who the major players were, but still . . the league lost.

Or did it?

Because this settlement shakes out to where each owner will pay out about a million and a half bucks a year. That’s sofa cushion money in a league where the average franchise is valued at more than two and a half billion dollars. Chalk it up as a loss for the league owners, but call it what it is: Hush money.

The league doesn’t lose high profile cases very often, not without means that protect their rear ends they don’t.

In 1982, Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL when they blocked his proposed move to LA. Davis won the suit and moved his team to LA, after which he kept right on going after the NFL. Davis sued for LA market rights, after which he sued for the right to move everywhere from Sacramento and Inglewood to Kilimanjaro. He lost every time and eventually became an eccentric ‘renegade’ millionaire while the league just kept getting bigger and stronger.

The NFL is an entity that has navigated every kind of shit storm, and has always come out smelling like a rose. Consider . . .

  • Gun scandals (Plaxico Burress, Adam Jones, et al)
  • Political scandals (Eddie DeBartolo)
  • Spy-Gate (Patriots)
  • Bounty-Gate (Saints)
  • Michael Vick dog fighting ring
  • Ray Lewis’s obstruction of justice plea in a murder trial
  • Ray Rice arrest on assault charges
  • Ben Roethlisberger suspension on alleged rape charges
  • Aaron Hernandez murder conviction
  • CTE

Those are only some of highlights of the league’s off the field ‘business’ since the turn of the millennium. And yet, league revenue is at an all time high with expectations that legalized gambling will send profits into orbit.

If a league can’t be tarnished for covering up brain injuries, do you really think it’s losing sleep over a national anthem protest? Me either. The NFL has already paid out more than half a billion dollars in its concussion settlement, and nobody is talking about it. So this anthem protest settlement is all about sating Kaepernick and Reid without having to divulge more sensitive information. An insurance policy, if you will.

As for whether Kaep gets another shot in the NFL, that’s as much on him as it is on an NFL owner. If he wants to be a starter who demands starter money, it’s going to be tough sledding. In his last season, he finished with 16 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. His quarterback rating, however, was only 49 percent. Rival coaches and GM’s believed they had figured him out.

Two years ago, I argued that my Dolphins should have signed him. Instead, they blew 10 million on a washed up QB. At the time, owner Stephen Ross claimed that to sign Kaep would have been an affront to the city’s Cuban population. This was in reference to the quarterback’s glowing opinion of Fidel Castro and Che Guvara. But what of the ticket paying population who were laying down big league money for a minor league product? Spare me the politics and give me some sizzle, not to mention a halfway decent shot of being competitive.

Again, what happens from here is mostly up to Kaepernick. His compadre in the anthem protests, Eric Reid, has an NFL job. If Kaepernick really wants back in, he would be wise to invest that settlement money wisely whilst being reasonable as per his value to a team at this point.  I don’t doubt a team would sign him, if he was willing to take less money and maybe even go in as a backup. Get in the door first, then show them what you got.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a team like Washington or Carolina signed him as a potential starter or integral backup, respectively. And don’t count out the Patriots, who ain’t afraid of controversy. The particulars of a Kaepernick contract are almost as fascinating as finding out whether he has anything left on his fastball. Would it be incentives heavy? Would an owner dare put a no kneeling clause in his contract? The possibilities are endless.

Personally, I didn’t have a problem with a peaceful protest in which Kaepernick consulted a Green Beret on how to go about it. I wanted my team to sign him, not because I’m all about social justice, but because I honestly believed his talent far outweighed any off the field criticisms. I wasn’t down with his take on butchers like Castro or Guavara, but I respected his right to feel that way. And I sure as hell wasn’t in agreement with his support of Assata Shakur, a convicted cop killer.

When the anthem protests and resultant backlash began to reach a boiling point, I wrote about how Kaepernick was just a kid who didn’t understand the gravity of the cause he was undertaking. I felt he was skimming his toe in the pool of social progress, rather than diving in. I cringed at the idea that he was being mentioned in the same sentence with names such as King and Ali. His decision to take the NFL money proves I was right to think the way I did. That whole Nike ad campaign about sacrificing everything didn’t include taking over a hundred million dollars in sorry money from the NFL. King didn’t do it that way, and neither did Ali. Kaepernick isn’t a civil rights icon. He’s just a kid with cool hair who may or may not have something left in the tank.

And maybe he’s not who his most fervent supporters thought he was. But he’s also not stupid. Because a hundred million bucks is a hundred million bucks. And he has a right to have any fucking opinion he wants to have, even if I don’t agree with it. And a league full of billionaires who made their bones by taking risks should grow a pair. Talk to him, give him some what’s what. Sign him. Because right now, this whole episode has no winners.

And I hate ties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Deja Vu, All Over Again

Fucking Patriots.

They make me want to dabble in communism. They make me feel like the Brits were misunderstood. They make me want to subvert the steeple chase of a nut that Thomas Paine broke bread with once upon a time. The one that made babies with capitalism and stirred up tasty drinks in the form of monthly baby daddy payments to Uncle Sam’s house of rocket fuel.

This ain’t bitterness talking. It’s . . . wait for it . . . common sense.

How do we find ourselves here for the third time in five years? Because the Patriots are more buttoned up than Luca Brasi on a Smith and Wesson bender. While rival clubs engage in trade demands, holdouts and the kind of drama that would make Meryl Streep get all hot and bothered, the Patriots simply are. They are not exciting like the Chiefs, they do not possess the soap opera twists and turns of the Steelers and they are nowhere near as pretty as the Rams. All they’re good at is winning the last game of the year. And to that end, they are really, really good.

I’ll take Marco’s loose thoughts for a dollar, Alex . . .

  • Tony Romo is a maestro when it comes to calling a football game. And you know why that is? Because the dude is unpretentious, that’s why. He refuses to chime and dime on the dilly of the current template. Where “running north to south” and “going vertical” are downhill slang terms used by the so called experts who feel the need to justify the Armani. Until they’re cut loose for being nickels on a dollar’s worth of investment. Romo is different. He’s bright, he’s real, he’s effusive and he knows what is going down. On a Buffalo Springfield level of expertise.
  • Sean McVay didn’t lose his smarts overnight. But its funny how a dude twice his age kicked his ass in the biggest game of the year. Convincingly. Will rival executives have an “oh shit!” moment as a result? Because there were a lot of dudes hired because they worked under McVay or they were FB friends with McVay or they rode an elevator with him once. Moral of the story? Winning organizations act. Everyone else reacts.
  • My silver lining in Sunday night’s shit show was Brian Flores, the brand new head coach of the Miami Dolphins. His defense looked like the ’85 Bears. Now, he goes from a team that does its business the right way to the South Beach Social Club. I believe he’s up for the challenge, but time will tell.
  • Someone please tell Adam Levine that showing your nipples ain’t worth the price of admission unless you’re Janet Jackson.
  • Price of admission is Gladys Knight. She is velvet to the senses when her syllables take flight. I remember seeing her in Vegas and marveling at how she turned every single song into Friday night.
  • Remember back when everybody was bemoaning the lack of defense after that 54-51 game the Rams and Chiefs played earlier in the year? Peeps insisted the game had morphed into the NBA. Welp, the Vegas books put the over under for total points scored in the Super Bowl at 56 points . . to which these offensive juggernauts answered with 16 points. I guess defense still matters, after all.
  • Tom Brady looked like Mark Sanchez for most of that game. But for a couple passes in the fourth quarter that were bread basket perfect. Some players, such as Jared Goff, find it damn near impossible to face up to the big moment. Brady lives for it.
  • I dunno if the Saints would have been able to fare any better than the Rams against that suddenly tenacious Patriots defense. But I do know they could have done better than three points. Hell, the Dolphins could have done better than three points.
  • It’s pretty sad when, up until the fourth quarter the highlight of the game was a punt. I believe it was a record setting one, but I forget and you know why? Because it’s a punt . . .
  • It almost looked as if the Patriots D knew what was coming before the Rams snapped the ball. Which, if you’re a follower of the NFL, is always going to make you wonder, given the organization’s rap sheet.
  • Bravo to the Swiss Army Knife known as Julian Edelman for being the MVP not named Brady. Edleman missed the first four games of the season due to a PED suspension. If this were baseball it would have been a major story but in football, it’s an accepted fact.

And my one final thought on the national nightmare that is the New England Patriots.

They’re gonna have to be taken out the way Luca Brasi was taken out. By a band of young turks that wield knives on a doctorate level of Dante. The end of this reign must be certain, swift and surgical. And make no mistake, they will not surrender until the throne is taken from their cold dead hands. The team that slays this dragon is gonna have to do what the Patriots coaches are doing right now, as we speak.

Start planning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

635 Reasons to Love Cleveland

GTY 1036977084 S FBN SPO USA OH

Remember that girlfriend you had in high school who was constantly pulling you around by the leash? She’d break your heart one week only to pick up all the pieces inside the next? And every time you thought you’d finally learned your lesson, every time you’d talked yourself into never going back to her, she would make the scene, flip your script and play you for the fool again?

The Miami Dolphins are that high school girlfriend.

They are my harmful chemical of a romance gone full metal jacket. They are my cholera on cleats, my seasick Orion . . . my Orwellian O’Brien. When I ask for ‘mo they give me Poe. They promise me the world, and they give me Hoboken.

I’m not being a dick about this. I realize there are other fan bases that have it much worse than me. Like Beliebers, and QVC speed dialers . . . and oh yes, those peeps who insist on seeing Kelly Ripa live even though it’s a known fact she is the Goddess of the undead.

As far as sports goes? There ain’t no team in any professional sport that has done less with more than my Dolphins. They have money, J. Lo and an area code that can sell mango flavored snow cones in the middle of winter. Imagine the Dolphins were Vera Farmiga with the mind of Stephen Hawking and the bank account of Bill Gates. And then imagine, if you will, that this perfect specimen plays the cymbals in a Winger cover band.

Since the aughts of this millennium, Miami has proven less potent than an octogenarian who’s all outta penis pills. And never mind they’re 2-0 to start this season, and never mind I picked ’em to make the postseason, and never mind they play the Raiders. At home. My Dolphins are still going to find a way to fuck up this football equivalent of a glass of water.

So what?

The Cleveland Browns won a football game Thursday night! For the first time since Christmas Eve . . . of 2016. Basically, almost two calendar years have passed since Cleveland had something to boast about that didn’t rhyme with LeBron James.

Cleveland’s Browns are bringing the fun; something my Dolphins have been lacking ever since Dan Marino stopped pitching masterpieces. In a league where men behave like crybabies, dynasties become TMZ curiosities and marginal talents like Isaiah Crowell of the Jets choreograph embarrassing touchdown celebrations in losses, and then are not man enough to own up to their stupidity, the Browns are content with just playing football.

They’ve got a young brash quarterback with balls of steel, who seems to really dig the big moment. And in spite of his bad boy past, Baker Mayfield has thus far handled the dupes in the media with more aplomb than veterans such as Antonio Brown could dream of. In a post game interview on ESPN, Baker laughed off Scott Van Pelt’s suggestion that the quarterback get himself some free beer and party hardy.

It didn’t occur to the interviewer to pump his frat boy brakes, in spite of the fact the Browns have been Team Rehab (See Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon) over the last few years. And that’s because Van Pelt is a tone deaf goof, as are too many of his peers at the four letter. It was obvious that the kid out of Oklahoma was the adult in the room inside that moment.

So this Baker Mayfield kid’s got poise, and his team has ups. And in a best case scenario, the Browns use this year to get somewhere much better than middle of the road. That’s where the Dolphins have resided for the last couple decades, and it’s no fun. At all.

Maybe there will come a day when the Browns will behave like most of the other teams out there; comprised of divas and crybabies whose intrigue has nothing to do with football. But for right now, the Browns are more satisfying than free beer.

Drink up, Cleveland.

 

 

 

Mostly Fearless NFL Predictions!

Ref Punch

I decided not to play fantasy football this season, because I don’t feel like cursing players I don’t even know. Besides, I finished first in my league last year and I’m fucking tired, yanno? You might wonder why I wouldn’t want to defend my title, and to that I answer with this. By not playing, I am defending my title.

Anyways, I have my annual NFL predictions at the ready. I’m not sure if I even do this annually, but it sounds more official that way. As a public service, I must add that I’m not a professional and as such, you shouldn’t wager based on my predictions. Cut out the middleman and send the money right to me, because you obviously have no clue how to manage shit.

Enjoy!

New England Patriots Super Bowl appearance is akin to a Spider-Man reboot. They show up just about every year. Tom Brady didn’t lose the Super Bowl last year, his coach did. The Man Named 12 did everything he could, scorching the Eagles D for half a thousand yards after which he had consolation sex with Giselle. He should definitely consider a Presidential run, seeing as how even when he loses . . he wins. Rumor has it that one day Tom Brady will lose his superpowers and return to his Fortress of Solitude. Until such time, Team Apple Stock is an odds on favorite to get back to the big game. I ain’t buying it . . not this year. Because this year, it’s gonna be . . .

The San Diego Los Angeles Chargers. Unlike the Patriots, the Chargers always find new and exciting ways to fuck things up. They are the Hilary Clinton of the NFL playoffs. Too soon? Anyways, this is the year they break through and make it to the big game. Which doesn’t make up for the fact they switched out their sweet crib in San Diego so they could be just another team in LA . . . but hey, making it to the Super Bowl is good too. And the crown they’re looking to grab belongs to . . .

Browns Meme

The Philadelphia Eagles. Who used to find new and exciting ways to fuck things up, until last year when they actually won it . . with zero help from the Russians at that. After which the Eagles took to chirping about how they were a fun bunch compared to Tom Brady and the Matrix. Which conveniently ignored the fact that the Patriots have booked passage with the last week of the season eight times in the last seventeen years. The Eagles should be mindful of the fact that uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. They’re still gonna be plenty good, and they’re still gonna come close, but in the end, they’re gonna lose in the NFC title game to the . . .

Dallas Cowboys. Back in the day, the ‘Boys used to be hated the same way the Patriots are hated now. This was during a simpler time known as the Clintonian Era. Things just ain’t the same any longer. Soul has been replaced with algorithm and the whole world is ordering out. Well, the Cowboys are gonna steal all that gritty, seething fan hatred back from the Patriots this year and make it all the way to the big game.

Cowboys Cheerleaders

As for my predicted score in Super Bowl LIII, Imma have to come back to that after my predictions blow up and the actual participants make themselves known next January.

As for the rest of my NFL predictions . . .

  • The Browns will win more games than they did last year.
  • Jacksonville will not make the playoffs. My accountant can throw better than their quarterback, and that ‘vaunted’ defense? It gave up more points last postseason than a tricked out pinball machine. And ESPN loves them, which means this is more about style than substance.
  • The NFL will continue to fuck up the meaning of a catch, a peaceful protest and a legal hit.
  • Baker Mayfield will be entertaining, Josh Allen will be mostly awful and Josh Rosen will have the best season of all the rookie QB’s.
  • Deshaun Watson will finish behind Aaron Rodgers and Ezekiel Elliott for MVP honors. Watson is style and substance, and he’s coming fast.
  • The Miami Dolphins will exceed expectations. Kenny Stills (receiving) and Kenyan Drake (rushing) will surpass 1,000 yards. Ryan Tannehill will have a breakout season and Minkah Fitzpatrick will shine. And . . . there’s no punchline. Yet.
  • The Bucs and Bills will vie for the number one pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
  • The Vikings, Falcons, Saints, Panthers, Steelers, Chiefs and Rams will join forces in the NFL’s version of Infinity War. Didn’t they learn anything from the movie?
  • To the peeps who say the NFL’s bottom line was hurt by the anthem protests, I give you Jon Gruden. He hasn’t coached in ten years . . his lone Super Bowl win was with another coach’s players . . sixteen years ago . . which happened to be his last playoff win as well. That dude scored a 100 million dollar contract with the Raiders.
  • And oh yeah . . Gruden will be a disaster in his coaching comeback. I predict he’ll be off the sidelines within three years, after which he’ll move upstairs. He’ll become the NFL version of Sam “Ace” Rothstein, with revolving titles as Vegas boss.

On a completely related note, I wasn’t aware last night was the season opener until I received a text from a friend informing me the Falcons were beating the Eagles early on. Thursday night football is the worst idea since the Captain of the Titanic tried making a hairpin turn around an iceberg. NFL players should take a knee in protest to these midweek debacles.

This shit never would’ve happened if Burt Reynolds had been commissioner. Rest in peace, Bandit.

 

Dear Sports: I’m Just Not That Into You

When did sports become so unlikable?

It used to be that sports was a respite from the everyday; a temporary form of escapism that was fun and legal. It was a snow globe fascination whose import was clear as life and death but whose suspension of disbelief allowed us to dream like children. It was a gloriously forgiving province where loss was temporary, victory was forever and next year was a sweet promise.

Being a sports fan these days is like being stuck in a marriage that went too long.

Major League baseball used to feel like summer. A day at the ballpark was like a picnic on steroids (pun intended). Now, the early and late season games feel like Stalingrad, and they last just as long. Home runs are no longer celebrated, they’re investigated. I’m just thankful the emphasis on analytics wasn’t around back in the day or it would’ve killed those moments supplied by Bucky Dent, Bill Mazeroski and Kirk Gibson.

The NBA has become a three point shooting contest that feels like a two and a half hour commercial for licensed product. Defense is optional and humility a foreign word. There’s no Jordan-like presence to provide stability and a rooting interest for Association fans. We know LeBron is the greatest player of his time because his Instagram page says so. And Kevin Durant went from darling to dickhead faster than a WWE wrestler.

I feel sorry for the NHL, because they seem to be doing things the right way. But truth be told, it doesn’t feel like hockey when Canada has gone twenty four years without a Cup and we have clubs in Tampa, Nashville, Anaheim and Las Fucking Vegas.

And that brings me to the NFL, whose wild popularity says more about us than it does about them. Love of this sport feels increasingly narcissistic, as the actual games seem to have taken a back seat to gambling, fantasy league and social commentary.

The new normal for keeping score includes police logs, contract disputes and TMZ-like reports detailing every aspect of the players’ personal lives. None of which feels like escapism, in the least bit.

Ask the casual fan about pro football and their response will probably have something to do with the anthem protests. And is there a better example of much ado about nothing than those protests? Colin Kaepernick became the face of a movement to which he never quite understood the gravitas. His gesture- to kneel during the national anthem in protest of the inequities of a country that purports to be all about equality and fairness- was a righteous one. Kaepernick meant well, and he did donate over a million dollars out of his own pocket to various causes in the aftermath. But his message was mitigated by failed optics that made him look as if he was more interested in symbolism than substantial change.

On the other side of all that, the irony is that he was right on about the double standards that exist in our power structure. Because he and several of his peers who kneeled with him are still looking for work; in a league that has been filling roster spots with lesser talent in a transparent blackballing effort.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers (Kaepernick’s former team) are holding serve on whether or not to cut linebacker Reuben Foster. They’re going to let the courts play out first as Foster faces two felony domestic violence counts and a felony weapons charge for possession of an assault weapon. Basically, Foster beat the shit out of a woman but his team won’t cut bait just yet because he can help them win.

How many fans are going to ‘quit’ watching games over the Foster story, the way they vowed to quit when Kaep took a knee? And why isn’t President Trump railing on about how the NFL will employ dog killers and men who batter women . . just as long as they don’t kneel.

Sports used to live somewhere else, far from the worries and troubles of our every day lives. Nowadays, it’s like a pain in the ass neighbor who throws a party and trashes our property. And while I still dig the games, I find myself increasingly detached from the box scores and standings I used to know by heart.

If this truly was a marriage, I’d file for divorce.

The New England Invitational Turns LII

Minny 2018

I can’t believe it’s Super Sunday already. It feels like only yesterday that I was putting together my fantasy league team whilst under the illusion my Dolphins had a chance to see January . . . if only for sixty minutes.

The Patriots are making their annual trip, preparing to take on yet another bird. Last year’s Falcons replaced 2015’s Seahawks who have been unseated by this year’s Eagles. Soooo, Cardinals fans might want to book their Atlanta trip for next year’s Super Bowl before Patriots fans grab up all the best tickets.

The good news for Eagles fans is that Tom Brady will eventually succumb to Father Time. The bad news is, it ain’t happening soon enough. And if you happen to be one of those peeps who is suffering from Patriots fatigue, well . . .there’s always baseball!

A top 5.2 thoughts before I get to my Super prediction? Sure . . .

#1- Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery said this: 

“Ain’t no ‘if,’ man. When we win on Sunday, ain’t no telling what we’re going to do,” Jeffery said. “But we’re probably going to celebrate, have some fun.”

New England quarterback Tom Brady thought this: 

Umm,Alshon? Don’t poke the bear.

2- The Eagles insist they are getting no respect. 

What I hear when the Eagles rail on about the lack of respect people are showing to a 13-3 Super Bowl team . . .

3- Justin Timberlake will perform at this year’s halftime show. It will be his first appearance since the infamous “Nipplegate” episode with Janet Jackson. 

What everyone watching will see as they watch this year’s halftime show. 

 

Okay, I just had to sneak that video in because it’s fucking hilarious. No kids, the correct answer is Nipples for a thousand, Alex! 

4- The Eagles have a bevy of big deal fans rooting them on at this year’s game. From the Angels Mike Trout to actor Bradley Cooper. Ya got Will Smith, Carl Lewis, Kevin Bacon, Sylvester Stallone, Tina Fey, Tara Reid, Pink, Bob Saget, Kevin Hart, Carrot Top, Dr Oz, Jake Tapper, Questlove, Sofia Vergara, Charles Barkley and former Vice President Joe Biden. 

The Patriots have Giselle. 

Advantage Patriots. 

5- Vegas books reported a multi-million dollar wager was laid on the underdog Eagles. This elicited a conversation with a pal of mine that went something like this.

Okay . . . that was verbatim. 

As far as my .2 thought on today’s game? I won’t be watching the halftime show unless Janet Jackson shows up. And since that doesn’t seem likely, Imma go ahead and tell ‘yall what’s going to happen in Super LII, so there really is no point in even watching . . .

In the first half, absolutely nothing happens.

The halftime show proves to be a nipple free affair, but NBC puts a thirty minute delay in place just in case. The time lapse plays havoc on television viewers, and Fox News erroneously calls the game for the Patriots as a result. The Russians deny any involvement in the snafu.

Sommee Cards Super Bowl

The third quarter is when things really start cooking. Nick Foles pulls the Statue of Liberty play on the Pats and Jay Ajayi takes it eighty yards to the house to open the scoring. From there, the Eagles score thirty five unanswered points. They head to the fourth quarter with a 38-3 lead. In spite of this, Pats coach Bill Belichick is overheard saying “We have ’em right where we want ’em!”

In the fourth quarter, the Patriots stage a historic comeback (yep, again) and tie the score at 45 with just under two minutes to go. Tom Brady tosses six touchdown passes, including a Hail Mary to himself. Rob Gronkowski leaves the game with concussion symptoms after Brady slaps his helmet with his 283 diamond Super Bowl ring during a touchdown celebration.

Nick Foles and the Eagles take over at their own five yard line with a minute and a half remaining. A false start by Philadelphia moves them back to the goal line and three incomplete passes later, they are staring down the barrel of a fourth down and forever. Coach Doug Pederson sticks to the script that got him here by deciding to go for it. It seems that only a miracle can save the Eagles now. Or gravity . . .

On fourth down, Foles drops back into the end zone and flings the ball straight up into the air. Upon returning to earth, the ball is deflected by several players before falling into the arms of Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who picks up the first down by half a yard. The play is dubbed “The Isaac Newton” and it revs the green engine as Philadelphia marches down the field and with twelve seconds left, the Eagles have a first and goal at the Patriots nine yard line, Pederson inexplicably decides to leave his field goal kicker on the sidelines rather than have him attempt the Super Bowl winning field goal. As he would later explain, “I don’t trust Jake Elliot unless it’s from fifty yards out,”.

After a play action pass sails out of bounds, there’s time for one more play into the end zone. Against a heavy New England pass rush, Nick Foles finds Zach Ertz for what appears to be the game winning touchdown with one second left. But referees convene and the play comes under review to determine if Ertz did in fact make the catch.

Announcers Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth debate what constitutes a catch.

Michaels: It’s when the catch is conceived! 

Collinsworth: No! It’s when the football is physically visible! 

Sideline reporter Michele Tafoya suggests that if the NFL cannot decide what constitutes a catch, the Supreme Court should step in. She then uses several replays that show Ertz juggling the football, proving that he did not make the catch. Her argument is eerily reminiscent of the JFK investigation.

Tafoya: As you can see Ertz enter the turn, the ball snaps back . . and to the left. See it guys? Back . . and to the left. Back . . and to the left . . Back . . and to the left. 

The instant replay review drags on for more than an hour, allowing NBC to air two episodes of Will and Grace. Despite the sitcom’s popularity, viewership plummets since there’s no Tom Brady to root/hate on. In response to the deflated numbers, Commissioner Goodell tells Brady not to leave town.

When they finally come to a conclusion, Head Referee Gene Steratore tweets out their decision before making the announcement . . . Touchdown! The Eagles celebrate for several minutes, drawing one penalty another until Coach Pederson feels comfortable enough to let his placekicker attempt a sixty yard extra point, which he nails as time expires.

Final Score: Eagles 52- Patriots 45

The front page headlines of the Philadelphia Inquirer say it all. Ertz So Good! Bud Light follows through on its promise to buy beer for the entire city of Philadelphia, and the City of Brotherly Love is transformed into a real life version of The Purge. After the game, Tom Brady announces his retirement and signs with the Cleveland Browns. Coach Bill Belichick decides to follow his dream and become a fashion designer. Patriots owner Bob Kraft begins drawing up plans to turn Gillette Stadium into a strip mall.

As for the champs, Nick Foles signs on with Fox/Paramount to star in the Napoleon Dynamite reboot. Fletcher Cox apologizes for his team’s poor defensive performance by donating his winner’s share to the charitable organization Free Melania, and Carson Wentz sues a Nevada town and wins the rights to “Carson City”, after which he guarantees the Eagles will repeat as champions.

The NFL scores record ratings despite all those peeps who insist they’re boycotting the sport forever. Commissioner Goodell announces he will step down at the end of his current contract to become the wealthiest Buddhist monk, ever. Giselle Bundchen lambastes the NFL as nothing more than  “a primitive blood sport that thrives on violence and crooked decision makers,” before revealing that she is buying the Miami Dolphins because “they have beautiful uniforms and they don’t hit anyone,”.

Richard Branson wins the rights to host Super Bowl 60 on the moon, and construction begins on a 100,000 seat bio-dome. When a reporter criticizes the locale by asking where fans will spend the weekend leading up to the big game, Branson snarkily replies.

“Uranus.”

 

 

Groundhog Day Meets Rocky Balboa

We have seen this movie before.

The one where the Patriots win twelve plus games, score a couple playoff wins in Foxboro and end up in the Super Bowl amid all the chatter about how they cheat to win and how they get all the calls. There are few things more certain than death, taxes . . and the Patriots being in the Super Bowl. This is Groundhog Day in cleats.

And once the Patriots get to the Super Bowl, well . . . you know. They vanquished the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ back in 2002 when they came from behind to beat the Kurt Warner led St. Louis Rams with a field goal as time expired. They were the ‘darlings’ of the league that year, the charming underdogs with spunk and a pretty boy quarterback who defied all the odds and took down the Goliath. Man, how things have changed.

Since then, the Patriots have been more consistent than Apple stock. Their laundry list of Super Bowl victims includes the Panthers, Seahawks, Eagles and Falcons. On that last count, the Patriots actually had us believing their remarkable run was finally over by spotting Atlanta a twenty five point lead before storming back to win, again.

This time around, they get a rematch thirteen years in the making. They beat Andy Reid’s Eagles in 2004 to cap off their second consecutive title and third in four years. And if they win it again this time around, it will be their second consecutive title and . . you guessed it . . their third in four years. Attention Patriots fans, please pick up the white courtesy phone, Bill Murray is calling.

There has never been anything like this Patriots run in sports. Not over this length of time and not with this degree of consistency there hasn’t. Tom Brady went a decade between world championships before beating Seattle a few years back. Which is the kind of story line that would be dismissed out of hand if you tried peddling it in Hollywood. Seventeen years later, the Patriots are still doing this. Tom Brady is still bringing his team from behind in January’s biggest moments. Bill Belichick is still making halftime adjustments that prove he might be the best there has ever been. New England is still the sports center of the universe.

The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t just going up against an MVP candidate quarterback and a battle tested coach who knows what to do with two weeks prep time. They are not just going up against a team that defies age and injuries and all this nonsense talk about mutinies inside the Patriots clubhouse. The Eagles are going up against seventeen years, five Super Bowl titles and a history unlike any the league has ever witnessed. They are going up against Jordan and Jeter, Gretzky and a young Mike Tyson. They are going up the Roman Empire, whose days are dwindling but still mighty. They are going up against a team that took the Jaguars best shot before reminding them that the game isn’t over after three quarters.

Here’s the thing. The Eagles don’t care a wit about that history. They’re too young to remember Gretzky and Jordan or the best of Derek Jeter. And the only thing they know about Mike Tyson is that his championship reign came to an end when someone finally punched him in the mouth.

Really, the only history the Eagles are going to focus on as far as New England is concerned are the two Super Bowl titles the Patriots didn’t collect. And isn’t it ironic that the Eagles are going to be borrowing a page from their long time rivals- the New York Giants- who have proven to be New England’s kryptonite not once but twice? And the game plan is really quite simple. Punch them in the mouth.

This is the tenth anniversary of that first Giants/Patriots clash, when Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin and a ridiculous helmet catch by David Tyree all conspired to ruin the Patriots perfect season. I wrote back then that the Patriots owned the worst 18-1 record in the history of the league. And as if that wasn’t enough, the Giants came back four years later, and with the Patriots hell bent on revenge, they beat them again.

The Eagles go into Minnesota with every intention of following that blueprint. They’ll be carrying a chip on their shoulder and the talent to give us a different ending. They’ve navigated injuries of their own. They lost their MVP candidate Carson Wentz during their division clinching game. They lost their all world left tackle Jason Peter and middle linebacker Jordan Hicks in the same game! And somehow, someway, they still made it to Minnesota.

They came to the Super Bowl not to praise New England, but to bury them. And yeah, we’ve heard this kind of thing before and we’ve seen how things usually turn out. And I expect that the Patriots are probably going to find a way to win, again. Because as a Dolphins fan, I’ve been conditioned to do so.

But this is a heavyweight title rematch, and so there’s that punchers chance thing to consider. We have the brash and cocky reigning champion going up against a brawler from Philadelphia. I’m pretty sure the Eagles would be just fine with the Rocky Balboa comparisons.

Considering what happened in the rematch.