The Saints and Chargers have already arrived in England for Sunday's game at Wembley Stadium, but in a major bummer of a development, the Saints headed across the pond without a player whose mere presence would have elevated the event's appeal.
No, I'm not talking about Reggie Bush, who stayed home to have arthroscopic knee surgery after suffering a meniscus tear in Sunday's defeat at Carolina.
I mean Steve (Father Time) Weatherford, the ever-prepared punter who was unceremoniously waived by head coach Sean Payton before the team plane took off from Charlotte, N.C.
Earlier this season, Weatherford made waves in the blogosphere when he was spotted wearing a cheesy sports watch during a game against the Broncos, presumably so he could a) chart his hang time; b) use the sideline phone to alter a dinner reservation at Commander's Palace should the game go into overtime or c) twist his wrist to reflect sunlight into the eyes of opposing return men.
Not since former president George H.W. Bush was caught on camera glancing at his watch during a televised debate with fellow candidates Bill Clinton and Ross Perot has someone's reliance on a time-keeping device been so scrutinized.
In London, with the Saints experiencing a six-hour time difference from the Crescent City, Weatherford would have been huge.
"Yo," Drew Brees might have said coming out of an afternoon team meeting, "I want to call my buddy back in the States to wish him a happy birthday, but I don't want to wake up his kids before their big volleyball tournament. Who knows what time it is in La Jolla?"
"Glad you asked," Weatherford could have said, checking his sports watch's handy-dandy international-time-zone feature. "It's precisely 6:13 a.m."
On the obligatory trip to see Big Ben (the legendary clock tower, not the sturdy Steelers quarterback), Weatherford would've been the man of the moment. If inspired, he might've done as my friend Dan the Man did a year ago and garnered laughs by asking passersby for the exact time.
Most important, upon taking the field for pregame introductions Sunday, Weatherford could've served as the Saints' answer to Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
What time is it?
Uh, actually, guys, it's 4:57 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time – in fact, oddly enough, at exactly 2 this morning the locals switched from British Summer Time to GMT … spring forward, fall back … but, hey guys, let's go out and kick some Charger butt!
Sadly, Payton's untimely move has rendered all of this impossible. Rather than asking why, I'll give you the usual three-dozen-minus-four queries in descending order of importance, with the Chargers and Saints bunched together amid the lesser achievers of the bunch:
1. Tennessee Titans: When was the last game in which a team that completed just two passes to wideouts, for 11 yards, was so utterly dominant?
5. Buffalo Bills: Was Sunday's "statement" victory over the Chargers more resounding in San Diego or New England?
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Given that they have lost only to teams ahead of them in these rankings, is it really that weird that I'd put them here?
10. Arizona Cardinals: How much are they hating Rams interim coach Jim Haslett right about now?
12. Atlanta Falcons: I asked this last year and I'll ask it again: Given that DeAngelo Hall (now with the Raiders) was essentially speaking the truth about Bobby Petrino in the public comments that led the team to fine him, shouldn't Falcons owner Arthur Blank give him his money back?
13. Chicago Bears: Did they really just give up 41 points and win, and does that say more about them or the Vikings?
16. Denver Broncos: Does any division leader look more vulnerable?
17. Minnesota Vikings: When Dana Carvey sees the team's kick and punt units in action, does he raid the wardrobe closet for his purple dress and knee-high stockings and exclaim, "Well, isn't that special?"
20. San Diego Chargers: When the power went out at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday, was it really necessary for the Bolts to take it as a metaphor?
23. New York Jets: That's all you've got?
24. Cleveland Browns: Is this team one defeat away from total implosion?
26. Miami Dolphins: Has the "Wildcat" been declawed?
28. San Francisco 49ers: Boy, those Bay Area owners sure are smooth when it comes to coaching changes, aren't they?
29. Seattle Seahawks: John Madden didn't miss much in Tampa, did he?
32. Detroit Lions: Is it true that new Cowboys wideout Roy Williams called the Texans to offer a scouting report on his former team, only to have general manager Rick Smith laugh and say, "Don't worry – we've got this"?