Talking Tebow, spiraling Eagles and big awards
Granted, his delivery was a little off – and his message didn’t exactly resonate with his employers, who decided to make him a former employee the following day. However, in his own, inimitable way, Randy Moss(notes) was a visionary when he decided to interview himself following the Minnesota Vikings’ 28-18 defeat to the New England Patriots on Halloween of last year.
While most people remember his over-the-top praise of Bill Belichick, the coach who’d released him a month earlier, or his dissing of a caterer at the Vikings’ facility that helped expedite his departure from Minnesota, Moss’ decision to dispense with other people’s questions and instead supply his own was a stroke of genius.
And I, in need of a clever column device, am going to steal it. What can I say? I’m not proud.
As we head into December of what has thus far been a surreal post-lockout campaign, I have some questions that need to be answered – and I’m just the guy to do it. So sit back, relax and get ready for a rollicking unicycle ride in which the Q andA are handled by me, myself and I:
Q: Mike, you picked the Eagles and Patriots to play in Super Bowl XLVI. How’s that working for you?
A: Um, thanks for reminding me. Not so great. Speaking of which, the last time I saw something look as disheveled and dispirited in Seattle as the Eagles did Thursday night, Courtney Love was still stumbling her way through the news cycle. So no, Philly won’t be headed to Indy next February, and Andy Reid will be fighting to keep his job over the final four games of the regular season. The Pats (8-3) remain very much in play in the AFC, though I now believe the Ravens are the team to beat. Which brings me to my next query …
Q: You also picked the Raiders to go to the AFC championship game. Did you ever waver?
A: No – not even when they lost the first two games of the Carson Palmer(notes) era to drop to 4-4. I have faith in Hue Jackson, and the late Al Davis left him a heck of a roster. Palmer is looking more and more comfortable. This team is dangerous, and getting better.
Q: I hear ya, but what about the Broncos? They’re only a game back in the AFC West, and there’s this second-year quarterback who’s 5-1 as a starter and seems to be bulling his way to success, rational thought be damned. What about that guy?
A: I was afraid you might ask that question. I get it a lot, given that Tim Tebow(notes) has become to 2011 what Michael Vick(notes) was to 2010 – the least explainable and most compelling major storyline of the season. And, to be fair, I encountered a great deal of skepticism about Tebow when I visited Broncos training camp in August, and I got even more of it from the Detroit Lions after they embarrassed him in his second start five weeks ago. The Tebow-bashing in the latter column even got love from Bill Maher. I won’t lie – that was cool. If you’re wondering whether others have similarly skeptical beliefs about Tebow – yes, they do: Others being virtually every player, coach and talent evaluator I’ve spoken to over the past month-and-a-half. And you know what? None of that matters. The running game’s working, the defense is playing lights out and Tebow is winning. And opponents are starting to get affected, too, simultaneously playing scared and overextending, like a talented tennis player getting mentally undone by an opponent who’s just pushing the ball back and trying not to make mistakes. Never mind that Tebow, by all objective standards, is terrible at throwing the ball, or that his success makes no rational sense: I’m over it. I’ve accepted the fact that it just works, somehow, and it doesn’t seem like the madness will stop anytime soon. So yeah, watch out for the Broncos. They could even sneak into the playoffs as a wild card. At 6-5, that seems far-fetched – but not as far-fetched as what’s already happened.
[ Yahoo! Sports Radio: Qadry Ismail on Tim Tebow and the Ravens ]
Q: OK, so who’s the MVP?
A: Tebow, obviously! Kidding – at least, I think so. Aaron Rodgers(notes) is the MVP. Duh. Tom Brady(notes) just told Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” that “it’s impossible to play the quarterback position any better than [Rodgers] is playing it right now.” That’s good enough for me.
A: I doubt it, but if we were to take the name of the award literally, he’d have to. I mean, if we’re talking “most valuable,” he’s the ALL-TIME FOOTBALL MVP. From 1999 (Manning’s second season) through 2010, the Colts won at least 10 games and made the playoffs in 11 of 12 years. They went to the Super Bowl two seasons ago and were 10-6 and won their division in 2010. This year, with Manning sidelined, they’re 0-11. Isn’t football supposed to be the ultimate team sport? Not in Indy, it isn’t. The team had neck surgery, and now 0-16 is a real possibility.
Q: Assuming Indy gets the No. 1 draft pick, will the Colts take Andrew Luck or trade the pick and load up for another run with Manning?
A: I think they’ll take Luck and keep Manning – and hope that their longtime quarterback regains his health so that their quarterback of the future can sit and chill for a season or two. And if that happens, and Manning doesn’t want to walk away? That’s a good problem to have, kind of like what the Chargers faced with Drew Brees(notes) and Philip Rivers(notes). Thanks to the rookie wage scale, Luck’s price tag won’t be prohibitive. Manning’s will, but guess what? He’s the most valuable player in NFL history, as we’ve already established. Pay the man.
Q: Who’s your coach of the year?
A: Jim Harbaugh. To do what he has done as the Niners’ rookie coach in a normal offseason would be tremendous. To do it following a lockout is stupendous. That said, there are some very good coaching jobs going on this year. Marvin Lewis has done brilliant work with the Bengals after losing his quarterback, bringing in a rookie replacement and getting a team of relative no-names to jell. Hue Jackson survived a crisis after Jason Campbell(notes) went down and has the Raiders looking strong. And the Broncos’ John Fox? Wow. Just wow.
Q: What about the frontrunners for rookie of the year?
A: Bo-rrrrringggg. The first overall pick, Cam Newton(notes), will likely be offensive rookie of the year, and the second overall pick, Von Miller(notes), is probably your defensive rookie of the year. Congratulations, draftniks: Some of your breathless predictions actually paid off, for a change.
Q: Jack Del Rio got the boot earlier this week, and we know what other coaches are in danger of getting fired: Reid, Norv Turner, Tom Coughlin, Tony Sparano, Steve Spagnuolo, Jim Caldwell, Todd Haley. There are usually a couple of surprises, too. With all of that said, there are also a lot of big names floating out there, from Jon Gruden to Jeff Fisher. Which ones do you think will get back in?
A: I’m glad you asked. Gruden, in my opinion, will always listen, but it would likely take a huge offer and an ideal situation to pry him out of the Monday Night Football booth – at least for another year. Bill Cowher, my sources tell me, will likely pass and keep doing the “NFL Today” thing. Ditto for “Football Night In America’s” Tony Dungy – I think he’s an extreme long shot to return. Fisher wants to coach, and he figures to generate a lot of interest. Bill Parcells will probably get some feelers, and I wouldn’t be stunned if he jumped at a big-money deal. Brian Billick is out there, too, his sense of humor still very much intact. Finally, I think we can forget about Marty Schottenheimer – who, incidentally, is a champion, at long last. But how awesome would it be to see him return to San Diego if owner Dean Spanos ends up getting rid of general manager A.J. Smith? Yeah, I know, keep dreaming …
Q: Speaking of dreams, who’ll be next year’s Dream Team – the team that gets suckers like you all worked up before the season, only to implode under the weight of its own hype?
A: I don’t like the tone of your question, at all. And since you brought up dreams, it’s nearly 3 a.m., and I have a flight – we have a flight – to Houston that leaves in about nine hours, and yes, we have a problem. So what do you say we end this little exercise and, like Randy Moss, pull a peace out and hit the hay?
Q: Wait, don’t I ask the questions? I’m confused …
A: Welcome to my world, bro.
TAKE IT TO THE ATM
Hue Jackson will outcoach Tony Sparano, Michael will out-run Reggie in the Battle of the Bushes and the Raiders will outclass the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. … Cam Newton will do a good impersonation of last year’s Josh Freeman(notes) and lead the Panthers to a come-from-behind upset of the Bucs. … The Giants will bring their “A” game against Green Bay – but they’ll still come up short.
And remember, you can find all of my picks here – and receive the analysis behind them by registering for the Silver Insider at ridewithsilver.com. I’m riding high on the strength of a 13-3 week, but I’ve slipped a game behind Jason “I Own This Segment” Cole in our Locks of the Week competition, and it’s time to restore order.
PLEASE, BOSS, SEND ME TO …
In addition to being too close to New Orleans, Houston is the place where T.J. Yates(notes) will try to guide the Texans closer to their first AFC South title and postseason appearance – but he’ll have to prevail over my man crush and the Falcons to do it. The last time I was in H-Town with newly signed Texans backup Jake Delhomme(notes), we hung out a little at the Westin Galleria, and a hell of a game broke out a couple of days later at Reliant Stadium, complete with a streaker and wardrobe malfunction. Ah, the memories, the Mexican food and the milkshakes will come flooding back with a flourish.
LIES, LIES, LIES
2. When Jake Delhomme’s agent, Rick Smith, was negotiating a deal to bring the quarterback to Houston with Texans general manager Rick Smith, they conferenced in the team’s former defensive coordinator , Richard Smith, just for farts and giggles.
3. Upon learning that Peyton Manning’s neck surgery has achieved “firm fixation”, the quarterback’s father, Archie, declared, “And now I’m going to celebrate by finding Troy Aikman and defusing his vertebrae.”
FANTASY ANNOYANCE OF THE WEEK
Cal women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb and my buddy Malibu had much in common heading into last weekend: Teams with 5-6 fantasy records facing must-win games to keep their playoff hopes alive. One of them found salvation – the one who, coincidentally, went to paradise. That would be Gottlieb, who in addition to coaching the Bears to victories over Hawaii and 22nd-ranked Virginia (sandwiched around a heartbreaking, one-point defeat to No. 24 Texas) made all the right fantasy moves for Bringin’ It Back, clinching a 124-105 victory over I’m Back as she flew gently over the Pacific. With one week to go in the regular season, Bringin’ It Back is sixth in a 12-team league, and six teams make the playoffs. That means Gottlieb can clinch with a victory over 4-7-1 I Am Holmes Antonio (Eli Manning(notes), Chris Johnson, Roy Helu(notes), Hakeem Nicks(notes), Calvin Johnson(notes), Jordy Nelson(notes), Brandon Pettigrew(notes)), and she’ll likely have to do it with Adrian Peterson sidelined. “That’s OK,” Gottlieb said. “We’re resting him for the playoffs. My other players stepped up last week, and they’ll step up again.” You do realize they can’t actually hear you, right? “Whatever.” I advised Gottlieb to go with running backs Willis McGahee(notes) and DeAngelo Williams(notes) (vs. Tampa’s soft run defense), receivers Reggie Wayne(notes), Plaxico Burress(notes) and Julio Jones(notes) (or Santonio Holmes(notes), if Jones can’t play on Sunday) and the indispensible Jimmy Graham(notes). I also convinced her to pick up the Browns’ defense as another option for the playoffs, along with the Bengals – it’s an all-Ohio production in preparation for Cal’s Dec. 17 game against Ohio State at Haas Pavilion.
As for Malibu’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, a decisive loser to Big Orange, it’s all over but the whining. “Nice call on C.J. Spiller(notes),” he said, though he knows as well as I do that losing Jamaal Charles(notes) and Kenny Britt(notes) to season-ending injuries early on essentially doomed his team. Well, that and his Charger-worship. “They’re terrible,” the rabid Bolts fan conceded. “I can’t believe you ranked them 22nd in 32 Questions. Honestly, other than Indy, who’s worse?” Malibu then talked me into switching my pick to Jags over Chargers for Monday night. I refrained from giving him any tips for his play-out-the-string matchup against Gravity Rebels, but I did vow to ease his pain by joining him in L.A. to watch San Diego fall to 4-8 in Jacksonville on MNF.
LET’S DO SOME DON JULIO SILVER SHOTS FOR …
Chester McGlockton, the Stanford assistant coach and talented ex-NFL defensive tackle who died Wednesday at the age of 42. I have many memories of McGlockton’s exploits as a player and one particularly uproarious poolside story that featured the late, great Chiefs Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas. And no, Cal fans, it wasn’t McGlockton who was ejected for punching Mike Pawlawski in the private parts during the Bears’ 37-13 thrashing of Clemson in the 1992 Florida Citrus Bowl – it was another future NFL defensive tackle, Brenston Buckner, who has also provided me with a lot of hilarious memories. I’m also raising my glass to my man Kyle Turley, whose alma mater, San Diego State, will welcome him into the Aztecs Hall of Fame this weekend. Alas, I won’t be there, but I’ll do everything in my power to rally when he gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
THIS WEEK’S PROOF THAT CAL IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE
The Zach Attack was in full force last Friday night at Sun Devil Stadium, as junior quarterback Zach Maynard – for the second consecutive game – showcased his dramatically improved play in leading the Golden Bears to a 47-38 victory over Arizona State. It was also a big week for the dudes on the other side of the ball, as senior linebacker Mychal Kendricks earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. Kendricks also joined offensive teammates Keenan Allen and Mitchell Schwartz and punter Bryan Anger as first-team all-conference selections. The Bears will find out their bowl destination on Sunday as optimism continues to swell for next season, when they’ll move back into a resplendently renovated Memorial Stadium. Oh, and two final words: Tedford’s Back. That is all.
There have been a couple of massive disappointments over the past few days: Cal’s third-ranked water polo team fell just short of an NCAA Final Four bid, meaning the Bears will have to watch one of their rivals win a championship in their pool this weekend (sit there seething and save that motivation for next year, boys), and Cal volleyball, coming off an NCAA finals appearance in 2010, suffered a stunning first-round defeat to North Carolina on Thursday night to bring an abrupt end to the Bears’ season. I know they’ll come back with a vengeance next year, though they’ll have to do it without fabulous outgoing senior Tarah Murrey, who earlier this week was honored as the Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year. Cal’s previous winner of that honor in women’s volleyball: Angie Pressey, a U.S. national team member who is married to Seahawks halfback Justin Forsett(notes). As I’ve made clear to both ex-Bears, it wouldn’t bother me at all if they decide to have lots and lots of brilliant, athletically gifted babies and groom them for various conquests in blue and gold.
And speaking of scholar-athletes, here’s a look at Cal’s innovative philosophy.
YAHOO! SEARCH WORDS OF THE WEEK
LYRIC-ALTERED SONG DEDICATION OF THE WEEK
Brandon Marshall didn’t like it when Dolphins teammate Vontae Davis(notes) showed up for practice earlier this month noticeably hurting from a late night out, to the point where the wideout reportedly chucked a football in the cornerback’s face from close range. Yet it turns out that a little more than a week later, Marshall had some fun of his own as the sun began to rise – until, after falling asleep in a taxi, he got into a dispute over a $142 tab, fled to another cab and ended up detained at a police checkpoint before the matter was resolved. Perhaps Marshall, who claimed he couldn’t understand the driver’s accent, had reason to rail against the injustice of it all, as Lenny Kravitz did on his “Let Love Rule” album 22 years ago. Kravitz, to be fair, was bemoaning racial profiling. Here’s a sendup of Marshall voicing some complaints of his own, to the tune of Mr. Cab Driver.
Mr. Cab Driver won’t you stop to let me in
Mr. Cab Driver don’t you know I’m a Dolphin
Mr. Cab Driver just got our second win
Mr. Cab Driver went to the wrong airport
Mr. Cab Driver slept and said abort
Mr. Cab Driver filed a police report
Here we go …
Mr. Cab Driver
Mr. Cab Driver
Mr. Cab Driver accent thick as backseat smoke
I said Davie he went to Pembroke
Mr. Cab Driver tells too many ethnic jokes
Mr. Cab Driver you sound like an evildoer
Mr. Cab Driver thinks we’re all 142ers
Mr. Cab Driver, bleep you, pass the liqueur
Let me out …
Mr. Cab Driver
Mr. Cab Driver
Mr. Cab Driver
Mr. Cab Driver
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