Every Wednesday, Shutdown Corner brings you a list of things that may have happened previously in the NFL, but will not be happening again.
Don't Count On ...
... the Lions shedding any tears over the suspensions of Kevin and Pat Williams. There's going to be a lot of pressure on the Lions on Sunday. This game against the Vikings probably just became the easiest game left on their schedule. If they want to scratch out a win, now's the time.
Yesterday, the Vikes learned that they'll be without Kevin and Pat Williams, the two vending machine-sized run stuffers that anchor their defensive line. Tragedy for the Vikings ... but sweet, sweet opportunity for the Lions, baby!
When the news of the suspensions broke, one sportsbook took the Vikings from 9.5-point favorites down to 7.5, and most other sportsbooks took the game off the board completely.
What kills the Lions (well, one of the four dozen or so things that kills the Lions) is their inability to run the ball. They rank 30th in the league, gaining 78.3 yards per game on the ground. Minnesota's run defense, by great contrast, is second-best in the league, giving up just 73.1 rushing yards per game.
With this key break, the Lions might now be able to gain as many as three or even three-and-a-half yards per carry. Imagine the possibilities. The Vikings defense, in order to stop the run, might have to back off of their pass rush, allowing Daunte Culpepper even more time to throw footballs nowhere near his intended targets.
In all seriousness, It's a vicious, vicious break for the Vikings. I didn't really like their chances of holding onto the NFC North lead to begin with, but with this development? It'll take something remarkable.
Pat and Kevin will both miss the remainder of the regular season for violating the league's steroid policy in about the weirdest and mildest way possible. They took pills called StarCaps (I love the statement at the bottom of their handsomely-designed and not-at-all low-rent-looking website) and tested positive for a diuretic called Bumetanide. Bumetanide is not a steroid, but instead is something a guy might take in order to help him pee all evidence of steroids right out of his system, or perhaps help him lose water weight to make some arbitrary weight goal the team set for him.
It's a complicated case, Maude, with a lot of ins, a lot of outs, and a lot of what-have-yous. Kevin and Pat believe they were wronged, they plan to sue, and we can get into all of that at some other time. But for right now, the bottom line is that the Vikings are without maybe their two most valuable players who are not named Adrian Peterson.
It's a shame. For everyone but the Lions.
They'll take it any way they can get it, I promise you. The record book will show no asterisks if the win comes against a Williams-less Vikings defense. It'll only show that glorious "1" in the win column, which is so much more handsome than a plain round "0."
It's not going to happen, though. They still have to find a way to stop Adrian Peterson, and say, by some miracle, the Lions hold the Vikings to 24 points (they give up an average of 32.8 a game, worst in the league), they still have to score 25. You can put a Daunte Culpepper-led offense on an empty field for 60 minutes, and I'm not sure they're coming up with 25 points.
... Pacman Jones screwing up the Catalina Wine Mixer. Bear with me for a second if you don't have a clue as to what the previous sentence fragment means. Step Brothers was released on DVD yesterday, and not only is it the most underrated of the Judd Apatow movies, I think it contains important parallels to Pacman Jones and his situation.
I was a little surprised when Pacman Jones got back into the league so easily after his most recent suspension. The commissioner sat him down for a year previously, and all the sudden, he serves the standard four games, and the commissioner lifts up the red rope for him like he's a foxy little minx trying to get into a club?
It makes me think it's Pacman's last chance. It's his Catalina Wine Mixer.
In Step Brothers, there's a fellow named Brennan Huff who's a screw-up for most of his life, but he keeps getting chance after chance from his parents and his disapproving older brother Derek. Derek eventually gives Brennan a job, and Brennan asks to be put in charge of the Catalina Wine Mixer, which is the premiere assignment within the company.
It doesn't make sense to give Brennan the job, with him being a screw-up and all. But Derek sees it as a win/win: If Brennan screws it up, he gets to fire him and never has to deal with him again. And if Brennan pulls it off, then, well, he just had a successful Catalina Wine Mixer.
I think that's how Roger Goodell's looking at Pacman Jones's latest reinstatement. Last chance, only chance. If Pacman screws it up, he gets to say goodbye forever. If he doesn't, then the NFL's got themselves a nice little redemption story.
And you know what? It's the Christmas season, my head is tired from all the talk about Plaxico Burress, guns, diuretics, suspensions and lawsuits ... and I feel like believing in someone. I'm choosing to believe in you, Pacman.
I think he's making it through the end of the year. Sometimes, the best thing for a guy is to pull away all support and say, "Here you go. Sink or swim on your own, pal. No more 24-hour security force for you," and just see what happens. Force him to act in his own best interests.
It might just be four games, but we are talking about Pacman here. Even the most modest of goals seems like a longshot. But I feel like believing in someone. Pacman, you're my guy.