Empty message

SAN DIEGO – As the San Diego Chargers filed into their locker room following their dramatic, 23-21 victory over the second-best team in football Sunday night, there was no pretense of triumph. The celebration, if you could call it that, was subdued and almost sheepish.

Despite having defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts – their first victory of the 2007 season over a team with a winning record, and one that moved them into sole possession of first place in the AFC West – San Diego's players reacted like a bunch of biologists who had just received an award for proving that humans need air to survive.

Then, as few others can, Chargers coach Norv Turner sucked the remaining air out of the locker room, telling his players, and I paraphrase: This could be the game that gives us the momentum we need to do something special. Even though we did a lot of things wrong, we still found a way to win, and we can build on that.

Just like that, the Chargers were on a roll – specifically, the eye-rolls that many players felt like giving during Turner's speech.

Right, coach. Whatever you say.

More realistically, Sunday's victory was a one-shot gift from the football gods, an oddly unsatisfying offering that merely reminded the Chargers (5-4) how far they are from being what they thought they were two short months ago.

Consider these staggering numbers:

Thanks to a pair of touchdown returns by Darren Sproles, one on the game's opening kickoff and another on a punt, the Chargers held a 16-0 lead before they completed their first pass (which didn't happen until 1:27 remained in the first quarter).

Peyton Manning threw six interceptions. Six! Second-year cornerback Antonio Cromartie, a player making his first NFL start, had three alone – in the first half. Even when the longshots are coming in at Del Mar, you won't encounter a more unlikely Pick-Six in these parts.

Adam Vinatieri missed a pair of 'Oh No He Din't' field goals: a rushed 42-yarder just before halftime (somewhat understandable, especially given the wet weather) and a 29-yarder that went wide right with 1:31 to go (utterly unconscionable). That's right – Vinatieri, the most clutch kicker of this or perhaps any era, practically had his quarterback screaming "Noonan!" as he went completely out of character and handed San Diego a game it had appeared to blow.

Most significant of all, the Chargers had one extremely frustrated franchise halfback at game's end.

"At some point things have got to change for us, because what we're doing now is not good enough," LaDainian Tomlinson said quietly as he dressed at his locker. "The way we're going, we're not going to be able to beat the elite teams in the league. I mean, we beat one tonight, and we're happy. But it has to get better."

Last year, after their 14-2 regular season, the Chargers thought they were an elite team with a seemingly boundless window of opportunity. Then they failed to put away the Patriots in a divisional round playoff game at home, and in the aftermath of that defeat, San Diego's world began to spin off its axis.

Coordinators Wade Phillips (Dallas Cowboys) and Cam Cameron (Miami Dolphins) got head coaching jobs, and position coaches left to be coordinators. Belatedly, coach Marty Schottenheimer was fired, the casualty of a power struggle with general manager A.J. Smith.

In came Turner, who thus far has done everything to show that his 59-82-1 career record as a head coach with the Redskins and Raiders was no fluke.

The players don't respond to his leadership or motivational tactics, if you can call them that. They view his sideline demeanor as frazzled and indecisive. And, perhaps worst of all, they're not embracing the strategic vision put forth on offense (by Turner, regarded as one of the NFL's best play-callers) or defense (by coordinator Ted Cottrell).

"We have the best running back in football, and yet we don't sense a commitment to the running game," one veteran said Sunday night. "Last year, teams put eight in the box against us, and we ran anyway – and found a way to be successful. That set up the play action, which fueled our passing game. This year, it seems like we run because we're supposed to; it balances out our passing attack. But it's not like being physical at the point of attack and running the ball is our personality."

Meanwhile, eight days ago in Minneapolis, the Chargers' once-vaunted defense got pushed around and gave up 296 rushing yards – to one player, the Vikings' Adrian Peterson. "A lot of guys were wondering how we could sit back and play zone all game while he was doing that to us," another Chargers veteran said. "It's like Cottrell is going to do it his way, and that's the only way he knows, and he won't come off of it. If you look at it, he's been fired from his last two jobs, and guys are questioning whether he's the right man for this one."

This internal doubt is the byproduct of a power-hungry general manager's grand plan. Once Schotteneimer was gone, Smith seemed to base his search for a new head coach on the following criteria:

Someone who recognized Smith as the franchise's all-knowing authority on all things football, and a man who could draw up plays that allowed the awesome assemblage of talent Smith has collected to overwhelm overmatched opponents.

It didn't work out that way, of course, beginning with the fact that the fiery, emotional Schottenheimer wasn't so easily replaced with a man who lacks his charisma and aura of authority.

"Norv's not going to give you a Knute Rockne speech," said one Chargers player, "so you're going to have to find a different way to get yourself up. Look at it this way: We had a lot of young guys who came straight from college and then played for Marty. In some cases, they had eight consecutive years of a coach screaming at you and telling you what to do and how to do it. Now you're all of a sudden supposed to be a professional and do it on your own? Also, a lot of the key veterans who were here before (Donnie Edwards, Randall Godfrey, Keenan McCardell) are gone now. So it's going to be an adjustment."

Turner didn't help himself Sunday by coaching passively with a lead and by mismanaging his replay challenges in a potentially ruinous way. He was goaded into one unsuccessful challenge in the first half when fans loudly responded to what they believed was a poor call on Colts linebacker Clint Session's acrobatic end zone interception. Turner missed again with 10:57 remaining, throwing the red flag following Reggie Wayne's low, 20-yard catch on third-and-8 from the Indy 3-yard line.

That meant that when Turner really needed to challenge a call, on another Sessions interception with 5:50 to go that looked like it might have been reversible, he had no red flag to throw. Turner might as well have raised a white one as Manning, given yet another chance to win a game he had no business winning, jogged onto the field down two points with the ball at the San Diego 42.

Only a replay reversal on a first-down spot (mandated by the officials, as it occurred in the final two minutes) and Vinatieri's miss spared San Diego the agony that seemed imminent.

In the locker room after the game, two Chargers stood near the door to the training room discussing Turner's poor handling of the challenges. Another wondered how quarterback Philip Rivers (13-for-24, 104 yards, two interceptions and one horrific fumble in his own end zone) seems to be regressing under the coaching regime of a man renowned for his ability to nurture young passers.

Even the San Diego defensive players, who had responded to the embarrassing effort against the Vikings with an emphatic display of relentless energy and opportunism, weren't buying Turner's spin that Sunday's effort was the start of something big.

"I'm happy with a win, of course, and it puts us in first place, but we know we've still got a long road ahead," All-Pro nose tackle Jamal Williams said. "You've got to understand, we got a new coaching staff. They've got to get used to us, too, and it takes time. But we've all got to get it together, man. It's not last year. I'm tired of hearing guys say that – 'Last year, last year.' That's over. We need to figure out who we are now."

The Chargers, to GM Smith's credit, are a team full of promising young studs like Cromartie, who has a chance to be a star at a position that tends to cannibalize even its most talented performers. But when you think about this team's window of opportunity, realize that LT, the reigning league MVP, is now 28 and counting.

Given that Tomlinson's seventh season, from a team perspective, has been a significant step backward from his sixth, he has every right to be worried that his window is closing more rapidly than an Adrian Peterson burst through the San Diego secondary.

"Yeah, definitely, that's the way I feel," he said. "Nobody knows how long I'm going to play, so heck yeah, I definitely think about that."

I can't be 100 percent sure, but something tells me that neither the rare Vinatieri shank nor the mundane Turner speech put his mind at ease.


For all of the positive things the Jacksonville Jaguars have done this season, their oddly benign performance in the opener – getting outrushed by the Tennessee Titans, 282-75 yards, in a 13-10 defeat at home – remained a sticking point with the team's veteran leaders. On Saturday, before heading to Nashville for the rematch with their physical AFC South foes, the Jags listened to a speech by linebacker Mike Peterson that underscored the importance of standing up to the Titans. "Every Saturday coach (Jack) Del Rio asks a veteran to speak from his heart, and Mike drove home the importance of visualizing success and committing to each other," halfback Fred Taylor said by phone after the game. "He talked as if someone had done something to his family. Man, I was juiced up. I was ready to play. I was just hoping I didn't peak too early." He didn't. Taylor became the 21st NFL back to reach 10,000 career rushing yards, while Maurice Jones-Drew (19 carries, 101 yards) led a ground attack that out-gained Tennessee's, 166-62. The Titans had entered the game with the league's top rushing defense. Now both teams are 6-3, a game behind the first-place Colts in what definitely is the league's toughest division. .

Meanwhile, because of the relative lack of strength of various other divisions, teams like the Atlanta Falcons (3-6) can still entertain playoff hopes after pulling out a 17-10 victory at Carolina on Joey Harrington's 30-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alge Crumpler with 33 seconds remaining. Last-place Atlanta, which has won two in a row, trails the first-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4) by just two games, prompting wideout Joe Horn to say (via text message): "We always had a good team. The guys just refused to get our asses whipped anymore. We gave six games away. But now we're gonna resurface."

Kurt Warner is one of the nicest dudes in football (or anywhere else), a man so considerate he won't put his seat back on an airplane for fear of bumming out the passenger behind him. But he was a holy terror after throwing a first-quarter interception against the Lions Sunday, launching himself and his injured left elbow, complete with the bulky brace, at safety Kenoy Kennedy to bring him down at the Cardinals' 25. Then Warner settled into a 26 for 36, 259-yard, three-touchdown performance that helped Arizona (4-5) to a 31-21 victory over the Lions. The Cardinals, who are a half-game behind NFC West leading Seattle (now that's a truly weak division), terrorized the Lions (6-3) on defense, with linebacker Karlos Dansby intercepting two passes and Arizona limiting Detroit to minus-18 rushing yards, the league's lowest total in 51 years.

Dick Nolan, rest in peace, and our prayers are with Mike Nolan and the rest of the family. For those readers who have asked, I grew up a 49ers fan, beginning with the teams the elder Nolan coached into the playoffs in the 1970, '71 and '72 seasons. Crushing defeats to the Cowboys took San Francisco out of all three of those postseasons. On Dec. 23, 1972, the same day as the Immaculate Reception, Roger Staubach came off the bench and led Dallas back from a 12-point deficit in the final two minutes. That one hurt until "The Catch" numbed the pain nine seasons later, but I fondly remember those teams for their exciting offenses (quarterback John Brodie, running back Vic Washington, tight end Ted Kwalick and deep threat Gene Washington were the stalwarts) and defensive playmakers (Jimmy Johnson, Bruce Taylor, Dave Wilcox and Cedrick Hardman). In the pre-Bill Walsh era, that mini-run was as good as it got for that franchise.

Back to the Chargers: When Tomlinson charged onto the field with his teammates just before Sunday night's game, he was overcome with regret: He realized his wife, LaTorsha, had already sung the national anthem. "I thought for some reason we'd be out there when she performed it," Tomlinson said after the game. "Man, I wish I could've heard it." LT-squared, as LT calls his wife, nailed the The Star-Spangled Banner like a pro, taking her time and offering a soulful, throaty rendition despite the fireworks and the obligatory military-jet flyover that could've been very distracting. The bottom line: The Tomlinsons are going to have some seriously talented kids.

The Rams' offense finally resembled its reputed self on Sunday, and the result was its first victory of the season: a 37-29 road triumph over the Saints, who now have to wonder if that four-game winning streak was season-saving or merely a giant tease. With the 49ers (2-6 heading into Monday night's game at Seattle) coming up next week, one St. Louis player felt sufficiently giddy to joke afterward, "We're on our way! Watch out San Fran." Meanwhile, in Miami, where the Dolphins (0-9) squandered a 10-2 fourth-quarter lead and lost to Buffalo, 13-10, it just got awfully cold and lonely.


Adrian Peterson, I really hope your knee injury isn't serious, because it would be so wrong on so many levels. For one thing, even though it didn't occur on a particularly reckless play (he was undercut by Packers cornerback Al Harris after catching a screen pass in the third quarter), it would give ammunition to all those pre-draft cynics who questioned your durability. It would also deprive the NFL of one of the great rookie seasons any player has ever enjoyed. And, of course, it would destroy my buddy Malibu's fantasy team.

The Chiefs are contemplating a switch to second-year quarterback Brodie Croyle, who replaced the banged-up Damon Huard in the third quarter of Sunday's 27-11 defeat to the Broncos, and I don't think I like it. Croyle was basically handed the starting job in camp but couldn't perform well enough to win it, and now Kansas City, with Larry Johnson (foot) potentially out for an extended period, will have to put even more on its quarterback. And though it's easy to say Croyle, as the potential QB of the future, needs to play for the franchise to evaluate him, this is a 4-5 team that has a legitimate shot to win the AFC West.

Ravens, you are dead to me. When you hold the Bengals without a touchdown and still trail by 21 at the two-minute warning of the second half, you're a lousy football team.

Peyton Manning didn't come out and say it, but you know he wanted to shove Sunday's game down the throats of all those Chargers fans who think his younger brother and father are Satan and Al Davis, respectively. It didn't quite work out that way, but until Vinatieri missed the kick, Manning was on the verge of pulling a Tony Romo (in Buffalo earlier this season) and winning a game despite a career-high in interceptions. Tom Brady has four interceptions this season; Manning had that many in the first half on Sunday. And on the opposite coast, Eli Manning threw a pair of picks in the Giants' 31-20 defeat to the Cowboys at Giants Stadium.

How did Vinatieri miss that kick? Seriously. Have you ever seen him miss a field goal that easy with that much on the line, dating back to the glory days with the Patriots? For that matter, has his replacement in New England, Stephen Gostkowski, missed any big kicks, either? "I don't know – I guess Vinatieri's like, 'I got four rings. I'll make 'em in January when it counts,' " mused Chargers tackle Roman Oben. "I wonder if he gets spoiled playing in that Dome, after all those years of dealing with the elements." On a positive note, Manning is not likely to call Vinatieri an "idiot kicker" anytime soon.


1. How the phrases "moving forward" and "going forward" became such a pervasive part of current American vernacular – and why they annoy me so.

2. What Browns coach Romeo Crennel was thinking when he burned two timeouts while challenging a two-yard touchdown catch by the Steelers' Heath Miller with 3:13 remaining – one to decide whether to dispute the call, and one when the challenge was unsuccessful. At least one of those missing timeouts might have come in handy as Cleveland, which lost 31-28, tried to drive for a tying score. The Browns' comeback attempt ultimately fell short when their frantic drive required a third-down spike with 11 seconds to go, and Phil Dawson's 52-yard field goal attempt didn't have enough distance.


Tank Johnson: back making an impact for a Super Bowl contender. Ricky Williams: still in exile, with no end in sight. Conclusion: Guns over ganja. This is the NFL in '07. Pathetic.


"Nice essay on (Brian) Billick and (Marvin) Lewis ('Mystified Masterminds'). I really enjoy the analysis on the coaches and front-office types you do in addition to the action on the field. Especially after the Bengals took it to the Ravens in the season opener in Cincinnati, it looked like they had fixed their defensive woes. Any ideas why the Bengals have developed a 'sieve' defense, and what they can do to fix it?"

Daniel Lake
Plattsburgh, N.Y.

They've had some bad luck with injuries (David Pollack) and made some bad calls on character (Odell Thurman), but in general, they haven't gotten the right players. It doesn't help that this traditionally cheap organization devotes fewer resources to scouting than any other franchise. I talked to Marvin Lewis the other day about the great tackles he had in Baltimore and he said, "Everyone talks about how big they were, but Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams were great athletes, too. They didn't get knocked off their feet. And Lional Dalton was a beast, too." Those guys kept Ray Lewis and company from having to take on blocks. How desperately does Lewis need to find a couple of guys like that?

Do you think that a dozen injuries to the Ravens might have something to do with them performing like they can? If New England lost the type of players the Ravens have lost, they would not do half as good as the Ravens. The Ravens have lost more Pro Bowl players to injury than most teams have good players on their entire team. Do you have a comment for that?"

Location unknown

No, but I am cueing the violins.

"Your mention of Adam Duritz had me laughing. Used to sit two rows behind him and his dad at the Raiders games and the guy always acted like he was David Bowie. He was sort of a running joke amongst the section we sat in. Nice enough but a little full of himself. 'Mr. Jones' might be one of the best songs ever written though … love your column. Rick (One of the few Raider fans with half a brain)."

Rick Flayler
Livermore, Calif.

For a rock star, Adam is far less full of himself than you might imagine. I'm not even sure he can keep up with a certain Internet columnist in that department. But the real reason I ran this email is because you mentioned Adam's dad, Gil, who is one of my favorite people with whom to talk sports.

"You look like a huge geek. Did you know the Cardinals you picked to win the NFC West are the worst team in football. Tell me, why do you bother to write this column as you are an idiot and imbecile?"

Location unknown

I do it for the heartfelt responses from readers, and because I'm insecure about my appearance.

"I think you should start your own AA meetings for the Cardinals' hopefuls. Call it 'Arizona's Anonymous.' Sorry buddy, but the first stage of loss is always denial."

Peter Koffler
Geneva, Ill.

I'm too busy with my CA meetings. (Cal's Anonymous.) We held one Saturday in the pouring rain in Berkeley. It sucked.

"You keep on saying you have nothing against the Chargers but then you keep on baggin' them. First, you completely dismiss the entire West Coast branch of the NFL by saying even a combined All-Star team couldn't beat the Colts or Pats. Right. Next, and even worse, you show some undeserved love for Eli Manning by calling the signs we brought to greet him as 'over the top'! This for a guy who, with his brother and father, basically insulted the entire city and franchise. I carried a sign then and (carried) a sign for the game against the Colts. Only this time the sign (didn't) have anything against Eli – it (was) a picture of you carrying Peyton's jock. … It's also interesting to note that Eli put up some very good numbers in the garbage time of that game when the Chargers had their subs in – he obviously would not have done as well against the Pats."

Bernie Lomax
San Diego

A sign with me on it? That'd be hot. Spell my name right!

"Hey Mike, I read your columns almost daily. I'm a diehard football fan in general and I always love reading your columns. I'm not a stickler for grammar or penmanship or anything, but I am a diehard music fan. Not really a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan, but you misnamed one of their best songs in your Lyric Altered Song Dedication of the Week. The one you wrote about AD (Adrian Peterson) being the backup to (Chester) Taylor. The song isn't called 'Today.' Its name is '1979.' Oh, and the emails you post are hilarious. Some people just don't understand the difference between 'Columnist' and 'Reporter.' Peace."

David K. Butt
New York, NY..

I appreciate the praise and the daily devotion, but you're thinking of a completely different song. If you don't believe me, treat yourself to the Pumpkins' "Siamese Dream."

" 'They won Super Bowl XXXV, which I suppose is the opposite of loosing. Thanks for weighing in, and I hope you enjoyed your nap. Or are you just too "stoned cold" to have been paying attention?' Love your articles Mike and I definitely enjoy your witty and funny humor, but its losing not loosing. Sorry but if a teenager like me can get to point out an error by the grammar god Michael Silver, then I'll take it. On another note, keep the great work coming. Me and my friends from NY love your stuff and we know you love all NFL teams equally. NCAA on the other hand …"

Staten Island, N.Y.

Nice catch, young baller. But I was making fun of the guy in the email who misspelled "losing" (thus, I put the word in italics), so you'll have to wait for the next prospective screwup, which probably won't happen until you're having a mid-life crisis. And you can call me GG.

"More of an observation than a question: For New England fans, it's apparently not enough for their team to win every game, now everyone has to love them too? The Patriots are clearly very, very good, but they are not likeable, much less loveable. How can anyone like (respect, yes; like, no) a team whose head coach got caught cheating (and I don't care how many other teams do it, have done it, cheat in other ways, blah blah blah – none of them have been caught red-handed engaging in activities in clear violation of NFL rules) and has framed the resulting criticism as disrespect? That's just gross. The poor Patriots – I know we people here in the Midwest all feel terrible for them. The Patriots' fan base is the most insecure, thin-skinned bunch of chowdah-heads ever. Just enjoy the run your team is on and leave it at that. The NFL is not taking away the Super Bowl titles (even the one this year if the Patriots win it), and if there's any stain on them now because of "Spygate," that's Belichick's fault, not yours or mine or Don Shula's (though he has been acting a little foolishly himself). Sheesh, and all you did was ask the question whether the outcome may have been different without the Colts' injuries – a fair question that does not suggest that the Patriots didn't earn the win. They beat the team they faced – can't do any better than that. Keep up the good work, Michael, and hopefully before the season is out we'll get another Colts-Patriots game as good as the last one (with a different outcome)."


Thanks. And stop stealing my material.

"Regarding Marvin Harrison, in the (Ryan) Leaf/Manning article you linked to, comes this gem: 'I think the big thing for the doctors is to see how he comes off the runs,' (Tony) Dungy said. 'When that is satisfactory to them, then they'll let him go.' I don't know about you, but I really, really, would not want to have to be a Colts team doctor and see when Marvin has the 'runs.' "


Now there's a Pats fan with a sense of humor.

"Don't sweat the Pats fans – they're incredibly bitter about their team being exposed as cheaters. I see it everywhere. The vast majority of people who read your columns have no problems with it. Fans, journalists, and NFL players alike are all getting slammed and vilified by all those (aboard) the 9-0 Chowder Love Boat – it has nothing to do with your writing or your objectivity. But don't blame the Pats fans … if you could hear the ridiculous tripe that the Boston journalists spew all day long on the radio, you'd understand the zombie fans. They don't even know any better anymore."

Courtney Hathaway

Thanks, and I love the line about the Chowder Love Boat. Come to think of it, I might have seen that on one of my hotel pay channels recently.

"Mr. Silver, I'm almost ashamed to admit this out loud but: I am a New England Patriots fan. Please don't get me wrong as I am proud of the team and their accomplishments. However, what does cause me embarrassment are all the dimwitted, obviously illiterate fans that choose to write in expressing the effrontery they feel because in their opinion you don't give the Pats enough love. Not only do they sound like morons, but they give those of us that actually read and understand your column a bad name. I say good on ya for telling those blow-monkeys where to go and how to get there! Keep up the good work and the great column. I enjoy reading your opinions even when they don't proclaim that the sun shines directly from Tom Brady's (expletive)."

Groveland, Mass.

Thanks. Just one question about your last line: It doesn't ?

"It's about time all Patriots fans just start to embrace the hate. It's a good thing. I hope the Celtics are hated this much when the winter ends. I really believe that the only reason there is so much outrage is that the Patriots are great and Belichik is the coach. If the great Man-Genius had done this in NY, nobody would really care. It would be a joke. Michael Silver, with all of his righteous indignation, wouldn't still be writing about the Jets. I actually heard someone on the radio suggest that the Patriots offer to swap their remaining first-round pick (the good one that the 49ers traded to the Pats) and keep their own as a sign of 'repentance' to the league. Patriots fans need to learn that they don't need to win and be loved. Just enjoy the rest of Tom Brady's career and the Super Bowls that come with it and stop worrying about Michael Silver."

N. Easton, Mass.


"I'm sure there were many more emails bashing you for hating the Patriots but you spared us the agony of reading all of them. I am a diehard Boston sports fan and I've had so many arguments with people that have said we have the worst fans … I am starting to understand now where that mindset comes from. What a bunch of whine-bags. I appreciate your writing for what it is, an opinion. On top of that, it is an opinion formed from your experiences … Get over it people. I look forward to your columns every week. Keep up the good work. May Cal stomp all over USC."

Fitchburg, Mass.

Thanks, man. And for the record, you aren't the worst fans. SC fans are – as I was reminded Saturday evening with precipitation and quarterback-induced turnovers raining down relentlessly.

"omg liek plz rite bot ma teem teh igles ef u dunt rite bot dem u r teh hat0rader n lol u cant spel 4 crupz rofl p.s. y u h8 the patz?!"

Greg, New Jersey

lmao. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean.

"Not a question but i think your an idiot are the colts pumping in noise no, been cleared by NFL have the Pats been cleared of cheating ? Nooo ,you are a loser because you don't even belong here. LOL they was suppose to beat us so bad ,well wait one more game and we could pull it off ,don't forget last year dungy will find a way."

Osgood, Ind.

Life imitates art.

"I enjoy reading your question and comment section. You do a good job of handling the poorly directed criticism. I do however, have a question: Does the poor grammar, constant misspellings, and general ignorance ever make you want to vomit on your computer?"

Guilin, China

No. But if it makes you feel any better, my best friend did vomit in his seat immediately upon the conclusion of the Cal-SC game, and nobody had to ask him why he felt sick.

"In your Oct. 26 article 'Lovely Jubbly,' you mentioned that 'the St. Louis Rams' offense will finally come alive against the Cleveland Browns, meaning there'll be a shootout at the not-so-sold-out Edward Jones Dome.' How's that working out for you? All kidding aside, I have been a long-suffering Browns fan and I just wanted to know just what your take on the team is now. I really do. This is not a hostile request. This is a query into the mind of a respected sports writer who got this one wrong. Does the season look good for Cleveland, or do you think that I am being lulled right back into the soul-crushing desolate sports wasteland that Cleveland sports fans have come to expect. I am hopeful. It is a byproduct of years suffering through the well-known and well-named sports fiascoes that Cleveland fans have suffered though for the last umpteen decades. Sure, we have the Tribe, still choking on Boston beans, and the Cavs, who in a fit of self sabotage, fell on their own foils. Do you believe that the Brownies have the staying power to keep up the good fight? Do you think that this is the 'The Summer of Romeo'? Fall, whatever. You get it, right? Your loyal reader!"

New York, N.Y.

Dude, I love the Costanza reference, and I'd love to give you a legitimate answer. But I'm a Cal fan. I've got my own problems.


"R u secretly 'the Cooler'?"
Text from Cal women's basketball assistant coach Lindsay Gottlieb, noting that my presence at the Cal-USC and Chargers-Colts games over the weekend seemed to induce atrocious offensive play (and bad weather).