As we enter into the holiday season and celebrate the column's two year anniversary, we would like to give thanks for the gift that keeps giving, Dan Snyder. The man has single-handedly made filling this space quite easy on more than a few occasions over the past two years. Sure, Brett Favre is a Hall of Famer when it comes to space-filling but he will, eventually, possibly, maybe, perhaps, become a less worthy target soon. Dan, on the other hand, will be hanging around for a while and from the events that have transpired over his reign there is a chance that he will eventually supplant Punx as the best friend this space has ever had.
Lost in the aftermath of the Philly beat-down of the Skins last Monday night (really, 35-0 after 15:09?) was the well-timed pregame announcement that Donovan McNabb had received a contract extension from Snyder and his minions.
In a span of two weeks we had the glorious return of the famed formed pork-like product known as the McRib and, from the land of pork-laden bills, Dan answered with the inglorious extension of the McNabb.
Head coach doesn't like you. So what?
Coach's son doesn't like you either and he happens to be the offensive coordinator. Who cares?
Don't know the offensive terminology and can't run the two minute playbook. No problem.
Cardiovascular conditioning subpar. Whatever.
Benched for the immortal Rex Grossman. Not an issue.
Many of the aforementioned may have been lies told by coach Mike/Kyle Shanahan but, even if that is the case, what does it say when a coach repeatedly makes his starting quarterback look like a fool in public (perhaps we should ask former Viking coach Brad Childress).
In the world of the Washington DanSkins it says that is time for a contract extension to be announced proudly and loudly before a national audience on Monday Night Football! Pay no attention to the lies/facts noted above and pay Donovan. The fact that he is 34, and hasn't looked that young for quite some time, simply means we should have seen this coming because Dan often makes a big splash in the shallow end of the pool of over-the-hill and/or over-rated talent. He loves a big name and usually does a cannonball off of the highest diving platform in an effort to generate positive media coverage for his team.
Despite his consistent headline generating efforts he can't seem to figure out how to field a team that will scatter masses of water particles during the actual games.
Mediocrity, thy name is Dan (and we don't mean the Lion fans).
Consider the splashy contracts and corresponding on-field impact of such players as Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Brandon Lloyd, Jeremiah Trotter, Jason Taylor, Albert Haynesworth, Adam Archuleta, and Jeff George.
Consider the contracts and corresponding impact of such coaches as Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, and Joe Gibbs (we'll give Mike Shanahan a pass for another year, assuming Dan will).
Snyder has been the owner since 1999 and while it is easy to pick out his worst dips into the drink could somebody please let us know his best (any ideas Greek?). How about one that wasn't a complete failure. Is that too much to ask?
The McNabb contract may not be a financial albatross for the organization, he even may play well at times, and could turn out to be the perfect bridge to the next great (insert Heath Shuler, Jason Campbell, Patrick Ramsey, etc. joke here) Washington quarterback. Or this could simply be another rung on the ladder that Dan has been diligently constructing leading directly from the penthouse to the basement.
Using history, or more accurately, his story, as a guide we'll allow you to make your own judgment because other than our familiarity with his obviously flawed foray into the NFL we will readily admit that we really don't know Dan. Considering his propensity for nonsensically shelling out cash we're fairly certain that he would be one of the best shopping partners anyone could have on Black Friday. He may also be fun at parties (picture lampshade). It is also quite possible that his sense of humor goes beyond our comprehension and we just don't get it. After all, at one point in time he was actually a successful businessman, although at the current point in time it doesn't matter because from what we've seen he is the one who just doesn't get it.
And for that, we give thanks.
We couldn't have done it without you Dan.
Well, actually we could have, but it wouldn't have required more effort and been less amusing (at least to us).
Now get out there and sue some fans and good luck with the annual offseason championship drive, we know you'll give it your best (which to the majority of observers will be the worst)!
Related: We'd also like to thank Brett, sports in general, the Cablinasian, movies, numerous politicians, the Lions organization (with a special tip of the hat to Matt Millen), music, Notre Dame football, the Gazette, television, radio, and the entire crack staff, with a special thank you to Julie (the wife and boss of my life), the five-year-old, Lady Lou, Monk, Mister Man, and Jones (the quartet of cats).
Oh yeah, happy birthday, dad.
WEEK TWELVE NORTH PICKS (13-18-1 record)
Patriots minus 7 at Detroit - Will the Lions play like turkeys? Probably.
Minnesota plus 3 at Washington - Will the latest midseason coaching change have the Dallas effect? Whatever the case, the pressure to make the playoffs is gone, so the Vikings will transfer some of their dysfunction to the Skins. This game could determine the higher draft pick should these teams tie at the end of the season.
Green Bay plus 2 at Falcons - This game could determine the home team should these teams meet in the postseason. The road team wins round one.
Eagles minus 3 at Chicago - This game could determine the home team should these teams meet in the postseason. The road team wins round one.
WEEK TWELVE PICKS (9-9 record)
Houston minus 1 at Titans - No quarterback in Tennessee so we'll take Houston.
Oakland minus 2.5 versus Dolphins - No quarterback in Miami so we'll take Oakland (yes, we know that there isn't much of a QB there either).
Cleveland minus 10.5 versus Panthers - No quarterback in Carolina and shockingly, the biggest, and only double digit, point spread of the week has the Browns favored at home and we see an odd cover coming.
PEEVE OF THE WEEK
Obama's bipartisan panel to study ways to balance the budget by 2015.
While we are wholeheartedly behind the goals, and in most cases believe that they don't go far enough, the commission makes the Peeve this week due to a few reasons.
First, why do we need a commission to do this job?
This is clearly an overt admission by the folks we elect to lead that they don't actually have the ability to lead. The budget is a delegated constitutional responsibility of Congress and there are very few (any?) members who have displayed the spine required to even go as far as to recommend any policies to stave off the inevitable fiscal crisis. The faux leadership in D.C. has now openly conceded that they have no control over themselves and don't have the moxie to tell the truth to their constituents. The people we elected to do a job are shamefully using an unelected commission to provide political cover so they can keep their jobs rather than make the tough choices.
Another reason the commission makes the Peeve is that any actions their report recommends will be off the table before any of our elected ones have had the chance not to read it. As soon as the release occurs each side will stake out their hallowed ground, mostly via cable news, and when nothing gets done they will blame the other color rather than turning purple. The political will to make meaningful change does not exist on either side of the aisle when the reality is that we desperately need it to exist on both.
The problem with the populace and government is that we've been living on borrowed money for so long we've forgotten what it is like live within our means. We must have shared sacrifice because the spendthrift road we have been traveling is impossible to sustain and when the time comes to actually pay for the decades of benefits, to cut the credit cord, err card, there will be more than enough pain to go around.
How long can we spend more than we make (tax) without creating a financial maelstrom?
By answering that simple question people who are living within their means will realize that the time to act has come and it probably arrived many years ago.
Since the majority of our congressional leaders are abdicating their responsibility to design a plan to balance the budget we hope that they will seriously consider all recommendations made by the unnecessary commission. The can kicking has to end. The future date that never arrives is here, however, as evidenced by the reaction to the "leaked" portion of the report (it won't officially be released until Dec. 1) we have our doubts that the profligate spending will cease and are almost certain that no meaningful change will happen until the crisis arrives in full force.
One of the potential recommendations that caused a stir was the proposal to raise the age to get full Social Security benefits from 66 to 68. Even though this provision wouldn't take effect until 2050 (today's teenagers impacted in 40 years) it still caused widespread mouth foaming, which suggested that our governing class is not only insane but possibly rabid as well.
Perhaps it was the additional provision to raise the age to 69 by 2075 that caused congressional knees to buckle. Although we can't be certain since the buckling knees should have been those of a group of toddlers, who were swashbuckling in their pirate costumes less than a month ago, since they will be the first to directly feel the pain.
An aside: That is not entirely true. Everyone feels the pain of the Ponzi on a daily basis since the program removes so much wealth from the system (over 12 percent of total compensation) that superior alternatives such as Roth IRAs, 401k's, etc. are never funded as much as they could/should be thus causing people retire with a greater dependence on the greatly indebted uncle.
Aside part II: With all of the proposals to "fix" (the unfixable) Social Security affecting the youth of today and tomorrow, is there a limit to the burden that we are willing to place on our children in the name of living well today? How much debt is too much? How much pain are we willing to bequeath to our heirs rather than shoulder ourselves? We should be ashamed.
Other suggestions in the panel's draft, which will never be passed by our leaders, include eliminating all earmarks and reducing congressional and White House budgets by 15 percent. Suffice it to say that we're not holding our breath on either of these ideas even seeing a vote because assigning pain has its limits and the self-inflicted variety is generally one of the least palatable options.
One recommendation sure to be DOA is the proposal to freeze federal salaries and other compensation at non-defense agencies for three years and cutting the federal workforce (workfarce) by 10 percent. This seems very logical and therefore unlikely to happen. When times are tough, most private businesses make dramatic payroll cuts to remain viable operations, conversely, during boom or recession the government mimics the universe and never stops its rapid expansion.
The panel also suggested slowing the growth of foreign aid. We're certain there will be some who will vociferously defend the policy of borrowing money from our kids, and further ruining their future, so we can give it away to those we (meaning the 536 smartest people in the country) deem worthy today. Somehow we can't justify taking out a second mortgage (with the five-year-old as a cosigner) to give money to our neighbor. We believe that our neighbor would understand.
The suggestion to reduce the farm subsidy by $3 billion per year will definitely fall on a deaf ear. We would recommend eliminating all subsidies across the board. Why should the fools on the hill be allowed to determine winners and losers? If a business can't make it in the marketplace without the assistance of future tax dollars that are borrowed today then they shouldn't exist. Merit needs to replace ideology and the only way to do that is to remove the uneven hand of government.
What are the chances that the Congress will vote to follow the recommendation to simplify the tax code into three individual rates and one corporate rate? Nada, nil, zilch. Why? Removing the code's complexities removes the ability for congressional favors, which in turn diminishes power and eliminates specifically targeted contributions. In other words, much like eliminating subsidies, it lessens the chances for corruption and therefore is an immediate non-starter in the swamp (and we don't mean Florida's home stadium).
If any of the above recommendations actually received a fair hearing by Congress there would certainly be outrage and protests once the public realized the depth of the sacrifice that everyone would have to endure. We wonder why people aren't more outraged now considering our leaders have created a nation of junkies by getting us hooked on a seemingly, though not truthfully, unlimited supply of debt (borrowing).
Recently there were protests in Britain over tuition hikes and other government austerity programs. The fact that many of the Euro-socialist-ish nations are having severe budgetary problems requiring massive cuts and igniting riots should be a wake-up call for our leaders. As the outlay continuously exceeds income the government itself becomes an unsustainable entity. When those in power wait until the crisis arrives to abruptly end the free lunch it causes a nationwide gag reflex that leads to protests, riots, and class warfare (class warfare is often encouraged by those who are too meek to lead without creating villains and victims).
As one of the student protesters in Britain said, "Politicians don't seem to care. They should be taking money from people who earn seven-figure salaries, not from students who don't have any money."
Ugh! The time-honored entitlement tradition: what's mine is mine, and what's yours is also mine, because you have too much, and I don't have enough, and rather than make my situation better through my own efforts, I want make yours worse through the efforts of the seemingly omnipotent government.
Let's further examine the student's quote.
The Peeve doesn't want or expect politicians to "care." When government cares it does so by taking from those they don't care about and giving to those they do. When leaders practice the simple and honorable act of caring their centrally planned perversion of the concept inevitably creates winners and losers, villains and victims, and finally, supporters and opponents (how much for your vote?).
Having a government "taking money from people who earn" (how dare they earn something!) to simply to give it to those who presumably don't earn "enough" (definition required) would be anathema to those who outlined the laws in the smoldering document. Sadly, forced (or coerced if you prefer) charity is an oxymoron that government embraces with a straight face while declaring it moral (to who?), legal (based on what document?), and "fair" (define please).
One final note on the quote would be to point out that by using borrowed money to fund what can't be paid for the government is actually "taking money. . . from students who don't have any money" and don't understand the futuristic concept of borrowing followed by payback.
The fiscal/social (they are now one and the same) problems we face today exist because NOBODY has been paying the bills (sure, there were a couple of aberrations called surplus years). We have all been receiving money for nothing (and chicks for free?) or at least living at the expense of future generations. The government has spent decades tossing money without constraint meaning that the weaning is going to be at least as unpleasant as the spending was pleasant.
Yesterday was the party, today we should expect the hangover.
In what will surely be the last football game played at Wrigley Field, the teams (Northwestern and Illinois) used only one end zone. In other words after each change of possession the ball was repositioned for the offense to go West (young man).
Incompetence has led the Big Ten to import the Cubs curse to both Illinois football teams.
No word on whether refunds were offered to those sitting in the right-field bleacher area (East end zone) who were able to study the backside of every play and player.
In Wrigley related Lions news, former Lion coach Marty Mornhinweg would have certainly been confused since, with both teams going in the same direction, the wind wouldn't have been a factor in overtime.
More Lions: Dan Orlovsky would have had a dilemma when deciding which end zone to run out of.
Lionesque: Gus Frerotte would have been able to more effectively maim himself by ramming his head into a brick wall.
The fortunate folks who were able to watch the Bears/Dolphins game (those who are not part of the Charter monopoly) on the NFL Network were unfortunately forced to endure three hours of Matt Millen.
The worst GM in NFL history continued to display the credibility that he earned during his decade of service in Detroit when he said, while discussing Rod Marinelli (current Bears defensive coordinator), "That guy is one of the best coaches I've been around."
Cue the sugar plums, as visions of 0-16 dance in our head.
After the road loss to Dallas, the Lions have now lost 26 straight on the road. In other words, it has been over three years (eight roadies per year) since they last won away from home.
The roots of the latest Lion tragedy go right back to the source of nearly every tragedy of the past decade-plus, the architect known as Matt. Sure, the current regime has been at the helm for 14 of the road losses, but it should be noted that the first dozen came under Millen, and an argument could easily be made that the 14 under Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz are partly, mostly, due to the incredibly sad foundation that was in place when they brought the wrecking ball to town.
The Lions have two road games remaining this season and both are in Florida and straddle Christmas. If you're hoping to see another remnant of the Millen era disappear, and would like a little winter warmth, travel to Tampa on December 19 and Miami on December 26, and hope 26 stops before number 28 ushers in another nine month gestation period before any chance of the next road win occurs.
Charlie Rangel walked out of his own ethics trial last week. That seems unethical.
In his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column last week, Gregg Easterbrook (one of our favorites) gave his take on the 83 point Badger blast and wrote, "Normally the gauge of sportsmanship in football is whether a team with a big lead stops passing in the second half. Wisconsin runs the ball so well that to hold down the score, the Badgers should switch to passing."
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez also commented, "The only way that you can say somebody is truly running it up is if they're keeping their starters in all the way until the end and actually trying to do things with their starters to put points up on the board."
And Michigan State's Mark Dantonio said, "Sometimes things just begin to roll on a football team. It's like a wave and it's difficult to stop it." And added, "It's difficult to tell your players to go in and not play hard."
Iowa beat writer Marc Morehouse tweeted, "Oregon does this on a weekly basis and it's considered 'neat.'"
Bad Bielema himself was on the Mike & Mike show on Tuesday (presumably after reading our eloquent defense of his team) and, while we missed it live, we listened to the segment on Wednesday morning and noticed that Bret wasn't subtle in his criticism of the folks who ripped the Badgers but "didn't see the game."
And host Mike Greenberg confusingly said, "There are a lot of people who will look at it, without watching the game, and say if you score 83 points in a college football game when the other team scores 20 there isn't any way to do that without running up the score a bit."
When Greeny said "a lot of people" it was actually code for, "two radio show hosts lacking in credibility and substance".
Suffice it to say there were a lot of people who saw the game and didn't see anything wrong.
On the most recent Saturday afternoon, the Badgers made Easterbrook, and other unnamed folks who observe before commenting, seem quite prescient as the running game turned the Big House into a Big House of Pain and gave the red clad fans another reason to Jump Around.
After taking a 24-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, Wisconsin allowed UM to cut the lead to 24-14 with the second Michigan touchdown coming after a fumble by Badger receiver Isaac Anderson on the third play of the third quarter. Unbelievably, that what would turn out to be the final pass play of the game for Wisky.
With the reigning Big Ten offensive player of the year, John Clay, standing on the sideline for the duration of the game, second-string running back Montee Ball (173 yards, 6 per carry) and true freshman third back James White (181 yards, 7.9 per carry) navigated through the Wolverine sieve as Bucky ran the ball on 31 consecutive plays (from the third play of Q3 through the kneel downs) and the offensive line proved to be less than welcome Big House guests.
In doing so they took a competitive 24-14 game and comfortably finished 48-28.
Big housed in the Big House.
We should also note that quarterback Scott Tolzien also had fun during the Big House party as he completed 14-15 passes for 201 yards although his only non-completion was a pick. Hey, at least it didn't hit the ground.
It shouldn't be that easy. Not against Indiana last week and certainly not against Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Big House of wax.
Especially when Rich Rodriguez has stated that, "Our goal has been to build the best program in America and we have never wavered from that focus."
Although he then wavered by noting that, "I thought we'd be further ahead but I thought a lot of things when I got here."
Big House of horrors.
For the record, UM is 15-20 overall and 6-17 in conference play under Rich.
Is it time for Big House keeping to embark on a Big House cleaning?
They are also 0-3 this year and 1-9 overall against top 25 teams.
Big House of blues.
It was the first Wisky win in Ann Arbor since 1994.
Big House of cards.
But hey, three years of probation for practice violations has to count for something.
Big House of ill repute.
Rich's wavering focus transferred directly to the players, as evidenced by senior cornerback James Rogers who, five days before the Wisconsin game, said, "we need this Ohio State win bigger than anything."
The senior defender wasn't focused on Senior Day and the entire defense didn't represent in the Big House of representatives.
We suppose Mr. Rogers has now shifted his focus from the Buckeyes to the upcoming minor bowl game.
Rogers also defended our column, err the Wisconsin offensive output, "Honestly, from watching the game (it seems like a lot of people actually watched the game), from what I saw, I felt Indiana just backed down a bit toward the end."
If by "backed down a bit toward the end" he meant "backed down a lot in the middle of the second quarter" then we concur.
He then added, "I guarantee that's something we'll never do."
And 31 consecutive running plays and (by our unofficial count) millions of missed tackles later. . .
At least the home fans were able to celebrate Denard Robinson becoming the all-time leading rushing quarterback. DR broke Air Force quarterback Beau Morgan's single-season mark of 1494 yards, which was set in 1996.
Hmm, for some reason we have the urge to watch Back to the Future, listen to some McJagger (yeah, we know), drive a McLaren, and throw a pass to Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt while eating McNuggets.
Purdue, Indiana, and Minnesota will not be going to bowl games while the other eight members, and their fans, will be making travel plans.
They're just not sure where they are going and that brings us to what should be an awesome holiday weekend of football.
There are three NFL games on Thanksgiving, but the day after Thanksgiving will feature three compelling college football games for teams in the conference although none will actually be playing. At 2:30pm (CBS) Auburn faces Alabama, at 7:00pm on ESPN Arizona travels to Oregon and at 10:15 (ESPN) Boise takes on Nevada. Fans of 11 should be rooting against Auburn, Oregon, and Boise.
Then on Saturday, LSU plays at Arkansas while Oregon State tries to knock off Stanford and Midwesterners should be anti-LSU and Stanford.
Also on Saturday, the conference title picture will become less opaque with Ohio State hosting Michigan (noon ABC), Michigan State traveling to Penn State (also noon), and Northwestern going to Madison at 3:30 (ABC). With the national title game being only a remote possibility, the big three each need to win to stay alive for Rose and BCS at-large consideration.
If the Buckeyes defeat the Wolverines, they will share the Big Ten title making this consecutive conference championship (shared or outright) number six. They would tie the record of, yep, the Buckeyes, who accomplished the feat under Woody Hayes from 1972-1977.
Hmm, former top ten picks Vince Young and Matt Leinart have each made a very good case that the 2006 NFL draft was not as quarterback-rich as originally thought.
NASCAR, similar to Formula One, also had a stellar finish to the season with Jimmie Johnson winning his fifth consecutive championship in dramatic come-from-behind fashion on the final day of the season. When auto racing has finishes that rival NCAA hoops tournament games somebody is doing something right.
Looking ahead to the NFL draft, the top four teams would be Carolina at the top followed by (order to be determined) Detroit, Buffalo, and Cincy.
If Minnesota was in the NFC West, it would still be in contention for the division title (would Chilly still be employed?). Seattle leads at 5-5 followed by the Rams (4-6) with the Cards and Niners two games back at a woeful 3-6.
One of these teams is going to get a home playoff game by earning the division title.
Minnesota could be in the NFC West in a couple of years if they don't get a stadium and follow the Lakers to L.A.
Ironically, such a move would probably mean that the St. Louis Rams, formerly of L.A., would be switched to the NFC North.
We would assume (you/me) that the fans chanting "Fire Childress!" on Sunday were wearing purple and not green.
It doesn't matter much since their wish was granted.
This is certainly a sweet and sour moment for Packer fans.
On the sweet side, they were able to add a whopping dose of dis to the dysfunction in the Twin Cities; however, there are more than a few Pack fans who didn't want to see Chilly left out in the cold.
Bad coaches on rival teams are considered good things to most fans.
Blowing out the Vikings and getting Chilly fired was like blowing out the Cowboys and getting Wade Phillips canned. Sweet but sour.
We've learned a valuable lesson this year. When a team goes all-in, with a win-now strategy (Dallas and Minny), and doesn't win, things tend to unravel in a very messy fashion.
We wonder if Brad knows what "losing the team" means yet.
It really doesn't matter much anymore because he certainly knows what "losing the job" means.
Even though we tend to gripe a bit, we have a lot to be thankful for and we hope that you do as well.
Have a great Thanksgiving.
Send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gotta go, it's almost time to start prepping the bird and tantalizing the cats.