FOX Sports Exclusive
Weekend Warrior: September 9
Welcome to the Weekend Warrior, your web-based congregation for water-cooler discussion. We will get you up to speed on what you missed over the past few days and what’s on this week’s itinerary. At worse, this will give you a five-minute respite from being productive at work or school.
Remember that Manning guy who threw for seven touchdowns on Thursday night? Nearly a year ago at this time, we wondered, after tossing three passes to the Falcons in one half, if Peyton should be put out to pasture. Russell Wilson blew the minds of many last season, but he did some blowing of a different variety in his NFL debut against the Cardinals in a Week 1 defeat. Speaking of Arizona, remember when Ken Whisenhunt’s squad started 4-0? SPOILER ALERT: that success was short-lived.
One of the enchantments of football is the heightened level of gravity each game carries. The same cannot be said for pigskin’s sporting counterparts. It’s hard to mourn an extra-inning loss in baseball; there’s a day game to be played in 12 hours. Though basketball’s schedule is not as extensive, a Tuesday night loss to Chicago in January easily dissolves into the season landscape. Football’s make-or-break importance renders each contest as must-see spectacle.
Unfortunately, fans and media personalities treat all football outings as unconnected, three-hour blockbuster movies. In truth, an individual game is simply an episode in a television series. Kind of like Lost when you think about it: you have theories about where the story’s going, but you really have no idea. And for 31 fan bases this year, just like Lost, you’re going to be disappointed by the final outcome.
Maybe Reggie Bush is the missing piece to the Detroit offense, or the Alex Smith-Andy Reid combo is the guidance needed to right Kansas City’s wayward ship. But as last season illustrated, the events in early September don’t necessarily sustain their initial relevance or consequence come December.
Before we write-off Pittsburgh or crown San Francisco, how about we let this show introduce its’ characters before guessing the ending? For if there is one incontrovertible point regarding the NFL, it’s that the narrative never ceases to excite.
Fusing the theme above, let’s pump the brakes on anointing CK as the second-coming of 2004 Madden Michael Vick. Man’s off to a solid start, though: 27-for-39, 412 yards and three touchdowns in the Niners’ victory over Green Bay. Protected by the best offensive line in football and complemented by a sound running game, Kaepernick has the foundation for prosperity in 2013.
Not necessarily for their upset over the Florida Gators on Saturday, but for the influx of “The U is BACK!” stories that are undoubtedly heading our way. Speaking of Miami, can someone get Al Golden a dress shirt that fits? Okay with him rocking the K-Mart brand, just no need for the double-XL status.
His near no-no won’t live in infamy like Armando Galarraga, and outside of those attending Friday night’s Giants-Diamondbacks affair, his feats have likely already been forgotten. Yet, for one that’s mostly been in the minors for 11 seasons, though the celebrity might be fleeting, I’m sure it’s appreciated, and well-deserved.
Some curmudgeon sportswriters are trying to taint Serena’s U.S. Open win, calling a few emotional outbursts from the 31-year-old as “unprofessional” and a “disgrace.” (I won’t link to these stories, because that’s exactly the attention these hacks desire.) What really matters – Williams’ win gives her five U.S. Open titles and 17 Grand Slam victories, one away from tying Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert for fourth-most all-time.
Devin Gardner and Brent Musburger
Denard who? Although the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry is likely on sabbatical rather than permanent termination, if this truly was the last time these two teams meet in the regular season, Gardner sent the game out with a bang, hitting pay dirt five times in the Wolverines’ 41-30 win. Gardner racked up 294 yards through the air and added another 82 on the ground. Mark the Michigan QB as a Heisman hopeful.
As for Mr. Musburger…Eminem pulling a Joaquin Phoenix in the booth Saturday night is grabbing headlines, although it’s not exactly surprising, given the rapper’s introverted interviews throughout the years. While some basked in the awkwardness between Marshall Mathers and Kirk Herbstreit, I loved the aplomb and genuine enthusiasm flaunted by Musburger during the appearance. Dude is 74 and still on top of his game.
Honorable Mention: Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati took three of four from rival St. Louis before sweeping the scorching Dodgers over the weekend. Twelve of the team’s final 18 are against the Cubs, Brewers, Astros and Mets, with the remaining six versus division foe Pittsburgh. With such a generous itinerary, don’t be surprised if the Reds capture home-field advantage on the Senior Circuit.
Not an auspicious start for this Midwestern group. Baltimore was embarrassed on a national stage, Cincinnati’s lack of discipline and fortitude correlated to its downfall in the Windy City and Pittsburgh and Cleveland dropped home games to (supposed) pedestrian competition. Worse, Super Bowl hero Jacoby Jones is out six weeks with a sprained MCL, while the Steelers lost Maurkice Pouncey and Larry Foote for the season. If the NFC North is the “Black and Blue Division” the AFC North has to be the “Black and BOOOO Division,” am I right? (rimshot)
“That guy” who breaks down his fantasy football loss
Oh really, you would have won if you would have started Julius Thomas? Shut the front door. Yeah, I do remember you mentioning that Anquan Boldin was your “sleeper” pick this year, along with 19 other players. And I agree, who saw David Wilson fumbling twice? (Well, besides every football fan in the greater Tri-state area.) I love fantasy football, but fantasy football story guy needs to go.
What’s a bigger transgression: complaining about your lack of touches in Week 1, complaining about your lack of touches in a Week 1 victory or complaining about your lack of touches in a Week 1 victory after signing a $60 million contract? The answer is “yes.”
The armchair analysis says, “Well, duh, you signed with the Dolphins, the place where free-agent receivers go to die. What did you expect?” However, Ryan Tannehill is quietly developing into one of the better quarterbacks in the league, so chalk Wallace’s no-show up to the coverage of Joe Haden. In the words of Ben Stiller’s administrative nurse character in Happy Gilmore, Wallace doesn’t need more touches; he needs a nice warm glass of shut-the-hell up.
Since securing their first non-losing season in over 20 years on September 3, the Buccos have lost four consecutive games, falling out of first place in the highly-contested NL Central. It would be an epic collapse if Pittsburgh failed to make the postseason, as 11 of its final 20 games are against the Cubs and Padres. Still, it is the Pirates we’re talking about here.
In August, a televised feature ran on the Longhorns during training camp, with the premise focusing on the harmony between Brown, his staff and the players that had been absent the previous few seasons in Austin. At one point, Brown prattled off the usual “Support your BROTHERS!” jargon that every coach in America expends. Looks like that sentiment was nothing more than a platitude, as Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after BYU rolled over Texas by the tune of 40-21 in Provo on Saturday. So much for having your teammates’ backs in a time of need.
Dishonorable Mention: Jacksonville Jaguars
Fun ways of presenting Jacksonville’s foulness on Sunday: the offense didn’t cross midfield until the fourth quarter; only the Minnesota Twins failed to outscore the Jacksonville offense on Sunday; Blaine Gabbert’s 1.2 QBR was one of the lowest recorded performances ever; San Fran’s Boldin single-handedly racked up more yards than all Jags receivers combined...
…and, saving the best for last, Bryan Anger set a team-record with 11 punts.
Other news of note
Oklahoma State finds itself in a hot water stemming from a report claiming misconduct on the football program. Among the highlights: payments to coaches and players from boosters, academic fraud, drug abuse and school hostesses providing sex to recruits. In all honesty, if you’re biggest university donor is named “T. Boone” this type of activity comes with the territory.
Whoever compiled this five-minute compilation of Allen Iverson crossovers is doing the Lord’s work.
The fire is rising around Lane Kiffin after USC lost at home to lowly Washington State. On the bright side, this humiliation should provide the perfect opportunity for Kiffin to appear on a Web Redemption on Tosh.0.
Move over Brandon Weeden and Gabbert, the mighty Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky have got you beat.
The Red Sox rotation will receive a much-needed shot in the arm with the return of Clay Buchholz on Tuesday. Buchholz was an early Cy Young candidate with a 9-0 record, 1.71 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in his first 12 starts before succumbing to a shoulder injury. Making his first appearance since June 8, Buchholz rejoins Boston as the club gears up for the postseason. Also on the injury front, Jacoby Ellsbury’s right-foot fracture won’t keep him out for long.
Speaking of Red Sox, Boston became the first visiting team to score nine runs in three consecutive games against the Yankees since 1912 over the weekend.
This photo blew up the Internet last night, but it’s worth sharing nonetheless. Also, not sure what’s more disturbing: Hulk Hogan’s hand placement, or that LeBron James looks like he could go pound-for-pound with Thunderlips.
We get our first glimpse of Chip Kelly’s vaunted high-octane offense tonight, as the Eagles travel to our nation’s capital to face Washington. Though Robert Griffin III is reportedly 100 percent healthy, all eyes will be on the reigning Rookie of the Year’s mobility and movement after ACL surgery in the offseason. Also on the NFL front, San Diego welcomes Houston to cap Week 1. Those not buying into the Broncos are hitching their AFC wagons to the Texans, yet I’m skeptical in Matt Schaub’s ability to take Houston to the Promised Land. That said, with a powerful running attack, stout resistance and the services of Andre Johnson, Schaub merely needs to be adequate for the Texans to be a contender.
Baseball sometimes gets overlooked at this point in the sports calendar, yet plenty of intrigue on the hardball schedule, with Boston and Tampa Bay duking it out, the Yankees and Orioles fighting for a Wild Card spot and Pittsburgh and Texas both looking to bounce back after tough weeks with a rendezvous in Arlington.
Wrapping it up, TCU at Texas Tech should provide some fireworks on Thursday night, the PGA’s penultimate event starts in Chicago on Thursday at the BMW Championship and Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal square off for the U.S. Open championship tonight in Flushing Meadows.
Weekend Movie Review
Didn’t make it to the theaters, but did catch the independent comedy Prince Avalanche starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch On Demand. Little off-beat, but I could be entertained by watching Rudd paint his house, and his kick-ass mustache added to the amusement. Despite a run time of 94 minutes, definitely dragged along at points. I liked it, though for comedies, my litmus test is rewatchability. Unfortunately, Prince Avalanche is a film you see once and you’re good. Wait until the monotony of winter kicks in before giving this bad boy a shot.
Tweet of the Day
If you need that Miller Lite punch top can to dispense beer at twice the regular speed, get help.— Steve Rushin (@SteveRushin) September 8, 2013
I would counter that if you drink Miller Lite period, you probably should seek counsel. (Related note: people always ask me my favorite writer. My reply? “Me.” The brilliant Steve Rushin is a close second, though.
Thanks for stopping by, check by on Friday as we preview the upcoming weekend, and don’t just be about it this week…Beall about it.