The low sun in the sky had turned the surface of the pool a gorgeous orange colour that matched my skin. I’d been in there just long enough for my extremities to wrinkle nicely. Nadia, back from a shoot for yet another global underwear brand handed me a watermelon margarita, her dramatic frame bronzed and pert. Sipping the cool drink while floating out to the middle of the pool I made my toes splash in the water, the droplets backlit by the sun. In the distance a faint buzzing of commentary could just be heard over the low narcotic thump of the mixtape DJ AM had dropped off a few days before his demise.
“What’s that?” I asked Nadia as she slid naked into the pool. “That buzzing sound?”
“I don’t know,” she said, her hands drifting over my now submerged lower half. “Perhaps it is, you know, the footsball. The kind they make with my friend Giselle’s husband.”
“Ah, Tom,” I said distractedly. “Good old Tom.” Her hands were definitely having an effect now, and I turned towards her in the water and….
I’m standing dripping wet, wrapped in a Ralph Lauren beach towel staring at my 100″ LCD. I look down at the $50,000 Omega Seamaster I won in a ‘who’s got the better abs’ bet with Daniel Craig: holy crap it really is September. There is football on. Tom Brady is already hurt. Can this be happening?
“Don’t worry,” says Nadia, unwrapping the towel as she sinks slowly onto her knees on the Indonesian hardwood floors “it is only what you call the preseason…”
Whew. That was close. What a nightmare. I almost missed it. The start of the freaking NFL season. How did this happen?
I blame an exiting offseason. From Living Coaching God Mike Shanahan out in Denver (more on this later), QBs Cutler and Orton trading condos and O Lines like two kids switching bikes, Favre finally coming back (after retiring in tears TWICE in 4 months) to join a team his old fans regard as their arch enemy, Vick strolling back into the game with the Eagles, Terrell Owens choosing to drive to work through 10 feet of snow, Plaxico out for a LONG time thanks to not having a holster in his Hanes, Helmet Catch hero David Tyree released by the Giants (’yeah, you won us a Super Bowl, but what have you done for us lately?’) Tom Brady’s knee/shoulder/wife and a laundry list of shootings/assaults/wife beatings/dope arrests that could keep all the Law & Orders in business for four full seasons… who needs the actual games for entertainment?
C’mon: Three days before the season one of the game’s stars is arrested for choking his drunk girlfriend who is mostly famous for her flagrant bisexuality.
Ms Tila Tequila alone
…and with friend.
This isn’t a sport. This is a big budget VH1 show.
But play the games they must. Back in the real world Pittsburgh & Tennessee have just played 3 hours of some of the most average football I’ve seen in a long time (about 6 months actually) and GIDDY UP, the ‘09 NFL season has begun. If the on-field play is half as shocking/surprising/bizarre as the last 6 months of non-stop action, its going to be a doozy of a season.
This week’s key games:
ON SKY 2 (Delayed) 4.30pm Monday
Philadelphia Eagles v Carolina Panthers
Whoever writes the capsules for SKY thinks this will be a high-scoring game. Um, no it won’t. We are still 3 weeks away from the Dog Killer taking the field, Jake Delhomme is now very rich but still flat out ordinary, so its run run run all the way. Philly takes it, but not by much.
Miami Dolphins v Atlanta Falcons
THIS will be a high scoring game and a huge indicator for both teams. They are both ready to break out and be this year’s Arizona Cardinals and go the distance. I love both teams, but I’ll give it to Atlanta by a nose. We’ll see a lot more of these two squads later in the year.
Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints
Listened to a long, well thought out argument on 710 ESPN the other day suggesting that it was possible for the Lions to repeat as a winless team. I couldn’t fault the reasoning, but there’s no way. Detroit WILL win at least 3-4 games this year. This will not be one of them. New Orleans will beat their brains in. If I were a Sportcenter anchor I’d already be starting on my Lions beat down insults. It pays to prepare.
Buffalo Bills v Tom Brady’s shoulder
Still coming to grips with the Terrell Owens move to upstate NY. Makes no sense whatsoever, as it has almost no immediate impact on what is a running, short throwing team. It’s like getting Usain Bolt as your tennis doubles partner. Nice, but perhaps not the best fit for him. The Patriots meanwhile continue to be the Yankees of the NFL. If they don’t win a Super Bowl its a down year. Patriots run riot here.
Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers
The Packer bandwagon is loaded already, and you couldn’t get a bigger ‘fuck you’ to the Favre, so that’s a terrific reason to support them winning the Super Bowl. However, Chicago now has complete dickhead Jay Cutler at QB, which instantly transformed them into a less likeable but much more dangerous team. This will be a great game to watch as both offenses are exceptional, and their defenses aren’t bad either. Pushed to choose I’m going with the Pack but I think it’ll be closer than most think it will be. Them Bears will score.
And now for a short book report:
Stefan Fatsis is a Wall St Journal reporter who managed to convince the Denver Broncos to let him join the squad for training camp and pre-season as a kicker. He was 43 at the time, an age some of us have come to love. Because we have no choice. Anyway, its a great Plimpton-esque look into the business and complexity of the NFL written by a Scrabble playing nerd.
There are a few too many huntin’ shootin’ born-again Christians going on in that locker room for my taste, but Fatsis absolutely nails details like the level of intellect it takes to play the offensive line, the emotionally rough life of NFL journeymen bouncing from team to team, and the level of micro-management the coaches and trainers put the players through. He even makes then Coach For Life Mike Shanahan seem human, which is no small trick. And its a good read even if you know very little about the NFL, just for its exploration of the last gasp of an athletic dream before the lights finally go out. It’s not laugh out loud funny, and it won’t make you cry. But if you want to understand the game of the NFL and the game in the NFL its a terrific read.
– Mark Tierney