General Sports

Ask RJ: Inaugural December Edition

Checking my Sportscolumn article archives, I noticed that it’s been 30 MONTHS since I’ve had an article published. Was it laziness or some subconscious protest to not write something until Michael Vick has received the justice he deserves and rightfully resumes his NFL career with the Oakland Raiders. Since it was just reported today that Vick will only be released into a halfway house in January, I’ve decided to say screw it and make my comeback. Al Davis will be around soon enough to offer another horrible person a shot at redemption. In the meanwhile, I hope to get my shot right here, right now by trying my hand at a regular, Q and A style format that won’t let me focus on a single subject, thereby not giving me a headache. It’s win-win, believe me.

Also, I’m still a little rusty. I don’t want to over-extend myself yet so I’ll make this column a monthly thing for now. In the first edition, I’ll answer my own questions. I’m hoping in future months, however, that I can answer what I hope will become my faithful readers’ most pressing issues. So don’t be afraid to drop me a line at [email protected] C’mon everybody, I created another e-mail account just for this!

First Ever Question: Why is Matt Cassell’s performance against the Raiders in the wake of his father’s death last week being largely ignored by the national media; while Brett Favre’s game in 2003 in the very same heartbreaking situation in the very same heartbreaking stadium given legendary status?

First Ever Answer: Oh, that’s an easy one. John Madden, Chris Berman and/or Peter King, take your pick. I hope the questions get harder than this.

Question: Will the Texans’ victory Sunday against the Titans will go down as the greatest 13-12 game in football history?

Answer: Not even close. I once defeated my older brother in a 13-12 barn-burner (we counted by one’s) of two-hand touch football in front of my late grandmother’s house on Thanksgiving circa 1987.  He accused my oldest brother, who was the steady quarterback, of cheating for me. Which was absolutely true, because he Scott-Mitchelled a pass to me for the game-winning interception return for a touchdown and then ran down and hugged me while making fake crowd-cheering noises.

Final Answer In fact, Texans-Titans wasn’t even the best game won by a team scoring 13 points on Sunday. Pittsburgh’s 13-9 victory in Baltimore was a masterpiece of attrition. Maybe I’m just a blue-collar, snow-addled fan of old-school defense on natural grass, but a game doesn’t have to be 41-38 to be considered a classic, kids.

Question: Was Santonio Holmes’ catch at the end of that game really a touchdown?

Answer: Let me dance around that one. I was watching the PA high school football state championship game the night before, and the exact same play occurred. The high school-caliber-referee, who probably runs a dairy farm in his everyday life, correctly pointed out (with the support of only his two eyes) that while the player’s feet was in the endzone, the ball came nowhere near crossing the plane and it was fourth down. The high-school caliber broadcaster, a former quarterback, said “everyone knows that.” The following evening, the NFL-caliber ref, who actually runs a dairy farm in his everyday life, omitted (with the help of 10 camera angles) the whole part about crossing the plane. The NFL-caliber broadcaster, a former quarterback, basically said “yep.”

Final Answer: Steelers 13, Ravens 9. Best game of the year.

Question: Is it too early start on next year’s “Texans as an AFC dark horse” hype that will permeate every magazine, talk show, phony talk show (sorry, podcast), barroom argument, awkward small talk with the delivery driver and that cute conversation where your significant other tries to feign interest for almost 15 seconds about something you’ve loved all your life?

Answer: Not at all, It will be presented in this order: Gary Kubiak is a genius, Matt Schaub should be given an $80 million extension, Andre Johnson is Jerry Rice down to the number 80 on his jersey, and Slaton rhymes with Payton. Oh, and I’ll even throw in a “who’s laughing now about that Mario Williams pick?”

Final Answer: In reality, Kubiak will be fired, Schaub will be injured/benched (again), Johnson will still be a boon for fantasy players everywhere and Slaton will go way too high in fantasy drafts. Beware the Ides of Cleveland. Oh, and were all still chuckling a little, at least.

Question: Is Stephon Marbury the most pathetic figure in sports or what?

Answer In the Form of a Question: A guy gets kicked off his team like a bratty eighth-grader, buys a ticket to their game so he can sit in the front row and get way too much camera time, and then brags in an interview that he is EARNING his money “for doing nothing,” and you call that pathetic?

Final, Real Answer: Marbury proved once and for all that the closest he will get to an NBA arena this year is StubHub.

Question: Was Charles Barkley justified in saying that Auburn’s passing over of Turner Gill as football coach was racially motivated?

Answer: That’s a tough one, because we’ll never know what was in the Auburn  powers-that-be heads when he made the decision. Wait, I can answer that: NOTHING was in their heads. White, black or green, nothing says “hot head coaching football candidate” like the 5-19 record Gene Chizik totes onto campus this fall. Nobody can justify ignoring a coach that turned around a Buffalo team that won oh, three games in 100 years for an old-boy, former defensive coordinator. Racist? Maybe. Comically moronic? Definitely.

Final Answer: It is a little bit refreshing that Gill decided to stay on at Buffalo to finish what he started and not be another ladder-climber (at least for now). He is staying on to keep up a solid, well-coached program that will win 10 or 11 games a season and never sniff a BCS bid. Gotta love that International Bowl.

Last Question: Why was (take your pick of 50 different players) snubbed for the Pro Bowl?

Answer: First of all, NFL Rule D-1123-A Section 52 states that Ray Lewis must be voted onto the Pro Bowl roster. Don’t worry, though. Lewis, like 50 other guys, won’t be bothered to actually show up and play. So every deserving player, not-so-deserving player and guy that was just standing there when Troy Polamalu begged out will be in Honolulu come February. I hope Steelers’ punter Mitch Berger keeps his cell phone ringer on.

5 replies on “Ask RJ: Inaugural December Edition”

I was angered that London Fletcher wasn’t invited. Earning your money for doing nothing is the most absurd thing I ever heard an athlete say and definitely stands as one of the sport’s quotes too remember in 2008.

That makes two of you if you include London Fletcher. haha no Fletcher is a very underrated player who just quietly goes about being very good and doesnt get the attention that the Lewisss’s get. When Junior Seau was previously given the Ray Lewis Treatment in the 90’s, Rod Woodson said of his teammate Levon Kirkland, who deserved Pro Bowl consideration, “He’s not a jerk like Seau, so he won’t get anything.” Then Seau didn’t go, then Kirklnad didn’t go either.

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