Ahead of the Curve
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Dear Santa Claus:

     I know it's still summertime, the season when you and the Mrs. are just getting back from your annual Elf-Awareness Conference in Puerto Vallarta, but I have a big favor to ask.

     NFL 2012 is set to kick-off Wednesday night (Cowboys @ Giants) and I have a few early requests that I'm hoping you can accommodate.  I haven't exactly been good this year, but I haven't been bad, either.  That oughta' count for something in these times of rampant greed and selfish rationalization (PEDs), right?

     And besides, Santa, you still owe me.  Remember that Denmark golf outing I arraigned in 2010 for you and your "assistant" with TW and his putting instructor Heidi?  'Nuff said.

Super Bowl Drift

It's all about Super Sunday, or is it?  NFL brass have already set the post-season schedule Santa, but see if you can get Roger & Company to shave a week off that mood-killing, two-week dull-fest that follows Conference title games.  Football's a business, sure, but this grant to greed is taking an edge off player games and starts us dreaming of baseball.  Yuck!  Just kidding, Bud.

NFL Rules, Stats & Plays that Need Eliminating

On-side kick:  Gotta' be the dumbest, most un-football-like play in the book.  Walter Camp or whoever hatched this turkey must've been on a toot.  The team that just had the ball, can get it twice-in-a-row, if the oblong-spheroid takes a funny bounce and at ten yards lands in one of the kicking-team's cozy-covered hands.  Competition at its lamest.

"Icing the kicker:"  Letting the defense call a TO seconds prior to a FG attempt in order to mess with the kicker's head is bad playground etiquette.  Strong kids wouldn't stoop that low.

Lambeau Leap:  A routine that always was a bit too comfy, a tad too needy for my taste, has now become downright hackneyed.  I'm thinking Curly, Vince & Ray would've agreed.

Senseless Stats:  An INT that gets hung on a QB for a pass that's tipped into a defender's hands; A fumble-stat given to a carrier who had a ball stripped / punched from his grasp.

New OT rules:  No one that matters (players & fans) was complaining when a field goal gave victory in sudden-death OT.  Simple case of someone in a Suit validating a job and squeezing in more commercial time.  "Tanks for nothing" (Maggs / Caddyshack)."

"Calling all (fashion police) cars"

It's bad enough football's become a fashion runway for Nike marketing and its revolving-door of dress (uniforms), but c'mon NFL, could your unis be anymore skin-tight?  The trend is towards more material, not less, so loosen up, fellas.  It's embarrassing, Santa.

These Players

Cam Newton (CAR):  Would like to see Cam develop into a SB caliber pocket-passer as he seems to have the skill-set, though I'm not holding my breath.  Old (run) habits die hard.

Peyton Manning (DEN) & Adrian Peterson (MIN):  The great natural abilities of these two stars of the gridiron are a joy to watch (AP's thunderous run vs. Browns in '09 is unforgettable) and, as such, I'm driven to root for their successful comebacks.

Randy Moss (SF):  A charter-member of the Moss fan-club, admiring his unique talent and believing his moodiness misunderstood, I cancelled my enrollment after he "vomited" (Childress) on a beleaguered Vikings' team in 2010 while sucking-up to a disinterested Patriots.  It's a shame he hooked-up with the San Francisco 49ers as I'd thought before his arrival their throwback-style (Giants / Ravens) made them a nice fit for SB47.  Your call, Santa.

Mark Sanchez & Tim Tebow (NYJ): "Soon the world will divide itself into two camps: pro-Boray and anti-Boray."  That's Joan Crawford describing the up & coming violinist John Garfield in their 1946 film Humoresque.  Joan could've been foretelling Tebowmania, but in fact, it's only a minority of cranks and disciples who've gone camping.  Most, like me, see Tim as a college-style (run) QB with the same vanity you find in most athletes and Jesus proselytizers.  My wish: Tim finds his natural position (TE), Mark finds the end-zone and Rex Ryan finds inner peace.

The Los Angeles...

LA is a big town with a big football pedigree.  As such, the City of Angels' absence from the NFL line-up this past decade has left a serious void.  I've always felt the Rams oughta be back in California, Cardinals back in Missouri and then the Sun Devils (ASU Forks) resurrected pro-style to fill the vacancy in Phoenix.  That scenario won't happen but the new Los Angeles franchise is already in the works.

The Zebras

Like police, these guys jobs are thankless until they're needed.  Before Ban Johnson brought civilization to rounders with formation of the junior circuit (AL) in Chicago in 1901, that sport treated umpires like punching-bags.  Football's no different as field officials are whipping-boy for every cry-baby on the continent.  Whatever NFL referees are asking for ("NFL, officials" / CBS / 9-1), give it to 'em Roger.  With the greed exhibited by NFL owners & players they shouldn't be throwing stones from their glass houses.  As for the replacement refs, these poor guys are gonna' be under fire froms fans, coaches, jocks, announcers & media.  I wish them well, Santa.

Time to Give Blood, DeMaurice Smith

If you grant just this one wish Santa, I'll be a happy camper: NFL blood-tests, prior to, and during the season of play, as part of a broad PED prevention policy.

After signing-on to an HGH blood-test in last year's CBA settlement, the NFLPA has since weaseled-out of its offer, leaving the issue in limbo.  Though many in the media have been ardently defending dethroned friend Lance Armstrong, waving the white-flag on PEDs, most of America, including parents, coaches, doctors, clean players and kids not looking forward to a career of injections, are not so easily misguided.

The late football great and former director of the NFLPA, Gene Upshaw, had some fine qualities.  Leadership on drug-testing was not one of them.  Time to get crack'in, DeMaurice.

Steven Keys

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