Texas Blues...Wisconsin Polka
If you live in the Lone Star State the NFL's not looking so wonderful these days. The Houston club's been a bewildering bust from nearly the get go, while Dallas is back to its middling ways, folding at home on Sunday against a Green Bay squad (L 36-37) that was absent a superstar (Rodgers) and led by a vagabond QB named Flynn.
But this time Tony Romo won't shoulder all the blame, despite two late-game INTs.
Two more tremendous efforts working-the-interception you'll rarely see (GB) as Dallas receivers did little to adjust. Cowboys 2nd Half D was a sieve, while right on schedule, as things got hot Dez Bryant melted down. Dez' problem now appears more than just unbridled "passion" and may indicate a mental issue that requires attention. Talent & tears won't cover for a man-child who consistently folds under pressure and disrupts team flow.
But it starts at the top in Big D. Owner Jerry Jones is disconnected emotionally, while range boss Jason Garrett coaches like he can't see the forest (the team) through the numbers.
As for Green Bay, Ted & Co. are tickled pink, as their new (old) back-up Matt Flynn, picked off the waiver wire after oddly going un-tested in his NFL odyssey (SEA / BUF / OAK), in a League that's ravenous for smart QBs, is playing like 'Majik Man II.' But this time Board, don't go on the cheap, "pay the man (and AJ Hawk)" and get fully rostered.
The Flynn lesson: Your team's "best chance" QB may just be riding fence' somewhere.
Pro Game (SOY) v. College (Heisman)
To surprise of some but approval of nearly all, Denver's super signal-caller and class-act Peyton Manning (How was he to know 'Papa John' is a chucklehead?), has been named SI's 'Sportsman of the Year." NFL13 is still unfolding but Pey-Dirt knows the terrain.
What surprises this writer is the striking similarity between SI's standard-in-selection ("whose performance...most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement") and the Heisman benchmark ("excellence in performance" and "integrity").
Which begs the question, if both voter-pools can read at least at intermediate level, why, pray-tell, such opposite outcomes (J. Winston)?
Because Heisman voter pool is clearly casting in ignorance or defiance of Trust's plain-as-day instruction, this last vote, and I blame not Jameis who's merely a symbol, may be a tipping-point, an indicator that it may now be time to move away from this hallowed piece of hardware in favor of some other college award, one not captured by a juvenile standard that adheres simply to numerology & money matters.
In form, Heisman's a trophy heavy in history & style but now lighter, having lost its meaning.
"A (Football) Story"
When holidays come "bob bob bobbin' along," you won't catch me at your local worship service. Not that I don't see the benefits that flow from organized religion, like guidance, sense of community, but not since childhood have I imagined a God wanting adoration. My secularist theme can be summed-up in the rule of reciprocity "do unto others."
So, where does one find the spirit of the season, if not at a local church or synagogue?
You might find it at home, work, school or experience it at a local soup-kitchen (those refraining from a religious test), where the indigent are given a warm, heepin' helping of vittles by those kind folks giving of their time, money & heart.
You're certain to find it in the cavalcade of classic melodies, both popular & religious, that get piped everywhere post-TD, right up to 12-25, though, by the 3rd week I'm set to scream PUT A SOCK IN IT! My toppers: "Have Yourself," "Winter Wonderland," "I'll Be Home," "Jingle Bell Rock" and the Vince Guaraldi Trio ("A Charlie Brown" soundtrack).
Christmas trees, especially in the PM, can be joyous, though, somewhere along the way they lost that great piney smell (genetics?). But as a tradition...it's gotta' go. Cutting millions of 'em for a brief two-week period is an idea that's run its course (See Also; on-side kick). Jewish faith may have the best idea in their menorah, candles and all that.
As for the meatiest part on holiday ham-bone, the gifting, well, that was kid heaven.
We weren't rich but my folks always seemed to make my Sears catalog wish-list a reality: Marx Electro-shot Shooting Gallery, Tudor Electric Football, Hasbro G.I. Joe, Matchbox & Mattel cars, toy soldiers and Wells Fargo stagecoach, all just tremendous.
But nothing brings the spirit home for this child of the TV Age quite like the traditional fare that fills the holiday program guide, commercial presentations whose messages of hope & humanity are as instructive & heartfelt as you'll ever hear in a place of worship.
In that spirit of cinematic homilies-of-hope, I present the best features from the holiday film library, with an assortment of NFL tie-ins (White Christmas ('54), Miracle on 34th Street ('47), Frosty the Snowman ('69) and Home Alone ('91)) didn't make roster).
1) A Christmas Carol (movie '38)
2) It's a Wonderful Life (movie '46)
3) Holiday Affair (movie '49)
4) Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (SMA '64)
5) A Christmas Story (TV movie '83)
6) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon '66)
7) A Charlie Brown Christmas (cartoon '65 and Best-in-Show)
Love Those Second Chances
Like Clarence Odbody (A2d) giving George Bailey his new lease on life, NFL too can afford second chances. Mike Vick comes to mind quick, but it's Peyton & Payton (Sean) who've taken their second chances and made the most of 'em in 2013.
Growing a Heart
Grinch had nothin' on Mike Vick before his expulsion from the League for dog-fighting, but he came back, made no excuses and, while his days as a signal-caller are numbered, he's done himself proud. Throwing support behind Eagles new Gen. Foles was a nice move.
Different...how about brave?
There was no quit in outcasts Rudolph & Hermey but with friends like Yukon & Clarice, anything's possible. At least in the tattoo & weasel departments, Jon Martin was a non-conformist. Ravens' tight-end Dallas Clark is different, too. He won't wear sticky (sissy) gloves and has had the sure hands in a career that might find a resting-place in Canton.
Better Call a Professional, Dad
The "Old Man" (McGavin) gets points for not passing the buck (to save a buck) and tackling the furnace fix himself, but sometimes you gotta' bring in a pro. Seattle did it (Carroll), KC did it (Reid), Carolina did it (Rivera), Pitt won't do it until it finally konks-out and then somebody oughta' do it in hiring Lovie Smith or Brad Childress for a head-coach gig.
"Ain't Afraid a' No Ghost"
If Ebbie Scrooge were here today (He was just frugal, right?), two Ghosts of Christmas Present would be his haunting: the PC-ghost ("Redskins") and so-called Charity-ghost who'd rattle his cage to plunk down coin for pink breast cancer awareness gear where only 8% of price goes to research ("How much" / TDC / S. Hofmann / 10-16). "Bah, humbug!"
Greatest (Sporting) Gift of All...for L.A.
"Steve" (Rob) & "Connie" (Janet) had kismet in Holiday Affair, and what'd make their mythical great grand-kids in Balboa, California jump-for-joy would be a 'genuine, brand new, batteries included (?),' NFL franchise in America's largest metro, Los Angeles, by year 2016, w/stop-overs in London, Stuttgart, Rome & Barcelona. Now get crackin,' Roger!
Cherry Picks Week 16: WWJP?
Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (8-6): 12-22 Fox 1:00 ET: CIN wins:
New Orleans Saints (9-5) @ Carolina Panthers (10-4): Fox 1:00: Saints assert & win;
Indianapolis Colts (9-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (11-3): CBS 1:00: Colts top KC;
Miami Dolphins (8-6) @ Buffalo Bills (5-9): CBS 1:00: MIA wins in Buffalo;
Arizona Cardinals (9-5) @ Seattle Seahawks (12-2): Fox 4:05: 'Hawks win (GOTW);
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) @ Green Bay Packers (7-6-1): CBS 4:30: Pack prevails;
New England Patriots (10-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-6): CBS 4:30: NE finds a win;
Chicago Bears (8-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (8-6): NBC 8:35: Eagles victorious.
NFL Hunch Line
Photo Credit: "It's a Wonderful Life" / D. Reed & J. Stewart / 1946 / wc.cca / NTA