A terrified Darren Sproles stopped to catch his breath in the deep, safe grass of the Oakland Coliseum outfield last night after scurrying across the dirt infield for a 20-yard gain against the Raiders. After the brief stop, the miniature Chargers back checked to see that the coast was clear and then pushed his way through the dense field before emerging in the end zone.
"I saw him shoot out across the dirt," said Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour. "I almost stomped him with my foot, and thenNnamdi Asomugha almost hit with a broom. But he was too fast. Too shifty."
And then once he made it to the grass, Sproles was out of sight.
"I didn't even bother looking for him," said Seymour. "That's why we set Sproles traps out there. Apparently we need to set more because he's still loose."
Once Sproles made it through the end zone, he climbed up the goal post to the crossbar and waved his arms to show that he had scored. But the trek had taken so long, play had continued on without him.
"We thought he had gone to his nest or something," said head referee Jeff Trimble. "Play had to continue. He was gone for minutes. Plus, it's not fair for him to carry a tiny football, too. I know he has his handicap and the NFL tries to be sensitive to that, but that makes him impossible to see."
Sproles says he would have to retire if he is forced to use a regulation-size football.
"I would be crushed," he said. "And I may be small, but you might be surprised at the amount of blood inside me. I'm like a small mosquito."
AVOID: Mike Bell, RB, Saints Bell was the big surprise of Week 1, gaining 143 yards on 28 carries. Those are fantasy superstar numbers. But don't reach on Bell. First of all, it's Mike Bell. He has 865 career rushing yards in four seasons and that includes Sunday's 143-yard game. Second, Bell didn't record a single reception, which is not exactly a ringing endorsement for his hands on a team that throws the ball so much. And third, the only reason Bell got 28 carries is because Pierre Thomas missed the game with a sprained MCL. Going forward, Bell will only split carries with Thomas. So consider whether it's worth burning a waiver pick on a part-time running back.
(NOTE: All of the above is moot if you have Reggie Bush on your fantasy team. Then you should drop Bush and pick up Mike Bell. Or, if you can't get Bell, drop Bush and pick up any other Saints running back who is not named Reggie Bush. Or any other running back in the league. Or bolster your depth at kicker. Or actually, no. Just stay with the Saints. They have an explosive offense. Dalton Hilliard maybe? He'll probably at least put up equal numbers to Bush.)
The New England Patriots promised today that they will never wear throwback uniforms again honoring the 1926 Boston Bulldogs after 14 players were killed, and more than 20 more were injured, during the team’s game on Monday.
“We will always honor and remember the proud history of football in New England,” said Patriots owner Robert Kraft, “but perhaps not wearing helmets and putting our players in minimal, antiquated pads was not the best way to do that. Still, they looked cool out there. At least before the carnage began.”
Two Patriots suffered fatal head trauma and one was decapitated on the opening kickoff, a bloody eight seconds that foreshadowed the remainder of the game.
“I wish the team would have at least worn leather helmets back then,” said Patriots head trainer Michael Fox. “That would have given me a sort of bucket to scoop up the brain chunks. But, no, I had to get down on my hands and knees and crawl around on the field looking for everything – lobes, gray matter, eyes. It was no fun.”
Packers linebacker Jerod Mayo escaped death, but was forced out of the game in the third quarter after suffering a broken pelvis and two dislocated shoulders.
“I don’t know if players were tougher back then or if they were wimps who played a pussified form of football that didn’t require helmets and pads,” he said. “I think it’s the latter and that today’s players are just faster and stronger. But I don’t want to think about it anymore because it hurts to think due to the four concussions I suffered.”
With 12 players dead at halftime, head coach Bill Belichick fired up the team with a speech urging them to use the memories of their fallen teammates as motivation for the second half.He also urged them to use their fallen teammates as protection.
“I used chunks of one guy’s skull – I’m not sure who’s, he wasn’t identifiable – to fashion myself a chest plate,” said wide receiver Randy Moss. "I'm used to gutting fish, so it was nothing to me. And then I made crude shoulder pads out of forearms bones and chunks of hair and skin. Needless to say, I didn’t get hurt at all in the second half. In fact, I might go with the bone, hair and skin shoulder pads again this week.”
Belichick said the game was hard to watch.
"I struggled. I did," he said. "It was hard to stand there and not laugh out loud. That was the most fun I've ever had coaching. Did you see the blood spurt out of that rookie's ear on the punt return? So awesome."
During a commercial break in last night's "Football Night In America" broadcast on NBC, new panelist Rodney Harrison rose from his seat and dove into the knees of fellow anchor Dan Patrick, seriously injuring the media personality.
"It's been almost a year now since I've been on a football field," said Harrison. "I miss hurting people. It was great to hit another man again when he's not expecting it."
Harrison said he felt Patrick was a good target because he is the approximate size of an NFL quarterback.
"Plus he dyes his hair. He had it coming," said Harrison. "I would have taken out Keith Olbermann, but that pussy probably would have tried to sue."
Patrick's left knee was horrifically twisted and he suffered a nasty gash on his shoulder from falling down off the set stage into the corner of a step.
"There is blood everywhere!" he boomed, his intense pain not affecting his broadcaster's voice. "You can't stop the blood, you can only hope to contain it! It burns! My shoulder is en fuego!"
Harrison says he hopes to take out more of his NBC colleagues as the season goes on.
"Peter King? Definitely. That guy is a total tool," he said. "Costas? I would break that dude in half. And even under the threat of a lawsuit, I'm still taking Olbermann down. That would be too fun. I bet his glasses would break. And he'd cry. Awesome."
But there is one colleague Harrison plans to avoid.
"Tony Dungy," he said. "Have you seen the eyes on that guy? Creepy. If I hurt him he'd probably put some weird voodoo, mind control thing on me. I'd have to hit him hard enough to kill him so he can't do his voodoo. And I don't know if I'm capable of that anymore. That's why I unfortunately had to retire from football."
We all know the scores. But who really won and lost this week?
1. Larry Fitzgerald – You didn’t die or burst into flames. Suck on that, Madden. Troy Polamalu is just a wuss with (girlier) girl hair.
2. Brett Favre – Gunslingers don’t have to only shoot people from afar. A close-range shot is effective, too. Oftentimes more effective. If Favre can continue to turn around and gunsling the ball directly into Adrian Peterson’s hands – and never ever gunsling it down the field – the Vikings might be halfway decent. If that’s not risky enough for Favre, perhaps he can consider Peterson’s arms to be double coverage.
3. Twitter – Did Jake Delhomme or Jay Cutler throw another interception? Just ReTweet the last time you Tweeted “Delhomme picked” or “Another Cutler turnover.” Communicating has never been quicker or easier!
4. Drew Brees – Nice start to the season: 6 TDs. Here’s a Brees Fun Fact for you: When his facial mole beacon glows dark brown, he is powered all the way up and can throw it the length of the field.
5. St. Louis Rams – Zero points. Way not to peak in September. Tony Romo and the Cowboys could learn something from the Rams. Is St. Louis my darkhorse Super Bowl pick? No way. More like my Super Bowl favorite.
1. Anthony Gonzalez – On the shelf for six weeks with a knee injury. That’s interesting. I had no idea that penises have knees.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers – You beat the Arizona Cardinals to win the Super Bowl? Oh, really impressive. Wow. Quite a feat. So what you’re saying is that you held a parade to celebrate beating … the Arizona Cardinals?Pathetic. Just sad.
3. Philadelphia Eagles – Donovan McNabb may miss a few weeks with a broken rib. More if Andy Reid tries to dip the rib into barbecue sauce and eat it.
4. Tony Dungy – Not a good start on NBC’s studio show. They dropped Jerome Bettis for this guy? Dungy’s unblinking eyes are wider than Bettis’ waist. He hypnotized me three times during one segment. He almost convinced me to watch Jay Leno’s new show.
5. Reggie Bush– The Saints offense exploded for 45 points against the Lions. Well, everyone except Bush exploded. He had 14 yards on 7 carries. He also had two fumbles. But, guess what! Bush has a sex tape! Nothing is more interesting than a video of a crap running back having sex. I still remember watching Lawrence Phillips fk the Rams.
1:00 p.m. ET
Miami at Atlanta (-4)
Will Matt Ryan fall prey to the sophomore slump? I know I did when I was a sophomore. But then I worked on my core strength and saw a doctor about my scoliosis. And by junior year I had my first date! (She still had terrible posture, unfortunately.)
My pick: Miami (and to win)
Denver at Cincinnati (-4)
Marvin Lewis better win this year or he's going to lose his job. (No, just kidding. I say that every year. Apparently Bengals management doesn't give a crap about winning.)
My pick: Cincinnati***
Minnesota at Cleveland (+3.5)
Eric Mangini is still trying to keep his starting quarterback a secret. But Mangini sucks at trying to keep secrets. Take his name, for example. Dude, it doesn't matter how you spell it, we know your ancestors immigrated here from Italy due to being discriminated against in their homeland for their manginas.
My pick: Minnesota
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-7)
The Colts have a new head coach, but there is some continuity on the staff in that offensive coordinator Tom Moore is still in place. It would have been hard for Peyton Manning to learn all new plays to ignore.
My pick: Indianapolis
Detroit at New Orleans (-13)
Relax, Lions fans. Don't freak out and claim Matthew Stafford is the messiah when he puts up gaudy stats in this game. He's playing against the Saints defense. They suck. And, really, a line like 14-for-29 with 140 yards and an interception is not a gaudy passing line. It's just that you're Lions fans and you don't know any better.
My pick: New Orleans
Dallas at Tampa Bay (+6)
The Cowboys weren't very good when Terrell Owens was on the team. But at least they were interesting. Now they're not very good and boring. And what a perfect segue for me to talk about the Buccaneers. Hey, did you ever notice that the Buccaneers are not very good and boring?
My pick: Dallas
Philadelphia at Carolina (+2.5)
Their defensive coordinator passed away. Their starting running back is hurt all the time. Their best linebacker is out for the year. Their starting quarterback is inconsistent. They have a quarterback controversy in the waiting. And their head coach can't win a big game. Some people are way too high on this Eagles team. Like, Andy Reid blood sugar-high after a lunchtime trip to Krispy Kreme.
My pick: Carolina (and to win)
Kansas City at Baltimore (-12.5)
Matt Cassel was brought in to be the savior in Kansas City. That's something Joe Montana could not do. But I'm totally sure someone of Matt Cassel's ability will succeed where Joe Montana could not.
My pick: Baltimore
New York Jets at Houston (-4.5)
Many people are picking the Texans as a breakout team this year. And I agree. I think by season's end the percentage of Americans who have heard of the Houston Texans will grow from 3.7-percent well into the lows 4.0s. Maybe even as high as 4.5 in the very unlikely circumstance they make the playoffs.
My pick: Houston***
4:15 p.m. ET
Washington at New York Giants (-6.5)
The current line among Giants homers for Eli Manning's continued mediocrity is that his accuracy problems are due to the swirling winds at Giants Stadium. (They're still working on a theory for road games.) Even if that's true (it's not), what the theory doesn't take into account is the whole chicken-or-the-egg thing. You've heard how the single flap of a butterfly's wing can lead to a massive hurricane or a tornado. Imagine the sort of weather disturbance caused by a flipping and flopping and wobbling Eli Manning pass. We're lucky we're not all dead.
My pick: New York Giants
San Francisco at Arizona (-6.5)
After Troy Polamalu's injury, Larry Fitzgerald has to be legitimately concerned for his health. But I think the Madden "curse" has something especially cruel in store for him. He won't be hurt. Instead, Kurt Warner will be hurt. And Fitzgerald will have to play with Matt Leinart as his quarterback. Mwuah-ha-ha-ha-ha.
My pick: Arizona
St. Louis at Seattle (-8)
Many think the Seahawks will be back in playoff contention this year. And they probably will. But I'm not sure it's good when your head coach is considered the dumber version of Jim Mora, Sr.
My pick: Seattle
8:20 p.m. ET
Chicago at Green Bay (-3.5)
With complimentary lighting, it's possible to make Jay Cutler look like he doesn't have a double chin. Unfortunately, there's no sort of trick that can make Jay Cutler not seem like a divisive prick.
My pick: Green Bay
Buffalo at New England (-10.5)
How ineffective has Buffalo's offense been? So bad it may only score 20 or so points on New England's defense.
My pick: New England
San Diego at Oakland (+9)
This game ends the opening week of the NFL and doesn't kickoff until 10:15 p.m. ET. It's an appropriate late start for what is essentially a snuff film.
My pick: San Diego
THURSDAY PICK NOW BELOW
Amid previous allegations of battery and false imprisonment, reality TV star Tila Tequila today filed additional charges against her boyfriend, Chargers All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman, with the San Diego police department, accusing him of choking her to death, placing her body inside a duffel bag, and throwing her corpse into the Pacific Ocean.
“It’s time for the truth to come out,” Tequila told reporters. “Over the past few days, Shawne Merriman and his lawyers have done everything in their power to disgrace and discredit me. They’ve portrayed as a drunken, lying attention whore. Well, now it’s time for the truth to come out. Shawne Merriman murdered me, in cold blood.”
Tequila alleges that, on the night in question, Merriman demanded she participate in a five-way orgy with three other women, one of them famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart. When she refused, she claims Merriman grew enraged, throwing her against the wall and placing her hands around her throat, choking her until her pulse flat-lined.
“And I begged Shawne to stop,” Tequila said, “but he just squeezed harder and harder. And then I saw a white light, and I knew that was it. I knew I was gone.”
Paramedics arrived at the scene were unable to revive Ms. Tequila in the ambulance. According to Ms. Tequila, she was pronounced dead on arrival at Scripps Mercy Hospital.
“It’s just such a senseless tragedy,” she said. “I was young girl, and there were so many things I wanted to do with my life.To think that I’ll never get married and have children… to think that my mother will never hear my voice again… It’s just so awful. The hardest part is accepting that I’m dead, and I’m not coming back."
“Also, y’all gotta come see me host Smirnoff Ice’s NFL Kickoff party at Rain in Vegas this weekend,” she added. “It’s gonna be AMAZING.”
Merriman’s camp responded immediately to Tequila’s claims.
“These charges are completely without merit,” said laywer Todd Macaluso. “I demand an autopsy be performed on Ms. Tequila’s body immediately. My client is even willing to pay the cost of it, and perform it himself if that’s okay with everyone.”
Tequila countered Macaluso’s statements on her Twitter feed:
“They can say wat they want yall. But Shawne can’t hide from the fact someone was killed that nite: Me. Love you guys! Xoxoxoxo, Tila”
His fellow cover subject on Madden NFL 10, Troy Polamalu, didn't make it through the first half of his first regular season game of the year before suffering a serious knee injury. Once he saw that, Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald decided he wasn't going to sit idly by and wait to see how fate would punish him.
Instead, he took matters into his own hands and lost an important part of those hands in the process.
"Troy's knee was hurt pretty bad," said Fitzgerald. "I didn't want something like that to happen to me or worse. So I grabbed a butcher's knife out of the drawer, bit down on a wooden spoon and chopped off my pinkie."
Before he could reconsider, Fitzgerald says he threw the severed digit into his kitchen sink and pushed it far down into the drain where he could reach it.
"I didn't want to panic and run to the hospital to have my finger re-attached," said the receiver, "only to take the field on Sunday and have some linebacker blow out my knee on a hit. I wanted to finish this Madden business now and on my own terms. And now I can move on, I just have nine fingers to catch with now instead of 10. It's not a big deal."
Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt says he wishes his star player hadn't taken such drastic action.
"I know he probably wanted to cash in on his huge season last year and expand his marketability, but agreeing to be on the cover of Madden is not the answer. It's foolish. And it's dangerous," said Whisenhunt. "But I'm glad he only lost a finger in the end. That was smart of him to chop it off. I was worried and resigned to the fact that it would be much, much worse. I'll take a pinkie stump."
With his stump sitting against a bag of ice, a crude tourniquet tied around the base to stem the bleeding, Fitzgerald watched SportsCenter for any news on his fallen friend, Polamalu.
"I'll admit that I am a little surprised to learn that it's only an MCL sprain and that Troy should be back well before midseason," said Fitzgerald. "It seemed much worse at first. Maybe I, uh maybe I acted a bit rash. I'll admit. There may have been better options. Or maybe it would have been best had I just not done anything at all. You know, I wish I still had that pinkie to re-attach. I really do. But I chopped it up in the garbage disposal."