Buffalo Bills rookie cornerback Ellis Lankster struggled a bit in a postgame interview earlier this preseason.
Like, um awkward.
But with great awkwardness comes great opportunity for great awesomeness. Or, like, um however that saying goes.
Like, um I want to get that on my iPod. Like, um now.
After an offseason of conditioning and film study, more than a month of grueling practices in the summer heat and four exhibition games, NFL players are now ready to start playing games for the benefit of fantasy football leagues.
"We know how seriously people take fantasy football and we want them to know that we take our role in it very seriously, too," said LaDainian Tomlinson, a highly-ranked fantasy running back.
Tomlinson and other players say making their fantasy owners happy motivates them all year.
"Every weight I lift, every drill I run it's all because I want to provide those who own me with as many points as possible. I try to grind out every extra yard for those leagues that use decimal point scoring," said running back Frank Gore. "If I make my owners happy and help them win their fantasy football league, then I've done my job. Team goals are secondary."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league's focus has shifted in recent years.
"Winning games and Super Bowls is nice," he said. "But we all know where our bread is buttered now. The amount of money that fantasy football brings in, the amount that fantasy football has expanded our fanbase and increased the interest of our existing fans fantasy is far more important to the NFL than reality."
That's why Goodell put in place many additional safety rules this season.
"We can't have fantasy stars like Tom Brady going down every year. It hurts one NFL team," he said, "but it affects thousands of fantasy teams. And that's bad for our brand."
Steelers running back Willie Parker says he knows firsthand how fantasy football trumps real football.
"I have been a major contributor to two Super Bowl teams," he said. "Only a handful of running backs in NFL history can make that claim. Yet most fans think of me more as a guy whose fantasy impact is limited by the fact that I don't get a lot of touches near the end zone. I can't tell you how much that hurts. I'd give up all of my championships to switch careers with a consistent fantasy performer like Steven Jackson."
As Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tries to keep his focus on the field, the civil suit against him off the field continues to develop.
Today the Super Bowl-winning quarterback's attorney, David Cornwell, released a series of photos of Roethlisberger's accuser intended to cast additional doubt on the veracity of her claims.
"I'm not going to draw any conclusions for you about who the true identity of Ben's accuser might be," said Cornwell, toggling through more than a dozen images projected on a large screen at a press conference, stopping extra long on a shot of the woman leaving her attorney's office wearing a gray hoodie. "I think you can all see the certain resemblance. I'll let you draw the obvious conclusions yourselves."
Cornwell briefly took media questions about the civil case, but stuck to his talking points regardless of the question.
"My attention is on this case, but Ben's focus is strictly on football right now. And, interesting side note: the Steelers have won two Super Bowls since Bill Belichick's Patriots last won one," said the attorney, completely ignoring a question about whether the civil case might be dismissed by the judge.
He later said that Roethlisberger had indeed had encounters with his accuser, "but never in Lake Tahoe only in New England and Pittsburgh and usually at midfield after games."
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked at his press conference today if he had any comment on the latest news from the Roethlisberger case.
"Oh, come on, guys. You know I can't and wouldn't comment on that. That's a civil case I know absolutely nothing about," he said. "And as you well know, I only answer questions about the New England Patriots. I will say, however, that Ben Roethlisberger's accuser appears to be a very handsome woman. I hope my beauty does not prevent people from taking these chargers very seriously."
AVOID: Brady Quinn, QB, Browns If you're looking for a backup quarterback in the late rounds of your draft, it may be tempting to draft Brady Quinn, the presumptive starter in Cleveland. But remember Quinn hasn't been officially announced as the Browns starter. Eric Mangini is keeping it a big secret. But this isn't the good kind of secret. This isn't your girlfriend or boyfriend keeping it a secret about where you are going for your anniversary. Or you not knowing exactly how big your year-end bonus will be. This is a bad secret. Like being told that someone played a prank outside your front door and you not knowing if it's a flaming poo bag on the welcome mat or a rotten fish shoved in your mail slot. Either way it's bad. So whatever you do, don't draft this poo bag. (Quinn is the poo bag, of course. Duh! Derek Anderson is totally a rotten fish.)
It has worked for the Ravens defense.
Now Baltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron hopes it will work for the Ravens offense.
Bounties, that is.
"I'm tired of this team being so imbalanced between our great defense and punchless offense," said Cameron. "The Ravens have been in this town for 13 years and their offense has sucked every one of those years. Maybe these guys need some extra impetus to score."
So just as the Ravens defense has posted bounties on the heads of certain opposing offensive players in the past, Cameron is posting bounties of his own this year. On the end zone.
"Get in the end zone, score a touchdown, I will personally give you $2,000," said Cameron. "It's pretty simple. I hope I'm out a lot of money at the end of this year. But with these guys' track record, I'm afraid I won't be. I am more than willing to be surprised, though. It's on them."
Cameron's end zone bounty offer isn't as simple as he makes it sound.
"Yeah, there is some fine print," he said. "Well, basically it's just one thing. These have to be legitimate offensive touchdowns that we create all by ourselves as an offensive unit. Like, an actual drive like you see good teams have. I'm not giving anyone any money if Ed Reed picks off a pass and runs it back 60 yards to the 2-yard line and then we punch it in. That doesn't count. That's pretty much how we score all of our offensive touchdowns. I'm sick of it. It's embarrassing."
Under those narrowed terms, Cameron estimates he would have been out $4,000 last year.
"Two drives. Two real, NFL-quality drives. All season," says Cameron. "That's pathetic. And I think both of them came against the Browns. I don't know if I would pay out for touchdowns against the Browns. Those are cheaper than the ones set up by Ed Reed."
DRAFT: Matt Forte, RB, Bears Forte was last season's breakout rookie, totaling 1,238 rushing yards, 477 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns. And this year, with Jay Cutler in the fold, Forte should face fewer eight-man fronts. Granted, there is some growing concern in football circles that the former Tulane star is more a numbers guy than a legitimate force on the football field. They point to the fact that Forte averaged less than four yards a carry last season and only broke 100 yards three times in 16 games. Most surprising of all, there are apparently people who value actual football ability over the ability to post meaningful fantasy stats. Weird!
Most kids who love sports dream of hitting the game-winning shot or throwing the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl or crushing a home run to win the World Series. But Tyler Stallman is not most kids. He is much larger than most kids.
"Fat" you could even say. "Morbidly obese" if you were trying for accuracy.
"For as long as I can remember, since he was a little boy, Tyler has dreamed of being an offensive lineman," said his mother, Jackie. "And I think he can do it. Look at him. He's a tub."
Most days Mrs. Stallman can find her son outside in the yard of their trailer home imagining himself throwing the winning block in the Super Bowl.
"And Peyton Manning drops back to pass but they are blitzing him!" Tyler will say. "Who will block for him? Oh! It's Tyler Stallman! What a block! It's the play of the Super Bowl! Also, a touchdown was scored on the play."
"He would be out there for hours every day," said his mother. "But usually he gets winded pretty quickly and comes inside for a snack and a nap. Or he'll just collapse in the yard and wake up and drag himself in later when he gets hungry."
Stallman's bedroom is a testament to his desire to be an offensive lineman one day. Its walls are covered with drawings of great linemen.
"Nobody sells posters of linemen, so I have to draw them myself," says Tyler. "This one over here is William Roaf. I traced the body from a Santa decoration we put up at Christmas."
If Tyler keeps working hard at the dining table, some think he has a legitimate chance of playing in the NFL one day and living out those dreams.
"He's only a kid now," said Jack Riggins, head coach of the local high school team. "But he definitely has the girth I look for in a lineman. I like to build my teams from the line out, and I have my eye on this Stallman kid. I've tracked him since his birth announcement in the paper said he was 13 pounds. If he can stay fat for the next three years and not fall prey to society's pressures to be slim and healthy, I think he can be a star."
For now, though, his football career will have to wait, as none of the youth league uniforms or helmets fit his enormous body.
Tyler says he won't let anything stand in the way of his dream.
"Look at this," he said, opening a container of Oreos for dinner.
"I'm so proud of my boy," said his mother. "He's going to be rich one day and get me the new house and stomach stapling I've always wanted."
"Grmupfh," promised Tyler, his mouth full.
NFL rosters have been cut down to 53 players. Some bigger names didn't make it. I spoke to my sources to find out why.
Jeff Garcia, QB, Raiders Coaches says Garcia did everything asked of him and provided just the veteran leadership they wanted. He just wasn't a good fit with the team because it turns out many of Oakland's plays have S's in them and Garcia's lisp confused play calls at the line of scrimmage.
Ian Johnson, RB, Vikings It was a numbers issue with the former Boise State star in Minnesota. There were just too many quality backs already on the roster. But Johnson may have earned himself a spot on the practice squad with a dramatic proposal to head coach Brad Childress.
Carey Davis, FB, Steelers Davis has been a solid contributor for the Steelers and had a good camp. But Pittsburgh wants to limit distractions this year while trying to repeat. And some coaches worried his first name was a subtle request for more carries.
David Tyree, WR, Giants Tyree struggled catching the ball in camp and coaches were not open to his idea of wearing helmets on each of his hands.
Alex Smith, TE, Patriots Alex Smith was hurt again by sharing the same name as that piece of crap 49ers quarterback. He struggles to break through those expectations no matter how well he plays.
Andrew Walter, QB, Patriots Bill Belichick got a hankering to cut someone and Walter just happened to be nearby at the time.
John David Booty, QB, Vikings Booty lost his job because some old turdbag simply can't move on with his life.
DRAFT: Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions The No. 1 overall pick in this year's rookie draft has been named the starting quarterback for the Lions. With no expectations on him this season and weapons around him like Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith Stafford could post solid numbers. Consider him for your backup quarterback position. Consider him even more if you play in a keeper league. If Stafford is available in the mid to late rounds, take him. Remember: fantasy football isn't all about winning; it's about fun, too. And by the mid to late rounds, fantasy drafts begin to wane a bit. If you pick Stafford, not only do you get a potential future quarterback, you get a Detroit Lion. And that's a good 10 to 15 minutes of joke fodder. Funnest. Draft. Ever? Maybe. And it's all thanks to you.
Jagodzinski [jag-o-zin-ski, dum-ass, mor-on]
1. to lose a stable job while carelessly and publicly seeking another job, only to eventually lose the job you moved to, leaving you without any job at all.
Jobless, his life in shambles and with no way to pay his bills, Jeff chided himself for engaging in such careless jagodzinski.
2. any person who engages in jagodzinski.
That guy can't keep a job. He's a total jagodzinski.
Picture: Your typical jagodzinski looks a lot like this guy, complete with that stupid grin and haircut and expanding chin area.