Last week I didn’t mention the passing of an NFL icon—Art Modell—because when I reached out to people to get their thoughts, the replies were mostly negative. Not unprintable, per se, but in poor taste considering the man was dead. The reactions to Steve Sabol’s death were the opposite: the NFL Films president was beloved.
Sabol and his father, the founder of NFL Films, are largely responsible for so many football-viewing aspects we take for granted today: slow-motion and reverse angle replays, setting highlights to music, microphones on the field, blooper reels, and more. You didn’t need to see the television to know it was an NFL Films production. The music was powerful and recognizable enough. Sabol won 35 Emmys and is regarded as the greatest storyteller in NFL history. He died on Tuesday after an 18-month battle with brain cancer. He was 69.
LeGrand returns to MetLife Stadium
Far too much coverage was spent on the end of the Giants-Bucs game—when the Bucs knocked Eli Manning to the ground as he took a knee—and not nearly enough was spent on the beginning, when Eric LeGrand was at midfield for the coin toss. He wore his No. 52 Bucs jersey and was cheered by the New York crowd. The game took place at MetLife Stadium, which is where LeGrand was paralyzed. After the game, LeGrand tweeted: “I have been back to MetLife Stadium a few times but today I got to realize where I went down, can’t wait to go to that spot and walk away.”
Officiating the officials
After the replacement referees seemed to do a decent job in Week 1, last weekend brought a lot more controversy. The problems started before the first kickoff on Sunday, as news broke of the ridiculous but true story of an official being pulled from the Saints-Panthers game because the NFL discovered he was a Saints fan. Naturally, they found the incriminating evidence on Facebook.
As for the refs who were allowed to work, the results were mixed at best. The consensus among players, coaches, and fans was that too many flags were being thrown, particularly for pass interference (even on the offense). Anecdotal evidence is trumped by the raw numbers, however, which show the average number of penalties per game is down from 15.2 last season to 14.7. Of course that does not mean the refs are doing just as good a job as the locked-out officials. They might be calling bogus penalties while missing obvious infractions. But we do know they aren’t throwing any more flags than normal.
We shouldn’t be discussing any of this. Roger Goodell needs to get the more experienced refs back on the field immediately. But again, Goodell doesn’t really care about the health of his players or the integrity of the game, only the appearance of these things. The Thursday night games throughout the season—in addition to being annoying for various gambling pools—prove he values dollars over safety. Baltimore, for example, opened the season on a Monday and has a Thursday game in Week 4. Four games in 18 days doesn’t give the players the necessary recovery time.
Fly like an eagle: the wrong way
Maybe this isn’t news to you, but did you realize the Philadelphia Eagles logo is the NFL’s only logo that points to the left? Several are directionless (the Cowboys’ star, the Saints’ fleur de leis, the 49ers’ “SF,” to name three), but all others face to the right. You could argue the Bucs’ logo is questionable, since it is a flag that is blowing to the left—but that tells me the flag is moving to the right and therefore taking on headwind. How can a franchise expect to move forward when its mascot is travelling backward? The Falcons’, Ravens’, Seahawks’, and Cardinals’ logos all face or fly to the right.
Video of the Week: The NFL Network’s “He’s a Beast” segment. No other videos were considered. After watching, you’ll see why. Which analyst do you think is most extreme? Michael Irvin and his wide eyes? Marshall Faulk and his creepy wink? Rich Eisen and his facial contortion? “He’s a Beast” makes those discontinued ESPN “C’Mon Man!” segments look like Emmy-worthy television.
Clown of the Week: Santonio Holmes, New York Jets. Just because you are a fan of a team doesn’t mean you have to like all the players. Well, I don’t like Holmes. I’m sick of his first down gesture: extending the ball and then dropping it, even if an official is about to take it from him. In the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh, Ike Taylor, who was covering Holmes, fell to the ground after the whistle. Seeing Taylor below him, Holmes locked Taylor’s ankle between his feet, not allowing him to get up.
Fun Factoid: Eli became the first Manning to throw for at least 500 yards in one game when he accumulated 510 against the Bucs. Peyton and Papa Bear never reached the half-century mark.
Fun Factoid No. 2: A league-record 20 NFL teams are 1-1. There are only six undefeated teams, a record low since the NFL expanded to 30 teams in 1995.
Tweet of the Week: “It’s sad how Wile E. Coyote is remembered 4 his crappy ACME gadgets, and not 4 his brilliantly realistic paintings of tunnels. #PoWwWwW”
—@BrandonSpikes55 (Brandon Spikes), New England Patriots linebacker
Best Bets: Survivor: Saints ((already took: Patriots (hey, I get a buyback, right?), Bears)); against the spread: Jets -2.5 (season record: 1-1)