I didn’t see much of the opening game of the NFL season, but I did watch much of the opening Sunday. On Thursday night I watched Novak Djokovic advance to the U.S. Open semifinals while Peyton Manning dissected the Ravens.
This was also my first NFL Sunday with a flat-screen TV with HD capabilities so I really finally felt like an adult. While I don’t have a DirecTV package I do get the Red Zone so spent the afternoon and evening planted in front of my screen, ignoring the perfect New York weather. But at least I showered; I’m sure many NFL fans didn’t even make that detour on their way from the bed to the couch. Some things I was happy to see back on TV as the NFL made its way back.
Manning, Brees, Brady, Rodgers, Kaepernick — it’s still somewhat shocking watching players like that make everything look so easy, as a chaotic, violent game becomes as simple as a game of 2-on-2 in a city park between friends. Quarterback is supposed to be the hardest position in sports but watching those guys makes it seem like the easiest. And then Red Zone cuts to a Vikings game.
Of course to better appreciate the greats you have to watch the terrible quarterbacks. Your Ponders, Weedens, Gabberts. Somehow these highly trained, talented pros devolve into me as a ninth-grade quarterback at JWP, when my only dream was to hand the ball off or get rid of it a second after the snap on a pass play so I wouldn’t get hit from a lineman who made it through our porous offensive line. It’s tough to say what’s the most enjoyable part of bad quarterbacking: The overthrows; looking at one receiver and throwing an interception; the panicked feet in the pocket; the skipped passes; the exasperated looks on the faces of their head coaches as they slowly trot off the field.
PLAY CLOCK FOLLIES
i remain convinced that Dallas Cowboys players don’t learn about the existence of the play clock until the first possession of the first regular season game. Inevitably the play clock pops up with six seconds while Tony Romo is shouting out directions. It gets snapped with a second to go or doesn’t get snapped or the Cowboys call a timeout. I bet it’s a tradition that started with Staubach.
On Sunday night’s game, Collinsworth talked about how teams don’t have as much practice in training camp, owing to newer safety measures. That, Collinsworth said, has led to sloppy play in this opening week. The implication being the NFL never had sloppy opening weeks from 1920-2006.
THE RICHIE PETITBON MEMORIAL AWARD
My cousin Matt always got annoyed when broadcasters bragged about Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon. This was before it became a norm for broadcasters to utter the names of offensive and defensive coordinators 78 times a game. Petitbon was one of the early trailblazers. Now we get action shots of these football geniuses sitting behind glass high up in the stadium, plotting and scheming. In week 1 the award goes to the new Dallas defensive coordinator, the elderly Monte Kiffin. As the Giants kept coughing the ball up, Kiffin kept getting more and more credit, as if he was the guy actually picking off Eli Manning or stripping the ball from hapless runners.
SCREAMS OF JOY AND AGONY
The people who live in my building or in the complex that’s about 10 feet from our window must own TVs that are a second or so ahead of mine. I’ll hear a yell before I actually see the play happen in a Jets or Giants game. So I knew the Jets had kicked the game-winning field goal while the ball was still being snapped on my screen and I knew when Monte Kiffin picked off a pass before I actually witnessed Eli Manning throw it.
ANDY REID DRESSED IN RED
Big Andy — nice victory in debut — is not going to look too great in any color, god bless him. But in the Chiefs red he looked, as someone on Twitter said, like a pitcher of Kool Aid.
DOUBLE NEGATIVES, OR DOUBLE POSITIVES
Troy Aikman specializes in these but any analyst can add his own twist. Something along the lines of: “I’m not so sure that wasn’t pass interference.” “I’m not sure you can’t make an argument that he’s not the best quarterback in the NFL.” “I don’t think you can say for certain that he wasn’t out of bounds on that play.” The scary thing: We all know what they’re talking about when they say these things. I guess I’m not so sure that’s not the beauty of the NFL.