Well, folks, the big news in the NFL this week was that there wasn't any big news in the NFL this week. Nothing. Brett Favre finally threw his 421st career touchdown, to break the all-time record of the great Dan Marino. Even this caused only a ripple upon the surface of an otherwise calm week (though I did find myself wondering (a) just how long they had toted around the recorded tribute from Marino before the record fell and (b) why the Old Man's surname is pronounced 'Farv' and not 'Fav-ray'?). This being the case, I thought I would use this space to answer some of the questions I have been asked since I started writing here.
First of all, the Belichick affair. Yes, I know it sounds daft, but you can use TV pictures to analyse your opponents, just not covert footage you have taken yourself. I guess it is all down to some ill-defined code of fair play. Also the fact that the players know they are being filmed by TV and, as i have mentioned before, guard against it. That is not to say that some have not been caught out. There is a famous story from basketball where, with less than 10 seconds of an important game remaining, the coach of the losing team called a time out. At that time, TV cameras were allowed to film inside the huddle that basketball players go into during a time out. The other team simply sent a member of staff down to the changing rooms, where the game was being shown. He ran back with details of what the opposition were planning and the game was won.
Next, the Minnesota Vikings. I'm sorry to say that my view on them hasn't changed much since I wrote the preview. They are currently 1-3 for the season, having been on the receiving end of Favre's record pass at the weekend. They have two injury prone QBs and don't seem to be able to decide which is the lesser risk. Frankly, I can't blame them. If I had to choose which was the lesser of the two evils that are Tavaris Jackson and Kelly Holcomb, I'd be putting my head in the oven. Their one victory came over the Falcons and their next best chance of not losing a game is actually this weekend - but only because they have a bye. They then have to play the Bears - who at least do know who their QB will be, after Brian Griese was confirmed as #1 this week - followed by the Cowboys, Eagles, Chargers and Packers again. This means that by the time they get a match I would expect them to win - the Raiders in Week 11 - they could easily be 1-8 and looking at their worst season ever.
Vick's drug test failure proves nothing other than that the guy is too stupid to even stick to his own bail conditions. Even Pete Doherty is - currently - managing to do that. I don't actually wish Vick ill and so long as he receives a fair punishment for what he has done I'll be happy. But talk about making life hard for yourself!
'Paper Lion' is a good book, although 'Friday Night Lights' is regarded as the definitive 'year with a team' book - probably because most Americans feel a closer affinity with their college and high school sides than with the pro sides. Another great book is 'The Blind Side' by Michael Lewis, which is a truly heartwarming story and will teach you some things about the game along the way - like why a left tackle is the second highest paid player on a team.
Heritage uniforms: For some reason, whenever a side reaches a significant anniversary, NFL tradition decrees that, for that week, they play in a uniform which is a replica of that which they played their first game in. This season, both the Eagles and the Redskins were 75 years old. The interesting facts to come out of this were that the latter only developed their slightly controversial Red Indian logo sometime later - their original one was an R with tailfeathers - and that whoever designed the original Eagles outfit had no dress sense whatsoever. They looked like page boys in helmets
Meanwhile, back in the modern day NFL:
- 'Cadillac' Williams becomes the latest exotically named star to be ruled out for the season with a cruciate ligament injury;
- Revenge is sweet for Daunte Culpepper as he leads the Raiders to a 35-17 win over the Dolphins team which released him at the start of September, scoring three of the touchdowns himself;
- Pre-season favourites the Chargers lose their third straight game, going down 30-16 to the Chiefs;
- At the other extreme, the Steelers lose their first game as the Cardinals defense puts up a massive performance to bring off a 21-14 win;
- Tony Romo throws four touchdowns as the Cowboys flatten the Rams 35-7. In one amazing play, Romo had to run back 33 yards to recover a misplaced snap which had flown over his head, then ran for 37 yards, leaving a net gain of 4 yards - and pretty much summing up the Rams' afternoon into the bargain;
- The 49ers will be without QB Alex Smith for one game with a damaged shoulder on his throwing arm. As they went down 23-3 at home to the Seahawks and went back to 2-2 it doesn't bode well for this weekend;
- A less happy QB was the Eagles' Donovan McNabb, who managed to get himself sacked a record-equalling 12 times in a 16-3 defeat to the Giants;
- Changing QB doesn't help the Bears. Not only do they lose 37-27 to the Lions, the lack of Rex and the Giants' victory means I don't have anything to laugh at. Couldn't Lovie Smith tell from the names that Grossman and Griese would be the worst double act ever?
- That's all for this week. Thanks for reading. Keep the questions coming and I'll be back next week to talk about padding, or positions, or something. VB