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Week 8 Recap: O-Line Wipeout Leaves Skins Sitting Ducks

Faced with a virtually un-winnable game due to extinction-level injuries on the offensive line, the Washington Redskins did not win against the Dallas Cowboys in the rain on Sunday. It was not unexpected. Dallas 33. Washington 19.

This won’t stop the usual post-loss pie throwing party amongst fans. We always want to offer ingenious fix-it solutions, gloat about certain “told-ya-so’s” and of course, find a few villains. I’m no better than any other fan. But I am trying to get better. So when a game like happens, it’s almost best to just “burn the game film” as the coaching cliche goes, and forget about it.

Thanks to the Monday Night game at Philly, the team was working on a short week to begin with, then so banged up come Wednesday that they cancelled practice due to a lack of healthy bodies. The worst case scenarios of Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, and Spencer Long not being able to play, ALL came true. Then Mason Foster and Bashaud Breeland were added to the pile of not availables.

Once the game began, Niles Paul got knocked into next Tuesday with a concussion. Matt Ioannidis broke his hand. And Jordan Reed – having battled all year to get right – wanked a hammy and had to exit. To make the O-line injuries go from horror show to pure comedy, our last healthy starter Shawn Lauvao exited with with a shoulder stinger.

The line at the end of the game was as follows: Guy Off The Street, Undrafted Rookie, 6th Round Rookie, and two guys we stole from the practice squad of the next NFL team geographically closest to us, so we could get them here in time to fit them for a red helmet.

This is not a game you win. Period.

But while we have a moment, let’s go ahead and bemoan the coulda-shoulda-woulda’s from the game as it unfolded, shall we?

At 13-7, lining up for a short field goal to make it 16-7 in the first half, I think all of us Redskin fans were dreaming the big dream of this game being “our finest hour” as they said in Apollo 13. Instead, the most Redskin-ey thing possible happened, with the blocked FG being returned (from BEHIND the line of scrimmage, mind you, which almost never happens) down to 1st and goal.

Of course.

It’s hard to tell where the blame for that kick goes. It sure looked low. But Dallas did get a big push with hands in the air. The snap might have been tight to Tress Way’s chest. The bobble might have been all on him. The ball got down seemingly in time. But the tilt might have been angled improperly because they rushed. And yeah, Nick Rose might have had his timing messed up and skulled it. Or the timing and the hold were still perfect at the moment of truth, and the undrafted rookie who just got here, might have gakked it all on his own.

I’ve talked to Skins kickers before about this kind of thing, and believe it or not, there’s no definitive “black box” that shows the exact data of a FG disaster.

So whatever.

Chris Thompson’s KRumble was inexcusable. It’s the worst play in football. Period. The Kick Return (f)umble! KRumble. Cooley was bitching on the radio about how come we NEVER run any kick returns wide. He’s got a point. I’d be mad at Thompson but he’s like my favorite player on the team.

Kirk’s sack-strip fumble was inexcusable. Not only was there a hot route available and wide open, but in jailbreak mode protecting the ball is job one. Fail.

Now, let’s talk about the wide receivers. It’s tragic. And that includes Jamison Crowder having a big “wake up” game himself today. The fact that going into today, no Redskins WR’s ranked above #90 in the league in “Yards Receiving” is beyond belief. And the drops are enough to give Skins fans anyuerisms. I excused the Doctson drop in KC. Not that one today. Brutal. Right through your arms. On a soft throw. And even with his TD catch late, it doesn’t mask the fact that the cement of opinion is hardening fast on him. He has 8 catches in 7 games. Three are TD’s. So… yeah. Whatever.

Ryan Grant had two bad drops himself. The second one ended up as a non-factor, since Docton drew the PI that led to a late TD.

The Dallas d-line is pretty sick right now, and their investment in that side of the ball is starting to payoff big time, even with Taco Charlton as a (so-far) 1st round miss. Sure the game could have been “different” if a few of the bad things that happened to us, did not. And a few of the good things that happened to Dallas, didn’t either.

But the Cowboys played the game that presented itself to them. A game where they knew they had control of the trenches on both sides, and could afford to play it safe. Remember: your opponents effort and strategy are always variable, not static.

Of course at the end of the day, Kirk got the ball back with no timeouts and about a minute to play. In a pouring rain, with some guy named “Bergstrom” in on the o-line (he got here on Friday) and a long field to go, Kirk threw a WR screen for 3 yards, and then a no-hope check-down that was tipped for a pick-6.  Kirk haters could rejoice. They had their narrative! It was like finding an unguarded plastic pumpkin of candy on a neighborhood doorstep as Halloween night wound to a close.

It’s true. Kirk threw two soft-toss INTs that were dropped. He was far from great. But then again, he was 66% with 3 drops, and having lost his #1 TE mid-game. With no line. If Colt McCoy can do the same, I’ll eat my hat. I guess we might find out soon enough.

So at 3-4 it’s an uphill war to somehow find 10 wins. It doesn’t look likely. But like most years recently with this team, I’m not getting out the black suit until they lose 7.

Oh What A Night…..

Baseball is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you are going to get. In the case of Game One, you got a 2:28 express, with approximately two total sorta-cool things that happened.

In the case of Game 2, you got everything and nothing you’ve ever seen in a baseball game. It was bonkers. And we’re headed back to Houston tied 1-1. If you only watch baseball as a casual fan, please increase your dosage. Last night was another prime example why you can’t kill a sport that was born 178 years ago.

Here’s a summary list of things that happened last night.

Now some of the visuals.

The Chris Taylor bounce is one of the most cray-cray-WHAAAAA? anyone has ever seen. The kind of karmic perfection needed to have the thin bill of your cap deflect a ball that would otherwise go to the wall for additional runs, and to re-direct it to a teammate? Cray-cray.

Then you had umpire Laz Diaz returning the karmic favor, when he found himself impossibly in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There was an idiot Dodger fan who thought jumping into the Astros bullpen was going to be a good idea. Hint: It wasn’t.

There was a bat-flip-palooza between Yasiel Puig and Carlos Correa, and nobody got their pants in a wad. “If they hit a homer, they’re going to flip over there, too,” Correa said. “So we’re going to go out there and play the way we play the game. We’ll play with a lot of swagger, and let them know we’re here.”

Puig had no problem with it: “I loved it,” Puig said. “It was a little bit higher than the bat flips I normally do; he was happy and that’s the way you should play in the World Series.”

The game ended up running 4:19, and finished well past 12:30 in the east last night. But if you want to see a more amazeballs baseball game on a huge stage than that, good luck. And I’m not even including the universally loved Vin Scully first pitch “skit/ceremony.”

Oh what a night, right Frankie Valli?

Redskins Recap: Game 6: Wentz Goes “Ghost Mode”

The loss to the Eagles took a lot of wind out of me, fanwise. It’s one thing when your team blows an entirely winnable game by either a) coaching malfeasance b) an unlucky bounce c) replay fucking you d) all or some of the above.

But when your team just gets beat – flat beat – and you know the other team is just better, you’re sorta left with nothing. And worse yet, when you realize they might have an even better quarterback than yours? Oooooh. That stings. Not gonna lie.

Mix in a growing pile of injuries and you have a kind of football depression that isn’t going to be as easily managed by some shots of Tin Cup Whiskey.

I guess what I’m dancing around here, is, this season looks like it’s just not going to happy. Pity. I thought something interesting might actually develop.

The Redskins had a weird off-season. They did a lot of seemingly contradictory things. They pulled a suprise coup against their GM. They kicked the can down the road on their expensive franchise-tagged QB for one more year. They let two highly productive WR’s leave. They bet short term on two guys Terrell Pryor and Zach Brown. They didn’t draft a RB in the first 4 rounds. And they changed both coordinators. But gave Gruden an extension, the first coach under Dan Snyder to get one.

I tried to read the tea leaves on what the brass thought about the team and where it was going, what it was doing. And I gave up. If there was a master plan, I couldn’t see it, and my eyes started to get sore staring.

Not that I’m ripping them for being clueless. Nothing they did was indefensible. Even the McCloughan firing. It was tacky, sure. Wrong? I think time will vindicate them. So I went into this year, cautiously optimistic. My saying all summer to fans I met out and about was simple: “I don’t know why they would be any WORSE than last year.”

And I think they were trending that way, until the O-line started to crumble in Philly. Trent is about to give out, any week now. Moses is going to be gimpy the rest of the way, if he himself doesn’t fall. And the knee injury to Scherff is a dagger. Nseke’s ongoing back issues took away our secret weapon from last year.

Worse yet, it looks like several “bets” this team placed in key spots, are going to be losers. The team began by “betting” that Kirk would take a smoke-and-mirrors non-deal. He didn’t. They bet that Pryor could port over his fantasy football numbers from Cleveland. He hasn’t, and almost certainly won’t. They bet that Doctson would come on like gangbusters in year 2. Still waiting. They bet that Rob Kelly would be good enough at RB1. He’s not.

Which is a shame, because the defense is demonstrably better. Even with the loss of Jonathan Allen who was producing right away. Even with Norman on the shelf for a few. So many good “right” moves on D! Manusky! Drafting Nicholson late. Paying for Swearinger and Brown. Coaching up Dunbar. Turning Ioannidis into a monster. Love it all!

Right now the Redskins don’t have a WR in the top-90 in yards. That’s absurd. And Kirk’s still on pace for 4300 yards on 68% completions. This offense is increasingly one-dimensional, and horizontal in nature. Overly reliant on TE looks, and screen passes. It’s gonna be a long hard uphill slug to either win the division or snag a wildcard. Gonna need 10 wins I think, and we’ll lose any/all tiebreakers to Philly thanks to getting swept.

Lastly, a thought about Carson Wentz. What a stud. And I foolishly thought it was a massive reach to take a guy from a 2nd-tier program that high, much less trade up so aggressively to get him. But here he is. A more nimble version of Big Ben, who unlike Roethlisberger, won’t spend the first 5 years of his career as an arrogant drunk.

Wonderful that he and Dak are in our neighborhood, and figure to be a problem for the next decade. Just… wonderful.

Fly-Cam To The Rescue

A subtle, but rather amazing thing happened last night during the Patriots beatdown of the Falcons last night. Because of a thick Boston fog that had settled in over Gillette Stadium, NBC was forced to abandon their usual mid-sideline high angle cameras that are the meat-and-potatoes of football on TV for over 50 years.

Pressed into duty, was a full time live feed of the so-called “SkyCam.” As fans, we take SkyCam for granted. But we shouldn’t. It’s an invention of audacious physical and technical engineering. A full weight robotic camera that can “fly” around the stadium anywhere it wants, while safely secured by four long cables attached the stadium’s upper rim.

As soon as NBC switched their main live feed to SkyCam, I quickly found myself hypnotized. Wow. LOOK at this game! WATCH how the plays develop! You can basically see what the quarterback sees! It was like playing Madden, only you are watching Madden!

Making things even better, was the fact that NBC started following up every low-angle live play, with a HIGH angle “All-22” type replay. It. Was. Glorious.

So, tell me now, what button on my remote do I push that will allow me to watch EVERY NFL game this way? Oh, that will “cost extra” you say? Okay, I already pay $350 a year for the NFL product via DirecTV’s “Sunday Ticket.” Surely I can access this feature through that, no?

Right.

Why do TV networks keep showing us the same-old-same-old TV angles they always have? Tradition, I suppose. Fear of losing a few ratings points, after some old coots and grandmothers get confused and say “How come the football game isn’t on TV right now? What is this? Is this practice?”

While I really don’t want to pay any more money to watch these games at home, I have to admit that IF you could pay a small fee to change to this camera angle full-time, all-the-time… well… go ahead NFL, show me the brochure and how much is it gonna cost?

Week 6 Redskins Recap: Niners Find Fool’s Gold

Honestly, I was sure we had somehow blown an un-blowable game. As the Niners lined up 1st and 10 at the Skins 40, with :28 to go and needing only a FG to win, I said to myself: “Holy shit. We’re dead. If they can just throw a 7 yard hitch, we’re fucked. Get inside the 50 yard attempt threshold, and they are going to beat us. Period.”

Well, luckily, with CJ Beathard at the helm, it was not so easy. Next thing you know, the Skins are getting the benefit of the worst situational/interpretational call I can remember, and this team was stuffing into a bag the ugliest, mangiest, win you’ve ever seen.

But it’s still a win. Like a gas station microwave hamburger, it was cheap and filling. And we keep driving. Next week on Monday night, in Philly. Gonna be YUGE.

There was a lot to like in this game, at least early. Then a bunch of stuff that makes you re-think everything hopeful about this mostly-positive 3-2 start.

Let’s start with our QB, who completed 67%, had 3 passing TDs and one of his own. He scrambled for 18 yards to keep a drive going, and absorbed a big hit at the end instead of sliding. Stupid, yeah, but it sent a message. When the game was tied at 17-17, all he did was capably engineer twin drives that absorbed over 12 minutes of clock, went 70+ yards each, and resulted in 10 points to seemingly ice the game in the 4th quarter.

Pre-tay, pre-TAY… good.

Oh, did I say “10” points? My bad, 9. Dustin Hopkins missed an extra point, which is troubling because he now seemingly misses whenever we need him the most. Some have asked if we need to start “shopping” for a new PK. I say, no. Have you seen the hot piles of shit at placekicker on NFL rosters? Massive choke artist Blair Walsh is in Seattle. Professional scud-launcher Chandler Catanzaro is with the Jets. Dinosaur Matt Bryant roams the sidelines for the Falcons at 42. The Raiders are leaning on some cute little Italian kid until Sebastian Janikowski gets healthy. In other words, we’re not getting better. Hopkins would be snapped up in a heartbeat.

I love Brandon Scherrf within one inch of being gay – not that there’s anything wrong with it. He’s humiliating defenders every single week. Watch the tape!

I love the continued dominance of Matt Ionnidis. He was pushing guys into Hoyer/Beathard like they were the dessert cart in a restaurant.

I love Chris Thompson and Vernon Davis. All they do is run away from people, and make them look foolish.

I love how when Jay Gruden is just calling plays, running an offense with his more-than-capable-QB Kirk, that it seems almost unfair. Any thought that losing Sean McVay as the man with the laminated play-sheet would hurt this team, can be put to rest.

Now… let’s talk about the bad.

The same Jay Gruden, when it comes to tactically navigating a perilous ship through the final minutes of a game to port with a victory, is often more like Captain Joseph Hazelwood. Not only does he coach out of “fear of bad things” but he has no basic understanding of how, why, and when to call/use timeouts. I would go through this week’s atrocities, but you likely saw them, so there’s no need. I’m afraid he’s probably not going to get much better.

I worry that Trent Williams and his amazing toughness, is bound to give out sooner or later. To think he played the whole game, while be so injured that he couldn’t even PRACTICE, is amazing. It’s also a nod to the team’s understanding of how crucial he is. With Ty Nseke out indefinitely with back issues, there IS no good option at LT.

I worry that the secondary could fall completely apart if both Norman and Breeland are out for the next few weeks. Aside from the Vikings, the Skins are coming into a stretch of very good passers: Wentz, Prescott, Wilson, and Brees all before Thanksgiving.

On the whole, this was a win I’m going to work hard to forget about. The Redskins were completely owning Kyle and Co. before inexplicably falling asleep to let them back into the game. The sublime mid-range play calling morphed into conservative runs and needless deep shots. Mix in a completely fucked instant replay non-call that led to the tying touchdown, and they were suddenly in a great spot to throw this one away.

Which they didn’t. Amen, and pass the butter.

>>>>>>> EXTRA POINTS >>>>>>>>

The replay decision to not overturn the Vernon Davis fumble was completely absurd. You can say there was no “definitive angle” to prove the ball wasn’t jiggling out before his knee hit. But since when is that the standard. He was as DOWN as down can be. And replay, failed yet again.

The Garcon OPI was truly horrible. I understand the league’s point of emphasis on these “pick” plays. But Garcon actually tried to hop-step through his guy (Zach Brown) before getting blasted. And Brown wasn’t even tracking his player at that point in the flat. On such a crucial gray-area call, with the game in the balance, you can’t call that unless it’s obvious AND results in an actual advantage play for the offense. Which it didn’t. Brutal.

Jay said afterward he really, really, really wanted to throw it on 3rd down instead of the ol’ “run-n-punt” move at the end. Okay. THEN DO IT! Especially when you just got a contract EXTENSION. A Kirk 7 yard flip WINS the game. Incomplete, or sack, or penalty, or whatever, does NOT lose it. It’s a modest gamble, with high reward.

I didn’t think much of CJ Beathard. He was a 3rd round pick after being an unremarkable 58% passer at Iowa. Yes, the game seemed to change when he came in, but I think that’s mostly because the Skins started playing soft, and the Niners ran the ball better. I believe if Hoyer had been in on that final drive, he would have easily gotten the Niners into FG position. Sure, Hoyer for 60 minutes is a losing proposition. But Beathard seemed to be completely over his head in those final plays.

Lastly, the focus on this season has to remain 10 wins and SURVIVAL. The Aaron Rodgers injury has thrown open the NFC race big time. Zeke Elliot looks to be out of luck and soon to be gone for 6 weeks. The Falcons still choke away games. Seattle can’t score. Everybody else has flaws. Keep grinding. Win 10. Then see who’s standing in your way.

Enjoy some delicious pixels. All courtesy of www.redskins.com.

Bob and Brian Visit Jerry World

And it was… a doozy! When they say you “couldn’t script it any better” it’s a tired cliche. But sometimes, its also true. I can’t say thanks enough to the boys and WHQG for bringing me along last weekend for “good luck” against the (mutually) hated Blue Stars.

Mike O’Neil was an amazing host with his company Entrematic (buy your loading doors and accessories through them people! They are the best! Ding, ding!) and I hope we didn’t piss off too many Cowboy fans while cheering on the Ninja in their suite.

Bob and Brian Visit Jerry World from Steve Czaban on Vimeo.

I can assure you, that I would have had about a 30 second “pouty face” video if the Cowboys had built upon their early 21-6 lead and blown the Packers out of the building. Or if Rodgers had somehow been stopped in those final seconds (he never gets stopped) then I would have just deleted all the footage, muttered a passing “ah.. fuck” and posted a few pictures.

But alas, when life gives you gloriously perfect grapes, you stomp them into a vintage wine that tastes oh so sweet.

I’m humbled to be part of such a great morning radio team, and such a great unique family at “The Hog.” I never, ever, ever take any bit of it for granted. And I thank every listener who has put up with me for 23 years now, and does not want to choke the crap out of me.

For everybody else who gets to go on a trip, have a life experience, get silly with friends – even when you are old and gray – just make sure to take lots of pics and videos. And keep those phones horizontal, people! Just because you may not be an editing nerd like me, someday you could be. That vertical video will fuck your shit all up.

May Aaron Rodgers get the defense and running game he deserves. And may these free radio junkets never end! “Dilly, dilly!”

Las Vegas On My Mind

I confess, I think about the Las Vegas concert shooting every day. And it’s not a passing thought, either. I think about it out of sheer sympathy for the 58 families shattered beyond comprehension. I think about it to try to get my head around the mere existence of pure, demented evil in humans.

I think about it like you would think about a puzzle. What would you do, if you were on the ground that night? How did the shooter execute his plan? And of course I think about the “why?” I’ll bet the “why” part is going to remain hopelessly buried in the depths of deep, deep, mental illness.

Now… the whole story is entering a new phase, due to the fact that some pretty basic timelines of the atrocity are being changed almost a full week after the shots stopped ringing out into the Vegas night.

At this point, it’s pretty apparent, that certain entities are not being entirely truthful. The reasons for that, are not hard to put together.

At first, we were told unarmed security guard Jose Campos was the defacto hero, coming upon the shooter’s room in mid-massacre, drawing an avalanche of rifle fire through the hotel room door. Campos was struck in the leg, but allegedly stayed on the 32nd floor until police arrived and the shooter had finally killed himself.

Now… forget all that. So says the LVPD. They say Campos came upon the shooter 6 MINUTES BEFORE the carnage at the music festival began! Holy whaaaaaa?

Everything else is now a complete mess of contradiction. Denials are flying. This is going to get ugly from a liability standpoint, no doubt.

Now we have been told about the maintenance worker who ALSO was on the floor when the bullets began flying. And instead of the narrative that Campos got shot through the door, the maintenance worker claimed bullets were flying “down the hall.”

What?!

It’s been a week and two days. This is the FIRST time we’ve heard about the maintenance man or any of these details. This is not normal. The LVPD said – rather weakly, I think – that the events of the hallway that night were “not a priority” in their investigation.

Really? How’s that, exactly?

I understand a complicated and multi-location mass atrocity like this will take time to untangle, and that there will be corrections of certain facts along the way. I refuse to believe that the LVPD would botch the basic timeline of the crime and have to revise it a week later, unless they were getting very minimal cooperation from the hotel and their lawyers. Yeah, I said it: lawyers.

Because IF a security guard got shot in the leg 6 minutes before the massacre began, and he DID NOT call 911 immediately, there’s trouble for MGM Grand. If he radioed to the front desk, and THEY did not immediately call 911, there’s trouble for MGM Grand.

I have read a story that claims actual LVPD were in the resort at the time Campos was shot, responding to a separate call. If that’s true – and it’s a BIG IF, because the story keeps changing – then the known response time to the room is flatly un-acceptable. A pair of officers should be able to get to that exact room, ID’d exactly by Campos via radio, in 5 minutes. Maybe less.

There’s an 18 minute gap between when Campos was shot, and the police arrived. By then, the shooting had stopped. And they took another 45 minutes to breach the room. I can understand some degree of caution on breaching the room – it may well have been booby trapped.

But how could the police know he wasn’t wiring up explosives to cause more mayhem? Loading up more guns? Jumped from the window with a short altitude parachute? A million things could have been going on. Furthermore, did some victims die needlessly without an “all clear” radio call from the shooter’s room by police to medical personnel assisting the wounded at the concert?

Look, I am not trying to criticize anyone involved that night. It was an unthinkable act, shrouded in darkness and chaos. Many, many people acted with true, amazing heroism. But there are so many questions.

A few stray thoughts, on a few more things.

“200 Rounds”
This was the estimate given to what the shooter put through the door at the security guard/maintenance man. I’m skeptical. That’s about 20 straight seconds of fully automatic (or bump-stock) fire. Or 6 different shooting barrages between what were likely 30 round magazines. How many other hotel guests heard this thundering barrage, and called 911? Or the front desk? So far, we’ve heard nothing.

“Cameras Everywhere”
While its true that Vegas has a TON of “eyes in the sky” I’ve been told that not every hotel has them pointing down each hallway. Mandalay Bay might have only had them at each elevator bank. Also, many Vegas hotels have “hallways” that bend, and slant, and jag from one end to the other. If we never see hallway footage, I won’t start putting on my tinfoil hat.

Bump-Stocks
I’m very pro second Amendment. But, of course these things should be illegal. I saw one at the gun range the one time I was at one, and yeah… it turns your legal rifle into an illegal machine gun. I don’t see how anyone can oppose this.

False Flag/Isis/Conspiracy Theories
Bah. You can have all these bags of nonsense. I think this was a perfect storm of a guy who was a) Highly intelligent b) Disciplined c) Detached from humanity d) Deeply broken mentally. I wish these individuals didn’t exist in the world. But they do. And there is no stopping them.

Why Was He So Quick to Stop Shooting and Kill Himself?
Does seem odd, no? Why not kill as many cops trying to get in your room, en route to your own express ride to hell? It appears – and again, who knows how much the “official” timeline may change going forward – that the shooter didn’t even engage police at his door. He was already dead. Sure, that’s “odd” if you think he’s a rational “crazy” person. But crazy is crazy. Who knows what the voices in his head told him?

For Those Obsessed With How Many Guns He Had
This is a pointless complaint. While having multiple rifles would help ensure he could keep shooting in case of a gun jam, I would bet that as few as three rifles with loads of ammo in magazines would have been plenty. In fact, bringing as many guns as he did, only created a greater operational burden for him, and increased his chances of getting caught.

How Come They Didn’t See Him Bringing All Those Weapons To His Room?
Uh, because he didn’t bring them up all at once, in wooden crates marked “GUNS.” You should see how my dad overpacks to visit a casino for 1 night! Computers, coffee makers, clothes, etc. Now, there IS a separate issue of letting him stay holed up without maid service for 3 days. Steve Wynn said in an interview that his properties don’t let a guest go beyond a day and a half. Which I think is sensible. Russell Brand could be in that room, dead for a day on an overdose, starting to rot!

Aside from the sheer horror of the act, and those who have been killed, maimed, and otherwise traumatized and broken, the tragedy hits sorta close to my heart because of my deep affinity for everything that is, Las Vegas.

It is, my kinda town. I’ve been going there every March for almost 20 years. I love the pulse of the place, and the feeling of being out there in the desert. I’ve also stayed at Mandalay Bay more than a few times. It’s a great property. We play our golf at nearby Bali Hai GC, from which the gleaming gold facade of the hotel rises as a backdrop. It’s an awesome visual, and one that I have yet to get tired of seeing and feeling when I visit.

I’ll never look at it the same way, however, and that just adds another small layer of sadness.

Let’s just hope that the facts end up settling into an agreed upon narrative, and that operational lessons are learned to help prevent, or mitigate such atrocities in the future. But I’ll be honest: it smells like something fishy is going now, and that future discovery of negligence or incompetence in the response, may add to the tragedy.

Death By Ninja

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates a touchdown in the final seconds of the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Aaron Rodgers did it again. Of course he did it again. When doesn’t he anymore?

Give him an inch, a minute, and a single timeout, he’ll cut your team’s heart out, make you pose for a photo, and have it on his instagram account before you are even shaking hands.

I was #blessed to be in attendance to see it with my own eyes Sunday, thanks to the Bob and Brian Show on 102.9 FM in Milwaukee (a “side gig” I have been lucky enough to hold for 23 years now, being their dedicated “sports” guy every day) and listener/golf amigo Mike O’Neil and his company Entrematic which is HQ’d in Dallas and provided the luxury suite seats.

It’s too early to say “this is the Packers’ year” because the NFL’s grim reaper of injury is a relentless demon who is never satisfied with his body count. But that’s beside the point.

EVERY year with Aaron Rodgers.. should be your FUCKING year!

Again, I am not breaking any news here with you Packer fans. Rodgers is the greatest complete skillset player at QB the league has ever seen. And he’s doing it at a time in which the information overload has never been higher, the speed and ferocity of the defensive players… same.

Playing QB is like being a pilot. But the game in the 1970’s was like flying a single engine Cessna. Now, it’s like flying an F-22 Raptor, in a full combat zone. Rodgers is the best anyone’s ever seen.

Now, other legends can claim other QB “crowns” of sorts. Tom Brady is the greatest winner, and over-achiever. Favre the most durable. Montana the most clutch. Manning the most cerebral.

But look at how good Rodgers is.

He has ELITE level pre-snap decipher-ability.
He has ELITE level arm talent. Velocity, accuracy, release.
He has ELITE level in-pocket escapability.
He has ELITE level calm under pressure with game on the line.
He has PLUS level toughness. PLUS level downfield footspeed.

Even more important, who knows how to LEAD a football team from Monday through Saturday. Something that is proving to be even more difficult in the modern age of digital social-media nonsense hunting.

And despite all of this…. ALL OF IT…. he’s been to ONE… Superbowl. That’s a crime. And almost entirely not his fault. The Packers have failed him in providing either/or a top flight defense or dependable running game.

Rodgers should be able to sail through the regular season with a balanced team, only needing to pull out a FEW games with his surreal QB Ninja Skills, not every other one.

And I know that Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have TRIED. And no, I don’t have any specific critiques of missteps on personnel. But the one, and only time it HURTS the Packers to NOT have an actual OWNER is right now.

It’s when those men responsible for wasting a generational talent like Rodgers’ career would otherwise feel the heat and urgency of a single billionaire calling them into his office to ask simply: “what the fuck? What… the FUCK!”

********

Speaking of impatient billionaires, let’s talk a little Jerrah, shall we? Call him what you want, but my god his stadium is amazing. It’s easily the single best place to watch I football game I have ever seen.

Oh sure, Lambeau is great and all. Open air weather, mystique and history. But I don’t know why every new stadium wouldn’t be a replica of Jerryworld.

The GIANT TV right in front of your face, is absolutely perfect. I know places like the Meadowlands have 4-corners videoboards, and the new Falcons dome has the “halo” in the middle. But nothing beats a giant fucking TV that shows instant replays of every play right after it happens, and even LIVE feed of the game when it’s in action. (I sensed the delay was only 1/2 a second).

More than that, the usher staff was very helpful and friendly. The place was clean. The food was good, and the game presentation was spot-on. Best of all: it was 90 degrees outside…. and we were shirtsleeve comfy indoors in the AC.

Again…. why on earth would any new football stadium be anything BUT a retractable roof? It’s insane. And yet… I cringe when I think of the design model my team the Redskins leaked out about a year ago.

An open air, push-fans-away from the field wide bowl that looks like the old Tampa “sombrero.” No roof, not even any overhangs to save some of us from sun and rain. Why? Why would you do this?

Anybody who lives here in the DMV, KNOWS that we have all kinds of SHIT weather, and very little “nice” weather. We’ll be going from BLAZING hot in September, to 40 and rain come Thanksgiving. Or worse.

Indoor. Retractable. Roof.

Do I have to explain it in any more detail?

 

Bryce Harper Delivers

You’ll excuse us, baseball fans, because this is all still new to us. While maybe you and your team, have experienced the spontaneous and overwhelming joy of “the big homer” we here in Washington, have not.

At least not, for the most part. Sure, Jayson Werth’s series-extending walkoff in 2012 may still be considered the Nats’ “signature moment of glory” but I’m pretty sure Bryce Harper’s moonball into the night vs. the Cubs will eventually surpass it.

Alot is going to ride on what the Nats do from here. The series is just tied 1-1. And we’re not sure if Max Scherzer can even get out of the third inning with his tweaked hamstring.

So for the handful of people saying “Easy, fella. Nice moment, but you are a long way from home yet. You’ve got alot more heartbreak in store to come. This is the FIRST ROUND.”

And yeah, I get it, Cleveland Indian fans can tell us all about that. Their last winning World Series photos are all in black and white!

Hell, Harper’s blast only TIED the game. Zimmerman’s effectively won it! But this team, and this franchise is all about Harper. From the moment we started saving the SI Covers of him in high school thinking “You know… THIS is why we’re okay with losing 100 games again this summer!” we’ve waited for a moment like this, for a moment from him.

Period.

Let it soak.

See, we’re on borrowed time with this guy. He’s going to be a Yankee in 2019. There’s never been a surer thing in my mind, or many others. And it seems like everybody is collectively okay with that. He’s giving us everything you could want. He’s a guy who is pure baseball, from the moment he started blasting them out of sandy fields in Las Vegas. Guys like that, probably NEED to play for the Yankees. I’m sure he sees it as his destiny.

Harper’s awkward injury on a slippery base back in August was going to become a bookend of snakebit sports misery to the Strasburg “shut down” in 2012. We’re the City That Doesn’t Win with the teams that Leave Early.

But somehow, the gods gave us mercy on that knee. And Harper’s maniacal comeback ahead of schedule led up to that moment last night. The familiar script was already nearly finished. A DC sports team comes up small in the playoffs… YET AGAIN.

Harper’s home run was good guy in an action movie, on his back, bloodied and spent…. only to suddenly summon a burst of strength to reach up and choke-throttle the bad guy straddling him.

It was a turning point moment, that said “not this year, Gods. Not this year.”

And it was Harper who did it. Which means everything.

We’ll see if the Cubs end up turning this magical moment back into a “oh yeah, remember that time…” footnote. But for now, it’s as good as it gets for Nats fans.

I was at dinner with Bob and Brian and Co. in Dallas in advance of today’s Packer-Cowboy game. And yeah, I “called it.” Of course, I “called” alot of other shit that did NOT happen in this game and others.

Following the Zimmerman HR moments later, I checked in with my mom – the biggest Nats fan I know, along with my dad. While most of you said “awww.. isn’t that sweet?” A few of you said: “Why don’t you list mom in your phone as “mom?” And how come you haven’t texted her in almost 2 weeks!

Well, my tidy-neat-impulse doesn’t like nicknames in my phone rolodex. I keep it as official as a media guide. Mom included! And yes, I should text mom more often!

Caaaaaam! Ohhhh…. CAM!

Cam Newton’s done it now. Oh, boy. Has he ever. He insulted a female reporter! Get ready for the full wrath of the internet. Now before we get any farther, let me say for the record that Cam Newton is still an immature putz, who continues to see himself as a victim. Victim of the mean referees who don’t call enough personal fouls in his defense. Victim of little old ladies who don’t like his end zone dancing. Victim of beat writers who are too negative when things aren’t going well. And on, and on.

That said, I find it quite enjoyable when a former torch bearer of the enlightened progressive sports media, acts in a way that is most definitely NOT progressive! Talk about flipping the narrative!

Newton was tagged as the Great Black Hope when he led the 15-1 Panthers to the Super Bowl two years ago. To dare to even hint that he should tone down his endzone “dabbin'” and Superman act, was deemed a virtual act of racism by some members of the NFL media. Cam was going to do the QB thing HIS WAY, and that was universally deemed a “good thing” by those who held the “right” opinion.

So what do the virtue signaling peacocks in the media do now? Does sexism trump racism? I’m so confused. The way Cam reacted to a female reporter asking a legitimate and distinctly “non-jargony” question about “routes” was classic Asshole Athlete 101. You never played shit. Don’t ask me nothin’. The sexism was just the whip cream on top.

The good female NFL reporters know just as much as any men on the beat about the game, because like the buffet-grazers with penises, they have both played the same amount of organized tackle football.

Fucking zero.

The one thing men have a slight advantage on, is that men understand other men a little better than women. That is not up for debate. Otherwise, that’s about it.

I can’t say I’ve run “hot and cold” on Cam in the NFL, because at best I’ve been lukewarm. I was impressed 2 years ago at his development as a pure pocket passer, because it had come much farther than I ever thought it might.

But ever since he didn’t jump on that loose ball under the roman numerals, and with his dismissive, eye-rolling post-game presser that night, Cam Newton has reverted to just a guy out there at QB. Sure, he’s been hurt. But so is everyone. Deal with it. Evolve. Be a leader. Grow the fuck up just a little, bro.

There’s nobody who smiles so much (and note: holy shit, what GREAT teeth!) yet harbors so much needless hostility in so many random directions than Cameron Jerrell Newton.

It’s yet another bad look for the players, right when they want to be taken seriously and have their “voices heard” on important societal issues. From Odell Beckham Jr. pissing like a dog, Marcus Cooper hot-dogging away an easy touchdown, Danny Trevathan trying to behead a helpless Devante Adams, Antonio Brown throwing a 5-year old supermarket-aisle didn’t-get-his-candy meltdown, and now Cam basically telling a female reporter to get back to the kitchen.

The handful of dummies don’t speak for the smart football players who are sincere in their activism. But if it was me, I would definitely say to them: “Hey! NOT helping… fellas.”

B&B Cheat Sheet: Tuesday October 3, 2017

Here’s your “follow along guide” for today’s segment. Tiger Woods seems further away from playing high level golf all the time, and it’s also apparent that he’s fallen just as far when it comes to his girlfriends. Nothing against this sporty 33 year old that Tiger no doubt found after a long and diligent search for his next “soulmate” in life…. wait… hold on. I’m being told…  uh… she manages his restaurant in Jupiter. Okay, back to you at the news desk.

Tons of keyboard Hall of Famers on my Twitter timeline after last night’s agonizing almost-catch from Josh Doctson (“IT WAS A DROP! Stop making excuses! ALMOST CATCH! YOU IDIOT!”) to take a lead vs. the Chiefs. I tried to point out… I have seen every WR in the league drop a pass as tough as that one, if not a lot easier. Including the best in the league! Think I’m wrong? Here. Megatron. Antonio Brown. Dez Bryant. Odell Beckham Jr. Julio Jones. Go ahead, google your own. In the meantime, get off my lawn and get off my timeline!

Tom Petty, RIP. This Rolling Stone eulogy is the most comprehensive. The “Won’t Back Down” star, had his own moment where his career could have ended. “But before the decade was up, Petty found himself bankrupt after the record label MCA attempted to buy out his contract from ABC Records, which distributed Petty’s original label. It took nine months of litigation for Petty to secure a new deal so he could put out the biggest record of his career, 1979’s Damn the Torpedoes, which reached Number Two on the album chart and has since been certified triple-platinum. The album contained the singles “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Refugee,” establishing him as a full-fledged hitmaker.”

And you should just get your shirtsleeve ready to dry your eyes after this one. Tom Rinaldi’s piece on Iowa’s Children’s Hospital and the “Hawkeye Wave.”

The Butker Did It

I’m not sure we could have handled a win in Kansas City to go 3-1. Not that I didn’t want it bad as hell. This loss hurts. Hurts in the kind of way that says “we’re actually a pretty good football team, and we didn’t come for any moral victories tonite.” Too many injuries. Too many dumb penalties. And one dropped pass.

Yes…. he dropped it. Nobody will argue that.

Josh Doctson – aka “Limited Edition” for his rare appearances on the field since being drafted in the 1st round out of TCU – had the go-ahead TD in his sticky mitts for a split second, before he crashed to the ground right on his arm and the football. And it was gone.

My twitter timeline is rotten with couch warriors spewing the cliche of “you gotta hold on to that!” And things like “that’s what we pay him to do!” And “that’s why he was a 1st rounder!” And on, and on…

I guess I just like to reserve my “you gotta catch that’s” for, well, you know, EASY CATCHES. What Doctson almost did, was a flying dog trick for which we paid that 1st round pick to get. It’s a rare commodity in the NFL, reserved for only a dozen or so wideouts of that size and speed. Besides, it wasn’t the last play of the game.

So we’ll have to agree to disagree. It was a 9/10 difficulty in my book, and it almost went our way. Still, game tied 20-20, Fabian Moreau and Martrell Spaight get whoopsawed in coverage on an Alex Smith rollout, and he burns ’em for a backbreaker throw to a streaking Albert Wilson. At this point, there’s still :49 left sitting at the Washington 34. There would have been a furious push to the endzone, using all 4 downs and two timeouts.

Point is: Doctson’s drop didn’t cost them the game.

Some stupid rookie named “Butker” cost the Redskins the game, and that hopeless fumble-rooskie play cost everybody who had the Redskins +7 their money. Stupid gambling.

If you want to get mad at something, get mad at Jay Gruden for calling a timeout on OFFENSE, before that pivotal 3rd and 2. It stopped the clock for free for Andy Reid, when he was too stupid to realize he should have used at least one of his own.

Get mad at the slew of penalties that kept Kansas City alive in the 2nd half. Preston Smith flat out killed the Redskins on both the 2nd Chiefs TD (lined up off-sides, then got totally duped by Alex Smith’s zone-read walk-in) as well as the drive to tie it at 17-17 (hard count off-sides free play, leading to 11 yard first down throw).

Get mad at Breeland committing a horse-collar on a stuffed run, and a hands to the face penalty away from the ball.

Get mad at Junior Galette (non-factor tonite) with an easily called, 3-beats-too-late hit on Alex Smith.

Get mad at Samaje Perine for fumbling a simple toss sweep.

Get mad at Mack Brown being made inactive, when we knew Rob Kelly was coming into the game tender.

Get mad at Terrell Pryor’s hands.

But most of all, get mad because mad is GOOD. Mad means this team is CAPABLE of something this year, and to throw away otherwise stellar efforts against undefeated teams at their place on MNF is excruciating. I’ll take the mad. Mad is good.

NOTES

The defense is going to be severely tested if Josh Norman is indeed out for several weeks as Gruden hinted to Lisa Salters. Sure, everybody loves Swearinger now, and he’s a beast, but Norman is still the meanest dog back there.

I loved how Matrell Spaight and Quinten Dunbar played. Competed hard all night, made plays, and never at all looked like they didn’t belong.

Kerrigan was quiet. It’ll be interesting to see what his night looked like from above.

Maybe I’m just over-reacting, but Travis Kelce is the best TE in the league. In a major market, with a better QB, nobody would stop talking about him. Absolute stud. Total athlete.

If Doctson holds on to the ball, it’s a 244 yard night for Kirk with 3 TDs, 0 INTs, three first downs scrambling… and quite probably… a big fat signature win. It’s getting less and less conceivable he will hit the free agent market this winter, yet again. Even if it costs… gulp…. $34 million. He’s not worth it. He’s not “that” good. But this is the corner Bruce Allen has painted himself into.

Kelly and Perine are a painfully average backs. They do very little to make tacklers miss. Kareem Hunt on the other hand… hooo… boy. Something special. He was available in the 2nd round if we wanted him. I know it’s not fashionable at the moment, given that it’s all about the passing these days. At some point our personnel department needs to buck up and spend a 1st or 2nd rounder on a potentially great back.

The uniform combo tonite was the vintage Gibbs 1.0 championship edition. We only used to wear the burgundy tops 2 or 3 times a year. It’s a fine look. But ever since Allen brought back the yellow pants, I especially like when they wear the yellow pants under the white road jerseys. It gives the Skins a rare tri-color look among NFL teams, where you have pants-shirt-helmet each hitting one of your primary color notes. But everybody’s taste is different. I also loved the short-lived “Circle R” logo on yellow helmets that Lombardi introduced. When the Skins wore that in a throwback (with old-school gray facemasks) I thought it was straight fire. I was in the minority.

Bye week to rest up, hopefully heal up, and kick the couch for a game that was there to be won. Still, a lot of ambition left in this season. I’ll be excited when they get back at it against Kyle and the Niners in 2 weeks.

B&B Cheat Sheet: Monday October 2nd, 2017

If you want to follow along today on Bob & Brian, here’s some handy links to help you keep up. Let’s start with the improbable run your beloved “local 9” gave you all summer long. There are no banners for “nice try” or “close call” but this year’s Brew Crew was the pleasant surprise of the summer. Jack Dickey of SI.com writes the baseball eulogy.

The Los Angeles Rams are 3-1 and lead the NFL in scoring. Jeff Fisher’s mediocrity as a coach, only grows as rising star young Jedi coach Sean McVay has Jared Goff looking like the #1/#1 star he was supposed to be. That said, the uniform mis-match between helmets and jerseys is one of the all-time worst looks the NFL has ever seen. Somebody needs to get their arms around this. Quick. Go back to the gold&blue until you get the jersey trim officially changed (that’s the hold up).

At the Presidents Cup, Kevin Chappell almost pulled a “Happy Gilmore” with an “off-the tower” shot. Instead, he dropped in a hazard, grounded his club, and promptly lost the hole. Good job. His opponent Mark Leishman was about 8 feet for birdie anyway. Pick it up, Chappell.

Troy beat LSU at Tiger Stadium, supposedly the single most intimidating place to visit in all of college football. And of course, they are already talking about how much it’ll cost to buy out new head coach Ed Orgeron. Meanwhile, it cost LSU about $1 million to bring Troy in for what was supposed to be an easy win. Troy took great pleasure in rubbing it in.

STAT OF THE DAY
Alabama’s 188 point win differential, is more points than 112 D-1 teams have scored this season.

Fake Tough Guys

I’m hardly surprised that most ex-NFL-players-turned-pundits sided with Danny Trevathan after his hit on Davonte Adams on Thursday night. Still, it’s disheartening. Calling out rulebook illegal hits that are meant to injure a defenseless player shouldn’t be something that threatens to cancel your “tough guy” card. Yet that’s exactly what Trevathan did. Siding with him doesn’t make you tough. It makes you dense. It’s not even an argument. If it were my NFL, he’d be gone 8 games, and DeMaurice Smith can file every grievance he wants in the CBA. One of these days, a hit like that will produce another Darryl Stingley. It will be a seismic event in the current media-saturated NFL of 2017. Seeing a Dez Bryant, or a Jordy Nelson, or Eli Manning, or (go ahead, pick a player who currently has a Fat Head you can buy and put on your kids wall) in a wheelchair is going to change everything. And not for the better. Defenders need to re-think how they hit. You see it happening already with the new rules. Receivers who would have once-upon-a-time been blasted into a segment of “Jacked Up!” with a high hit coming across the middle, are now getting cut-down at the waist or chest. Defenders have more control over their strike zone than the pundits claim. File this thought away.

The new overtime rules, color rush, and London games are among the worst of the worst ideas the NFL has spawned over the last 15 years. But the short OT, with needless TD-first rules takes the cake. The Jags-Jets game nearly ended in a tie. Imagine spending time and money to watch that game for 3 hours, sit in traffic for 2 hours coming and going… and to go home with a TIE! I’ve never ever left a game after a tie. I don’t know how anybody find it acceptable in 2017.

I hate Dean Blandino. He’s terrible on TV. Nobody asked for him. Why the hell did we have to bump the excellent and TV-smooth Mike Pereira for him on NFL games? Speaking of replay, you can stop tweeting and emailing me complaints about certain fumbles, interceptions, or calls that replay does not fix. I have achieved a level of inner peace after many years of railing against this false god. I fought the good fight. And lost. The technocrats and “fair-ies” have won. Replay is an awful tramp stamp tattoo what we will regret forever. And yeah, of course Bilal Powell was fucking down on that 71 yard TD run. Just another Sunday.

So let me get this straight: the Carolina Panthers had just scored 9 points in a win over Buffalo, been blown out at home by the struggling Saints 34-13, and Cam Newton registered a 43.8 rating with 3 INTs in the loss. Then, they go play the worst defense in the league in New England, win by a FG and after the game Cam starts talking about “dis-respect” from the media. Seriously? Get outta here with that noise. Whatever happened to “respect is earned.” They had done nothing until Sunday – and maybe not even this win means much. Like sleeping with Kim Cattrall at age 61.

While we’re on the Patriots, if this is the year the Patriots collapse, it’ll look like the fall of the Berlin Wall with people crawling joyously all over it. And while I’m not quite ready to order my “Buffalo Bills Division Champs” shirt just yet, the defense numbers for New England are staggering. 537, 429, 417, and 444 yards allowed – 30+ ppg. Three of the four games … AT HOME. Everybody thought the end Bill Brady-chick Camelot would be the sudden demise of a 40 year old QB who has been cheating the actuarial curve on his position.  Who woulda thunk it’d be the defense? I know this: all that 28-3 chirping by Patriot Nation is coming home to roost. It was a great comeback. But ya got a little lucky. Shoulda been a little more classy.

Michael Bennett’s story of racial profiling and excessive force in Las Vegas was sacked for another loss on Friday. He’s down to 4th-and-26. The LVPD held another presser, and released the footage that supports their claim that officers responded logically and professionally. At best, Bennett told a wildly mis-remembered tale that was born of his own fear and panic. He has yet to issue any soft of retraction, apology, or softening of his story. I’m pretty sure he never will. Especially not with many otherwise “smart” members of the NFL media ecosystem so willing to “die with the lie” on this one. I’m embarrassed for them. Surrender your love a narrative you just WISH was true, and keep some shred of your credibility. Because once that’s gone, it’s gone.

I’m constantly told by media analysts that “you can get all the highlights you want these days on your phone.” This is not true. I yearn for the glory days of NFL Primetime, when games were broken down in meaty 3-minute plus packages. Now, it IS true that the handful of MOST spectacular plays in a given weekend of NFL play will certainly propagate themselves all over the web via social media. But the genius of NFL Primetime was that it helped you understand how games were WON and LOST. Highlights are sometimes, bad plays, or penalties. For example, on NFL Network – where, hello, all they DO is football! They should be THE BEST at this! – they ran a package on the Cowboys-Rams game. After Dallas scored to pull within 2 points late, they went for 2 and were successful! Until a penalty wiped it out. Then a Rams penalty gave them a 3rd try, which failed. Pretty important stuff, right? The NFL network highlight package showed and mentioned none of this, while NBC’s package didn’t show it, only Dan Patrick gave it a brief mention. Furthermore, when I watched the NFL.com lengthy highlight package of the Bears-Packers game, it had just a cut-up of the plays with network announcers. No studio host descriptions, and no analysis interjections like it was with Boomer and TJ. Worst of all: they didn’t even show the Adams hit! Absurd. While you don’t need to show it over and over as injury porn, you can’t just leave it out, like it did not happen. So much for “you can get all the highlights you want, on your phone.” That’s bullshit. Bring back the meaty, hour-long NFL highlight and analysis show.

Anthem Daze

It would be nice to have an adult in the White House. Until then, it might help to stop letting ourselves get so triggered by the “Troll in Chief.” His comments were ham-fisted, divisive, crude, and un-worthy of the office.

This is nothing new for him. And yet, while Trump is a lot of things, he knows when an opportunity to serve his goals presents itself.

Trump saw an easy chance to score a walk-in touchdown with his base, and spike it in Roger Goodell’s face. So, of course, he did. Now he’ll get back to a long list of his own problems – North Korea, the wall, DACA, tax reform, Russia-gate, heel-dragging congressional Republicans, and on and on.. – and leave Roger holding the bag of shit.

Trump will wander along to a new rhetorical punching bag in a week, and cable news will gobble up this new Trumpian outrage. Meanwhile, what’s the NFL’s next move? The same owners who have amazingly not conspired at all to keep Kaep un-employed (eye roll) were almost universally compelled to write love-letters to their protesting players. This will not sit well with many of their season ticket holders, who might have already been looking for an exit cue.

This Kaepernick Bomb has been a slow fuse burning… one that I’m sure the $43 Million Man had hoped would quietly go away. Now, the anthem ceremony has been certified as THE PLACE to protest – and nobody dare say you can’t!

It’s too late for Goodell to try to impose an NBA-style written edict on anthem etiquette. The NBA’s was agreed to in their CBA with the players, and David Stern was quick to bring down the hammer on Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf many years ago. Besides, if he tried, Goodell would be siding with Trump. So that’s a no-go.

Goodell could continue doing nothing – his “go-to” move – and hope that eventually these protests will simmer down again, and anthem normalcy returns. Good luck with that. The NFL’s commentary class just LOVES these mini-protests. I saw many tweets from sportswriters who gushed about how “nuts” and “amazing” Sunday was going to be! The commentary class will talk about, photograph, and discuss these courageous acts of civil disobedience until the end of time. Today it’s police brutality. Tomorrow, discriminatory lending. After that, gun laws. And on, and on.

The end game, I’m afraid, will be for the anthem to be moved to when players are in the lockeroom anyway. This is apparently how it was up until 2009, when the Department of Defense decided to throw some money at the NFL for some patriotism porn, with NFL stars serving as the unpaid spokesmen.

The exact “did they, or didn’t they” pre-2009 is somewhat murky. This piece claims it all started in 2009. But at the end, you’ll see, the story notes that well…. some teams and players actually did stand. So who knows?

Either way, I can say emphatically I like the the anthem before games, because I love this country. It gives me 2 minutes to reflect upon how lucky I am to live in such a diverse, pluralistic, forward thinking, big brawny, beer-and-wings lovin’, do-your-thing and let’s make some money country. I also reflect upon the immense blood and treasure that has been spent in order to keep it that way. It’s the best nation of free men (and women) on earth. Nothing else comes close. Even with all the stuff that’s fucked up about it. (Debate amongst yourselves, please).

I have always felt Kaepernick’s protest was inappropriate. Not necessarily disrespectful, just inappropriate. Wrong place, wrong time. The NFL’s stage, was not his stage to hi-jack. Others strongly disagree. But you’ll never change my mind. Beyond that, Kaepernick’s kneeling – or anyone else’s – didn’t BOTHER me. And I never once thought about boycotting the NFL because of it. I don’t get bothered by NFL players taking stances because I don’t take them seriously.

I mean, these are guys who forget to stop running 1 yard from the endzone, and crawl around like dogs after touchdowns pretending to go pee-pee.

It was ironic that Sunday was described as a “show of unity” when teams did literally a half-dozen different things as a form of silent “protest.” Some standing, others kneeling, many locking arms. Some teams stayed inside entirely. The Steelers almost did, but then watched Army veteran Alejandro Villaneuva stand at attention from inside the tunnell.

If you want to do something powerful and unified, here’s a crazy idea: line up at attention with your hand on your heart. I know, sounds weird, but it might just work.

Ultimately, this is a branding problem for the NFL, at precisely the wrong time. They are already under pressure with the concussion issue, shockingly empty stadiums continues to be a weekly discussion point. And now the NFL is becoming known as “the protest league.”

Not a good look, and not good for business. It’s a burden no other pro sports league has to carry right now. And I blame Goodell for not seeing this coming, and getting his arms around it, a long time ago.