Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ode to a friend and the crazy NFL

I wish my friend Scott was still here. He would be so proud, not to mention ranting away at the local watering hole. Alas, Scott and his wife Jennifer were tragically killed in a motorcycle accident that happened right next to the old Silverdome -- former home of the Detroit Lions -- a little over a month ago.

Scott was a rabid fan indeed, but not of the Lions. For reasons I never knew nor asked about, he was a long-time Minnesota Vikings supporter. Scott would freely admit he knew little and cared less about college football, but the dude was all over it when it came to the NFL. The man was a walking Wikipedia in that regard.

Sadly, he's not around to see his beloved Vikes now leading the NFC North Division. Sleep well, my friend, and you too Jen. I'll be looking for another hug when I enter your domain, so please have one waiting -- if that's not asking too much.

But the Vikings are in first place indeed. Who would have thunk it? Granted, the Detroit Lions koolaiders were once again whispering Super Bowl after their 11-5 mirage season last year, but it's the Lions. C'mon. And Da Bears are -- well -- still Da Bears. But Green Bay was supposed to be the class of the field.

Thing is, the Packers have looked very vulnerable of late. After starting 6-0, they've lost their last three games. Getting beat on the road by a then undefeated Denver Bronco team was one thing. Going into Carolina against the undefeated Panthers the following week, only to suffer another loss was another. But they were supposed to beat the Lions, especially in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field.  An 11.5 point spread and 24 years in a row said so.

But as we now know, the Lions went into Cheeserland and somehow improbably managed to beat the Packers. With the Lions, there always seems to be an OMG moment or two in any game that wasn't supposed to happen. They'll scream to the heavens in outrage when a bad call goes against them, but take it in stride when an otherwise opposing reliable field goal kicker misses a routine attempt that hands them a win. Such was the case in Green Bay. Immediately thereafter, the Vikings were way out in Oakland, and easily dispatching the Raiders.

The Vikes are now 7-2, having won their last 5 in a row. Yeah, I know, Scott. Very impressive stuff. Adrian's running wild again and Teddy is appearing to be the real deal. Plus their defense is killer. I get that.

But though the Packers are "reeling" at 6-3, they have two games remaining against the Vikings, including next week in Minnesota. That should be a slugfest. If the Vikings prevail and open up a two game lead with only 6 to go, which would mean the Packers were 6-4, the anxiety level would likely rise a bit in Green Bay, After a 6-0 start, they'd be looking at the very real possibility of missing the playoffs entirely. Their remaining schedule is hardly a cake walk. Again, who would have thunk it even remotely possible?

Elsewhere, the New England Patriots scraped by their occasional nemesis NY Giants -- barely. It took a 54 yard field goal as time expired to eke out another win.

Carolina cruised again and remains unbeaten.

But Denver is no more. They were trounced by the KC Chiefs. This is what happens when a guy named Peyton throws another 4 picks in a game. The Omaha man that never saw an endorsement he didn't like (shameful) has thrown 14 passes to the guys in the other uniforms over the last few games. The Broncos were winning in spite of him. Kudos to the coaching staff, a ferocious defense, and all the other players for overcoming such a high-paid handicap. Who would have ever thought Peyton Manning would be the weakest link on a football team? He's getting like Tiger Woods. It might not be totally over yet -- there's always a slim chance of one more go round of glory -- but the odds are highly against it. The other guys are younger, stronger, bigger, faster, better, even smarter, and they don't care about eating "legends" for lunch. It's only going to get worse.

Nevertheless, I think about you all the time, Scott and Jen. While I can't begin to imagine the horror you experienced on the freeway that snuffed out your mortal existence, I hope you're in a better place.

The Vikings on top of their division. Imagine that, Scott.

And keep that hug ready Jen. I'll get there in due time.....


  1. My condolences John. May Scott and Jen rest in peace.

    Come on, you were rooting for the Lions deep down weren't you? You're secretly giddy about the Lions winning in Lambeau right? Be honest. (Lol I'm kidding).

    As thrilled as I am about the Lions winning, I'm not convinced that Jim Coldwell saved his job. Unless the Lions miraculous go 9-7 and get the 6 seed, ole Coldwell is a goner.


    1. Thanks for the kind words Mach. They were good people. As for rooting for the Lions? I did for decades, went to a lot of games and never missed them on TV when I couldn't attend. Back in the day when "blackouts" still happened due to unsold tickets, a buddy and I would travel up to Saginaw to sit in a K-Mart store to watch home games. An Arby's right across the street was handy at halftime. How's that for allegiance?
      But year after year of disappointment finally took it's toll. When Barry -- I think it was in 98 -- walked away, leaving 8 million bucks on the table (big money at the time) and likely the all-time rushing record as well behind -- I walked with him regarding the Lions. Cold turkey. Done. I did my tour of duty for well over 20 years, spent a ton of money on tickets, gas, parking, cheap beer, nasty hot dogs, etc., but over is over. Haven't been to a game since and have no regrets. Not sure how much money and dashed hopes I've saved myself in the last 17 years, but fairly certain it's a bunch on both fronts. So no. I really don't care. Haven't for a long time. Like the Coldwell bit -- wish I'd have thought of that -- but I'm not at all sure he's a goner. Only the most delirious koolaider would think 9-7 is a possibility -- 5-11 is a much more realistic probability -- but you have to remember Martha is still a Ford. Along with her daughters -- sigh -- they've already made the big splash of the Lions decade by canning Lewand and Mayhew. In typical Ford fashion, they're due to go back into hibernation for a few years. But yeah, I've always thought Caldwell was a terrible hire. This sorry cycle is not going to change until and unless the Fords sell the franchise to an aggressive, smart, involved owner that will put highly knowledgeable football people in positions -- front office to coaching staff -- and let them build it from the ground up. It will take a few years, but it can happen with the right people. It all starts with ownership.