Commentary From the Edge: Week 4
Kevin Ratterree
September 25, 2012

The game we have all been watching for the last 3 weeks is similar to the game we love, but it is not the same. And I get sick of some media types telling me it is. It’s almost like the difference between a Three Stooges cartoon, and the real Three Stooges. The content may be the same, but the presentation makes all the difference in the world.

Many teams came into this season with a game plan consisting of “hurry-up offense” in heavy doses. The strategy, once mostly confined to the “two minute drill” has gained mad popularity along with the prominence of the passing game, and is being employed right from the beginning of many games. These are NFL coaches, with their jobs literally on the line, trying to gain a strategic advantage on their opponents.

But many of those efforts have been stymied due to the fact that it only really works when you have competent officials that actually know the rules and procedures. There is nothing “hurry up” about these replacement zebras. The game is simply too fast for them. They are drive killers. Momentum killers. View-ability killers.

Defender fatigue is a big component of the “hurry-up.” But fatigue is rarely an issue these days with the substitutes giving defenders lots of time to take a breather among their indecision and wrong decisions. This affects outcomes of games in immeasurable ways. And this one component of the problem alone has tainted the results the first 3 weeks. Cold hard statistics may not quantify it, but it is fair to assume that teams that should have won, lost. And those that should have lost, won.

Cancer may have taken the life of football’s Rembrandt, Steve Sabol, but a few more weeks of seeing his canvas pissed on by these clueless zebras would have likely robbed him of his will to live anyway. How sad that his last days were some of the NFL’s worst.

I suppose to the casual fan, the game might not seem markedly different. My rantings sound like those of a madman. A very bitter mad man. But those of us that really know the game are fully aware the extent we are being hosed, and its measured in yards, not feet nor inches. The product is degraded. The integrity of the game consumed by greed. Our sanctuary has been fouled. We faithfully returned from a long business trip to find our loved one being defiled “Tijuana zebra show“ fashion.

I respect ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, and find myself agreeing with him a majority of the time. But his stance on the replacement official’s (remain calm-all is well ) has me seriously questioning his football acumen. Cowherd seems to focus on the calls that are correctly made. Eventually. But the hidden travesty is the myriad of calls that are being missed. Had the regular officials been in play on Sunday, and the players conducted themselves the way they did with the replacements, there would have been a record set for penalties.

Right now the NFL is like an interstate highway with a 70 mph speed limit. The players are all driving 110 filled with road rage, and the cops are just sitting in their car, frozen like a deer in headlights, waiting for the 22 car pile-up.

Forgive me father for I have sinned. It has been too many sins since my last confession. I accuse myself of the following sins.

I did give in to weakness and drafted a quarterback in the first round. His name is Tom Brady. I thought I couldn’t live without a stud quarterback this year, but as it turns out he is merely a mortal and not the deity I imagined him to be. The rest of my team has suffered mightily as a result of my foolish covet.

I drafted Chris Johnson in the first round as well. And I advised my flock at the Huddle to do the same. My dangerous words may be responsible for the deaths of many innocent fantasy teams. I foolishly pissed away first round picks in both my drafts, and encouraged others to join me. I’m basically a cyber version of Jim Jones.

Sunday I finally saw the err of my ways and benched Chris Johnson. I replaced him with Pierre Thomas. Mercifully Thomas tripled CJ’s output of 3 points, but he was cheated out of 8 points on a touchdown called back by replacement officials. I used the lord’s name in vain when they reversed the call, and I may have also kicked the cat.

On my other team I used the lords name in vain repeatedly when my flex player Aaron Hernandez was injured, and again upon replacing him Sunday past with Brandon Lafell when he finished the game with 3 points.

I drafted Mikel Leshoure, but I did not have faith last week when his head coach assured us he would be getting many carries. I was filled with doubt, and instead played Dexter McCluster, who was thusly injured and taken from the field. When Leshoure ended up with 19 points, I am sad to confess that once again I used the lord’s name in vain along with a stream of other expletives I’m sure the lord wouldn’t be cool with.

After vowing to trust Bill Belichick and the whole Stevan Ridley situation, I used the lords name in vain repeatedly on the night of the Sabbath when Woodhead kept taking Ridley’s carries in the first half. When the game ended and Ridley had but 3 points, I did think about using the lords name in vain, but my wife was asleep already and she was pretty damn tired of hearing me use the lords name in vain.

And finally, I used the lords name in vain at the end of Monday Night Football when the Packers became the latest sacrificial lamb on the altar of greed. I cursed Roger Goodell’s name and wished him baboon hemorrhoids followed by severe constipation. I wished him to be violated by Fay Vincent and Gary Bettman as they sing pink Floyd‘s “Money.“ And then I used the lords name in vain one last time while describing the commissioner and owners as fecal matter.

What’s my penance? What the hell is those a-holes penance?

Misery Index

10) Steelers: I guess you really can’t blame a team from Pittsburgh for stinking it up on a baseball field. Steel City teams have been helpless on baseball fields since Barry Bonds blew out of town and traded in his regular head for one of those big ole’ Mardi Gras heads.

9) Patriots: Unfamiliar territory for the Patriots indeed. The replacement officials managed to do something nobody in the league has been able to do for the last 10 years. They caused Bill Belichick to lose his cool. And now he’ll lose some money. Hey, between the money the league is saving by hiring scabs, and the fine money they will collect from angry coaches as a result, this whole lockout fiasco could end up in a nice bonus for NFL execs.

8) Lions: Sherwood Schwartz presided over a wacky 1960s weekly TV program called Gilligan’s Island, in which the central character bumbles his way to disaster. Jim Schwartz presides over a wacky weekly program called the Detroit Lions. In this weeks installment, the center played a practical joke on the rest of the team by snapping the ball when there was no snap count and no play called. Unlike Gilligan’s Island, the Motor City kitties are never canceled. They just keep remaking the same old unbelievable scripts.

7) Panthers: We learned a lot about Cam Newton in the Thursday night loss to the Giants. He really loves him some him, especially when he runs in a TD in the 3rd quarter to make the score 26-7. Panthers are cats, right? Odd. I could have sworn I saw Cam Newton on the bench pouting like a little bitch.

6) Dolphins: The Jets put forth one of the most putrid efforts in the history of football, yet you still managed to lose. Watching that game was like watching two losers playing Russian roulette. But one guy just moved his finger and said “click” every time until the other one finally ate lead.

5) Chiefs: Beating the Saints carries about as much weight this year as “the other leading brand” of paper towel when wet.

4) Redskins: Amazingly Shanahan has stuck with the same primary ball carrier for 3 weeks in a row. That’s a feat even Andy Dick couldn’t lay claim to.

3) Buccaneers: I think I have completely formed my opinion of Coach Schiano, and it’s somewhere along the lines of: This guy is such a douche no female within reasonable distance of him could possibly experiences that “not so fresh” feeling.

2) Browns: Last week I made a prophetic joke about Trent Richardson’s stat-line the week after his break-out game against the Jags. 12/36 was what I said. Nope. 12/27. Sometimes I should just shut up I think. But on second thought, is there really anything I can say to make this franchise more miserable? Oh I know, “Hey, how about a lifetime contract for Mike Holmgren?”

1) Saints: It’s too bad Emperor Goodell didn’t have the power to ban Sean Payton from even watching NFL games. He’d be spared the misery of seeing the shell of his former team every week. But on the other hand he’d also miss out on the blatant display of hypocrisy presented by the NFL’s decision to endanger players safety and the integrity of the game by using fake officials.

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