The Road to Houston: R3

The road to the Super Bowl is long, winding through 17 weeks of the regular season (R), and then a nrg-stadiumnarrowed field navigates a month-long playoff tournament. Every team imagines they are on their way to Houston, host to this year’s Super Bowl . . . .

Good Guys This Week: NFC East Rookie Quarterbacks

Dak Prescott in Dallas and Carson Wentz in Philadelphia are doing great jobs leading their teams. Dallas is 2-1, and they’ve played well, winning their last two games, and Prescott has shown admirable poise when pressed into service as the starting quarterback after yet another injury to veteran Tony Romo. The Eagles are 3-0 after smoking Pittsburgh 34-3 this weekend, and the rookie Wentz has looked so good that Philadelphia traded away veteran Sam Bradford.

It’s rare enough for rookies to have this kind of success at the toughest position in pro football, but these two guys are especially noteworthy for how good they look doing it. Wentz had a lot of success and experience as a college quarterback, but he played at North Dakota State in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), so he developed in an atmosphere with a whole lot less hype than at the top of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). He’s a big guy and exudes quiet leadership–but he also performs, with the Eagles scoring 29 or more points in each game thus far. While Prescott flourished in the higher-visibility program at Mississippi State, he comes to the Cowboys with the lowered expectations of a fourth-round draft pick. It doesn’t seem to matter much to him one way or the other, he’s just ready to do the job, as was evident when Mike Tirico interviewed Prescott in preparation for the Sunday Night Football prime-time match-up against the Bears. The young quarterback was charming and soft-spoken, especially when talking about the influence on him from his mother, who died in late 2013. It’s easy to see why the other players respond to his leadership.

With all the blowhards and abusive types who often hog the spotlight in the NFL, it’s nice to see good guys like this succeed.

Coach Buffoon

bufonWhile I’ve already detailed Coach Bill O’Brien’s Oedipal Adventures elsewhere, I just want to wave awkwardly to the departing Les Miles at LSU. He always struck me as one of the least coherent of the rather monomaniacal crowd of football coaches, if at least affably so, but what strikes me most is the stupidity of firing a college coach in-season. Guys like Miles are often the highest-paid public employees in southern states (yes, he is), and the university is almost certainly going to continue to pay him what’s owed him in his contract even as they have to pay someone else to do his job (at least at LSU, the athletic department is wasting money it generates for itself; unlike most schools, LSU does not subsidize its sports programs). What does it accomplish to fire a college coach three or four games into the season?

Toxic Media

When we invite the NFL on TV into our homes, we let in a whole lot more than just pro football . . . .

While there is no shortage of outrageous advertising and propaganda being broadcast between the action on NFL telecasts, the best example I could find this week of football idolatry combined with denigration of the real purpose of the Sabbath was in a Hyndai commercial. A football fan’s wife tells him that her parents are coming to visit Sunday and looking forward to spending the day out on his boat. Somehow this nut-case’s solution to the problem involves cutting his boat loose from its mooring. Apparently he would rather sacrifice his boat rather than give up an afternoon watching football (no mention of what else he could do on Sunday). He mutters, like a homicidal maniac deep in the musing stage of planning his crime, “not my Sunday.” Somehow this is supposed to sell us Hyundai automobiles! Sure, why not? It’s great for trips to and from the crime scene! (I guess . . . .)

Monday Night Mayhem: There’s Also a Football Game on TV Tonight!

47767911_High Resolution Front Cover_6181606 (2)Farewell to Football? An American Fan’s Examination of Conscience. Click here to order a copy in paperback or Kindle format.

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