Monday, August 22, 2011

Arrested NFL-opment

This one doesn't need much of an introduction. NFL teams and their Arrested Development character doppelgangers. The characters range from the main characters to inanimate objects. The comparisons range from fraternal twin to "yeah, that doesn't make any sense at all." Either way, fun times all around.

Arizona Cardinals – Franklin Delano Bluth

Franklin Delano Bluth was GOBs black ventriloquist puppet that he used to perform his hilarious blackie comedy routine, or to take a stab singing (his debut album: Franklin Comes Alive! with the hit song ‘It ain’t easy being White, it ain’t easy being brown). Without GOB to give Franklin voice and movement he’s nothing, just stuffed fabric and clothes. Without a QB last season, the Arizona Cardinals were nothing, despite having quite a bit of talent. Neither Franklin nor the Cards can function without their master, but with the Kolb trade, the Cards can fly again, and entertain us all, just like Mr. Franklin Delano Bluth.

Atlanta Falcons – White Power Bill

No, this doesn’t have to do with any white-extremism/Atlanta Falcons connections (which I should say are not there, as far as I know). White Power Bill felt compelled to terrorize other inmates mainly because he was ashamed of himself. He lacked self confidence. The Falcons are similar in that they seemed to lack the self confidence to build the right way, mortgaging part of their future with that Julio Jones trade where they gave up a slew of draft picks. Let’s hope this act of hidden desperation doesn’t en up like White Power Bill, falling off a railing into death. (Admittedly, this was a weak comparison; they’ll be better. I promise).

Baltimore Ravens – Maebe Funke

The rebels without a cause. Maebe Funke was rebelled against anything her parents did. When her mother started being anti-leather, Maebe became “pro-leather”. When her parents wanted to kill a tree, then save it, then kill it again, she wanted to save it, then kill it, then save it again. The Ravens, like Maebe are also the rebels of the NFL, moreso than the Raiders. They go against anything Goddell does. Even more than the Steelers, they complain about refereeing decisions nearly every week, saying other QBs are protected and that the league is out to get them. The Ravens are rebels, and taking alleged bad-boy Jimmy Smith in the 1st round only adds to that.

Buffalo Bills – Lucille 2

Lucille 2 as famous for suffering from vertigo (as well as nailing both Buster and GOB, but that’s for another time). The Bills are in an unending state of vertigo. They’ve fallen and really haven’t gotten up. They had brief periods where they were “stable as a table”, like in 2004 when they won six straight games to go from 3-6 to 9-6, and in 2008 when they were 5-1. Of course, they took that spin in Michael’s convertible and it was all over, as both seasons ended disastrously. The 2008 Bills lost 8 of their last 10 to finish 7-9, and memorably followed up a 54-31 win by putting up three points in two straight games. The 2004 team lost their final game to the Steelers, primarily against backups, when a win would have given them the #6 seed. They then fired Mike Mularkey, which has really set the whole team in a downward spiral ever since.

Carolina Panthers – J. Walter Weatherman

Just like the J, Walter Weatherman, the Panthers have long played seemingly with one arm. First it was that they always had just one receiver (this is post-Muhsin Muhammad of course). Then it became they had a great running game but bad passing game (2009). Now it is that they have a good defense, but bad offense. They can never be a complete team, but they are great in teaching lessons to the rest of the league; lessons like: That’s why you don’t cover Steve Smith 1-1, and That’s why you make sure you don’t give a QB coming off a 5-pick playoff performance a 5-yr extension.

Chicago Bears – Barry Zuckerkorn

Barry Zuckerkorn was the incompetent lawyer who secretly might have been competent. He had many obvious foibles, like his proclivity to not read plea bargains (“it’s very long”), or pick up male hookers, but he always claimed “I’m a lot more competent than you think,” while Lucille always claimed “He’s very good.” The Bears are similar. They have obvious foibles, like Cutler’s proclivity to getting injured, or their o-line being a vast oasis of suck, but they are quietly a lot more competent than you realize. Matt Forte had a nice season, that defense is still top-10 and they still have good ol’ Devin Hester.

Cincinnati Bengals – Carl Weathers

Cheap. It is one trait that describes both Weather’s fictionalized character and the Bengals and their wish-he-was-fictionalized-Owner. Just like how Carl Weathers screwed Tobias out of his last $1,100 dollars for “acting classes” which consisted mainly of Weathers telling Tobias how he was able to save up on the food he got at movie sets to make nice stews with the leftover chicken bones, Mike Brown is screwing up his team with his continual cheap behavior. How is it that Carson Palmer will not be granted his wish to be traded (a trade chip that could land the Bengals a 2nd round pick minimum), but Ochocinco is allowed to go? I’m never sure what Mike Brown is doing, but just like Carl Weathers, I feel like he’s the type to eat at Burger King, a lot.

Cleveland Browns – Ann(abell) Paul Veal

This comparison was “as Ann as the nose on ‘Plain’s’ face” as Michael Bluth would say. She’s bland, and they are bland. In the yearbook, under Ann’s picture it said “not pictured” and it might as well for any picture of the Browns. The Browns have a nice QB, kind of like how by the end of S2, Ann had a nice face, but the rest of the skill positions/body parts were just lacking. Peyton Hillis is nice, but he’s got the Madden Curse on him. The WRs are about as bad as you can get. I guess the defense has something, but overall it’s just bland. Also, it kind of makes sense that Mike Holmgren’s team would be the character that most resembles a Walrus.

Dallas Cowboys – Maggie Lizer

Just like Maggie Lizer, the Cowboys trick us into making us like them year after year to do well. It’s probably the star on the helmet, which is the Cowboys’ version of Maggie Lizer’s fake blindness. The Cowboys really aren’t that great of a team. Romo has peaked. The team has peaked. Their defense will probably go to hell without Wade Phillips there to call plays, yet somehow people still pick them to do well. Lizer was someone who had very few redeeming qualities. She was a liar. She pretended to be blind, then pretended to be pregnant, then tried to steal two gay cops baby. The Cowboys are the same, as they have a dick owner, and they play in a palace built on cash and narcissistic excess, but we still like them.

Denver Broncos – Rita Leeds

This one would have been better if the man known as Josh McDaniels was still prowling the sidelines, but alas, they have a somewhat competent head coach now in John Fox. Then again, they have all the symptoms of the trainwreck that was Rita Leeds. They have a quarterback who’s really a glorified running back with a throwing motion that takes more time than the average golf swing. They have a WR who is so erratic and up and down that many people thought if he was, in the football sense, mentally retarded. The Broncos are one of the worst teams in the NFL, fully capable of, like Rita Leeds, winning first place in the “two-legged race” for Andrew Luck.

Detroit Lions – ICE

ICE was the bounty hunter/caterer that was hired to keep an eye on Michael, and then track down George Bluth in Mexico. This comparison really only works on one level: the bounty hunter aspect (I couldn’t think of any caterer connections to the Lions). The Lions have built a d-line to fear. They have a coach who worked wonders in Tennessee with his rotating bunch of d-lineman. They have a rookie who had one of the best rookie seasons in a long, long time in Ndamukong Suh. They drafted bad-boy Nick Fairley (who sadly is hurt). Add to that KVB, Corey Williams and more and the Lions have one of the best pass rushes in the game. There’s a bounty on every QBs head the Lions face, and they are as capable as ICE of hunting it down.

Green Bay Packers – Michael Bluth

The star, the straight man, the champion, the President and CEO of the company; the Packers and Michael Bluth are both on top, but they are both secretly not all that great and likable. Michael Bluth was, if you look at it, the craziest of them all considering he couldn’t fully grasp the crazy around him. Bluth was, in all honesty, detestable since he took advantage of people and played people all the while thinking of himself as a really good guy. The Packers are similarly underratedly hateable. Everything just worked a little too perfect, with their long-haired white Linebackers, and their fat Nose Tackle getting pick-6s and dancing around like a bafoon. Not to mention Aaron Rodgers just seem a little too cool for school, and that ‘title belt’ celebration is nauseatingly awful. It’s under the surface, but just like with Michael Bluth, the hate is there.

Houston Texans – Starla, the Business Model

Starla was the beautiful yet shallow boat-show model recruited to be a new secretary, although she had basic problems like thinking that photo-copying meant copying documents on photo-sized paper. Oh, plus she had a weird affinity towards Quincy Jones bordering on stalking him. The Texans are quite similar. They can be beautiful, with one of the league’s best offenses in that they have the defending rushing champion as well as the Matt Schaub – Andre Johnson connection. That said, they have problems with basic things like holding onto the ball or not giving up 350 yards passing. Also, they have shown a weird affinity to keep holding onto Gary Kubiak despite him coaching 5 years with zero playoff appearances. He’s probably one of the few coaches to not make the playoffs in any of his first five seasons but still make it to year 6.

Indianapolis Colts – Lucille Bluth

People think that the Colts are no longer a glamour team, just like Lucille Bluth was no longer living the life of luxury. However, she really was as everyone counted Lucille out a little too soon. Lucille continued to buy anything she wanted (“The SEC is making me document all my purchases to make sure nothing was bought with company money, and nothing will be after I doctor all these receipts”), and continued to be as biting and caustic and great as ever. The Colts are in a similar situation. People are counting them out, mainly because of them getting a little too flukily injured in 2010 and Manning having a flukey 3-game 11-int stretch. Don’t count on those things happening again, as Manning and the Colts offense still packed a strong bite in 2010. They’ll be back. They aren’t dead yet.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Oscar Bluth

Yeah, the Jags really are the lost, decrepid, stoner Uncle sitting on a worthless property. For the Jags, that property is Jacksonville, where the city has become the one city where the NFL has failed. Oscar Bluth of course has that head of hair, “Oh, that beautiful hair”, that one trait that makes him the least bit redeemable. This is just like the Jaguars who have one aesthetic trait, with their handsome head coach Jack Del Rio. Sadly for the Jaguars, Del Rio’s best if used by date was sometime in 2008.

Kansas City Chiefs – Rav Nadir “The Indian Kid”

Rav Nadir (AD’s hilarious Indian-ization of Ralph Nader) was the 3rd candidate in George Michael Bluth’s high-school election. It was supposed to be a fight between George Michael and Steve Holt, a fight that was quite one-sided (Maebe called it, “comparing them is like comparing apples, and a fruit no one’s ever heard of”). Of course, because Steve Holt found religion, and George Michael was someone no one’s ever heard of, Rav Nadir walked away with the election. Anyway, this is much like the Chiefs in their improbably run to the AFC West Title last season. Just like Rav Nadir, the Chiefs capitalized by the Chargers bastardized special teams accounting for three early season losses (Chiefs, Seahawks, Raiders pt. 1). The Raiders were a little too spotty despite statistically in a lot of ways also being better than the Chiefs. It didn’t matter, as the Chiefs made the playoffs by default after those teams left the race, and were unsurprisingly slaughtered.

Miami Dolphins – Wife of GOB

This one is another comparison stretched really then, and it’s only here because I just loved the “Wife of GOB” character (aka: Crindy, Saul Zentzman, Usarmy). The best connection is that she deals seals, and seals are aquatic mammals, much like Dolphins. Also, she never “sealed the deal” with GOB (if that phrase is too hard to parse, that means had sex with GOB), much like the Dolphins never “sealed the deal” to bring Kyle Orton to Miami, much to the dismay of the Dolphins’ fans while also to the delight of Matt Moore and his family.

Minnesota Vikings – Kitty Sanchez (Post-Operation)

Kitty Sanchez was George Bluth’s fiercely loyal (aka: fuck-buddy) secretary. Of course, she had major problems in that she was revolting, with frazzled hair and googly eyes. This is much like the Vikings QB situation, with frazzled hair (Favre) and googly eyes (T-Jack) being the two options. Then, Kitty went and got surgery. The surgery was breast implants, but in reality, it made post-surgery Kitty quite attractive (as well, Judy Greer is quite attractive), just like the Vikings picking up Donovan McNabb got rid of the googly eyes and frazzled hair. Of course, the surgery wasn’t perfect, as her nipples were pointed in opposite directions, which is also kind of like how the Vikings are built, with many aging older star players declining, and young players who aren’t really any good. The Vikings are still a mess and a little delusional (“you don’t have the hiring and firing power!”), but at least they are a little better on the eyes.

New England Patriots – George Bluth Sr.

Pats are kind of like the Patriarch of the NFL, as Belichick is seen as the lead coach, and they are still held up as the gold standard even though they haven’t won a Super Bowl since 2004. Also, they get away with anything. I’ve always sondered how George Bluth was allowed to be placed under house arrest in S3 after he fled then faked a heart attack, fled the country and then drugged his brother, shaved his head and tried to pass him off as himself. Then he gets rewarded with house arrest? Kind of like how the Pats haven’t won a playoff game since 2007, how Tom Brady has been bad in the playoffs two straight years, how they’ve choked away numerous playoff games since 2005, and people still genuflect at their presence.

New Orleans Saints – The Milford School

The Milford School is famous for its belief that kids “should be neither seen nor heard.” The Saints have been the perfect Milford student so far in 2011. No one in the mainstream-media is really talking about them. They haven’t been seen or heard on many Super Bowl picks, but they could be a juggernaut. They still have a great offense, and Drew Brees probably won’t throw 22 picks again. Their defense was quietly top-10 in 2010 (although horrible in their playoff game). They won the title in 2009 and were 11-4 before a rest-a-thon and the Seattle game in 2010. The Saints are flying under the radar. As GOB would say, the Saints have been “spectacularly quiet” after last offseason when they went on a 7-month party celebrating their Super Bowl win.

New York Giants – Wayne Jarvis

Wayne was the lawyer who Michael wanted to replace Barry Zuckerkorn, due to the fact that Jarvis was a professional in every sense of the word. Yet, in reality, Wayne was crazy, agreeing to hide under the table to avoid meeting Lucille (seeing it as a professional way to dodge a meeting), and then trying to bribe Michael into giving away his father’s secrets after the joined the prosecution. The Giants act like professionals, with their “each game is a business meeting” motto, but in the past two years, they haven’t been really business-like, with the late season collapses, Osi’s spat with Coughlin, getting rid of Steve Smith. Somehow, they still feel a lot more competent than they should, just like Wayne was still a lot better than Barry.

New York Jets – Steve Holt

Just like Steve Holt, the Jets have all the makings of the most popular team in the world. They have the good-lookin’ latino QB, the Super Bowl MVP Wideout, the fat, jolly, smarter-than-you-realize head coach, and the brash defense that talks smack to the Pats, and then backs it up. Their brashness actually perfectly emulates Steve Holt’s, who is known to yell “Steve Holt” before he enters the conversation. The Jets might as well yell “The Jets” before all their games. The other connection is Steve Holt dating an underage-girl in Maebe, which is kind of analogous to Mark Sanchez brief affair with a 17-year old from New Jersey. It’s amazing how little staying power that story had. I mean, let’s not forget, Mark Sanchez had sex with a 17-year old. The attractive QB of the New York Jets decided, on his own accord, to not sleep with the multitude of appropriately aged women, and instead bang a 17-year old.

Oakland Raiders – Annyong

Annyong was the son Lucille Bluth adopted, partly to make the family look compassionate, and partly to make Buster jealous. Annyong was a character that was unceremoniously sent away in the middle of season two, shipped off to the Milford School “to teach him a lesson.” Annyong really was just misunderstood, namely about his name, which was not Annyong (Korean for “Hello”), but ‘Hell-Oh’. The Raiders are also criminally misunderstood. People saw Al Davis giving out big contracts to players not named Nnamdi Asomugha. What they failed to totally get was that the Raiders had little shot of keeping Nnamdi, so instead they locked up the rest. By the end of the series, Annyong returns to plot his revenge, just like Al Davis hopes to one day return to the top of the league, and take reveng on all those who doubted him.

Philadelphia Eagles – GOB Bluth

Just like the Magician, GOB Bluth, the Eagles pulled quite the magic trick in the offseason. How they were able to fit Nnamdi, Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie (and keep Samuel), Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, and then to cap it all off steal Steve Smith from the Giants is beyond me. GOB Bluth hates to use the term “trick” (as a “trick is something a whore does for money”), instead going for “illusion” and the Eagles are pulling one of those anyway. They have the illusion of a super team, despite Jeremy Maclin having some hush-hush strange injury, a logjam at corner, a defensive-coordinator who was last employed at offensive-line, and Michael Vick who is due for some serious interception regression. They really are the jokers.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Sally Sitwell

Sally Sitwell, after finding out that her father wanted Michael to date her, told Michael that “I would rather date someone my father doesn’t approve of” (which was to the ironic dismay of Michael who finally decided to ask out Sally because his father didn’t approve). The Steelers are kind of similar. They love it when we don’t approve of them, when we don’t consider them entering into a season. The 2008 Champions and 2010 Runner-Ups both entered those two respective seasons a bit under the radar. In 2008, everyone was up in arms about the Patriots trying to go perfect again, and the Cowboys, and the Steelers went out and had the best defense since the 2002 Bucs. In 2010, with Roethlisberger’s suspension, no one really thought of them as Super Bowl contenders (other than ironically Peter King, who is usually hilariously wrong with his Super Bowl picks). They then cruised all the way through the season and got there again. This year everyone likes them, so they are set up for disappointment. The Steelers don’t perform to well when they have everyone’s approval; just like Ms. Sitwell.

St. Louis Rams – Larry Middleman (the Surrogate)

Just like the surrogate was able to be the de-facto George Bluth in public situations outside when George was on house arrest, the Rams have become the de-facto Giants. They have the Giants old d-coordinator. They have a #1 overall pick at QB. They have the belief that you can never draft enough pass-rushers. Of course, they haven’t emuylated everything the Giants did, much like Middleman couldn’t emulate tone or inflection to relay George’s sarcasm. The Rams don’t have the Plaxico deep threat, but they’re close to getting to where the Giants were from 2005-2008.

San Diego Chargers – Lindsay Bluth Funke

Lindsay is beautiful, funny, good-hearted, and sweet. The only problem is that she is not bright and married to a doofus of a husband. The Chargers are powerful, beautiful (at passing), explosive and youthful. The only problem is the make ridiculous mistakes, sleepwalk in the beginning of seasons and have a doofus of a coach (in terms of game management). How Norv Turner lasted this long is incredible. The Chargers glaring weakness was their special teams, which rebelled against the rest of that team (#1 offense & defense by conventional stats), just like Lindsay rebelled against her mother. That said, when you forget about Tobias, Lindsay is quite a catch.

San Francisco 49ers – Surely Funke

Surely Funke was the sick wheelchair bound girl Meabe pretended was her sister to cash in checks that went to Surely for fundraisers. Her affliction: B.S (What are the symptoms?”, “I don’t know, it’s BS”). The 49ers are kind of like the Surely Funke version of the Maebe Funke Ravens. First of all, they hired the Ravens’ coach’s brother in Jim Harbaugh. They also have an affliction of BS,QB, with Alex Smith somehow still a member of the 49ers (and also still just 27). The 49ers also tried to use ex-Raven LB Coach Mike Singletary, after using ex-Raven DC Mike Nolan as head coach. They really have a bad case of wanting to be Maebe Funke.

Seattle Seahawks – Mort Meyers (Maebe’s boss)

He’s not a very famous character by name, but Jeff Garlin’s recurring role as Maebe’s boss led to a slew of slightly pedophilic jokes about Mort wanting to have an affair with Maebe, who would always give her standard answer of “Marry Me!” The Seahawks are also desperately trying to get with the younger crowd, opening up their wallets in free agency. Like Mort, the outcome is one of rejection, as I’m sure the NFL Playoffs will reject the Seahawks 2011 application led by Tarvaris Jackson. Even in that division.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – George Michael Bluth

The only redeeming character on the show was not Michael, the nominal straight-man. No, it was George Michael, the only one who could kind of see the lunacy behind his whole family. Of course, he was also madly in love with his cousin, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was the innocent one. The Buccaneers are the innocent of the NFL. They have a young team. They didn’t og out and get anyone in Free Agency, instead decided to steadfastly stick to their plan which is coming together faster than anyone could have hoped. If you want an NFL comparison, they remind me a lot of how the 1999-2003 Titans were built, although without an Eddie George. They are the rare virgin team in a league who’s teams usually whore it up.

Tennessee Titans – Stan Sitwell

The man without any hair (“You mean were meeting with a guy who can’t grow his own hair? Come ON!!”), will be paralleled with the team that lost its hair in every way. First the dreadlocked one is holding-out (although that probably won’t last). Then the sometimes-Afro/sometimes-cornrows Randy Moss was cut. Then they go out and sign the notoriously bald Matt Hasselbeck. To cap it off, they fire the man responsible for arguably the best facial hair in the NFL over the past 15 years: Jeff Fisher. His resume includes a brilliant mustache, and the sadly-forgotten great beards in 2002 and 2003. The loss of Jeff Fisher’s mustache in the NFL is huge.

Washington Redskins – Tobias Funke

I don’t know if this is really saving the best for last, but it might be the strongest comparison. Tobias was the joke. The other characters we laughed with sometimes (instead of laughing at), but for Tobias he was the joke: his obliviousness nature, his never-nude affliction, his not-so-hidden gay-ness. The Redskins, and moreso, Mr, Daniel Snyder, is the jok. He never learns from umpteen free agent disasters. He builds a non-descript giant bowl of a stadium and then squeezes out every penny. He tries to control the media to laughable results. Also, since coming to Washington, Mr. Shanahan has been o better, emulating Tobias in the way that he is making fun of himself when he says things like “I think Rex Grossman can do better than Donovan McNabb in my offense.” There’s even the case that Snyder, Shanahan and even Tobias were respected professionals in past lives (business magnate, coach in Denver, anal-rapist), but are ridiculously awful in their current venture (NFL owner, coach in Washington, actor). And finally, like Tobias, the Redskins under Snyder have been anal-raping their fans for a long, long time.

Characters That Just Missed the Cut

- Nellie the Stripper

- ‘Girls With Low Self-Esteem’ creator Phillip Litt

- Warden Stefan Gentiles

- Cindy Lightballoon (the mole)

- Tony Wonder (really sad I couldn’t include him)

- Judge Reinhold

- Mrs. Featherbottom

Saturday, August 20, 2011

NFL is BACK 2011

Yeah, the lockout ended a while ago, and yes, there was a frenzied free-agent signing period where I covered all of it, except for not covering it at all. Anyway, let's get straight back to what is here to stay (for at least the next 10 years, until the CBA expires and we get to do this all over again). The NFL will play football games in 2011. There will be a Super Bowl in Indianapolis next February (hopefully a Super Bowl parade in that same city a couple days after). Nothing much has really stayed the same in the NFL landscape since the lockout ended (other than people still blowing the Patriots and Bill Belichick for every move that looks questionable on paper even though for every Randy Moss they traded for there was a Derrick Burgess that did nothing - that's still here). So, here are my rambling post-lockout, pre-season-preview thoughts on what should be a fun season.

= The Eagles are really nowhere near a "dream team" except for their glut of corners. Obviously pairing Nnamdi and Asante together is amazing. This will probably just lead to Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie getting thrown at all the time. This usually doesn't bode well (see: DeAngelo Hall, 2008, playing across from Nnamdi), and I have a sneaking suspicion that Joselio Hanson (who was dominant covering slot receivers in 2010) will get the nickel-corner role above DRC anyway. They might trade DRC, or in what would be an odder move, trade Asante. As for the rest of the Eagles (and I'll cover this more in the season preview), I'm not sure I like a lot of what they did. Cullen Jenkins was really overpaid for a guy who has missed 17 games over the last three seasons and really wasn't all that great in 2010 (at least compared to what he's being paid to produce). Jason Babin was a one hit wonder, but at least there's thought there because he will be reunited with D-Line coach Jim Washburn. Then on offense, this whole Maclin illness thing is weird. They need Maclin to be healthy to allow DeSean Jackson to be their exclusive deep-threat. I'm not sure where Steve Smith fits in either. It is telling that the Giants basically didn't try at all to resign him. Finally, I find it laughable that Vince Young is apparently adding to the "dream team" label. If they have to depend on VY, they aren't going anywhere.

= The two teams that I'm most confused about are Seattle and Minnesota, which is ironic given their close history over the past six years (Koren Robinson, Hutchinson, Burleson and now Sidney and T-Jack). Minnesota seemed to want to start rebuilding, but instead kept all their aging stars, but let the younger ones go (Edwards, Rice). They then got in McNabb (admittedly giving up little), but apparently are fine letting him throw to Berrian and Percy Harvin. They are really building a team that will go about 8-8, which is really pointless. The Seahawks, on the other hand, are seemingly unsure whether they want to draft their way to success or go the FA route (drafting works a lot better, almost always). They have a nice nucleus of young players, but they went out and got Tarvaris Jackson? I'm not a T-Jack hater the way some are, and I find him average to a little below average, but still he's no better than Matt Hasselbeck. Plus, the Seahawks invested quite a bit in Charlie Whitehurst. It's odd that they would have given up on him so quickly. I think I already know one of the playoff teams that won't be making it back in 2011.

= The Falcons had an interesting offseason. On one hand they signed Ray Edwards, which is a move I love. Ray Edwards hasn't proven that he can produce without another playing drawing more attention, like he got with Jared Allen. Luckily for him and the Falcons. He probably won't have to, as he'll have John Abraham who will command at least as much attention from opposing o-lines. On the other side of the trench, I'm surprised the Falcons decided to resign both Justin Blalock (RG - 6yrs) and Tyson Clabo (RT 5-yr), but let Harvey Dahl (the superior player - and in my opinion the best lineman the Falcons have) go. Clabo at least I can understand as he's a tackle, but why pick Blalock over Dahl. Odd choices for a team that is still about as loaded as any other.

= Now let's get to those Patriots. They are a good team, if not a great one, but that is barely any more true after their glut of FA and trade acquisitions. In my mind, Albert Haynesworth is the only one that will more likely than not pay off - and not in the sense that he's going to become the 2006-2008 Big Al again. Ochocinco is done, just like Moss was last year. He did nothing most of last year, and the Bengals were a lot better when he left the field. As for all their D-Line moves, what exactly is the rest of the NFL supposed to fear. Andre Carter and Shaun Ellis are both firmly in the downside of their careers and are both coming off their worst years in a long time. Mark Anderson has done nothing since his rookie season on a team that has a great track record of getting a lot out of its d-lineman (Chicago). Bill Belichick is a great coach, but he's not a magician. He's not suddenly going to wave his wand and turn these aging vets into great players again. And what I really don't understand is that the d-line already was filled with some nice young players. Haynesworth was a great move. The rest have me shrugging my shoulders and saying "So what?

= The Colts moves are interesting in that they acquired three former 1st round picks. Unlike the Pats, a majority of these players are still in their prime. These types of moves - getting Ernie Sims who was miscast in Philadelphia's defense, and Jamaal Anderson who can stop the run quite well but isn't great against the pass, something he doesn't really need to do in Indy - are the types of moves that the Patriots used to make. If even one pays off, it can really help their defense. I think Tommie Harris is done. Like his former teammate Mark Anderson, it says something when a d-lineman doesn't produce in Chicago. I've heard people call Ernie Sims a "bust" around the internet which astounds me, as before he got to Philly, he was hailed as by far the best draft pick in the Matt Millen era. Anderson also is not a good pass rusher, but he's quite adept at stuffing the run, something Indy badly needs.

= The New York teams had very similar FA periods. Both teams really did nothing. The Jets scrapped the heap of old veteran receivers (Burress, Mason) and let two younger receivers go (Braylon, Cotchery). They also missed out on Nnamdi. The Giants didn't sign anyone of note (other than David Baas - which isn't really of note). But what they did that makes me think they came out of the FA period ahead of the Jets is that they resigned their key guys. They got back Bradshaw and Jacobs. They resigned Barry Cofield and Rocky Bernard. They did lose Steve Smith, but they have two WRs ready to explode (Nicks - who already has - and Mario Manningham). The biggest loss might actually be Kevin Boss. Anyway, I think the Jets got worse. The Giants stayed about the same, and they were probably better than their record in 2010.

= The new QBs (apart from Tarvaris) are all in interesting situations. Kevin Kolb obviously is the highest profile because he probably has the best chance to make the playoffs. The o-line is the only below average unit on the Cards. Even with Breaston gone he has the receivers. The defense has playmakers. And of course, I would be remiss to mention that playing in the NFC West helps a lot. The Titans' move for Hasselbeck is curious. He''s basically washed up and was having a lousy year before a brief rennaissance in the postseason. Chris Johnson is threatening a hold-out and Jeff Fisher is gone. Not really a stable environment for a older QB on a new team.

= I love what the Saints did. The only starter they lost was Jonathan Goodwin, but they went out and found a nice stop=gap in Olin Kruetz. Either way, their o-line is good enough to handle the loss of one guy. They resigned almost every other major FA they had (Carl Nicks, Lance Moore, Pierre Thomas, Roman Harper, Anthony Hargrove). Then, they were smartly active in FA. Their 1-yr deal for Aubrayo Franklin was genius. He'll have to be motivated since he's up for a new contract after 2011. Shaun Rogers also provides even more beef up front. Finally, their signing of Darren Sproles was great. Sean Payton is the best person to use someone like Sproles. WIth Ingram in they shouldn't lose much of Reggie Bush's running, but they are replacing Bush's receiving with Sproles. He's a little less consistent, but Sproles is more explosive.

= Finally, while the FA period is fun and all, there is a reason why the two teams that met for the Super Bowl signed exactly one FA from another team that anyone has ever heard of (Steelers signing Cotchery). That's because FA is the most overrated thing in football. This isn't baseball, where players are generally good until about 32 or 33, and then start declining. Most football players that last to a second contract are generally done around 28 or 29, and then start declining. This is especially true of positions like RB, TE, DT, CB (of course, like in anything, there are exceptions). Nate Dunlevy, the brilliant Colts' blogger over at did a draft study, to see what teams are the best at drafting over the past 10 years (2001-2010 drafts). It was a cursory study that used the draft value chart to assign an expected value to each pick, and then the players career AV (added value - a nice stat to judge the ability of a player; the stat was created by The study revealed some obvious things (like the fact that the Colts, Steelers and Packers were the best drafting teams), but also revealed something telling. I helped out in the project collecting the draft info for each team and Nate asked me to write down both AV by a player for the team he was drafted by and future teams, to get a sense of what team did the best job of getting the most out of their drafted players. The Broncos were the worst team at getting the most out of their own players, and they get 66% of their players career AV. Anyway, here is what this has to do with FA. The WORST team in the NFL at getting value out of its drafted players get 66% of its draftees career value. Most teams are in the 70s and 80s. Basically what this is saying is that FAs rarely produce much after they leave their original team. In fact, most produce very little. Football teams are great at squeezing every last bit of value out of their own players. FA is more often than not a mistake. That's probably why the Steelers and Packers stayed clear. They know the way.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The #3 Athlete of the 2000s: Zinedine Zidane

(I was going to release this when I first wrote it on July 14th, but I was in India, land of the slow internet connection. Because of this, uploading the videos was near impossible, and since Zidane is basically impossible to capture in writing, the videos were absolutely necessary).

The #3 Athlete of the 2000s: Zinedine Zidane

I'm writing this a week late, five days and seven years after Mr. Zidane played his final game, and made one final mark on the pitch in international football. Five years have passed since Zinedine Zidane, in which the world coronated four different players as his heir, as "The Best Player in the World." The crown went from Ronaldinho to Kaka to Cristiano Ronaldo from 2005-2008, all three having dizzying heights, especially the first of the three (we are all victims of forgetting just how good Ronaldinho was in his too-short prime). The crown finally landed upon Lionel Messi, and he's had it for three years running. Football has finally found a new heir, but it will take a while before anyone reaches the ridiculous heights that Zidane reached for ten years from 1996-2006. Since this is a best of the decade ranking, here is the short list of achievements that Zidane has that AREN'T included in this decade:

- 1998 World Cup (including two goals in the final)
- 1998 FIFA Player of the Year
- 1998 Ballod D'Or Winner
- 1996-97 & 1997-98 Champions League Finalist (with Juventus)
- 1995-96 UEFA Cup Finalist (with Bordeaux - a one man team)
- 1996-97 & 1997-98 Seria A Titles

Again, all of this is, in the case of this ranking, irrelevant. All of this preceded Zidane v 2.0, the player that made a superstar into a legend. Zidane is the odd player who's prime does not perfectly align with a particular decade. Michael Jordan actually had this problem as his true prime was from mid-80's to mid-90's (luckily for him the rest was amazing anyway). Zidane had five years at the end of the 90's and six years to start the 2000s that were the stuff of legend. Luckily for him, he did enough in those six years to better all but two athletes. Zizou, the man who made millions pour onto the Champs Elyssee, the man who made one of the sickest goals happen, the man who was the richest transfer fee of all time for 8 years and still holds it if inflation is counted, the man, the myth and the legend. Zinedine Zidane is the 3rd best athlete of the 2000s, despite him not playing a minute of the last 4 years.

What Lionel Messi does is easy to explain. He's incredible with the ball and has arguably the greatest left foot ever. He keeps the ball tied to his foot like it was literally tied to his foot. He is nearly impossible to take down and has every shot in the book. That is what Lionel Messi is, nothing more and nothing less. He does it extremely well, but that is what he does. You couldn't truly describe what Zidane did on the field other than saying it was magic. I'll make an effort to try anyway. Zidane had the ability to impact the game without scoring, but then again all defenders have that too. More so, Zidane had the ability to impact the game seemingly without moving, by just getting the ball and passing it off to streaking teammates in advantageous positions. Zidane was one of the most inventive passers in football history. Other than Peyton Manning, there might not have been a better quarterback in all sports.

Maestro is often the word we here associated with Zidane, and in a way it is perfect. He was the master orchestral conducter managing and directing the other 9 players on the pitch (I'm guessing he had no impact on the goalie, but then again if Tom Brady can make his kickers play better...) with ease. He rarely ever missed a pass, ever. What seperates him from modern pass-masters like Xavi Hernandez is that his passes weren't tiki-taka ones that went five feet, but sweeping, looping passes offsetted by back-heels and two-foot combinations. Zidane was everything a central midfielder should be, but limiting him to just that title would be selling Zizou way too short.

Zidane was also a beast with the ball, as rarely was any player able to strip him of it one-on-one. He didn't do it with the fleet footwork of Lionel Messi, or the galloping strides of Cristiano or the original Ronaldo before him, but with true magic. The magic was that he made the most ridiculous things like his famed spin to aerial kicks look easy and simple. He made the game look easy, like it was something anyone can do, and that is the height of his brilliance. Zidane made what was incredible look commonplace, look ordinary and all-the-more, because what he did that looked incredible was actually utterly insane.

It is still hard to believe it actually happened, and harder to believe how forgotten a moment it is outside of football fan circles. Real Madrid at the final peak of their galactico powers, was tied in the Champions League Final, the cap to the 2001-02 season. Zidane, in his first season in Real Madrid following that 75 Million Euro transfer fee, had already lost two Champions League Finals with Juventus - one to Real Madrid who had won two of the last four before Zidane joined. Zidane needed to make his mark and he did it with a 75 million euro goal. Solari flung the ball airborn in a high, tight arc, into the back of the 18-yd box. The ball was suspended in midair and every player on the pitch awaited its return to earth. Zidane didn't wait but readied himself, and then in one smooth move, swung his left foot (off-foot, it should be mentioned) perfectly into the descending ball, connecting with a sharp volley that slammed into the back of the net. The game was tied no longer.

Zidane had already won another FIFA Player of the Year award in 2000, but this was the real start to his decade. Tragically he got hurt in the run up to the 2002 World Cup and missed France's first two games, which were soulless goalless games. Zidane came back with a vengeance putting together another magnificent season to win the 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year spearheading Real to the La Liga title and managing to be the best player on the field during a Champions League tie with Manchester United, even with Ronaldo getting a hat trick. Zidane then scored the only goal in Real's tough semifinal exit to Juventus. In 2004, Zidane then led France to the late stages of the Euro 2004 tournament with a dramatic brace against England. First was an incredible free kick to tie the game in the 88th minute, a kick so brilliant, goalie David James didn't move an inch. He couldn't, frozen by its brilliance. Then he finished it off with a penalty kick to the collective groins of millions of Englishmen. Later in 2004, Zidane got arguably his most impressive honor.

In 2004 UEFA did a poll of the Best European Footballers of the Past 50 Years to cap its 50th Anniversary celebration. Zidane topped the poll, nudging out Franz Beckenbauer. Before people cry that there was some recency-bias, it should be mentioned that the next highest placing current player was Paolo Maldini at #10. Of course, this was a European only list, so it did not include Pele or Maradona or Ronaldo, but the message was clear, Zidane was the best European Football of the last 50 years......... and this was before his magical 2006 World Cup.

The French National Team's qualification for the 2006 World Cup was going about as well as the plight of the roid-free Tour de France riders. Zidane, who had already retired from international football, was begged to come out of retirement, to help his country. After Zidane returned on September 3rd 2005, France didn't lose another game until after he retired again (losing in penatlies is considered a draw). France ended up qualifying comfortably, and the 2006 World Cup was set and going in Zidane let it be known it would be his swansong from all football, at what a beautiful coda it was.

The group stage for France wasn't anything great, but the four successive knockout games were an epic all-to-themselves. First against Spain, a team who had the foundation of the same team that would dominate international football for the six years after the World Cup, Zidane controlled the game beautifully, many times showing off his trademark passing and eye for the game. His whipping free kick led to the game winning goal, and then in stoppage time added the capper, with his first goal in the World Cup, a goal that is often missed but Zidane made look incredibly easy. A date with Brazil was next.

Zidane made his first ever international statement against Brazil, scoring two headers to win the World Cup. In fact, since 1994, the only World Cup game Brazil lost was that World Cup Final. Coming into the game, the Selecao were on a roll and were the favorite. Then again, no one really realized that Zidane had one last breathtaking game again. Difficult made easy. The 2006 quarterfinal perfected that theme as he danced his way around the Brazilians. Pele later called him "the only Brazilian on the field." His free kick again set up the only goal, but Zidane controlled the match (though I should not France's defense was great throughout the tournament), one that was nowhere as close as the 1-0 scoreline.

The semifinal against Portugal was more of the same, highlighted with a picture perfect penalty kick. Eight years after his brace sent millions into the Champs Elysee, Zidane was back again in the World Cup Final, this time against Italy. The Final was marked by three incidents for Zidane. First was his second consecutive penalty kick goal. A kick so sublime, so insane that few would try it. Zidane chipped the ball so perfectly in bounced off the bottom of the cross bar slowly dropping behind the goalline. The second was his last great moment, a flying header that nearly broke a 1-1 tie in extra time. Gianluigi Buffon had to use every inch of his springing frame to knock it over the bar. The final one was the most memorable, the infamous headbutt, Zidane's act of vigilante justice.

The act itself was admittedly disgraceful, but was not really out of character. Zizou played the beautiful game about as beautiful as it ever has, but that grace belied a true temper. Zidane has a lot more bad tempered moments and red cards than most great footballers. His temper is his one true weakness, and it showed at the worst moment, fifteen minutes before the end of his career. But let the headbutt not spoil Zidane's incredible tournament, one that netted him one last award for the best player of the tournament. Zidane's play against Brazil should be sent straight to the Smithsonian, the equivalent of what Manning's insane game against the Jets in last years AFC Championship game was. Zidane was at his magnificent best in the biggest tournament in the world.

Zidane never played again after the headbutt, but his legacy is still set in stone. Just listen to the experts: "Zidane is one of the 5 greatest players in history, a truly magnificent player" (Beckenbauer). "Zidane is the greatest talent we've seen in the last 20 years (1986-2006), and it was an honour to be his manager" (Juventus manager Marcello Lippi who coached Italy in the headbutt game). "Zidane's the best player I've ever seen" (Roberto Carlos). "Technically, I think he is the king of what's fundamental in the game - control and passing" (Michel Platini). "There's never been anyone quite like him, anyone so magical" (Paolo Maldini).

Zizou was a true magician, and his best magic act might have been his quiet disappearance. It is hard to describe why Zidane isn't remembered as greatly as he should, especially since when it comes time for any true expert or football fan blog to do any sort of top-10 list, or have an irrational Zidane vs Ronaldinho or Zidane vs Messi thread, the cobwebs that lie over Zidane's legacy are dusted off and displayed. Maybe it is because it is all too recent. Maybe because Messi is doing splendid things, but Zidane isn't given the Maradona treatment yet. He will because he deserves it. My guess is his high-profile roles in the football business will only help. Zidane was the face of Qatar's bid for the 2022 World Cup. Zidane is now the sporting director of Real Madrid, a job Jose Mourinho wanted Zidane to get, making him the second most powerful man at Real Madrid after Florentino Perez. Zidane realizes that the world has gotten over the headbutt, that it is time to make that legacy eternal.

I don't want to really get into a Zidane vs Messi debate, partly because Messi isn't done and partly because they play different positions (Zidane vs Ronaldinho makes more sense, but that argument is as dumb as Barry Bonds vs Sammy Sosa but without the roids). That said, here is what I know: Messi has played his entire career with Xavi and Iniesta and that cartel in Barca. Zidane did have great teammates at both Juventus and Real Madrid, but not to the same effect. We haven't seen what Messi can do without those two men, and what evidence we have (World Cup mostly), isn't exactly impressive for Leo. As for Zidane, here are the results that France has put up in major competitions since 1998:

1998: Won World Cup (With Zidane)
2000: Won Euro 2000 (With Zidane)
2002: Lost in group stage (Zidane played 1 out of 3 games)
2004: Lost in Quarterfinals (With Zidane)
2006: Lost in World Cup Final (With Zidane)
2008: Lost in group stage (Without Zidane)
2010: Lost in group stage (Without Zidane).

France has done nothing without Zidane, and everything with him. France had other great players in this era like Thierry Henry, Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira and Claude Makalele, but none of those guys could do jack without Zizou, without the magic.

In his final game for Real Madrid, his final game in club football, Real Madrid sent him out like a king, with the whole stadium holding up posters of Zidane's shirt and each player having "Zidane 2001-2006" stiched at the bottom of their shirt. Zidane responded with a sublime header, a goal in his final game. The header was tough in actuality, with Zidane lightly arcing the ball off his head, almost placing it with his head rather than butting it, as it flew softly over the goalie. It was difficult but made to look simple, just like everything else in Zizou's magical career.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fun With Conspiracies

When I have a lot of time on my hands, I like to look up something random on Wikipedia. This will ultimately lead to me traipsing around to many different Wikipedia pages, just reading up on different things. A couple days ago I was on Youtube and I was somehow linked over to a “Paul is Dead: The Evidence” video that gave evidence to the conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney has been dead for 45 years. That got me over to the “Paul is Dead” wiki page, which got me to the Wiki page for all conspiracies. The night somehow ended in me watching a documentary on Youtube about Jeffrey Dahmer (I shit you not – it was actually quite good), and one on alternative theories in the OJ case (his son killed Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, or some hitman for the drug mafia). Anyway, it got me thinking as to what my personal favorite conspiracy theories are, in both sports and the wide world. Here they are now, my Top 10 conspiracy theories, 5 related to sports and 5 related to the world at large.

Honorable Mention.) 9/11 Was an Inside Job

I don’t want to talk about this one mainly because it would be so abhorrently evil if it was true. It will ruin America forever, and I’m sure of that. It would be an injustice on the level of the Nazi Party and the holocaust, and I believe that, as everything that the US has done in war in Iraq, Afghanistan stems from the actions of 9/11. If it was an inside job, and the WTC were downed in a control demolition, it would be the biggest political scandal ever, BY FAR. It would be an event that reaches far beyond anything I can currently comprehend.

The Sports’ Conspiracies

10.) Brazil Threw their 2006 Quarterfinal against France

I first saw this conspiracy bandied about after the World Cup finish in a pretty shoddy Youtube video. The main claims were that many of the Brazilian players were seen crying before the national anthem (as in they were depressed that they knew they would lose), and more jarringly, only three Brazilians even attempted to defend Zidane’s free kick which was tapped in by Henry for the only goal. In fact, one Brazilian defender is noticeably seen tying his shoe when the ball is in the air for what would be the goal. I doubt this has any merit too it, mainly because the Brazilians did put on a spirited effort to tie the game in the last 10 minutes, and Brazil is notorious for not defending set plays (which is just how they lost in 2010 to Holland). That said, I wanted France to win, but to see them absolutely dominate Brazil in that fashion was a bit odd. In the end it gets chalked up to France’s great defense and Zidane playing out of his skull, but Brazil definitely played soullessly enough to merit a thought of whether they were really in the game for the long haul.

9.) Barcelona gets preferential treatment

This started back in 2009, when Barcelona, a truly incredible team headed by Messi, Henry and Eto’o (they weren’t yet made up of basically the entire Spanish National team minus Casillas, Xabi Alonso and Torres). They were exciting, free-flowing, and mostly new. People weren’t tired of seeing them string together 5-foot passes yet. They met Chelsea in the Champions League semifinal, and Chelsea, in the mold of their previous manager Jose Mourinho, played all-out defense for 90 minutes in the Camp Nou in the first leg. I remember seeing the game and claiming that their strategy was “any time we get, give it to Cech, let him kick the ball 100 yards, and have Barcelona try it again.” It worked well enough, and then with Michael Essien’s super strike early in the second leg at Stamford Bridge, it seemed that the plan might just work. Then the injustice began. There were six shouts for penalties, ranging from the hollow (a push in the box by a Barca player, something that rarely gets called), to the incredibly, heinously obvious (a handball that would make Luis Suarez blush). None of them were granted, and in the 93rd minute Andres Iniesta scored. Barcelona went through on away goals and beat Manchester Utd. In the final. The only reason why UEFA would want Barca and not Chelsea would be to avoid a 2nd consecutive Man U – Chelsea final. I chalk that one down to incompetence. After the last two years, I’m not so sure.

In 2010, in the CL Semifinals, Barca was given the advantage of basically playing the entire second leg 11 on 10 after Tiago Motta was given a straight-red for an arm-bar that at worst deserved a yellow. Sergio “The Rat” Busquets (nicknamed so by me) crumpled down and then peeked to see if the ref was buying it. The ref initially didn’t, so Busquets rolled around some more, and then the ref gave the straight red. Inter defended brilliantly with 10 men and knocked out Barca, giving way to a boring final between Inter and Bayern Munich that UEFA probably wanted to avoid. 2011 was worse, when Barcelona was given an 11 on 10 advantage in the second leg of the Round of 16 tie against Arsenal (after losing leg one 1-2), and then again in the first leg of the semifinal against Real Madrid (after being scoreless for nearly 70 minutes). The Arsenal one was ridiculous, when Robin van Persie kicked away a ball barely a second after the offsides whistle blew, resulting in his second yellow. Oddly (or not so oddly), Barca did the same thing later and weren’t given a yellow card. The game was tied 1-1 when van Persie left (Arsenal up 3-2 on aggregate), before Barca scored two goals to advance. In the semifinal, Real Madrid had basically equaled Barca with great defense mainly due to Pepe’s covering of Messi. Then, after in what was actually a play with little to no contact, Pepe was given a red for swinging his leg to kick and airborn ball, but missing and getting Dani Alves’ leg. Alves went down as if he would need the leg amputated, and the medical staff carried him off on a stretcher. The lasting sight was Alves wanting to get off the stretcher before it even left the field and the Barca health team pleading with him to stay until they reach the bench, just to make the flop look 10% more decent. After Pepe left, Barca scored two goals turning the second leg into a dud.

The main point is why would UEFA favor Barcelona?? It is obvious really. A lot of the UEFA heads are Spanish, and Barca has ties in UEFA upper management. Barca is also seen as the crown jewel of the sport, the Lakers of UEFA, as they were sponsored by UNICEF, and played the beautiful game beautifully. Referees probably had no financial reason to favor Barcelona, but the amazing string of calls and cards to go for Barcelona is jarring. Both their 2009 and 2011 CL Titles were won under a shroud of controversy (leading to Mourinho’s hilarious quote that Pep Guardiola should feel ashamed that he’s never reached the CL Final without cheating). Barcelona is given the benefit of the doubt on almost every call. It probably doesn’t help that they are the best floppers out there. If it is true, then that probably just adds to the legacy of cheating and shadiness in UEFA and FIFA. It makes Jose Mourinho not look like a madman, and probably makes Messi come under darker light. I don’t think it is true, but in a sport with rampant favoritism and bribing, it could easily be possible.

8.) The Patriots did tape the Rams Walkthrough (and other Spygate related conspiracies)

Let’s take a trip back to late-January 2008. Before the 18-0 Patriots were set to play the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, a Boston paper released a story from a certain Matt Walsh, alleging that the he, a former video employee for the Pats, taped the Rams walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. This unleashed a 2nd round of Spygate drama, and although it was eventually shot down by the Patriots and the paper admitted fault, I’ve always believed that there was more to that story, and Spygate as a whole, that met the eye.

Roger Goodell really screwed himself in the Spygate circus by burning the tapes. That was a silly move that makes everyone think if he was hiding something, if the tapes were more useful than the Patriots spun them to be, which is a legitimate thought. Goodell finished the discipline over Spygate in about two days, seemingly very hastily. It was all very hush-hush and them the walkthrough story comes out. Why would Matt Walsh just tell a bold-faced lie? How could he get so specific as to say he taped the Rams walkthrough? For a team who was caught cheating by stealing signals, was taping a walktrough that much of a step up? All in all, it has never been proven and the story died a quick death, but what if it was true? If the Patriots really did tape that walkthrough, I think they should be stripped of their 2001 Super Bowl Title. Taping the signals on game day is one thing. Secretly taping another teams’ private practice is about as low as it can get. In a way, I’m happy the story wasn’t true because that would have released a shitstorm on the NFL that I wouldn’t have wanted to see.

7.) Every NBA Draft Lottery is fixed.

Doesn’t it seem a bit odd that so many draft lotteries are won by teams with little chance of winning them? Doesn’t it seem a bit odd that so many players go to teams that make sense. The year University of Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon was the 1st pick, it just so happens that the Rockets win the lottery? The year that Akron native LeBron James is the first pick it just so happens that the Cavaliers win the lottery? The year that Chicago native Derrick Rose is the obvious 1st pick it just so happens that the Bulls win the lottery against tall odds? Doesn’t it seem strange that almost always when there is a sure-fire 1st pick, the lottery is almost always won by a premier team or a team with close ties to the player?

The draft lottery’s most notable shadiest moment came in 1985 when Patrick Ewing was the prize. The Knicks were in need of a jolt, and they, against tall odds, one the lottery. Back then, they put a bunch of cards into a spinning cauldron and Stern spun the wheel and then picked out a card, so the story goes that the NBA put a Knicks card in a freezer to make it icy cold, so Stern would know which card was the Knicks and then to pull that card. The next bit of conspiracy evidence is that Stern really takes a while rummaging his hand through the vat of cards before choosing one. Now a days, the lottery is actually done off-site, and then they reveal the order, but how can you really trust what is going on? All in all, even if it is true, that the lottery is many times fixed, it doesn’t really change my perceptions of the NBA. The NBA is already the most crooked of the 4 major sports, and especially so after the MLB cleaned itself up. The refs have more impact in the NBA than any other league, and one player can have more impact than in any other league. I will say that notable examples of lotteries appearing shady are with teams that don’t have great histories (The Cavs, the Rockets), but it definitely is odd to see so many guys get drafted #1 to a team close to home, especially when those teams are rarely the odds-on favorite to win the lottery.

6.) Michael Jordan was suspended for gambling.

Michael Jordan’s abrupt retirement from the NBA in 1993, which led to a comical career in Minor League Baseball is probably the strangest story in NBA history. Here was an athlete that had just won three titles and was on his way to having a career that would eventually make him almost undisputably the best NBA player ever. He was at the top of his game when he just decided to give it all up to play baseball? Jordan claimed it was part of the fallout of the murder of his father and just a tiredness from the game, but that makes no sense for a guy so insanely driven by basketball and by winning. He wouldn’t want to go play a game that he was not the best in, that he could not win in. Over the years, the conspiracy theory developed that Michael was suspended from the league for 18 months for gambling too much (not necessarily on the game of basketball Pete Rose style, but that Jordan’s obvious gambling addiction was harming the league’s image, not only his personal finances). As weird as it seems, it makes perfect sense.

Jordan’s gambling problem was supposedly permeating through the team, as he would raise stakes on nearly everything, from a shootaround in practice to poker on the team plane. He was truly addicted (by all reports, he very well could still be). Stern, instead of publicly scolding the league’s biggest star, gave Jordan the option to temporarily “retire” from basketball as a way to serve his suspension and save face with endorsers. If any commissioner would think of such a plan, it is David Stern. Stern knew that a public suspension would be bad for the league, worse than even if Michael left for a while. Granted, Michael retiring still hurt the league tremendously, as attendance and ratings fell to a point that there was a legitimate discussion as to if the NHL could pass the NBA in popularity. Then, like the knight in shining armor, Jordan returns to save the league, win three more titles and put any questions over his “best-ever” worthiness to rest. I’m not sure if it is true, but I will say that out of all the conspiracy theory’s on the list, this is the one with the highest chance of actually being true.

Other Conspiracies

5.) There is a New World Order hideout under Denver International Airport

I’m guessing 99.9% of the population has never heard of this conspiracy and that is because it is patently absurd; but then again, that makes for the most entertaining conspiracy. Denver opened its new airport sometime in 1995 and it had a lot of architectural quirks. There is a bronze statue of a lot of symbols, one of which includes the phrase “New World Airport Commission”. The New World Order is a secret group of people conspiring to rule the world under one global government, and will use genocide to get the world to that stage, and part of the theory is that members of the order had a hand in building the airport (hence the “New World” Airport Commission). Anyway, after Denver International Airport was built, there were conspiracy theories that the US Military had built large underground bases, and one of them was supposed to be under Denver International. Then, a man who worked on building underground tunnels (reportedly to aid the quick transition of cargo, bags and fuel across the airport) claimed to have seen large “holding cells perfect for prisoners”, and “strange electromagnetic forces.” There are strange words, like “Cochetopa”, “Sisnaajini”, and “Dzit Dit Gaii” which conspiratists point to being a secret New World Order code. Finally, there is a haunting mural painted on the walls of the airport that depicts, of all things, genocide taking place, and after the genocide ends, the children of the world coming together under one rule (just like the supposed plan of the New World Order). Therefore, the theory states, Denver International Airport is a base for the New World Order to carry out part of their plans.

Of course, most of this has been debunked. The airport uses those tunnels (they do exist) to, as I said earlier, carry bags and cargo across the long airport. The words cut in the floor are Navajo words which are the words for different Colorado Native landmarks. Also, the paining is haunting, but it is about how the people of the world will come together to defeat genocide (not come together because of it…. And yes this is admittedly a stupid theme for a mural in an airport). However, the New World Airport Commission is pretty hard to explain. It looks like these evidences of a New World Order base at Denver International are really hollow, but nevertheless it is a wild theory that I, a lover of airports, am particularly smitten towards. Denver International is almost assuredly not a New World Order base camp/prison, but even then, the architects did a nice job of leaving enough strange elements to get people talking about the airport.

(I forgot one, although this has less to do with the New World Order aspect of it all: From the air, the layout of the runways of the airport make out what looks to be a Swastika. Of course, it takes a creative mind to fill in the gaps in the swastika, and this can also easily be explained, as the airport built runways in all directions, spreading them out so if crosswinds were to occur, at least two runways could be used. Then again, why a swastika type shape???)

4.) Elvis is Still Alive

To me, this conspiracy, if proven true, would be more meaningful and memorable than if the other theories about musician deaths were true, such as if Tupac was still alive, if Michael Jackson were still alive, or if Kurt Cobain was murdered and didn’t commit suicide. Elvis being alive has more merit than those (although the Cobain one is interesting, I ultimately put it right next to JFK as theories that wouldn’t really change anything if they were proven true). The basis for Tupac being alive was the proclivity of songs sampling him being produced after his death, though this can be explained through a catalog of recordings of his being made prior to his death and unused. The Michael Jackson ones have no merit at all. Elvis is a different story.

The amount of Elvis sightings since his death in 1977 are quite numerous, and deep in scope, with people claiming to know him well after death and being close friends (rather than just “saw him across the dark room” witnesses). Elvis would be just 76 today, so he could easily be alive. His death itself was quite mysterious, as he did amid a maze of drugs and illnesses, but he did not have any serious illness (cancer), nor was he the drug addict like a Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix. There is no reason for Elvis to have possibly made the career move of dying (other than the theory that many musicians find their greatest success after their death). If Elvis is still alive, he’s hid it well – which gels with a lot of the Elvis sightings as many people who claim to have seen him say that Elvis put on a totally new persona. Elvis is most probably dead, but it is always interesting to theorize that people who died are still among us.

3.) Osama was killed some time before the announcement

I’ll admit that this one is probably something I’m hesitant to talk about since it is political, but I feel it is an interesting theory, especially since if it was true probably doesn’t hurt Obama as much as it would seem. The theory is that Osama Bin Laden was killed well before the May 2nd national announcement, one that was delayed about 2 hours from its originally scheduled time. The killing of Osama was a rallying day for the US as a whole, and really a perfect excuse for college kids everywhere to get hammered on a Sunday in celebration. More reverently, it was seen as a seminal day in the war on terror, and a day of rejoice across the world, that that madman would never harm another soul. The only question was when did he actually die? If he died that day, it would be extremely difficult to verify the body as him using DNA that quickly. If it was done a couple days earlier, which is not only likely but highly possible, there are two good reasons for Obama waiting on the announcement, one that especially doesn’t hurt his reputation. The first is the more scurrilous reason that he wanted to wait specifically for the 8th anniversary of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech, as a way of saying to all Republicans “The Mission is Accomplished Now, Bitches!”. The other was that he didn’t want an announcement of his death to coincide with the Royal Wedding earlier that weekend, which oddly makes sense. The Royal Wedding was a global event, and Osama wouldn’t have been more or less dead if he waited another day.

That said, there are darker theories, ones that claim that Osama died years earlier, and Obama was waiting to use the killing of Osama Bin Laden as a trump card to play anytime he felt his poll numbers were lagging. I say bunk to that theory since then why wouldn’t he wait closer to the election, when he knew his opponent. I mean, Obama’s approval ratings did get the inevitable bump (just like Bush’s did when Saddam was captured), but if the economy continues to lag, the specter of Osama Bin Laden’s death will shine less brightly upon Obama. Another theory is that Osama died of Farney’s disease, and that the US kept his body in a plan to use it, again as a trump card, although this is probably even less true as it alleges he died sometime during the Bush administration. Generally, most of these dark theories are just the mad concoctions of FOX NEWS and their viewers/supporters who are all a bit miffed at the credit Obama is taking for offing Osama. That said, I could easily see a case where he actually died a day or two before Obama’s national announcement, and then the delay with the announcement was caused by the administration making sure they covered their tracks.

2.) The 2000 election was fixed in Florida

Political again, but unlike Osama Bin Laden’s death, the 2000 Election has become something of a pop-culture event than a political race. Let’s go back to 2000, on a November night. Al Gore was winning a lot of the big states, but Bush was taking every last small state, and finally we were down to a situation where Al Gore was just three electoral votes away, and Bush 24, with Florida (and its 25 votes) the only state left. If Gore had won any of the 3-vote states (like Montana, the Dakotas), or even his homestate of Tennessee, or Clinton’s home state of Arkansas, the Florida result would have been moot. But alas, it was not, and it was first called to Gore, then Bush (leading to Gore conceding the race), to “too-close-to-call” (leading to Gore un-conceeding the race), back to Bush, and finally resting on “too-close-to-call”, the spot it would lie for several weeks. Over the next month, the country got all-too familiar with hanging-chads, Dade & Broward County, the prospect of a recount, absentee ballots, and the world got to laugh at a country who couldn’t effectively pick a president. In the end, the Supreme Court upheld a law that stated that recounts only had a certain time to be processed, and the state of Florida went passed that time, and basically awarded Florida to Bush and the presidency to Bush. After the dust settled, George W. Bush was our president, becoming just the 3rd president to lose the popular vote. Al Gore became the world’s most prominent Global-Warming Awareness leader, and the country went back to forgetting what a hanging chad was. However, was Gore even given a fair chance in Florida?

A lot of the problems stemmed from the ridiculous voting results from two counties: Dade and Broward; two counties that both had a high percentage of Jewish residents as well as a shockingly high percentage of votes for 3rd Party candidate Pat Buchannan. What really made the story ridiculous was that Pat Buchannan was a staunchly conservative Christian, which made it very unlikely that he would receive significantly more votes from two highly Jewish concentrated counties than in any other county in the country. A likely explanation was that the maddeningly confusing of the manual ballot made people who thought they were voting for Al Gore vote instead for Pat Buchannan. Al Gore lost those two counties big time, and if he would’ve gotten 90% of the Buchannan vote, he wins the counties and then the election. Of course, this is where the fix possibly comes in. The state of Florida, instead of issuing a re-election in those counties with a better ballot, decided to keep those results, but recount them. This was despite the many cries of people in Dade and Broward County claiming that they voted for Buchannan mistakenly, instead of voting for Gore. In the end, the recount took forever, and it was mainly held up in the state government bureaucracy, and it just so happened that in the state of Florida, George Bush had his own brother as governor. The recount was held up, and finally took too long to be completed within the deadline set by the courts. Bush was president.

Now, I don’t think Florida was fixed prior to the election, nor do I think that the ballots in those counties were intentionally made in a confusing manner to draw votes away from Gore (and it can be said that Bush would be affected from the same confusing ballot – although it should be noted that there was no irregular voting for the candidates surrounding Bush’s place on the ballot). However, I think it is entirely plausible that Florida, a state headed by a Republican governor who happened to be the main Republican candidate’s brother, and a sate with a high republican presence in its state courts, would try everything to slow down this recount. Lost in all of this is if they never did do a re-vote in Dade and Broward counties, Bush probably still wins, but the actions of everyone involved in Florida wreaks of shadiness and purposeful laziness. I’m not sure why any ballot would ever be made that confusing, or manual, but Florida for some reason thought it was a good idea.

1.) “Paul is Dead” is true.

The Grand-Daddy conspiracy theory. Not only is it among the most interesting to dissect, but it is probably the theory that would give the most “Holy Shit” reaction if it was in fact true (well, apart from the 9/11 one). The theory is simple, really: Paul McCartney died in a car accident (an accident that definitely did happen) in 1966, and was replaced by a look-alike. The Beatles, troubled with guilt for hiding the death of their band mate, littered the proceeding four or five Beatles’ albums with clues to reveal that Paul was dead. Some clues are quite interesting. If you play some songs backwards of the Beatles, you get a long drawn out noise of a car crash, a man screaming and a woman crying, and then an ambulance. In another song, when played backwards, John Lennon is heard saying “Paul is Gone.” There are more symbolic lyrics to Paul death than I can possibly write (all when played forward, mind you). Then there are many visual clues on album art. The cover of ‘Abbey Road’ is the most infamous, where Paul is barefoot and out of step with the rest of the Beatles, who are dressed as if going to a funeral (John in the preacher’s white, Ringo and George in mourning black). In ‘Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart’s Club Band’, and a couple other albums, there are hands extended up in a blessed pose above Paul’s head. Then, there is the whole story of the look-alike. The Beatle’s held a Paul Look-alike contest shortly before his death, and the claim is that they used the winner in the contest to be Paul. Of course, the winner would have to both be left-handed, sound like Paul and be quite musical, but the theory goes that they found someone who was all three. Paul died in 1966, and the Beatles replaced him? Too crazy to be true, but alternatively, just as crazy that it might.

The evidence against this obviously is that it would have been extremely hard for the Beatles to find someone to emulate Paul so perfectly that no one could ever use Paul’s appearance or voice as clues. Think about that. Not one of the common clues for the “Paul is Dead” crowd is anything like “Paul stopped sounding the same” or “Paul looked different pre-1966 and post.” They are all just supposed clues littered along the album covers and in the songs of the Beatles. That said, the accident definitely happened, and there were talks of a premature TV report that Paul McCartney had died in a car accident. The Beatles did have a natural place to go with a replacement from the look-alike, and the Beatles were the type of band who would bandy about clues among their songs and the album artwork. There were also notable clues to the Beatles being reduced to “3” (John, George, Ringo) in songs post-1966. All in all, the circumstantial evidence is there, but they could all be the machinations of minds similar to those who claim the Dark Side of the Moon lines up perfectly with ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (which is a theory that just missed the list, mostly because I’ve never put it to the test). Paul is almost assuredly alive.

Then again, wouldn’t it be truly incredibly if the theory was true, if the Beatles were slyly employing a fake Paul for all those years, if the man now beloved as Paul McCartney, the last remaining relevant Beatle (Ringo Starr can count in millions in the relative obscurity that is his life now), is in fact an imposter, a replacement? The Beatles would have carried out one of the great hoaxes of all time, and done it under intense scrutiny over, what is now, 45 years. If Paul McCartney did die, that means millions have probably wasted their money going to Paul McCartney solo concerts these past 20 or so years. I will say that the replacement would have had to be quite an artist to be as successful as solo Paul. If Paul McCartney did die that night in 1966, it would probably have been one of the biggest “what-if?” deaths of all time, cutting off a bright bulb so shortly into a career. Paul McCartney, one can argue, is the biggest musical star right now, in that he could command the highest price. He’s still a Beatle, for shits sake. However, he easily could not be a Beatle, and the clues are there to say that we should have known it all along.

About Me

I am a man who will go by the moniker dmstorm22, or StormyD, but not really StormyD. I'll talk about sports, mainly football, sometimes TV, sometimes other random things, sometimes even bring out some lists (a lot, lot, lot of lists). Enjoy.