Screaming At The TV

In poker, Aces sometimes lose to deuces. A bad beat. The Eagles bad beat the Cowboys tonight. The better team did not win. I’ll take it.

We were screaming at the TV. Screaming at the Cowboys. Screaming at Jerry Jones. Screaming at Chris Collingsworth.

We were especially screaming at Chris Collingsworth.

We both told him to **** himself. That’s right. Sitting on the sofa in pajamas, the Foxes let him have it. Game get to us too much?

We are the consummate homers. And we’re fatalists. On the game’s first play, a six yard run off left tackle, we assumed all was lost.

The TV sound remained up the whole whole time.

“If you weren’t here,” she said sometime in the second half when I asked if she’d rather watch in silence.

“He’s limping.”

“He’s rubbing his arm.”

“Oh, that’s not good.”

We see more hurt and illness than any family of hypochondriacs.

The Eagles move on to the playoffs. They’re playing New Orleans next Saturday in Philly. Every game from now on is win or walk.

Too much tension. Can you be fined for profanity in your own home?

Who Ya’ Rooting Against?

Joe Buck said, “They’re down by 11 and in trouble here.” Like music to our ears

Minnesota-Vikings-Logo.gifFootball is on our TV. We are resilient, I’ll say that. The Eagles are out. We no longer have a horse in this race.

We could pick another team to root for (we will probably be happiest for the Jets), but that’s not the Fox Family way. I’m not sure it’s the American way.

No–we will spend the rest of the playoffs mainly rooting against teams! It’s so much more fun.

“I never knew I was so much of a Vikings fan,” Helaine just blurted, not knowing she was writing this blog entry for me. A Viking back had just run up the middle for a first down. Don’t ask me his name.

Other than Brett Favre I’d be hard pressed to tell you much about the Vikes. They play where people embrace the cold with their unbleached blond hair. Fans bring Miracle Whip sandwiches and milk in their wood paneled station wagons&#185.

No offense Minnesotans, we’re in this to root against the Cowboys. Blissfully, they’re being manhandled.

Joe Buck said, “They’re down by 11 and in trouble here.” Like music to our ears.

Now they’re down by 14.

Is this the same satisfaction as rooting your team to victory? No, but we love football… and hate the Cowboys.

Any port in a storm.

&#185 – OK, I’m making that part up, but I’m not being mean. It’s just my jealousy of their beauty and vigor. I hate that in strangers.

NFL Network Sacked For A Loss

So, it looks like the Patriot – Giants game will be on ‘free’ over-the-air TV (seen mainly on ‘paid’ cable or satellite). Originally it was scheduled to be on the NFL Network alone.

This is a complex story, but it seems the NFL is the real short term loser here.

Basically, the NFL created its own sports network and seeded it with a handful of games. In years gone by, these would have been shown on free TV and, in fact, they were still going to be shown on free TV in the teams’ home markets.

The idea was to force cable companies to carry the network year round. That would be the only way to have access to these individual games. The NFL wanted it to be included on cable as a basic service, like CNN or ESPN and not a pay add-on, like HBO or Showtime.

It was a lot to swallow for a few out-of-market games and lots (and lots) of filler.

Unfortunately for the NFL, the cable companies balked and few fans cared. Did you really miss the Broncos – Texans game on December 13 (or the other random match-ups&#185)?

This would have all passed quietly, except for this weekend and the Patriots going for an undefeated season. Now the NFL had leverage. Fortunately, it blew up in their faces.

Under enormous pressure from Congress on down, the NFL relented. Now, this marquee game will be seen on the NFL Network, NBC and CBS! In Boston and New York City it will be on a fourth station as well! ABC might as well run the “All-Star Salute to Cheese.”

In trying to force the cable companies to carry their network, the NFL didn’t have a leg to stand on because of one other move they’d made: NFL Sunday Ticket.

NFL Sunday Ticket is the NFL’s package, offering every game live. As much as the cable companies and Dish Network want that (and I’d probably buy it), it is only offered on DirectTV.

This is a guess on my part, but I’ll bet Sunday Ticket is the most powerful selling point DirectTV has.

The cable ops (and I) wondered, how the could NFL cry about their fans inability to watch these NFL Network games when it wouldn’t provide all the other games to those same poor fans? This is the definition of chutzpah!

There’s an old story about a guy who kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan. That’s the NFL!

I don’t know how this will all come out. At some point the NFL will have to accept defeat and decide if this in-house network is really a viable concept.

Is it just me, or is there a cosmic thread which runs through America where we root for the evil, greedy corporation to get its comeuppance. At the moment, I couldn’t be happier.

In the Fox house, we will continue to root against the Giants. The Pats achievement is less important.

&#185 – NFL Network 2007 Game Schedule

Week 12: Thursday, November 22 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Indianapolis Colts at Atlanta Falcons (Thanksgiving)

Week 13: Thursday, November 29 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

Week 14: Thursday, December 6 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins

Week 15: Thursday, December 13 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Denver Broncos at Houston Texans

Week 15: Saturday, December 15 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers

Week 16: Thursday, December 20 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Pittsburgh Steelers at St. Louis Rams

Week 16: Saturday, December 22 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers

Week 17: Saturday, December 29 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

New England Patriots at New York Giants

T.O To Go

A few minutes ago, Helaine yelled to me upstairs. “Are you going to write about the Eagles in the blog?”

That was her way of saying, “Write about the Eagles in your blog.” OK – who am I to resist, especially after such an emotional victory.

If you’re not a football fan, let me get you caught up in about ten seconds.

The Eagles are Philadelphia’s football team. They used to have a player… a star player, named Terrell Owens. Though he was a pain in the ass, he was our pain in the ass. At least he was until he became such a pain he threatened to create dissension within the team.

T.O. was let go.

A guy’s got to earn a living, so Terrell to his number 81 and went to the Dallas Cowboys. In Philadelphia, the Cowboys are tied with the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Kim Il Jung at the bottom of the popularity polls.

To make things a little juicier, T.O. was involved in some sort of incident with the Dallas police. Whether he attempted to commit suicide or just had an accident – who knows? The next day he was practicing on the field and smiling. It was weird.

Today the Cowboys came to play the Eagles for the first time since Terrell left. Fox saw fit to make it their marquee game, shown nationwide at 4:15 PM EDT. Anyone even peripherally connected with sports was talking about it. There was no end to the hype.

Quickly, the Eagles went to a 10-0 lead. Helaine and I pinched ourselves. Then we remembered, this is football the king of non-linear games. Ten points in the first quarter means nothing.

We were so right.

The game seesawed back and forth. Donovan McNabb, Eagles quarterback had a pretty good game. T.O. was ineffective. Still, the game was close.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were up by seven, when a missed tackle, long pass and offensive pass interference penalty (all on the same play) moved the Cowboys eighteen feet from tying the game.

We had seen this before. So close – yet so far. When the Giants tied the Eagles in week two, they went on to win. Would the same fate befall the Eagles again?

Simply – no.

With the Cowboys charging, Drew Bledsoe threw to the end zone. The pass was caught, but by the Eagles Lito Sheppard who scampered 102 yards for an Eagles touchdown. Case closed.

Here’s the one awful part of this game. We were on an emotional roller coaster, as if it were meaningful in our lives. It’s only a game, but we allow the football season in general and the Eagles in particular to stake a claim on our lives.

Already, in the Eagles loss to the Giants, we took an emotional hit that lasted a few days. We were depressed as if something really awful had gone on.

Even though I can intellectualize the real meaning of football, that’s not strong enough to overcome my emotional attachment. It’s just as bad for Helaine, maybe worse.

The Eagles were picked to finish last in the NFC East. Now they’re leading the way. The emotion has just begun.

Football Season Ends

The Eagles lost another one last night, falling to the Washington Redskins. The Eagles are now dead last in their division.

One of the Eagles’ problems was the missing Terrell Owens. Owens has been the team’s biggest star and biggest problem child, all at once.

He has criticized his fellow players and coaches and, it seems, taken a swing at a former player who is considered the team’s “ambassador.” Now he has been suspended.

Good going Terrell.

From The Associated Press: This was the second time Owens has been suspended during his controversial 10-year career. In 2000, he was suspended one game by San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci following his infamous touchdown celebrations on the Dallas Cowboys’ famed star logo at the center of Texas Stadium.

Owens clashed with management this summer and earned a one-week exile from training camp after a heated dispute with Reid that followed a shouting match with offensive coordinator Brad Childress.

As a kid I thought my sports heroes were heroes in real life as well. It’s not so. I was innocent. Players like Terrell Owens just go to reinforce that realization.

Owens is now suspended and it’s doubtful he’ll ever play for the Eagles again. He’ll probably find another team sometime soon.

The real shame is, I’m not sure he’s capable of being happy. I’ve known people like that… worked with people like that. It’s no fun. They become their own worst enemy. There’s no doubt that description applies to Owens.

Meanwhile. as an Eagles fan, the season seems to have ended early.

Football Grief

I hadn’t mentioned it here yet, but if you missed it, the Phillies missed the playoffs by one game. That is the kind of result Philadelphia fans expect. It is our destiny.

What brings this up now is the Eagles – Dallas Cowboys game I’m watching. It’s not that the Eagles are losing… they are losing as if they never got off the team bus.

As I write, the score is 30-10. It’s not that close.

This is a team sport. You would think on any given week some players would be good, others would be bad. Not so. This week everyone seems to be awful.

Here’s the stupid part. Why is this so upsetting to me? I shouldn’t be so concerned. I am.

This will stick with me all week… actually two weeks. The Eagles have the ‘bye’ to replay this over and over again.

Now It’s Really Fall

It wasn’t that long ago that I saw the first hardy plants sticking their heads up through the snow. I knew winter would soon be gone. Summer would soon be here. Spring is a time of birth.

On the other hand there’s fall. Fall needs to hire a good PR rep, because my inclination is to say, fall is a time of death. That’s not positive spin.

Though fall officially started last week, this is the first day with a real fall feel.

The remnants of Hurricane Jeanne came through yesterday. It was a stormy day with a month’s worth of rain. Now the ground is lettered with dead leaves. The pavement is darker because of the moisture absorbed. The Sun doesn’t have quite enough strength to burn off our cloud deck. The wind, a chilly wind, is blowing with a consistency it can’t muster during the summer. It is a cold wind.

In a day or time there will be a rebound – warmth will return. It won’t be the same. It won’t be here as long.

I am not a fan of winter. In fact I root against winter in much the way I root against the Dallas Cowboys. Winter is next, isn’t it?

At The Eagles Game in Spirit Only

I am not writing this from Lincoln Financial Field. I did not take Amtrak to Philadelphia. I assume my friend Barry is sitting home and not at the game either.

It’s a real shame, because I wanted to go to the game. But, it was not to be. Even though the snow stopped overnight, there was no reasonable expectation that my train would be able to hold to its schedule. It would originate in Springfield, MA and then move south through Hartford before getting to New Haven’s Union Station.

The Eagles game is the glamor game in the NFL today. The Eagles and Cowboys are both contenders. A win by the Eagles assures them a playoff spot with 3 more to play. An Eagle loss would give them both the same record, but put Dallas ahead by virtue of 2 head-to-head wins.

Here in Connecticut, the game wasn’t shown on TV. Instead, we got the Giants and Redskins. Even parents of players on those teams wanted the Eagles game!

Helaine and I sat and listened to the game on the PC. Three weeks ago, I subscribed to the NFL audio package, and it’s pretty good. Our feed is from WYSP with Merrill Reese (who I worked with 23 years ago) and Mike Quick.

All the commercials are removed, leaving dead air. Believe it or not, you miss the commercials. The silence spoils the flow of the game. Actually, the commercial pauses hurts the game at the stadium too.

Happily, the Eagles won big… big enough that I’ve already heard two sportscasters on two separate networks call it a rout.

Barry has invited me. again, two weeks from today. It’s tough to resist.