NFL power poll
What a crazy weekend in the NFL, right?
How about these underlying headlines that were proven true?
— Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is 100% washed, has an argument for winning the weekend because without him, the Steelers became an NFL anomaly. They are going to be the only NFL team that could not beat the Lions.
— The Titans are rolling without Derrick Henry and Julio Jones. Go figure.
— Cam Newton returns and generates TDs on the first two drives he plays for the Panthers, who routed the previously one-loss Cardinals. Cam is a lot of things, and he rubs a lot of people the wrong way. But after the last 18 months of his professional career, his celebratory reactions to those TDs — with the franchise that jettisoned him mind you were completely A-OK by me.
— The Falcons won a game nine days ago to get to 4-4 and whispers of playoffs danced in their heads. Then they went to Dallas, got blasted, are staring at the Pats on a short week, and now — as a long time Falcons supporter — I hope they finish 4-13 and find a way to get a lofty draft pick.
And those were just the highlights.
Like Allison Stokke would say before a meet, let's head to the poll. (Side question: Who would be the most famous pole vaulter ever? Discuss.)
1 Green Bay. Be mad at Aaron Rodgers all you want. Be incredulous about the steps to this point. Heck, be whimsical and picture what this team would like if they had eschewed Jordan Love in Round 1 20 months ago and added a Trevon Diggs or a Jonathan Taylor or a Tee Higgins or a Patrick Queen to their young core. Sometimes coaches try to create faux drama to perpetuate the "No one believes in us" card or the "It's us vs. the world" mantra. I think the Packers have a lot of that going on right now, and it is serving them well.
2 Tennessee. The high-water mark for the Titans, and I think Mike Vrabel is on a fast track to Coach of the Year considerations. We mentioned the injuries, but the Titans are winners of six straight without their identity-providing star and their big-name offseason acquisition. Two roster questions that must be asked: How crushed are the Dolphins, considering that roster, that they cut the cord on Ryan Tannehill too quickly? Secondly, the 2019 draft may be the best moment in Titans history since the Music City Miracle. The draft was in Nashville for starters, and secondly, the Titans landed future All-Pro Jeffery Simmons in round 1, future All-Pro AJ Brown in round 2, full-time starters in guard Nate Davis and safety Amani Hooker in rounds three and four as well as a starting linebacker in David Long in round six. Yeah, that'll do pig.
3 Arizona. The close Thursday night loss to Green Bay is excusable. Getting blasted at home — even with a back-up QB — against the Panthers is not. The Cards are 8-2, but as banged up as they are, you'd need tarot cards to figure out if they are legitimately good right now.
4 Dallas. Yes, it was against the Falcons. (Side note: Man, in retrospect that 4-4 mark should have set off five-alarm bells and warning signs. Those four wins were against both New Yorks, a Miami and a comeback agains a rival Saints bunch who was turning to someone named Trevor as its QB. Side question on the side note: Who is the greatest athlete named Trevor? Go.) Anywell, the Falcons hollowness is not an indictment against Dallas. In fact, it's a positive, because as we saw all across Week 10 — from Baltimore's Thursday night no-show to the Rams seeing why not that many Detroit fans were that upset when Mat Stafford was dealt — good teams smoking bad teams out of the gate is a valuable asset.
5 Buffalo. Yes, there are some NFC regulars who fell from the ranks. That's what happens when you lose to Washington and San Fran for those wondering what happened to the Bucs and the Rams. (Side note: Speaking of the Bucs, I'm sorry but I have zero interest in the 10-part — What, 10-parts? — documentary on Tom Brady. First, I'm not sure how much new ground is out there for one of the most highly covered professional athletes of my lifetime. Two, if we know anything about Brady has controlled his narrative through the years, we have to believe that he has had a heavy hand in the editing process of the final product. If they pull back the covers on SpyGate or PhoneGate or how he truly sweet last February's Super Bowl win was because he got one up on Belichick, then OK. We're in for that. But I'm not holding my breath.) Anywell, the Bills are good. I guess.
30 Jacksonville. Yes, the Jags beat the Bills in an NFL moment tha
31 Houston. If you are the Texans, knowing that the Deshaun Watson debacle has completely derailed your franchise for the next three-to-five years at least, how do you approach team building? Do you go QB now or address other positions and truly stink for a while but continue to add to the core?
32 Detroit. When a tie is a win despite how many chances you had to actually win, well, that's the Lions for you. And seriously, can we figure out a way to juggle the Thanksgiving rotation folks? Because we are less than 10 days away from the only pre-Thanksgiving lunch options being talking politics with your distant relatives or watching the 0-8-1 Lions against the 3-6 Bears in a football game only a denigrate gambler or a fantasy football freak could love.
NCAA full of it
Yes, the above ranks with 'Sun rises in East' and 'Taxes stink' in the shock meter of possible headlines these days.
But Mark Emmert — wait, seriously how does Mark Emmert have a seven-figure job? Seriously. Has there been any major sports entity that has declined in more ways under one person's watch and said person still gets to run the show? Other than the post-Reggie-to-young-Jeter Yankees under Steinbrenner, I can't think of one. And Steinbrenner owned that operation, so no one could fire him.
Anywell, Emmert said the NCAA's overhauled and new constitution was not done out of 'fear.'
Bull. Bull(bleep). Heaping, steaming piles of it in fact.
The only way the NCAA has moved in any meaningful way under Emmer's (lack of) leadership is when pushed by the point of a bayonet. Whether Congress is holding it, the Power Five bigwigs, judicial threats and mandates or the behind-the-scenes power players that keep churning the music box that keeps Emmert employed like the dancing monkey goof that he has become.
First, the timing for the overhaul was quite convenient, considering a 'constitutional convention' to rework the organization was announced only after the Supreme Court upheld the Name, Image and Likeness lawsuits that the NCAA had been fighting tooth-and-nail for almost a decade.
Emmert said it's been half a century since the NCAA looked at its rules. And it would have been another half a century if Emmert and his fat cat cronies were not forced to make moves.
In fact, here's betting the final version of whatever this new-look constitution will be laughably short-sighted and downright dense. And how could it not considering the man leading the charge.
And know this: My buddy Allan Taylor, who worked here at the TFP for years and now covers Florida for The Athletic, offered this story this morning. (Yes, The Athletic is a pay site, so there is that.)
According to Taylor's interview with a former Power Five AD, the football power players will break away and form its own league sooner rather than later, there will be antitrust issues and collective bargaining agreements, at least in football and major college basketball, and that going to class and the student part of being a student-athlete will be optional.
And with those Neptune-sized potholes before college sports, does anyone — including Mrs. Emmert — believe Mark and his collection of misfit managers will be ready for any of it?
Nope, me neither.
Wow, that got wordy. Yes, Spy I know.
So let's the Braves Bracket Challenge very quickly here.
So vote early and often, and there figures to be a slew of familiar names.
If I'm handicapping the Final Four — March Madness-style with some November Numbness, I guess — depending on the seeds, which are being finalized as I finalize this, I think Chipper, Freddie, Murphy and Smoltz — in that order — are your betting favorites.
Yes, I've been wrong before on some betting angles — again, Zip it Spy — but that's my view. (And again, I nominated Acuna, so there's that.)
This and that
— Wow, don't blink these days or you're going to miss a lot. We talked about the pressures and ticking clocks for college football coaches these days. Well, the ax fell on Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech too. He was 43-31 with the Hokies, and was driving the bus as the program swerved into the unforgivable lane of mediocrity. Another of the 'It' guy hires that has failed. It also makes you wonder if you are a 'It' guy like a Luke Fickell or a Sonny Dykes or whomever else, does the high-six-, low-seven-figure salaries with security, comfort and the knowledge that your fans love you seem a lot more desirable than moving up these days?
— Paul Rudd's reaction to the New York Post saying he should not be the "Sexiest Man of the Year" was pretty excellent. When told of the Post's stance he offered, ""Hey, that might be the first thing I ever read in the New York Post that I agree with," Rudd said on Stephan Colbert's show. "That's not fake news."
— You know the rules, here's Paschall on the Vols leadership wanting focus amid all the high fives and future decisions. And because he's Paschall, here's his view on the scary possibility that several of the Georgia upperclassmen may return to Athens as opposed to leaving early. Hmmmmm, goes they can't take the pay cut of being a fringe NFLer huh?
— Speaking of interesting NCAA storylines, Drew Timme, the Gonzaga star who is the preseason player of the year in almost everyone's eyes, has signed an NIL with a casino. Hmmmmmmmm. He will be in ads starting this week, according to a release from Northern Quest Resort and Casino. A pretty interesting and potentially conflicting partner. Plus, the last college athletes to sign preseason with a national brand was Clemson QB DJ Whosehiscleats, who inked with Dr Pepper before the year started. And yeah, Clemson's offense has looked more Shasta than DP to this point.
— So the Cleveland Guardians can be a roller derby team and the city's MLB franchise. Our buddies at Conduct Detrimental have the details here. No monetary numbers were given, but that had o be in the mid-seven figures right?
True or false, it's Tuesday. Morning, Ernie.
True or false, the first Asian muppet on Sesame Street is a big deal.
True or false, it's the highest form of praise for your college sports team of choice when other jealous fans make bad 'paying their players' jokes. (And yes, this Auburn grad is 100% guilty of that against Georgia few paragraphs above.)
True or false, you could be better at Mark Emmer's job than Mark Emmert.
True or false, the Tennessee Titans are playing with house money without Derrick Henry.
You know the drill. Answer so T or Fs, ask some T or Fs.
As for today, Nov. 16, let's review.
Hey, it's Maggie Gyllenhaal's 43rd birthday.
So, which brother-sister acting tandems currently working are on that Rushmore. Go, and remember the Brackets balloting.