Last Week: 1-1.
Season Record: 130-81.

Please make it stop. Good golly. Sorry for all the swearing and insanity the past few weeks. I do not understand how exactly the Patriots got to the Bowl, but I am rooting for scrubbed starting QB Drew Bledsoe to complete a few passes. The last time the Pats went to New Orleans for the big dance, things did not go well at all. Expect more of the same.

Bill Cowher, you are on my list permanently now.

In the coming weeks I’ll write an NFL recap, but so far I’ve only noticed one trend: pain for me.

Here goes nothing:

New England vs. St. Louis — Prediction: St. Louis.

- - -


Last week: 1-3.
Season Record: 129-80.

To: William Cowher
Head Choke Artist
Pittsburgh Steelers

From: Jeff Johnson
McSweeney’s NFL Picks

January 22, 2002

Dear Bill,

Jesus God. What a terrible weekend. I fucking hate football. It is official. The UPSHOT: If you’re SATAN, then Billick is DOUBLE-SATAN, so good work in canceling him out. He is Parcells Jr. I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes his soap opera to another squad before too long. Anyway, I never thought I’d be paying you any compliments, but now all my teams are dead; both the Packers and the Bears dropped like hot puke on the side of a truck stop toilet.

Normally I’m an NFC guy, but there’s no way any decent human being can root for the Rams. Kurt Warner is the Jim Carrey/Jimmy Stewart of the NFL and he should be hawking Xtreme saltines or re-usable Kleenex. The rest of his club look and act like racquetball-playing pervs. The whole world knows that they would have been up shit creek in fifteen-degree weather. A road team can pull off no magic tricks in Green Bay at five o’clock in January. The Eagles ROTC-ish assistant coaches and that QB-injuring prick on defense have spoiled anything good that Donavan McNabb can pull off. I can’t cheer for them. FYI: Eagles head honcho Andy Reid is possibly the only man in the United States who enjoys melted cheese more than me — he needs have a direct line to Jared from Subway. By summertime I’d like to see him waving a pair of pine green size 58 trousers around like a willpower flag. Doubtful.

That leaves me with either picking you or the Patriots. Not difficult. Their fans are all middle managers who love money, Phish, Sam Adams beer, watching Thirtysomething on DVD and being white. They are uptight losers who are insanely jealous of their girlfriends and insist on wearing slippers and eating chicken soup even in July. When they want to get edgy, they rent a Robin Williams movie or listen to Staind. Do you understand me, Cowher? These fuckers invented brunch. Get it? They’re entitled to a supreme ass-kicking, and while it doesn’t make me jump for joy, your team must administer one to them. Get your shit together. It’s the only thing that you and I will ever agree on. I’ve got one week of this crap left. Let’s mend the fence. I’m done belittling you for the folly of my seven readers. Close the deal, you crazy bastard. Get yourself a ring.

Your new pal,

Jeff Johnson

Patriots at Steelers — Prediction: Steelers.
Eagles at Rams — Prediction: Rams.

- - -


Last Week: 3-1.
Season Record: 128-77.

January 16, 2002

Speech to all the fired NFL coaches:


What part of “I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you get what’s coming to you, you filthy sacks of shit,” didn’t you guys understand? I told you so.

Just kidding, fellows.

Except for you, Mora. You’d better lock jaw on some meds like an old hound dog on a soup bone. Seriously. Stay out of the business. You are filled with Sanka and grief. You have a foul temper and America has long tired of it. Change the haircut, too. You remind me of a ’70s golf widow after a crock pot full of Anacin and vodka.

The rest of you? The above joke was an icebreaker. Its tone implies the close familiarity we share and good-natured ribbing. Since, I don’t collect a paycheck from an NFL team, I feel I can be brutally honest. I’m sure life is very strange now. If you feel like a failure, that’s at least a step in the right direction. In 2001, you couldn’t save the economy. You didn’t protect us from any terrorist attacks. And your teams had horrible seasons. Seasons so horrible that when students of football history crack open the almanacs and record books, many will not find your dismal statistics because a young child extremely let down by how miserable your teams performed this past season ripped them out and cast them in a waste basket. If you think you were given a raw deal, well, explain that to the parents whose children are going to be on hard dope and probably go to prison or make porn because of how bad their favorite NFL team did in their formative years. You’ve shaped lives in a big, enormous way that is probably beyond the scope of your understanding. Let me be blunt: I’m sure that toddlers throughout the planet went without meals and/or medical attention because of what you did, and that is the least of it.

Additionally, many people here now drink like it is Russia in 1982 and have gambling debts and cry themselves to sleep every night. People who wear your team here jerseys are accused of being homosexual whenever they don such apparel. Young men are trying to strangle their bosses and nearly everyone drives a tricked-out Fiero and gives each other the finger Italian-style, due to the decisions you made in the name of football.


That’s supposed to be in the speech I make to the Super Bowl champions.

Now, let’s focus on what good can come of this:

None. Especially in Tampa Bay. Bill Parcells is coming back and he is like a scalding oyster in the undies of God. His style and brutish manners are a painful disappointment to anyone who cherishes a decent existence on this planet.

Let me try to point you in the right direction if I may:

George Seifert

Get new glasses. Deliver bacon to needy communities. Don’t sass me.

Dennis Green

Quit playing the drums. Describe your sexual fantasies in a men’s magazine before 2003. Learn more about outer space.

Marty Schottenheimer

Work out to “Stay Hungry,” by Twisted Sister. Take Gunther Cunningham diving in the Caribbean. Work on a mural about friendship. Use paint.

Jim Mora

Play more ragtime piano under the moniker “Salts.” Open no camps, taverns, seafood restaurants or instructional clinics in your name.

Tony Dungy

Try to forget that you are young, smart, healthy and massively improved a horseshit franchise.

That one Guy who Coached the San Diego Chargers

Quit taking your kids to that pizza place you think is so special. They hate it. The head cook doesn’t wash his hands and uses Fritos in lovemaking sessions. You were let go because you can’t read. Actually that is not true. I know of nothing else to tell you. Avoid witchcraft and barbers.

Finally, now is the time to have a big surgery whether you need it or not. Get a doc to run something sharp around any problem joints or organs. It’s winter, so you can just recoup on the sofa. That is it. Take care.

Philadelphia at Chicago — Prediction: Chicago.
Oakland at New England — Prediction: Oakland.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh — Prediction: Pittsburgh.
Green Bay at St. Louis — Prediction: Green Bay.

- - -


Last Week: 10-4 (Spaced Minnesota vs. Baltimore).
Season Record: 125-76.

Ways to get frustration off your chest if your team is not in the playoffs.

Walk into a convenience store with your sweatpants on and bristle about having to wear a “monkey suit” to a wedding that night, then mop your brow and demand to see all the fancy colognes they carry. If they hesitate to answer you for even one second, say, “Sorry I’m not as pretty as you, Fuck Apple. Sheesh.” Once you make your purchase, clap your hands loudly at the front door like you’re getting dust off of them and say “Good bye and Good night.” Roll your eyes. Then go sit in your car for eleven minutes, walk back in and ask if they’ve got a free toilet a member of the tax-paying public could use. Then say, “Maybe you call it a throne, Weisenheimer? The can? That ring a bell? Get me to it, ASAP.” Then bounce up and down on your toes. That ought to make you feel a little better about the year Cleveland had.

Call up a sports radio show and complain about how all you ever hear about is “Barry this and Barry that.” When they ask what you’re referring to, ask if they feel like getting sued “big time.” Then demand to speak to the station manager. When they hang up, drive to the station immediately. Wear a three-piece suit. The door will most likely be glass, so pound on it till it really rattles. Someone with a pained look on his face will answer the door. Throw ‘em a curveball, and claim that you are there to help ’em celebrate a birthday. When asked whose, yell "Vicki’s, you fucking deadbeat." Sneer. Take the guy to Shoney’s. Pull out a six-pack of Miller Lite when the waitress turns her back and wink at your new pal. Say, “This is the firewater you crave, isn’t it? Now gimme that goddamn AA token.” Then fidget and add, “Vicki must be running late, whaddaya say we go at it like a couple of rabbits at the Quality Inn, my treat?” The cops should be there by then, but you haven’t broken any major laws, so you should be back on the streets in time for the 2002 season.

Call a local elementary school and ask if they are in the market for a summersault specialist. If they are confused, ask really sarcastically if they’ve ever heard of “a little class I call gym?” Then say what you really want to know is this: “I have this black lab puppy, okay? And he’s really smart. Now, I know and you know that he can’t talk. So that’s one hurdle. That’s a given. But I think this son-of-a-buck could be in the third grade. Let’s try him in your third-grade class. Cursive is gonna be a bitch, but he really has spark. Recess won’t be a problem. Finding his way home, again, no problem. Art, no problem. He’s had more shots than a lot of those brats, so we’re clear there. He sings, too. Makes stuff with hot caramel. Knows the Charleston. Do you know the Charleston?” You will get hung up on. From that moment on, until the opening day kickoff, try and play the air keyboards wherever you go, especially church. Really hammer them. Squint and snort. Start saying “Bango,” at inappropriate moments, like the middle of a speech your daughter might be giving.

Tampa Bay at Philadelphia — Prediction: Philadelphia.

N.Y. Jets at Oakland — Prediction: Oakland.

San Francisco at Green Bay — Prediction: Green Bay.

Baltimore at Miami — Prediction: Miami.

- - -


Last Week: 6-9.
Season Record: 115-72.

Profiles of the following games if they were people.

Arizona at Washington — A parent of either gender who buys their kid a flashy toy and then withholds the batteries (and/or important medicine) until the kid vomits, gets ulcers and turns to arson as a way of getting attention. Also prone to making eye contact with their genitals as a signal to their lover (usually working on commission) when they are ready to get it on. Prediction: Washington.

Cincinnati at Tennessee — An adult male into pyramid schemes and making tampon jokes well into his 40s. He also cheats at golf even when he is alone and writes fraudulent checks to his parents. Prediction: Tennessee.

Cleveland at Pittsburgh — A really tough adolescent who gets out of high school by the seat of his pants, gets a hard job that pays well but ultimately leads to frustration, and finally goes missing while on a hunting trip. He dies with most of his money tied up in frivolous lawsuits about the fine print on coupons. Prediction: Pittsburgh.

Dallas at Detroit — A twenty-four-year-old cousin from Portland, Maine who keeps insisting she left something in the sauna even though there is no sauna within a thirty-four-mile radius. Most of her relatives have glaucoma as well. Prediction: Detroit.

Denver at Indianapolis — Another male, into rare computer programming languages and role-playing games who drives a pick-up truck, yet never hauls anything. Gets into loud fights at the library, too. Usually feels snubbed. I could go on for days about their consumption of light beer, as well. Jesus, what a closet case. Prediction: Indianapolis.

Green Bay at N.Y. Giants — Someone who knows that you don’t know shit about their problems and reminds you at least a dozen times a day about it. Always starts sentences with a sarcastic and disheartened, “Wish I could ______.” Prediction: Green Bay.

Jacksonville at Chicago — A slightly overweight hooker into prescription drugs who makes you feel like a million dollars, but is understandably upset that you never say thanks. Prediction: Chicago.

New England at Carolina — A really great cook. They really want you to know that they cooked all of this stuff from scratch, even though it is not their specialty, and that they’re related to John Quincy Adams. When they got back from France, they audited a couple of classes at Princeton, designed some new lifts at Steamboat, wrote a couple of short plays, but now they’re on the fast track. They always have a cool watch on that they totally restored on their own with these tiny little tools. They never watch television and do not know who Jay-Z is. Prediction: New England.

San Francisco at New Orleans — See above. Prediction: New Orleans needs to save face. They screwed up royally in the second half of the season.

Atlanta at St. Louis — A guy who sews weird flags onto all of his clothes and predicted that Metallica was gonna play with the symphony a couple years back. He totally saw it coming, man, the writing was on the fuckin’ wall, bro. He always talks to you about Gina, who, if she wasn’t their cousin, damn, you do not want to know. Now, go back and read that last half of that sentence again, but pause for three seconds in between each word. That’s him. Prediction: St. Louis.

Buffalo at Miami — A guy who won’t let his kid sleep over at anyone’s house. He just doesn’t think it’s a good idea right now. The kid can check with mom, but if it were up to him, no dice. By the way, where are the tweezers? Prediction: Miami.

Kansas City at Seattle — A city councilwoman overly concerned with water quality. Prediction: Seattle.

N.Y. Jets at Oakland — A guy who wants you to look at his cycle. Don’t touch, asshole, just look, okay? Prediction: Oakland.

Philadelphia at Tampa Bay — A newscaster who just thought he’d send your mom a videotape of what he’s been up to lately. Hey, the address was in the damn phone book. Not every package in Florida has anthrax in it. Wink, nudge, wink. Don’t get so touchy. I didn’t mean to cuss. Anyway, what did she think of my bridgework? Cost 3,500 bucks. Say, when’s the last time we just sat down and had a heart-to-heart. Yes, I know you’re married. But who was there when you had your surgery? Who wrote all those songs on his acoustic for ya? Why don’t we — say, do you have a computer? Why don’t we just start out IM-ing? I’m pretty busy with the 10 p.m. show, but let’s repair to a chat room? Tell you what, it will be called Gary’s BigDelightXXX. I’m gonna see if I can massage some love out of my keyboard. I didn’t mean to sell your car that summer, but you were up in Milwaukee so long, baby, and I needed school money. Prediction: Tampa Bay. Then they meet again in the playoffs. Whoa.

- - -


Last Week: 11-4.
Season Record: 109-63.

This will be brief because I’m stuck monitoring the Khristmas Kage in my hometown in Wisconsin. It’s a 19′ × 25′ chain-link fence cage attached to the local bowling alley/tae kwon do school that over 1,200 area toddlers pile into on December 23rd. For fifteen days they wrestle, bite, and kick for a mere fourteen presents donated by local merchants and Jaycees. Save for a real-time Internet broadcast, there is barely any supervision. Actually, I’m not really monitoring it either; I’m just taking bets. I’ve got most of my loot on a 290-pound Irish kid who has been in the second grade since David Lee Roth was in Van Halen. Happy New Year.

Baltimore at Tampa Bay — Prediction: Tampa Bay.
Indianapolis at St. Louis — Prediction: St. Louis.
Minnesota at Green Bay — Prediction: Green Bay.
Arizona at Carolina — Prediction: Carolina.
Buffalo at NY Jets — Prediction: NY Jets.
Chicago at Detroit — Prediction: Chicago.
Cleveland at Tennessee — Prediction: Tennessee.
Kansas City at Jacksonville — Prediction: Kansas City.
Atlanta at Miami — Prediction: Atlanta.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati — Prediction: Pittsburgh.
San Francisco at Dallas — Prediction: San Francisco.
NY Giants at Philadelphia — Prediction: Philadelphia.
Oakland at Denver — Prediction: Oakland.
Seattle at San Diego — Prediction: San Diego.
Washington at New Orleans — Prediction: New Orleans.

- - -


Last week: 11-4.
Season Record: 98-59.

This is my massive X-mas edition and, it resembles a variety show, so scroll to the bottom if you can’t deal.

It’s the week before Christmas and once again, it would be a pity to do anything on the NFL, except predict the winners. Instead I’d rather focus on Kumar Pallana. He’s the 82 year-old Indian sideman in all the Wes Anderson movies. You can see him now as Pagoda in The Royal Tenenbaums. A few years ago, Anderson met him in Dallas at a Coffee Shop that Pallana owned, and subsequently cast him in all three of his movies. Pallana has traveled the world as an entertainer, but he’s probably most commonly remembered as Mr. Littlejeans in 1999’s Rushmore. I liked him best as the bumbling burglar in Bottle Rocket who hid in a walk-in freezer because he got scared. This interview is way better than reading about the Seahawks, except sometimes Kumar has a way of not answering the questions. In any case, he’s a really great entertainer and very cool for doing this.

Kumar: Hello. Good morning, man.

Me: Nice to talk to you.

Kumar: Nice to talk to you, too.

Me: Are you in Oakland now?

Kumar: Yeah, I’m in Oakland, yeah. I bought a house. Me and my daughter and my son. Three of us live together. My son worked also in all this movie (Wes Anderson films). Little parts. Dipak Pallana. He did Bottle Rocket and he did also Rushmore, the opening, he was a teacher there. And this movie (The Royal Tenenbaums) he’s a doctor, checking Gene Hackman in the hospital. How do you like the movie?

Me: I love the movie.

Kumar: Oh, I’m glad to hear it.

Me: I’ve loved you since Bottle Rocket. I think you’re a great actor.

Kumar: Yeah, well a lot of times you don’t get the opportunity to find a good agent or a little clique. Any business you need a clique or something, you know. So, I did not get that. But Wes is so nice to me.

Me: Did you act before you met Wes?

Kumar: Yeah, I’ve been doing stage work for many years. I worked in the nightclubs and theaters. I worked in Las Vegas also I worked in the Paris, ‘cause you know, the Paris. And I worked in a lot of places as a juggler. I was balancing, I do a little, you know in the show business when they had the vaudeville times? I did a lot of vaudeville time also in the 1950s, I’m talking about, you know. In the United States. When TV started in ’47, in New York, I was doing a lot of shows in 1947 and 48. And the war just finished till 1946.

Me: And you

Kumar: And then, I was just start getting more jobs in the clubs. In those days many of the actors, Sammy Davis Jr., Harry Belafonte, they were just like you and me. They were just coming up.

Me: Were you born in the United States or in India?

Kumar: I was born in India. In the center province, and then I studied a little bit in Bombay and Calcutta. And the same thing — you don’t get anything unless you know the right people.

Me: When did you go to Dallas?

Kumar: Before I went to Dallas, I was in Las Vegas and Paris and France and Germany, and I met in Africa an Indian girl. I married her and then we came to…after my marriage, I was doing work in Paris and France and Germany and England a little bit. Madrid. Barcelona. And then I did camp shows (military) in Germany and then when I get to have papers, then we came (to U.S.) in ’64. She get the paper, I get my American passport in 1959. When we came in ’64, I was doing shows in New York, and then we came to Los Angeles, and my apartment in New York, it was very hard to find apartment in New York, I was on the east side, 97th street, near the Third Avenue. And somebody, while I was visiting in Los Angeles, somebody put a fire in the apartment. They burned it down.

Me: Did you lose everything you owned?

Kumar: Yeah. Everything I lost. In 1965. That thing changed my whole life. Then when I went there, the landlord tells me, “We have 40, 50 apartments, we don’t insure anybody.” And I was helping my family while I was doing the shows, you know, send some money to the home in Africa and India. I called my brother, he was doing the tire business. When I called him, they all have the idea that America, just because I am sending the money, in those days not too many Indian was here. They get the idea that I get on the tree, the dollar, and I can just pick it off and send it. They think that America is rich, so no problems for me. But I lost everything. And then he said, “Why don’t go to the court and sue them and this one and that one?” And I was really annoyed. And then I said the heck with it. And I was lucky that I had American friends. They said, “Don’t worry about it,” and they tried to help me out.

Me: Do you want to work on other people’s movies besides Wes’s or do you just want to work with him?

Kumar: No, no, no, no. If I get the opportunity, I’m looking for an agent if I can find one. I don’t have the agent.

Me: Have people been interested in hiring you?

Kumar: Well, people are talking. I only believe it when I get the part.

Me: What about commercials?

Kumar: I’m looking also for commercials, but I do not get a chance to meet the right person. Because there was not too much publicity about me, now, everybody calls and asking me, so maybe now my turn comes.

Me: Are you doing a lot of interviews?

Kumar: A lot of people calling me. I think that Indian paper from New York, they called me, and they want to write about me. All this time I was here and never did any Indian paper have mentions about me. They have some honky-tonky, or good actor or bad actor and they write about them, but suddenly they get the interest. I think they’re going to write a good article. I was so pleased because finally they wake up. People need the people. I don’t care whoever it is. Especially the artist or the guy who are good dancers, musicians. There are a lot of good boxers, lot of good sports — they don’t get a chance. I was struggling so many times, I don’t get nowhere.

Me: Now you’re making good money.

Kumar: Yeah. I don’t need the money now. [laughs] I make my share. My children are in good shape, they work in the computer business. Both of them. My son acts also. He is very sharp. He’s very good. He also don’t get a chance, otherwise. He’s ten times better than me. He’s very good. I don’t push him.

Me: You were an acrobat? Did you do any dangerous acts? Like tightrope or anything?

Kumar: No, no, no. I never did the tightrope. I did the balancing act. My specialty was in the nightclubs and cabaret. The production numbers. I did the plates, [spinning] the comedy. People love the comedy. I was very happy, because you have to work hard. Whatever you do. It don’t make no difference. Any business, if you work hard, you’re going to get the good success. I was spinning ten to fifteen plates, and I make the comedy, rushing back and forth. I worked with Pinky Lee in Los Angeles. And the Super Circus in Chicago. And I was getting on everybody. Every show. The Bozo show.

Me: Do you still spin plates now?

Kumar: Yeah. I did when Wes Anderson finished this (The Royal Tenenbaums), I entertained them. I was a one-man show. When they have the party after the finish of the movie. They usually have, you know. And also they have the intervals, they have the half movie, and then when they finish it. That time I did my juggling act and I did my plate act, too.

Me: What do you do with your free time now?

Kumar: I practice because I know now that I’m going to get some good work.

Me: Do you practice acting?

Kumar: Well, acting for me is a very easy job. Believe me. Because I did a one-man show in Africa and during the war times I did USO camp shows. I did them in Africa and Europe. In Casablanca.

Me: It sounds like you spent a lot of time in Africa?

Kumar: No, no. Only when I was doing the shows. Africa is not like here, you know, where you do one or two shows then get the hell out of there, that’s the way it is. I was very lucky in Africa, in the Indian community. Before they got independent. They have Indians in every city, 10 to 20,000. They don’t have, in those days, any agent, or anything. If anybody comes from India, then they put the shows together. I was all around. I sing, I do my own little play, broken English, couple of jokes.

Me: Did you get to meet a lot of people in Las Vegas when you were there? Like Sinatra or anybody?

Kumar: Yeah, I meet Frank Sinatra, all of the people. I have a bunch of pictures. When you see the album, you will be surprised. I worked with a lot of people. Donald O’Connor was a very good friend of mine. I have many pictures of different people which I worked with. Before, I had fantastic albums of work in Africa and all those were burned up. Some people, when you talk, they can understand you, that you have the experience. And your experiences become the great knowledge and wisdom, so, in my work the people keep asking me to do the show. In Las Vegas, my plate act was so fantastic, I don’t like to brag about it, but only the way I can say it. In London, I was in the Latin Quarter for six-month contract. Every day, the tourist come. I was making the fuss. I say, “I don’t want to go. Why I have to go outside?” Paris was the greatest thing. I worked at Crazy Horse. Paris is really old, hundred-year old theaters. I worked there doing plates. I juggled and spin. I did the broken English and people loved it.

Me: What is the broken English?

Kumar: Well, like “Thank you, you all.” I don’t speak good English, I “excuse you.” I had my punch line that people liked, “Sometime I does it. Sometimes, I doesn’t does it.” Those kind of lines. But if I tell you on the phone, you don’t going to laugh. But when you have the crowd, and you do a good trick and if you miss it, that’s the time you use it. I did the shows in so many place. I worked in a stadium in Istanbul. 30,000 people. 20,000 people every damn day. I was there nine months. Beirut, I’m talking about the ‘50s, my friend. Those days Beirut was like a small, little Paris. People used to go there. I worked in Johannesburg, Capetown, places they don’t go to many artists. It’s too far, and they have visa problems, they don’t have the agent. But I was able to talk to the community and do the shows in the school and do a lot of charity shows. Half money I get, half money they get. Hustles and bustles.

Me: Would you bring your own plates along? Or would they have them there for you?

Kumar: No. no. I had the restaurant supplies. The heavy plate. Especially in Europe and USA or Canada if you drop it and it goes, a little piece? They can sue you, you know? I buy the special plate, when it drops you don’t get the small, small piece. You get two or three pieces and you can pick it up and throw it. You learn lot of things, and not only just juggling the plate, but you learn the trick of the trade. And I used to practice, because when I come to America, many of those acts they just have the nice tuxedos and tell a couple jokes, and that’s why the vaudeville died. They don’t practice. They do the same damn jokes over and over. We are the foreigner and we have to survive. Because first we have the barrier of the language. Second, we don’t know anybody. We don’t have any sweetheart that can, you know. So we have to start from the bottom and it was very hard for every act. Not myself, I have many good acts.

Me: How did you and Wes meet each other?

Kumar: I had the restaurant (Cosmic Cup in Dallas), I had the yoga center. I was very successful in yoga-I was the head of it. Nowadays, yoga has become known. But when you’re talking 1970’s and ‘50s and ’60s nobody knows. I was giving the demonstration in those days. I was not only just doing the acting or singing the classical raga, which very few people does it, now you can see a lot of people come from India and they play the good sitar and the good Indian instrument, and good classical music. There are so many nowadays. I practice every day, because I don’t want to lose my touch. I sing Indian songs. In this country, so many jazz musicians, so many great people, who the hell I am that I can, you know? So, more attention to my plate and my, I go in the library and look up some jokes and I twist them out and I make my own way. The worst part for any human is if they don’t have a good education.

Now, here’s something nice on Steelers Coach Bill Cowher from a loyal reader:

“Bill Cowher is a frightening man with an even more frightening chin. During games his face seems to fold as though he were trying to pick something up off the ground using his forehead and chin as claws. It is a chin made out of steel, appropriate for the steel city. For years, longer than most would have expected, Cowher has been coaching under-financed and over-achieving teams. He continues to keep his teams competitive despite the large number of players that have left Pittsburgh for cities where the acid rain is only occasional. He may spit enough to irrigate all of Hines Field, but he must still be valued not only for his coaching ability, which is evident, but also for his unique character.

He is the kind of coach you only see in fuzzy NFL Films clips and hear in Facenda’s intonation. Cowher would probably be wearing an overcoat and fedora if the league would let him. The man’s a throwback to the days of Woody Hayes when a coach could kick your ass for messing up. Those days weren’t necessarily good, but they are old, and I’m all for history. Cowher is unique today, and anyone that is different deserves to be celebrated in a time when the biggest virtue is to believe what one is told." — Dan Steckenberg

Miami at New England — Prediction: New England.

Philadelphia at San Francisco — Prediction: Philadelphia.

Tennessee at Oakland — Prediction: Oakland.

Buffalo at Atlanta — Prediction: Atlanta.

Chicago at Washington — Prediction: Chicago.

Cincinnati at Baltimore — Prediction: Baltimore.

Detroit at Pittsburgh — Prediction: Pittsburgh.

Jacksonville at Minnesota — Prediction: Minnesota.

New Orleans at Tampa Bay — Prediction: Tampa Bay.

San Diego at Kansas City — Prediction: Kansas City.

Seattle at NY Giants — Prediction: NY Giants.

St. Louis at Carolina — Prediction: St. Louis.

Dallas at Arizona — Prediction: Dallas.

Cleveland at Green Bay — Prediction: Green Bay.

NY Jets at Indianapolis — Prediction: NY Jets.

- - -


Last Week: 11-3
Season Record: 87-55

Strategies for Coaches and Teams

Arizona at NY Giants — Arizona should try and call all of its time outs before the kickoff and then their QB Jake Plummer should take his helmet off, tackle a referee, steal his microphone, put on a cowboy hat and some Mylar chaps and try and make a speech at the fifty-yard-line about the World Trade Center, how he isn’t sure if anyone in his family was ever, in fact, a plumber, and how he hasn’t got any Christmas shopping done yet. But maybe they shouldn’t even do anything that dramatic because the Giants will probably lose this game. Look for Giants’ coach Jim Fassel to be wearing the white short-sleeve Orkin oxford by March. Prediction: Giants.

Oakland at San Diego — San Diego should bring more people to their buzzard’s nest of a stadium by choosing random fans to punt on Saturday. Like if you are sitting in GG Seat 203, come on down and get some cleats on. I figure they will punt at least thirty or forty times during this game, so it could be a good opportunity for their special teams coach to get a good look at some new legs. Prediction: Oakland.

Cincinnati at NY Jets — The Jets are like a bad CBS prime time line-up. And Vinny Testaverde is definitely the Burt Reynolds of Evening Shade or Ted Danson of Becker — seasoned pros brought in to kick everything in the shorts and get some ratings. It works, temporarily, until everyone remembers, “Hey, whoa, hang on a friggin’ second, that’s Burt Reynolds. Jesus God, my life is in a shambles. My hobbies are a Marilu Henner fan page, this show and hoarding canned beans. I might as well move into my parents’ attic and carry a dog-eared copy of Jude the Obscure around on the city bus.” I never liked Reynolds in the first place. Except Sharkey’s Machine, that was a nice movie. Prediction: NY Jets.

Atlanta at Indianapolis — I have nothing to do with this. Except someone cool from Atlanta e-mailed me and said he watched the NFL and listened to Le Tigre at the same time. So, kudos to you, my amigo. Most of the fans at this contest will be able to catch passes from Colts’ QB Peyton Manning if they stay in their seats. COLTS FACTOID: Manning has thrown 1,000 interceptions this season and we’re only on Week 14. Prediction: Indianapolis.

Denver at Kansas City — Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil may be fired after this year (actually, they’ll probably keep him around for a few years ‘cause his system is tricky for people to get. He’s like the CIA — you’ll get one big Super Bowl win out of him for every twelve difficult and costly seasons), so anyway he should do something really obnoxious and uncalled for like stripping naked, putting war paint and a feathered headdress on and coaching that way. If questioned he could say that he is really in touch with Missouri’s native American population and that since it is Christmas he wanted to give back to the community. If that doesn’t work, he should jump in a Reliant K car, scream, cry and drive through the front window of a nearby shopping center. If he is okay, he should get out of the vehicle, brush all the broken glass of his body and say “Let’s see your Tums section, you filthy bedwetters.” Prediction: Kansas City.

Tampa Bay at Chicago — Before the game starts, Tampa Bay should run onto the field with shovels and dig a giant thirty-yard hole and then fill it up with water from a garden hose. Then they should put up a wooden sign that says “Hot Tub.” If the Bears fall for it, the game will be won by the Buccaneers. The hole should also contain a couple of frogs and the outer edge should be lined with bright-colored drinks. Prediction: Chicago.

Minnesota at Detroit — Detroit will finally win.

New England at Buffalo — Buffalo will not.

Jacksonville at Cleveland — An e-mail came from a Kansas City fan asking me if I liked to use Christian Okoye in the old Nintendo Tecmo Bowl football game. I did, but I loved to use Kevin Mack, the former Cleveland Browns running back. Who didn’t? That is my question. I can remember the worrisome days of the Big War (that’s the Persian Gulf escapade of a decade ago). I didn’t serve in it, but I did watch a lot of CNN. I also ate those scorching purple Cheetos, drank Mickey’s Big Mouths and played between sixteen and seventeen hours of Tecmo Bowl with my roommates every day. I was a college student then, and I finished up with a GPA of just under 1.5. When we’d play Tecmo Bowl I’d often choose the Browns, who had no other weapons except for Kevin Mack. His little digi-bit figure would bust through the defense like a science teacher’s breath in an airless closet. The fact that my opponents often used narcotics didn’t hurt my record one bit. Ahh, Kevvy Mack. Thank you very much. Prediction: Cleveland.

Miami at San Francisco — If Miami is smart, they’ll arrive in San Francisco early, call the 49ers up and say, “Hey, we’re staying at the Marriott on Van Ness, and we brought you a bunch of seafood, let’s have a big communal meal tonight for all of us millionaires.” Then they should make sure the Niners eat a few bricks of Floridian tuna that were stored in the wheel-well of the plane they came in on. In a few hours, the paramedics should be summoned. The only way this won’t work is if the Niners say, “Ah, we live by the ocean too, so we can have seafood all the time.” If that happens, a representative from the Dolphins will say, “Oh, actually we meant to say we have a bunch of strippers, come on over.” The strippers should not be stored in the wheel well because that’s murder. Prediction: San Francisco.

Dallas at Seattle — Yuk. The Seahawks are the Falcons of the West Coast. Prediction: Dallas.

Philadelphia at Washington — Philadelphia can only win on the road. Prediction: Philadelphia.

Green Bay at Tennessee — Prediction: Green Bay.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore — I am openly accepting any essays people want to write in praise of Steelers’ coach Bill Cowher or Ravens coach Brian Billick. I am very interested in hearing positive stuff about these guys, but you have to back it up with something that at least resembles having a point. You can’t just write: “Fuck you. You never won nothing. And you could only hope to get punched in the face by me and my parents. We don’t like you. You’ve never won a Super Bowl.” I won’t stand for that sort of crap, and besides, if you saw me in real life, you would flee after phoning the police and having plastic surgery so I could never find you. So anyway, maybe write about them going on a double date as teenagers. Or write me about whether or not you think that Raven Tony Siragusa plays with small boats in his tub, or buys a lot of fudge and hides it under the passenger seat in his car. To me, if this game had a name, it would be called the Jackass Bowl, since both coaches remind me of cruel phys ed teachers who could have been pro volleyball players except that they got their boss’s daughter pregnant and ruined everything and now they are bitter and ride around town on three-speeds making citizen’s arrests. Prediction: Steelers if Bettis plays, Ravens if he doesn’t.

St. Louis at New Orleans — Next week I will show you a few scenes of a play that I have written exclusively for Kurt Warner’s wife. It is a love story. Prediction: New Orleans.

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Last week: 9-5 (I neglected to pick Baltimore)
Season Record: 76-52

There’s nothing much to complain or even talk about this week NFL-wise; both the Bears and Packers won and face each other in a showdown on Sunday. That will be an early Christmas present for yours truly. The AFC, however, is like eating a jar of Motrin and watching your neighbor edge his sidewalk. I detest every team in it, so I shan’t comment.

My day job consists of listening to music, eating skewers, drinking free booze at CD release parties, and, occasionally, stripping. Since many people are a) making lists of their favorite records of 2001, or b) shopping for CDs for Xmas presents, let’s focus our attention in that direction this week, as I list my favorites of the year and tip you off on some NFL winners.

There will be nothing about Ryan Adams or The Strokes.

Philadelphia Roots 1965-1973 by Various Artists (Soul Jazz Records): I discovered this over the summer, and it immediately transported me to a house party in Fat Albert’s neighborhood. The music is filled with emotional horns, wobbly bass and is an overall kick in the trousers. There’s nothing synthetic about it except for the spent latex condom that will magically appear on the floor near your stereo after playing this.

San Diego at Philadelphia — Prediction: Philadelphia.

NY Giants at Dallas — Prediction: NY Giants.

Go Forth by Les Savy Fav (FrenchKiss): These are art rock/model dudes from RISD via Brooklyn who know exactly what New Wave was all about, without getting cheesy or donning piano ties. All their songs are brilliant, driving anthems, and this record is the greatest of their career.

NY Jets at Pittsburgh — Prediction: Pittsburgh.

The Golden Age by Bobby Conn (Thrill Jockey): If you only listen once, Bobby grates on you like a sawed-off little shit that you probably think took a punch or two to the face more than once in his life. This is not such a bad thing. But listen again, or see him live, ‘cause he is one helluva showman — worlds better than any NFL stuff I have seen this year (with the exception of a few trick plays). He’s like a mop-topped Michael J. Fox channeling Alice Cooper, Freddie Mercury, and Sammy Davis Jr. all at once. His songs are eight-minute epics (complete with piano, strings and crying guitars) that Axl Rose would kill to be writing. I wonder if he’s heard Bobby’s shit yet? I saw him at Brownie’s in New York and his whole band wore gray leather pants and jackets, neatly intersected by a rainbow belt. They were an odd-looking bunch of mustachioed metal waste-oids and band-camp dropouts, but they dazzled the crowd all night long. If you want the same thing, only in French, check out a cat named Sebastien Tellier. Wow.

New Orleans at Atlanta — Prediction: New Orleans.

Another Late Night mixed by Fila Brazila (Kinetic Records): This mines the same vein as the slightly more popular Back to Mine series. It’s a downbeat mix of rock, dub, and dance shit — basically DJ music for people like me who wouldn’t go near a club. And it’s for you if you’re up gabbing away with comrades at 2:30 a.m. with a giant club sandwich in your left hand, an oil can of Fosters in your right and a slow burning joint somewhere in the middle. (Though booze and drugs are not needed to ensure a good time.)

Carolina at Buffalo — Prediction: Buffalo.

Feminist Sweepstakes by Le Tigre (Mr. Lady): I was disappointed with their earlier 2001 EP, From the Desk of Mr. Lady, but my feelings of absolute joy about this new record far outweigh any sorrow I previously experienced. Where the EP seemed tossed off and without direction, Feminist Sweepstakes slays as an aggressive, seductive punk rock jubilee that is fully baked, and angry and funny at the same time. I don’t know if there’s any cross-pollination appeal with the NFL and Le Tigre fans, but I see no problem in loving them both.

Chicago at Green Bay — Prediction: Chicago.

San Francisco at St. Louis — Prediction: St. Louis.

Since I Left You by The Avalanches (London-Sire): This is another DJ thing. Six fellows from Australia (a country whose products I normally avoid, disregard the above Foster’s reference) turning like 900 samples into 18 songs, yet the ensuing music is far from a slapdash effort. When I reviewed it earlier in the year, I wrote that it’s the next logical step after the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique and DJ Shadow’s Entroducing. Plus, there’s a lot of humor in it, without totally making it cartoon or kitsch. It’s seamless and sweet.

Cleveland at New England — Prediction: New England.

Detroit at Tampa Bay — Prediction: Tampa Bay.

How I Do by RES (MCA): This got some play when it came out in the summer, but it sadly disappeared, maybe due to the high volume of cynicism with which it’s packed. RES is a stunning twenty-three-year-old lass from Philly, who sidesteps the superficiality of most of today’s R&B without sounding like a crunchy granola retard or a jaded creep. How I Do is a sexy debut, a lot like Prince crossed with Esthero.

Jacksonville at Cincinnati — Prediction: Cincinnati.

Stephen Malkmus by Stephen Malkmus (Matador): Pavement’s quarterback turns free agent and winds up on The Jicks. His first solo album has a lot of genius, cheeky Kinks-type story songs. He should be canonized as an American Rock Treasure ASAP, but maybe our kids will discover his records in nineteen years when he’s a History Prof in Denmark.

Bright Flight by Silver Jews (Drag City): Malkmus’ fellow UVA alum D.C. Berman is the biggest supporter of Tiki Barber that we have. I wish Tiki would jump on his bandwagon. This Nashvillian thousandaire is making country-rock with honest lyrics and not calling it alt-country or pretending that he’s an alcoholic dude yearning to shake off the shackles of the Dust Bowl. It’s more Gilley’s circa 1979 — packed with fighting, fucking, and everything in between.

Tennessee at Minnesota — Prediction: Minnesota. (sorry)

Girls Can Tell by Spoon (Merge): This is pop music for people who don’t want Justin Timberlake to tell them what pop music is. Austin-based Spoon sound like Joe Jackson, Squeeze, The Jam, Corey Hart, and Elvis Costello if you subtract any lameness that these artists might possess. The lyrics are near goddamn genius. Maybe you caught them recently opening for Cake. I sure as hell didn’t. Cake is a boil on the back of my knee.

Washington at Arizona — Prediction: Washington.

In Search of by N.E.R.D. (Virgin): This is the best hip-hop CD, from the best hip-hop producers (The Neptunes) not to come out in 2001. Its release was pushed back so many times that it will now finally hit shelves in February. The Neptunes have provided beats on songs for everyone except Ross Perot; you might know them from “I Just Wanna Love You,” by Jay-Z, or “Got Your Money,” by Old Dirty Bastard. Their signature sound is a trebly, anxious snare looped to perfection. However, they reworked In Search Of… so many times that they dumped all the electronic beats in favor of real musicians. Personally, I think they went back to the drawing board too many times, and prefer the earlier advance I was sent when the thing was supposed to come out eight months ago. Either way, you can’t lose. The original CD may be on eBay, or in cutout bins at huge record stores.

Kansas City at Oakland — Prediction: Oakland.

It’s a Wonderful Life by Sparklehorse (Capitol): This is just another band whose major label can’t do a damn thing to help them. This is Sparklehorse’s best record of its career, and no one really knows or cares about it. It’s lush and burbling at the same time. A hazy little goofball of a record that lands on your windowsill and refuses to go away. PJ Harvey, Tom Waits and Nina Persson all show up on it. Jesus, isn’t that enough? C’mon.

Seattle at Denver — Prediction: Denver

The rest: His Name is Alive Someday My Blues Will Cover the Earth, DJ Cam Honeymoon, Califone RoomSound, Wanda Jackson Queen of Rockabilly, The Rat Pack Live at the Sands, The Words and Music of World War II.

I liked the Beta Band’s Hot Shots II, until my neighbor played it way too much.

- - -


Last Week: 8-7.
Season Record: 67-47.

New Defenses.

I’ve slept maybe four hours this week. As a result, I am not funny, so this will be brief. I spent ninety-one hours in traffic on Sunday driving back to NYC from South Carolina with my gal and two pooches. We passed by Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte as cars were pulling in for the Panthers vs. Falcons game. The whole view from the highway looked like Milwaukee for some reason. And it wasn’t the turn of the century Milwaukee I’ve lectured about at many community colleges in North America. You know, the Milwaukee of birch skyscrapers, fiddle music, lake oysters and mustache-waxing accountants who’d drive pontoons full of hot bourbon out to the middle of Lake Michigan to dump it rather than turn it over to The Rustlers. No, Charlotte was more of the Prange Way-era Milwaukee, where teen girls get Cool Ranch Doritos crumbled up in their braces and daub their chests with discount baby powder and kiss to John Waite songs while their fathers secretly plot to kill mayors and punters and use coupons for beer. Charlotte is all this plus NASCAR.

Anyway, then we got caught in Thanksgiving gridlock and listened to Dr. Laura chastise people and tell them to put their sexuality in a closet as if it were an old plastic Twins batting helmet and it was time throw it in your toy chest, comb your hair and get ready for the school sing. We got near Winchester, Virginia and stopped at an Italian restaurant in a strip mall. It was already about 8 p.m. The waitress was a fresh-faced hero to me. A regular churchgoer and most likely addicted to playing cello and studying botany. Seeing someone like her after a long drive makes you want to dole out a large tip, chow a mountain of Tylenol P.M. and ask directions to the nearest scalding bath.

But we had to keep driving, so I tuned in the Vikings Bears game on the radio and tried to pretend it mattered. The announcers were all over Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss for not trying and being a massive whiner. At some point, criticism turns ugly though, and you could almost feel their resentment toward the young millionaire.

By the time we got home, it was 1 a.m. and I had to vacuum thirty pounds of dog hair from the backseat and return the rental car. Monday night I threw a party at a hot dog restaurant and had too much avocado and champagne. Tuesday night I was finishing a story for work and severely tuckered out. Last night I won an award at my real job and had too many drinks at the company Xmas party. I am trying vigorously to prepare for my storytelling session at the McSweeney’s store tonight, so if you are in Brooklyn, I promise that I will come through for you much better than this:

Philadelphia at Kansas City — Prediction: Philadelphia.

Tennessee at Cleveland — Prediction: Cleveland.

Detroit at Chicago — Prediction: Chicago.

Buffalo at San Francisco — Prediction: San Francisco.

Arizona at Oakland — Prediction: Oakland.

St. Louis at Atlanta — Prediction: St. Louis.

Minnesota at Pittsburgh — Prediction: Pittsburgh.

New England at NY Jets — Prediction: NY Jets.

Carolina at New Orleans — Prediction: New Orleans

Denver at Miami — Prediction: Miami.

Tampa Bay at Cincinnati — Prediction: Cincinnati.

San Diego at Seattle — Prediction: Seattle.

Dallas at Washington — Prediction: Marty Schottenheimer keeps his motor revving. Washington.

Green Bay at Jacksonville — Prediction: Green Bay. (This will be close though. I am picking with emotion, not smarts. Jacksonville is overdue.)

- - -


Last Week: 8-6.
Season Record: 59-40.

Green Bay at Detroit — Instead of having a turkey filled with stuffing, the Pontiac Silverdome will be stuffed with turkeys tomorrow. Pass a great memory on to your son or daughter and keep them at home, or send them trick or treating. Plus, it is never a good idea to be in a confined space with 60,000 people shortly after they’ve eaten squash. As a matter of fact, it is best to avoid any place that huge filled with people who are even thinking of eating squash in the near future. If any adult who plans on watching football tomorrow would instead compose a long song about Thanksgiving and their own family tree, highlighting marriages, felonies, and other basic ups and downs, and then perform it in front of their kin, think of how peaceful that would be. Do anything, but avoid the Lions, who, at 0-9, are officially in a shambles. Prediction: Green Bay.

Denver at Dallas — I would never go to Dallas on November 22nd of any year. And this rematch of an overrated Super Bowl of Yore is a good reason to pick up your remote control and hunt for anything that stars Peter Billingsley. Prediction: Denver.

Arizona at San Diego — If anyone from Arizona would like to send me hate mail, please make your point and stick with it. Last week, a fellow sent me a note stating that the predictions sucked, and that I was probably gay, and had never touched a football. It would have been really disturbing and puzzling if he had sent his homophobic tirade anonymously, but no, the guy e-mailed it from his address at his father’s company. We exchanged a few e-mails and by the last volley, he basically wrote that he loved the predictions and that he couldn’t wait to see them this week. Well, which is it, bro? He also quoted from the movie, “A Few Good Men,” addressed me as “Dude,” and claimed he had an MBA, or an MFA, I can’t remember which. I don’t have much book learning, but haven’t most of you people who hold a graduate degree stopped using “Dude,” when addressing people?

If anyone is really angry with me, then they simply need to chase their dreams, and admit that they are unhappy souls who take out their aggression on random football writers. Bottom line: Jeff Johnson is not preventing you from being happy, gentle reader. No one is forcing you to scan these predictions for life lessons, or betting tips.

In any case, I wish this fellow luck, a happy Thanksgiving, and thank him, because his actions have shed light on a bigger problem. While I actually get several marriage proposals a week, offers of cash, and have appeared in several publications and short wave radio shows, at the risk of losing readers, I need to outline who should and shouldn’t be here. Prediction: San Diego.

Baltimore at Jacksonville — If you’ve ever entertained the thought of Ravens coach Brian Billick starring in a three-night CBS mini-series about himself called “The Brian Billick Story: From Angry Foster Child to Angry Successful NFL Coach,” then you should keep reading. If you’ve even fleshed it out so far as to have Coach Billick walking down a beach in rolled-up Dockers whispering sweet nothings in Jaclyn Smith’s ear, then you must take over the writing of this column. It is yours. Was Brian Billick a foster child? No, probably not. Are all foster children as bad and angry as Brian Billick would be if he were a troubled foster child that killed all of his neighbor’s parrots with a slingshot? No, of course not. Prediction: Baltimore.

Miami at Buffalo — If you are a Bills fan that listens to old Rod Stewart cassettes in your car and have French-kissed a teacher to get a better grade more than once, you may keep reading. If you are a Miami fan that loved balding, diminutive kicker Garo Yepremian, and was never fond of Jimmy Johnson as either head coach or a U.S. citizen, then I love you. If you’ve shared a sleeping bag at a national park with any Dolphins punter, then your are cool, too. Prediction: Buffalo.

Atlanta at Carolina — If you are a Falcons fan that has ever done hard drugs with any Falcons player from 1975-1985, then I want your autograph and possibly to father your children. If you are a Carolina fan who moved to Charlotte for employment, got a divorce, and now live in a generic townhouse near the interstate, then I feel your pain, and consider you my favorite reader. Unless that townhouse is filled with the music of Kenny G. If that is the case, please kill yourself and be done with it. If you don’t listen to Kenny G, please keep doing your thing, and eventually whiskey or Jesus will lead you down the correct path. Prediction: Carolina.

Oakland at Giants — Anyone who likes Oakland can definitely read the column. God is on your side this year. My only stipulation is that you never talk about former QB Jim Plunkett to me. And also that you quit stealing bikes from poor kids in your neighborhood. If you are a Giants fan and are disappointed that the team doesn’t physically play anywhere in New York, please keep reading. Prediction: Oakland.

Seattle at Kansas City — If you live in Seattle and have never heard of the Seahawks, then you are an ass-kicking genius and should keep visiting this site. If you live in Kansas City and always go to that one big cafeteria downtown that has the best BLTs in America, then you may enjoy this column. I ate there once and had a BLT as big as Norway. Jesus Balls, was that awesome. Additionally, if you possess an old Christian Okoye jersey, and once tried to get his autograph by attempting to speak his language, and were laughed at by twenty-five or more people, please e-mail me. Anyone else in Kansas City that doesn’t fall into the above groups probably will not enjoy this site very much. Prediction: Kansas City.

San Francisco at Indianapolis — Is Merton Hanks still a 49er? No. Ugh, that is terrible news. If you are a die-hard 49ers fan but have never been to San Francisco, then you must stop breathing right now. Colts fans who are stuck in Baltimore are people whom I like having around. Colts fans in Indianapolis probably cheat at most board games and seem like severe tattletales. Prediction: San Francisco.

Washington at Philadelphia — If you like the Redskins and wish that they still played at RFK so you could wear an old sport coat to the game and pay $1.50 for a beer, then I like you. If you sell real estate in D.C. and have a framed poster of the Budweiser frogs above your bed, then you should go to prison. If you are an Eagles fan that likes a combination of ice-skating and jazz dancing, you belong here. Prediction: Philadelphia.

Pittsburgh at Tennessee — If you try to pretend that you are fiery Steelers coach Bill Cowher when disciplining your children or making love, please never visit this site. If you try to pretend that you are fiery Steelers coach Bill Cowher when disciplining your parents, then you rule. Unless of course, your parents are senior citizens, then for God’s sake leave them the fuck alone. Tennessee fans that are proud of Nashville group the Silver Jews, whose new CD Bright Flight came out this week, are my most treasured readers. Prediction: Tennessee.

Cincinnati at Cleveland — Any fan of both of these teams is welcome here, provided they don’t enjoy much of anything. In fact, if you are a sulker from Cleveland who weeps into a corduroy pillow when your mail is late, please keep visiting here. I will try to cheer you up or make things worse, whichever you’d prefer. I love both of these cities and have spent many nights face down in Cincy at that Sudsy Malone’s, the rare night club lets you watch live music and do laundry. Prediction: Cleveland.

New Orleans at New England — New Orleans fans that still wear a paper bag on their head, even when the Saints win are A-OK, in my book. If you are a Patriots fan who has ever written a huge essay about tree surgery, or made your own cross-country skis, then you may slightly enjoy this column. Prediction: New Orleans.

Chicago at Minnesota — This is an easy one. I love Chicago. I despise the Vikings. If you are a Vikings fan and can understand how a grown man doesn’t enjoy the antics of your football squad yet wishes them no ill will, then we must let ourselves climb awkwardly into each other’s hearts, especially during this holiday season. Prediction: Bears by 90.

Tampa Bay at St. Louis — If you liked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when the Selmon brothers played for them, then I like you. If you don’t know who they are, please avoid this site. If you have proof that the Rams Coach has ever served you any cole slaw at Shoney’s, please contact me. If you are a Rams fan that thinks Kurt Warner’s wife should not be shown on TV again, then please keep reading. Prediction: Rams.

- - -


Last Week: 8-7.

Season Record: 51-34.

This week will be the highest concentration of actual football material this page has seen yet, so put on a nice sweater and enjoy. We’re midway through the 2001 campaign and I’m handing out mid-season report cards. You will know who never to bet on, watch, or dream about again.

NY Jets at Dolphins — The Jets are like the city of Toronto. Supposedly cool, yet unproven against a real foe. They had a tough time handling Carolina, and let Buffalo score thirty-six points on them, for God’s sake. You’re a fool if you think they will be anywhere near the second round of the playoffs. Plus, what’s up with that face-masking guy? Cut him, already. Coach Herman Edwards looks and acts like he’s Joe Lieberman’s wet nurse. And yet they are 4-0 on the road. Ugh. Miami is the same way. They act like a handsome shopkeeper who is a real tough guy until the Hell’s Angels get to town.
Jets: C-.
Dolphins B.
Prediction: Miami.

San Francisco at Carolina — Hardee’s tries to make San Francisco seem like it cornered the market on sour dough bread. Big whoop. Their defense resembles a bundt cake that was offered to a junior high pyromaniac right after his first big chat with a guidance counselor whose wife left him for his brother. And this cake is full of dried prunes and butterscotch frosting. Carolina is afraid to name itself either North or South, preferring instead to shill for both states. Their team is the scum of the earth, and should be treated as such.
San Francisco: B-.
Carolina: F.
Prediction: San Francisco.

Seattle at Buffalo — The Seahawks play good in the big games and stink in the ones that shouldn’t matter. They play cream puffs the rest of the way, so you can bet there’ll be plenty of bandwagon jumpers in Seahawks knit caps milling around Tulsa video arcades for spare change or a slice. Buffalo just lost their QB for a while, and plays most of their games like a leather-hatted guy named Markie who has terminal acne and owes the whole town money.
Seattle: C+.
Buffalo: F-.
Prediction: Seattle (but maybe the QB-shake-up will jump start the horrendous Bills?)

NY Giants at Minnesota — I used to love rolling around under the rickety wooden bleachers of high school stadiums with a toy football, some toddlers and these funny little jeans that had no zipper, just an elastic waistband. But enough about last summer. The Giants? Never heard of ‘em. The Vikings? Doesn’t ring a bell.
NY Giants: C.
Vikings: D-.
Prediction: Vikings.

Atlanta at Green Bay — I wasn’t aware there was still a team in Atlanta. You can never tell what is going on in that crazy dome of theirs, and most of the time, it ain’t football. I’m surprised that the walls don’t have a thick red carpet on them. The craziness usually involves a player’s mother, a wayward can of Stroh’s, and an Al B. Sure cassette tape. Green Bay is like a drunk mailman with a shovel and your house keys. Stay back about nineteen feet and wait for them to make the first mistake.
Atlanta: D.
Green Bay: A.
Prediction: Green Bay.

Philadelphia at Dallas — The Eagles are like a really good mayor who has a lot of undercover sex and isn’t very discreet about it. We’re happy for them, but some bad shit will inevitably go down. The Dallas Cowboys are a fifty-room mansion. The only problem is forty-seven of them are bathrooms.
Philadelphia: B+.
Dallas: D.
Prediction: Dallas.

Chicago at Tampa Bay — I’m happy with the Bears, but I don’t think it would kill them to throw the ball downfield a little more. Whoever has the cajones to bet on Tampa Bay will be back in jail or rehab before Xmas.
Chicago: B+.
Tampa Bay: C.
Prediction: Bears.

Cleveland at Baltimore — Cleveland’s claim to fame is Drew Carey. Everyone laughs, but in the end someone else has to do the laundry. Baltimore, and their head coach Brian Billick, are from hell, have no sense of humor and are mean.
Cleveland: C.
Baltimore: B+.
Prediction: Baltimore.

Tennessee at Cincinnati — Tennessee running back Eddie George is a failure this year. QB Steve McNair needs to learn that all those really amazing passes he’s throwing out of the end zone, and out of bounds don’t count in the final score. One good thing: Their defense is starting to perform well. I haven’t watched a Cincinnati game since 1989 and I’m not about to start now.
Tennessee: C-.
Cincinnati: C.
Prediction: Cincinnati.

Indianapolis at New Orleans — I think Indy QB Peyton Manning has gotten worse every year he’s played, only the stats might not back that up. Now that he has a broken jaw, the Colts are even in more trouble. New Orleans is just too weird. They’re like a huge burlap bag filled with worthless gold coins that the town rube has misplaced on a city bus.
Indianapolis: C.
New Orleans: C+
Prediction: New Orleans.

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh — Jacksonville’s slump mirrors the recent career of Robin Williams. This is why no one likes football anymore. Actually, I should have said Richard Dreyfuss. Too much of the wrong emotion, and styled poorly as well. People who like the Steelers are longing for the days when you could break down in tears over an elk you just shot with a bow and arrow and not get laughed at by your pals.
Jacksonville: C.
Pittsburgh: B-.
Prediction: Pittsburgh.

San Diego at Oakland — Oakland is for real. San Diego is unwatchable. In the old days, the sound of Dick Enberg’s voice broadcasting a sunny Chargers game sent me as close to suicide as I’ve ever wanted to go. Now that they’ve recycled a bunch of old Buffalo Bills, it’s only a short matter of time before they realize what a mistake it was. QB Doug Flutie looks and acts like Steve Perry without Journey.
Oakland: A-.
San Diego: C.
Prediction: Oakland.

Detroit at Arizona — No one cares.
Detroit: F.
Arizona: F.
Prediction: Sadness. For shut-ins only. Please don’t watch.

Washington at Denver — Trusting Denver to win these days is like giving the crime of the century to Lionel Richie to solve. It ain’t his bag, jack. By the way, their defense will ensure an early round loss in the playoffs. Washington is trying to recover and will wind up 8-8, and well, who cares?
Denver: B-.
Washington: D+.
Prediction: Denver.

St. Louis at New England — Last week, I wrote about how bad this tavern Bar None in New York was for watching football. Actually, it isn’t too horrible. Especially since last Sunday I was at an even worse place full of whiny Patriots fans who brought infants into this smoke-filled bunker and fed them yogurt until the whole place had to be evacuated. New England has no chance at doing anything this year, and St. Louis wins in a fashion that could only be compared with the way Lee Iaccoca made love in his prime. Forceful and sweaty. Put his face on your handbag this Christmas and thank me later.
New England: D.
St. Louis: A.
Prediction: St. Louis.

- - -


Last Week: 10-4 (I knew Tennessee would win, but forgot to tell you.)

Season record: 43-27


As a seventh grader in Wisconsin, I had a geography teacher by the name of Wayne Preston. Mr. Preston was a nice guy and loved sports. He looked like a lean, tall chipmunk, but you didn’t want to ride him about it, because he was so goddamn nice. It was early in the fall and I hadn’t been at junior high for too long, but the World Series was upon us. Mr. Preston’s boy was a helluva jock. He easily mastered the prep-level basketball, baseball, and football triumvirate, and was known throughout the town as a good young citizen who couldn’t resist giving old women piggy-back rides around Shopko when their tired, swollen ankles refused to bargain hunt any longer. Somehow father and son procured tickets to a game or two of the Series in Milwaukee and went to see the St. Louis Cardinals do battle with the Brewers.

They returned on a Monday, and while I can’t be bothered to remember the specifics, it seems that the Brewers had administered an ass-whupping of epic proportions on the Cardinals. Both teams’ rosters were filled with pasty white guys who looked like alcoholic copier salesmen, and the Brew Crew’s manager Harvey Kuenn even had a wooden leg. A wooden leg in Milwaukee is no picnic, people. The city is covered in ice nine months of the year, and half its population hobbles around on a prosthetic something because their diet is based on mustard, booze, menthol cigs, whole milk and Fritos. You will lose a limb or your eyesight very quickly under those conditions. Many people also suffer from facial sprains in that town.

The Brewers and the Cardinals, while good teams, were basically society’s dregs: crusty, mustachioed lotharios in slim-fitting, polyester uniforms who looked like they’d dog-sit your poodle right into a pickle-induced coronary. Many of them were involved in nose candy and liquor scandals that aborted their careers, while others simply hit the buffet too often and waddled off into the sunset before they could blow out their Rotator Cuff or receive yet another sexual favor from an overzealous hussy in the Baltimore airport. Even the guys who made it into the Hall of Fame from those squads could be found napping this afternoon under an old blue Christmas tree in women’s nylons with belts made of packing twine. They were nothing like the Preston clan.

Anyway, Preston returned and in the middle of a lecture about Scottish weevils, plopped his buttocks on a table at the head of the class and ground everything to a halt. He waxed majestically about the weekend, getting those tickets and getting his boy into that giant open-faced can of Pabst known as County Stadium for the World Series. He had tears in his eyes as he said he’d witnessed perhaps the “Greatest Sports Moment,” of his life. It was odd seeing a guy tear-up like that, let alone a geography instructor. It made me very nervous. I didn’t know then if it was common for adult men to catalog their Greatest Sports Moments and weep tears of joy over them. And if so, I had better get on the stick. I think I wound up getting a couple of D’s from Preston that year. I didn’t care too much for the Brewers, who lost the Series in six games. But I always admired his twisted moxie for giving his students a sliver of his real human life away from that putrid school.

Over the last week, I’ve ridden my sofa through some of my own “Greatest Sports Moments.” First, I went to the dog-wash on the last Sunday of October. Due to pressing errands, I decided to blow off the weekly NFL contests. When I got home, I discovered that the Chicago Bears were losing to San Francisco by a couple of touchdowns, so I walked over to this tavern on 3rd Avenue that features every game on satellite to catch the fourth quarter. It’s called Bar None.

The front room was simple enough and not too offensive: just a bar, a few TVs and a sparse smattering of jackasses. The back room was, however, like a pitch-dark opium den filled with grown men in sweatpants and their homely baseball-hatted female sidekicks. They were mainlining football. The only light came from the television sets. There were middle class men sprawled out on leather sofas and in booths muttering at the screens, while their bellies grew large from chicken wings and salsa. It was like a big nap room.

I’m a real patriot most of the time, but there are occasions that make me think that this country is drowning in assholism. The trailer for a new Josh Hartnett comedy about not having sex for forty days had been the last thing to set me off. Anyway, the room was filled with the kind of guys who even don’t want plates. You could just pour a pot of spaghetti in their lap, give them a wooden spoon and a helmet full of beer and come back three hours later with a garden hose to clean them up.

The few women in attendance resembled younger, penalty wives who’d somehow been duped into burning countless Sundays on the arms of graying halfwits who only get emotional about Steelers’ coach Bill Cowher. But fuck it, all that melted away when the Bears marched down and fluked the shit out of the 49ers in about two minutes and thirty-seven seconds. I don’t know whether it was my love of the Bears, or that a smartass playing video golf, smoking, and eating chili was rooting for the 49ers. I danced all the way home.

Midweek, of course I was having massive near-aneurysms watching the Yankees. I don’t remember much of it though, because it was Halloween and in the middle of it all my neighbors decided to shake the rust off of their Little Feat-tribute band during the ulcer-inducing latter innings of Wednesday’s game. I played cat burglar and climbed across the roof of my building to look into their window, and then, with any luck, hurl a twenty-four oz. can of Sapporo through it. It was my goal to wound one of them badly enough to end their musical fantasy for the night. No luck. It didn’t help that a woman across the courtyard was watching me from her third floor window, and I could see the game on in her apartment, and then I kind of started watching the game on her television, and then I kind of looked at myself, and it was Halloween and I was on the roof and I was angry and then I just had to go inside quickly.

Then Michael Jordan was on TV and coming back and he didn’t look as crappy as everyone said. And then on Sunday the Bears did the exact same thing again, winning in OT. Strange. It is a drag that the Yankees lost, and that a team whose stadium has a damn swimming pool in it won, but New York really didn’t need that kind of shot in the arm, anyway. We’re okay for now.

Buffalo at New England — New England.
Carolina at St. Louis — St. Louis.
Cincinnati at Jacksonville — Cincinnati.
Dallas at Atlanta — Atlanta.
Green Bay at Chicago — Chicago.
Kansas City at N.Y. Jets — N.Y. Jets.
Miami at Indianapolis — Miami.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland — Cleveland.
Tampa Bay at Detroit — Detroit.
San Diego at Denver — Denver.
Minnesota at Philadelphia — Philadelphia.
New Orleans at San Francisco — New Orleans.
N.Y. Giants at Arizona — N.Y. Giants.
Oakland at Seattle — Oakland.
Baltimore at Tennessee — Tennessee.

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Last week: 7-7 (putrid)

Season record: 33-23

NFL Dreams and Thoughts That Never Make It Into the Newspaper

Baltimore at Pittsburgh — Pittsburgh fullback Jerome Bettis talked briefly last Sunday about the hen industry: “Okay, fellas. I run the football and I do a good job. So thanks in advance for knowing how much ass I kick. Yet, I’m aware that can only last so long. What I am trying to do, quite honestly, is get America interested in eating and enjoying hen meat again. Why? It’s simple. Jerome Bettis Hens is set to be the largest U.S. producer of free-range hens by the year 2007. I plan to be retired from athletic competition by then, and I see hens as a very important part of my future income. I’m looking to start street teams in Tacoma, Queens, Montego Bay, and Baton Rouge. That is step one. Getting some cool recipes up on Internet bulletin boards is step two. Maybe you’re looking for Modest Mouse tour dates, or reading about Jonathan Franzen and then shazilly, there’s something about hens, grape jelly and wild rice. Forty-one minutes later you have a gourmet meal, and Steeler number thirty-fucking-six tipped you off to that. Pardon my French. Step Three: Get the young women of this country into a hen-consuming trend and from there just blow this shit up big time. You can kiss Cornish Game Hens good-bye, too. That’s not even where I’m taking this. I already have a fax machine.” Prediction: Pittsburgh.

Carolina at Miami — From the desk of Miami coach Dave Wannstedt: “Briefly imagine a world without math. You could walk into your buddy’s house and say what is the score of the Penn State game, my friend? He would look at you like you just spoke Guamese to him. And then he’d probably say there are no scores to be had any more per se. Can you handle that? A ten-yard run is now a zero-yard run because of math loss. And your buddy doesn’t live in a house because a mortgage cannot be calculated. And if you are trying to remember your wife’s or toddler’s birthday, and subsequently place an order for exquisite candles then that is going to be difficult, also. Unthinkable. We would probably go back to a series of caves for shelter at some point, because to make electricity you need math figures. I have often thought math is hard and I think people are getting worse at it. Can you live with that? Let’s look at math a little more and perhaps give tax-deductible money (provided you can still count) to the Dave Wannstedt Math Is Needed for Future Generations, Too Foundation.” Prediction: Miami.

Dallas at N.Y. Giants — Giants Coach Jim Fassel: “This is off the record, so cap your pens. You scribblers are always on my back. I should be the Hunchback of Seacaucus by now. I want to make one thing clear before you write your stories about how bad we’ve been playing: I like hot baths. I like to get the water hot and fill the tub up and get an encyclopedia and read about pollen. I usually grab the World Book, letter P, and maybe do 45 minutes of tub work and learn about Peru. Lima seems like a damn fine port. And I know a lot about ports. Ever heard of poi? Want to know anything about pesticides or pancakes? Next time you feel like tearing into my coaching, remember Uncle Jim is not some soft-boiled rube. I am pretty well rounded and would like to appreciate being treated like a coach of a professional squad, and then as a guy who might have a hobby or two. Get it? End of interview.” Prediction: New York Giants.

Indianapolis at Buffalo — Colts QB Peyton Manning: “I can’t believe you haven’t asked about Halloween yet. I’m going as Alfred Hitchcock.” Prediction: Buffalo.

Seattle at Washington — Prediction: Washington.

N.Y. Jets at New Orleans — Prediction: New Orleans.

Denver at Oakland — Prediction: Oakland.

Jacksonville at Tennessee — Todd Gipp, Defensive Coach:

TG: Let me talk to you in plain English. When I played, I used to really put a hat on people. Nowadays, no one thinks it’s necessary to give me a hot cup of coffee, let alone get my opinion for five minutes. I am new to Nashville. And, voila, I am looking for a hot piece of ass. Q: TG: Don’t give me that crap. Can’t we work together? Jesus, man. Let me tell ya, we are two and friggin’ five. I go out for dinner and it is like I have polio. I paid 600 bucks for these boots. I drive a Mercury. I get my pants dry-cleaned. I have cable. I’ve read those Chicken Soup books. Q: TG: Yeah. Wait, I said four. I know we have lost four games. I never said five. Q: TG: No, I’m not related to the Gipper. Shit. How unoriginal are these questions? I can’t believe how brain-short you are. I heard that one in ninth grade. Q: TG: Of course. I am so aware of how close I am to being fired. Time is of the essence. You think I don’t know that? Let’s talk about how single and how damn professional I am. Then let’s say that gets printed. You could reap the spoils of it too, Jack. I direct grown men to tackle one another and every two weeks over eleven hundred dollars is wired transferred to my Bank of Tenn account. Do you think a fair vixen of Nah-ville would like to put her lips on and massage a fellow like me? Where in the Sam Hell are they? Q: TG: Thanks for nothing…

New England at Atlanta — Prediction: New England.

Tampa Bay at Green Bay — Prediction: Green Bay.

Detroit at San Francisco — From Matt Millen, Detroit General Manager. “I am in severe pain. I have severe pain in most of my bones of my feet. I feel this way because I’ve always worn my shoes too tight. Laceless shoes that are too tight aren’t a problem. I have, historically, worn a lot of laced shoes, however. When you play football and wear laced shoes, tie them very tight, and then wrap tape around that tightness, that just spells trouble. When I was commentating in the booth after my retirement, I could wear loafers, so, you may think, well, no big whoop. But at that period I was not working out. I hesitated to do even one pushup. I was a commentator with a corporate credit card and a shitload of time. So I ate meals. In eating these meals, I put excess and undue weight on my tootsies. Most of my calories were gravy and stew-based calories. Very rich foods. I would eat little to no fruit. My feet. God. They are as brittle and gnarled as a tree in the middle of a desert that has been plagued by civil war involving muskets and/or hatchets and hot, dry weather. My feet are what is on my mind. I use salts and lotions, generously. No luck. Do the math. The Lions, like much of my life, are currently sucking pond water because of my sore feet.” Prediction: San Francisco.

Philadelphia at Arizona — Prediction: Philly.

Cleveland at Chicago — Prediction: Chicago.

Kansas City at San Diego — Prediction: San Diego.

- - -


Last week: 6-8.

Season Record: 26-16.

Dances I Imagine to be Popular in Certain NFL Cities:

Indianapolis at Kansas City — There’s a discrepancy about whether Frozen Tonsils is a drink or a dance. I’ve witnessed Frozen Tonsils on many a dance floor, especially the Hurricane in downtown K.C. It is not pretty. But most successful dances are not what we think of as traditionally beautiful. They’re jarring, socially important creations. Sometimes they serve as a symbolic reaction to something mean or at least responsible for foul weather. This one has its roots in a long argued odd-even parking law. The basic moves are crouching, standing, pretending to close a car door and then grabbing at your own jowls (if you are in love, you may grab your partner’s jowls), and finally looking toward the sky, recognizing Jesus, perhaps, but not the ticket on your imaginary windshield. Complex. Stunning. When performed to an Ace of Base song, breathtaking. Prediction: Kansas City.

Tennessee at Pittsburgh — Prediction: Pittsburgh.

New Orleans at St. Louis — Busy Day at the Hardware Store is a dance common to most St. Louis folks in their late ‘50s. Dancing is really big in Missouri and this is one of the keenest dances that older adults can possibly do. It does not require any overt sexual bumping and grinding nor does it espouse any sticky religious beliefs that might inhibit a fellow or lass from giving it a whirl. Say you are playing bridge with another couple and in between hands you need a little exercise. Busy Day at the Hardware Store is perfect for you. Stand in a row together (almost like line dancing, really), as if you’re all working behind the counter of a busy hardware store. Now pass some imaginary wrenches and saws down the line so the dancer at the end can ring them up, and get this jerk who has been whining about fixing his toilet out of your shop. Prediction: St. Louis.

San Francisco at Chicago — Chicagoans are really not dancing much as of late. A version of musical chairs that incorporates the very best parts of Pictionary is quite popular at most nightclubs and steakhouses. Prediction: Chicago.

Cincinnati at Detroit — One hot new dance that, again, speaks volumes about our current policy and/or trend of putting criminals in jail, is called The Warden, and its epicenter is Detroit, and that is in Michigan. You may be scratching your head and wondering where all those dances that involve some sort of auto assembly strife and joy went. Where are they? They were popular in Detroit, true. But things have changed. This one involves making jail cells on the dance floor out of humans… and that is all I can say. It is hot. Prediction: Cincinnati.

Jacksonville at Baltimore — One dance that really relies on its community because of that city’s geographic location is the Bather’s Gut. It is popular in Baltimore for a number of reasons, and fishing is at the head of that class. Before people dance in Baltimore, they go out for dinner. And if you’re a guy with a couple extra bucks in your pocket, a meal can be a nice way to add another dimension to a date. If you’re concerned with just dancing, gossiping, talking a little bit about “Forrest Gump,” and then trying to make love to your date, you’re reading the wrong column, Sherlock. Anyway, a good gourmet dinner in Baltimore consists of a lot of buttery scallops and scrod. Ocean scrod. The bather’s gut pays homage to this. You’ll get up from the table with quite a distended belly, and if you eat enough scrod, your stomach will be rather large for a period of 36-48 hours. In Baltimore this is considered sexy. The dance is about pretending you are in a wading pool kind of stand-swimming and enjoying the sunshine and some salted cashews. It is a decent way to get your blood pumping after all that eating. And that is very important for digestion, and a necessary component in successful lovemaking as well. Prediction: Baltimore.

Oakland at Philadelphia — Prediction: Oakland.

N.Y. Jets at Carolina — Beard Itch is an urban dance that was birthed in the Charlotte-area bedroom community of Fort Mill, S.C. in about March of 1999. There’s no real trick. Shake your bottom as if it were near a very warm steam radiator and you almost sat on this heating device until, noticing the hot steam, you quickly hovered away, but in your haste, you nearly forgot your ass. Not tough. However, while all that is going on you must pretend you have a three- or four-foot-long beard that itches like a Dickens, even if you are a woman. Let your fingers move in a scurried, creepy-crawl up and down your fake whiskers. Novices must only pretend their beard is one-foot-long, or be prepared to engage in fisticuffs with the real hoofers (or perhaps buy them a tall, cold, blue drink). Prediction: Carolina.

Minnesota at Tampa Bay — Both of these teams and their fans do not deserve dancing updates at this time. Prediction: Minnesota.

Arizona at Dallas — Much of the great dancing in the western hemisphere comes from Dallas, Texas. All the major ballets have been choreographed here. In fact, all the award-wining ballets ever known to planet earth were dreamed here. As some young creative specimen’s noggin hit the pillow, he or she gleefully envisioned most of the stuff you see in many elementary schools, opera houses, and on cable networks today. Is it because of the city’s Eastern-Bloc vibe? Is it due to its proximity to Ft. Worth, home of modern song? Probably not. Most of it, like many of our feats of science, industry, art, baking, and tree surgery comes from a white-hot desire to say, “I was here first. These are my goddamn dreams. Take them. Pound them into something you can use every day, por favor.” So, it is unfair to mention fad dances in this paragraph. Prediction: Dallas.

N.Y. Giants at Washington — Prediction: New York Giants.

Miami at Seattle — Most dance, if you want to officially come to terms with it, is about a party. Nothing but snappy movements and wide grins. Nothing else to convey, except “It’s my party and I WILL FLY, if I want to.” Yet, if dance is like language or song, it must strive to reach more of our emotions than simply joy. In Seattle, a contemplative dance called Brian Lost His Glasses on the Pier at Camp, has helped that city express a lot of its confusion and grief about, well, just about everything. It involves nothing more than protesting an upbeat C&C Music Factory song on the dance floor, by silently looking down at your Hush Puppies. Try it. Even if you’re happy, allow it to be you for five minutes. Thank me later. Prediction: Seattle.

Buffalo at San Diego — When I think of San Diego, I think of my nights as a wannabe sailor with a heart as big as the moon. I was in love with men and women in those days, and it didn’t matter how I found them or how much crystal meth was pulsating through my brain until it finally coursed its spicy, scalding way to my tingly parts and commanded me to find a hug, a ride, or a decent cup of java. I am supposed to be writing about dancing, but what dance can’t you do in San Diego? You tell me. Prediction: San Diego.

New England at Denver — Prediction: New England.

- - -


Last Week: 10-3. (Forgot about picking Dallas vs. Washington)

Season Record: 20-8.

Office workers of America: I will not let you down. I will be funny by next week. I tuned into the games last weekend, watched a lot of film and so far, as things hopefully get back on track, I have only a few comments:

1. If ever there were a team that should be told to get their jammies on and get to bed, it is the Buffalo Bills. Oy vey.

2. Oakland and Green Bay will not be stopped.

3. Why did all the sitcoms from CBS in the 1970s have either a loud, dramatic fool or a weird male visitor-neighbor? All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, Alice and Good Times all featured noisy jerks, and One Day at a Time and The Bob Newhart Show had oddball male neighbor/sidekicks. This phenomenon just dawned on me.

Anyway, here ya go:

Buffalo at Jacksonville — Jacksonville.
Atlanta at New Orleans — New Orleans.
Baltimore at Cleveland — Cleveland.
Carolina at Washington — Washington.
Chicago at Cincinnati — Chicago.
New England at Indianapolis — Indianapolis.
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay — Tampa Bay.
St. Louis at N.Y. Jets — St. Louis.
Tennessee at Detroit — Tennessee.
Denver at San Diego — San Diego.
Kansas City at Arizona — Kansas City.
Green Bay at Minnesota — Green Bay.
Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants — Giants.

(Watch this website for news about an upcoming store event involving Monday Night Football.)

- - -


Season record: 10-5.

I reassessed things after September 11th and took a short break. My prayers and hopes go out to anyone affected by this tragedy. Life in New York City has not been much fun as of late, but I’ve witnessed a lot of courageous, loving, brave, heroic and just plain decent acts of humanity.

A brief respite from the NFL Picks was a small way to pay respect to anyone who died in the attacks. Football predictions currently rank last in the scope of the whole world, but they may prove to be a minor distraction that we can enjoy. I’ll tread lightly and slowly at first, and be back up to speed very soon.


Jeff Johnson

P.S. The quiz in Week One? All answers are “false.”

Arizona at Chicago — Chicago
Baltimore at Green Bay — Green Bay
Cleveland at Cincinnati — Cleveland
Detroit at Minnesota — Minnesota
New Orleans at Carolina — Carolina
N.Y. Giants at St. Louis — St. Louis
Pittsburgh at Kansas City — Pittsburgh
San Diego at New England — San Diego
San Francisco at Atlanta — San Francisco
Tampa Bay at Tennessee — Tennessee
Denver at Seattle — Seattle
Miami at N.Y. Jets — New York Jets
Oakland at Indianapolis — Oakland

- - -


Last Season’s Record: 151-83

Little Known Ordinances and Random Facts Surrounding the NFL.

True or False.

Email me your answers and the person with the most correct will get a hell of a treat.

Oakland at Kansas City — The luxury boxes at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium are equipped with bathrooms, showers and kitchenettes. The city does a good deed by letting homeless people (supervised, of course) stay there for a few cold months in the off-season. Prediction: Oakland.

Detroit at Green Bay — Before the 1967 Ice Bowl, the Packers trainer Pete Kolashek ran out of athletic tape. Since it was Sunday morning, no drug stores were open and many of the bandages and taping had to be done (poorly) with socks and nylons. Green Bay Press Gazette columnist Orv Duncan said that, “Coach Vince Lombardi was madder than a hornet.” Of course this wouldn’t happen today, but nevertheless, in 1968, the Green Bay City Council passed a law that stated all drug stores had to be open at 8 a.m. on Sunday, and reserve extra spools of tape and Ace bandages for Packer officials, if need be. Because Packer fans are so rabid and filled with zeal, no one has ever fought to change the law. Prediction: Packers.

Washington at San Diego — Dead San Diego serial killer Andrew Cunanan often claimed to be ex-San Diego Charger great Dan Fouts’ stepson Corey, until one day he said, “I’m Corey Fouts,” to Dan Fouts while waiting in line at a sub shop and Dan Fouts wasn’t amused. This was before all the murders, of course. Prediction: Washington.

New England at Cincinnati — This has nothing to do with superstition, but a Cincinnati bartender known only as Old Porridge will not work on Sundays. And if you ask him why, he just breaks into a speech about how the first plane was made in Delaware by the Chinese, and not the Carolinas because he saw the whole goddamn thing with his own eyes, and yes, he’s that old, and say wasn’t your ma a clerk at Kroger’s when that fella tried to steal all them tomatoes, oh you are probably too young to remember. Prediction: Cincy.

Indianapolis at N.Y. Jets — There is a group of prideful people in a Queens neighborhood near Flushing Meadows who refuse to acknowledge that the Jets have left Shea Stadium to play in New Jersey. On Sundays during Jets home games, the group often writes out tickets on “illegally” parked cars on their block. Some of these people have even yelled at pedestrians to quiet down as they leave the stadium. Prediction: Jets.

St. Louis at Philadelphia — The Philadelphia Eagles have one chair in the upper deck painted maroon and reserved for their ’70s trainer Porky Clark who disappeared while camping in Maine in April 1977. His tent was maroon. Prediction: St. Louis.

Chicago at Baltimore — Due to an incident last fall, the nachos and hot sausages at Ravens games do not come with Jalapeno peppers. Four unsupervised youths claimed Jalapenos burned their mouths and attempted to sue the Ravens, and their concessionaire, The Thorpe Group. They failed, but the team will take no chances in 2001. A consulting group spent a good part of the summer and close to $100,000 trying to find a pepper that didn’t have the spice level of Jalapenos that might work, but no, they didn’t. Prediction: Ravens.

Pittsburgh at Jacksonville — Because Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher is so hated by Jacksonville fans, in the fall of 1999, a Jacksonville lawyer set a precedent by using the Cowher Defense when his client went to trial for beating a 7-11 clerk on the night before a Steelers vs. Jaguars game. It worked, and the man was free to go and not beat anyone else. The Cowher Defense has never been used again. Prediction: Steelers (only because they cut Kent Graham.)

Seattle at Cleveland — When the original Cleveland Browns left the city for Baltimore in 1996, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer refused to run any reports of NFL standings, scores or transactions for a whole season. “It was only due to unions that made ’em go back to publishing the copy. They felt the heat,” said Ron Piscle, 49, a town football historian and singer. Prediction: Seattle.

Tampa Bay at Dallas — On opening day of the NFL season, the city of Dallas puts a harmless coloring in the water supply making all the water silver for one day. It has gone on since 1976. It was the brainchild of Victor “Uncle Tennessee” Baker, a city planner who later was jailed for driving a pontoon into a dock full of area orphans. Prediction: Tampa Bay.

Atlanta at San Francisco — From 1974-1976, solicitation of prostitution was legal for San Francisco 49ers players. Many of them had been detained and arrested during the 1973 campaign. So before the 1974 season rolled around, the team quietly struck a deal with the city that stated law enforcement officials would turn the other cheek if they happened upon a 49er in such a precarious situation. The hush money actually helped pay for much needed repairs to the Golden Gate Bridge, in fact, it allowed for the first passage of pedestrians. Prediction: San Francisco.

New Orleans at Buffalo — Two video stores in Buffalo, each owned by ex-University of Buffalo football players, who are also brothers, run heavy-duty rival coupon/freebie/sales promotions and haven’t shared a family meal together in five years because one loved Bills’ QB Doug Flutie and the other thought he was stuck up. Prediction: New Orleans (that is a bet based on emotion).

Miami at Tennessee — Former Miami Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson often had dreams in which the sky really was falling. His autobiography, Dallas Fights, Miami Nights, which comes out in November details his vivid, scary dreams which were brought on by the use of tetracycline. Prediction: Tennessee.

Carolina at Minnesota — When the Metrodome in Minneapolis was built, it sat completed and empty for one whole year while investors, teams and city officials swam through red tape and argued about the installation of giant “artsy” wind chimes that were to hang from the ceiling of the building. Prediction: Vikings.

N.Y. Giants at Denver — The Denver Broncos played their first season on sand, because they ran out of money and couldn’t afford grass. As a result, the league wouldn’t televise any of these games outside of the Denver area. There is no footage that exists of the Sand Era, as it is commonly referred to. Prediction: Denver