Did you guys enjoy the heavily NFL-promoted premiere of Madam Secretary, starring Tea Leoni, as much as I did? Beng Your Pan
Last winter, I played a gig in Columbus, OH, at Carabar and struck up a football conversation with the club’s owner, Ron. He’s a HUGE Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I guess a Steelers fan existing in Columbus makes sense because there isn’t a pro football team there, and Pittsburgh’s a mere two hours away (not to say that proximity is everything in fandom, but it’s something). When I was in Columbus this past summer, I noticed the dudes from the band Bridesmaid had a Cleveland Browns magnetic schedule on their fridge. This too makes sense, considering Cleveland is also a mere two hours from Columbus. Now, when I heard Skot Thompson (not the Kids in The Hall actor), bassist for Columbus stoner/groove-pop kings Lo-Pan, was a big Cincinnati Bengals fan (yes, also two hours away), my head exploded! Three teams repped in one city equidistant from all three?! So, when the great Lo-Pan came through Chicago this week on their tour with Black Cobra, I couldn’t resist picking Skot’s brain about said issue, among other things:
“There actually aren’t a lot of Bengals fans in Columbus. It’s all Steelers and Browns fans there. I was born into it, basically. My dad and my dad’s side of the family were all from Cincinnati, so I, by proxy, became a Bengals fan…Unless you live in Dayton, Cincinnati or Kentucky, nobody likes the Bengals. It’s really weird.”
It should also be noted that at the start of this interview, Lo-Pan drummer Jesse Bartz walked by us and yelled, “GO BUCS!” I guess there are Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans in Columbus, too (wink, wink).
The Bengals have always been an interesting franchise to follow. First off, they’ve been around almost 50 years and have never won a Super Bowl. I’ve seen several horrible Bengals teams in my day, and only a few good ones. But when they’re on, they’re on. Their mid-2000s team featuring the high-powered Carson Palmer/Chad Johnson offense was a thing of beauty. If you’re in the mood to watch offensive football porn, watch the Nov 20, 2005 game between them and the Peyton Manning-led Colts. Without question, the best Bengals team is history was the 1988 AFC Championship team, led by quarterback and MVP Boomer Esiason. Cris Collinsworth, the guy who tears everyone a new asshole every week on Sunday Night Football, was also on that team. As good as the Bengals were that year, they lost to the 49ers in the Super Bowl. But going against Joe Montana, who can blame them? Well, according to Skot, his uncle can, and did:
“I actually watched that Super Bowl with my uncle, down in Kentucky. I saw him put his foot through the television and throw it out the window of his third-story apartment building.”
As for this season, the Bengals are a surprising 3-0. Quarterback Andy Dalton is playing with a confidence I haven’t seen from him since his rookie Pro Bowl year. It also doesn’t hurt that his team is the toast of their division this year. Between the current states of the Steelers, Browns and Ravens, it’s Cincy's division to lose. However, as pointed out by Skot...
“Being a Bengals fan, I really don’t have to watch football that much because it’s pretty predictable what’s going to happen: They’re going to get to the first round and eat their own dicks… if anything goes past that, you’re gold. Now that they’re 3-0, I’m starting to get a little excited, but I’m wondering when they’re going to shit the bed. So far it’s working, though.”
I am very high on the Bengals over the next few years. Dalton signed a six-year, $96 million contract extension over the offseason. Cincy could be a couple years away from legit Super Bowl talk. But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Dalton needs to, at minimum, get his first playoff win this year. Then we can talk the next step.
Before parting ways, with Skot, he asked me a question about my beloved Chicago Bears:
“What’s with the crick in Jay Cutler’s neck? What the hell is that?”
I’m not used to people asking me questions during these interviews, so I ran out of the room screaming.
Check out this track from Lo-Pan’s new record, Colossus, due out October 7 on Small Stone, and check them out on tour in the U.S. with Black Cobra this fall, and the Roadburn Festival this spring. A must-see. They absolutely CRUSH live.
Return of the King
On Thursday Night Raw this week, the Falcons' Devin Hester ran back his record 20th return touchdown. In doing so, he officially surpassed head pimp in charge, and first ballot Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders. So, now that Hester is the return king, is it safe to say that he's a lock for the NFL Hall of Fame?
The HOF hates special team players. Technically, there are only three special team players currently in the Hall of Fame. Hester is without a doubt a special team player in its purest form. He has never contributed on a regular basis in any other capacity. That said, he is the undisputed best special teams player ever. Yes, there have been some great field goal kickers in the game’s history. But aren’t field goals supposed to be made? Percentage-wise, field goals from 20 yards out or less out are made close to 100% of the time; between 20-30 yards, around 95% of the time; 85% percent between 30-40; 75% between 40-50 yards; and 60% from 50+. Say a field goal kicker hits 400 field goals in his career (more than Hall of Famer Kicker Jan Senerud) without missing, and the majority of said field goals are between 20-40 yards. Would he deserve to be a Hall of Famer? He has not defied any statistics in doing so. Punt/kickoff returns for touchdowns percentage varies by year, but is somewhere south of 5%. For Hester to fall in to that 5% range 20 times in his seven-year career is INCREDIBLE. Knowing this statistic, special teams player or not, it’s arguable that Hester should not only be a Hall of Famer, but a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Hester’s Hall status actually came up on ESPN’s Mike and Mike show this week. Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter, a man whose opinion I highly respect, said making the Hall is “awfully hard for a part-time player,” but believes Hester should be there. When asked by Mike Greenberg if Hester should be a first ballot Hall of Famer, Carter said first ballot Hall of Famers are players that, “the history of the NFL cannot be written without.” I believe the history of the game now cannot be written without Hester. He holds a record that will more than likely never be broken, especially since kickoffs moved up to the 35-yard line. He will make it to the Hall of Fame one day. First ballot, more than likely not. Such is life on the return line.
Ware, the Line Lives
I want to go on the record saying how much I love the Demarcus Ware/Denver Broncos relationship. It’s like two rich, attractive, classy, late 50s divorcees finding each other after their spouses left them for weak-minded ditzes (“…and we like visiting them better, Mom!”). Ware made a significant impact on Sunday with his sack on Russell Wilson deep in his own zone, and following it up by safetying Beast Mode, who never gets safetied. Ware brings major stability to that Denver line. A good line will force teams to pass, creating more plays for studs like Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, and a kid certain for a breakout year, Chris Harris, Jr. (who had a big interception this week).
I know it’s weird that I am singing the praises of the leader of a defense that gagged on it’s own vomit in OT this past week. However, this loss was as close to a victory as a team could have gotten without, well, winning. Denver came back and almost beat the measuring stick (Seahawks at home) in a game that seemed to be out of reach early in the fourth quarter (Pete Carroll was already in obnoxious rejoice mode). Denver would have lost this game by 20 points if their D from last season showed up. They’re not a cupcake D anymore. The improvements they made in the off season are going to start to pay consistent dividends. Actually, if these teams meet in the Super Bowl this year, this loss should, believe it or not, benefit the Broncos. Smart teams don’t let history repeat itself. Denver’s D will salivate at another chance at stifling a game-winning drive this season. The kind of drives we have a tendency to see a lot in big games. Also, when was the last time Peyton Manning’s lost three consecutive games to a team while he was on the same team? You’d have to go back to the Pats/Colts rivalry of the early 2000s. You can fool him once. You can even fool him twice. At this point in his career, it’s very hard to fool him thrice.
Are You There, Drew? It’s Me, God.
How would you like to be an Oakland Raider next year, young man?
You’re on the Air, Unfortunately
My friend from the DC area hit me up this week, asking me if I wanted an RGIII jersey. They’re on sale in every sporting goods store within a 50-mile radius of where he lives. Somewhere in that 50-mile radius lives Walt, a Redskins fan on drugs. On Monday, he called up DC sports radio station 106.7 The Fan (original name), insisting that Kirk Cousins purposely blew the game against the Eagles (the one where he threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns) to avoid a quarterback controversy with RGIII. You gotta love sports talk radio callers. No you don’t. This week, let’s all chastise an A-hole sports fan of our choosing for the good of humanity.
Bye for now.
Pick of the Week
Kansas City +3 ½ over New England