Q: What’s Meghan Trainor’s middle name? A: Needsa
Primitive Football God
This summer, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the dudes from Denver’s Primitive Man. Not only are they one of the dopest, heaviest, most pummeling bands in heavy music right now, but their bassist, Jonathan Campos, wears a Denver Broncos hat in July. Dudes who wear football hats during the offseason are usually pretty hardcore fans. I knew I had to talk some Broncos with him sometime this season. After what happened this past weekend in Denver, I was certain this was the week to hit up Jon.
This past Sunday, with four touchdown passes against the 49ers, Broncos QB Peyton Manning broke Brett Favre’s all-time touchdown pass record (508). I loved seeing it, because I love Peyton Manning. I’ll be the first to admit, though: I actually spent a lot of time disliking Peyton. He crushed my Bears in Super Bowl XLI. It was tough to like the man after that. Even now that he’s wearing a Broncos uniform, I wasn’t surprised to hear that Jon too threw shade at Manning for years before the uniform change:
“I hated him. Fuckin' guy knocked us out of the playoffs at least twice. [The Colts] just always beat us.”
It would be an understatement to say Manning was welcomed by the Denver fan base with open arms three years ago. In the mid-2000’s, Denver drafted quarterback Jay Cutler out of Vanderbilt. He put together three good seasons for the Broncos, one a Pro Bowl year. However, there were always questions about Cutler’s leadership. When coaching prodigy and current New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels came to Denver and became their head coach, he turned the Cutler regime on its head. Cutler was traded to my Chicago Bears, and the Broncos got small-armed QB Kyle Orton and draft picks in return.
“That was a weird time for my boys. McDaniels just wasn't the best coach for us; I’m glad he is gone. Jay Cutler was a horrible QB that had a fluke run one year he was here. I mean, he was a good laugh at in [local] commercials… (but) he wasn’t a leader.”
(I like Jay Cutler, but whatever).
As you can guess, Orton was hated in Denver, too. I’ll never forget being in Vegas for Orton’s first game as the starting QB of the Broncos--which he won, by the way--and seeing two drunks bros in Broncos gear yelling in unison at the TV image of Orton, “YOU SUCK!!!!!!!!!!” The Broncos drafted a QB the following year in the first round, in theory to replace Orton. His name was Tim Tebow.The drafting of Tim Tebow was a death sentence for McDaniels, and everyone’s tolerance of a punky QB existing in Denver. Enter John Elway as Executive Vice President of Football Operations, and the courtship of Peyton Manning. Two and a half seasons later, Elway’s decision couldn’t have gone more accordingly to plan. Props to Elway and his eternal role in Denver. He is Mr. Bronco. However, with Manning’s success in Denver, it does bode the question of whether or not Elway will still go down as Mr. Bronco if Manning himself wins a championship or two. Jon thinks so:
“Peyton Manning is a Hall of Famer. I really want him to get a ring. But no one will fill the shoes of Elway. Johnny is the Duke. The King. He started with the Broncos and ended with the Broncos. He took us to Super Bowls we may have had no business in, and won. He may not hold the records [like Manning], but he is the king FOREVER."
Peyton Manning has surpassed an unbelievable record that he never should have broken with the cards he was dealt. He not only had to work his way back from what appeared to be a career-ending injury; he had to begin playing for another team, and put up two MVP seasons to get to this point. He defied all odds in doing so. My hat goes off to him.
I’m stoked for Denver’s interdivision clash tonight with the Philip Rivers-led San Diego Chargers. Jon and I both agree that San Diego, like Denver, is a force to reckon with this year.
“This is gonna be a tough game [for Denver]. The Chargers are doing it up this year, no doubt. Its also a short week for us, so that’s’ some B/S. Either way, fuck Philip Cry Me a Rivers. LETS GET IT, DENVER!!!"
Jon’s pumped, and I’m pumped on the new Primitive Man record, Scorn, out now on Relapse .
I Follow Rivers
Now, enough about Peyton Manning. Let’s talk about his the guy he’s going head-to-head with tonight.
I’ll go on the record and say that even though Manning has had an amazing season so far this year -- of course anchored by him becoming the all-time leader in touchdown passes -- Philip Rivers would still be my MVP this season. Here’s why:
Remember when San Diego’s starting QB was Drew Brees? He destroyed his shoulder and San Diego dropped him for Rivers. Do you think that if the Chargers could go back in time, they’d still drop a future Hall of Famer? The answer is yes. That’s how good Rivers is. He’s the rare QB that can make something out of nothing. He’s been cursed with mediocre coaching, for starters. The Marty Schottenheimer regime killed an amazing Rivers-led team featuring LaDainian Tomlinson in his prime and a Shawn Merriman-led top five defenses. End result, blown playoff games, no Super Bowl berths, and no championships. Since then, the team has literally rode Rivers’ coattails. And why shouldn’t they? Over the years, they’ve lost significant players on the offensive side, replaced them with inferior players, and Rivers still finds ways to get them to produce. Vincent Jackson was, in my opinion, the number one receiver in football four years ago. He went to Tampa Bay and died. He was never replaced on the team with a legit number one receiver. Rivers is currently throwing to Malcom Floyd, Eddie Royal and Keenan Allen. If you put any of those players on the Broncos, they’d be the fourth WO behind, D. Thomas, Sanders, and even Wes Welker. Yet Rivers still finds a way to sling the ball, put up 30+ points a game, and get wins.
Rivers has faced three top defenses thus far (NYJ, Seattle and Arizona). He won two of those three games. He did lose to a KC team fighting for their lives this past week, and may very well lose to the best team in football tonight. If they do, they’ll have a win coming next week against Miami, making them 6-3 at the bye. San Diego’s second half schedule is very difficult, but with Rivers at the helm, they won't go into any of those games feeling they’re the inferior team.
Lastly, Rivers personal stats do not lie. He’s completing approximately 70% of his passes, and is on pace to throw between 35-40 touchdowns this year, and pass for approximately 4,500 yards. These are beyond MVP numbers. Just staggering.
Are You There, St. Louis-Area Kids? It’s Me, God.
If you’re going trick or treating this Halloween, don’t go to Jeff Fisher’s house. He will trick you EVERY TIME. Just ask Pete Carroll.
Gambling: It’s What's for Dinner.
I will rarely get political with you in this column. This week will be the exception.
For a while now, it’s been common knowledge that New Jersey governor (and possibly our next President) Chris Christie (R) has been an open advocate of legalizing sports gambling in casinos and OTBs in New Jersey. This past Friday, Christie signed a bill legalizing sports betting in Jersey. For several reasons, the four big sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) sought an injunction to stop Christie’s legal gambling push, currently leaving it at a standstill.
The legalization of sports gambling would essentially make New Jersey a full-fledged east coast Nevada, and thus turn the East Coast gambling scene on its head. Unlike Nevada, which is a southwest state that is hard to get to, New Jersey is smack dab in the middle of several big East Coast markets. I think it’s safe to argue that legal NJ sports gambling will compel every ready, willing and able football gambler within striking distance of New Jersey to make driving up there every Sunday part of their routine.
I follow the world of football gambling. I make a pick every week against the line (so far I’m 7-0 this season). Now, living in Chicago, I am obviously nowhere near any legal U.S. gambling facility. But I will be the first to admit that there are no shortages of dudes betting, looking to place bets, and looking to take bets out here. This has led me to be blessed with several illegal sports betting-related bedtime stories over the years. Like the time a guy I know tried to call in a bomb threat to a stadium when the team he bet on was losing. Or the time a guy I know placed a bet with a bookie through his friend in Michigan, lost $500, and then decided he wasn’t going to pay because he wasn’t “going to Michigan any time soon.” It all worked itself out. His friend got his ass kicked and his TV stolen.
If sports betting became legal across the board, I’d probably hear less of these stories, which would be a good thing. But I also feel it would lead to a huge spike in sports gambling, which isn’t necessarily a good thing either. Legalization would open up the floodgates for more people working it in to their weekly routine. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but the illegal sports betting world on the East Coast is for the most part run by, you guessed it, the Mafia. As fun as it is to deal with the Mafia, the blue collar father of three may not be so quick to place bets with them. They recognize them winning a few hundred bucks isn’t worth the risk of getting busted by the police or getting their head busted by Paul Sorvino if there’s a “misunderstanding.” New Jersey legalization will allow all East Coast sports gamblers to drive somewhere within a couple hours to a state-sanctioned establishment where their bet will be placed in a legit fashion. Something doesn’t sit well with me about this. Call me crazy, but I don’t like the idea of the habitual weekly football gambler having to spend time away from his family to commute to New Jersey on a Sunday in order to place a bet legally. It seems socially counterproductive.
Here’s my ideal sports gambling situation, which I believe is fair for all parties: The U.S. government should either make gambling legal in sanctioned casinos and OTBs in all 50 states, or they should allow legal sports gambling through an online source for people not close to said sanctioned casinos and OTBs. I also think the government should be able to flag certain gamblers as unfit to gamble based on past transgressions, sort of like the gambling equivalent of a DUI. If you can’t afford to lose or gamble responsibly, you shouldn’t have the right to gamble.
That said, here’s your gambling line of the week.
Pick of the Week
Arizona -2 over Philly