Don’t blame me. I voted for Gibby Haynes. Slow, Still and Swaggin'
I’ve been a sports fan since 1984, when I came out of Dan Marino’s womb. I’ve been a metal fan since 1994, when I seen Cannibal Corpse in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, staring Dan Marino. One of the first dudes I remember meeting in the Chicago music scene that rocked the metal/sports lifestyle, like me, was Dave Hofer, author of the new biography of bassist and heavy metal legend Danny Lilker, Perpetual Conversion.
I used to watch Hofer from afar. He would rock a Pittsburgh Pirates hat on the regular. I assumed he was from Pittsburgh. Turns out he was from the suburbs of Chicago, and his wife (then girlfriend) Missy was from Pittsburgh. As you can guess, Dave and Missy are both "Stillers" fans as well. (Two people recently emailed me to point out that I’m spelling “Steelers” wrong; I’m doing it purposely to reflect the accent of yinz in Pittsburgh, ya jagoffs!!!)
The Stillers are playing amazing football right now, led by the most productive receiver in the league, a guy named Antonio Brown. Is this team a legit AFC Championship threat? An unbiased Hofer thinks so:
“Last season, the Steelers hit their stride too late in the season and finished 8-8. This year, they've made good adjustments much earlier in the season. Big Ben’s played lights-out the past couple of weeks. I could see them in the Super Bowl, easily.”
The last time the Stillers went to the Bowl, I ran into Hofer wearing a yellow shirt that said, “Ike Taylor: Swaggin' U.” He told me that Missy had it made for him. Apparently Ike Taylor, when he introduces himself on Sunday Night Football, says “Swaggin' U” instead of the normal [insert legit university name here]. This fact was confirmed a few weeks later when the three of us watched a Stillers SNF game together. I’ve been pissed lately because Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs has ripped off Taylor’s gimmick. On SNF , Suggs introduces himself as, “Hacksaw: Ball So Hard University.” I’m such a badass sports journalist that I actually recorded Suggs saying it this past week , uploaded it to YouTube, and have the clip for you right here.
I had to ask Hofer if he too was aware of/offended by Suggs doing this:
“Sadly, yes. I am aware of this. Weak imitation.”
Now, unlike Hofer and myself, there’s one man that has been very anti-Stillers lately: my dad. For the last several weeks, he has been wrapped up in gambling on them. The problem isn’t that they aren’t winning; it's that my dad thinks they are too “slow” to watch. When we were watching them play the Jags a couple weeks back, my dad rose from his couch during a Stillers drive and yelled, “YOU’RE SLOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” at his big-screen TV. It reminded me of a grade school gym teacher yelling at the fat kid in the back of the line when the class is running laps. The following week, in a big matchup against the Browns, the Steelers ran the ball three consecutive times, gaining four yards each. My dad again rose from his seat and said, “I can’t watch this anymore. This team bores me,” and stormed out of the room. What does Hofer think?
“I don't think they play slow or sluggish. The Steelers offensive m.o. is to take the lead, and then start running the ball to wear down the defensive line of their opponent, as well as drain the clock.”
I see both sides of the argument. The Stillers are a methodical throwback offense. They like the run game, the short pass, the scrambling QB and the old reliable tight end. But yes, by NFL standards these days, they lack the certain dazzling speed most NFL teams have. I believe this actually leads them to wins. They are not what defenses are used to facing these days.
To all you parents out there, let this be a lesson: Never yell at your TV in front of your children. Address all grievances with your television in private, or in a session with a licensed Cable Guy present.
If you’re looking for a great holiday gift for the metalhead in your life, look no further than Hofer’s new book, Perpetual Conversion. As an avid reader of rock biographies, I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s frankly the first of its kind: a biography of the life of a metal legend who existed exclusively in the underground. I’m proud to say it was written by a friend of mine, and a man that bleeds both black and/or yellow, depending on how much beer he consumed while watching the game.
In the Cards
Welp, we’re officially halfway through the NFL season, and the best team in football is the Arizona Cardinals (The SI Power Rankings tell me how to think).
Good for the Cards! I guarantee their preseason mindset had a lot to do with them being the NFL’s only 7-1 team. They knew going into the season that they were in a division with arguably the two best teams in football, Seattle and San Francisco. They had to have their game tight, like Kobe on game night. Mistake-free football on both sides of the ball was the only way they’d might be in the conversation come December. And in said conversation they are.
What’s weird about the Cardinals is that their overall team stats actually lack luster. They are ranked 23rd in the league in yards per game (330.4), and only 14th in points per game (24.0). They’re also not in the top 15 of any major team defensive category. Bruce Arians has them playing an interesting style of football. It’s basically bend, but don’t break, but make SURE you win. The Cards will not shut out a team, nor will they blow out a team, and that’s OK (as Stuart Smalley would say). They’ve won three games by exactly 11 points this year, and the rest have all been wins by less than 11. Every one of their toast-of-the-league counterparts all have several wins where they’ve LEVELED teams. But that’s just the 2014 Cardinals. They are neither feast nor famine. They are just a team that wins (with a hard schedule coming up, so they better hold steady).
Shout-out to Carson Palmer, a man who everyone assumed would be retired, backing up some rookie, or packing lunches at this point. His stats aren’t strong, but his leadership is. And lastly, watch Arians jog to mid-field after a win. It’s Baywatch-esc!
Now let's meet the Arizona Cardinals, Jr., the Miami Dolphins. Like every girl in Miami, they’re hot. For the first time under coach Joe Philbin, the team has an identity not associated with bullying; they’re a fast, young team, with an efficient offense. Let’s not discount this giant feat. A team getting an identity is not easy. The last time the Fins had an identity, it was a weird one. Coach Tony Sparano had them playing a mafia-style wildcat, with RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams getting direct snaps. That worked for a few weeks, until the entire league figured out how to defend it in unison (stack the box every down).
Is QB Ryan Tannehill a superstar? No. But in the last five weeks, he’s played like one. Frankly, he’s played the best football of his NFL career. I attribute this to his offensive line not calling in sick like they usually do. If you watched a Dolphins game last year, it was like watching missionary position fetish porn. Tannehill was on his back THE WHOLE TIME! The Fins gave up a league-worst 56 sacks last year. This year, sacks are down, Tannehill is up, and therein lies two more porn references.
Here’s the problem: I see this Dolphin wave of success coming a halt, and quick. The Fins' next three games will be unbelievably trying. The results could make, but will more than likely break, their season. This Sunday, they draw the Lions at Ford Field. They wont be able to run with this team in a shootout. This is rub of having an offense without a second gear. Shootouts kill you. Then they have a short week, playing the Bills on Thursday. The Bills are going to want to hit this team Rob Ford-on-a-pipe style. The Fins will probably come away with a win, but at the price of embarrassment, unanswered questions and someone more than likely getting seriously injured, also like Rob Ford. (Did you vote this week, by the way?)
Then the Fins go to Denver. Ugh.
6-5 going into December with match-ups against the New England, Baltimore and the two with the Jets (who will probably take one) is not conducive to a playoff berth. This week in Detroit is the Super Bowl for the Fins. They lose, no playoffs. It’s as simple as that. Gear up, Gloria Estefan employees.
Are You There, Mark? It’s Me, God
Welcome to Hell. I’ll be your tour guide.
[English Accent] Me Mum Never Lets Me Listen to Fucking Punk Rawk.
And finally this week, the Dallas Cowboys are currently in London preparing for their tilt against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Someone in the Cowboys front office, who probably has had sex with Jerry Jones, came up with the ingenious Twitter hashtag for all things Cowboys-related in England: #CowboysUK. As bad as that hashtag is, it doesn’t come close to the onecurrently being used by their personal English chef: #CowboysUKcook.
Pick of the Week
New Orleans -3 over Frisco