Sunday, November 12, 2006

After tonight's Bears-Giants game, it looks like the bandwagon is back in business. Good thing I stayed with it, even though it took a little while for the sprains, cuts and abrasions some of us suffered during the pileup last week to heal. Unfortunately, the performance of Thomas Jones proved to be a double-edged sword. While he killed the Giants, he also undid the excellent contributions my fantasy football team received from Terrell Owens and Tony Romo.

One thing that bothered me came up in the postgame show. Tiki Barber came up to Thomas Jones with a big smile and hugged him. I can appreciate a certain level of sportsmanship, congratulating a winner. I also realize that both guys played for the University of Virginia so there is a bond between them. I don't think a guy should be smiling and hugging his opponents after the game, especially after a loss.

That game could be devastating to the Giants. Each game in the NFL is huge. One NFL game has the same impact as 11 baseball games on the final standings and winning percentage. Now the Giants are only one game ahead of the Eagles and Cowboys (both of whom the Giants have beaten already this season) in their division and two games behind Chicago for home field throughout the NFC playoffs.

I think that one scene, Tiki smiling and hugging Thomas Jones might explain his lack of success in the playoffs. I don't mean statistics, necessarily, as much as winning the ultimate prize. He seems like a really nice guy, but he doesn't seem like a winner. I wonder what Vince Lombardi would say seeing one of his players hug an opponent after a big loss with a smile on his face. There is more to life than football, but if you can do something like that at the highest level and make a great living doing it, I think you should have more passion for it. So I won't be sorry to see him retire prematurely.

The question on the table about Tiki Barber is will he be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I don't think so. I don't think he deserves it. He has good numbers, but was he really ever dominant? Did he ever really seem like he was truly awesome? I have to say that I don't think Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis belong in the Hall of Fame either. They'll probably get there, or at least Martin will. But I'm not sure they deserve it.

There might be an impulse to vote Tiki in because one could argue that he had a lot of potential when he retired. Those who take that line will likely point to Gayle Sayers who got into the Hall as much for what might have been had he not suffered devastating knee injuries as for his on the field brilliance. There might be something to say for that, but Tiki Barber never had that sort of brilliance. If you watch highlights of Sayers, he jumps out at you the way only Barry Sanders did. Tiki Barber has been good, but never really jaw dropping.

Plus he hasn't won a ring. OJ, Barry Sanders and others made it into the Hall of Fame without winning a Super Bowl or, in the case of people from before 1966, a league championship. But Tiki Barber doesn't have the football accomplishments that some of the backs achieved. When you think about Tiki Barber what comes to mind? For my part, I'll always remember him as a fumbler. Yes, since Tom Coughlin came to the Giants, Barber has changed his running style to better protect the football. He fumbles a lot less now than he used to, but that's what I'll remember his for, fumbling.

Rex Grossman looked pretty good tonight, for a change. It would be great to see him play this well on a more consistent basis. I am not too comfortable on the Bears Bandwagon with Rex keeping the keys. Things could get really ugly really quickly. After the near miss in Arizona and the disaster in Soldier Field last week, I have my seatbelt fastened and I'm bracing for an impact that could come at any minute.

The Patriots might not be the formidable obstacle to the Bears' season we were led to believe. After all, they lost consecutive games for the first time in over 3 seasons today. And the Jets are not a very good football team. I understand that Mangini knows the Pats very well, having coached on the New England staff for as long as he did. It also did not help that Bellicheck caused some controversy with his comments (or lack thereof) in the press this week. But the Patriots should have beaten the Jets.

For those who don't read Slate, Charles P. Pierce and Stefan Fatsis have been conducting a running exchange on the state of the NFL. It's amazing that a guy who wrote a Tom Brady biography and a guy who tried out for the Broncos could miss the point so much in such a short space. Football is one of life's simple pleasures. It shouldn't be analyzed to death. Also, the NFL is doing something right. Of all America's professional sports leagues, the NFL is by far the healthiest. One good way to end that is to let Stefan Fatsis and Charles P. Pierce get in and start running amok with the league's operations.

In other news, the Yankees traded Jared Wright to the Orioles. I'll have more to say about that move later on this week.

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