I turned 33 over the weekend. There's something inherently sad about a single 33-year-old man hosting his own birthday party. I remember when my father turned 33; I was 11. It was my parents, my sister and myself eating tacos and watching the Cardinals game. That was pretty fun. I've had birthday bashes pretty much every year since high school, and each year brings diminishing returns. At a certain point, you look around and realize, "Man, this is just a bunch of old people drinking because there's nothing else to do." That was probably true before; I guess I just never noticed. Whenever my friends from home ask me what life is like in New York City, I tell them that it's a place where you can be 29 forever. At my party last year, we had people with ages ranging from 21 to 65 ... and they were all in the same social circle. I do not think this could exist anywhere else in this country, and I am not sure it is a sustainable business model. In 2002, when I was turning 27, I had a party, and it's depressing to look at the pictures now. We were all so young, and so poor, and so stupid, and so much more likely to make it out drinking the next night. It's Tuesday, and I'm still wobbly from the party Saturday. And I wasn't even that drunk. It's all falling apart, kids. In two years, my birthday party is going to be three friends of mine having coffee at a Denny's. We'll be in bed by 9 p.m. And that'll be just fucking fine. I think maybe I should stop having birthday parties. Not that I will. To the football, before the toxins exit ... 32. Detroit Lions (0-5). I don't want to overstate this, but Dan Orlovsky's accidental safety has immediately become one of my favorite NFL plays of all time. The best part about it is that eventually someone had to tell him what was going on. I wish everyone could have agreed, in that split second, not to inform him of his gaffe. I guarantee you, he would have thrown the most beautiful pass of his career and then charged downfield for the celebration. We haven't had a good "You're running the wrong way!" moment in sports for a while. This might have been as close as we were going to get. 31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-5). Not to harp on Orlovsky here, but because my brain doesn't work right sometimes, his play reminded me of the infamous Tourist Of Death. It's kind of funny now, but in the days after 9/11, this photo totally got around, and, for about 20 minutes, we all believed it. We were so gullible back then. Fortunately, since irony died, everyone is all on the straight-and-narrow now.
30. Oakland Raiders (1-4). The best way to describe the feeling of being a Raiders fan these days — screwed, awful, with zero hope in sight — is to flip through the fun new Sad Guys On Trading Floors site. We've all enjoyed these pictures in the paper for the last month, and now, they're all in one place.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (1-4). The NFL trading deadline is in a few hours, so unless Daulerio just posted a Jay Glazer exclusive in the last 20 minutes, we still don't know if Tony Gonzalez is going to be traded. I think it's pretty great that, right after Gonzalez "demanded" the trade, the Chiefs announced they planned to honor him before this Sunday's game. This is like that old Steven Wright joke: "I owed my friend George $25. For about three weeks I owed it to him. The whole time I had the money on me — he didn't know it. Walking through New York City, 2:30 in the morning and got held up. He said, "Gimme all your money." I said, "Wait a minute." I said, "George, here's the 25 dollars I owe you."
28. St. Louis Rams (1-4). And, suddenly, Jim Haslett is really popular in St. Louis. I think we've learned something about Haslett: He's brilliant when immediately following a horrific coach. In New Orleans, it was Ditka; in St. Louis, Scott Linehan. The bad news is that St. Louis is about to be devastated by some sort of natural disaster, and Haslett will then be fired. Fortunately, Missouri's a swing state, so the feds might actually show up to help. 27. Seattle Seahawks (1-4). It's beginning to look as if the Seahawks — the preseason favorite to win this division, I remind you — aren't going to be favored to win another game until December. Holmgren has to be considering the notion of just leaving now, right? No one would mind, and no one would blame him. 26. Houston Texans (1-4). Because I'm election-obsessed — please, God, make this end, please; I desperately need my life back — I've been reading Richard Ben Cramer's "What It Takes." (It's an exhaustive look at the 1988 Presidential campaign.) I do not recommend this book, because even though it's great, it's 1,072 pages, and those are pages with Infinite Jest-like print. However, two strong raves. Make sure to read the section about Joe Biden. But mostly, read the first chapter, in which we learn more about the 1988 version of Dubya than you ever could have imagined. (He basically pitches a shitfit because he's unhappy with his seats for a game at the Astrodome.) I can't believe Al Gore didn't just read that chapter aloud during the 2000 debates. No one would have ever, ever voted for that guy.
25. Miami Dolphins (2-3). Pretty amazing story from the 75th Anniversary issue of Esquire: It turns out that two Mensa-level (read: Egghead elitists!) Obama advisors met and fell in love during the campaign. Awww. One of them is Samantha Power, the actually-kind-of-hot foreign policy writer who got in all that trouble for the "Hillary is a monster" comment back in the primaries. The other is Cass Sunstein, a prolific theorist who just wrote the book "Nudge," which suggests governments need to occasionally "nudge" people to do the right things, and they will happily follow. (For example, requiring you to check a box NOT to have a 401(k), rather than checking a box if you want one.) Power describes Sunstein this way: "He wakes up in the morning and the first thing he does is reach over to the laptop by his bed, and, with this big smile on his face, just starts typing. Before he does anything, before he has breakfast, before he goes to the bathroom. He's the only person I've ever met who appears to develop fully formed, groundbreaking theories while asleep." God, how I hate this man. 24. Cleveland Browns (2-3). I have no idea how the Browns caught the Giants napping last night, and I suspect they don't either. I do know that this is making Brady Quinn's ascendence to the Browns' throne likely to happen later rather than sooner, and I can think of one man and one woman who might be upset by that.
Later, of course, she shot him. 23. San Francisco 49ers (2-4). So you know how I worship "The Wrestler" with Mickey Rourke? Hollywood Elsewhere published an old interview with Rourke, from 1992, after the LA riots. Here's what Rourke had to say: "The blood of Los Angeles falls on those who instigated this revolt, the malicious prophets of black cinema and rap music, the movies such as those of Spike Lee and John Singleton." Ha. This must have been why Rourke wasn't in "Crash." 22. Baltimore Ravens (2-3). I suppose it's just the Ravens' misfortune that they happened to be the opponent when Peyton Manning finally recovered from his phantom surgery. It's probably time to accept that Willis McGahee just isn't very good. Whichever. So! Frank Caliendo! I hadn't realized that Caliendo is doing the voice of John Madden for that Blitz video game. As much everybody dislikes that guy, I don't think this is a terrible idea. Celebrity impersonators for video games? Why not? If I found someone who did a dead-on impersonation of Jack Buck, I'd want him to broadcast every video baseball game. I think he'd have to. 21. New England Patriots (3-2). Too low, I know. Like you care. Anyway, I feel obliged to point out the hilarity of Mark Wahlberg getting pissed off about Andy Samberg's impersonation of him on "SNL" a couple of weeks ago. ("How you doin', goat? I like your beard.") This tells me all I ever needed to know about Mark Wahlberg. I hope he has to spend the rest of his life doing M. Night Shylaman movies. (By the way, please, PLEASE rent "The Happening" yet, if you haven't seen it. Highlights of this brilliance are below. He's SO GOOD in this movie.)
20. Minnesota Vikings (3-3). Politics alert! Here's my favorite sign from a McCain-Palin event.
19. Green Bay Packers (3-3). The lead story in the Green Bay Post-Gazette yesterday was about the Packers "reviving" their season. The paper also had a "special section:" The 25 members of "Leadership Green Bay." (It's quite the ethnically diverse group.) Considering how many people live in Green Bay, you'd have to think, considering this is the 25th class, that eventually everyone gets to be a part of this. Everybody plays an inning! 18. Chicago Bears (3-3). I'm a bit of a Tarantino dork, so forgive my excitement about "Inglorious Bastards," even if it does have Mike Myers. I've always thought that Mike Ditka — who, remember, almost took on Barack Obama in the 2004 Illinois Senate race — could have a part in this film. He'd need to be chewing on a cigar throughout.
17. New Orleans Saints (3-3). You know that "blogger" that MLB is using to promote their "Postseason 08" package on all the playoff games? Well, apparently "October Gonzo" has his own site. Boy, it's pretty great. Quote: "Hiroki Kuroda might not speak English very well, but he speaks the language of the unwritten code of baseball just fine, apparently. Just ask Shane Victorino." Thanks, random actor guy! (Actually, I think it's that guy from "Reaper.") My favorite part is how the "character" keeps calling for reader predictions and comments. So far: None on the most recent post. There's only one October! 16. The Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals (4-2). I am not saying anything. I'm just not. I'm not ready. Maybe the bye week will help me out here. OK, I will say this: If the Buzzsaw had lost that game Sunday, there isn't a doubt in my mind that they would have finished this season 6-10. None. Now? Well, hey, 7-9 sounds about right. Sorry. I need more time. But hey: Looks like we broke the Cowboys. So, you're welcome, America. 15. New York Jets (3-2). My magazine ran a great feature on Nate Silver, the guy from Baseball Prospectus who runs FiveThirtyEight.com. It's a great site, and I'm absolutely addicted ... but, for the sake of discussion ... if it turns out that John McCain ends up winning this election, do you think Silver will ever be able to show his face in public again? I'm gonna have to say no. 14. Atlanta Falcons (4-2). I know I'm all over the place today, and the actual amount of football is low. I apologize. It's just that I'm so enraptured by what 40 "comics" I've never heard of think of the World Series. That would distract a monk. 13. San Diego Chargers (3-3). I'm somewhat fascinated by pointless bowl games, so, at this point, I mention that Philip Rivers is a rare two-time MVP of the Tangerine Bowl. It's now the Champs Sports Bowl, also known as "another bowl too good for my Illini this year."
12. Indianapolis Colts (3-3). Here they come. Honestly, Rosenfels: Why couldn't you have put these guys away when you had the chance? 11. Carolina Panthers (4-2). Palin Watch! My favorite bit of Palin news this week — other than the booing in Philadelphia — is the interview with Levi Johnston, Bristol's baby mama, or whatever. Technically speaking, he's not supposed to be granting access to the press, but the guy's no dummy: He sees the writing on the wall and knows he only has another three weeks to go until no one cares about him again, costing him that reality show he so desperately craved. Highlight quote, when asked about appearing at the RNC: ""At first, I was nervous. Then I was like, 'Whatever.'" Totes!
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2). Because this looks like the first season in a while — OK, since last season — that we might have a winless team, it's worth looking back at the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Actually, it's worth just looking at this photo, of then-quarterback Steve Spurrier.
9. Denver Broncos (4-2). The South Park guys got in some "trouble" this week when they showed cartoon versions of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas raping a cartoon version of Indiana Jones. (Oh, and a stormtrooper.) I didn't find anything offensive about it — though it wasn't the funniest episode I'd ever seen — but I did enjoy a shoutout to "The Accused," a movie I had forgotten about. It came out in 1988, and I swear to God, when I saw this movie in high school, I wanted to go to every woman in my school and apologize for the wretchedness of my gender. (This movie is way too much for a 13 year old.) By the way, you know how actors are often wary of playing truly gruesome characters, lest they be so loathsome that no one will ever want to see them in a movie again? Ask this film's rapist how that worked out for him. 8. Dallas Cowboys (4-2). Be afraid, everybody. (That is to say: Everyone rejoice.) The Cowboys are in serious trouble. If they sneak past St. Louis this week — and I wouldn't put it past them to lose — they've got three games they could very easily drop if Tony Romo's still out. As of this second, they're the worst team in this division. Heavens. 7. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3). Did you know that David Garrard has Crohn's Disease? I must have missed the 50 "ESPN GameDay" segments about this. Mike McCready from Pearl Jam also has Crohn's Disease, along with Theo Fleury, Cynthia McFadden and George "the Animal" Steele.
6. Buffalo Bills (4-1). Wanna know what the top story in the Buffalo newspaper is the day after the football team has an off week? Boy, that weather sure is nice! 5. Washington Redskins (4-2). Oops! 4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3). I am so overrating this team, and I'm not even sure why anymore. Interesting thing about Donovan McNabb: He tutored Illinois quarterback Juice Williams in the offseason. That's sweet of him. I wonder if he met Zook. I imagine professional players trying to keep their distance from Zook when they come to see Illinois players. His schtick only works on teenagers, I'd bet. By the way, the Phillies are one game away from the World Series. I just wrote that so Daulerio would pass out halfway through "editing" this. 3. New York Giants (4-1). The dream comes closer: Everyone in the NFL at 8-8. The entire season, an enormous palindrome. They'd have to bring in Nate Silver to figure out the playoff tiebreakers. 2. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1). If I lived in Pittsburgh, I would, without question, watch Steelers 24/7, a Comcast On Demand channel. I mean, who wouldn't want to watch "Chin Ups - Hosted by Marketing Assistant Mike Marchinsky?"
1. Tennessee Titans (5-0)> Not sure what you're doing for Halloween yet? Get thee to Steve McNair's retirement party, aboard the General Jackson Showboat in Nashville. It's an open bar! Well, it's an open bar if you pay the $3,000 for the Gold Table package. So it's an open bar the way it's an open bar at a wedding you paid for. (At least this is for charity.) General Admission tickets are $100. Or you can be cheap and just join the fan club.