Of all the pictures taken during The Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals' NFC West-clinching "win" over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, that one there is my favorite. It is somehow perfect that, when the Arizona Cardinals won their first division championship since 1975 (the year I was born!), the most sophisticated signage they'd have ready would be something a player wrote in magic marker on the back of a towel. Yep!
(You can find all the pictures right here, lest the Arizona Republic get mad at me for
borrowing their photo.)
I watched the happiest Buzzsaw moment ever from a bar on the Upper East Side, with a friend who has gleefully decided that, hey, now I'm an Arizona Cardinals fan! I have no problem with this, because, for once, I have someone with whom to watch a Buzzsaw game. I know it's not real, I know he's only bandwagon pretending, and I do not care. If you have someone accompanying you when you ask to put the Arizona Cardinals game on, the bartender is less likely to make you watch the tiny black-and-white television in the back of the bar.
Still, I couldn't help but wonder how nice it must have been to be in Glendale. Lifelong Buzzsaw fans, there, in person, on the day they finally broke through. How electric must that atmosphere have been? Well, take it from the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers:
The attendance was announced at 63,270 but there were more empty seats in this game than I can remember for any Cardinals game at University of Phoenix Stadium. And many of the fans had left well before the game ended. Maybe the fact that a division title was pretty much in hand weeks ago made staying around less attractive.
Uh ... excuse me?
A year-and-a-half ago, I asked a fellow lifelong Arizona Cardinals fan, albeit one who grew up in Arizona, what it was like actually being a season ticket holder. I'd never been to Arizona at the time, and I've still never been to a game. He was there Sunday. Here's how he described the scene:
While the Cardinals were crashing at ASU's Sun Devil Stadium, the only sections that were full for every game were the west grandstand behind the home sideline and the end zones. This was done for survival: early season temperatures are well over 100, but in the second half the sun would dip behind the butte adjacent to the stadium and shade the west side. While the fifteen thousand or so Cardinals fans would get some relief, the visiting team and fans on the east side had no protection from the searing afternoon sun. This was part of the Cardinals' home field advantage. The Cardinals had a 100-188 record while the team was based in Tempe.
With a secure lead in the fourth quarter on Sunday, most of the sellout crowd got an early start to the parking lots or the bleak chain restaurants of Glendale. Well, much of the sellout crowd never showed up in the first place. But the west grandstand and end zones remained full until the end, just like during the lean years in Tempe. Despite an inevitable division championship the longtime Cardinals fan knows to wait until the clock reads zero. Those hardcore fans stayed and cheered for fifteen minutes after time ran out. The players headed to the locker room, perhaps out of instinct, but soon returned to celebrate with their fans. There were some tears. The players gave fans handshakes and mementos. Bertrand Berry, who endured the Dennis Green regime to become a team leader, threw his helmet high in the air and took a lap around the stadium with a fan's homemade "NFC West Champions" sign. Adrian Wilson, the longest-tenured Cardinal, was emotional as he recalled the pain of the previous seven years. Kurt Warner knelt at midfield; I have heard he is quite religious.
OK, so, there were some fans hanging around. But still.
I find this personally frustrating, but if I weren't a fan of the Buzzsaw, I'd be more annoyed. One of the dumber "storylines" used commonly during the baseball playoffs was how great Tampa Bay's run was for "long-suffering Rays fans." At the time I made the argument that, well, there were no long-suffering Rays fans, or at least not so many as to champion it as some major occurrence. The Buzzsaw are the same way. The team has lost repeatedly for 34 years, and when they finally break through ... most of the fans leave early and the team has to publicize their achievement by scribbling on the back of towels. This is what happens when your team loses for 34 years.
So, if the Buzzsaw end up doing anything in the playoffs, beware of the "their fans have earned it!" designations. Because, if those above stories are even slightly indicative, there are very, very few fans who have actually earned it. I'll confess, I kind of think I have. But lots of teams' fans have ... and there are more of them.
Yesterday, I bought a plane ticket to go to Arizona for their first playoff game, whenever that is. (I'm assuming they won't end up with a bye.) I have a feeling I'm not going to have any trouble finding tickets.
32. Detroit Lions (0-13). Everyone seems to be conceding the winless season now, but I dunno: The way the Packers are going, I can't imagine them being particularly inspired to avoid history at Lambeau in Week 17. No matter what happens in that game, I can guarantee you Brett Favre will be Tivo-ing it. Side note about Tivo: I still find it amusing how Tivo's lawyers get pissy when you use their name as a verb. (A couple of years ago, I got a nasty note from them for doing it, and it pretty much happens all the time.) The fear is that the general public will just think of "Tivo" as a general digital video recorder, rather than a brand name, like what happened to Xerox and Kleenex. I don't have a Tivo, but man, I Tivo all the time!
31. St. Louis Rams (2-11). The Buzzsaw was up 27-7 early in the fourth quarter Sunday, and the Rams were facing fourth and, like, 3, on the Buzzsaw 34. Certainly, the game looked to be somewhat in hand, but the Rams were still only three scores back. Rather than go for it — considering, you know, who cares? — the Rams kicked a field-goal to make it 27-10, putting them ... three scores back. Contrast this with the 49ers, who went for it on fourth-and-1 at midfield twice against the Jets. When Mike Singletary has a head coaching job next year and Jim Haslett doesn't, you'll know why. Plus, Singletary is a crazy person. That helps too. Puts butts in seats. Pantless butts.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (1-11-1). Palin watch! I don't quite understand the hullabaloo about the Republic National Committee spending $165,000 on stylists for Palin during her nine weeks on the campaign trail. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if Palin weren't attractive, she would have never been chosen in the first place. Right? Don't you want to protect that asset as much as possible? You mean to tell me they could have spent that money on anything more worthwhile? Oh, sure, yeah, get a radio ad in southern Montana: That's smart budgeting! I'd be more concerned if they spent $165,000 on making McCain look good. Because they probably would have needed a lot more. Though SNL made him look all right back in the day.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (2-11). Bad signs: Herman Edwards was asked if he had any interest in the head coaching job at San Diego State. He said: "I have a college team right now." The bad sign is not that Herman Edwards is aware of how bad his team is. The bad sign is when you are a pro coach and you're being asked about openings at San Diego State.
28. Oakland Raiders (3-10). Without question, the most depressing editorial cartoon I've seen all week:
To be fair, it wasn't a tough competition. Editorial cartoons usually aren't that depressing. Mark Lisanti, as always, has the best line: "Kent will probably land on his feet, but I'm afraid poor Jimmy Olsen's going to be getting by on giving $5 handjobs in the alley behind the Daily Planet."
27. Seattle Seahawks (2-11).. I'm officially predicting Seattle as the home of both Matt Cassel and Plaxico Burress next year. I've been working on a big feature for NY mag about the Giants, so I've spent the whole week interviewing naked athletes in East Rutherford. It will be a happy day when I never have to think about Plaxico Burress — or the idiotic "Saturday Night Live sketch" about him — again.
26. Cleveland Browns (4-9). Marty Schottenheimer might be returning to Cleveland. This is rather perfect. Other things I hope to happen: "The Drew Carey Show" returns to primetime television, Brad Daughtery will scrap the Nascar and go back to playing center and Clevelanders will make Dennis Kucinich mayor again. Actually, that would be pretty amazing. They'd sell seaweed at Indians games.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9). I can't overstate to you people how great The Official Shaq Twitter is. I know it has been written about, but come on: This is brilliance of the highest order. Among the most recent posts:
Just saw punisher, great bloody movie, aggggggh, dats what i , nevamind lol, aggggggh (growl) (snarl) spit
The stars at nite r big n bright clap clap clap clap deep n da heart of texas, im n dallas
Is plexico in trouble, mayor bloomberg sounded mad
Someone really, REALLY needs to put together a performance art piece about this.
24. Green Bay Packers (5-8). Today's big story from the Green Bay Press Gazette is actually a pretty great one: "Dog that froze to sidewalk is recovering." You know, after seeing that headline, I think I might read on:
Jiffy, a male, was freed by Payne and two other Humane Society employees, who poured warm water over its back end. The owner told police she tried to get the dog inside but was unable to, and instead checked on the dog every few hours, police said. The temperature dipped to 6 degrees overnight, according to the National Weather Service.
The dog was "morbidly obese," they say. This is the equivalent of the guy in the emergency room who's so fat that nurses find various objects in his fat rolls, like a remote control or that long-lost niece. (Not that my mother works in an ER and has to deal with this on a daily basis or anything.)
23. Buffalo Bills (6-7). From what I understand, there are 10 days of major social activity in Buffalo. The eight home games for the Bills, Christmas and the Ballroom/Tango Dance at the Brounshilde VFW every Wednesday. (I am counting that as one event.) Taking away one of those games just seems cruel. But man, if I lived in Toronto, I'd be flipping out at the possibility of having that team come to town, after that game. Boy howdy.
22. San Francisco 49ers (5-8). SHOTY No. 16 appearance aside, at this point, it would seem that Singletary would have to hold onto the coaching job next year. I don't think I'm along in requesting "Hard Knocks" cameras to put in their application for Niners' camp, like, immediately.
21. San Diego Chargers (5-8). You know, I think I'd enjoy FireNorv.net a lot more if the site's purveyor weren't obviously insane.
Come and have fun. Speak freely in the comments section. Smack talking is encouraged but try to keep it funny and good hearted. WE ARE ALL CHARGERS FANS AFTER ALL! We just might disagree. Feel free to tell me what a jackass I am but don't be surprised if I point out that your a moron. I'm glad you came by and no I don't make money from this website. Its a free blog. Oh and if your a Pats fan go screw yourself. No I take that back. Pats fans just bought a t-shirt from me. I have a huge box of them left. Somebody please buy them.
Hey, you know, the guy needs to unload some T-shirts.
20. Houston Texans (6-7). OK, I had to check this four times to make sure it was right: The Texans are 6-7??? What? They've got two home games and a roader against Oakland coming up. Honestly, I had assumed the Texans were, like, 3-10. And you wonder why these rankings rarely make sense.
19. Washington Redskins (7-6). Want to know how strange this season has been? There are 19 teams over .500 and only 13 under it. That doesn't seem possible; I feel like somebody's math is wrong. Oh, what a year to have the AFC and NFC Wests on your schedule. The Buzzsaw is one win away from going 6-0 against the NFC West and 3-7 against everybody else. Go crazy, folks!
18. New Orleans Saints (7-6). The best part about living in New York City: Sometimes, for no reason, Bill Murray will just show up at your party and tell you you're wasting your life.
The weirdest part of the experience is not that Bill showed up at some random ragtag Halloween party, but that it's only one of several out-of-place encounters New York City hipsters have had with the actor in the past few months. From hanging out with rock bands to hitting on twentysomething women at bars, Bill seems to be going through his own unique midlife crisis. He's not a boozy, sweaty party hound who gets caught on camera cheesing it up with pretty young girls (see: Mel Gibson, Bono); rather, he's more like a ghost in the night, who shows up out of nowhere, engages in utterly random conversations and then exits gracefully-leaving witnesses to wonder what the hell just happened. Deadpan, detached and seeming a bit lonely, Bill Murray is NYC's most unlikely new party guy.
This makes me sad in a profound way that I cannot place.
17. Chicago Bears (7-6). In honor of the 1985 Bears, the team that not even Barack Obama could usurp in the minds of Chicagoans, here's a grand new site: BeTaMaXMas. Basically, some maniac has wired kitschy YouTube videos to play on an old rabbit-ears television. So far, I've seen ALF, a Billy Squier holiday song and, most awesomely, "Christmas Comes To Pac-Man Land." And ... there goes my evening.
16. The Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals (8-5). Since I've already covered the Buzzsaw, I'll just say that I was really looking forward to making fun of ESPN.com's new design, except that I kind of like it, and Deadspin, from what I understand, is about to go through another massive one. And boy, do I know how much Deadspin readers like change. Part of me wants to comment from my Facebook account just so people will attack me on my wall.
15. Minnesota Vikings (8-5). Honestly, the most important game of the week, really, swear, no kidding, is the Minnesota at Arizona game. Winner is pretty much set with the No. 3 seed in the NFC. If the Buzzsaw lose, there is no reason to worry about the rest of the year. They can lose the rest of the games, or win the rest of their games, and they're locked into that No. 4 spot. So. If they lose, I repeat: Play Leinart the rest of the way. Warner's not winning the MVP anyway, and if the Cardinals' first home playoff game since 1947 — 1947! — features Matt Leinart starting at QB because Warner got hurt in an unnecessary game ... we're going to have a problem.
14. Denver Broncos (8-5). You know who understands the Web? Jann Wenner! From an interview that's not from 15 years ago but, in fact, from this week:
MediaWorks: How much of Wenner Media's ad revenue comes from digital operations?
Jann Wenner: Honestly, I don't know.
Finger on the pulse, that guy! Another great excerpt:
MediaWorks: What websites do you regularly visit?
Jann Wenner: I look at RollingStone.com actually to tell you the truth. That's my default site. I read The Times every night. I use Google, YouTube, you know, that kind of stuff.
MediaWorks: No favorite blogs or other sources of news?
Jann Wenner: You know what the problem is? Finding enough time to read and raise children is just like, whoof.
Pretty fantastic Palin-esque answer there, Jann. I have 100 percent confidence that Jann Wenner's products are going to succeed dramatically in the future. With that kind of commitment at the very top of the company, how could they not?
13. New York Jets (8-5). Uh-oh. It's pretty amusing, actually, how the Giants and Jets have essentially traded seasons this year. At the beginning, everyone was paying attention to the Jets because of Brett Favre and missing the genius of what the Giants were doing. Now that Plaxico has happened, people are watching the Giants for all the wrong reasons and ignoring the sudden, somewhat inexplicable collapse of the Jets. What happened here? Is Bill Cowher coaching these guys next year? Will he be coaching Favre? Shit really does happen fast these days.
12. Dallas Cowboys (8-5). Aw, man, seriously, was there a more beautiful sight that watching all the Cowboys snipe at each other on the sidelines after they lost Sunday? What a blessed holiday gift: All the Cowboys eager to scratch each other's throats out. You know what? I love Tony Romo, but don't you get the sense these guys are just outdated? The NFL doesn't run on guys like Romo and Owens anymore; they run on Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, Kerry Collins and James Harrison. The Cowboys are the Jann Wenner of the NFL: Discuss.
We'll talk about the level of competition some other time. The Seattle Seahawks get paid. The NFL logo is stitched onto their jerseys. The game counted. And that means you shouldn't be embarrassed to call the Patriots' come-from-behind, 24-21 victory at Qwest Field Sunday what it truly was: Tough. Clutch. Gutsy. The Pats may be without many of the players that brought them their three championships, whether it is through injury, age or free agency. But that doesn't mean there aren't some very tough football players left in that locker room.
Some day, I'd like to see a team lose, and have the beat reporter write, "Well, the problem with the Seahawks today is that they were a bunch of goddamned pussies." That would be an enjoyable day.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5-1). Woo-hoo! I get to overrate the Eagles again! Boy, how I'd missed it. Hey, so I just got this email from Hillary Clinton's mom:
I'm so proud of everything my daughter has accomplished and excited about what her future holds.
Her life is full of amazing achievements, and her story has inspired millions of people, especially young girls, to achieve their dreams, no matter what they are.
There's a wonderful book about her life I'd like to share with you. It's called Hillary Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight, and it is the perfect way to share my daughter's story with a child you want to inspire.
As you know, Hillary is still working hard to pay down the debt from her campaign, and I hope you'll take this opportunity to help her out. With your contribution of $50, you will receive a copy of Dreams Taking Flight with a specially designed Hillary Clinton bookplate.
And for that special person in your life, with a contribution of $250 or more, you will receive a book that's personally signed by Hillary to him or her by name.
Contribute to help pay down Hillary's debt, and we'll send you a copy of Hillary Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight.
I know you're just as proud as I am of everything my daughter has achieved, and I want to thank you for everything you've done to support her!
I won't make a habit out of this, but I'm just gonna quote straight from my shiny new tumblr: "You know, in retrospect, I'm pretty pissed at the publicity staff at HarperCollins for not coming up with the idea of having my mother email people telling them that if they buy God Save The Fan for $250, they could help pay off her son's debt. A clear marketing opportunity missed."
9. Miami Dolphins (8-5). Considering how terrifying the job market is right now, I found this Slate "Hot Document" particularly chilling. It's a look at employee handbooks and how they advise managers to lay off employees. (They found one extremely ugly PowerPoint presentation.) The worst: The Employee Termination Guidebook, which "urges managers to move quickly before the doomed employee starts 'telling lies about you, turning others against you and destroying your reputation.'" That book costs $247.
8. Atlanta Falcons (8-5). I kind of think these guys might go crazy and win their last three, and blitz everybody they see in the playoffs. I'm not sure why.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-4). I'll confess to missing most of last night's game, because my Illini were busy knocking around the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, or whatever they're called these days. Funny thing about that game: Hawaii actually had no other games on the mainland but this one. They actually flew all the way to the continental U.S. just to play in Champaign. I love Central Illinois, but I can assure them that it was not worth it. By the way, since I still don't get the Big Ten Network, I have to watch all Illini highlights on BigTenNetwork.com. In case you were wondering what happened to the "Dream Job" guy.
6. Baltimore Ravens (9-4). I enjoyed Fimoculous.com's ongoing 2008 End-Of-Year-Lists List, because I am under the age of 35 and therefore will read absolutely anything in list form. Therefore, in an attempt to get on the list, a list:
TEN FEELINGS WILL LEITCH HAD DURING 2008
6. The Vague Concern That He Has A Sticky Film On Him That Just Won't Rinse Away.
5. Hangnail Envy.
4. Suspicion That He Might Be Related To Character Actor Michael Rooker.
3. Paper Cut.
5. Indianapolis Colts (9-4). In about two weeks, I'll be spending a full Tuesday afternoon in Indianapolis. And yes, I do have a countdown clock above my desk, thanks for asking.
4. Carolina Panthers (10-3). Ah, running back platoon combos. Perfect for coaches who want to win. Bad for the rest of the planet. By the way, having sat through a game at Bank of America Stadium a couple of weeks ago, I can only assume there was crowd noise being pumped into that place by ESPN last night. Stadium's like a morgue.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3). It has been pointed out that any posts I write for New York Magazine's Web site that happen to mention Deadspin should bear a disclaimer. Obviously, this is an oversight on my part. To correct some of my past mistakes:
Finally, a Story Line for the Giants: Note: Author has several friends who are Giants fans and cheers for Kurt Warner, who was once a Giant..
The Office: Surprise Wedding!: Author once had a sports blog, as did Michael Schur, the man who plays Mose Schrute.
‘Heroes': Deep Sigh: Author is under the age of 40, like "Heroes" stars Masi Oka, Zachary Quinto and Sendhil Ramamurthy.
Plaxico Burress, a Diva Among Giants: Author once fired a gun.
Who Says LeBron Wants Anything to Do With the Knicks?: Author once lived in the Midwest.
This Post: Author still not over the encouraging-homeless-people-to-masturbate-to-pictures-of-his-girlfriend post.
I regret the omissions.
2. New York Giants (11-2). After spending all last week in the Giants locker room, and probably most of next week too, I have to agree with everyone else who's ever had such an unpleasant experience: It's amazing we don't see player dong more often on our television screens. I'm kind of surprised the XFL didn't pioneer the Locker Room Penis Cam, really.
1. Tennessee Titans (12-1). You know, I've always felt bad for people who have amnesia. It must be horrible. Plus, everyone will always just think you're a plot device from a bad TV show that has run out of ideas. It's a vicious circle.