This was a lousy news week for the NFL on multiple fronts: a pending CTE investigation on a former player who died young from a painkiller overdose; a ref suspended for a clock screw-up that, but for a ballsy call and some very good luck, could have cost a team a game; Johnny Manziel finding his way into the news after bystanders called police to settle an argument he was having with his girlfriend; and a player being arrested for a hit-and-run.
Bernard Pierce of the Jacksonville Jaguars seeming to block for the wrong team was an odd and So Jaguars curiosity until his coach reported it may have been due to confusion brought on by a concussion that managed to slip the NFL’s sideline concussion protocol. That’s scary but not at all surprising—as we’ve discussed over and over again, the concussion protocol will not and cannot prevent concussions and will have a hard time even spotting them in a sport as violent and chaotic as NFL football.
But then there’s the dumb shit the NFL does to get itself in trouble with its own players and fans. The NFL disallowed Pittsburgh running back DeAngelo Williams from wearing pink throughout the season in memory of his mother, who died of breast cancer. And the NFL fined his teammate, Cameron Heyward, for writing eight letters in tiny white scrawl on his goddamn eye black, to honor his father, former NFL runner Craig “Ironhead” Hayward.
This is absurd. These guys aren’t sporting disallowed sponsored gear or violating uniform standards in a way that shifts the balance of a game—they tried to use small and inconsequential aesthetic touches to honor beloved family members, and the league stomped it out. In the NFL, even bereavement must be collectively sanctioned.
No sports league should act this way. Certainly not one that would seem to have so much to gain from softening its image as a tight-assed hierarchical bureaucracy masquerading as an entertainment product.
Hey, watch this instead:
Noon — Twitch — eSports: Major League Gaming Dota 2 World Finals
The game is Dota 2, which I understand is a standalone sequel to Defense of the Ancients. Here’s the Twitch channel, if you’re interested.
Noon — Twitch — eSports: ASUS ROG Play It Cool Marathon
The game is Hearthstone, and this marathon is described as “one of the most unique ways to compete” in the game. Here’s the Twitch channel.
12:15 p.m. — beIN Sports Español — La Liga Soccer: Getafe vs. Las Palmas
Couple of bottom-table sides, here. Break in case of emergency.
1 p.m. — NBA TV — NBA Preseason Basketball: Sixers @ Nets
This is a weird thing to say: the Sixers are vastly more interesting to watch than the Nets. Nerlens Noel is developing nicely, and Jahlil Okafor is a lot of fun (if he’s playing). The Nets have Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who is both good and impossible to root against, but that team’s going nowhere.
1 p.m. — Twitch — eSports: Smite SPL Fall Split – Week 9
The game is Smite, and this is the Smite Pro League, and the tournament is the Fall Split. Here’s the Twitch channel.
2 p.m. — NBC Golf Channel — PGA Champions San Antonio Championship Final Round
The scoreboard is crowded at the top in San Antonio. DUN DUN DUN!
2:45 p.m. — beIN Sports — Serie A Soccer: Inter Milan vs. Juventus
Juventus finally have a narrow positive goal differential, but they sit in the bottom half of Serie A, behind truly shitty sides like AC Milan and Palermo. These sides are closer than they appear on the table.
3 p.m. — ESPN 3 — NASL Soccer: Ottawa Fury FC vs. San Antonio Scorpions
Ottawa are pretty definitively the best team in the NASL.
4:05 p.m. — beIN Sports Español — La Liga Soccer: Deportivo vs. Athletic Bilbao
Deportivo are a respectable upper-half team. They should have their way with Bilbao.
5 p.m. — ESPN — MLS Soccer: Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders
Seattle can clinch a playoff spot with a win today. If Houston loses or ties today they will be eliminated from the playoffs. Drama!
6 p.m. — NBA TV — NBA Preseason Basketball: Cavs @ Raptors
Kyle Lowry has looked amazing so far this preseason. The Cavs are already in limp-and-survive mode while they wait for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to return from injuries suffered in last season’s playoffs, and while Tristan Thompson continues to hold out for a max deal.
8 p.m. — TBS — National League Championship Series Baseball, Game 2: Cubs @ Mets
Matt Harvey pitched his way to a 4-2 win in Game 1. Tonight’s matchup features the unhittable Jake Arrieta against flamethrower Noah Syndergaard.
9 p.m. — NBA TV — NBA Preseason Basketball: Jazz @ Blazers
These are teams passing each other in opposite directions of their respective developmental arcs. The Jazz look like they might contend for a playoff spot, but it’s hard to imagine them being very good now that Dante Exum is lost for the year and they have to rely on lukewarm body Trey Burke to play the point. And the Blazers have a ton of young talent for a team that just did a complete offseason teardown, but they’re probably a couple of years and a few key acquisitions away from jumping back into the playoffs conversation.
1 p.m. — USA — Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Every Sunday, like clockwork.
1 p.m. — We TV — Roseanne
Episodes to get you through the early games.
1 p.m. — TV Land — Golden Girls
The usual Sunday marathon. Enjoy.
3:30 p.m. — FXX — The Simpsons
All bad episodes. The closest you’ll get to a good one is “Fear of Flying,” which is mostly lousy.
4 p.m. — Spike — Bar Rescue
From last week’s comments:
Bar Rescue is a fake show full of real yelling. I like it, but that’s because I like bars and people screaming at incompetent bar owners.
7:30 p.m. — AMC — The Walking Dead
The usual rerun-then-premiere routine.
Noon — TNT — The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
King Théoden leads the filthy people of Rohan to Helm’s Deep, and gross old man Saruman is undone by angry trees.
Noon — Ion — The Karate Kid
It’s the original, thank God. Hang around after it’s over to catch a couple of sequels.
1:15 p.m. — IFC — Creepshow
Not as excellent as the legendary Creepshow 2, but very good and occasionally very spooky.
1:30 p.m. — abc Family — Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
OK. Here it is: Half-Blood Prince is the best Harry Potter book, and this is the worst Harry Potter movie. The book is dark and scary and full of Dumbledore being cool and interesting, and eerie Voldemort lore. The movie is garbage, and the climactic showdown between Harry and Professor Snape is totally neutered. What the hell.
3:15 p.m. — Sundance — The Breakfast Club
My mom hates John Bender so damn much. Why can’t she understand his act is an expression of his disillusionment???
3:45 p.m. — TNT — The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Filthy Rohan types arrive on the Pelennor Fields in time to save the besieged Minas Tirith, while lank-haired Aragorn joins forces with an anthropomorphic fart cloud.
5:15 p.m. — abc Family — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Very strong of AMC to bust out the Harry Potter marathon today.
5:30 p.m. — Reelz — Top Gun
Racking up the appearances this season. Catch it at 10:30 p.m. on Reelz if you skip it here.
5:30 p.m. — TBS — The Hangover
Buh. If this is your thing, bully for you.
5:30 p.m. — FX — Elysium
This is the silliest, most heavy-handed movie. It’s got some very cool action sequences, though, especially the one where Matt Damon’s group has to shoot down the shuttle to Elysium. Bonkers.
5:30 p.m. — VH-1 — Boyz N the Hood
You would never have guessed, watching this, that John Singleton would go on to direct a sequel in the Fast and Furious series.
6 p.m. — E! — Bridesmaids
My wife laughs so damn hard during the dress-shopping sequence. For my money, the part where Kristen Wiig is drunk on the airplane is as funny as this movie gets.
7 p.m. — VH-1 Classic — Stand By Me
The movie that gave us Corey Feldman screaming “I’m gonna rip your head off and shit down your neck!”
8 p.m. — TNT — The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Rude potato men invade the underground lair of the neurotic Bilbo and whisk him away to help invade the underground lair of a slightly less neurotic giant fucking dragon.
8 p.m. — BBC America — Hook
Grierson and Leitch once ranked this as Spielberg’s second-worst movie, well behind A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Which is ridiculous! Fuck those guys.
9 p.m. — Comedy Central — Superbad
Super funny? Get it?
9 p.m. — abc Family — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Mostly a terrific movie. I wonder, though, why they changed the staging of the final battle between Harry and Voldemort. At any rate, a worthy finale to an up-and-down movie series.
Photo via AP