So over the weekend, the two candidates for President — Sen. Barack Obama, head of a Muslim sleeper cell, and Sen. John McCain, organizer of the first Hanoi chapter of the Ku Klux Klan — spoke at the Al Smith Dinner, a big Catholic charity event held in Manhattan right before the elections every year. Each of them made a bunch of jokes, and, all told, they were both pretty funny. (Not surprisingly, the best jokes were about the Clintons.) This was covered in the political press as a curiosity, like, "Hey, look, they don't really hate each other! When they think no one is looking, they talk like normal people!" And then everyone went back to talking about William Ayers and being "erratic" and everything that made everyone want to turn off the debates. Like the Al Smith thing never happened. I cannot fathom this. Watching the two candidates joke around like that was like learning your grandma is secretly a leather fetishist. Wait ... they can really talk like this? And if so ... why aren't they talking like this all the time? For all the talk of Obama being "elitist," or McCain being "out of touch," watching this proves just how stupid they think all of us really are. In a room with a bunch of journalists in tuxedos, hey, everybody's havin' fun, I love this guy, isn't campaigning just a gas, look, I have a personality! And then the minute they leave the room, they go back to alternating being cruel, boring and completely beside the whole point. Honestly, about 85 percent of my psychic energy — yes: My energy is PSYCHIC! — for the last 10 months has been focused on this election. We're only two weeks away, and that's not close enough; I need my life back. I've watched these two men talk, and hundreds of other people talk about them, incessantly, obsessively ... and then, for one night, they just switch into Normal Human Mode? You can't do this to me. I don't know what to think anymore. It's all too much. BE MORE NORMAL. A pox on both their houses. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The eagle has landed. Make it rain. Yep: I really need this election to get here, and overwith. Thank Allah we have football.
32. Detroit Lions (0-6). This site loves to make fun of columnists, but I have to give the Detroit Free-Press' Michael Rosenberg much love for the following line: "The Texans and Lions basically run the same offense, except the Texans added this play where they have one of their receivers go to a spot where the nearest Lion is 15 yards away." This is funny for two reasons. One, because I have no doubt that if such a play existed, the Lions would purposely exclude it from their playbook. And two, it sums up the way pretty much everyone I know watches football: "That guy is wide open! Why wasn't anyone covering him?" Ron Jaworski can break down all the film he wants, but that is the extent of gameplanning that most fans understand. And that's fine. Have you seen the people who spend hours breaking down NFL game film? They're miserable, man. 31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-6). Ohio's a swing state, which means everyone in Ohio has been sick of television ads (mostly Obama's) for weeks now. But there is good news: None of Ohio's sports teams are good right now. This is sparing Ohioians from the always-amusing subsect of Sports Pandering. Hillary Clinton was the worst at this, but this week, we learned just how bad both Obama and Sarah Palin are at this. Say what you will about McCain, but he loves his teams, and only his teams. And yes, I'm saying that because he gave a shoutout to the Buzzsaw during his last debate. That wasn't enough to change my vote, but it was closer than I'd like to admit.
30. Seattle Seahawks (1-5). I'm not proud of this, but, well, I was cheering for the Red Sox on Sunday night. I didn't realize this until the seventh inning, when it dawned on me, Holy shit, I want Boston to win. What has happened to me? I think it's because, deep down, we all kind of like dynasties. We don't want one team to win every year, but we do want one team to have won the past few years, so that it means more (and we revel in more schadenfreude) when they do lose. The reason the Patriots' loss to the Giants meant so much was because the Patriots were a dynasty, or at least as close to one as we can get anymore. If the Giants had beaten the Chargers in the Super Bowl, it wouldn't have meant nearly as much. The Rays are a great story — though I'm still not convinced they have more than 500 real fans — but the outcome of the World Series will now be a really big deal only to Phillies and Rays fans. This is fine, of course: The World Series is still the best sporting event on earth. But it now has the feel of the 2002 series between the Angels and Giants; it feels like there's less at stake, even though there isn't. (I'm aware the 2006 series seemed like this to most of you, but I'm ignoring you.) 29. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5). As much as I love writing this column and talking about the site with Daulerio, I don't actually miss running Deadspin as much as I would have thought. I loved doing it, but I loved doing it too much; it completely takes over your life, which is fine at noon, but not fine at 11 p.m. when you're unable to enjoy yourself because you're obsessed with the possibility of a no-hitter in that Rangers-Mariners game. This is a 24-hour job, which is what makes it great and what makes so many people burn out. I miss it, but not all of it. One thing I do miss, though: The random angry emails from Jason Whitlock. (It appears Daulerio's getting plenty of these.) Back before he decided I was a racist, Whitlock used to just spout off all the time, and it was always glorious. I think Whitlock is probably the most fascinating person working in sports journalism today, unhinged, brilliant, tortured (remember when he took his "mental break?") and always compulsively readable. When this site was about a month old, Whitlock emailed me and asked for my phone number. We ended up talking for about two hours. Actually, that's not quite true; I would ask a question, and he would talk for about 45 minutes, and then I would ask another one. It was awesome. I miss him. Maybe we can be friends again, if he ever gets over that Will's A Racist thing. Come on, Jason: I'm voting for Obama! I'm all clear now!
28. Miami Dolphins (2-4). Much love this week to the kids at my old stomping grounds of the Daily Illini, which introduced us to Ron Zook's Performance Enhancing Substance. Please, please read: "Zook's reputation for having limitless energy, and his penchant for avoiding sleep, is well known. But last April, Davis offered the Chicago Tribune a rather peculiar source of Zook's vigor. 'He used to carry sugar packets in his shorts,' Davis told the Tribune. 'In the middle of practice he would rip open a packet. I'd say, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'Gotta have a burst! Gotta have a burst! On the Jazz! On the Jazz!''"
GOTTA HAVE A BURST! ON THE JAZZ! ON THE JAZZ! 27. Cleveland Browns (2-4). So much for that supposed Browns resurgence. I kind of love that the Vikings tried to trade for Brady Quinn this week. It's a shame that most of the Vikings sex boat crew is gone from that team now. I think they would have all gotten along. 26. Oakland Raiders (2-4). It's a shame the Raiders pulled out the win this week, because a loss would have brought us that much closer to Drew's Amazing Scenario (I own that copyright, bitch) that an interim coach would be fired in the middle of the season. Drew and I were discussing it, and we're pretty sure it's never happened, but isn't this year's Raiders team the ideal circumstance for it to happen? Mr. Cable, the good news is that we've removed the "interim" from your title. There's some bad news ... 25. San Francisco 49ers (2-5). Speaking of Drew, he pointed this Joe The Plumber tribute page out to me yesterday, with the happy kicker, "It's Joe The Plumber Fan Art!" Indeed, it is. I recommend you check out that "Nobama '08" site, not just for the expansive collection of witty bumper stickers, but also this photo of Joe The Plumber himself.
Let's see ... pack of Marlboros ... notepad ... "collectible" plastic cup from a sporting event ... Holy shit, I am Joe the Plumber! Well, except, you know, Joe the Plumber actually has a marketable skill. Oh, and Mike Nolan got fired, which means the next 49ers coach is going dress exactly like Joe the Plumber. Sad, really. 24. Houston Texans (2-4). I received the following invitation from a company called CableFAX, which has been spamming me for a couple of years now. "Join Chris Berman, Philippe Cousteau, Florence Henderson and Mystery Guest at the CableFAX Program Awards Luncheon on October 29, 2008 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC as we salute the most outstanding cable programs and people of the year." God, how could I resist? 23. St. Louis Rams (2-4). This has gone from a team I thought would have trouble beating Chase Daniel and Missouri to being the team I'm most concerned about swiping the NFC West from my Buzzsaw this year. And it's all due to Jim Haslett. Jim Haslett! I had forgotten the signature symbol of Haslett's tenure in New Orleans: The playbook boner!
22. New Orleans Saints (3-4). My Saints contribution this week is, once again, from Alex Balk's Tumblr, which linked to this Found Magazine letter that, I warn you, is about to make you cry and ruin your day.
21. New York Jets (3-3). I wrote about this over at New York, but the Jets are seriously done, folks. They're gonna have to go 7-3 the rest of the way to have a hope at the playoffs, and the easy part of their schedule is done. By the way, if you watched this game, that has to be the most pathetic overtime offensive display I've ever seen, for both teams. If Sebastian Janikowski hadn't been freebasing the date-rape drug before the game, giving him the strength to kick a 57-yard field goal, I have no doubt this would have ended in a tie. (Note: The date-rape drug does not give you strength. Do not use the date-rape drug.)
20. Minnesota Vikings (3-4). Back to Drew! Drew doesn't bore you with political talk in his column, because he's smart enough to recognize that you're, you know, sports fans and therefore don't want politics peanut butter mixed in with sports chocolate. Nevertheless: Drew pointed out, after watching that uncomfortably hilarious "Saturday Night Live" with Sarah Palin the other day, "Sarah Palin is proof that, if you're a chick and you're kinda hot, you can pretty much get away with anything. Remember when Hilary would give speeches and you'd hear Republicans (and really, all men) say, "God, she's so shrill. It's like hearing my mother. MY TESTES ARE GOING INTO MY STOMACH!" Then you have Palin, who's even worse with a more annoying voice, out there on the stump and now you got Republican guys going, "God, I just love hearing her TALK! She's amazing! She's got a real quality to her!" I could not possibly agree more: I never realized just how attractive I found Sarah Palin until she was raising the roof to Amy Poehler's (awesome) rap. She's going to run for President in 2012, and when she loses, she's going to take over Bill Maher's show on HBO. I would consider this an improvement.
19. San Diego Chargers (3-4). For some reason, this isn't being shouted from the mountaintops, but seriously: Fire Norv. How could anyone have possibly seen this coming? 18. Denver Broncos (4-3). Well, that didn't go well. You know — it occurs to me that "you know" is my own personal McCain "My Friends" tic — this was supposed to be the year that Mike Shanahan reminded us he was a genius. The last time he made the playoffs was when Jake Plummer had a career season. Worth noting. 17. Indianapolis Colts (3-4). They're dead now, right? Is it safe to come out? 16. Baltimore Ravens (3-3). Here's an old interview I found with Ray Lewis, in which he talks about how he looks forward to getting married after he retires from football. Of course, Ray Lewis isn't going to retire from football until he's 45 years old and killed everybody left. Which is fine, actually. Who wouldn't want to see a Nights In Rodanthe with Ray Lewis? I'm thinking Stacey Dash in the Diane Lane part, and, of course, Tyler Perry can direct.
15. Dallas Cowboys (4-3). God, this is satisfying, isn't it? This is like watching Mark Foley go down. (I mean watching his career end, by the way.) 14. The Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals (4-2). A lot of people have been asking lately when I will jump on board with this team, considering half the team will have to develop typhoid fever for them not to win the NFC West. (Which I am not discounting.) I honestly think it's this week against Carolina. If they win this week, I'm officially excited. Until then, I'm still convinced we're doomed. I hope I can fire up soon, though, because I'd love to get angry when Peter King calls them a "fluke," rather than nodding my head slowly in agreement. 13. Green Bay Packers (4-3). If you're not reading Lisanti Quarterly, here's what you're missing:
Lisanti: "You know, everyone told me, Enough with the yellow already. It's not summer anymore. Even though it's been pretty hot here lately. And did I listen? No. I thought I could pull off the hat/zip-up/pants combo at the picnic. But looking again, you know what? I'm still not totally convinced I was wrong." 12. New England Patriots (4-2). Nobody knows what the deal with these guys are, but, like the Colts, they just won't die. Also, Happy Feet Cassel looked halfway decent last night. Most important: Randy Moss has his smile back. It's so upsetting when Randy's upset. Let's take a look at the Emotional Fluctuations Of Randy Moss: Sad Randy:
Disgusting Act Randy:
Super Bowl Champion Randy: (Sorry, I'm having trouble finding a picture here.) 11. Chicago Bears (4-3). I have no idea how this happened, but while "researching" this "column" today, I came across a Drunk Kyle Orton picture I'd never seen before.
How did I miss this? Honestly, can you believe we're seeing Orton do this? Forty-eight points? Orton? I mean, it turns out he's better than Matt Leinart at everything. I'll be damned. 10. Atlanta Falcons (4-2). Before you start getting mad at me again, Bonnie Bernstein, I am not the one who posted pictures of you accidentally showing your underwear. I am the one who got all the Muslims mad at you. Let's try to keep this straight.
9. Carolina Panthers (5-2). Palin Watch! By now, you might have seen the Sarah Palin swimsuit competition. You know, swimsuits have really improved, quite dramatically. Someone should do a study on this. Oh, wait: They already have! Thanks, Canada!
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3). From Entertainment Weekly: "Survivor's Jeff Probst has created - and will host - a new reality pilot for CBS. The show, Live Like You're Dying, will feature a person who has been given a terminal diagnosis with a finite amount of time to live and "take them on the last adventure of their life," according to Probst. That adventure will include reunions with lost friends or formerly feuding family members, a "legacy moment" that will ensure their name carries on forever, and living out a personal dream." If I am dying, I can't think of anyone I'd rather spend time with more than the host of "Backchat." 7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2). You know, the more and more I think about it, the more of a shame it is that the Rays traded away both Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes right before they went to the World Series. Sure, these things might be related, but come on: You wouldn't want to hear Joe Buck say, "You Dead, Dawg" right before cutting to Scooter, the talking baseball. 6. Washington Redskins (5-2). It was a sad day in our nation's capital over the weekend: The annual Best Buddies Ball popped its last champagne cork. Or, that is to say, Corky.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3). The Eagles have a home game at 1 p.m. Sunday, and then the city hosts Game 4 of the World Series that night. That should be fun. What could possibly go wrong? I love the NFL, but, as I'm sure you're aware, I'm a baseball guy through and through. Which is why I'm always appreciative of NBC (and, formerly, ESPN) not scheduling a Sunday night game to go opposite the World Series. It might be depressing when the regular season NFL game gets better ratings. 4. Buffalo Bills (5-1). I'm going to be at a wedding in Buffalo this weekend — you know, for a town that's supposedly dying, they sure do host a bunch of goddamned weddings — and I'm looking forward once again to taking the local culture. I'm kind of hoping they introduce another mascot this year, a guy running around in a Tim Russert costume. I would cheer for that guy. Heck, you can even kind of guess what it might look like.
3. New York Giants (5-1). I'm writing a column for the magazine this week, assuming I don't screw it up, and we were discussing possible topics. We discussed the Giants — the defending Super Bowl champions, off to a 5-1 start — and dismissed it in about 15 seconds. There's literally nothing interesting about this team. I suppose that's good. 2. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1). I know Dashiell already did something on this today — oh, and isn't Dashiell great? You have no idea how happy he is not to have to look at porn all day for his job — but seriously: I am dumbfounded that the referee tackle in the LSU-South Carolina game isn't the biggest story in sports right now. A REF TACKLED A PLAYER! What???? I mean, watch this again:
I mean, we're worried about Ed Hochuli inadvertently blowing his whistle? A REF TACKLED A PLAYER! Christ! 1. Tennessee Titans (6-0). I am looking forward to the Titans losing so I don't have to end this column with them every week. Sure, sure, they're great, got it. But I only have so many Kerry Collins Was Much More Fun When He Was Drunk All The Time stories to draw from.