Sports Nut

New York, New York!

For cartographic reasons, Tuesday Morning Quarterback has long insisted that the swamped-based New York Giants and New York Jets are really the New Jersey Giants and New Jersey Jets. This column dubs them Jersey/A and Jersey/B.

But considering all that’s happened in the past two weeks and the astonishing heroism of the New York fire and police departments—TMQ is utterly haunted by the account of one World Trade Center worker, who said that as he made it down the final stairs just before the south tower collapsed, an uninterrupted line of firefighters and police officers were passing in the opposite direction going up the stairs to try to save total strangers—for the rest of the season, let’s make it the NEW YORK Giants and NEW YORK Jets.

Sunday’s results: New York Giants 13, Kansas City 3. New York Jets 10, New England 3. Go New York!

In fact let’s make all NFL teams New York teams for the remainder of the season. The New York Rams, New York Steelers, New York Cowboys, New York Colts, New York Browns, New York Packers, New York Eagles, New York Lions, New York Patriots, New York Bills, New York Forty-Niners, New York Falcons, New York Bengals, New York Seahawks, New York Titans, New York Jaguars, New York Ravens, New York Chargers, New York Redskins, New York Panthers, New York Broncos, New York Cardinals, New York Vikings, New York Bears, New York Dolphins, New York Raiders, New York Chiefs, New York Bucs, and absolutely, of course, the New York Saints.

Acronym Note: That stylized NY on Giants helmets sure would look nice if it were changed for the season to FDNY.

Matchup Note: Their side has people whose idea of manhood is to murder unarmed women and screaming children. Our side has people whose idea of manhood is to run into a burning skyscraper to save lives.

Our side will win. The margin of victory will be large.

Best Plays of the Week. Best No. 1: Miami’s battery-powered, low-voltage offense drove 80 yards in 1:41 on its final possession to beat Oakland 18-15 on a last-second touch. The Marine Mammals threw four consecutive sideline patterns for four consecutive steps out of bounds, stopping the clock. The Raiders appeared to have absolutely no idea Miami would work the sidelines.

Worst Plays of the Week. Worst No. 1: Leading by five with just over three minutes remaining, ball on the Mammals 34, the Raiders threw two straight passes rather than stay with the run and grind down the time. Both throws fell to the ground with a clang, and the clock froze. Then, rather than try for the field goal and a touchdown-safe margin with strong-legged No. 1 draft-pick kicker Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland punted. The punt soared majestically into the end zone, netting just 14 yards on the exchange. Granted extra time by the Raiders’ inexplicable tactics, Miami got its winning touchdown with five seconds left.

Best No. 2: Taking the ball in an almost identical situation to the Raiders’—leading by four with three minutes remaining—the Rams ran on eight straight downs and zeroed the clock.

Worst No. 2: Trailing lowly Chicago 17-10 with a minute left, the Vikings faced fourth and 10. The call was a crossing out to Randy Moss. Moss turned in rather than out. Daunte Culpepper threw out, and as the pass approached, Moss, highest-paid player in the NFL, pulled up rather than lunging for the ball. As several much lower-salaried Bears defenders hurled themselves toward the pass, Moss stood rock still and made no effort whatsoever. Most players would be waived for refusing to try on the game’s deciding play. Will cowed, star-worshipping Minnesota coach Dennis Green even mention this to Moss?  

Best No. 3: Going for two in the second quarter against the Cardinals, the Broncos lined up with an empty backfield, and RB Olandis Gary flanked left; then sent Gary in motion right toward the normal back’s spot; then faked him a pitch right; then finally passed into the left flat to tight end Dwayne Carswell, who was totally ignored by the defense. Deuce conversion. In the third quarter, the Broncos ran the same action again, and this time passed in the left flat to reserve tight end Pat Hape, who was also was totally ignored. Touchdown.

Worst No. 3: With the score knotted at 10 versus Carolina, Atlanta had possession on its 6. Falcons QB Chris Chandler play-actioned to FB Bob Christian, then threw over the middle to RB Jamal Anderson, who had been totally ignored by the defense and took a pleasant 94-yard stroll for a touchdown. This is a worst for the Panthers defense, which lost track of Anderson because he faked a lead-block for Christian. Christian, however, is Anderson’s lead-blocker. Anderson has never thrown a lead-block in his NFL career, and every NFL defender should know this.

Best No. 4: Against the Chesapeake Watershed Region Indigenous Persons on MNF, Packers WR Bill Schroeder drew two pass interference penalties on the same third-quarter series. Trotting up to the line on the ninth play of the possession, QB Brett Favre saw Persons CB Champ Bailey so ridiculously backed off on Schroeder to prevent another flag—Bailey looked like he was lining up to receive a punt—that he audibled to a touch-football-style fast slant, which the Packers receiver took untouched 41 yards to the house. And why does Bailey go to Hawaii when he spends so much time with a clear view of the back of his opponent’s jersey?

Worst No. 4: In that selfsame MNF tilt, the Persons were trailing 30-0 with three minutes remaining when they fumbled, and the Packers returned the rock for a touchdown. Persons coach Marty Schottenheimer challenged the ruling on the play. There were three minutes left, and he was losing by 30 anyway.

Stats of the Week. Stat No. 1: Against the Bills, inventors of the no-huddle, the Horsies’ no-huddle offense recorded touchdown drives of 52, 41, and 35 seconds.

Stat No. 2: Owing to penalties, the Ravens ran eight consecutive plays from inside the Cincinnati 10. They failed to score.

Stat No. 3: The Niners had beaten the Rams 17 straight times until the arrival of space alien Kurt Warner; now the Rams have won five straight in the series. That n-dimensional tesseract decompensator Warner brought with him on the starcruiser from his homeworld sure is coming in handy.

Stat No. 4: Lions quarterback Ty Detmer tossed seven interceptions and had another pick nullified by a penalty. Thus he just missed tying the all-time NFL record for INTs in a game, eight, by Jim Hardy of the Chicago Cardinals in 1950. TMQ thought that record would stand forever since any QB getting up to around, oh, say five or six INTs would be invited to take a comfortable seat for the remainder of the contest. Detmer remained on the field, and what does that tell you about Detroit’s love-hate relationship with Charlie Batch—the sole Lion who was active Sunday but did not play?

Stat No. 5: Neither the Seahawks nor the Persons have scored a touchdown. Washington has become outscored 67-3.

All-American Babe of the Week: TMQ salutes Katie Harmon of Oregon, the new Miss America, and enjoyed her rendition of Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro.” Though the onslaught of the PC euphemisms at Atlantic City is incredible: The evening gown competition is now called “presence and poise” while the swimsuit competition is now “lifestyle and fitness.” TMQ thinks these phases of the contest should simply be titled, respectively, T and A. What’s with this pretense that we want to gawk at the contestants and learn about their “presence”? They were all present! And what’s wrong with ogling those who spend years intensively preparing to be ogled? You’re supposed to gawk at Miss America contestants; being gawked at is their life’s ambition, their raison d’étre. Not gawking is un-American. (Yes, TMQ knows there’s a chromosomal split on this point. Men want to gawk at the contestants for aesthetic reasons while women want to stare in order to find some microscopic flaw.)

Check out the A, I mean swimsuit, I mean “lifestyle and fitness” winner, Stephanie Culberson, Miss Tennessee. We didn’t find out much about her “lifestyle,” though we did get this revelation regarding her fitness regime:

What does your workout include?
I think am blessed with good genes. Ever since I was a child, I was taught to exercise, even if it was just walking. Although recently, I’ve begun working out with weights.

Click on Stephanie’s bio to learn that her scholastic ambition is an “MBA from Harvard/doctorate in performance.” Doctorate in performance?

There’s More of Gravy Than Grave in You: Tuesday Morning Quarterback’s incredibly cleverly titled new book, Tuesday Morning Quarterback, was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered on Thursday, Sept. 6. In faux-gravelly grave voice, I read haiku from this volume, thus becoming the first person ever to recite pro football poetry to a national audience. (Listen to the segment by going to, entering “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” in the search area at the upper right, and then clicking on the audio.) During my dramatic rendition of the verse below, I also got to say gacccccckkkkkkkkkkkkk. The critic Kenneth Tynan was renowned for being the first to say “fuck” on BBC radio; TMQ is now the first to say “gacccccckkkkkkkkkkkkk” on NPR. Future historians will judge these similar achievements.

He drops back and looks
Counts in his head, “one, two, three …”

Then gacccccckkkkkkkkkkkkk! Sees but turf.
—TMQ, 2001

Fay Weldon Paid for This Plug: The incredibly cleverly titled Tuesday Morning Quarterback has just arrived in bookstores, or you can buy it here. The book is not a collection of columns. It’s original football absurdity, plus goofy retro-Knute Rockne graphics.

Those Who Do Not Learn From History Are Doomed to a Lackluster Title Defense: The Ravens were not merely defeated but pounded by the Cincinnati Bengals. Baltimore barely beat Chicago in its opener and has now looked bad in two straight outings against second-echelon clubs. Tuesday Morning Quarterback is reminded that after Sparta, another hard-nosed franchise with a strong defense, won the championship by defeating Athens in 404 B.C., it was expected to rule the Mediterranean for centuries. Instead the Spartans were clobbered by previously unranked Thebes at Leuctra in 371. Of that battle it was written, “Yet upon this field were reckless illusions driv’ down,” which may describe the Ravens’ situation.

Great Moments in Management: Buffalo’s rookie coach, the tastefully named Gregg Williams, inherited a team that had finished No. 1 and No. 3 in the NFL in defense over the past two seasons. Williams promptly cut four veteran defensive starters, publicly criticizing them, and junked the Bills defensive system for an all-new scheme.

Result? Buffalo is now dead-last in the league in defense, surrendering more than 400 yards per game, and has yielded the most points of any team.

Football-Like Substance TMQ Wishes He’d Seen: John Elway’s flag football team beat Joe Montana’s team 34-33 before 35,000 spectators in the last event ever at Mile High Stadium. Randy Gradishar, Floyd Little, and Haven Moses were among Broncs greats to perform. Now this magnificent venue will be demolished, and the boys in orange will collide with other gentlemen solely at the soulless new Please Don’t Buy From Invesco Field. The Chronicles of Narnia warn us that “all worlds end,” but a tear came to TMQ’s eye at the thought of the end of Mile High.

Standings Quirk: Owing to its opening-day bye and followed by the canceled games, the Arizona (CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN FOOTBALL-LIKE SUBSTANCE) Cardinals were in first place in the NFC East for two weeks at a record of 0-0. This changed, of course, the instant the Cardinals began to play on Sunday night.

Regular Pass Does Not Equal Victory: One of Tuesday Morning Quarterback’s rules is that when a team reaches the shadow of the goal line, the regular pass from a regular set becomes impossible because the closer you draw to the end zone, the less territory the defense must protect. In the shadow of the goal line, you must call power runs, roll-outs, or play fakes. On Sunday the Chiefs had second and goal at the Giants 4, trailing by three, and ran a regular pass from a regular set. Interception.

Star Trek Plea: TMQ is encouraged that the new Star Trek serial, Enterprise, will be a prequel, taking place before the period depicted in the old Capt. Kirk episodes. TMQ hopes they go prequel all the way and have pre-1960s production values, returning us to the era of papier-mâché boulders. One of the best things about the Capt. Kirk episodes was the high-school-drama-society nature of the production. Special effects were obviously models on strings; control panels looked like something cut off a cereal box; women who were supposed to be beautiful were always shot through gauze filters; Styrofoam coffee cups were spray-painted silver to make them look futuristic. Starfleet itself was low-rent—for extended periods the admiralty seemed to forget Kirk’s ship even existed. Tuesday Morning Quarterback thinks the new episodes should recapture this fun sense of space exploration on the cheap. In the meantime, TMQ promises more football on the cheap.

Futuristic Miniskirt Note: TMQ also hopes the new Star Trek will return to the miniskirt double standard of the 1960s episodes, in which male crew members were, of course, fully clothed while the official Starfleet uniform for female crew members was a micro-mini that came down roughly to the navel. One of the nice things about science fiction is that you can posit that future fashion trends will feature ultra-revealing clothes for women.

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk: Trailing 14-3 in the third, the Ravens faced fourth and long at the Bengals 32. A 49-yard field goal attempt by the reliable Matt Stover (12 of 14 from outside the 40 last year) might have cut the margin to eight. Instead Baltimore punted, and a wounded pooch netted just 17 yards of field position on the exchange. The next play was a 41-yard gain by Cincinnati; the backs of the defending champs were broken.

Hidden Indicator of the Week: Last week six losing teams scored exactly six points; this week, three losing teams scored exactly three points. This is the kind of hidden indicator that is essential to an insider’s understanding of the game. Unfortunately, Tuesday Morning Quarterback has no idea what it means.

Running Items Department

Obscure College Score of the Week: Colorado School of Mines 52, Fort Hays State 45 in OT. Fort Hays led by 17 points and had the ball with 1:19 remaining in regulation, then managed in a 79-second blur to give up a safety, two touchdowns, and a two-point conversion, forcing overtime. Mines, located in impossibly beautiful Golden, Colo., is America’s top school for mine engineering and recently graduated  Jenn Kramb, its only female mining explosives major, who planned to join the Army Ordnance Corps and “is also a published poet.” The Beach Boys may wish they all could be California girls, but TMQ is impressed that Colorado continues to lead the nation in babes whose combined interests are poetry and underground detonations.

The Colorado Mines cafeteria page touts its annual Halloween buffet, “a feast of spooky foods.” When TMQ went to college, the cafeteria menu consisted exclusively of spooky foods.

Bonus Obscure Score: Wisconsin-Whitewater 56, Lambuth 50. This game was 35-35 at the end of regulation; five touchdowns were scored in overtime. Lambuth, located in Jackson, Tenn., offers a student chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers. The school’s residence-halls FAQs address such issues as “how long are the beds?” (“our bed mattresses vary in size”) and “is cable television provided in each room?” (“Yes, cable television is offered in each room with over 30 channels.”) Cable TV in every dorm room! At Lambuth, the focus on academics must be unstinting.

Double Bonus Obscure Score: St. Mary’s of Halifax 105, Mount Allison 0. This score is somewhat deceptive as Mount Allison dressed only 36 players for the game. Even so, Mount Allison did not record a first down until it had surrendered 68 points; it was 77-0 in the second quarter. St. Mary’s post-game press release dryly notes that the school “played a conservative ground game in an attempt not to humiliate the opposition, but it was impossible.” Check out the extremely long box score here.

New York Times Final-Score Score: They were sweating on West 43rd Street as the Times had forecast a final of Falcons 17, Panthers 13, and that’s what it was midway through the fourth in Atlanta. But then Michael Vick chaussed in for the insurance six, and the Paper of Record went 0-14 in its quixotic attempt to predict an exact final score. This brings the New York Times Final-Score Score to 0-29 this season and a combined 0-289 since TMQ began tracking.

Economic Recovery Note: Maybe the Times football desk should predict that the stock market will fall, causing it to rise.

Reader Animadversion: Several readers pointed out that a TMQ law, Fake Kick = Victory, appeared to be contravened by the Tampa at Dallas game in Week 1. The Cowboys recovered an onside kick, yet lost.

The kick itself was impressive. On opening day 2000, Eagles at Dallas, Philadelphia went onside with its very first kickoff and recovered, setting the tone for an upset win and putting the cheese-steak-head franchise on track for its surprise playoff season. The Cowboys seemed to remember this and went onside on their very first kickoff chance for opening day 2001. Unfortunately, erratic quasi-quarterback Quincy Carter fumbled the ball away immediately after the fake-kick success. Thus TMQ amends his law: Fake Kick = Victory Unless the Ball Is Immediately Fumbled Away by an Erratic Quasi-Quarterback.

Rebel Against the Local Affiliates! One of Tuesday Morning Quarterback’s obsessions last year was the laserlike ability of local network affiliates, when given the choice between showing, say, Broncos at Raiders or Cardinals at Bears, invariably to pick the latter.

This Sunday the Fox affiliate in Washington, D.C., had a choice between the highly attractive Rams-Niners game and the weak Eagles-Hawks tilt. Naturally, the nation’s capital saw the woofer. Fox didn’t even switch away in the fourth quarter when Philadelphia led 27-3—viewers saw every tedious, meaningless Seattle incompletion—while the terrific St. Louis-San Francisco contest was going down to the wire.

Has your local affiliate inflicted upon you the worst possible game on the card? Throughout the season, readers are invited to let TMQ know, via “The Fray,” giving specifics and slugging your entry “Local Affiliate Outrage.” I’ll do a column on same if there are enough examples.

This Week’s Question: Embedded in this column is a quotation from a famous work of literature. (And I don’t mean from the incredibly cleverly titled new book Tuesday Morning Quarterback, but thanks for thinking that.) Find the quote. Whoever has the right answer and the cleverest comment, submitted via The Fray, might receive one of the stylish new TMQ caps, though we promise nothing. Slug your entries “Famous Quote Explicated,” and be sure to include your e-mail in the extremely unlikely event your submission is honored.