Sports Nut

Canadians, Naked Jewish Mega-Babes in Sinister Conspiracy!

Tuesday Morning Quarterback loved the Thanksgiving Day nostalgia of four teams in throwback uniforms, though viewers tuning in to the Packers-Lions tilt may have thought they were seeing East Passaic High versus Lower Teaneck. In an especially good touch, with Green Bay dressed in 1921 duds, the game featured the same announcers as in 1921, Pat Summerall and John Madden.

One could note that players did not agree to perform for 1921 game checks. And though all contemporary logos and insignia were faithfully stripped, helmets still sported the ridiculous WARNING disclaimer, not exactly historically authentic. The presence of lawyer-gibberish disclaimers on helmets continues to drive TMQ nuts. These labels have no legal significance since if anyone passes the “assumption of risk” test, it is professional football players, while manufacturers of helmets (or anything else) cannot shed liability for defects no matter what their disclaimers say.

In the throwback spirit, here is what Tuesday Morning Quarterback sounded like in 1921:

Egads! The Packers went pass-wacky against the Chicago Staleys, throwing twice. The Pottsville Maroons would have defeated the Providence Steam Rollers had not Pottsville repeatedly blitzed all 11 gentlemen. Jim Thorpe ran up more impossible statistics for the Cleveland Indigenous Persons; that handheld wireless telephone he brought with him on the star zeppelin from Mars sure is coming in handy! {Note to editors, I was going to say “that eight-transistor desktop computational station,” but who would believe even Martians could build such a thing? By the way, I think Slate looks great on the new yellow newsprint.}

The Rock Island Independents continue the disturbing trend of experimenting with helmet faceguards. How many times does TMQ have to remind of its immutable laws? Of course we refer to the law, No Faceguard = Victory.

Purists found it disturbing that members of the press brought motion-picture cameras to the Muncie Flyers game. If highlight reels start appearing in movie houses, this will be the death of football! Allowing viewers to see games without actually attending them would be a stunning blow to the league’s finances.

Plus if there were movie-house broadcasting, crass promoters would inevitably fixate on lurid sensationalist shots of the cheerleaders. Fortunately at the Chicago Staleys game the cheerleader, retired fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Edna Swampscott, was fully and decently clothed in a heavy cotillion dress. Tuesday Morning Quarterback hopes cheerleaders never succumb to the sinful flapper fashion of showing leg!

In other news, President Joe Carr of the American Professional Football Association announced that leather helmets will begin carrying small blocks of disclaimer type. The new helmets will say WARNING: If You Get Hurt, No One Will Care.

Back to the dreary present.

Best Plays of the Week: The Niners, Ravens, and Steelers all defied TMQ’s law of the goal line (Regular Pass Does Not Equal Victory), scoring in close with regular passes. Defending champ Baltimore lined up five-wide at the Jax 3 with 14 seconds left, trailing 21-17, no timeouts. Jax cooperated by blitzing six, ensuring every Baltimore receiver was “iso” or one-on-one. Shannon Sharpe—released for being too old by the Broncos, whom he’d helped win two Super Bowl rings, then on to Baltimore and another ring—faced sophomore DB Ainsley Battles. This young gentleman did not trouble to jam his elder and seemed to have no idea Sharpe would head into the end zone. There he made one of the prettiest body-stretching, foot-dragging winning catches ever.

Best No. 2: One of the Niners’ staple plays, run dozens of times by Jerry Rice—he’s in San Francisco, right?—is “motion out.” A receiver comes behind the formation, then runs a quick out; the action is nearly impossible to defend, reliably producing first downs. Last year the Niners added a motion-out-up in which Terrell Owens fakes this action, then sprints up the sideline. Sunday against the Horsies, the play went for a 35-yard touchdown.

Best No. 3: Leading 13-0 with 16 seconds in the half, the P-Men had the ball at the Saints’$2 24. New England lined up “trips” right—three wide receivers—and one WR left. As New Orleans paid all attention to the “trips” ensemble, the lone left receiver cut across the field while one of the “trips” guys ran back into the backfield to block! Confused DBs; ample time to throw; 24-yard touchdown to Charles Johnson coming from the left.

Best Use of the ESPN Highlights Show: Leading by three with third and goal at the Panthers’$2 4, Atlanta lined up in a five-wide. Expecting a pass, Carolina jumped to a spread defense. Then Bob Christian came in motion from the near receiver slot and took a pitch right, touchdown. This is exactly the same short-yardage formation and action that the Cleveland Browns (Release 2.1) employed on the key play of their upset of the Ravens last week.

Worst Plays of the Week. Worst Pass No. 1: Leading San Francisco 21-20 at home, the Horsies had the ball on their 15. Marvin Harrison ran the skinny post, and Peyton Manning heave-hoed down the middle. But before the play, Niners safety Zack Bronson had lined up on the 40—25 yards off! Bronson was so far back, he looked like he was expecting a punt. How could Manning not have seen this gentleman before the snap, standing exactly where the ball was supposed to go? Bronson caught the punt—er, pass—and returned it for six.

Worst Pass No. 2: From his own 39 with less than a minute in the half, Manning threw a short out, a meaningless play in that situation—the same mistake made last week by Ryan Leaf! Like Leaf’s, the pass was intercepted, creating a last-second score for the opposition. Ye gods—Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf in the same sentence.

WorstAttempted Pass: Trailing 12-0 in the fourth, the Bengals faced second and goal at the Browns’$2 2. Run up the middle, no gain. Run up the middle for no gain on third down. On fourth down they faked a run up the middle—who’s going to fall for a fake of something that just failed twice?—and rolled out erratic quasi-QB Scott Mitchell. Sack, loss of 10.

Worst Temporal Anomaly: As the half ticked down against the Steelers, Flaming Thumbtacks receiver Derrick Mason caught a pass deep in Pittsburgh territory, then furiously raced sideways across the field to get out of bounds. Mason dove out of bounds just as the clock hit double zeroes. Tennessee had all three of its timeouts.

Worst Defensive: Leading by eight, the Packers had Detroit facing fourth and eight on the 29 with 16 seconds remaining. In this situation coaches preach, “Keep him in front of you”—the defense holds all the cards unless someone gets behind the deepest DB, and since the defense knows that is what the offense must do, it’s impossible, right? Lions receiver Scotty Anderson got behind not one but two Green Bay gentlemen for the score.

Stats of the Week: Buffalo is 1-9 despite having outgained its opponents.

Stat No. 2: The Jets are 7-3 despite having been outgained.

Stat No. 3: The Eagles scored three points after recording 84 in the previous two games.

Stat No. 4: Through 10 games, Peyton Manning has thrown five interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Stat No. 5: The Horsies lost despite 491 yards of offense and 30 first downs.

Stat No. 6: Halfbacks Ki-Jana Carter, Garrison Hearst, and Antowain Smith—all No. 1 draft choices waived by their original teams—ran for a combined 273 yards and five touchdowns.

Stat No. 7: The Bengals played three quarterbacks. They combined for five interceptions and zero points.

Crowd Error of the Week: Fans at the Dome at the Center of the Observable Universe booed their home Rams repeatedly last night. The Rams are only 8-2 and one year removed from the franchise’s first Super Bowl win—what have you done for us lately? Plus you can’t enjoy that intergalactic attack without the occasional misfire outing that generates turnovers. TMQ guesses Kurt Warner’s pumped-maser high-ultraviolet transponder was misaligned, or something.

Blueberry-Almond Martini: TMQ often jibes about this beverage. Here is the recipe.

1½ ounces bargain vodka (Mr. Boston preferred; save your Absolut and Skyy)
½ ounce vanilla-almond-cinnamon-caramel schnapps
½ ounce blue curaçao
fresh blueberries, peeled and lightly braised
dash ginko biloba

Combine ingredients with crushed ice in cocktail pitcher and shake; ideally, have Jennifer Lopez shake it. (Note: Whenever Jennifer Lopez present, ask her to shake it.) Strain into martini glass. Drink as much as you can stand. Pour remainder down drain, switch to beer.

Latest Summerall-Madden Seniors’ Moment: While yakking nonstop about turkey legs, football’s oblivious booth team missed the fact that the Green Bay touchdown to tight end David Martin came on the rare tackle-eligible play. Center Frank Winters lined up outside on an unbalanced line and zoomed into the flat; he was grabbed by a flummoxed Detroit defender; after Brett Favre found Martin as the secondary receiver, the Packers had to decline the holding call. Neither Summerall nor Madden said a word regarding this, yak-yak-yakking about Madden’s endless self-promotion projects as replays showed the once-a-season sight of a tackle sprinting out for the pass.

Sinister Frostback Infiltration: Seattle’s long snapper is Jean-Philippe Darche, graduate of McGill University in Quebec. Frog-talking frostbacks infiltrate the NFL! Croyez-vous que les beignets de l’Amérique sont sûrs? (Do you believe America’s doughnuts are safe?)

Second Consecutive Week With a Nipple Item: Responding to last week’s entry on how the Victoria’s Secret TV models were supposedly wearing sheer lingerie yet appeared to have no nipples, a perhaps highly knowledgeable reader teases in haiku,

TMQ laments
Vicky’s Secret nipple dearth—

bring in Bodyperks!

It seems Bodyperks— “now also available in mocha”—are bra insets that give women notable, seemingly always-erect nipples. The company’s Web site contains a lively users’ dialogue regarding whether the frisky nipple look is erotic, sexist, empowering, or simply fun. TMQ votes for fun achieved the natural way, no bra. Women will complain this is not always comfortable. The real fear is that this would be bad for the economy; see last week’s item on how bra sales are the basis of American economic strength.

Take One Till the Fourth: TMQ opposes the coaches’ cards that say to go for two if trailing by five, ahead by eight, and so on. Unless you’re way behind, through the first three quarters you should just take the conversion kick because there is a strong chance future combinations of scoring will make you wish you could go back and get that singleton. If it’s 14-6 early and you get a touchdown, for example, TMQ would go for one, accepting 14-13, rather than try for the tie and end up stuck at 14-12. Only in the fourth quarter, when the likely scoring endgame has become clear, should coaches go for two.

Therefore another TMQ immutable law of football, Take One Until the Fourth (Unless Way Behind). Pittsburgh played this right on Sunday; kicking after a second-quarter touchdown made it Flaming Thumbtacks 14, Steelers 9, and the card said go for two. Later in the game Pittsburgh was glad to have taken that singleton when its lead was 27-24.

By contrast, consider the Rams-Saints contest of October. In the third, New Orleans scored to trail 24-22 and went for the deuce, failing; moments later New Orleans scored again and again went for the deuce, again failing. Had the Saints simply kicked both times, at that point they would have led 30-24, a much nicer margin than 28-24. (One of the annoying things about going for two early is that it may force you to go for two again.) New Orleans ended up winning with a field goal on the last play, but had it followed the immutable law of Take One Until the Fourth, it would have been ahead on its final possession and merely needed to kill the clock, not score.

On Turkey Day, Dallas flubbed the other end of this law, not switching to deuce tries in the fourth. Trailing 26-16 with seven minutes left, ‘Girls coaches inexplicably went for one. This late, the scoring endgame is clear, and what was clear was that if Dallas converted a deuce, then a touchdown and another deuce, it would force overtime. Coach Dave Campo said he kicked because the odds of consecutive deuce conversions aren’t good. True, but consider that if he goes for two and misses, then he needs to score twice; if he settles for one, then he needs to score twice. Thus a missed deuce would not have harmed the Dallas tactical position while a made deuce could have put the ‘Girls within striking distance. Plus what do you have to lose at 2-7? Aye carumba.

Naked Jewish Mega-Babe of the Week: Fully understanding the spiritual concerns of Tuesday Morning Quarterback, many readers have written in to point out that Playboy’sMiss November, the extremely scrumptious Lindsey Vuolo, is the first Playmate to describe herself as an observant Jew—even, Conservative Jewish! Check thisBeliefnet interview of Vuolo by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, author of Kosher Sex, in which Playmate and clergy agree that nude is beautiful, and Vuolo says she doesn’t mind if her own rabbi gawks at the pictorial. She’d better not mind as Playboy sales at drugstores near her shul are likely to have risen.

Now, TMQ himself writes for Beliefnet, even helped with its founding—why did they choose a rabbi for this interview when I have the necessary expertise? TMQ would have kept the conversation off tedious moral and religious subjects and firmly focused on topics that begin with “T” and “A”—cf this week’s haiku by Suzanne Charpentier.Plus TMQ would have demanded to inspect the proof that it was really her bod in the pictorial. Check out the extremely scrumptious Lindsey Vuolo—King David would have thrown over Bathsheba for her in a Dixie minute—here. (Delicate sensibilities note: racy nude poses, definitely not Old Testament-style.)

To top it all off, this naked mega-babe is a graduate of—Indiana of Pennsylvania University! A reader rhapsodizes in haiku,

Lindsayshiksa? No!
Once at IUP they gawked,
now millions fold out
—Jonathan Paul

G-Men, Please Start Bickering: Spiraling toward the water are the defending NFC champ Giants, 5-7 since their magnificent 41-0 title win over Minnesota last January. New York/A is now a long shot for the playoffs, actually trailing the Chesapeake Watershed Region Indigenous Persons in the standings. What went wrong? One factor is that the team’s cut-rate cast-off offensive line, which had a fabulous season in 2000, has run out of fairy dust. For instance, lumbering twice-waived guard Glenn Parker, who last year performed at a Pro Bowl level, has this year merely lumbered. (This season the Bears’ no-name OL is having the year the Giants’ OL had last year.)

Another problem is that runaway victory in the NFC title game mashed the Giants’ sense of perspective, convincing them they are a Rams-class lightning-passing team when they are a Parcells-class ball-control team. The Giants’ unstoppable passing in the NFC championship was a fluke based on the football gods smiling and the Vikes having a crummy defense; this year the G-Men have continued to attempt quick-strike game plans, and nobody’s falling for it. Only the Rams can run the Rams attack, and that’s because their players carry n-spectral muon resequencers from Kurt Warner’s homeworld.

But the essence of the Giants’ problem is that they aren’t squabbling enough in public. In New York, public bickering is considered healthy; the mayor’s office could not function otherwise. Last season the G-Men squabbled, whined, and won. This season they have been mysteriously circumspect and are struggling.

Next Month—Playboy’s Islamic Miss January With Full Frontal Ankles: For an article on how Taliban leadership favors Toyota Land Cruisers, a company spokesman told the New York Times this “shows that the Taliban are looking for the same qualities as any truck buyer: durability and reliability.” What about off-road performance on minefields? Let’s hope Osama Bin Laden did not buy the rust-proofing because he won’t live long enough to use the warranty.

Reader Haiku: Submit via the “Fray.”

Twins are in trouble,

contraction fears at the Dome.

Please take Vikes instead.

Turkey Day no feast

for ‘Girls, Lions fans. Home teams

gobbled on the field.

—Jim and Mary Travis

Poet abandons field to

gawk at cheerleaders.

—Suzanne Georgette Charpentier
Sports, sci-fi, and sex.

TMQ groks this Strange Land:

Heinlein would be proud.

A.J. LaFollette Flutie’s Calgary

backup: Garcia. Font of


Joel Barker, London, Ontario

Were They Ordering From Land’s End, Too? When ESPN staged an instant online poll during a referee’s review at 9:58 p.m. ET Sunday, 70,934 voted in 90 seconds. That many people are watching the NFL and are online simultaneously? I thought the Old Media had declared the Web passé.

Haiku of the Week: TMQ honors with a stylish cap this incredible suck-up haiku from a reader in Altoona, Pa., regarding the incredibly cleverly titled book Tuesday Morning Quarterback:

Have told all my friends

TMQ book on wish list.

Hope Santa knows, too!

Angela Bucher

Have I mentioned that the book—which is new stuff, not a collection of past columns—is now in stores? You can also buy it here.

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Stop Me No. 1: Game tied, Miami took the ball at the Buffalo 42 with 1:05 remaining and no timeouts, facing a strong wind that meant no long field-goal attempt. Buffalo blitzed on every snap for the remainder of the contest. Three-play Miami touchdown drive for the win.

Stop Me No. 2: Trailing 21-10, the Giants had Oakland facing third and seven on the New York 19 early in the fourth. If the G-Men play straight defense—the average NFL pass attempt yields 6.2 yards—chances are the Raiders kick a field goal and the home team is still only down 14. Instead, it’s a blitz! Seven gentlemen cross the line, this tactic rarely seen because it rarely works. It didn’t work here; easy touchdown pass to Tim Brown puts the game out of reach.

Hidden Indicator: Nine of the 15 losing teams had more offensive yardage than the victors. 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

ObscureCollege Score of the Week: Mount Union 32, Augustana 7, Division III playoffs. Augustana, “a selective college,” has a lovely riverside campus in Rock Island, Ill., “part of the Quad Cities area.” (Quick, name the other three cities of the Quad.) Campus organizations include a branch of the Psychological Club—”so, TMQ, what made you decide to mention that?”—and six choral ensembles.

Bonus Obscure Score: UC-Davis 42, Tarleton State 25, Division II playoffs. Located in Stephenville, Texas, “twice designated as one of the top 100 small towns in the United States,” Tarleton held an incredible 47-event homecoming that included a Yell Contest, 72-hour drum-beating marathon, Snake Dance, and an alumni association “Past Presidents Luncheon by Invitation Only,” in case you were confused about whether you are a past president. Check out the school’s TCU-look-alike purple unis.  

Double Bonus Obscure Score: Georgetown of Kentucky 76, Campbellsville 9, NAIA playoffs. Although the existence of Miami of Ohio forces the University of Miami to call itself Miami of Florida, why does the existence of Georgetown of Kentucky—proudly noting it is ranked “one of the 100 best college buys by Institutional Research & Evaluation, Inc.”—not force Georgetown University to call itself Georgetown of Columbia?

Most Embarrassing Dennis Miller Moment: Last night’s monologue was 45 seconds, his shortest ever—truly, they have transformed a good comedian into a bad announcer. And the new shtick of pretending he’s not paying attention? People not paying attention is Monday Night Football’s core problem; perhaps Miller should decline to encourage the phenomenon.

New York Times Final-Score Score: Once again the Paper of Guesses goes 0-15 in its quixotic attempt to predict an exact final score, bringing the New York Times Final-Score Score to 0-158 this season and 0-418 since TMQ began tracking.

Reader Animadversion: Readers continue to debate the critical issue of how many bottomless pits there are in Star Wars flicks. “AllenB” protests in haiku TMQ’s accounting, his verse notable for innovative use of the past tense “swang”:

You forgot one pit:

in Movie 4, over which

Luke and Leia swang.

Several readers protested that two bottomless pits TMQ did count—the one Obi-Wan creeps around in the Death Star and the one in the emperor’s chamber—could not have been bottomless since both were within spaceships, and however huge, ships are finite. Well, what if the pits led to dimensional doorways to Gorzon’s galaxy, huh? Meanwhile reader “C-Mart” haikuizes,

Bottomless: It’s the

only word TMQ likes

better than topless.

Topless, bottomless—please don’t force me to choose. Though it would be interesting to know which the Talmud favors.

Mark Romoser notes that although TMQ complains of frostback infiltration, Canadians call each other “hosers,” after consuming a few blueberry-almond martinis at least. Mark further suggests that there be a frostback position in CFL rules: halfback, fullback, frostback.

Numerous readers pointed out that the correct spelling is “Pittsburg” of Kansas. (Sadly, the “Nation’s Only Gorillas” were bounced from the Division II playoffs by North Dakota State.) The correction in this haiku from “Johnny B”:

Pittsburg State—no “h.”

The Gorillas howl far from

Pittsburgh of Keystone.

In his pensive moments, TMQ occasionally switches from contemplating nude mega-babes to the question of whether Pittsburg of Kansas or California of Pennsylvania has the best name in college ranks. Miami of Ohio is also up there but too well-known, though it does have the virtue of forcing enormous University of Miami to call itself Miami of Florida.

Many readers objected that Peyton Manning’s first-in-NFL-history touchdown walk would not have been called back because the Horsies had eight men on the line. The rule only specifies a minimum of seven on the line; more are allowed, though you lose an eligible receiver for each extra man up. TMQ thinks the point does not change—there’s no way this touchdown ever would have counted. The reason Manning was able to stroll unmolested is that the Saints heard the inadvertent whistle and stopped play. If the whistle had not inadvertently blown, Manning would have been creamed.

“Utek” notes that after Manning’s fake spike, the Horsies went into a tailspin, while since Dan Marino’s fake-spike touchdown against the Jets, the Dolphins have lost again and again to New York/B. Perhaps, Utek says, the football gods punish QBs who abuse the spike rule, designed as it was to protect quarterbacks.

Finally reader Clark asks, if the Jaguars are known as “Jags” and the Buccaneers as “Bucs,” what should the Titans shorthand be?

Last Week’s Challenge … was to name the most famous Indiana of Pennsylvania alum in NFL annals or to say who said, “I keeek a touchdown.”

Steve Stenton and others argued that the late Art Rooney was the leading IUP alum while “EO” noted that “former All-American IUP linebacker Gregg Schmidt is certainly the most tastefully named.” But it’s Jim Haslett, holder of the school’s record for most punts in a game (13), member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Pro Bowl linebacker, and only Saints coach ever with a postseason victory. A stylish TMQ cap to Jake Wolman, present Scotland resident but with a hometown of Pelham, N.Y., for answering in haiku:

Saints coach Jim Haslett,

famous IUP alum.

He is not obscure.

On “I keeek a touchdown,” readers debated whether this line, used by Lions-DT-turned-broadcaster Alex Karras to ridicule foreign-born place-kickers, was actually said by a place-kicker or made up. Karras often piped “I keeek a touchdown” on the Johnny Carson Show and when calling games on national television. TMQ finds it some kind of sociological barometer that 25 years ago when Karras would say this, and open immigration to the United States was an unqualified success story, it was perfectly acceptable to mock foreign arrivals on national television. Today, after thousands of Americans have just been murdered by visa holders, no one would dream of saying anything derogatory about immigrants on national television.

Rick Wilson supposes, in limerick form, that Karras—whose career peak was the fittingly oafish character Mongo in Blazing Saddles—made up the line:

Alex Karras, for what his opinion’s worth,

disliked soccer-style kickers of foreign birth.

His D-lineman putdown

was to mock: “I keeek a touchdown!”

Why I recall that I have no idea on earth.

But reader Eric Peterson has found the smoking gun, this link to a Sporting News archive in which Garo Yepremian admits he did once say this and feels annoyed that Karras got the publicity instead of him.

This Week’s Challenge: TMQ yields to no one in love of the frozen North, based on his beautiful Canadio-American roots—both parents Canadian. But really, can’t a great nation improve on “O Canada”? Its lyrics:

O Canada! Our home and native land.

True patriot love, in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise

The true north strong and free.

From far and wide, O Canada,

we stand on guard for thee.

God make our land glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Terre de nos aïeux.

Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux.

Car ton bras sait porter l’épé,

Il sait porter la croix.

Ton histoire est une épopée,

Des plus brillants exploits.

Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,

Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

TMQ has always adored that “the true north” line. (You can read the incredible story behind the anthem—a Quebec musician and music dealer, Arthur Lavigne, published the tune without copyright, but few copies sold”—here.) But what’s up with reprises of “stand on guard” —against what, the Wisconsin cheese menace? It’s been 189 years since anyone attacked Canada, though possibly this is an oversight.

This week’s challenge is to propose enhanced lyrics for “O Canada.” Limit of nine lines, the actual number; must be English. (Sorry, Quebecois.) Submit entries via the Fray, and remember to include your e-mail in the unlikely event you are honored by our panels of hosers.

CREDITS: Three-dimensional naked mega-babe holographic pop-up (what, you don’t have the special glasses?) by Industrial Light and Magic. Summerall-Madden-1921 joke by Official TMQ Brother-in-Law James Kennelly of Gillette, N.J.