Monday Night Football. Remember what it was like when you were growing up? It was an event. Whether it was listening to what Howard Cosell was going to say next, to see how bad Frank Gifford was going to butcher the game, or how pathetically bad Dennis Miller was going to be in the booth, you were there for entertainment. The football was good too. I remember when the Browns played Monday Night games in the 80’s, the games never disappointed. There was “The Lord” Bernie Kosar out-dueling Dan Marino in ’86. Felix Wright picking off not one, but two Jim Everett passes and going the other way for six against the Rams. Eric Dickerson coming to town with his Indianapolis Colts and getting shut down by Eddie Johnson and company. Frank Minniefield blocking a Jeff Hayes punt in the end zone and recovering it for a TD against the Bengals. What about the 85 Bears losing their only game in Miami in front of a national audience? Marino, Duper and Clayton had it going on that night. Even in the 90’s you had the epic Jets comeback over the Dolphins where tackle Jumbo Elliott made the memorable game-tying TD catch to force OT. The games had cache and meant something.
Because of my fantasy football season hinging on last night’s game. I forced myself to sit through four quarters of the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings. I’d like to call commissioner Roger Goodell and ask him for those three and a half hours of my life back. For those of you who didn’t watch (you were the lucky ones), you weren’t subjected to some of the worst offense you could imagine. Take the QB’s in this game. Remember when Elway used to duel against Marino? What about Young vs. Aikman? Montana vs. Simms? Moon vs. Esiason? Hell, I would have taken Bubby Brister against Ken O’Brien last night over what I witnessed with the great Tavaras Jackson/Kyle Orton clash of the titans. It was comical. It was a battle of who could look worse trying to attempt a pass play.
Give Ron Jaworski a ton of credit last night. He is no shill for the game he loves so much. He told it like it was. He ripped Jackson’s mechanics at least five times with replays showing him throwing off balance and missing wide-open receivers because of it. One of his four interceptions was a pass a high school backup QB wouldn’t have made. He literally put one up for grabs right down the middle of the field. Jaws was all over the only big play Jackson made last night as well, the 70 yard pass to Robert Ferguson who was tackled at the one. Paraphrasing Jaws: Jackson was too busy celebrating to get his team up to the line for the next play, causing the play to get in late.
To illustrate how bad the Bears offense was, Jackson threw three bad interceptions and the Vikings fumbled a hand-off exchange in the red zone, yet they only scored 13 points. If not for the turnovers, they wouldn’t have scored. I can’t get on Orton too hard. I mean the guy hasn’t started a game in three years and hasn’t taken a snap all year. He was playing with a backfield of the other Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe. His offense line doesn’t run block. Other than the irrepressible Devin Hester, the offense is devoid of playmakers. All that said, Orton couldn’t complete any pass that wasn’t in the 5-8 yard range. He attempted 38 passes, yet only threw for 184.
You could say it was two defenses playing well, but that wouldn’t be giving enough credence to how bad the offenses were. Tony Kornheiser and Mike Tirico took finding new ways to utter the statement “these two teams are setting offenses back decades.” Even Mikey T, the man who is rarely likes to ruffle feathers, sounded like a guy who was disgusted that he was forced to sit through four quarters of this garbage.
Take the Vikings super-rookie RB Adrian Peterson and the adventure that is kicking to Hester, there was nothing to stay tuned for. The saddest thing of it all was that the Vikings control their own destiny for a playoff spot in the NFC. That’s right, a Tavaras Jackson-led team could make the playoffs. Those who wanted parity, take the Patriots and the Colts out of the mix and you’ve got it in spades.
I’ve said this a million times, but it bears repeating, Fantasy Football and gambling mask the unbelievably bad quality of football we are all consuming.