Can we please play some real football now?
The National League Football season hasn’t started. It doesn’t start until the crowds willingly fill the stadiums, the rosters have fewer names than Jose Canseco’s alleged steroid list and the Terrell Owens virus afflicts another team. While the weeks before the real games begin should be like the few seconds between when you cut a piece of a juicy filet mignon and take a bit, it’s more like waiting in line for hours at an amusement park.You can see the roller coaster whipping riders upside-down at break-neck speeds, but then your other senses start to take over. You get a whiff of the body odor of the 40-year old guy wearing a sleeveless T-shirt in front of you. You accidentally touch a freshly-discarded wad of gum that sticks to your fingers. You hear a little kid lose his lunch after he stumbles away from the ride. And then you bite into an under-cooked hot dog.Welcome to the preseason.A good loss
There are plenty of reasons to shorten the preseason, but one incident typified the inane aspect of what are glorified tryouts.Monday night, the Minnesota Vikings trailed the Oakland Raiders by three points (this game on prime time television is enough to make you flip the channel to C-SPAN), and had the ball in Oakland territory as the fourth quarter came to a close.Monday Night Football announcer Tony Kornheiser suggested that Brad Childress to end the game, claiming it was already past his bedtime. Childress made Kornheiser’s night, leaving in his 1,000th string quarterback, T.J. O’Sullivan, in the game instead of sending out his kicker.When even the coaches don’t want to play an extra quarter in the first preseason game, you know there’s something wrong.And when quarterback, whom the coach left in to win the game, will sign on with the Toronto Argonauts two weeks later as the holder for extra points, you’ll feel like you wasted space in your brain ever learning his name.Not fairIn case you haven’t tuned in to ESPN for five seconds in the past year, I’ll let you in on a little secret: MNF is ESPN’s new posterchild. Why do you think the crew of Kornheiser, Joe Theisman and Mike Tirico had to suffer through four quarters of a Vikings Raiders game?
If the starters on the field only have to play one or two series, I think the announcers should be afforded the same courtesy. How can any announcer be expected to know enough about third-string offensive lineman to keep me from falling asleep? Throw in a guest announcer like Dennis Miller or a drunk Joe Namath for the second half, and you’ll get some good ratings.And if coaches are concerned with players sustaining injuries, shouldn’t the ESPN executives want to give the announcers as little air time as possible to protect their larynx’s?Show’s overHere’s another reason I can’t wait for the real season to begin: T.O.For those of you not privy enough to an Associated Press wire, let me tell you what you aren’t missing: A daily Owens report. Yes, there is a story that comes across each night providing all the salient details of T.O.’s activities.Do I care what the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, does when he’s not making nuclear weapons or talking about how he wants to destroy the “Zionist enemy?” No. So why should I care about T.O., the NFL’s loudmouth, when he’s not catching passes? I’d rather know what’s on Kim-Jong Il’s iPod than what antics T.O. is up to while not practicing with his team.
Just in case anyone is wondering, Wednesday’s report started as such, “For the first time in two weeks, Owens practiced with the Cowboys, even though he says he’s still not 100 percent recovered from a hamstring problem.” That one sentence can replace two weeks worth of commentary.I know coaches need preseason to eye all of the talent the team drafted, but this is a solvable problem. Don’t sign as many players. How many of the late-round draft picks does each team end up keeping? And how many of those guys will do anything more than try and break through a wedge on a kickoff?For every no-name player you don’t draft and promptly cut, you can devote that attention to players you can expect to play, like T.O.OK, enough whining for now. I’ll just spend the next few weeks in the long roller coaster line, amusing myself by checking baseball scores on my cell phone incessantly. I better get the front car if I’m waiting this long.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado