Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Would You Put Yourself on the Cover of Madden?

Never thought I'd see the day. Really, I didn't: Shaun Alexander succumbed to the Madden Curse.


All preseason, I ignored the signs - and there were plenty. His best O-lineman left for Lake Minnatonka because of a poison pill. He got a fat new contract. He appeared in every commercial ever, the freaking sell out. He was on the cover of Madden.

But I was in denial. Somewhere along the line, I had a change of heart. I slowly started seeing the signs. 50 yards and a TD. That's all he was capable of? I questioned his desire. I called him complacent. I kicked several wiener dogs and John Clayton. I turned on the man who handed me my first fantasy championship ever.

I had all but made up my mind to trade him. I was simply waiting for Tuesday, for the dust to settle from Week 3, and then I was pulling the trigger (on a trade, not on the gun pointed at my head). Then the headline pops up: "Reigning MVP out indefinitely." Um....fuck.

This was the two-by-four that broke the camel's back. I believe now, John. You convinced me. I get it, alright? You can knock it off now.

I was never a Madden Curse Believer. I always thought the proof was a little flimsy: Eddie George had a career year. Ray Lewis still had a good year. Donovan McNabb...well, who wouldn't feel the affects of pairing yourself with TO? And Faulk, well...Martz was in the midst of ruining his career anyways. Vick and Culpepper? Hey, Madden, you put two scrambling QB's on the cover, you run a little risk, eh?

But this one hits home, John. This was completely unnecessary. Shaun never did anything to you! None of those other players had hopes and fantasy dreams pinned on them like Shaun. He's a good guy John!

This was just collateral damage to prove a point. This was like Hadley killing that crying inmate at the beginning of Shawshank: we get it, man. You do as you please with no repercussions. But you don't have to be a jerk about it.

Hopefully this is just a couple weeks, and Shaun comes back sooner rather than later with a renewed a vengence. He still is an elite back with all-world potential, and Lord knows the T-Birds need him.

But Alexander going down raises a bigger question: would you, as an NFL supa-star, allow yourself to be put on the cover of Madden? I can't imagine anyone except Tiki Barber agreeing to do so (he'll do anything, man - anything). Athletes are notoriously driven by routine and superstition. The Madden Curse - believe it or not - has seemed to have reached a point where you don't even want to mess with it, if only because you'll have to deflect questions and rumors about it all year. Why would you even want to deal with it? Surely it can be that much more money than you are already making?

I just don't see how its worth it.

But someone has to be on the cover next year. Here's the most likely candidates:

Peyton Manning (2:1). He's up there with Tiki Barber for Top Sellout of the Year (not that that's a bad thing, per se...just sayin'). Is there a product associated with the NFL that Peyton doesn't endorse? Don't get me wrong, I love every single commercial he's done - checkin' to pancakes! - but he's clearly a Madison Ave. darling and the clear cut favorite to grace the cover in 2007. Which means one thing and one thing only: Let the Jim Sorgi Era begin.

Reggie Bush (2.5:1). Don't do it, Reggie! Just don't! I know you are dying to be on the cover with your bad-ass stare and your 619 eye-black strips, but this isn't just for your own good: this is for the good of the entire NFL. On behalf of humanity, just don't do it, alright?

Carson Palmer (4:1). Comeback player of the year tosses 35 TDs and leads a deep playoff run? Sounds good to me. You thought coming back from a torn ACL was tough, Carson? Try bouncing back from the Madden Cover Jinx. You'll be vacationing with Kimo von Olhaffen (I am not looking up how to spell his name - that's how it sounds and you know who I mean) in a month.

LaDanian Tomlinson (6:1). "This is Sports Center." Then Briscoe High. Madden seems to be the next logical step for our visor-wearing halfback. LT is on pace for one hell of a fantasy season. You think the Madden Curse is scared? Hmpf. You've no idea its power! None!

Duante Culpepper (1,000,000:1). This is what Madden should do: throw Culpepper on the cover. Yea, sales may plummet, but what's the worst that could happen to Peps? They actually lose to the Titans? I see the exact opposite happening: Culpepper reverse jinxes Madden and rejuvenates himself back into his form from two years ago, and in the process, eliminates The Curse altogether! Yea! This could work! No, really!

This plan is completely infallible. Its really the only course of action. Just do it John. Before we all hate you. There's still time.

Either that, or do us all a favor and put Joe Theisman on the cover.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

I'm Positive. Well, I'm Pretty Sure.

I just want to make this prediction before things get completely out of hand, and everyone jumps on this bandwagon: The Raiders are going winless this season. 0-16. Mark it down.

I really don't see how they can turn it around. I mean, do you? Aaron Brooks is the best QB they have. Think about that. Their O-line just gets absolutely manhandled. Randy Moss just quit. (Seriously, if you think Mr. I Play When I Wanna is trying hard at all this season, well...you're wrong.)

And then there's Art Shell. I remember Simmons talking about younger people being exposed to him for the first time, and seeing his blank stares and non-reactions, and I thought he was exaggerating. He was being kind. Shell lifelessly stares at the field, an I'm not even sure he's even seeing what is going on. The Raiders will commit their ninth consecutive false start, and he won't even flinch. Hey, maybe it's a defense mechanism (which, sadly, would be the only defense the Raiders have employed all season); you know, just blocking it all out. Could you blame him?

Not only will the Raidaaaaas (go to hell, Berman) go winless, but this season has the potential to be off-the-charts on several levels: comedic, sad, embarrassing, historical, depressing, secretly enjoyable and many more. There's really something for everybody. I mean, when you have you're No. 2 wide receiver being accused of openly cheering for your team to lose - by the second week of the season - you are off to a tremendous start. And when that same receiver denies that accusation by saying he wasn't even playing attention, so how could he have possibly been cheering for anyone at all?...well, that's just special.

Let's take a peek at their remaining schedule, shall we? With a close eye on everybody's favorite teammate, of course.

I have never been more pumped to start Braylon Edwards for my fantasy team. Romeo Crennell kinda resembles Art Shell, a little, though, doesn't he? Minus the whole coma thing.
Jerry Porter Update: Our main man is spotted ordering pizza, nachos, and a large creatine shake from the concession in mid-game. Denies allegations.

@ San Fran
Alex Smith, welcome to your coming out party. That frisky Niners D you saw pressure McNabb in the second half on Sunday? Let's just say they may become acquainted with The Glitch.
Jerry Porter Update: Porter is seen giving Art Shell bunny ears during the first quarter while Shell stares aimlessly into space.

@ Denver
Mike Shannahan may be a little excited for this one, no? Seizing the chance to humiliate his former employer, the Broncos run up the score to the tune of 113-0. Al Davis becomes so distraught, he uses shampoo by accident.
Jerry Porter Update: Jerry brings a trampoline onto the field, jumps on it, and blocks a field goal in the second quarter. Art Shell doesn't blink. Porter denies using the trampoline, but will later accept an ESPY for Most Entertaining Play of the Year a few months later.

You know, the Raiders have a pretty crappy schedule up to this point, all things considered. I'm really excited to see how the Raiders blow these games against sub-par teams. On a side note, Kurt Warner should get some PT in this one.
Jerry Porter Update: Porter organizes a Texas Hold 'Em tournament on the sideline. Art Shell's poker face is unrivaled.

Um, 'member what I said 'bout a crappy schedule? I'ma go ahead and take that back now. Their next 5 games are absolutely brutal. Troy Paulamalu is going to invite some of his Briscoe High teammates to play in this one...like the actors and the extras and stuff. Joey Porter's horse-murdering dog may also see some time.
Jerry Porter Update: In honor of Pittsburgh running back Najeh Davenport, Porter poops on the Steelers logo...and doesn't wipe.

@ Seattle
Phillip Rivers had success through the air against these guys. I'm sure the Hasslebeck and his B-listers will have mild success through the air. (Ed. note: "the Hasslebeck" was a typo...but it made me laugh. So I'm leaving it in, and from now on, the bald QB in Seattle with the worst NFL Network commercials ever will be referred to as "The Hasslebeck.")
Jerry Porter Update: Joey spitshines his WWF belt for much of the third quarter. During the fourth, he straps it on, struts over to Randy Moss and says "Bet you wish you had one of these!" Moss bursts into tears, sobbing over and over again: "I do, I do wish I had one of those, you're right, I do."

Oh boy. Back to Denver again. Shanahan is so excited, he has to employ the Boner Tuck all game. Nothing worse than the Boner Tuck - "Will you do the next problem at the board?" "Oh shit...um yea...one sec...can I take my notebook? No...OK, hang on..." - but Shanahan doesn't mind. In fact, he looks like Mr. Enzyte all game.
Jerry Porter Update: Porter goes to the game naked with a barrell around his torso. Paints his face orange and blue. Carries a stick with a Bronco head mounted on the end. Denies cheering for Denver.

@ Kansas City
There were three great fantasy backs heading into the season: LT - who lit the Raiders up without even really trying on opening week; Shaun Alexander - who tripped on a wiener dog and broke his foot, but should be back in time to run rampant on Oakland in Week 9; and finally Larry Johnson. This is going to be an absolute blood bath. With no passing game to speak off - Damon Huard? - the Chiefs will be forced to run it every single time, no exceptions, like the forward pass hasn't even been invented yet. LJ will be near 300 yards. I'm telling you, this will be an historic night. Mark your calendars.
Jerry Porter Update: Porter challenges Ronald Curry to a game of one-on-one. Sets up a portable hoop on the sideline. Curry wins only when Porter double-dribbles on game point.

@ San Diego
LT, Part deaux. By now, I would imagine the Raiders have quit altogether. They are just openly mailing it in. Warren Sapp playing quarterback, letting Jerry Porter wear his WWF belt during games, Art Shell is taking naps on the sidelines. Plus, LT will be mad that LJ (nicknames suck anymore, you know that?) did so well last week, he will be inspired to go for 400 yards.
Jerry Porter Update: Porter comes to the game visibly drunk. He takes a shot every time he comes off the field in the first half. In the second half, he attempts to play "Edward 40 Hands" and still catch a pass. He is unsuccessful, but does pee on the goalpost, saying, "That's nice...ah, that's nice."

Now, you might think late in the season that the Raiders could steal one from Houston, right? I mean, for all intents and purposes, this game will likely decide the No. 1 draft pick. And do you think Houston wants anything to do with that position ever, ever again? Hell no. An inspired Luigi Williams runs roughshod over Robert Gallery en route to Rookie of the Week Honors, a Texans win and the No. 2 overall pick.

(While we're here: You know how there is Rookie of the Week, Month, Year, etc? Why can't there be awards for "Second-Year POY?" And third year? And so on? Can't each year have its own awards? I think that would be fun. Plus, guys like Brad Johnson and Morten Anderson would win an award every single week. And wouldn't it be fun to see who did they best from the Class of 1998? Something to think about, anyways.)

Jerry Porter Update: Porter is suspended one game for peeing on the goalpost, although he does cause YouTube to crash for the first time ever. Porter buys a ticket to the game, sits behind the Texans bench, and gives them the Raiders playbook. He has a hard time convincing them it really is their playbook at first - it is written on several napkins and half a legal tablet - but eventually the inside info get Mario Williams his first sack.

@ Cincinnatti
Jerry Porter Update: Porter gives Art Shell a droopy. Twice. Shell blinks. Rest of team gasps in shock - that Shell blinked.

Another crappy team! Oakland can't be too mad at their schedule; they play some legitimately un-good teams. If they weren't entirely inept, they could scrape together 4 or 5 wins easily. Unfortunately, they are entirely inept, so they won't.
Jerry Porter Update: Porter buys some GHB from Sebastian Janakowski (he had some) and slips it into Art Shell's gatorade. Janakowski says "dat ess like shooting rhino with bee bee gun." Porter then takes the GHB himself and passes out on the 50 yard line.

Kansas City
KC/Oak is kind of a big rivalry, no? LJ comes back for crack numba two, and fantasy owners every where rejoice that he got to play Oakland in the playoffs.
Jerry Porter Update: Porter scores his first touchdown of the season and, as a celebration dance, masturbates in the endzone.

@ NY Jets
You think Mangina is going out with a loss? You think Shelled is going out with a win? That's what I thought.
Jerry Porter Update: Porter reenacts the opening scene from "The Last Boy Scout." Raider Nation applauds.

Read the Rest After the Jump...