Saints at Rams, Raiders at Eagles, Niners at Bears—wow, what an attractive Sunday card, combined record 24-7 for these hot teams. So which of the headliner games was shown in the nation’s capital, where TMQ lives? None. The nation’s capital saw only Jax at
The NFL continues to spend millions to field a quality, exciting product—then ensures that huge swaths of the country can’t see it by allowing local affiliates to choose crummy games. Worse, the networks break in with highlights, taunting with flashes of the much more interesting action in the great games you’re not seeing!
If given a choice of matchups pitting division leaders or cellar dwellers, half the nation’s local affiliates would lock on with laser-target-designator efficiency to the crummy contest. Or local affiliates choose “regional” matchups, even if bad teams are playing games as tedious as twice-told tales. Year after losing year, for example, most of the
Recognizing their smart-bomb-like flair for homing in on the worst possible game, a few local affiliates do the democratic thing and allow viewers to vote. As reader Ravi Nanavati points out, WBBM, the CBS affiliate in
Meanwhile the insidious home-sellout penalty refuses to die. Since 1973, when Congress voted to compel the NFL to air sold-out home games, there has been a catch: When a station shows a sold-out local game, it cannot show any other NFL game that day. This rule cancels the doubleheader if the sold-out home game is airing on the same network holding the doubleheader that week. (By contract, Fox and CBS rotate doubleheader weeks.) For cities that perpetually sell out their stadia—
Problems with the blackout catch are two. First, it penalizes fans for selling out the local stadium. Second, it penalizes owners by limiting ad revenues since so many good games aren’t shown in major cities; showing them would improve ratings and ad revenue. Meanwhile all bad local affiliate decisions reduce ratings and thus revenue. It’s not like viewing of the top games appreciates and can be marketed later. Viewing is worth quite a bit while the games are in progress and is worthless one second after they end.
Why don’t advertisers, who have the financial clout, demand change? TMQ has no idea. Why were the blackout rules and local-affiliate rules instituted? The only rationalization TMQ has ever heard is that antediluvian owners, furious about Congress’ 1973 decision, wanted to do something, anything, to screw the fans.
Last year the league began loosening the blackout penalty to allow airing of some doubleheaders even when a home game is shown. But most local affiliates still won’t show a game in the early slot if a home game airs later. This is why the nation’s capital did not see Saints at Rams or Niners at Bears—WTTG,
Ah, to live in
The solution is DirecTV, with which you pay $169 for NFL Sunday Ticket and see every matchup. The problem is that most Americans don’t get DirecTV: Availability of this satellite service is erratic, with about 10 million subscribers. TMQ would dearly love to buy Sunday Ticket and be set free from the inanity of local affiliates. But lovely greenhouse-gas-absorbing trees block the view from his house of the southwestern sky, where the DirecTV satellite hangs. Many who might buy Sunday Ticket face other techno-barriers.
The NFL’s exclusive contract with DirecTV ends in two years, and presumably then Sunday Ticket will be available on every cable carrier, broadcast to your PalmPilot and projected onto the back of your sunglasses. Till then, viewers live in thrall of crummy games. If you have an example of an outrageous choice by a local affiliate, submit it via “ The Fray ” with specifics and station call letters. At least we can torment them.
In other NFL news, corks popped at 4:33 p.m. ET Sunday as the previously undefeated Rams left the field mumbling “No. !!%@&!&*” at the Dome at Center of the Observable Universe, or whatever the
Best of the Week. (Best Non-Plays): Game tied at 31, the Saints had first and goal at the Rams’ 8 with 1:48 remaining and
Best Stat-Padding: Saints DB Sammy Knight had an interception and a fumble recovery on the same play.
Best Merriment: Mike Brown returned an overtime pick for six to cap
Worst Plays of the Week: Facing fourth and an inch at the Ravens’ 8 in a scoreless first quarter, Jax lined up with an empty backfield, not even bothering to show run. You have to pass to gain an inch? Incomplete, change of possession, the Jaguars went on to lose by one. This also demonstrates the potency of TMQ’s law: Kick Early, Go for It Late.
Worst No. 2: Trailing 10-3, the
Worst Attempt at Divine Intervention: The “review assistant,” the anonymous gentleman in the NFL box who alone can challenge calls in the final two minutes, challenged both the Bears’ last-second touchdown and the ensuing last-second deuce conversion to force overtime. Both plays were upheld.
Worst Coaching No. 1: QB guru genius Mike Holmgren left Trent Dilfer—on a 20-4 run as a starter—on the bench as Matt Hasselbeck, 1-3 lifetime, honked to the Marine Mammals.
Worst Coaching No. 2: Trailing
Worst Rodomontade: As the gun sounded on the Persons’ win over the Giants, players doused coach Marty Schottenheimer with Gatorade.
Stats of the Week: Kordell Stewart recorded his second touchdown pass of the season at 10:06 p.m. ET on Oct. 29. Till that moment, the Steelers’ starting QB had been tied for the team lead in TD passes with RB Jerome Bettis, who had thrown once.
Stat No. 2: No one has a winning record in the NFC East.
Stat No. 3: All AFC East teams at or above .500 have surrendered more points than they have scored.
Stat No. 4: At 16 seconds, the Bears-Niners overtime was the shortest in NFL annals. At 10 yards, Dexter Coakley’s touchdown return of Plummer’s wild heave-ho was one of the shortest-everscores off an interception.
Stat No. 5:
Typo of the Week: NFL standings in the Boston Herald listed
Sensors Detect Temporal Anomaly in the Arrowhead Sector: Taking over with 45 seconds left in the half and three time-outs, trailing by seven, the Chiefs drove to the Horsies’ 30, where they kicked a field goal on second down because the clock was almost zeroed. During the possession,
Kurt Warner Expected To Attend: This week the
Forget the Titans: With last night’s loss,
Midrange Babes of the Week: TMQ was heartened to learn from the history of the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders that:
The 2001 swimsuit calendar shoot took place in the
Bahamas. And, for the first time in Miami Dolphins cheerleader history, the calendar features all 31 cheerleaders in swimwear.
The first time in Miami Dolphins cheerleader history! TMQ strongly favors swimwear for babes (cheerleaders being midrange, not quite mega), and future historians are much more likely to want to study Dolphin cheerleader history than most of what is produced in our era. Tuesday Morning Quarterback has long considered the Dolphins’ squad the epitome of NFL aesthetic appeal, the better-known
Cartographic Note: Now that TWA has flown into the sunset, the place the Rams play is renamed The Dome at
Researchers Note Rice Envy Syndrome: Two years ago, as he closed in on becoming the No. 2 receiver all-time behind Jerry Rice, rather than acting happy, Andre Reed became an incredible jerk—throwing tantrums on the sidelines, denouncing his teammates for not revering him enough. Now Cris Carter, who just passed Reed as No. 2 all-time behind Rice, has become an incredible jerk—throwing tantrums on the sidelines (against Tampa, Carter on the sideline looked like he needed milk, crackers, and a bedtime story), denouncing his teammates for not revering him enough. Sure, anthrax is the priority. But couldn’t some biologist devise a vaccine for the debilitating effects of Rice Envy Syndrome?
Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Persons 27, G-Men 21, seven minutes left, Persons facing third and 19 at their 24. All
Reader Haiku: Readers were brimming with verse this week. One concerns the item on Kate “I Love Being Naked”
The Rams have a Canidate
who knows how to run.
They win by running
and a powerful defense:
Pittsburgh is 2-D.
“Tastefully nude” is
easier for Kate Hudson
than, say, John Madden.
Monday Night Football,
Giants can’t put it away.
Birds win. Angie’s sad.
Pats, bane of Horsies!
New England swoon.
Bledsoe: Keep resting.
Panthers’ problem: no
Who will fumble now?
Wow! Look at those dimensions!
Damn, likes the Bible.
TMQ says, “Blitz
no good.” However, Steelers
get 10 sacks with it.
Dan Snyder takes a
Schottenheimer in the dark.
Now only grief, loss.
It’s Tuesday morning.
Stare at Slate. Refresh. Refresh.
Plug of the Week: The incredibly cleverly titled Tuesday Morning Quarterback is now in bookstores, and you can buy it here. TMQ, who is to one thing constant never, wishes it known that the book is new stuff, not a collection of columns. Also, there are swell retro-1950s graphics. The publisher is Universe, which usually does artsy coffee-table books of tasteful nudes. (TMQ, of course, favors tasteless nudity.) Unfortunately there are no nudes in Tuesday Morning Quarterback, but it’s got dozens of tasteful new haiku, including this one for
Vacuous bimbos. Yet oh,
Where the NFL?
The Football Gods Chortled: For this year’s office Halloween party, TMQ came wearing a big magnet: costumed as a babe magnet! In a cruel twist, all the attractive women from the office came dressed as men, so the magnet had no effect. It was touch-and-go whether it would even work on TMQ’s wife.
TMQ Insider Exclusive! Tuesday Morning Quarterback has learned exclusively that LB Levon Kirkland does not brush after every meal. Remember, this is a Tuesday Morning Quarterback exclusive.
Running Items Department
Bonus Obscure Score: Muhlenberg 23, Ursinus 20. Located in the pastorally named Collegeville, Pa., Ursinus is “a Dell Laptop Campus,” issuing every incoming frosh a Latitude deck. (So Mom and Dad, that tuition is really only …) Its admissions page points potential customers to an article deriding the myth that “if you don’t get into Harvard, Yale or
Double Bonus Obscure Score:
Most Embarrassing Dennis Miller Moment: Deliberately spitting all over himself in the opening shtick? Pu-leeze. The phrase “this isn’t funny anymore” applies at several levels. And how come MNF showed no shot of the giant animatronic ketchup bottle at Heinz Field? Best thing about the place. (Henceforth this venue will be Ketchup Field to TMQ.)
New York Times Final-Score Score: The Paper of Guesses goes 0-14 in its quixotic attempt to predict an exact final score, bringing the New York Times Final-Score Score to 0-99 for the season and 0-359 since TMQ began tracking. Reader Brian Golden’s generic final score—Home Team 24, Visiting Team 10—also whiffs, bringing this item to 0-27 since inception.
Misery loves company: CBS Sportsline’s Harmon Forecast, boasting to employ an incredibly scientifically advanced “mathematical formula” to pick winners “ between 72 percent and 78 percent of the time,” is just 50.5 percent for the season, calling 17 of the 27 games wrong the past two weeks. And this incredibly scientifically advanced formula is only picking straight up, not against the spread. (Note: Whisky and football picks are two of the three things that are best straight up.)
Reader Animadversion: Many readers noted that after Gorzon the Inexplicable warned that the starcruiser fleet hiding on the far side of Mars would cause NASA’s Odyssey probe to “mysteriously” fail, Odyssey entered Martian orbit flawlessly. Well—that’s what the sinister Galactic Hegemony (Did Somebody Say Invasion?) wants you to think! The probe seems to be beaming back reports that everything is quiet, cold, and harmless on the far side of Mars. But all we really know is that NASA is receiving telemetry on the Odyssey bands, and the telemetry is telling NASA exactly what it wants to hear. …
If the above item makes no sense to you, consult “ For Those Who Came in Late.” Meanwhile there seems to be debate in The Fray regarding whether readers want more captured Gorzon memos. Please submit your viewpoint to help me choose. Of course, the final decision will be completely arbitrary.
Last Week’s Challenge … was to find a quote from great literature embedded in the column. Reader John Wright suggested the phrase “the Bears are in first place” was in the original manuscript of Alice in Wonderland but cut by Lewis Carroll as too unrealistic. Many readers fell for “please don’ throw me into that blitz patch,” which sounds like a line from Song of the South but isn’t a quote. Others fell for “I knew the 1992 Chargers, the 1992 Chargers were friends of mine, and 2001 Lions, you are no 1992 Chargers,” which sounds like Lloyd Bentsen in his vice presidential debate with Dan Quayle, but neither Lloyd Bentsen’s speeches nor those of any living politician of whom TMQ is aware fall into the category of literature.
An impressive number of readers knew that “A touch, I do confess” was spoken by Laertes near the beginning of the bloody duel scene that ends Hamlet. On a completely arbitrary basis, Lisa Rosenthal of
Kyrie O’Connor noted that Laertes was a dangerous opponent despite being described as “fat and scant of breath,” and “Ed” went on to add that the same may be said of Jerome Bettis. Reader “Dersins” proposed that “a touch” was actually spoken by Billy Joe Laertes, second-string QB of the Elsinore Danes, and noted that all quarterbacks named Billy Joe seem “scant of breath.” Corky King asserted that from a close textual reading of Shakespeare’s original, you cannot be certain whether Hamlet and Laertes are dueling or playing John Madden Football on Nintendo. “DB” noted that “Before the scene ends, the season is over for Hamlet, Laertes, Claudius, Gertrude, and Herman Moore.” Even then, the guy could not stay healthy! Theo Mott observed that a line from the same scene—“another hit, what say you?”—sounds like Michael Strahan addressing a quarterback. Matthew Hall proposed that “Donovan McNabb” sounds like someone who should have been a bit player in Hamlet. (“Rosencranz, Gildenstern, and McNabb are here, sire.”) One reader summed it up all in haiku:
proclaim fencing’s protocol:
Both men are poisoned.
There was a second, more deeply embedded Shakespeare, McNabbed only by a few: Cornerbacks seek “no wind of blame.” Reader Stephen Salmon knew that Claudius promised Laertes if he killed Hamlet and made it look like an accident, “For his death no wind of blame shall breathe.” Kate Bagley of Spokane, Wash., takes another stylish TMQ cap for knowing that No Wind of Blame was also the title of a 1939 murder mystery by the cult bad writer Georgette Heyer. No Wind of Blame even includes a character named Ermyntrude, which is, Kate writes, “a mega-babe name if ever I heard one.” Check out a sample of Heyer’s prose:
“You think I did it!” Vicky cried, springing to her feet. “You’ve always thought so! Well you can’t prove it, any of you! You’ll never be able to prove it!”
“Vicky!” gasped Mary, quite horrified.
This week’s column also contains embedded quotations from literature, plus an obscure reference. Identify any, append a clever comment, and submit via The Fray. You may receive a stylish TMQ cap, but we promise nothing. Remember to include your e-mail in the unlikely event your submission is chosen.