Hiding in Plain Sight
Last week Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers played 34 minutes and recorded 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 0 assists. He managed two steals and two personal fouls and without those you may not have even know he was there.
Michael Wilbon made a brief argument on PTI that Fisher is a guy who does the “other things” to help his team win. I’m sure he was moving the ball, screening, playing some defense, and being a leader and a nice guy, but in 34 minutes you think he would pass it to a guy who would make a shot or he would accidentally run into a rebound. Fisher was just hiding in plain sight, not contributing anything noticeable.
Flashback to 2006:
*Comedy Central airs the last new Chapelle’s Show on July 23rd. Borat opens the first weekend of November at the top of the box office. The confluence of these two events that happened just 3+ months apart created a venn diagram overlap in pop culture relevance where it became virtually impossible to escape people quoting Chapelle/Borat, especially if you were in college at the time. Chapelle was on safari and done with the show, but new episodes aired with many re-runs of the old ones and three and a half months was not long enough for some people to beat those jokes to death. And then Borat happens. So the quote wheel keeps spinning for the frequent repeaters out there.
*Terrell Owens leads the NFL in touchdown receptions and has 1,180 yards receiving.
*Michael Vick throws for 2,474 yards and runs for 1,039 yards and combines for 22 TD’s.
*Larry Johnson is second in the league in rushing and rushing TD’s, with 1,789 yards and 17 TD’s. He also added 410 receiving yards and 2 receiving TD’s.
Now those three fantasy football studs are hiding in plain sight. Vick is out of jail and on the bench. TO is in Buffalo not doing a whole lot and Larry Johnson has been cut by the Chiefs for vomiting his thoughts on Twitter.
Many professional athletes and celebrities and people not famous have not yet evolved the filter between the brain and the fingertips. And it is not their fault. Evolution takes time and social networking is relatively new. The brain to mouth filter was not even fully evolved in many and now they are under stress to develop a second filter on the fly to protect themselves from their thoughts escaping through their fingertips to Twitter and the world. Maybe we should cut all these athletes who type stupid stuff a break because evolving that kind of ability will take generations.
Ups, Downs, and Laterals
Of course sports are cyclical and players begin to decline once they’ve reached a certain age, but TO, Vick, and Johnson seem to still have enough ability to offer a team something productive. Instead they are just being hidden in plain sight by their own specific circumstances.
While individual players find a way to hide in plain sight, it is very difficult for teams to hide team weaknesses. And at the half-way point of the NFL season, with the playoff picture forming, those weaknesses are apparent to everyone.
Three – maybe four – of the divisions are all but mathematically clinched. It would take a melt down of New York Mets proportion for the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, or Minnesota Vikings not to win their division.
The Colts and Saints both remain undefeated after getting challenged hard by the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers. A missed FG by Kris Brown of the Texans prevented Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and DeMeco Ryans from taking a shot at Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and company in overtime. The Colts have played two tight games in a row.
The Panthers were marching, nearing FG range, down three with less than three minutes to go in the 4th quarter when Jake Delhomme fumbled and New Orleans recovered. Three and out for the Saints, followed by a DeAngelo Williams fumble returned for a TD by New Orleans on Carolina’s ensuing possession put the Saints up 10 with 2:00 to go and there’s your ball game.
The Vikings sat the week out on a bye and still gained ground in the division with the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers losing. No word yet on any team boating excursions during the week off. Had there been some sort of team building exercise, I’m sure Twitter would have been a flutter. Maybe Brad Childress would have been in a drag. You never know.
The Saints have played three close games in a row which they won by one-possession scores. The Colts have played two close games in a row, winning the two by a combined seven points. The Vikings are a missed FG and a Brett Favre to Greg Lewis 32-yard TD with 0:00 on the clock away from being 5-3. There is no NFL team this season that is going to march over every opponent they play. Even the teams with the best records have won fugly a time or two and escaped with a win.
The New England Patriots not winning the AFC East would not be a Mets-type collapse, but probably more of a Minnesota Twins sneaking up on the Detroit Tigers sort of let down. It might be possible for them to get caught all season long, but nobody will believe it can happen. Tom Brady is connecting with Randy Moss like it is 2007 and they have a linebacker who is in his forties in Junior Seau.
“You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.”
I think the same goes for bad mustaches and facial hair that looks more neglected than grown. At 6-0, it is something to joke about, but now with two Bronco losses in a row, it may be time for Kyle Orton to think classy. He’s had it off and on throughout his career, but it might be time go now.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting on top of the AFC North in a tie with the Cincinnati Bengals after beating the Denver Broncos on Monday night. The Bengals are coming off a win over the Baltimore Ravens. Cedric Benson rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season against the Ravens. Maybe that vaulted Ravens-Ray Lewis-D that earned Trent Dilfer a ring is finally showing its age. Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward hooked up for two TD’s last night in their win over the Broncos.
Philip Rivers took the Chargers down the field and threw a TD pass to Vincent Jackson with 0:21 on the clock to give San Diego a one point win. Eli Manning was 25-33 for 215 yards and 2 TD’s, but the Giants were flagged for over 100 yards in penalties which will stop any team from gaining momentum in any direction.
The bye week for the Giants this week is sorely needed. DeMarcus Ware is salivating at the opportunity to play the Green Bay Packers and their O-Line this week. And the Eagles have to fly all way across the country to San Diego, which, for the sake of the entire city of Philly, I hope goes better than their trip to Oakland did.
The New York Jets come off their bye for a Week 10 match up with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who beat the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The Jets and Jags are both 4-4 with neither team having a realistic shot at winning their division, so this game is huge for both teams in the scope of Wild Card spots. Maurice Jones-Drew leads the NFL with 11 rushing TD’s.
Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals went to Soldier Field and inspired the crowd to boo loudly the home team Chicago Bears. Tommie Harris went ahead with a punch to the face of a Cardinal O-lineman to get ejected four plays into the game. We like your enthusiasm there Tommy, we just need you to direct it in a more positive way. Warner and Jay Cutler both had big statistical games, but the Bears could not overcome 89 yards of penalties and or their inability to convert on third down.
The Packers were probably hurt most by their Week 9 performance, losing to first time starter rookie Josh Freeman and the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Aaron Rodgers was bludgeoned again and the defense did not do much in the way of stopping a bad offense. Two weeks ago Minnesota, at 6-1, was coming into Lambeau Field to play a 4-2 Packers team. A Packer win gives both teams two losses and sets up the Pack up to tie the division at Tampa Bay with Minnesota on a bye. Instead, the cheese falls to 4-4 in an ugly way. Three of their four wins are against one-win teams: Lions, Browns, Rams.
Speaking of the Lions, Browns, and Rams… the Browns and Rams were spared by being on a bye, but the Lions suffered another loss. So did the Washington Redskins.
Calvin Johnson returned to the line up for the Lions and they played the Seattle Seahawks tough, but could not find a way to win it, in part because rookie Matthew Stafford had five learning opportunities in which the ball went the other way on him. Matt Hasselbeck spread the ball around. Six Seahawks had five or more catches. T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught his only TD pass.
The Atlanta Falcons beat the Redskins to move to 5-3 and put themselves in a nice position for a Wild Card birth. Michael Turner had a huge game, 166 yards and 2 TD’s and Matt Ryan hooked up with Tony Gonzalez for a TD. Clinton Portis left the game and with him took Washington’s only hope.
The Tennessee Titans won their second game in a row and handed the San Francisco 49ers their fourth loss in a row. Vince Young is 2-0 as a starter and Chris Johnson leads the NFL in rushing yards.
The Niners have lost their last three games by one possession scores. Next week Mike Singletary squares off against his old team, the Chicago Bears, in what will be a critical game for each team’s drive for the post-season.
To Week 10:
Thursday night games begin with the Bears and 49ers.
The Bengals and Steelers play to break the tie for the AFC North lead.
The Patriots go to Indy for an always fun game to watch.
And either the Chiefs or the Raiders will win because they play each other.