Here are my weekly thoughts on football. As always, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll reiterate IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m hardly a scholar of the sport.
Having my beloved Dolphins on Monday Night Football last night really brought me back to when I was growing up, when that sort of thing was a very big deal.
I remember in high school, being buried in class in a Tim Bowens or Karim Abdul-Jabbar jersey, counting down the hours until I was free to watch Dan Marino take the field under the lights. I relished in the fact that every sports fan was essentially forced to pay as much attention to my favorite team as I did, at least for a short amount of time.
It was before the Internet, when there wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t as much opportunity to read about or watch an out-of-market team, especially for a Miami fan in New Jersey. So IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d watch the countdown shows and eat up the Dolphins highlights. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d pick up some pizza or buffalo wings, back when I ate like a human being and had never heard of soy. It was truly an event for me.
Last night kind of recaptured that spirit a bit. With the Dolphins set to take on the Patriots on ESPN, my girlfriend and my longtime best friend came over, we all got some food from the Italian restaurant around the corner, and I shook up some martinis.
And then Miami proceeded to get devastated by the Patriots.
That, in itself, was a throwback. I remember getting all pumped up to watch the Dolphins play the 49ers on Monday night in 1995, the legendary Don ShulaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s final year at the helm. Dan Marino hit Gary Clark for a long touchdown to tie it at 7, and I was ecstatic that it seemed my boys could hang with the powerful Niners. Of course, Jerry Rice had something to say about that, scoring two touchdowns as the Dolphins lost, 44-20.
Last night, late in the first half the Dolphins clung fast to a 7-3 advantage Ã¢â‚¬â€œ we can hang with these guys! Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and of course, they ended up losing, 41-14, based on a disastrous special teams performance that got their ST coach fired.
In the words of Jay-Z Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and countless others Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the more things change, the more they stay the same.
What I did find different, however, is the nature of accepting such a high-profile loss for my team. In my younger days, I would end up being so frustrated that I would actually have trouble falling sleep that night, anxious about the taunts IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d receive at school the next day, not realizing that I cared far more than everyone else did. I think I took the losses harder than the coaches did.
Last night, I turned the game off, finished my martini and went to bed.
I guess whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s changed is that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had a few more years Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to say the least Ã¢â‚¬â€œ under my belt. To me, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s enough just having teams that I still swear by after all this time, regardless of the result. Your teams become a legitimate part of your identity, but it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean that it necessarily enhances your life tenfold if they win a particular game. Even when Duke Ã¢â‚¬â€œ my alma mater Ã¢â‚¬â€œ won it all back in April, I enjoyed the night, celebrated the next day and then moved on to baseball.
It used to flat-out ruin my week if the Dolphins would lose, compounded by the fact that they wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t again play for 7-8 days. But honestly, I really have so much more going on now. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my busiest month at work, for example, and I have a few projects of my own IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to sink my teeth into Ã¢â‚¬â€œ not to mention my favorite holiday, Halloween, is around the corner.
We still love our teams and invest our time and attention into them. But as we get older, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s difficult to devote quite as much of ourselves. We simply have more going on. Our teams still help define who we are, but more than that, who we have become defines itself.
With all that saidÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ a day later, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m still wondering, how in the hell do you get a punt and field goal blocked, AND give up a kickoff return touchdown in the same game?
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my personal Top 10 this week. Lots of 2-1 teams all bunched up:
1. Jets (3-1) (LW: 7) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Big jump in my eyes. LT looks legit, Revis not even back yet.
2. Steelers (3-1) (LW: 2) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Lost to the Ravens, but Big Ben back after the bye.
3. Ravens (3-1) (LW: 6) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Big win in Pittsburgh. McGahee solid in relief of Rice.
4. Falcons (3-1) (LW: 3) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Solid, well-balanced team escapes yet again.
5. Saints (3-1) (LW: 4) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Underwhelming win. Not the same vibe as last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s juggernauts.
6. Packers (3-1) (LW: 5) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Tough win over Lions. Still no run game, and Lynch off to Seattle.
7. Colts (2-2) (LW: 1) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Very intriguing game coming vs. undefeated Kansas City.
8. Texans (3-1) (LW: 9) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Hopefully Andre back this week. Foster, despite benching, superb.
9. Patriots (3-1) (LW: NR) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Remains to be seen how high defense lets them go.
10. Redskins (2-2) (LW: NR) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Knock out Vick, take spot as NFC East team du jour.
Here are 3 picks for Week 5. Last week: 1-2 (Hit on Jets, missed Bears, Saints) Season: 6-3.
1. Lions -3 vs. Rams Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Two surprisingly tough teams. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll go with home pick.
2. Texans (-3) vs. Giants Ã¢â‚¬â€œ G-Men lucked out with horrible Cutler. Schaub should be big.
3. Falcons (-3) at Browns Ã¢â‚¬â€œ AtlantaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been winning close, but I like them here.