Ã¢â‚¬Å“Rough day, huh?Ã¢â‚¬Â asked the smirking mid 40s-ish man wedged in next to me on my train ride from the City back to New Jersey on Sunday night. I was confused for a second; it had indeed been a long day at work, but how would he know that? Did I look that worse for wear?
Then I realized he was referring to my attire: a Reggie Bush Saints jersey, the first one I grabbed in my haste to catch the train in the morning. The Redskins had upset New Orleans that afternoon, and he clearly hoped to wallow in my misery.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not a Saints fan,Ã¢â‚¬Â I said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m actually a Dolphins fan, so I guess thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s even worse, though I honestly still donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care all that much.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Seemingly dissatisfied by my answer, he turned back to his middle class-ish family with a grunt and resumed discussing fantasy football banalities, explaining to his daughter how he had cut Peyton Hillis for Brett Pettigrew as if it were the secret to eternal life, and extolling the virtues of Ã¢â‚¬Å“RD2.Ã¢â‚¬Â I secretly hoped he meant this guy.
My train companion wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the only person who attempted to draw a pained reaction from me about the SaintsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ defeat. Two other people brought it up during my trek home, both similarly befuddled when I told them I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care less about the Saints. This Sunday, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll leave no doubt and wear my horrible Dolphins David Boston jersey.
These reactions from strangers didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stun me: The teams we root for are woven into our DNA to the point that people associate us with them, even if all they know about us is what shirt they see us wearing.
Halloween/Watch The Throne/recovering from baseball Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ it all added up to me missing a week of this. It was a pretty lousy week to miss NFL pick-wise, as I went 10-4 in my weekly league.
As a Dolphins fan that just saw his teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Suck for Luck hopes dashed by a demoralizing victory over the Chiefs, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m still baffled by one thing: Why wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t I supposed to root for them to lose as many games as it takes to get the No. 1 pick in the Draft?
For the first time of the 2010 season, I went back to personal favorite football haunt HoulihanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. No LT this time, but it was still a good time. As always, I offer the disclaimer that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m hardly a football expert.
With the baseball seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s conclusion giving me a modicum of free time, I ventured back to familiar haunt HoulihanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in Secaucus for the first time this season, and was unfortunately confronted with exactly what I go there to avoid:
Screaming, irrational fans. Specifically, two of them, loud enough to drown out a jet engine.
Again, later in the week working better, because of baseball and LeBron starring in the best Nike ad in years. It may become a trend. My usual reminder: IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a football layman.
When I showed up at work on Monday, one of my co-workers said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Obviously, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to write about instant replay this week.Ã¢â‚¬Â Well, yes, but not in the way he was thinking
As a Dolphins fan, I do think they got shafted, much the way the Lions were in Week 1 when some obscure rule wiped out what was obviously a Calvin Johnson touchdown. They forced a fumble by Ben Roethlisberger before he crossed the plane of the end zone, and then Ikaika Alama-Francis recovered the ball and came away with it after the pile was sorted out.
And the referees said they couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t figure out who recovered it. I mean, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s crazy. Anyone with eyes saw Alama-Francis with the ball.
But you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just roll over at that point. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still a game to win.
What is it they say, that you fear what you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand? Well, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s apparent that the entire NFL is terrified of the DolphinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Wildcat offense.
They just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get it. They donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get why it works, they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get why the Dolphins are so insistent on using it, they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get why the media is so fascinated by it. And they absolutely donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get why they simply canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop it.
But itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not just the Wildcat they fear, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re facing a threat to their comfortable status quo, that they might have to adjust their stodgy status quo.
Again, some quick thoughts on the NFL. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not Ã¢â‚¬Å“the morning afterÃ¢â‚¬Â since I generally wake up after 1 p.m.
- IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been a fan of Chad Pennington dating back to his Jets days. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gutsy, smart and tough. I think my arm is stronger than his, but his guile and heady play have always set him apart in my opinion. He validated that last year by finishing runner-up for the MVP Award while leading an overachieving Dolphins team to 11 wins, a stunning turnaround and a division title. Pennington blended seamlessly with the Wildcat offense and was a joy to watch. But the problem with Chad has always been his inability to make it through two seasons in a row. And sadly, he was unable to prove the skeptics wrong in that regard. FootballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a tough sport, and you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t blame someone for having his shoulder shredded. But with Pennington paying greater attention to fitness at this stage of his career, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just a bad break. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not sure weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll see him play again, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a real shame: Pennington is a gentleman and a fine player. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just too bad that he lived up to his reputation, in a negative sense.
Two days after Mike PiazzaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s inspirational home run, the NFL resumed its games as well. Before the Dolphins played the Raiders, quarterback Jay Fiedler, who IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always been partial to Ã¢â‚¬â€œ we Jews have to stick together Ã¢â‚¬â€œ led the team onto the field while waving an American Flag that had recently been flown in Afghanistan.
Fiedler was a capable but unflashy quarterback whose best attribute was his toughness. But on that day, he was a true champion, even before what he did on the field.
That said, he performed brilliantly. Fiedler, with no time left, made a gutsy dash up the middle and crashed into the end zone to score the winning touchdown of an 18-15 victory over a team that would play in the Super Bowl that season. Though a solid athlete — in fact, a former decathlete — Fiedler was no speed demon, but like Piazza, he wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let his team lose that day after such an emotionally charged beginning.
And through his act of sheer athleticism and joyousness, Mr. Fiedler ended up with his first and only Sports Illustrated cover.
I remember the Piazza game more vividly, particularly since I was there, and because it was in New York and had a lot more significance as such. But I remember FiedlerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mad dash as well, and if that’s the main thing you take from his career, that isn’t such a bad thing to hang his hat on.