by Robert Ferringo - 10/25/2005
After 36 hours of hard labor and hard drinking, by the third quarter of the Baltimore/Chicago game on Sunday I was running on nothing but adrenaline and rum. I was firmly planted on my stool at a local bar, equally enjoying both my drink and the punishment that the Bears defense was doling out on the Ravens.
Suddenly, a voice.
"Hey man, wuzza score? They win?" The vibrations were coming from the table behind me. Its resident was a mid-50's hillbilly with ghastly white hair and beard, sporting the requisite denim-on-denim redneck attire. He had the crazed, unsettled look of a man who knew that the only difference between 5-10 years and the gas chamber was how long his wife could hold her breath in the trunk of his car outside.
I offered the automatic response: "What?"
"They score? They win?" That's the best I could decipher his drunken mumblings as he pointed at one of the big screens, which was framing the Cowboys/Seahawks game. The question took me by surprise, and shook my concentration.
"Uh, no," I muttered without taking my eyes of my game. "They missed a field goal. Bad snap. Shanked it."
As I was giving the stranger my feeble recap of Cowboys kicker Jose Cortez's game- and career-altering 29-yard miss, the replay was flashing before him. "Aw, shit man. You knew that before I even asked you. DIDN' ya! I said 'DID THEY WIN!' The COWBOYS. The Boys are GONNA WIN!"
Now he had my attention. He had slammed his bottle on the table for emphasis, and in a matter of seconds had gone from harmless drunk to enraged lunatic. On the way to settling on this puddle of a human being, my eyes caught a glimpse of a woman a few tables back. She had a fearful look on her face, and was rushing her three girls through their meal. This isn't what she had in mind for their after-mass activity.
"What was that?" I inquired.
"Shit man, I didn' know you was that weak. I need to know the score. I got ten thousan' dollars bet on this game man! TEN THOUSAN' DOLLARS!"
I noticed that he had two half-drunk tall ones, two more full glasses, and at least eight other bottles on his table. I could see the desperation. I could smell it.
"Well fuck you buddy," I shot back. "If you've got that much money on the damn game you shouldn't have to ask me what the score is. I've got my own plays to worry about."
My response knocked him off-kilter, like a blindside blitz.
"Son, you dunno what I'm talkin' bout. You don' 'ave the foggiest idea."
I understood his predicament. I had a strong start to the day, but as the sun sets out West, things can get wild in the late games. I empathized with my new friend's plight - real or imagined - and decided it best not to impede on his delusion.
I kept at least one eye on this crazy bastard throughout the final quarter, and watched as he spent the next hour pacing and yelling and smoking and making calls on his cell phone throughout the bar. He was awful proud of himself at around 6:30 p.m. EST, and made sure that everyone in the place was well aware of his gridiron acumen. He apparently had Denver and Dallas on the money lines for $10,000 a pop. Or so he said. He also said he had gone 15 for 16 today, which was obviously bullshit.
Nobody said a word, but everyone in that bar was pulling for the Giants and the Seahawks.
What ensued was both tragic and comical. I'll spare you the play-by-play. Since you already know how those games ended, it would be like sitting on the Hindenburg, telling a joke to a stranger who already knew the punch line. However I will tell you that just after he dumped one of his full beers over the waitress' head, and right before the four bouncers gave him a beating that would make David Carr cringe, he made eye contact with me once more. I saw a man who knew he had gone too far. Even on your best days, don't boast and brag about your wagering exploits in public, and don't insult a fellow gambler. This sort of Mockery is the type of thing that angers the Football Gods. And you never want to do that.
I felt a twinge of remorse for the sick fool. But I merely sat back and enjoyed a victory smoke after my boys came through with the cover and the under, and wondered if they'll ever find a cure for cancer.
Here are my quick-hit thoughts on Week 7:
-- Pittsburgh proved once again that the tougher, more physical team will win when facing a flashy, soft football team. I don't care where they play.
-- The Raiders made a karmic mistake by running it up on the Bills. Oakland was up 31-17 with 1:01 to play and Buffalo had no timeouts. The Raiders had the ball on the Bills eight-yard line, and instead of just kneeling it out they scored that kick-in-the-nuts touchdown. They will reap what they sow.
-- Favorites were 12-2 straight up for the second straight week, and are now 72-30 in 2005. Anyone who plays favorites on the money line - straight or parlay - must've had a field day.
-- Mike Martz tried to relay a play call from his bed to Rams offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild, but the Rams President of Football Operations refused to send it through.
-- Why does Brian Billick continue to go to Jamal Lewis? Lewis has 113 carries for 326 yards and one touchdown. He's averaging just 2.9 yards per rush, and 27 of his 117 carries have been for negative or zero yards.
Lewis' backup, Chester Taylor, has 37 carries for 223 yards (a 5.8 average). On Sunday, Lewis had 15 carries for 34 yards, while Taylor gained 21 yards on just two touches.
-- I think that doctors may have misdiagnosed Donovan McNabb's sports hernia. That discomfort and pain that he's feeling may be caused by that horseshoe that's crammed up his ass. Philly's defense was astounding in shutting down LT (17 carries for 7 yards), but the Eagles squeaked out another fluky, last-second win.
That blocked field goal was equal parts blown assignment (by lineman Scott Mruczkowski) and dumb luck (the bounce to Matt Ware). However, Sheldon Brown's strip of Reche Caldwell on the ensuing drive - which prevented overtime and/or a loss for the Birds - was just an outstanding play.
-- Will people quit referring to the Chargers as "The Best 3-3 or 3-4 Team in History"? They may have talent, but they have a losing record. Granted, their margin of defeat is just three points per loss, but they've still managed to choke games away. Good teams don't do that.
-- Here's a sequence from a Houston drive that straddled the third and fourth quarters: Carr sacked (0 yards), Carr sacked and fumbles (-13 yards), Carr sacked and fumbles (-5 yards), punt. The epilogue is that on the next drive, Carr was again sacked, again fumbled, and watched Montae Reagor pick up the ball and rumble for the game-clinching score. Carr went down five times in 14 pass plays on Sunday.
-- The ebb and flow of the AFC vs. NFC matchup swung viciously in the direction of the NFC in Week 7. National teams were 5-1 against their American counterparts. Thus far, the NFC has a 16-14 SU edge, but trail 13-17 ATS.
-- Drew Bledsoe - what the hell was that? For the second time this year, the Cowboys outplayed an opponent for 50+ minutes only to choke away a win. That was a brutal loss to take, and it dropped them from first place to last place in the NFC East.
Oh, and their first game without Flozell Adams: five sacks.
-- Good show by Seattle kicker Josh Brown. Brown doinked a game-winning kick off the uprights in Washington to cost the Seahawks a Week 4 win. But on Sunday he redeemed himself for by knocking down a clutch 50-yarder for the game.
-- Minnesota's time of possession total was just six seconds more than Green Bay's. Considering that the Vikings went 24 yards in 15 seconds to set up Paul Edinger's 56-yard game-winner as time expired, each one of those six ticks was vital.
-- Buffalo's first drive was a crisp scoring march of 82 yards. Their next 10 possessions totaled just 128 yards.
Also, the Bills have given up 311 rushing yards over the past two weeks and face New England, Kansas City, San Diego, and Carolina over the next four weeks. Game over.
-- Outstanding final drive from Eli and the Giants. They went 83 yards in 15 plays over the last 3:29. Manning was 9-for-13 for 74 yards, but the most impressive part was that the Giants faced just three third downs (including the TD pass to Amani Toomer) and only one of them was longer than four yards.
-- I would be nervous if I were a Broncos fan.
-- Karlos Dansby is one of the best young linebackers in the NFL. The fact that a lot of you don't know who he plays for (Arizona) proves that he's also one of the most underrated.
-- The NFC East is 13-6 against the rest of the NFL.
-- OK, so I couldn't have been more wrong about Jarhead. It opens Nov. 11, and while it is about war in Iraq, that would be the Gulf War. The review I read on Amazon.com was completely erroneous, and if I find the person who posted the "review" it won't be pretty.
Questions for Robert? E-mail him at email@example.com
The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Doc's football picks service.