The beast from 4-4 fathoms!
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist

"On any given Sunday, parity is hell, and just as unavoidable, so never give up on a 4-4 team."
-- R-Dub's NFL Proverb No. 252

Jake Plummer
You laugh, but even Jake Plummer's 4-4 Cardinals could make a run into the playoffs.
Many fans and bettors are fleeing their beloved NFL teams and wagering hunches like rats fleeing vomit on Spree's yacht, and for no good reason. False Alarmists analyze every team into or out of the playoffs every week. Don't blame them. It's what they do.

But don't you people get it yet?

(Hey, don't get mad at me -- Charles Woodson told me to ask you.)

There are four seasons in an NFL season (ask Chucky -- he'll tell you). Four games per "season." You're not going to win all four seasons. But you can get blown out in one and still survive.

After Season 2, and a game into its Season 3, Tampa Bay is sitting well at 7-2 (most teams have had their bye and have even records adding up to eight). The Niners, Philly, Denver are 6-2 after Season 2. Green Bay won't be headed -- 7-1 after Season 2. The Pack could reverse its record to 1-7 over the final two inner seasons and still win the division. Second place in the NFC North is Detroit at 3-5.

Miami, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and New Orleans have won five games. Think they're not in it? Solidly. But here's both truth and beauty: Many of the teams that are 4-4, or even worse, are also still in it. If (when) any of them go at least 3-1 in the third of four seasons, they're 7-5 going into the last four games, and poised to punch.

One, if not more, of the 4-4 teams will get into this year's playoffs.

What, you don't think one lousy team among New England, Tennessee, Oakland, Kansas City, the Jints, 'Skins or Arizona, even Indy, can't run off three of four or six of eight? The Pats won it all from 4-4 last year. Even the Rams or Jets at 3-5 could run the Season 3 table, be 7-5 entering Season 4. Run that, they're 11-5. In there.

Could happen. Will happen, for somebody. The big question is, for whom? Let's probe the Week 9 unspoken thoughts of NFL stars, see if we can get a clue on whose mind is right for the job:

Cris Carter, WR, Miami Dolphins -- "Whoops. Oops. Alley -- oops. Sorry. Ask yourself -- can a man's butt begin to drop that quick?"

Brett Favre
Strike up the banjos, its' Brett Favre's deliverance of another Packers scoring drive.
Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay Packers -- "Got so many wonderful toys to play with, I feel like Batman on acid. James Bond. Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Burt Reynolds in 'Deliverance.' That movie cracked me up. I recognized some of my old neighbors. I was the only one laughing, but that looked just like old L.Q. ... pain is not all bad. You get used to it. You live with it. You say, 'Hey.' It don't say nothing, but it sits down hard on all your furniture. Donald Driver, TD striver ... if I had a buck for every time Madden says my name -- well, actually, I do have a buck for every time Madden says my name. More than that. Madden's like my Mike McCormack, without the invoice. I hate razors. Most guys do."

Jim Fassel, coach, New York Giants -- "Something smells. I know, it's the Jersey Meadowlands, but something smells even rottener than that. And I think I know what it is. It's not the running game. It's Sean Payton's play calling. I'm sure that's what it is (sniffs his own armpit). Yep. Sean Payton's play-calling, all right ..."

Mark Brunell, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars -- "I don't know what all the fuss is, over our team doctors. Only the guys who can't afford better use 'em. I always call around, me. What am I, stupid? I'm going to let one of them operate on me? Yeah, right. Sure I am."

Jeff Garcia
Jeff Garcia has some messages for Steve Mariucci and Terry Bradshaw.
Jeff Garcia, WR, San Francisco 49ers "Bill Walsh ... hugged me. He actually came and hugged me, right in front of everybody! I hugged him back hard. Too hard? Did I hold it too long? I looked over his shoulder to see if Mooch was watching. He was biting his lip. He needs me. He just doesn't know it. He'd drop me in a hot minute if he could trade up. Little bastard. Bradshaw says I'm ugly? Oh, right, he's Jude Law. Today I am not the illegitimate child of Carol Channing and Dr. Evil. Today I am ... El Cid."

Charles Woodson, DB, Oakland Raiders -- "People don't know how a fine difference there is. They never put it together. People like you don't help, R-Dub. Get out of my brain ... OK, I'll break it down for 'em this one time. After that, guess. We were 4-0 with me, then we were 0-3 without me. Get it? No? Run a clip of Herm Edwards saying, "Hel-lo-o?!?!" With me out, we lost two division games in overtime. Healthy, I'm the difference in those games. Got popped by the 49ers when I came back from my broken shoulder. T.O.'s a great cripple shooter. He'll never get from under Rice's shadow. What's he got as a Niner, 67 TDs? What'd Jerry have, 187, three rings? Good luck. I still got my ass kicked. Rust. So T.O. toasted me, 12 for 191. Never again. He kicked my ass. He makes it hurt, too. I'll visit him soon. Snake bit? Mad dog chew toy."

Marshall Faulk
Marshall Faulk is having a ball, now that the Rams are giving him the ball.
Marshall Faulk, RB, St. Louis Rams -- (as Mike Martz is fished from the swimming pool) "I'm so glad you're all here. I'll never leave you again. Mr. Costas, I'm ready for my close-up now."

Jake Plummer, QB, Arizona Cardinals -- "Grand Theft Auto, my #%@%. Got your Jackass right here. Got my own problems. Don't have to go to a movie to see it. Crawls up my back every Sunday."

Kenny Watson, RB, Washington Redskins -- "So many people asking who I am. Who am I? I have few memories before Sunday. What memories I do have, can I be sure they're mine? Did I just rush for a buck-eleven in the N-Freaking-L? Is Spurrier my dad? Did he make me in a lab? Am I cloned from mountain goat DNA?"

Koren Robinson, WR, Seattle Seahawks -- "Well, I know who I am. I'm the guy who followed Torry Holt at NC State. Now I can't get arrested. Hasselbeck should be arrested, for impersonating a QB. Vapor lock. Man, me and Engram are like 7-11. We stay open."

Herm Edwards, coach, New York Jets -- "Hel-lo-oh!?!?"

Woody Johnson, owner, New York Jets -- "Yeah, I'm here. Who is this Mort person, saying I want a rebate on the multimillion dollar bonuses I threw down a rat-hole for a bunch of slag heaps? I never said I wanted money back. I do want it back, but I never said it. What does Mort mean, anyway? Frankie Fiveangels pronounced it "Morte!" He was talking about the Rosado Brothers. I'm talking about Herm. He'd better wear a steel turtleneck. Frankie thought $100 was a insult. Right now, I'd take it. He thought 'canapes' was 'can of peas.' I thought 'can of peas' was a name for our defense."

Marty Schottenheimer
Marty Schottenheimer is no fashion expert, but he didn't like how his retro-Chargers looked Sunday.
Marty Schottenheimer, coach, San Diego Chargers -- "So much for your powder blue unis and lily-white helmets. They are so unmanly. Like the youth of the hop-hip-hoop or whatever the hell generation they are, when I say 'unmanly,' I mean ... I don't know what I mean. Just burn, baby, burn. The unis I mean."

Jon Kitna, QB, Cincinnati Bengals -- "Take that! And that! And that! Am I a sadist? I can't be blamed. A man or a hermaphrodite can only take so much. It's madness, I say! Madness! I can't stop pouring it on! I just can't! Please! Stop me before I hit Westbrook again! Westbrook?! Where'd he come from? Never mind! It's all spilling out of me! God help me -- I liiike it! No, Carrie! Don't!"

David Carr, QB, Houston Texans -- "Artrell Hawkins pick-and-goed me for 102 yards? Hey, I'm happy for him. Only sacked twice, after 44 in the first half of the season. That's what I'm talking 'bout. Wonder when Tony Boselli will be ready to cover my backside out there at my trusty left tackle? The vets, they say never; he got picked first in the expansion draft off name, rep, they say; they say he stole money, they ask me if I'm nuts or something for asking, or what? No, just sore. Ig'nert. Tarred. Diapered out."

Daunte Culpepper, QB, Minnesota Vikings -- "Prince's club ain't as hot as it used to be. Then again, neither are we. We're dogmeat on a stick. Gonna be a looooong winter. We can't stifle a yawn."

Keyshawn Johnson
Keyshawn Johnson reminds the Bucs what they should do with the damn ball.
Keyshawn Johnson, WR, Tampa Bay Bucs -- "I was passed over. What? Well, it ain't the way I wanted it! I'm your older brother, T.O.! I'm smaht! I'm a bidness man! How many touchdowns do I have to score to get my respect? More than three in a year? Oh."

Jeff Fisher, RB, Tennessee Titans -- "If we can just hold on till we get 90 The Freaky Deak back. Good we're in the AFC South. We can be cryogenically frozen and still be considered in the hunt."

Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts -- "I've lost my edge. I mean, I lost my Edge. My Edgerrin. With Edge dragging a leg, now when I run-action fake, D-tackles and zone blitzers crack up laughing at me. Call myself running to the corner, but I'm not really going anywhere. The game moves so fast! ... Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, tomorrow's just a day away. How many times do I have to sing that dang song to myself? Now I see what Elway meant, not coming here ... I'm turning into my dad ..."

Dave Campo, coach, Dallas Cowboys -- "Anybody else notice how Gandolfino gets to tag a lot of hot babes as Tony Soprano? I'm in the wrong line here. I remember when he was just Leering Thug No.1 in "True Romance." Here I am, suffering Coslet, schmoozing a bunch of media jerks, valeting Jerry's car. Just don't seem fair."

Joey Harrington, QB, Detroit Lions -- "A Hanson Brother kicks for us!? Get da. F'real? I met Eminem. He's as big as one of my legs."

Amos Zereoue, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers -- "I am not The Bus. I am not a Vulcan. I am not the Nigerian Nightmare -- but I lost money to one who conned me. Who is this P. Diddly? How many of these great watches should I buy from Africans in Times Square?"

Courtney Brown, DL, Cleveland Browns -- "King me, dude."

Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles -- "Wonder if Halle Berry watches ball? Wonder if she's tired of what's-his-name, Eric Bidet? What would I say to her? 'I'm paid, baby. Just made Board of Trustees at Syracuse, baby.' Nah. Not her style. It's not like I want to marry her anyway ... although Emmitt didn't do bad."

Jim Miller, QB, Chicago Bears -- "OK, boo-birds, let's see you concentrate with a troglodyte like Hugh Douglas trying to turn you into a human roto-tiller. Not good times, I can tell ya that."

Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis just wants a chance to dance.
Drew Bledsoe, QB, Buffalo Bills -- "Felt like the scene where 'The Sisters' finally corner Andy in 'Shawshank Redemption.' No more for me just now. Thanks."

Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens -- (on the floor, curled into a ball) "Please. Just one hit, Mr. Commissioner. Just one. Please. I'm hurting. I'm hurting real bad. One hit, and I'll be straight. OK?"

Patrick Kerney, DL, Atlanta Falcons -- (as he scoops up fumble, rumbles 2 yards to the end zone, and considers a dance move) "And they were laughing, and singing, and moving to the grooving, and just then, it hit me, and that's when they started singing to me, 'Play that funky music, white boy, play that funky music, play ...' "

Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."



Ralph Wiley Archive

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