Instead of watching football on Monday night, I tried reading some news stories on my iPhone. I say tried because the MNF game was on in the background and all I could hear was Peyton Manning chirping out calls at the line of scrimmage, thus distracting me from what I was trying to read. He was so loud - did they have him miked up or something? All it sounded like to me was, "SQUAWK! SQUAWK! SQUAWK! CLUCK CLUCK CLUCK!"
During one of Manning's clucking episodes, MNF commentator Mike Tirico stated, "Manning changes the play at the line." Are you kidding me? He's not changing any plays! He squawks like that all the time - it's Manning's Chicken Dance. He squawk-squawk-clucks at the line, steps back and flaps his arms like chicken wings, snakes his head back and forth like he's pecking at seed, and then squawk-squawk-clucks some more. Tirico mistaking Manning's squawking for an audible was comical.
Anyone who has ever watched Manning play in any game over his previous 15 years in the NFL has seen the Chicken Dance. Manning must be a hit at weddings whenever the Chicken Dance song gets played!
In other news, it's been a week since the Browns traded their 2012 number three overall draft pick Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for the Colts' first round pick in 2014. Trades like this during the season are quite rare. Not only that, but the trade also ruined my birthday! That's right - last Wednesday was my birthday, and things were going along swimmingly until I heard the news of the trade. Why do the Browns always have to ruin everything? Big ruiners!
The reason I was upset was not because I'd just purchased a T-Rich jersey (whew!) or because Richardson was even one of my favorite players. It was because, on a team full of young players that have yet to make a name for themselves and old players well past the prime of their years, Richardson was a ray of light - a sliver of hope in an otherwise dreadful beginning to the season. I felt betrayed by the trade because that one exciting player with name recognition throughout the league (and not because he was the punchline to a joke) was now gone, thereby leaving the fans with nothing to latch on to. Richardson was gone. Fan favorite Josh Cribbs wasn't resigned in the offseason. Phil Dawson, the popular Pro-Bowl kicker who'd been with the Browns since their return in 1999, was not offered a contract and allowed to sign with the 49ers. What was left for Browns fans to hang on to? Next year? Yes - next year, as usual. Perhaps the Browns win on Sunday took some sting out of the betrayal, but I find it quite difficult to trust the team's management.
Disgruntled Browns fan commentary aside, the trade seemed to give Richardson a second wind. His first carry for the Colts was a one-yard run for a touchdown. He should eventually work his way to first on the Colts' running back depth chart, and he looks to provide a nice compliment to quarterback Andrew Luck. The Browns, on the other hand, have amassed a total of seven draft picks in the first four rounds of the 2014 draft - 2 picks in the first, third and fourth rounds, and 1 pick in the second round. That's an awful lot of stock invested into one graduating college class. Sadly, I'm wondering how many seniors are wishing they had an extra year of eligibility to avoid being drafted by the Browns?
Also this weekend:
-- Rehab can wait. Let's win this game, boys!
Despite having been arrested Friday morning for suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession, San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith played Sunday for the 49ers at the decision of the coaching staff. Smith had some character issues coming out of college, and he has a DUI arrest under his belt already from early 2012. The 49ers, according to a report heard on ESPN Radio, said something along the lines of, "Let's get through this weekend, and then we'll get him the help he needs." Hmm, you don't suppose the 49ers wanted Smith, a Pro-Bowler who last year won a boatload of defensive awards, to play because they had a big game lined up against the Colts, do you? Getting through the weekend and THEN getting him help? I've always been a fan of Jim Harbaugh, but he went down a notch in my book on Sunday. I love football, but it certainly pales in importance when we're talking about someone's well-being. Smith was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list to "address his health," according to the team. He is out indefinitely.
-- Giving someone the finger takes on a whole new meaning.
Did anyone see the long and incredibly boring movie "Any Given Sunday" and remember the part where one of the tackles lost his eye during a game - complete with the theatrical shot of his eyeball laying on the field? When I saw that, I immediately thought, "Ew!" and also, "That sort of thing is way too Hollywood to actually happen." Well, it might not have been an eye (again, ew), but Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson lost the tip of his left middle finger during Sunday's game against the Saints. Johnson was wearing gloves at the time, and he speculates that his hand may have been driven into the turf at the Superdome, thus causing his finger to snap off. He said his hand went numb and when he went to the sideline, his trainers cut his glove off to check the injury and that's when they saw the bone sticking out (ew). And the rest of his finger (ew) was still inside his glove (EWWWW)! The finger was not reattached, and it could take weeks to heal. Johnson, obviously a trooper with a high tolerance for pain, is listed as day-to-day and said he can still play football without a middle finger. And his too good to be true, I'd love to insert a really funny joke here quote about his finger? "It probably wasn't getting used for anything good anyway."
-- Excessive slobbering from NFL marketing gurus causing accidents in the office hallways due to slippery floors.
It's NFL London week! And oh, are the NFL marketing honchos drooling with excitement. They have a whole new country of unsuspecting NFL fans to force-feed their products (including the fashionable clear plastic stadium bags, now with more Ziploc) to the UK crowd. Unfortunately, the matchup is less than riveting, as the Steelers and Vikings face off in a battle to avoid 0-4. The game this weekend is the first of two games slated for London, as the Jags and the 49ers will face off in Wembley Stadium on Oct. 27. The NFL still seems to have this wild idea that they can somehow have a full-time team based in London. Not bloody likely! Every year the NFL is all, "We love London," and every year, the rest of the common-sense type fans say, "How in the world would something like that even be possible?" Teams can't be expected to play in London on a Sunday, which would include travel to and from, and then return to the mainland for a game the following week - especially teams west of the Mississippi.
Logistically, it's impossible, at least with the way the current NFL weekly game schedule is set up. And how would you set up divisions? The AFC Really Really Far East? Besides, the Brits already have football - it's called soccer, and they can pass the ball with their heads. Awesome!
Aside from the London game, we've also got an interesting matchup on Thursday night as the surprisingly bad 49ers take on the not surprisingly bad Rams. For the sake of fantasy football owners everywhere (i.e. - ME), Colin Kaepernick better get off his schnide quickly. Not like I can bench him - my alternative is Eli Manning (who is getting dropped like a dirty tissue once the droppin' is good). Speaking of Baby Manning, his Giants will head to Kansas City for their next beat down - I mean, next game. No, I meant next beat down. The Giants probably wish they were like the Panthers or the Packers, both of whom are on their bye this week - although the way the Giants have been playing, one could reasonably argue they've been on a bye week for the first three weeks.
Also, on Sunday night, the Patriots visit the Falcons in Atlanta, and I believe this might be our first Sunday/Monday night look at Tom Brady and the Brady-ettes (or Bill Belichick and the Billy-ettes, whichever you prefer to envision in a kick line). Tom Brady is mad. MAD because nobody's talking about him and his fancy haircut and his furry Uggs boots. Peyton Manning is getting all the attention. The NFL's golden boy has taken a back seat to the NFL's daddy's boy. Ye gads! The whole NFL is flipping upside down as we know it!
Until next week, hang on and enjoy the games, my friends!
Hershberger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org