Week 5: NFL’s most feared player faces my wrath through a boycott

While performing the very un-future commissioner-like task of folding laundry on a Sunday night, I heard my phone ringing. I didn’t get to the phone in time, but was a little surprised to find a message from my aunt. “Shaunna, our power went out and we wondered what happened at the end of the Dallas and Denver game,” she said in her message.

Odd that their power went out, I thought, but I called back. My aunt answered the phone and immediately started laughing. I wasn’t sure why she was laughing until she admitted that it was my uncle who put her up to it – there was no power outage. They just wanted to tease me because they knew I’d have to write about Peyton Manning again after his performance in Dallas.

I laughed, but then I wanted to cry. They were right. Geez, again with the Peyton Manning stuff? I’m starting to annoy myself about it! Well, you know what? From this point forward, I am boycotting the name of Peyton Manning. He is like the evil wizard Voldemort in the Harry Potter series – a wizard so feared that nobody will speak his name and refer to him only as “He-who-must-not-be-named.” Denver’s quarterback is the Voldemort of the NFL – he must not be named!! – and henceforth, shall be referred to as such.

Speaking of evil wizards, the NFL’s former evil empire, the New England Patriots, appears to have fallen, or at least crumbled a bit. The homestanding Bengals managed to score a big win against Bill Belichick and the NFL’s golden boy Tom Brady, who is starting to tarnish a bit around the edges. Even the forces of nature have turned against the Pats, as a violent rain storm came down just as Tom Brady attempted to engineer a game-winning drive. Ironically, the rain stopped just as the Patriots drive ended on a failed fourth-down conversion. While one loss is not really the end of the world, to Patriots fans, it must feel like a punch in the gut. It’s a sign of the times – the old Pats would have won the game in the midst of a blind rainstorm and hurricane force winds – Brady would have still been able to throw the perfect spiral down field, the winds stopping just momentarily to allow the team to march on to victory. This time, nature’s joke is on you, Belichick!

Also this weekend:

– This is the only time I ever approve pink NFL gear.

Did you notice a lot of pink on the fields last weekend? Pink towels, socks, shoes, even the officials’ flags? That’s because the NFL has once again teamed up with the American Cancer Society to support the fight against breast cancer. The NFL’s “A Crucial Catch” focuses on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women over age 40. All the gear you see the players and coaches wearing on the field during October, including special pink game balls and pink coins, will be auctioned off at NFL Auction. Proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) program which provides outreach and breast cancer screenings to women in underserved communities. My wonderful mom is a breast cancer survivor, and chances are, someone you know has also fought the disease. This campaign is the only time I will ever endorse pink gear of any kind in the NFL, so pink it up this October! Just try to keep the glitter to a minimum.

– “You tried your best and you failed. The lesson is, never try.” – Homer Simpson

Perhaps, somehow, we could apply Homer Simpson’s words of wisdom to beleaguered Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. Sunday was just another day in the life of Romo, who was having a career day, throwing for more than 500 yards (a first in Dallas history), only to toss an awful interception that cost his team the game. That game was a brilliant (or not so brilliant if you’re a Cowboys fan) summation of Romo’s career. Sometimes he looks unbelievably great, only to do something boneheaded to mess things up. The key boneheaded moment of Romo’s career? Botching the hold on a game-winning FG attempt in a playoff game versus Seattle in 2006 – and it’s been like that for him ever since. After the play, Romo was shown on the field “Bradying” – legs outstretched and head in his hands – before “Bradying” was even a thing! He’s the originator of the move – let’s give him credit for something!

– Suited monkeys in a box change the NFL’s popularity contest.

Because its annual popularity contest, aka the Pro Bowl, has been plummeting in the ratings year after year, the NFL marketing geniuses locked themselves in a luxury suite and ate caviar and drank champagne until they came up with a way to spice things up. So they came up with this: no more AFC vs. NFC format. Instead, players will be selected regardless of conference, in the hopes that all the best players in the league make it. Team captains will be named and these captains, along with alumni captains, NFL Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, will select players for their teams from the pool of players who have received the most votes, sort of like a draft. The Pro Bowl “draft” will air on Jan. 22, 2014, and the Pro Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 26, 2014. Other changes include no kickoffs, extra two-minute warnings in the first and third quarters, and various game clock stoppage changes. As if this weren’t enough, the marketing gurus also let Nike unleash its creative skill to unveil new uniforms. And these uniforms, well, they look a little like florescent nightmares. One is slate gray with neon green and the other is white with neon orange. Um… OK? Could we have maybe stuck with the colors in the NFL logo, like red, white and blue? Or is that just too boring nowadays? Perhaps NFL writer Will Brinson said it best when he tweeted his response to the look of the new uniforms: “So now the Pro Bowl is Oregon versus Oklahoma State? That’s cool.”

Week 6 matchups include some studs (Packers-Ravens, Saints-Patriots) and some duds (Giants-Bears, Jaguars-Broncos). Think the Broncos will put up 70 on the lowly Jags? The Saints-Patriots matchup looks to be the gem of the week. The Saints are unbeaten and are looking pretty solid all around – even their defense, which was terrible last year, is much improved. Although, don’t forget, Sean Payton was suspended last season and the Saints looked like a chicken with its head cut off – he’s back this year and is heading things up masterfully. As T-L managing editor Bubba Kapral waxed philosophic this week while we discussed the Saints: “Think coaching doesn’t matter? Look at the Saints this year.” Indeed, the Pats will get an up close look at Payton’s team on Sunday.

Our primetime matchups this week include Giants-Bears on Thursday night (prediction: the brother of “He-who-must-not-be-named” will throw three more INTS), an intriguing Washington at Dallas Sunday nighter, and the Colts and Chargers wrap things up Monday night.

The Dolphins and Falcons get a mini vacation this week, but there is no vacation for me. I will mostly likely have more laundry to fold. Hey, until I actually BECOME commissioner, someone’s gotta fold the towels.

Until next week, my friends, enjoy the games!