We probably should have suspected that football was going to mutate this weekend when we learned that Comrade Redford revealed that he had contributed an explainer of a football play for The New York Times‘ Sunday kids’ section. Great. A fifth columnist in his position of power influencing a whole new generation of children to think that the New York Jets deserve to exist.
But to make his contribution the causative force in what happened this holiday weekend is to offend the timeline. Redford’s graphic, which did not at any point include the phrase “until he gets COVID-19 and has to stop playing,” landed on America’s doorsteps a good five days after the sport began the long and drawn-out process of eating itself.
In fact, here is what football did to itself this week:
1. The Baltimore Ravens caught COVID-19 over and over and over again. Their Thanksgiving Day game against Pittsburgh, which was supposed to make us all forget the two snotbubbles that preceded it (Houston-Detroit and Washington-Dallas) was moved to Sunday when a strength and conditioning coach apparently decided masks and tracing equipment got in the way of his properly alphabetizing the dumbbells. Then it was bumped again, to Tuesday, where it sits precariously while the Ravens keep adding new patients to the Typhoid Harbaugh list.
2. Vanderbilt, whose entire stable of kickers were declared temporarily infected, went outside the box when head coach Derek Mason decided to take Sarah Fuller from the women’s soccer team and give her the job, making her the first woman to play in a Power 5 Conference game. The Commodores allowed her to do a nifty little squib kick at the start of the second half but failed to get within field goal range (their deepest advance was to the Missouri 32 late in the fourth quarter) the entire day in a 41-0 loss. A day later, Mason was fired.
3. While the Ravens were frantically having swabs rammed up their noses, the Lions were stinking out their home field in their usual idiom, and two days later new owner Sheila Ford Hamp decided to croak general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Mirthful Matt Patricia in an act of what-kept-you that made the holiday slightly less miserable for all Michiganders. The interim coach, Darrell Bevell, is of little consequence, but four people will combine to do Quinn’s work, meaning that the Lions are one of the few teams in the NFL not laying people off … at least until after the first of the year.
4. The Denver Broncos’ entire quarterback group decided to have a position meeting without masks or tracking devices and were declared out for Sunday’s game against New Orleans. The Broncos asked for and were denied permission to use one of their coaches as their quarterback and ended up using practice squad wide receiver/former Wake Forest quarterback Kendall Hinton in a 31-3 loss in which Hinton threw nine times for one completion and 13 yards. Afterward the Broncos players thanked the league for its largesse. “I feel like maybe [the game] could have been moved, but at the same time, maybe the league was making an example of us as far as maybe not doing the things we needed to do in that particular room, that quarterback room,” safety Kareem Jackson said. “Obviously, the guys didn’t follow their protocols, and for [the NFL] to see that, I guess they felt like they had to make an example, so at the end of [the] day, it is what it is.”
Actually, it is what it isn’t, but there are dumbasses who set the rules and dumbasses who don’t follow them. Guess how that tale of the tape ends up.
5. The Los Angeles Raiders bounced back from last week’s last-minute loss to Kansas City with a first-minute loss to Atlanta, for Christ’s sake, reminding us through Comrade Anantharaman that they are still the Raiders. Head coach Jon Gruden blamed the 11 penalties for the reason the gents couldn’t get traction, though analytics experts tended to think the five turnovers might have contributed. Either way, it was way Raiders. Proof if proof were needed? Nathan Peterman got snaps. In fact, in addition to Peterman and Hinton, Colt McCoy, Jacoby Brissett, Brandon Allen, and Mike Glennon all had pass attempts Sunday, putting the Tom Brady Crud Meter in an entirely new perspective.
6. Then to complete our tour of the AFC West, The Land Where Brains Go To Be Pureed, there was Chargers-Bills, in which Los Angeles did their usual not-gooditude but still got to the Buffalo two-yard-line with 25 seconds left and trailing 27-17 with no timeouts. They then called a running play that soon-to-be-ex-head-coach Anthony Lynn called a miscommunication, a screwup so mighty that even the Red Zone guy snapped in exasperation, “Come ON!”
7. Ohio State canceled its game with Illinois, its second in three weeks, and is now in danger of not qualifying for the conference title game or the championship playoff. Coastal Carolina and Indiana remain in contention. San Jose State flew to Boise State only to learn that Idaho has the cooties, too, and Florida State has done the late-minute sheetjerk in successive weeks, to Clemson and Virginia. But because even college football knotheads can learn, the Seminoles canceled this week’s game with Duke today. As for San Jose State, the Boise fail followed the cancellation of their game with archrival Fresno State, and that was only the half of it because …
8. Santa Clara County cited the spiking virus numbers as the reason it banned all contact sports for at least three weeks starting Monday, and 14-day quarantines for anyone coming to town from more than 150 miles away. That killed San Jose’s final two home games, plus Stanford’s game in two weeks against Oregon State, and the 49ers’ upcoming home games against Buffalo and the WTFs. Head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t like the lack of notice, but he got the same notice most other small businesses get when the virus starts killing people in bulk.
“For us to be heading out here yesterday and the relationship we have with them (the county politicians) and for our players and coaches and everyone on that plane and our wives to find that out while we’re getting on a plane and no one to tell us, it was just extremely disappointing,” Shanahan said. “I get it: They made that decision, and we’ve got to deal with it, but to find that out through a tweet or a press conference, where I have an entire plane coming up to me, I have all wives, everyone’s girlfriends, everyone’s family members, kids, saying they heard we could be gone for the entire month of December? Are we going to be quarantined for 14 days when we get back? That’s all we could talk about for the last 18 hours because we got no answers from them.” So they’ll play in Arizona or some other antiseptic failure palace for the next two weeks—it isn’t like Shanahan will have to draw up his next two games plans on the side of a highway. Besides, it won’t be like they’re going to be missed.
9. The Jacksonville Jaguars celebrated their 10th consecutive loss Sunday by firing general manager Dave Caldwell but not head coach Doug Marrone, because apparently Sheila Hamp has a larger world view than Shahid Khan. There must have been some internal argument over the idea of changing the team’s kicker for the eighth time in 12 weeks, but it is clear Shahid Khan’s streak of not knowing what the hell he owns is well into Year Four. After all, his choice to replace Caldwell for the time being is former 49ers general manager/mudstick Trent Baalke, though the longterm replacement is still believed to be a platypus. Next to this, Fulham’s 1-7-1 record in the Premier League looks positively Bayern Munich.
10. Mitchell Trubisky. The gift that keeps on taking.
In other news, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, Jr., aggregate age 105, pretended to entertain people who literally will tolerate anything no matter how ridiculous. These are the same people who think the Rolling Stones, aggregate age 305, still have it, so even a week like this for football won’t shame enough people for it to learn from weeks like this. We’ll eat anything if it has enough bright colors and carcinogens.