Last year, I had a fun Sociology class. The teacher assigned us some very entertaining books, like Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh. I especially enjoyed Gang Leader, because it felt real. Because I liked the authenticity of the story, I decided to watch a TV show with a similar story to tell- The Wire. Needless to say, I loved The Wire so much that I actually made myself sick because I couldn't ever go to sleep. Absolutely fantastic show (WATCH IT!). It made me feel like I knew the city of Baltimore. Anyway, I am waaaay off topic. What I wanted to say was that I decided to try the premise of Gang Leader for a Day on myself. I would attempt the impossible: I would watch the Jets-Vikings game as a Jets fan, with Jets fans, and I would try to be the biggest fan in the room.
I went the whole nine yards, wearing a throwback Leon Washington jersey a friend lent to me. Lets just put it this way, once you're a die hard Pats fan, you CAN NOT root for the Jets. It is literally impossible. My body, mind and soul were all rebelling against my little experiment. When Nick Folk kicked that opening kickoff out of bounds, and the ref threw the flag for an illegal kick- I jumped out of my seat and screamed, "HA! YOUR KICKER SUCKS!" Then I realized I was wearing a Leon jersey, and I probably looked like a moron. I took off the jersey, laughed with my friends about how quickly my experiment failed, and I moved on.
I had a pretty bad feeling in my stomach about the game (I figured it would be a 24-13 Jets victory). Especially with the rain, thunder and lightning, I thought the Jets had a nice advantage over the fleet-footed Vikings. Things started out ugly, with lots of 3 and outs, a few field goals and more than a handful of dropped passes. Favre looked awful. He was throwing rockets into the ground, he lost a fumble on the transfer from the center, and lost a fumble when the ball fell right out of his hands. After Favre's second fumble I had flashbacks of Super Bowl XLI when Rex Grossman screwed the pooch big time(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LpCKxdGH_U&feature=related) It really wasn't pretty. Luckily for the Vikings, the Jets couldn't get the ball into the endzone, and put the game out of reach. The Jets' inability to generate TD's set up the great 4th quarter. Between Sanchez throwing near picks, and Favre finding his rhythm (What a great throw to #84!) the game seemed to be turning into a Favre classic. Aside all the history between Favre and the Jets, this past week has done quite a number on Favre's reputation. Honestly, there are some parts of the story that are so disturbing, even scarring, that I'd rather you hop on over to deadspin.com (WARNING: adult content) if you want to know all the dirty, little, details (Wink, Wink). Anyway, despite some terrific throws by Favre in that 4th quarter, I think everyone was sort of bracing for that deadly game-sealing interception. Favre has been absolutely great these last few years for a guy his age, but the fact that late-game, killer interceptions are becoming the norm does not bode well for the Vikings chances this year (and the chances of Favre playing another season in the NFL). It seems as if every season ends on a Favre interception. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icaMH-yT99I) The one against the Dolphins in 2008, which destroyed Matt Cassel and the Patriots' playoff hopes, was just awful. He threw it right to the defense, UGH.
What we learned last night:
1) Mark Sanchez may not have turned the corner quite yet. He looked terrible in the second half, and was very lucky that Antoine Winfield didn't break his perfect TD-INT ratio. Although, I admit, he didn't get help from his receivers. Dustin Keller dropped a couple passes, one of which was a dive attempt in the end zone (another was a third and short). Despite being a tough catch, the way Keller has been playing, I have to believe that in a good weather game that ball is being caught.
2) Ladanian Tomlinson is for real. Watching the game last night, it felt like I was watching LT circa 2007. He doesn't seem to be that home run threat anymore, but he certainly is running at a pro-bowl level right now. If he can sustain this success over the long haul, and that is a BIG if, the Jets are going to be very tough to beat.
3) Brett Favre doesn't get rattled. Yes, he threw the game-clinching interception, but despite the uncertainty which surrounded him all week, he had a pretty good performance. Considering Favre is on the brink of possibly becoming the next Tiger Woods (who, by the way, hasn't been able to return to form since his scandal), and the fact that he looked atrocious in the first three quarters, the poise and focus he showed in the 4th quarter was pretty remarkable.
4) Darelle Revis isn't Darelle Revis. Watching Revis last year, you almost felt like he had a better chance at the ball than the receiver he was covering. So far this year, he has looked above average, but not extraordinary. That whole holdout situation is looking worse and worse for both Revis (whose inability to get into game shape may have been the cause for his hamstring injury) and the Jets (who put a lot of money into a player they thought would transform their defense- so far, he absolutely has not).
5) Percy Harvin is very good. Obviously, he is extremely athletic, and can do a lot with the ball in his hands (witness his return game, and his ability to run after catch). But what surprised me was how good of a receiver he was. That catch in the back of the end zone reminded me of players like Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson. Once the Vikes get Sidney Rice back, they will have the best trio in the league with him, Harvin and Moss. Those are three legitimate number ones.
On to the links:
I know this is a little late, because you all have probably read this (and/or are sick of it) but the Simmons article on Randy Moss was a masterpiece. He literally hit on every important aspect of the trade from the perspective of a fan and reporter.
Peter King's must weekly must read for all football fans.
It is truly unbelievable what the media will do for a story. Regardless of truth, this story is just ridiculous.
Fun article by Laker groupie J.A. Adande about Lebron and Durant.
Crazy article about athletes and concussions which is circulating on ESPN today. The players seem to finally be taking a stand.
Sports Illusrated Special Report. This article will change the way you think about sports agents forever.
Three great interceptions by defensive lineman. These guys are special- unbelievable athleticism!
Great catch here to set up win for Bucs. But was it a catch? You decide. (Don Banks of SI.com brings a good point- what do you think Calvin Johnson's reaction is to this?)
Fun game between LSU and Florida, if you haven't seen it yet.
Sick catch that I came across by Hakeem Nicks at UNC. He's having an awesome year for the Giants.
A little youtube extra from last year. Truly unbelievable. (By the way, Iguodala's shot which is on the side tab is also pretty sweet)
And one last thing:
Love the trade for Deion Branch by the Patriots. He was one of Brady's favorite targets, and he always came through in the clutch. Despite his age, I think Branch will come right in and become a big part of this offense. He gets open well downfield and has very good hands and run-after-catch ability. Look what he did against the Pats two years ago (and listen to the announcer, he is so excited, it is almost scary. It is at the 1:34 mark of the video)