10. You knew it was only a matter of time before ESPN’s Michael Irvin would be ticketed for “bojangling.”
Come on, if Flavor Flav is “Mantan” from Spike Lee’s prophetic movie "Bamboozled," then you know The Pipemaker is “Eat-n-Sleep.”
Let’s call Irvin’s critique of Tiki Barber’s planned retirement a case of “When Bojanglers Attack.” All that was missing from Irvin’s routine was a top hat, cane and a pair of tap shoes.
The soft-shoe jig Irvin performed on Barber’s unblemished reputation had to be for laughs because not even Irvin’s “formerly” chemically impaired brain could believe what he was saying.
Tiki Barber and his end-of-the-season retirement are a distraction for the New York Giants? Tiki has sacrificed his ability to be a locker-room leader?
And the man offering this harsh criticism was the former landlord of the Dallas Cowboys’ “White House,” the man who smuggled topless models and crack pipes past Super 8 security guards?
Irvin wrote the book on locker-room distractions and excuse-making. Tiki is writing a book on leadership and how a professional athlete should conduct himself. He is the best and brightest that the NFL has to offer.
And Michael Irvin wants to criticize Tiki? What, did Terrell Owens give The Pipemaker the day off from foot massaging?
An ESPN executive needs to summon Irvin to a meeting room this week and re-explain his duties. In case anyone at the World Wide Leader has forgotten Irvin’s game plan, I have a copy:
A. Butcher the English language to the point that most people assume you never attended a class at Miami or in high school.
B. Laugh hysterically when nothing is funny.
C. Defend the indefensible, especially if they’re black.
D. Dress flamboyantly, like you just stepped off the set of Ice-T’s “Pimps Up, Ho’s Down.”
E. Secure softball interviews with troubled athletes.
9. Rhythm and confidence are the two most important ingredients for a successful NFL quarterback. When you reach the pro level, 90 percent of all QBs have pretty even physical qualities.
Rhythm and confidence separate the good from the mediocre.
That’s why the Chiefs might be better off sticking with Damon Huard as their starter as the season progresses. Huard has found a rhythm and his confidence is certainly growing. He’s played quite well the past two weeks, and the Chiefs have improved to 4-3.
Meanwhile, Trent Green is still probably two weeks from returning from the concussion he suffered in the Chiefs’ season opener. Herm Edwards says Green will be KC’s starter when he’s healthy.
If Huard is still playing well when the Chiefs host Oakland on Nov. 19, it would be foolish to stick Green in the lineup at that point. Green will have to re-discover his rhythm and confidence. And while Green is trying to find it, Huard could lose his.
Green has been a solid performer for the Chiefs. But he’s not Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. He’s been a poor man’s Drew Bledsoe, a QB who puts up nice numbers. The Patriots sat Bledsoe in favor of Brady. Heck, the Rams sat Green in favor of Kurt Warner.
Is Huard as good as Warner or Brady? No. But he might be as good as Jake Delhomme.
8. I feel sorry for San Diego linebacker Donnie Edwards. During his 11-year career, he’s been one of the league’s most productive players, but he can’t get selected to the Pro Bowl, and he can’t get a big-time contract.
Edwards has been the glue in San Diego’s defense the last six years. He leads the team in tackles. He’s had two five-interception seasons. And he’s played alongside Shawne Merriman (suspended for steroids) and Steve Foley (shot by police).
Edwards reminds me of Tiki Barber. Edwards has done everything the right way, but he’s been overshadowed by bigger names.
7. Let me offer up a defense of David Carr, who was benched last week against the Tennessee Titans.
Carr is completing 70 percent of his passes this season. He led the Texans to 27 points and an upset of the Jaguars two week ago. It makes no sense for Houston coach Gary Kubiak to bench Carr midway through the Titans game.
You don’t bench David Carr for Sage Rosenfels. You don’t bench Antoine Carr for Sage Rosenfels. Sage isn’t a solution. He’s a problem.
David Carr is unlikely to ever live up to his draft position. But he was actually making progress this year.
6. There’s an outside chance that tight end Tony Gonzalez will leave Kansas City after this season. His contract will expire at the end of the year.
If Gonzalez bolts, the Philadelphia Eagles should be his primary pursuer. Donovan McNabb needs a big-play tight end as a security blanket. McNabb and Gonzalez would be a perfect combination. Gonzalez is a big, easy-to-find target with an incredible work ethic. He’d fit in nicely with McNabb and the Eagles.
McNabb is inconsistent because he doesn’t have a go-to receiver.
5. The Raiders proved it’s far more difficult to go winless in the parity-filled NFL than undefeated.
If ever there was a team built to challenge Tampa Bay’s 0-14 season, it was Al Davis’ 2006 Oakland Raiders. But here they are riding a two-game winning streak, and they won the second game without scoring an offensive touchdown.
The Raiders have a terrible offensive line, below average running backs, an NFL Europe quarterback, an offensive coordinator who was out of the game for five years, a head coach who rarely talks, an overpaid star player who won’t hustle and a meddlesome owner.
This team was built to lose. And the season right now is playing out like the movie "Major League." The owner wants the team to be bad so he can wreck attendance and move the franchise to Los Angeles, but the players won’t cooperate.
I digress. Instead of focusing attention on the ’72 Dolphins, maybe it’s time we started honoring the ’76 Buccaneers. What the Bucs did is truly incredible, required remarkable consistency and cooperation on both sides of the football.
Oakland’s defense cost the franchise a legitimate shot at immortality.
4. Someone better tell the experts jumping on the Michael Vick bandwagon that the 16-game NFL schedule is a marathon. I’ll wait to sing Vick’s praises until he’s headed for the homestretch.
We’ve seen Vick have bouts of good passing days before. Just last season, Vick completed 62 percent of his passes, seven TDs and one interception in the month of November.
Hey, I’m not rooting against Vick. I just need to see more than two good games before I’ll believe he’s turned the corner and is now willing to put in the proper amount of work preparing for games.
3. There’s a reason Brad Johnson is the second-lowest paid starting quarterback in the NFL. You saw that reason Monday night when the Patriots dismantled Johnson.
Johnson is great at managing a football game. He stays within his limited skills set as well as any quarterback in the league. But make no mistake about it, Johnson’s skills set is very limited.
If you put pressure on Johnson, the league’s weakest arm becomes a liability that can’t be overcome. That’s what you saw Monday. The Pats heated Johnson in the pocket, and Johnson started short-arming passes all over the building.
Johnson is not a fourth-quarter-rally quarterback. When he plays from behind, his weaknesses are even more exposed because teams start teeing off on him in the pocket.
Rather than complain about his contract, Johnson should be thankful he survived in the NFL for 15 years.
2. This is a memo to my dear friend Lloyd Carr: My beloved Ball State Cardinals are coming to the Big House this Saturday afternoon. Please show some mercy.
Normally I would talk trash and predict an amazing upset. But the No. 2 ranked Wolverines might have the best defensive line not named the Carolina Panthers. I just want my freshman quarterback, Nate Davis, a Heisman candidate in 2008, to make it out of Ann Arbor in one piece.
Lloyd, if you take it easy on my Cardinals, I’ll move the Wolverines from No. 3 to No. 2 in my AP vote and drop the West Virginia Mountaineers, my season-long sleeper pick to win the national title.
1. Don’t count out the Pittsburgh Steelers. Some team is going to win the AFC North with a 9-7 record, and the 2-5 Steelers can reach 9-7.
All the Steelers need is some stability at the QB position to ignite a winning streak. Bill Cowher is the second-best coach in the game after Bill Belichick. Cowher’s team won’t give up. Cowher and his players have too much pride.
If Cowher would just sit Ben Roethlisberger down for a couple of games, the Steelers could steady themselves. Big Ben and his injuries have the team on an emotional rollercoaster.
Whatever the Steelers do at QB, they’ll get a shot at getting back in the AFC North race. Cincinnati isn’t as good as expected. Baltimore’s defense is efficient at taking the ball away, but it’s not a suffocating unit. And the Ravens’ offense still is inconsistent.