Saturday, January 22, 2011

Championship Weekend and Other NFL Thoughts


This would be kind of a boring column if I just did the straightforward picks for the two championship games, so I'm going to start with a "Random Ramblings"-style selection of my finest NFL thoughts from the past week.

-Love the Josh McDaniels hire for the Rams. Somebody get the man a video camera already! He and Bradford should be locked in a room at Rams park 20 hours per day until the lockout starts. I love assholes like Tim Hasselbeck that question the move because they think that a young QB couldn't possibly learn two systems in consecutive years. Look Bald Asshole, just because you were too dense to pick up offenses WHEN YOU DID NOTHING BUT CARRY THE BACKUP QB'S WATER TO HIM DURING YOUR TIME AS A THIRD-STRINGER, that doesn't mean that an intelligent young lad like Bradford can't pick up an offense that is surprisingly similar to the one he played in college, only adapted to the NFL. Christ, sometimes I think these guys are just rocking the boat for the sake of rocking it, then they get all pissy when the boat capsizes and no one wants to save them. Assholes.

-Good luck with Pat Shurmer, Cleveland. One of my favorite lines of the week goes to Randy Karraker on 101 ESPN, when he said, "And you know the Browns are going to take A.J. Green. He'd be the perfect weapon to catch those three yard outs." Classic. I can imagine the befuddled look on Colt McCoy's face when he gets his first 3rd and 9 playcall piped into his helmet.

"Uh, coach, we have nine yards to go. A three-yard cross to this random white guy probably won't cut it."

"JUST CALL THE FUCKING PLAY! I AM THE HEAD COACH OF THIS FUCKING TEAM, NOW SHUT THE FUCK UP! IF YOU WON'T DO IT, I'LL FIND SOMEONE WHO WILL! MISTER DELHOMME IS THE NEW XO!"

"Okay, Jesus Christ, I'll run the play, no need to get so excited about it."

Devastating. Good luck digging out of this one, Browns.

-Wha happen? I thought the Patriots were the Greatest Team of All Time this year. Ever since they took your little camera away, Billy boy, you haven't been so good, eh? Now we have the camera—fuck yaself!

-This draft is turning out to be one giant clusterfuck. Luck and Blackmon out. Little chance Julio Jones gets to the Rams. No idea where Carolina is going to go. If the Panthers take Gabbert, they'll have two disappointing QBs fighting for playing time, though they would be well-served to let Clausen take the heat for a while to give Gabbert time to grow up and become a man. Personally, I think they should take Nick Fairley. He was the only guy in the national title game that impressed me even a little.

-Speaking of which, Cam Newton looked awful on the big stage. His throwing motion is usually pretty fluid and effortless, but his footwork is "bottom notch." He throws off of his back foot more often than Jim "Chris" Everett. Now we're starting to hear whispers about a JaMarcus Russell-esque work ethic. The problem is, you know some asshole like Shanahan is going to be arrogant enough to think that he can instruct him just as well as Yoda. He'd be wrong. He'd end up as a goddamn ghost talking to Newton's son on some godforsaken planet in the Dagobah system. Who wants to do that?!?

-Expect more draft coverage in the weeks to come. Onto the picks…

Jets at STEELERS -3.5

This could get ugly. Polamalu can sniff out INTs like a German Sheppard sniffing out drugs, and let's just say that Mark Sanchez has that distinctive scent of PCP. Sanchez played horribly in the first game and "OK" in the second game, can he progress? My guess is no, especially after James Harrison and Polamalu light him up a couple of times. Meanwhile, I don't even know if the Jets can lock down Mike Wallace with Revis—he might just be too fucking fast. I just think this has 7 point Steelers win written all over it.

Pick: STEELERS

Packers -3.5 at BEARS

Aaron Rodgers is bizzaro Brett Favre—he's just been getting BJs from the media all week. Meanwhile, Jay Cutler is the new Brett Favre. It's weird how history starts to repeat itself with QBs like this: Cutler=Favre. Bradford=P. Manning. Brady=Montana. Freeman=Roethlisberger. By all accounts Luck=Elway. Locker=Leaf. Newton=J. Russell. Where does Rodgers fit in? I have no clue. It just seems odd, that's all. Anyway, because it's going to be colder than a witch's tit in Chicago, and I expect this one to come down to a field goal, I have to go with…

Pick: BEARS

Questions? Comments? Seen my shiny, new personal blog yet? E-mail the Blogmogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NFL Divisional Round Playoff Preview


All right, all right, enough with the "sappy, life-affirming" columns. I get it. All of the comments, all of the e-mails, it's just been overwhelming…silence. Oh, well, I'm just going to go ahead and assume that loyal friends of the Mog are at least semi-interested in what's going to happen this next round. I'm actually making my way to Vegas this weekend. I know—I have a problem. Oh, well. It figures that the weekend I head out there, they take away the "Free Money" sign for the first time in about a month. These lines are incredibly tough. Am I going to bet them? YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT I AM! On to the games:

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-3)

Hoo boy. Somebody get the paramedics on hand for this one. Maybe a vet, too. These juiced-up monsters may be so 'roided out that we need a veterinarian. It'll be interesting to see if Flacco repeats his "Choke-o" performance from week 13. I could see this one going either way: the Ravens blow up a weakened Pittsburgh O-line, Flacco keeps his cool and is finally promoted to Assistant Night Manager, and the Ravens win by ten or so. It's just as likely that Roethlisberger comes out and forces…err…himself on the Ravens, and Polamalu picks Choke-o three times in a Pittsburgh rout. Time for the John Anthony coin flip…

Pick: Pittsburgh

NY Jets at New England (-8 ½)

I was discussing some of the games with G Gel Unit, and he wants me to put some cash on the Jets for him. I asked him if he wants me to just burn the cash or actually go through the charade of placing the bet. I think this is one of the easier ones on the board. Everyone thinks that the Jets defense is going to be so much better this time around, but I mean, come on, did anyone else see Sanchez this past week? He was horrendous. Aside from "calling the play when Jim Caldwell stupidly called a timeout with 28 seconds left," as Rex Ryan claims Sanchez did, they would've been much better with Brunell out there last week. It was like a flashback to the Chris Chandler era here in St. Louis. High-and-wide! High-and-wide! And you think this guy is going to go into Foxboro and make a game out of it against Tom Brady of all people? Yikes. Still, why do I get the sneaking suspicion that Nick Folk is going to backdoor cover this one with a meaningless field goal? Goddamn it.

Pick: New England

Green Bay vs. Atlanta (-2 ½)

This is a tough one. On the one hand, Matt Ryan never loses at home. On the other hand, his offensive coordinator has been interviewing for jobs this week. On the one hand, it is Aaron Rodgers, and he almost willed this team to win when they played in the regular season. On the other hand, Green Bay stock is at an all-season high right now. I think what it comes down to is that the 2 ½ is a slap in the face to Atlanta, as Vegas is basically saying that the Falcons are half-point dogs on a neutral field. Is Mike Smith smart enough to use that as motivation? Can you even mention point spreads to your team? What do I look like, Roger Goodell? I bet the old Scoutmaster and the Eagle Scout find a way to win this one by at least a field goal. Maybe they can find some Ginger Ale to celebrate with.

Pick: Atlanta

Seattle at Chicago (-10)

I would have thought this spread would've overvalued Seattle quite a bit, and put them at about +6 ½ or so. I mean, they DID beat Chicago at Soldier Field earlier this season. Pete Carroll has moved on from his pathetic "quarter behind the ear" routine and onto the "endless multi-colored handkerchief." And you know what? His team is buying into it! They think he's some kind of powerful wizard like C-3PO in Return of the Jedi. They're a bunch of Ewoks! And you know what? THE EWOKS TOOK DOWN AN ARROGANT SPACE EMPIRE! I mean, sure, they had some help from a band of surprisingly technologically-advanced rebels, but they shocked the galaxy!

Pick: Seattle

So there you have it. Of course, it'll be just great when I make a small fortune off of these picks. Just fantastic. I mean, I always leave Vegas ahead! What am I down? DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW!? Don't ask unless you want to go to a very, very dark place. Very dark.

VEGAS!!!

Questions? Comments? Wondering why I subject myself to self-inflicted torture once every 4-6 months or so by heading out to Vegas? E-mail the Blogmogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com. I mean it. I still check the address and everything. If nothing else, you could get included in a mailbag. That's something, right?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Let’s Get Serious: On Life

I apologize for the recent lack of Power Rankings, but I have been focused on other projects of late. I can't talk about many of these at this point, but needless to say, they're going to be big.

I don't usually get too deep into the personal stuff on this site because, well, let's face it, most of my readers are my goofball buddies from fantasy football and people who share my distaste for all things Keith Law. But for some reason, I felt compelled to write this, if for no other reason than to get the three-week old Power Rankings off of the front page.

I've also undergone a bit of a transformation lately that has rattled my cage a little bit and allowed me to put things in perspective. I've made some big life choices that, again, for various reasons cannot be shared yet. For any of my interested readers, you will hear about them soon enough.

For the moment, though, I felt compelled to write a post about life. No, not the Martin Lawrence-Eddie Murphy…err…"comedy" from the mid-nineties. Just this existence generally. So far, I think I've lived a pretty good one. I've had a number of advantages: first and foremost a loving family that has instilled (what I think to be) a good set of core values, and has given me the means to attain a high level of education and experience. Great friends, with whom a fun time is always guaranteed. An objectively solid job with good benefits. I generally don't have to worry about where my next meal is coming from or whether I can find a dry spot and some shelter to spend the night, which is more than can be said for a good number of people on this planet.

Still, there are very few areas where I have definitively had to stand up and make a major life choice for myself. To date, the single biggest decisions that I have made were where to go to college and grad school, and those were only choices because of the generosity of my parents and similarity of financial aid packages (well, in one of those decisions that is). Aside from that, my "plan" has always been College-Grad School-Job-work for a while to save for some as-yet undefined "business"-???. It is certainly a comfortable path, but something has always felt a little "wrong" with the way I was going about things. How would I discover this "business?" How much money would I need? What would it do? And, most importantly of all, how do I get there?

Until a couple months ago, I was especially clueless about that last part. Then, my girlfriend broke up with me and really put things into perspective. At the time, I was pretty upset about it, as is to be expected. In hindsight, though, it got me to think more about what I really wanted in life. I mean, life threw me a decent curveball this summer, and I wanted to try to put a good swing on it, so to speak. After countless hours of being content to watch reality TV and playing hours upon hours of Civilization IV, I decided to get back to the productive hobbies that I enjoyed, namely reading and writing. That explains my abrupt return to the blog after my extended absence. I went on a book binge at Amazon and ordered a number of books, both for pleasure reading and self-improvement.

One of these books is the Four-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss. My lazy ass thought it had everything I was looking for—this way I could spend even more time watching reality TV and playing Civ IV, right? For some reason, I put off reading it for a couple of months, though. "Not yet," I always thought. In retrospect, it was a good thing because I'm not sure I was ready for what the book truly had to offer.

I started reading the book in September. It took me a little while to get into it, but Tim's message and writing style really resonated with me. Despite this, I stopped reading it about halfway through and took a month or so to process what I had read. Tim's central message is simple, yet universally appealing: Life is short. We should not spend our time on things that don't make us happy. Find a way to cut out things and tasks that make you unhappy to leave you with more time for what you really want to do. (as an aside, I apologize if someone from Tim's team stumbles across this and I misstated it in any way—feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). This doesn't really mean sit on your ass and play more videogames, but rather find what truly makes you happy and explore it.

I finally got around to finishing the book at Christmas, and am in the process of actually doing things to change my life for the better. I discovered a few universal truths that will form a personal "ethos" of sorts for my life going forward. In no particular order:

1. I am the boss of my own life. I make the choices and tough decisions. I do not have to answer to anyone else's ideals of what I "should" do.

This is a big one, in part because to this point, some of the most agonizing choices that I've made for myself involved which beer on tap to get, and how much to tip the waitress. I need to stop doing what other people think I should be doing, and just do what I want to do and what I love. Most of the rest of these stem from this first "grand" realization.

2. Treat others how you want to be treated.

I'm not a religious guy at all, but I do think they got it right on this one. To be honest, if people followed this one more often, a lot of religions would be out of business, though the world would be a much better place.

3. If you want to achieve a result, make active steps in that direction.

For years and years, it's always been "I'll do it later." "I want to write a book, but I'm busy at work so I'll do it later." "I want to start a business, but I don't have enough money. I'll do it later." "I want to talk to that hot chick, but she might reject me. I'll do it later." This is a certain way to a lot of regrets, and is absolutely the mindset of a loser. I don't want to be a loser—we all know what Sean Connery says about them. No, I want me a hot prom queen. Therefore, if I choose to not talk to that girl, I can't ruminate over it—I made the choice, I have to live with it.

4. Fuck detractors.

I mean, seriously, this one should be obvious, but there are a lot of people out there with ideas that are afraid to look into them any deeper because some asshole tells them, "That will never work." It doesn't even have to be anyone that has the faintest clue about whether it will be true or not because quite frequently these people don't have a fucking clue themselves, but a lot of times people will let those detractors rule their lives based on nothing more than a gut reaction. So fuck 'em—they can all go detract from each other in Detractorland for all I care. Or Afghanistan. Same difference.

5. Green Bay Packers

You have to admire that Aaron Rodgers. I mean he goes in Philly and stares down Dog Killer, Q.B….oh, wait, wrong list. Moving on…

5. Set goals on an aggressive timetable.

I haven't usually been a guy to quantify my goals, but I recently tried it, including writing a "Life Plan" for where I want to be five years from now. It's not as stupid as it sounds. I gave myself objective fenceposts to shoot for, some of which I'll fail at, some of which I'll hit, and some of which I hope to exceed. Think of it this way: imagine you're in a field with nothing but wheat for as far as the eye can see. Someone hands you a gun and tells you to shoot it. You're probably just going to shoot it into the air, or into the ground, but regardless it won't be a productive shot. All setting goals does is give you a couple of soda cans to shoot at. Are you actually accomplishing anything? I don't know. But you can at least work on your skills, which is better than shooting a gun into the air like a hoosier.

6. Make time for the people, things, and experiences that you want. Everything else is peripheral.

The Four-Hour Workweek and other similar books that I've read have made this a central goal. Life is short and fragile. In The Departed, when Frank Costello asks the guy in his bar how his mother is, and the guy replies, "She's on her way out," Frank shoots back, "We all are—act accordingly." IT'S RIGHT THERE IN THE GREATEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME, FOLKS! RIGHT UNDER OUR NOSES! At any rate, Frank is right—we could be on the next plane that crashes or in the next incident where some asshole decides he wants to shoot people up. These things hit everyone, and you have to be ready to ask yourself, "If I die tonight, will I be satisfied with my life, or could I have done more?" I've been asking myself this a lot recently, and been making steps in what I think is the right direction. If certain people are important to you, spend time with them and gain new experiences together. If you'd rather not associate with certain other people, then just fucking don't. Life is too short. We're all on our way out. Act accordingly.

7. Have Fun. Enjoy Life.

Two small rules bundled into one. Even when you're making a positive change, you can (and should) still be able to have fun. I mean, what is this, the Federation in the 24th century, where everyone is bogged down in their iPad with paperwork and only listens to classical music? Fuck that. Again, life is too short. Enjoy it.

That's about it. If I think of any more, I'll post them to the list. "DURRR…BUT DJGEL, WHICH THAR OF THOSE THAR FOOTBALL TEAMS IS BESTEST?" you ask? Don't worry, I'll still regularly be back with the usual sports and entertainment stuff in a little bit. I also want to try something radical, like maybe shorter posts on a more regular schedule. But I do want to address issues like this from time-to-time, too, namely because of the profound change people like Tim Ferriss, Chris Guillebeau, and even guys like Trent Hamm and J.D. Roth have had on my life and its newfound direction. Perhaps the best part is I don't even have a compass. Actually, the best part is that I don't even care.

Questions? Comments? Wanting to know when we're getting back to things that actually matter, like football? E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.