Click here for Today's Sign of the Apocalypse, Game to Watch, Leading Off gallery and much more!
If there is any justice in the world, Cleveland quarterback Jeff Garcia will throw for 400 yards and six touchdowns on Sunday against Philadelphia, and loud-mouthed, narcissistic Eagles receiver Terrell Owens will drop four passes and leave the game in the second quarter with a bruised ego.
During the past week, the Me-O continued his attacks on Garcia, who quarterbacked the 49ers for five seasons (1999-2003) while Owens was drawing attention to himself in the Bay Area. Hiding behind the lame defense of, "You all were asking me a question. What do you want me to do, stare at the camera?" Owens assaulted Garcia's talent and asserted he would have scored more touchdowns and been more highly-regarded among NFL receivers had he been playing with "a strong-armed quarterback, a guy who can get me the ball downfield."
Owens' recent assaults have come in interviews on HBO and in ESPN the Magazine and in a full chapter of his recently-released book Catch This. They reiterate his claims that Garcia's inability to throw the deep ball hurt Me-O's numbers and kept him behind Randy Moss (another Owens obsession) and Marvin Harrison in the NFL receiving hierarchy. It was a classic dose of bile from a selfish player. Even now, as Owens and the Eagles sit atop the NFC with a 5-0 mark and appear headed for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, Owens continues to chirp.
But that's not the worst of it. Professional sports are littered with guys like Owens, who prefer personal success to team achievements. That has been going on as long as mankind has been competing. But Owens' insistence on ripping Garcia prolongs the truly damaging, hurtful results of the receiver's big mouth and toxic attitude. Just about every article written about the imbroglio recounts in some form Owens' thinly-veiled accusations about Garcia's sexuality in Playboy. The quarterback was forced to defend himself before the season began by producing a (white-hot) girlfriend, and yesterday in Cleveland, he felt obliged to tell reporters that Owens had met Garcia's girlfriends during the past few years.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the Eagles continued their organization-wide refusal to stand up to Owens' crass remarks by pleading ignorance -- Andy Reid's take on Owens' HBO remarks: "I didn't see that," -- or by making jokes. When quarterback Donovan McNabb was asked whether he had heard Owens' statement that "If it smells like a rat, it probably is," referring to his belief Garcia was gay, McNabb laughed it off. "No. I don't like rats. I would never buy a rat to be a pet, so I don't know what he means by that."
Continuing to question Garcia's sexuality is bad enough. What's worse is the inference that there would be something wrong with him if he were gay. And the Eagles' repeated refusal to chastise their player publicly for his hateful comments speaks volumes about the franchise's true personality, no matter how community-minded it strives to appear.
Meanwhile, Owens prolongs his fixation with Garcia, with whom he went to three Pro Bowls. "In San Francisco, I practiced hard, but I can only be as good as my quarterback," he said in ESPN the Magazine. "The guy wasn't meeting me halfway."
You can't blame Garcia. The more Owens says, the more it seems like meeting him at all wouldn't be such a pleasant experience.
You don't believe polls, do you?
With all the wailing that has accompanied the first BCS poll of the season, one would think 0-6 Central Florida was atop the rankings and was headed for an Orange Bowl showdown with the Electoral College. There are still seven weeks of play remaining, people. Calm down.
The one major complaint put forth so far regards Miami. The 'Canes are ranked second, ahead of Oklahoma, the current runner-up in the AP and BCS toady, er, USA Today/ESPN polls. Fans and some media can't believe the Sooners were bumped by computer rankings and would have to find a post-season home other than Miami (ironic, huh?) if things remain the same for the rest of the season.
Submit a comment or question for El Hombre.
Well, wake up, people. Is Oklahoma the second-best team in the country, just because the polls say so? About the only thing playoff proponents and those who drink the BCS Kool-Aid can agree on is the polls are about as accurate as Chris Rix's passing. (Sorry for the turnaround, Chris, but you really let El Hombre down.) Let's get it right. The AP poll is voted on largely by media members who see one game live per week and then watch a bunch of highlights. Oh, and did El Hombre forget that few of them ever played the sport? The other poll, which ABC and ESPN would trumpet even if it had Louisiana-Lafayette in the top spot, is chosen by either A) coaches who know only about their squad and their opponents -- and nobody else, or B) sports information directors. The bottom line: Oklahoma could be the second-best team in the country. Or, it could be ninth. We don't know. We won't know. Just don't try to use the polls as the central part of your argument. They are as flawed as Donald Trump's hairstyle.
Meanwhile, let's dream for a while. One member from each of the five major conferences (don't even try to include the Mountain East/Eastern Athletic Conference among the big boys) is undefeated. How great would it be if the season ended with Miami, USC and Oklahoma (or Auburn or Wisconsin) perfect? Talk about a mess. Would it be enough to bring down the BCS? Nope, but it sure would make it harder for its supporters to justify the ridiculous system's existence. That alone would be a step in the right direction.
El Hombre sez
It's a good bet some college team will hire Rick Neuheisel, now that the NC2A has decided not to sanction Surfer Coach for his basketball-pool participation. But any school which brings him on board had better be careful. When it comes to ringing up recruiting violations, Slick Rick is 2-for-2. ...
If there is somebody out there not rooting for Orlando's Grant Hill to play a full, successful season he should be forced to join Kobe's posse. The early returns indicate that Hill's oft-injured ankle is completely healed. We've heard that before, but this time, it appears to be true. Let's hope so. ...
With no hockey being played, things are so bad in Montreal people there have turned their interest to baseball. What? You mean the Expos are gone? Another Molson, please. Fast.
And another thing ...
It doesn't matter whether Houston or St. Louis wins the NLCS, the survivor will be the decided World Series underdog against Boston -- in the eyes of the media. Baseball romanticists and curseologists will be taxing keyboards and straining larynxes to out-cliché each other in adoration of the Sawx while all but wearing a Ted Williams replica jersey in the process. If Boston wins, the sport will party like it's 1918. If the Sawx lose, expect a flurry of replays of Bill Buckner and Mike Torrez and little credit accorded the National League conqueror. For evidence, see last year, when Florida defeated New York in the Series, and all anybody wanted to discuss was Aaron Boone's homer in Game 7 of the ALCS.
Meanwhile, is there anything more fun than imagining George Steinbrenner sitting in his fortified Tampa headquarters trying to decide whom to ax in response to THE BIGGEST CHOKE JOB IN BASEBALL HISTORY? Delicious.