Posted: Monday September 26, 2005 2:37PM; Updated: Monday September 26, 2005 2:40PM
Daunte Culpepper's three touchdown day was just one highlight from Sunday.
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Congress is investigating former Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmerio, but has anyone ever looked into the NFL? Think about it: The NFL aligns itself with DirecTV, a service unavailable to many Americans (such as myself) who happen to live somewhere without a clear view of the southwestern sky. That means there's a large number of people out there who can't watch their favorite NFL teams each week.
So unless you have DirecTV or know someone with a dish, you don't have any other choice but to head to watering hole to watch your team.
Somehow, I've always avoided this experience. I think it was mostly because I'm based in New York, and I didn't really care to be surrounded by Giants and Jets fans while trying to watch Michael Vick and my Falcons on some screen way across the room. I like to laugh about Chad Pennington's arm, not hear dozens of people groan each time he drops back and throws a ball with sideways rotation on a five-yard out.
Yesterday, though, I finally gave in. My friend Scooter (his real name, I swear) was in town from Atlanta, and he's a die-heard Bills fan. I tried to convince him to drive up to Buffalo with me, until I went on Mapquest and discovered it was six hours each way. With that option eliminated, hitting a bar was our last call.
We found a joint on Manhattan's Upper East Side with booths where each table had its own flat-screen TV and remote. Upon sitting down, we were presented with a menu for food and one for sports -- a sheet listing the channels of all the 1 p.m. NFL games as well as the Yankees game. We were also told that we would need to spend at least $80 during the game -- the cost of a private TV, I guess. I would have easily paid $20 to be able to order the game on pay-per-view and watch it from my couch, but the other $60 was probably worth it not to have to listen to Sam Rosen and Bill Maas.
The Falcons jumped ahead early and the game was never really close, so a large part of my afternoon was spent observing. There was a crew of guys wearing Giants jerseys, apparently only coming out to cheer against the Jets. By 3 p.m, many TVs were tuned to the Yankees-Blue Jays game. From time to time, there were huge cheers in other parts of the bar, leading us to start flipping around like crazy to see what we'd missed. And anytime anyone scored a touchdown, fantasy football heads spun around and silently processed it.
Still, with so many TVs around us, it was impossible to miss the great plays of the day: Chad Johnson's Riverdance celebration; Mark Simoneau reprising his role as placekicker (I love how he sticks in his mouthpiece right before he kicks); Jake Delhomme throwing away the game for Carolina; Daunte Culpepper exploding for three TDs, after I benched him on my fantasy team. And despite cold nachos, we hit the $80 minimum. Easily. (It was Manhattan, after all.)
There are not a lot of options if you're an NFL fan and want to watch your team. I tried radio, but the NFL -- especially when Ron Mexico is playing -- simply demands visuals.
The barfly experience turned out to be better than I expected. Having other fans around helps. And even though the joint was filled with people pulling for opposing teams, civility reigned for the most part. We were all there to watch our teams and to hope for the best.
And after enough $10 pitchers, even Pennington can look like an NFL quarterback.
Game Of The Week
The most maddening Game Of The Week in a long time. Hopefully you'll have more patience (or down time at work) than I did.
College Athlete Of The Week
After a slow start, Auburn running back Kenny Irons, the official player of The Links, has had back-to-back incredible games. Last week he went for 147 yards on 11 carries. In Auburn's 37-14 win over Western Kentucky on Saturday, Mr. Irons earned the start and carried 18 times for 111 yards and a TD. Could we have a potential Heisman contender on our hands?
What's particularly disturbing is that the ad campaign's creator -- who is known as "Kazoo" though that's a different story -- says that they didn't change Ronald himself, only his costume. Really? So Ronald was passing as a man all this time to begin with? This is like a deep-fried Crying Game or something. I'm going to have to go with the end zone-dancing Burger King campaign here.
Reminder Of The Week
Don't forget, the NBA season tips off in a month. To prepare, let's all remember this poor blogger who comes out and admits that she wants to marry Tayshaun Prince.