Good evening Richmond, it is I..
My favorite week of the NFL season is almost here (Week 7: October 18-22).
And you must know why: When the 2008 season kicked off, the majority of my friends who, woefully support the Washington Redskins, basically rubbed their team’s outlandish success in my face. In their first five games, the squad held a miraculous 4-and-1 record. They jived the hardest at my heartbreak in Week 5–a game the ‘Skins pulled a rabbit out a helmet in Philadelphia (my favorite team). Their taunting literally depleted my energy enough to make me miss a couple of classes. (just kidding) But I wasn’t exhausted for too long because, in week six, they lost to a St. Louis Rams team–a team that tallied only two marks in their wins column all year. The best part of the story? M0i Eagles clinched a playoff spot while the Redskins’ fans bemoaned their hot start by losing six games out of their last eight, finishing with 8 wins and 8 losses.
So that’s what I did: I promised myself to avoid, at all costs, judging a team by its cover for the first six weeks. Bad habits, good habits, both are meant to be broken. Sometimes the willpower to win loses its battery life. And that is why week 7 is my favorite, because by then I’ve obtained a near-full grasp on what’s going on in the crazy world of the NFL.
This post will be just as challenging to write as it will be to read (for non-football fans). In honor of Dave Dameshek, I wanted to do something special to inform my readers and display the ability to think outside of my treasure box, and as astronomical as Mr. Dameshek’s “N ‘if’ L” segments go, I’m reaching for heaven’s gates on this one.
Dave Dameshek is a writer for http://www.nfl.com and is featured in his own videos. He is knowledgeable when it comes to analyzing the game and when he records these eccentric “N ‘if’ L” segments, you’d be surprised as they are highly informative. He usually starts with a hypothetical question and then educates his listeners–putting a wild, left-field spin on the dreidel as he changes the history of the NFL. Watch one to see what I mean. Dave isn’t a former professional football player but he analyzes the game, which makes him one of my role models.
Well, it’s time for a special edition of the N ‘if’ L, in absence of Mr. Dameshek right now I will do my best to fill his clown shoes…
What if Roy Williams didn’t horse-tackle Terrell Owens?
Junior year of high school I remember wearing my Terrell Owens jersey every Monday after an Eagles’ victory. For 13 weeks between September and December you could bet that I was the loudest in the hallways, triumphantly marching and prophesying, “an Eagles’ Super Bowl season.” The 2004 team clinched a home-field advantage: meaning others had to travel through Philadelphia to get to the final showdown in Jacksonville. The Minnesota Vikings didn’t strum any strings of doubt in my mind of pulling an upset as much as the Michael Vick-led Falcons did. But when we took care of business against Vick , 27-10 spanking on a cold January afternoon, I was positive that the Eagles would achieve their first Super Bowl ring. I remember betting an odd total of $83 with fifteen different students that winter.
After three years of adversity and fan-gering (fan+angering), the Eagles overcame their obstacles and were headed to their second Super Bowl appearance since 1980. 2004 was the fourth consecutive year that the Eagles had come one game from reaching the Super Bowl, and they finally stripped the baboon off their backs. Could you imagine getting dumped the night before your wedding? Well the Eagles do; they were stood up three weddings straight.
Three years in a row the team muted the media and chose not to acquire that one big playmaker that they desperately needed. I guess they were waiting to find someone who could fit their style of offense. Their defense, was always known for their consistency, tenacity and aggression. The Eagles offense was somewhat shaky and in denial; so they took a leap of faith when they signed the demon-possessed, superstar wide receiver Terrell Owens to a $49 million, 7-year deal. The Eagles abused what they paid for–maxing out on every square inch of the expensive toilet paper roll they bought, even finding use for the cardboard piece. Potentially the Most Valuable Player of the 2004 season, “T.O.” recorded 1200 yards in 77 receptions before suffering a disheartening injury on December 19th against the Cowboys. That afternoon, when I saw our Prize from Hell take a weird fall, I fully understood what murder felt like.
The safety Roy Williams, usually known for his hard-hits, dragged our superstar down by his horse collar (the back-inside of his shoulder pads). T.O. sustained a severely sprained ankle and a fractured fibula, making the day in December even more bitter and cold for Eagles fans. I obviously went into a diatribe after the final whistle, asking why God put a curse on our team, wishing bad on Williams’ fate, casting all sorts of spells. The disaster he caused didn’t even faze the guy, I mean, how could it? The Cowboys were going to win 6 games that year, and clearly jerking our best player down with his own selfish hopes didn’t mean anything to the apathetic fella.
The injury only meant that Owens would have to sit on the bench until the day of the Super Bowl, and even that the doctors didn’t recommend. He shocked the world when he rushed his healing process by receiving treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, just so he could play on the world’s stage. And play he did. With the universe watching, he caught 9 passes for 122 yards. Running on a sprained ankle with a metal chip installed, he sprinted his routes and silenced a lot of skeptics. But as we all know, the skeptics don’t stop chirping until the last play–a Tom Brady kneel that nailed the coffin in the 4th quarter with under half minute left. Burying the Eagles in the graveyard sealed the Patriots 3rd Super Bowl victory in a span of four years. But back to the original question: what if Owens wasn’t hurt?
…In Super Bowl XXIII (23) one of my all-time favorite quarterbacks, Joe Montana, lead his arsenal down the field with 3 minutes and 10 seconds left losing by three points against the Cincinnati Bengals. Deep into their own territory, what we simply know today as “the Drive,” started from their own 8-yard-line. Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver in the history to play the game, recorded 4 catches in the final stretch and set a Super Bowl record by receiving for 222 yards. Montana and Rice sounds like a great Korean dish, but not this particular one. A defense’s headache, calmly executed and moved the chains together with ease. Later in the drive Montana threw a game-winning touchdown to end the game 20-16. On that drive alone, Jerry Rice was monumental, being targeted five times and catching four–only because one pass was overthrown into the sidelines. Rice was clearly the biggest benefactor in the memorable drive, as he kept the 49ers’ hopes alive in winning the Super Bowl.
…Jerry Rice mentored Terrell Owens for the 8 years they spent together in San Francisco. When Rice, the legend, went down with an ACL tear in 1997, that made way for the young Owens to solidify his ground and apply the teachings of his injured master. Sure Owens was only a 15-year-old teen when ‘the Drive,’ described above, occurred but I’m sure he watched and admired the record-breaking performance. Little did he know when he got drafted in 1997 he’d play alongside the greatest of the greatest.
From the man he adored and emulated growing up, T.O. probably attained wisdom in training camp alongside Jerry. Rice had swale, a new term I use for ‘steez.’ If Owens wasn’t nursing an injury during that Super Bowl bout, it indefinitely could have boosted Donovan McNabb’s confidence, the Eagles quarterback, to go down the field trailing 24-21 with 46 ticks left on the clock to potentially tie the game. McNabb was seen throwing-up mid-drive, probably due to the confusion: who do I throw it to this drive? Donovan wasn’t as coolheaded as Joe Montana was on “his drive,” but MAYBE, just maybe I could agree that Montana’s faith in Rice appeased his nerves. One could imagine the success McNabb might have had if only, just only, he had the same swale Joe did. Owens was already having a spectacular game, his stats with 46 seconds left were already at 9 /122. If he matched Rice’s performance, let’s say, McNabb throw TO 5 more passes for the remainder of the game and sets up kicker David Akers to hit the game-tying field goal–that’s 5 catches for another 66 yards–ending up with a total of 14 and 188.
The magic trick only ties the game, and in overtime (OT), we flip that acronym to famously labeling it the ‘TO.’ Healthy TO demands the ball from McNabb every play, adds another 50 yards to the stat sheet and shatters Rice’s numbers with 238 total. After a long game of holding pigskin, the last thing we see is the MVP proudly cradling the silver Lombardy trophy.
In the 2005 offseason, TO drastically changes his ways: he put his team first, takes a paycut so the Eagles organization could resign other members and bolster up the defense. TO never blames Donovan for his lack of leadership, or compares him to Brett Favre. And instead of a Silver-and-Black #5 jersey throwing the ball to another future Hall of Famer wide receiver, Randy Moss gets traded to Philadelphia to assure another Super Bowl ring. The Eagles give birth to a dynasty and quickly catch up to their state rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have won 6 for their franchise. Owens and Moss get inducted into the Hall of Fame, as they develop one of the most inseparable friendships in the NFL. They eventually retire together and open up a cheese-steak shop and call it the “Hall of Fame Cheese Steaks” because they insist that neither of them would put their names before the other’s. 🙂
If only Roy Williams didn’t horse-collar tackle Owens and sabotage his career…
Who knows, maybe Mr. Dameshek might come across this someday and use it for his segment.
Enjoy the rest of your weekends!