Each of the last six or seven NFL seasons, I’ve done my best to take NFL fandom to a different level; one beyond fantasy drafts and childhood teams, one beyond home-town cheering and rational thinking. No, my entertainment in the NFL comes from the people I get to root against.
As a Redskins fan, this year’s excitement (admittedly) is higher than any other. With the most sought after second overall pick in NFL draft history, the Redskins took Robert Griffin III. In Washington D.C., if you heard people talking about RGIII, he’d be easily mistaken for the following people: Doug Williams, Jesus, Luke Skywalker, Clint Eastwood (pre-Republican National Convention), Tom Brady and Batman. He is, by all measures, Gotham’s only hope.
But, knowing my dear Redskins, I’ve promised myself to keep my excitement sealed in a bottle. Instead, I’ve invested my energy in finding five players I will passionately wish to fail. These players have all earned my attention in a way that means the football Gods will hear my pleas for their successes to seem as distant as the NGC 4203 galaxy (that’s about 3.2 million parsecs, or 10.4 million light years away).
Last year, the Gods responded in startling fashion; my list consisted of Albert Haynesworth (cut by the Pats midway through the season), Tony Romo (Cowboys missed the playoffs…again), DeSean Jackson (Eagle’s dreams turn to nightmares), “every quarterback wearing a Bronco’s jersey” (well, Tebow nearly ruined this for me…but then he got traded to the Jets…point, me), and James Harrison (Harrison had a pretty solid year, but he did miss four games – the most he’s ever missed in one season – so we’ll call it a push).
So, without further adieu, here is my 2012 NFL hater chomp:
- Michael Vick – Michael Vick is electrifying. He is a one of the most entertaining players to watch in the NFL and a one-of-a-kind athlete. But, he is also the quarterback for one of the most overrated, arrogant teams in the league. The Eagles signed him to an idiotic 100 million dollar contract a couple years ago, and I’m going to continue to enjoy watching their investment dry up in injuries. It was dumb to put your eggs in Vick’s basket then, and it’s dumb now. Even after Rob Vito, the CEO of the company that made Vick’s Kevlar vest to protect his ribs vouched for him, dropping a “guarantee” Vick won’t get hurt, I’m skeptical. How is that vest going to stop Vick from smashing his hand into a defensive end’s helmet on his follow through, something he seems to do thirty seven times a year? How is that vest going to stop Vick from leaving his feet head first for an extra yard in the 4th quarter of a blowout? This franchise has gotten away with some bad decisions in the past, and it’s time one caught up with them for good.
- Dez Bryant – Not to get stuck in NFC East, but there is a lot of material in this division. Bryant has been the center of a lot of attention recently, mostly stemming from accusations that he had a physical altercation with his 37-year old mother in July. Aside from that, his off the field issues have been seemingly minor, but Bryant’s ego makes it a surprise his head can fit through the door at the Cowboys’ facility each morning. He is a commonality in the NFL these days, an arrogant, ridiculously talented underachieving skill position player. His X factor? He’s a Cowboy, and he loves the attention. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones – only days after acknowledging that Bryant was working under a set of off-the-field rules – denied they even existed to a Dallas radio station. So, while the Cowboys try to wrangle in their young star by treating him like a 16-year old, I’ll get to watch his behavior’s repercussions manifest on the field.
- Mark Sanchez – Can you believe this guy is still a quarterback in the NFL? I mean, really, can you believe it? Sanchez has had more success on the cover of GQ than on the gridiron, and the NFL’s prima donna shows no sign of turning it around. The Jets are coming off a preseason where they didn’t manage a single touchdown with their starting offense, but Sanchez did score off the field – with the famed Eva Longoria. According to pro-football-reference.com, Sanchez makes 14.75 million dollars a year, and gets too sleep with Eva Longoria? All while being mediocre at his job? Do I have to say anything else? (As an added bonus, Sanchez on the bench means we’ll get to watch the circus that is Tim Tebow, only this time in New York City…I get excited just thinking about it).
- Shaun Suisham – Maybe picking on an NFL placekicker is too easy, but maybe not. Suisham is officially a Pittsburgh Steeler, but that doesn’t mean he’s off limits for me. This average Joe of the NFL started his career with a short stint in Dallas before signing with the Redskins and giving us four years of disappointment after disappointment. On December 6th, 2009, Suisham missed a 23-yard field goal that would have sealed a win against the undefeated New Orleans Saints. The odds were so high in the Saints’ favor of winning the game that a friend actually gave me 20 to 1 odds on five dollars that the Saints would win (you can do that math). Suisham’s miss, a kick that I could hit if you cleated me up right now, sent the game to overtime where the Saints won 33-30. Then he re-signed with the Cowboys and gave them another season of patchiness before being released and signed by the Steelers. How is he still a starter in the NFL? I’m not privileged enough to have the answer, although some credit should go to Jeff Reed’s inability to stay out of trouble in Pittsburgh. Regardless, I’m tired of hearing or seeing this guy’s name, unless it’s on the free agent wire.
- Andrew Luck – What has a well-behaved, honest, talented and humble rookie done to make this list? Well, nothing in particular, but Luck is a casualty of War. You see, Luck is a small piece in a bigger picture of NFL under-appreciation, and if he can be a pawn to make a point, so be it. Let me explain: Last season, the Indianapolis Colts went 1-15 without Peyton Manning. By all means, Manning would have gotten my vote for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award by sitting out all season with an injury (that’s if I had a vote). But, nobody talked about that. No, instead, as if Manning hadn’t served the previously unknown city of Indianapolis with years of loyalty, freakish talent, and an inexplicable knack to win, they shipped him out for a new guy. For “the future.” Without actually saying it, they said Manning’s career was already over – that he wasn’t worth the risk, after he had put his body on the line for them game after game. They couldn’t do him the courtesy of a comeback year, one where he could have tutored the best quarterback to come out of college since, well, Manning himself. So, the Colts should pay dearly. They should experience another losing season, one where Luck misses his reads and can’t outsmart Ray Lewis and Indianpolis will get reminded what it’s like to field a football team without an outstanding quarterback. And, while he’s at it, we can only hope Manning will dominate in his new home, another place where his value is underappreciated. I mean, Denver actually made a fuss about the Manning-for-Tebow swap. Can you imagine? Perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time not receiving a warm welcome in favor of a guy who managed one playoff berth and had a 300-yard passing game about as frequently as Paul Ryan said something that would pass a fact check? So, sorry Andrew, but you’re just another piece in Manning’s success to me, as you should be in your rookie year. Hopefully, Manning will succeed and you will fail, as will Tebow. That way, the Colts, the Broncos’ faithful, and the Jets’ management can all realize how idiotic they’ve been simultaneously.