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“A Real-Time NFL Sunday”

By C. Robert Dimitri | Miscellaneous | November 10, 2010 |

By C. Robert Dimitri | Miscellaneous | November 10, 2010 |

9:00 AM (PT)
Here on the west coast, you have to wake up early if you want to watch the full slate of NFL games. Well, this is early for me at least.

9:03 AM
I gravitate toward ESPN’s NFL countdown for my pre-game viewing. When it comes to pre-game hype and post-game analysis, Chris Berman and Tom Jackson have become my multi-decade comfort food. I trust them to cover both conferences equally, and - although I have never given their pre-game shows a completely fair chance - I have a suspicion that CBS and Fox might show preference toward highlighting the games they are actually broadcasting.

9:15 AM
Sure, ESPN, you can bring in George Stephanopoulos, but this political-NFL crossover faux election coverage to designate the midseason awards is rather strained. I am usually fairly good at spelling people’s names, but I had to look up “Stephanopoulos” to be safe.

9:48 AM
It’s the weekly attempt at pre-recorded humor by NFL Countdown . This time Rich Eisen is doing mock interviews with Tom Brady and Justin Bieber about their hair.

9:52 AM
Now Berman, Jackson, Johnson, Carter, and Ditka are making their picks for the winners of today’s games. Amusing tangential tidbit: several weeks ago on Jeopardy! a woman from Chicago revealed that her first word as a baby was “Ditka.”

10:02 AM
It is the kickoff for NFL viewers in southern California. CBS is giving us the Chargers versus the Texans, which I hope will be an entertaining offensive shootout. There will not be an alternative game on Fox until the second half of the doubleheader. No, I cannot afford the NFL DirecTV package.

10:05 AM
Befitting their performance the majority of this season, the Chargers begin the game in ignominy. Three and out deep in their own territory after a poor play on the opening kickoff return leads to a blocked punt.

10:08 AM
Arian Foster responds by running the ball in for a touchdown on the first offensive play for the Texans. Foster emerged from nowhere this season to ascend to running back stardom. From what I have seen of him in interviews, Foster seems like a good guy. He enjoys writing and specifically poetry. I know from Foster’s twitter feed that his grandmother passed away yesterday. A touchdown might be a meager salute, but I expect his thoughts are with her.

10:32 AM
As I finish quaffing my Carnation Instant Breakfast, Neil Rackers kicks a field goal to make the score 10-7 in favor of the Texans. Rackers, by the way, kicks at the pleasure of the aforementioned Pacific Sharktopuses, just as C.J. Cregg, Josh Lyman, Toby Ziegler, Sam Seaborn, and Leo McGarry serve at the pleasure of President Josiah Bartlet.

10:42 AM
I was looking forward to interjecting my attempt at entertaining commentary on the advertising, but E*Trade just inflicted one of those abominable talking baby commercials on my senses. In my opinion, talking baby humor is a rung below flatulence and blunt trauma to the groin. Where is Ray Lewis shilling his Old Spice when I need him?

10:47 AM
Okay, that was a good commercial for Call Of Duty: Black Ops. Kobe Bryant, Jimmy Kimmel, and a slew of average Joes (including a concierge who multi-tasks his hotel telephone duties and a cook who belongs in a John Woo movie) engage in gunplay on a ravaged battlefield. I have never been one for the realistic military sims in my video game preference; I prefer the remove of only blasting aliens and such in fantastical settings. The idea of taking out Kobe on the gaming network must appeal to numerous consumers, though.

11:10 AM
“When it comes to revenge, the one who lives is the one who’s faster. Dwayne Johnson. FASTER.”

11:38 AM
The CBS guys finish giving me the highlights from the first half for all the early games. Shannon Sharpe informs me that Drew Brees has twin sisters named Autumn and Summer. A Google search seems to confirm that this was an attempt at humor.

12:00 PM
As I listen to Denis Leary narrate a Ford commercial, my thoughts go to a fervent wish: my dream job of commercial and movie trailer voiceover artist.

12:16 PM
A New York Life commercial tells me about our certainties (marriage, babies, etc.) in the face of uncertain times. My mind wanders to the asteroid Apophis and what sort of insurance could possibly protect us if it impacts Earth in 2029 or 2036.

12:59 PM
I have heard rumors that the Geico gecko is a complete diva on set.

1:03 PM
Don’t bury Grandpa Favre yet. Behind 424 yards passing, it would appear that the Vikings are taking the Cardinals to overtime.

1:28 PM
The Jets defeat the Lions in overtime, and I head to the shower before returning for the afternoon slate of games.

1:35 PM (approximate)
In the shower I realize that was not the Giants throwback uniform that I saw in the quick montage of games about to begin. It was a Colts uniform. At a glance those Manning brothers do look alike.

1:45 PM
Fresh out of the shower I glance at the television screen before donning clothes and see that Grandpa Favre finished with a career-best 446 passing yards with the Vikings victorious in overtime. (The Cowboys are alone in their misery after all.)

In my monitoring of twitter earlier in the day, I noticed that Ashton Kutcher had this - “Dear Brett Favre, Retire. Sincerely, Ashton” - and this - “As a guy who has really appreciated the career of Favre it’s tough to watch him struggle this way.” - to say. I dash back out to the computer to see what Ashton has to say now: “And the old man makes me eat my words….”

2:19 PM
Regarding the Giants-Seahawks game, Rich Eisen tweets: “The Giants are beating up on the ‘Hawks so badly right now, PETA has filed a complaint.”

2:23 PM
Hmmmm…I will need to record that new Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” tonight, as the Cowboys and Packers will still be playing. Boardwalk Empire and Walking Dead are also on the DVR queue for this evening. It is time to eat leftover pizza and imbibe another real sugar Dr Pepper. There are also leftover tater tots to microwave. If you are what you eat, then I am a carbohydrate.

2:39 PM
The Chiefs’ Andy Studebaker is called for holding. (He is a linebacker, but he plays the line for their kicking team.) “Studebaker? Really?” I wonder to myself. I look him up, and sure enough I find this information (per Wikipedia): “He is a descendant of the Studebaker brothers, creators of the now defunct automobile by the same name.” My dad drove a Studebaker way back in the day..

3:03 PM
I see the replay of the hit on the Colts’ Austin Collie by the Eagles. James Brown and the CBS gang are prompted to give us yet another argument over the finer points of what constitutes a legal hit and what does not. This has become one of the defining arguments of the 2010 season over the last few weeks. It is rather terrifying how limp Collie went when he hit the ground, but in my judgment it can be a very tricky distinction that the NFL is asking defensive players to make in a mere fraction of a second while moving at such high speeds. The report is that Collie has a concussion.

3:29 PM
I discover that the refrigeration and microwaving of those tater tots has seriously compromised their structural integrity.

4:15 PM
My niece sends me an IM letting me know that she saw Ryan Reynolds today shooting a movie at the local park. I refrain from sending Dustin Rowles an email notifying him of Reynolds’ location. I suspect that his network of spies has already informed him

4:39 PM
When I watched football in my younger days I would hear that “60 Minutes is next, except for those of you on the west coast”message, and I would wonder about what it must be like to be in the Pacific time zone. It has its pros and cons. When football is over, I will still have a little bit of the day left; that was never the case when I lived in the Central or Eastern time zones. After moving out here, I broke my personal record for earliest beer by way of going to the sports bar at 10 a.m.

Overall, however, there is a substantial sports disconnect for us west coast folks. On weeknights it seems like everything has already happened by the time I return home from work. Sportscenter keeps me in the know, but a little more effort from the west coast fan certainly is required.

5:01 PM
Janikowski wins it for the Raiders, and I switch to NBC. Congratulations and thank you if you have read this far. I should have known that a real-time NFL Sunday would achieve a ridiculous length. At this point I am tackling this project with a true “because it’s there” Mount Everest gusto, as I stumble toward the finish line in what can only be described as sedentary exhaustion. If you want to bear with me for three more hours, you likely will have the privilege of reading my descent into madness and disconsolation in the face of the Cowboys-Packers game.

5:23 PM
NBC, maybe you should have removed Tony Romo from this introductory montage of players. It seems like false advertising now. Given the state of the 1-6 Cowboys, I do not agree with Faith Hill’s sung statement that football watchers have been “waiting all day for Sunday night.”

5:31 PM
The Cowboys begin with a kickoff return to the 30-yard line. Back in the 90s a friend and I had a running bet that the winner of the Cowboys-Packers game would buy the other lunch, as they were frequently matched against each other as NFC powers. I do not think I will be reminding him of that wager this evening; over the course of typing these sentences, the Cowboys have promptly gone three and out on their first possession.

5:44 PM
The Cowboys push the Packers back with a big sack of Rodgers, and a blocked field goal attempt follows. The Cowboys continue their wonderful string of penalties this season by “illegally kicking the ball” after the block. It looked incidental, but it is a violation nonetheless. Perhaps the Cowboys can aspire to setting a new NFL record: at least one of every single penalty in the NFL rulebook over the course of the year.

5:53 PM
No, no, Cowboys. We have already done “defensive holding” this season. Many times. Let’s get creative. How about “disrespectful urination on the playing field” or “stubborn refusal to give the football to the referee by hiding it in an undisclosed location”?

6:16 PM
Brandon Jackson scores again. Fate mocks me. Wade Phillips challenges the call of a touchdown, and I use this opportunity to rail about unwise use of that red challenge flag. Too many times this season I have seen coaches challenge plays not because there is compelling visual evidence to do so but simply because it is a big play. It’s solely a case of not wanting that particular play to exist. I understand the concept of risk versus reward, but there must be at least some legitimate cause to dispute the call. You are throwing away the timeout, Coach Phillips. On top of that, the result of a successful challenge in this case would be that the Packers have the ball on second down with inches to go for the touchdown. The Packers would likely punch the ball into the endzone regardless.

6:19 PM
The touchdown is upheld as I knew it would be, and the Cowboys lose the timeout.

6:30 PM
Andrea Kremer informs us that the Cowboys are changing their cleats for better traction on this field. I am too much of a Cowboys fan to suggest that they change their roster instead, but I suppose that I just did exactly that.

6:32 PM
A big play by Kuhn prompts Cris Collinsworth to tell us that the Cowboys are having a mental breakdown. Maybe we should try lobotomies. It worked for Ned Flanders in that horrific alternate universe of “Treehouse Of Horror V” on The Simpsons .

6:40 PM
The Cowboys fumble the kickoff return, and the Packers take the turnover back for a touchdown. Here is the problem: it was not a fumble, as replay reveals. Guess what, Cowboys? You are already out of timeouts, so you are not able to challenge the call. What was I saying twenty-four minutes ago? I would say that you could not write this ludicrousness, except that I did in fact just write it. You waste the challenge on a call that had negligible upside and no rational basis, and you lose the opportunity to challenge another call that costs you seven points as a result. The score is 28-0. Jerry Jones, if you want to hire me to handle your two-point conversion choices and your instant replay challenge decisions, I will take the job for a nominal salary.

6:45 PM
Al Michaels is talking about “train wrecks” and “embarrassment.” I will truly exhibit a special breed of masochism as I continue to document this wondrous day in Cowboys history through the second half. What in the world will Collinsworth and Michaels have to say about this game that is compelling in the least?

7:16 PM
Maybe I am a sucker, but I dig LeBron James’ new Nike ad. It de-vilifies him in my mind.

7:22 PM
The Packers score again. I am numb. Who am I? What universe is this? What is the meaning of life?

7:26 PM
I believe NBC was just playing Ray Charles’ “Hard Times” set to a montage of grim faces from the Cowboys team. When times are bad, at least I will always have good music as a refuge.

7:32 PM
This will come as news to no one, but Kitna is not as mobile as Romo. I have another creative penalty for the Cowboys: “complete inability to pick up a block on a blitz such that the NFL deems the game a forfeit so that no one gets hurt.” It is a very obscure rule.

7:33 PM
“The phrase ‘wholesale slaughter’ comes to mind,” my roommate tells me.

7:40 PM
“Do we have to watch the whole thing?” my girlfriend asks me. There are still four minutes left in the third quarter. I am reminded of Stephen King’s novella The Long Walk. You should read it if you have not, as it is outstanding. The road sprawls endlessly before me, and there is no one here to put the Cowboys out of their misery with a bullet to the head should they fall below the four miles per hour pace.

7:44 PM
Twelve men on the field? If you are going to pull that one, Cowboys, you might as well try seventeen men on the field. Maybe we would luck out and get away with it.

7:51 PM
I have visions of Jerry Jones barricading himself inside the mighty stadium at Arlington just before the Super Bowl. The Giants and Steelers - the two teams that the Cowboys would least like to see in the game - are scheduled to appear. Jones takes hostages in his madness and refuses to allow the game to proceed. Only John McClane can save the day in this standoff. Since this is an NFL-themed story, perhaps Howie Long can reprise his Firestorm glory and help out as a sidekick.

8:02 PM
“God can’t save you from me,” Dwayne Johnson growls in the Faster trailer. No, apparently God can’t save us from that movie.

8:05 PM
I have no interest left in how Collinsworth and Michaels are filling the airwaves. Instead we have spiraled into a conversation about the relative exoticness of quarterback names. I do not think there is any statistical significance to this theory, but it did make for a fun diversion.

8:10 PM
My roommate proposes that they continue the game during the commercial breaks to spare the viewers pain.

8:13 PM
Al and Cris mention that the Cowboys do not challenge the call because they just want to go home. The roommate quips: “I just want to go home, and I AM home!”

8:27 PM
The seconds tick away. The game ends with a sack of Kitna. Is that a phantom guillotine I see hovering in the sky above Wade Phillips’ head in the crisp night air of Green Bay? The final score, by the way, is 45-7.

8:33 PM
“The Cowboys at this point are a bad team,” says Bob Costas. I always knew you were a sharp one, Mr. Costas. What tipped you off?

8:40 PM
Thank you, everyone, for indulging me in this exercise. I hope that you were amused or entertained. I try to limit my columns to 1500 words, and the length of this monstrosity flabbergasts me. For posterity’s sake, my record against those point spreads was seven wins, four losses, and one tie (with the Steelers over the Bengals pending tomorrow night). I hope you all wagered a copious amount of money on my advice!

If Dustin deems some of the content chaff in his editorial wisdom, then I invite you to solicit me for the epic journey that is the full version. This is C. Robert Dimitri, last survivor of the NFL Sunday that was November 7, 2010, signing off.

C. Robert Dimitri is nothing more than your average American sports fan that has spent far too many hours in front of the television and has absolutely no further credentials. He reserves the right to change any opinions expressed here; unlike the practice of bandwagon sports loyalty, there is virtue in shifting a position when given new information.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.