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How Carrie Mathison Banging Terrorists and the Most Heartwarming Story Of the Year Play into Week 7 of the NFL

By Lord Castleton | Miscellaneous | October 22, 2014 |

By Lord Castleton | Miscellaneous | October 22, 2014 |

(Minor Homeland and Madam Secretary Spoilers Below)

Week 7 of the 2014 NFL season had some notable ups and downs, but nothing more notable than Peyton Manning breaking the record for the most passing touchdowns ever thrown by a player in NFL history, surpassing Brett Favre. The pomp! The circumstance! Here’s the cover of Esquire from way way way back in 1997.


Does Football Still Matter? Does the pope still shit in the woods? You bet it/he does! And I’ll explain why right after I finish my video game.


Wait, where were we? Football mattering? I mean, yeah! Football is totally in sync with us as a people! Right? I mean, I’m no expert on what matters and what doesn’t but one thing that I do know is that on Monday night, Houston Texans running back Arian Foster fumbled on his own one yard line and the game completely fell apart from there. The Steelers scored 24 points in three minutes. That’s like the opening battle of Master & Commander. You’re just humming along, minding your own business, when the French frigate you happen to have been ordered to sink slides out of the mist and tears you to pieces.

The Texans were dominating the game before that one play. You remember J. J. Watt from the Verizon commercial? He was smothering Ben Roethlisberger like a wool blanket on a cub scout fire.

They had the Steelers right where they wanted them…

And with one mistake, the game was over, faster than you can say Tywin Lannister in The Golden Child.


This was the point of the column where I was planning on ripping into Arian Foster, telling you what a goddamn pain in the ass he is and how his shared online book of poetry at is pretentious.


But it dawned on me that I’m just in a foul mood. Why lose my venom on Arian Foster? I mean, sure, I lost my fantasy football game this week because the Texans defense had two Steeler drives start on the one yard line, but that’s no reason to lash out in an ad hominem attack! Hell, I’m better than that. We’re all better than that. If Arian Foster wants to write a line like “My bait is smiles” and post it as a gift to the world, then all the power to him. Who am I to judge? Maybe his bait is motherfuckin’ smiles. Maybe T.S. Eliot’s bait is smiles too.


Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me, this week. My bait is frowns.

Because the NFL is a crazy place and this has been a weird few days. Last week, we saw the Browns topple the Steelers. They blew them out, 31-10. It was absolutely unheard of. I think the Mayor of Cleveland might have actually lifted the ban and allowed residents to start mating again. In both of their buildings.

And then this week? The Browns get roasted alive by the previously winless Jacksonville Jaguars. But I barely got to see that game because I was at the supermarket. This was me as kickoff of the early games rapidly approached.

Is it a big deal? No. I mean, Ebola is a big deal and even though this is true:


I have to keep reminding myself that the math doesn’t support my family or yours getting ebola any time soon. But what about gool ol’ enterovirus D-68? Here’s the thing about that: I barely made it through the elevated-risk period of SIDS for my kids. We’re not smokers, the babies never slept on 70’s shag carpets on their stomachs, but man. Until they hit that two year old birthday and the potential threat of it dropped, it gnawed at me. And now there’s something out there again, lurking on crash bars of emergency exits and extruded cafeteria trays that’s resistant to hand sanitizer and is only in the game to shut your ass down.


Speaking of which, MADAM SECRETARY, are you trying to get cancelled? Because you kicked off your premiere with 14.7 million overall viewers (2.0 in the 18-49 demo) and have since dropped each episode to 11.5 million (1.4 in the demo) in episode 4. Now I know that it’s tough to crack a new show, but you have to give Tea Leoni some goddamn help out there! She’s carrying the entire thing with no help from anyone.


It’s not like Zeljko Ivanek and Keith Carradine are bad actors — quite the contrary — but their characters are so goddamn one-note.


Ivanek’s Chief of Staff Russell Jackson is needlessly oppositional, vague to a fault and consistently wrong. I don’t know who’s doing Carradine’s makeup but “President Conrad Dalton” wouldn’t even get elected in Transylvania with that grey-skinned cryptkeeper look. And when he’s on screen you’re like, “This is the President?” and “This is her friend that hand-picked her?” Is something happening with Keith Carradine’s voice? It’s like they squeezed Keith Carradine into a slightly thinner Keith Carradine and it made his voice higher and squishier. I wish there was a way to quickly look up all of his lines so far this season because outside of the recruiting scene in the pilot, he’s been like:

“What do you think?”
“That’s why I gave it to you.”
“What do you think?”
“I agree with Russell.”
“What do you think?”
“We should probably just bomb Iran.”
“What do you think?”
“Do your job!”

Come on. Those relationships on the show are a complete mess.

And so is whatever this relationship is.


Leoni’s Elizabeth McCord is without allies or confidants in the workplace, and yes, you want your lead to be on a proverbial island, but without some kind of Saul to McCord’s Carrie, the tone is flat. And it doesn’t matter that she goes home to dish with Tim Daly. Once she’s out of the office the tension ramps too far down.


I’m not going to get into Bebe Neuwirth’s character because I might break out into Arian Foster poetry, but that “I was the lover of my now dead former boss” scene was straight up regional theater.

The hook is good, Madam Secretary. Tea Leoni is killing it. She has an ease about her that’s appealing. When she meets up with her two CIA female friends at the funeral for the other male CIA friend who got killed I saw real, adult female friendships. It wasn’t Cougartown. It wasn’t women acting hysterical and over the top and smearing each other for no other reason than the writers think that’s what people want to see. It wasn’t two female leads talking about the male lead. It was just honest, brief, let’s get a drink kind of stuff, but it was good. But you can do better across the board. Try not casting every Asian diplomat as the most serious person in the universe. Try not making every man in power a pointless, brick-walling caricature. It’s so refreshing to see an intelligent, progressive, thoughtful female protagonist. Don’t waste it.


Speaking of which, why would Jim Harbaugh burn a timeout at the end of a blowout, that’s what Peyton Manning wants to know. He just became the bestest quarterback ever. He wants to go home and do some of these.


But Jim Harbaugh is like “I know we’re losing by 32 points but we’re going to fight to the bitter end! Also, I hate Peyton Manning.” As the story goes, two years ago, when Peyton was recovering from neck surgery and deciding what team he would sign with, he stopped in to talk with the Forty-Niners. Later, while playing a game of catch with Jim Harbaugh to prove that his neck was healing, Harbaugh quipped “My throws have more mustard on them than yours do.” What a fancy wooing strategy! That’s why Peyton lit you up this weekend, dummy.


Let’s all read those lips together.

In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are kings, and in the kingdom of the now, the Seahawks are a bucket of chicken-fried shiiiiiiiiiiit. Remember last week, when Jerrah’s Dallas Cowboy army of darkness smote them in their own back yard? Well this week they lost to a team on their third quarterback of the year. A team where their quarterback is so unknown, that despite knocking off the defending Super Bowl champions, he wasn’t even allowed to enter the Rams facility because a security guard didn’t recognize him.

Let’s do a little roleplay.

Austin Davis: May I please enter?

Security Guard: Get lost you hippie.

Austin Davis: But, I’m the quarterback of the Rams.

Security Guard: Right, and I’m the King of Siam.

Austin Davis: Please, sir. I’m Austin Davis.

Security Guard:


Aaaaaand scene.

The Rams used a little trickery to knock off the ‘Hawks, but it should have never been this close in the first place.


The Seahawks are now mathematical underdogs to make the playoffs.


Meanwhile, the Cowboy’s rolled on, notching another win, and assumably, capturing the souls of a thousand vestal virgins in the process.

Indianapolis also rolled on, whipping the Bengals 27-0. It’s tough to take that goose egg, but the Bengals can hold their heads high because they have the best story of the season so far. The story of Devon & Leah Still.


This is Leah Still. She’s the four year old daughter of Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still.

In June, she was given a 50-50 chance to live after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma.

So when training camp opens up for the team shortly thereafter, Devon Still can’t get into it. He’s distracted, obviously. He’s not playing good football and at the end of the day, the NFL is a business. He’s not one of the best 53 players on the Bengals and he’s not going to make the team.

Which means he’s going to lose his health insurance. That’s more or less a death sentence for Leah Still. And that’s when the good part of this story begins. Because the Bengals have what’s called a “practice squad,” which is a group of players who don’t actually play on Sundays, but are still compensated and retained officially by the team. And, in being employees, they get to keep their health insurance.

So the Bengals sign Devon Still to the practice squad.

And Leah has a chance. As the season goes on, more people get wind of the Leah Still situation, and the NFL sells Devon Still jerseys for $100 a pop, with 100% of the proceeds going to pediatric cancer research.

And this man, Sean Payton, coach of the New Orleans Saints, buys a hundred of them.


And support for the cause grows. Devon gets promoted back to the game day roster, donations are pouring in, and on September 25th, Leah Still goes in for surgery. Here’s the pep talk from her father, staying strong on what must have been the most daunting of days.

The surgery is successful and Leah takes a step in the right direction, but she’s still not out of the woods yet. And a few weeks later, when the Bengals travel to play the New England Patriots (a game that Devon Still played in) on October 6th, the Patriots cheerleaders surprised him by wearing his jersey. The jersey of the visiting team.

What the hell was I so grumpy about, before anyway? That’s some grade A humanity right there.

I’m sorry about being so cross with you, Arian Foster. I mean, you’re tough to like sometimes, like that time when you said you were a vegan but then you admitted you ate chicken all the time.


But that’s really no big deal in the whole scheme of things. What Leah Still is going through really makes you take stock of the things you love. For example, I love seeing this player smash into the wall after he catches the touchdown.

I love seeing Troy Polamalu launch himself over the Texans’ line.

My god! What a selfless player! To sacrifice the body like that! The only player who sacrifices her body for the cause more than Troy Polamalu is Carrie Mathison. I used to think Homeland was a show about protecting America but now I see it’s a show about how one determined gal can change the world through the power of high-thread count sheets. You should have heard the slightly impolite things Lady Castleton and I were yelling at the screen as Carrie mounted Aayan! It was like a Tyler Perry movie in my house. I love audience appreciation day. That’s some hands-on work there, Carrie. She’s the goddamn station chief, people! She could have ordered John Redmond to bone down with Aayan.


But no! When all is said and done, you have to sometimes do people yourself. And — silver lining — you have to admit that Carrie’s next abandoned baby will have some kick-ass mocha skin. Her sister’s house is going to be like a living Benetton ad.


So what does it all mean, people? If Arian Foster were here, I’m sure he’d have an eloquent way of summing it all up. But alas, he is a football poet and I’m just a guy with a misplaced man crush on J.J. Watt and a handful of magic beans. Is it just that the NFL has confounded us all to the point where we don’t even know who’s good anymore? Is it wrong that, without me realizing it, I started rooting for the handsome ISI dude from Smash?


Does that make me a bad American?


Oh thank god, Peter Quinn! Because you’re like the only half-decent person on the show anymore now that Inara Serra is gone.


…and I’m like what am I even watching anymore. Because it seems like all the writing is about how you want to bone Carrie, and I’m like that’s not possible, right? Like there’s more to this show than everyone banging Carrie, right?


Peter Quinn? Peter Quinn? Are you still there? Listen, I really need some help from you. Because Sunday nights are crazy for me. I have you guys and 60 Minutes and Madam Secretary and The Good Wife and Sunday Night Football and then Fox is like, “Hey, why don’t we wedge Brooklyn Nine-Nine right in there?” and I have Family Guy and The Simpsons and The Affair (which I’m not really watching, but Lady Castleton wants to give it a shot) and thank god I have the whole-home genie from Direct TV because I can have up to five inputs at once, and when is Game of Thrones starting again — wait — am I rambling? Peter Quinn? Are you there? Am I rambling, Peter Quinn?


Oh thank you, Peter Quinn. You’re so awesome. So tell me. Tell me it’s all gonna be okay on Homeland. Usually in this column I have these insufferable, stuffy gasbags like Sir Winston Churchill and I’m not sure I leave it feeling more comforted. Can you tell me that you’re not just following your dick to devastation, Peter Quinn? Can you tell me that there’s more to it than that?


GODDAMNIT! Really? Et tu Peter Quinn. Et tu?


Oh great. Here we go. Here we go with this bullshit now. You know what Sir W? I was having a perfectly nice conversation with Peter Quinn, okay? About Homeland, which is something you know nothing about. So —


Oh really? You think? Thanks for that gracious pearl of wisdom! That’s some amazing insight into a Showtime series that you HAVE NO BUSINESS WATCHING. Anything else you’d like to add before you get punted out of this article?


Wow. Just wow. That’s a nice one, bruva.

Well, I don’t know what to say, so maybe I’ll just look to Da Vinci for guidance. “Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.”

I guess that’s as good advice as any.

See you all next week.