By Lord Castleton | Miscellaneous | October 7, 2014 |
By Lord Castleton | Miscellaneous | October 7, 2014 |
If last week in the NFL was a stale bag of free airline bye-week pretzels, this week was the delicious duty-free Toblerone. This week was all about magic. In the words of Goethe: “Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” This week a number of key players did that in high-pressure situations and elevated themselves, their teams and their fan bases. All it took was a little magic.
And, no, I’m not talking about this kind of magic:
or this kind of magic:
Or even this kind of magic:
I’m talking about real, honest to god human magic. The kind that is born out of fear and self-doubt. The kind that causes great people to rise up in great moments. The kind that we’ve seen from Sean Astin as Mikey (far left) in the Goonies.
Or Sean Astin as Rudy in Rudy.
Or even Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Basically, Goethe was saying: Each of us has an inner Sean Astin that is capable of amazing things. So who channeled their inner Sean Astin this week?
Let’s start in the Rust Belt, where Cleveland staged the greatest regular-season comeback for a road team in NFL History. That’s 95 years without a team on the road ever overcoming this many points. They were down 28-3 and came storming back to defeat the Tennessee Titans 29-28.
The Browns have lost two games (where they were the better team in my opinion) by a total of five points. They’ve also won two games by a total of three points. That’s a team on the edge of something. It’s up to them and coach Mike Pettine to figure it out. To me, the arrow is pointing up for what appears to be the best run offense in the league.
Hosting a quick rematch with the division-rival Steelers this week, the Browns will prove whether they’re to be taken seriously or not. Pittsburgh has spent the better part of the last twenty years treating the Browns like their own personal humiliation gimp. We’ll finally see if Cleveland has had enough.
It’s not so gloomy in Dallas, where the 3-1 Houston Texans locked horns with the 3-1 Cowboys in “The Battle of Texas.” It was your typical Hollywood story, the bad guys were winning, their evil overlord, surrounded by all his true friends, watching from his den of eternal unhappiness …
…plays that should have gone to the good guys went to the bad guys…
…and everything looked bleak.
But then…the good guys start to turn it around. Did we just hear the horn of an oncoming battle? Do we hear a stirring in the wind?
Did we hear the ghosts of Jim Bowie and Davey Crockett and wait … who is that in the middle? Neil Young? Do we hear the ghost of Neil Young whispering to Texans everywhere … Don’t let the Cowboys winnnnnn … Don’t let the Cowboys winnnnnnnn …
And a whole team heeded that call and rose up to force overtime! And you knew, I knew, every red-blooded American man, woman and child knew that the Cowboys would BLOW IT. Why? Did they recently sign Matt Schaub? No. They already own the King of the Matt Schaubs: Tony Romo, a professional choker so amazing that he had choked away entire seasons, entire half-decades of draft classes with his unparalleled skill for maximizing mistakes.
It’s not like it was so hard to imagine. He’d just done it few minutes before.
So when this Icon of Pure Futility threw the huck-it-up down the left sideline, my mouth could taste the fume of oncoming Cowboy misery. The ball hung up in the sky like a constipated goose and when it came down, the good guys would prevail! The meek shall inherit the-
What the —
Bad guys in field goal range. Just like that. Bad guys win. Look at the reverse angle of this catch. That’s some goddamn football magic from Dez Bryant right there, that’s all that is. No human should be able to do this. And who gets off the hook? That’s right. This guy.
I’m not a Tony Romo hater at all. In fact, I hear he’s a “pretty good” guy. But I can’t imagine I’d love to be behind him in the NFL pecking order. That’s the situation our next player ran into.
Kyle Orton. Journeyman NFL quarterback. Shuffled around from team to team like an unofficial NFL call sheet of discrete high-end prostitutes, he was the ultimate football nothing. A starter of no real repute for years, he was eventually benched in favor of Tim Tebow: a boy so beautiful he was once hired to bring water to Tom Brady himself.
When Tebow was unceremoniously shitcanned from the ranks of actual, professional players, Kyle Orton was stuck as the highest paid backup quarterback in the league, behind Tony Romo. How bad could it be? Sitting around in Dallas, ingesting what I imagine was fourteen bowls of Grifter’s Queso from The Angry Dog every day, smelling Romo as he rinsed the Drakkar Noir sweat off his taint in a nearby shower? How bad could it be? But Kyle Orton wanted more.
He faked a retirement in July, absconded with what appears to be a three million dollar Cowboys signing bonus and magically was signed by the Bills after training camp was already over. Folks, you’ll never see a more veteran move if you watch the NFL for the next three thousand years. You want the face of greatness? I give you Kyle Motherfuckin Orton.
Sorry, that’s Dave Grohl. Who is also awesome and (100% correct.) This is Kyle Orton.
So Orton lands in Buffalo, watches second year quarterback E.J. Manuel lay egg after egg and takes a month to learn the playbook. During which, I’m guessing, he mauls like sixty wings a day at Gabriel’s Gate. I seriously can’t plug this place enough. I had the best wings I’ve ever had there. Like nine times and twenty years apart. They’re always so good I hum while I eat them. I don’t know if the rest of the menu is any good, but the wings- dear god. Damn near perfect.
You know who else has damn near perfect wings? Rookie Buffalo wide receiver Sammy Watkins. If you were building an ideal NFL wide receiver from scratch, Sammy Watkins would have every single feature you’d want. He’s the Michelangelo’s David of salivation-inducing prototypical NFL receiver sexy pants. Here’s a clip from his preseason that probably sold 2800 Bills season tickets alone.
So the Bills half-expected / half-Svengali-wish-dreamed that E. J. Manuel would be able to get the ball to Sammy Watkins. He couldn’t. Manuel gets benched and Orton is chosen to get his first start against the fearsome Lions defense in Detroit. Is Kyle Orton ready? If looking like a kick-ass Paddy Considine in Hot Fuzz makes you ready, then he’s positively bubbling.
The game begins like you might imagine. The Lions score right away and on the first Bills drive, Captain Average throws a pick six…
And the rout is officially on. But then something happens (outside of the football gods swatting every Lions field goal attempt out of the ether). Kyle Orton digs down deep, into the very fiber of his 70’s porn star mustache and things start to change. Buffalo starts to gain. Just field goals at first, then a touchdown to a player with seven total receptions that no one has ever heard of. The Lions miss a 50-yard field goal with 21 seconds left …
…and now the Bills have a chance. Orton tries to get his team into field goal range. He throws a pass, sliiiiiiightly behind his rookie phenom.
But Seany Astins, excuse me, Sammy Watkins refuses to be denied.
That’s some magic right there. But still, a fifty-eight yard field goal? That’s like throwing a ping pong ball into a Buzz Lightyear ice bucket from twelve paces out in a busy Chuck E. Cheese. How likely is that? Not bloody likely.
So in trots Bills kicker Dan Carpenter, who would likely play Jax if the Sons of Anarchy ever becomes a show on Nick Jr.
The kick is up…..aaaaaaaand….
Holy shit! The Bills win! The Bills win!
And Kyle Orton rides off into the sunset, doing what every backup quarterback has done for fifty years: filling their lungs with tobacco smoke because who gives a shit. It’s not like you’re a professional athlete or anything.
It’s that kind of magic that happened everywhere this past weekend. Five teams -FIVE- came back from dire double digit deficits
…to find victory. Five teams where Goonies never say die. Five teams, the Browns, Bills, Giants, Panthers and Saints all rallied to put an unlikely W in in the record column. You know who approves the hell out of that? Bearded Sean Astin.
But there’s more magic out there than any of us realize. Like the sheer luminosity of Antonio Cromartie’s smile. I was watching an interview on NFL live with Trey Wingo and Cromartie lit up the screen. If Wingo’s smile is an average smile, Cromartie’s has to be two and a half times bigger and like 3000% more powerful.
You want to know why Cro has 42 babies with 136 different women? Because he smiles at them. That’s it. SPOILER ALERT: Ladies: you may now have a small Antonio Cromartie baby inside you just from looking at this. Straight Dudes: you may begin to question your sexuality. If you start watching Golden Girls marathons and humming Elton John, consult your physician. Gay Dudes: we cool.
But the magic doesn’t stop there. For example, I had seen the J.J. Watt verizon commercial like sixty to eighty times and I thought I knew everything about it.
I knew that J. J. Watt was told to “dance like a white guy” by the director and he claims to be a much better dancer than that.
But what I had never noticed was this kid.
Look at this kid. He places himself in the closest possible proximity to the girls. He avails himself to the possibilities. He opens himself up to the universe. Do you know how many outfits he went through before deciding to rock the Chuck T’s cum-uber-casual-necktie ensemble? Do you know how close he was to wearing his limited edition Manu Samoa alternate rugby jersey? You think this wasn’t the more dangerous choice? Put a cloak on this kid and he’s a parselmouth whisper away from being a Slytherin. He knew that when he made the choice. But he said damn the torpedoes. He didn’t want to be one of the nameless passion-dead Call of Duty junkies in his class. Look at the dildo next to him playing Minecraft on his phone. That’s not this kid. This kid is a lover, goddamnit. This kid is full of potential. This kid is full of magic.
How did I ever miss it? It was right there in front of me the whole time.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe says it best: “There is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view.”
From where I’m standing, week 5 was a blissful romp through the tulips. Satisfying. Intense. Magical. Whether you’re batting a misthrown ball back to yourself, stealing three million dollars from Jerrah or just unbuttoning the top button on your dress oxford to show everyone you care —- but not too much. The world is full of magic if you just take the time to look around.
As for you and me? We’re gonna be alright.
See y’all next week.
Lord Castleton writes about fantasy football on the Ugly Fours.