Confessions of a Couch Potato

With the Cowboys experiencing a Sunday off, I decided to bask in the glory of Autumn. I enjoyed gourmet coffee on a street corner, bicycled into the hills to observe the leaves change, and stood mesmorized while watching a glorious Texas sunset.

Not really. I made sure the big screen was plugged into one DirecTV outlet and made sure the flat screen was plugged into another DirecTV outlet. And I watched football.

Confessions of a Couch Potato:

ITEM: The Cowboys will be back in action this week, and you know what that means: Another QB controversy.

No, not ours. Theirs.

The Tennessee Titans entered the season with three potential starters. And you know what it means when you have three, right?

You have none.

The Titans locked Steve McNair out of their facility, dispatched Billy Volek for some mysterious misbehavior, inexplicably scooped up Kerry Collins and now seem ready to hand the reins to rookie first-round pick Vince Young. The Titans are 0-3, with little to lose -- Collins had one game in which his QB rating was almost minus -- and Vince will be scary someday.

This weekend, the Cowboys defense gets a chance to toy with the Titans -- maybe no matter who plays QB.

ITEM: The good news: Legendary Cowboys broadcaster Brad Sham used his weekend off to get some work with Fox, voicing the Rams-Cardinals game. The bad news: His partner was the obnoxious Bill Maas, infamous for talking incessantly without ever actually saying anything insightful. "Lemme tell ya. ...'' Maas starts a sentence, and then pauses. ... clearly trying to invent something worthy of his setup of himself. Someday, maybe there will be a V-chip technology that allows the TV viewer to listen to Sham's audio while Maas' audio is blocked. (The B-chip? "No Maas''?) Until then, we -- and play-by-play pros like Sham -- will have to endure exchanges like the following:

Sham: "The Rams are using Torry Holt to throw under (Cardinals defender Matt) Ware.''

Maas: "Did you say 'underwear'?

Poor Brad Sham. We expect Bill Maas to play "Butthead.'' We are ashamed to see Brad sucked into playing "Beavis.''

ITEM: When former Cowboys QB Troy Aikman issues a negative opinion on Fox, the opinion usually features sanded-down edges. But while working the Giants' horrific loss at Seattle, Aikman touched on the tantrum-like behavior of people like Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey, contrasting it with the classier style of Eli Manning. Aikman noted that last week Manning's teammates complimented him on having "grown up'' in leading NY to a comeback win over Philly. Aikman opined that Manning's maturity was never in doubt but that "maybe it's some of the other guys who need to grow up.''

Keep that kind of good stuff coming, Troy, and there will be even more evidence that you've "grown up'' as a broadcaster.

ITEM: I'm still wondering when a righteous college president such as Oklahoma's David Boren will write a letter offering -- based on his team's ill-gotten, crappy-ref-inspired victory -- to forfeit the win.

This is a lesson the NFL has never learned. It is a lesson college football is now being schooled on, and won't learn, either.

Instant replay -- what I call "Refereeplay'' (and I still can't understand why that tag hasn't caught on) -- does not work. Even when it works (i.e., gets a call corrected) it does not work. Because the expenditure of time, energy and money to "get it right'' is a waste.

Witness last week's Oklahoma-Oregon game, in which an admitted officiating fiasco at the end of the game contributed greatly to a Sooners' 34-33 loss. There was a non-call on an onside kick. The non-call was wrong, terribly wrong. Then there was a "refereeplay'' of the ruling. The review was wrong, insanely wrong.

But more wrong than any of it is the reaction from Oklahoma -- a crazy reaction that seems almost completely natural given how "Refereeplay'' has altered the focus of football.

Oklahoma president David Boren called for the OU-Oregon game to be eliminated from the record books. Yessir, he petulantly demands that OU be allowed to take its ball and go home with the loss not counting against the Sooners. His pouty insistence ignores one important fact: Oklahoma, despite the awful call, still had chances to win the game after the mistake. In fact -- and this is so often overlooked in all losers' laments -- each team has dozens and dozens of chances to win every game, well before a critical late whistle.

And then there is this: Blockers miss blocks. Tacklers miss tackles. Coaches botch play-calls. And referees blow their calls.

They just do.

The NFL's attempt to "legislate-out'' bad calls is a joke. And all the judge and jury of that view you need can be had right there on your couch. Sit there with me on any weekend, football-knowledgeable you and me, and let's issue our rulings on all the close calls. You watch: Much of the time, you'll say "To-MAY-to'' and I'll say "To-MAH-to.''

Who's right? Who cares? Play on!

ITEM: A quick NFC East review: Which Giants are the real Giants? There is plenty of evidence to suggest that despite the fact that New York split its last two games, the "real Giants'' might just be the ones who fell behind Philly by a million points last week and who fell behind by two million points this week in Seattle. For a time, they'd outscored the two opponents in the late going 17-0 and 27-0? Great. But initially falling into almost inescapable holes still seems pretty real to me. ... Don't discount the Eagles' easy win at San Francisco. They did it while enduring some injury problems they'd planned for (defensive end Jevon Kearse) and some injuries they hadn't planned for (receiver Donte Stallworth was a late scratch). And they did it while enduring a cross-country trip that truly takes an under-recognized toll on teams. ... Washington crushes Houston and did you expect anything less? If Joe Gibbs loses to Gary Kubiak, the "game-has-passed-Gibbs-by'' talk would be completely justified.

ITEM: The network folks' insistence on overhyping and overreacting to every single semi-notable occurance is AMAZING! No, INCREDIBLE! No, UNBELIEAVABLE! Let me count the ways: Peyton Manning runs for a TD on a naked bootleg and announcers act as if a crippled man rose from his wheelchair; Rex Grossman actually throws a TD pass and Terry Bradshaw and the boys coo "I'm a believer!''; the Browns have a lead against the Ravens and CBS's Steve Tasker declares, "not to overstate things, but sometimes you get a feeling that you've done something to turn around a game, or even an entire season!''

Not to overstate things, but why y'all insist on OVERSTATING EVERYTHING?

ITEM: It has become a staple of the live on-site Fox pregame show: Joe Buck or somebody addresses the crowd in Seattle and asks, "How'd you like that game today?''

And the crowd roars.

Dear Fox: That's cheap applause, gang. It adds nothing to the telecast. And thanks to the meaningless gesture, you are, after just three weeks, becoming a cliche. It's like the rock band on a 50-city tour that fools its audiences into believing it cares by opening concerts yelling, "We Love You, (Fill In City Name Here)!''

ITEM: NBC simply must cease and desist in allowing Sterling Sharpe to do highlight voiceovers. Sterling simply doesn't speak intelligible English. And by the way, that opinion carries no racial overtones; CBS simply must cease and desist in allowing Sharpe's partner Dan Marino from doing the same. He is about three grades short of earning a passing grade in understandable English as well.

Eloquence of the Costas/Nance/Michaels/Brown/Enberg/Gumbel level is, I guess, too much to ask for. But understandable English?

ITEM: One knock on NBC's Bob Costas, though: Does he seem something less than enthusiastic about his "Football Night In America'' assignment? As if, maybe, he's just passing time until the baseball playoffs?

ITEM: Coolest commercial on TV? The Nike spot that features fictitious "Briscoe High.'' There are all sorts of subtle nuggets tucked into this thing: Briscoe High has its name courtesy of former pro Marlin Briscoe, a pioneer black QB; Don Shula is apparently the head coach at the school, which also enploys (apparently as a history teacher but not a coach) Shula rival Jimmy Johnson; the parents of one player are Deion Sanders and sideline reporter Jill Arrington; the girl who flirts in the hallway with a kid happens to be "student'' Jillian Barbarie, who is old enough to be accused of statutory rape just for the way she looks at the boy.

One question, though: How is a high school team that also features Florida coach Urban Meyer and players Brian Urlacher, Michael Vick, Troy Polamalu, Matt Leinart and LaDanian Tomlinson LOSING a game?

ITEM: Randy Moss was recently asked for the one thing he'd do if he was "Commissioner For A Day.''

Now, this cannot be the first time Moss has been asked this textbook softball question. But poor Randy thought and thought. ... and thought some more. He hemmed and hawed and ummmmmmm'ed. ... What was he pondering? Could the NFL commissioner use his authority to meet with world leaders? To aid Katrina victims? Maybe Moss, a West Virginia native, wants to ease poverty in his home state? "If I was Commissioner For A Day,'' Moss finally said, "I'd let anything go for just one week.'' Randy went on to explain that he'd lift the on-field behavioral controls. He'd allow players to do do any sort of celebratory TD dance, he'd allow players to wear their socks anyway they wish, he'd let them wear half-shirts to "show off their six-packs.''

And there you go. One of the great minds of sports, solving the world's problems by baring their abs.

And verifying my belief that these guys are good for lots of things -- but serving as a role model ain't one of them.

ITEM: Still can't get over the Week 1 Redskins game featuring Tom Cruise and Danny Snyder, who looked adorable alongside one another after apparently shopping for suits together in the Boys Dept.

I'm not saying Tom is short, but know I know why he likes to have kids: So he can raid their closets.

ITEM: I've got no media-access complaints in Dallas. The Mavs will let me in. The Stars just sent me a credential. Somewhere out in Arlington, my Rangers pass is collecting dust. I've got the Cowboys pass, of course. And I think if I was somehow motivated to attend the Monday Night Football game in New Orleans, I'd get me a seat. (This is a nice racquet, eh?) But I guess, maybe in my naivete, I find it both notable and slightly disturbing that also holding a media seat at the Falcons-Saints game will be a reporter from. ... Al-Jazeera?!

But read the story further, and you'll find something even more disturbing: They're letting Skip Bayless' "Cold Pizza'' crew broadcast from there, too.

Al-Jazeera can get in. Skip Bayless can get in. Are we assuming George "Heck of a Job, Brownie'' Bush's invitiation to the Superdome got lost in the mail?

ITEM: A college football punter was stabbed in the leg by his backup Wrong move; What you've got to do is cut the hamstring on the back of his leg... ...right at the bottom. He'll never play golf again... He'll quit the game.

ITEM: And finally, it wasn't all football. I also spent the weekend furiously researching internet photo sites trying to discover how Tiger Woods thinks noisily protesting fake nude photos of Elin will make his problem go away. Me? If somebody posted unauthorized naked photos of my hot wife (quite a hypothetically, since I'm quite certain I will never again have a wife), I'd probably respond by releasing photos of her not wearing clothes. ... with a naked ME standing right alongside her.

And that, sir, would be the end of that.

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