In case you were out pretending like you've seen and have an opinion about Oscar nominee Amour, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
The Cleveland Browns have filled their vacant head coaching position, hiring Rob Chudzinski away from the Carolina Panthers. It has also been reported that Chudzinski is targeting former San Diego head coach Norv Turner to be his new offensive coordinator. "I can't imagine a more Cleveland set of hirings than Chud and Norv," said longtime Browns fan Milt Johnson. When asked to try harder and really push his imagination, Johnson let out an exasperated sigh, saying, "Fine, I guess that they could have hired like Chan Gailey and an old, overweight Golden Retriever named Honey, but I don't really know how having a dog as an offensive coordinator would work."
When I told my friend Richard Feynman (all names of real people in my I-suck-at-football coverage have been replaced with those of noteworthy physicists) (I already forget why I decided to do this), whose fault this column is, that I was going to be in Vegas over the weekend, he said, "You've gotta watch a game at a sportsbook and write about it."
So, OK: I'm at a kind of gambling-workstation with a temperamental touchscreen in front of me; a wall of LED screens showing an afternoon's worth of NFL football (and some horse racing, and a little golf) looms above me in the middle distance. I'm sitting just a few steps from the Hard Rock Hotel's casino floor, but I can barely hear the Pavlovian bleeping of the slot machines or the never-ending high-energy-hits-of-the-'70s-'80s-'90s-and-today playlist that blares in all the Hard Rock's common areas at all times; I've turned my back on packaged rock-and-roll fun to do some serious football watching with serious men. There's a bar, and occasionally a pregnant waitress in a T-shirt promoting Guns N' Roses' imminent Hard Rock residency makes drink-related inquiries down the row — it's Vegas and it's well past noon — but barring the occasional neglected half-full Bud Light bottle, everybody here seems to be on a strict utilitarian-fluids regimen: coffee, water, Monster Energy.
My personal quest to discover precisely how much of a fool I am (and whether my foolishness is of the greater or lesser variety) has gotten off to a flying start, and I now have a much clearer idea of my failings as a tipster, and indeed as a human. Last week, I posted five picks; three losers, a push, and a tip that won’t be resolved until next May (and is definitely going to win at long odds, just you watch). Now, my hopes and dreams lie in ashes around me, but this week, I intend to rise from those ashes like the Green Bay Packers.
That was originally supposed to read “like a phoenix,” but it seemed inappropriate given that the Cardinals aren’t just undefeated, but also one of the best teams in the NFL, according to the British Conkers System, the origin point for all known sport ranking systems. The Conkers System is Britain’s gift to the world (along with computing, the World Wide Web, and One Direction; you’re very welcome), but I have opted to use restraint and forsake my patriotic duty to use it to make all my picks, and will instead be relying on a combination of cack-handed statistical analysis, poorly understood intuition, and my oft-touted blend of self-delusion and ego. After all, the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” fails to offer any advice on what to do if it is, in fact, broken, so in the absence of any further clichéd guidance, I’m opting to continue as before, although I intend to proceed in a slightly more cautious fashion. So, here are five really solid NFL picks, one blindingly obvious trap bet that only a fool would pick (hello!), and — just to keep you interested to the very end — a value-tastic soccer tip that I would definitely be lumping huge sums on, had I any huge sums left to lump following last week’s escapades.
See if you can detect a theme in these picks, as well as spot the obvious/costly mistake.
On Tuesdays last year, we here at the Triangle brought you the most-named column in football, "The Fabulous and the Flops," in an attempt to reveal some of the numbers flying beneath the radar about each NFL game from the previous week. This year, we're shifting things around; instead of a little blurb or two on every single game from the previous weekend, our focus will move to deeper analysis of a few selected games each week. The hope is that you'll gain some insight into what actually happened on the field that you wouldn't get from a highlight package or game recap, aided by a mix of statistics and game tape (including that vaunted All-22 film). The hope is also that we'll come up with a wordier name than "The Fabulous and the Flops".
This week, we're going to start in New Orleans, where Robert Griffin III torched the Saints as part of a stunning Redskins upset. You've seen that slant to Pierre Garcon a million times by now, but what did the Redskins change about their offense to fit RG3? And what does it tell us about how the Redskins — and Saints — might look going forward?
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Good morning. In today's installment of About Last Night, we're lucky enough to have renowned sports comedy critic Fenwick Vaughnagan on hand to analyze and critique every one of Ryan's jokes. Vaughnagan was born in Caerwys, Wales, and earned international fame for his controversial first book, "You Can't Joke About Rugby, Mate." He moved to America in 1985, and has worked for the Miami Standard-Tribune ever since. Last year, he won the Chloe Herbst Memorial Humour Award for his debut novel "Field of Screams: A Murderous Romp Through America's Ballparks."
Note: Due to space limitations, we weren't able to include Ryan's joke and Vaughnagan's critique, so the actual jokes have been omitted.
Bryce Harper hit two home runs and was ejected for spiking his helmet — both career firsts — as the Nationals ended a five-game losing streak with an 8-4 win over the Marlins. CRITIQUE: "Ryan starts out a bit weak here, it must be said, with a tenuous and rather offensive connection between Harper and former president Jimmy Carter that wouldn't have drawn a laugh even among the yokels at the 1980 Republican convention. And at the risk of sounding like a prude, was it really necessary to use the word f--- 18 times in one sentence?"
The Jags train is leaving the station. Or not. Whatever.
In the past 12 hours, yet-to-report Maurice Jones-Drew has gone from very upset about some of his new owner’s public comments to maybe not so upset anymore. Early Tuesday, Jags owner Shad Khan continued his cavalier approach to MJD’s holdout, telling the Florida Times-Union, "Train is leaving the station. Run, get on it." This prompted Jones-Drew and his camp to tell reporters that in that case, the 2011 rushing champion would like to be traded. By this morning, most likely realizing that he and his client have almost no leverage, Jones-Drew’s agent had softened that stance.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Hey everyone, I'm back. I got married last Saturday, which means huge changes for "About Last Night." I'm an official adult now, and I realized that some of my material is immature and inappropriate. It's time to clean up my act and become a lot more conservative and family-friendly with my humor. That way, everyone can enjoy a good hearty chuckle in the morning. But it's only fair to give you a "transition day" to help you prepare. In the items below, I'll use an example of "old humor" after the link, and then show you what the new, more adult jokes will be like in bold. Tomorrow, the old humor will be gone for good.
As the long, hot summer drags on, we here at The Triangle figured we’d provide a steady stream of NFL goodness as a reminder of the light at the end of the baseball-lined tunnel.
The start of training camp is a time for hope, for promise, for finding reasons to be excited about the future. The situation in Jacksonville this week is no different. There is good news coming out of Jags camp, and that news is things can’t get any worse.
Already faced with a lack of interest so formidable they’re encouraging fans to come with sack lunches in hand, the start of Jaguars training camp can’t be described as anything less than a disaster.
Let's just acknowledge it: The acquisitions portion of the football offseason is over. Listen, we're not any happier about this than you are. Those halcyon days when half the league's teams were linked to Peyton Manning and Robert Griffin III in these pages are in the past. One day we'll all look back at the spring of 2012 and all chortle at how young we once were — Skrillex, really? — and, well why don't we do that today?
No, now is not the time to start filming our I Love the '10s pitches about dubstep kings. Since the league's 32 teams are done with the vast majority of their player acquisitions for the upcoming season, though, we can start putting all those signings and trades and drafts into context by taking a look at which teams actually made a serious investment into filling the biggest holes on their roster. Of course, we also need to question those teams who failed to fill their noticeable problem, whether they entered the offseason with that issue or created it with their offseason moves without addressing it by the end of the NFL draft this past weekend.
The Robert Griffin III trade on Friday night produced more than a marked uptick in celebrations on U Street; it set into motion a series of events that should have a profound impact on the NFL as it heads into free agency this week. We don't know how the trade between the Redskins and Rams will play out over the next five years, but we do know that there are nearly a dozen teams who felt the reverberations of the RG3 deal and its resulting events. Teams handing out makeup contracts! Cap space being carved out! Peyton Manning sleeping overnight in desperately desirous cities! We have to take the temperature of the rest of the league right now to see how this RG3 deal has, well, heated things up. (Get it?) (You get it, right?) (It's a fev OK, sorry.)
The marriage between Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts whimpered its way to a conclusion on Tuesday night, as Chris Mortensen reported that the team will release Manning to avoid paying the $28 million roster bonus due to the future Hall of Famer. Although Manning could eventually choose to re-sign with the Colts on lesser terms, the decision likely brings Manning's 14-year career with the team to an end. He finishes with 54,828 passing yards and 399 passing touchdowns in blue and white; only Brett Favre and Dan Marino have more passing yards and passing touchdowns for a single team.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Kobe Bryant scored 48 points on 31 shots as the Lakers beat the Suns 99-83. "If I play bad or have one bad game like I did in Denver, everybody cries for a change or cries for the fact that I'm too old," Bryant said after the game. Reporters gently pointed out that the "bad game" against Denver had come in 1999, at which point Bryant looked frightened and repeatedly asked for Shaq.
As always, we detail the sordid and the successful every Tuesday in our weekly look back at the previous weekend's games; this is "The Fabulous and the Flops" for Week 15.
This week, we'll identify the player who might qualify as the worst backup quarterback ever. We'll point out which quarterback looks like a different man during the second half, try to compare a player to a couch, and note which head coach was brave enough to own up to his mistakes on Sunday. We'll start, though, with the blowout from last Thursday night.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Matt Ryan threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns as the Falcons beat the Jaguars 41-14. "We're not finished, believe me," said Falcons coach Mike Smith. "Our expectations are much higher than winning seasons." Reporters attempted to get a comment from the Jaguars head coach, but nobody could remember his name.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Philip Rivers threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns as the Chargers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 38-14 win over the Jaguars. "It's disappointing not to make it to seven," said Chargers coach Norv Turner, "but wait, is this the playoffs?"