Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Dance Fever meets Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

The first 50:48 of the Philly - Baltimore game was about as boring as humanly possible. I likened it to watching CSPAN2 during a Budget Committee hearing -- but worse. Of course that all changed when McNabb hit T.O. on a slant and he broke a couple of tackles on his way to the end zone. Then things really got interesting. In case you missed it (maybe your flight from Mars got in late Sunday night), after scoring the decisive TD late in the 4th, T.O. proceeded to flail around like Dr. Octavius from Spider-Man 2, and then his affliction spread to the rest of his body. The contortions were so violent that I was half expecting his head to fall off and green stuff to come out. Anyway, it took me a couple of seconds to realize what he was doing, and after I did, I could only think of my favorite Merrill Hoge quote, "It's on like Donkey Kong!"

Personally, I think T.O. is unbelievably annoying, but in the grand scheme of things, he's relatively harmless (Jeff Garcia might disagree with this point, and I’ll concede as much). As grating as he is though, he's never been arrested, he's never been suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, he's never been suspended for yelling at players or coaches (on his own team, of course), and he shows up to play every game.

So that's why I actually find it pretty amusing when he scores and follows it up with some inane spectacle that people now almost come to expect. In Sunday’s game, before he made Ray Lewis look like a complete buffoon (by the way, do you know how hard it is to act like a complete idiot and in the process make someone accused of murder look even sillier?), T.O. caught a first down pass late in the game, and then proceeded to flap his arms in such a way that you would have sworn he was a wounded ostrich trying to fly. And then as soon as it had started, it was over, and T.O. returned to the huddle as if acting like a zoo animal was as natural as tying your shoes or reading the paper.

What's great about this if on the outside looking in (read: Steelers fan) is that from the Ravens' perspective, they can't win for losing. During the offseason, GM Ozzie Newsome had finally acquired the downfield threat the team has long needed, then only to have T.O. tell Baltimore to collectively go screw themselves. Of course that got Ray Lewis and his minions all riled up as they quietly circled Oct. 31 on their calendars. And then leading up to the Halloween showdown, T.O. accuses Newsome of making some derogatory racial comments, says he'd never want to play with Kyle Boller, and promises to make the "Ravens pay for what they did."

Now I don't know about the veracity of the first and third points, but it's hard to argue the second one. You could have Jerry Rice, Lynn Swann and Art Monk in their respective primes and Boller would still be awful. In fact, if T.O. had just said, "I'm not coming to Baltimore because Boller reminds me of a bad Heath Shuler," and left it at that, I think people would have been more understanding. In fact, I can see people, after hearing T.O.'s plea, solemnly shake their heads and mutter something like, "Well, he does have a point about that Kyle fellow...he's not very good."

Anyway, when T.O. started doing the Ray-Ray shuffle, I was watching with one eye closed because I was expecting Ray Lewis or one of his disciples to pull a Jimmy "The Superfly" Snuka and take T.O. out. Well it never happened. In fact, Lewis had his back to T.O. during the whole "Dance Fever" routine and after the game things got even weirder. Here's what Lewis said when asked about T.O.'s antics:

"Coward (describing T.O.)...What's flattering is that he has me on his mind when he's at home. I thought women would do that. But if you have a man on [your] mind at home, something is wrong with that."
Huh? Where's Jeff Garcia when you need him [A quick aside about Garcia being gay. I think it's hilarious that T.O., the same guy who grabs pom-poms and dances with cheerleaders, has the cajones to call Garcia homosexual. Not only that, but Garcia's current Playboy Playmate girlfriend got into a catfight with his ex-girlfriend at a bar earlier in the season. If this guy's gay, I'd hate to see how he'd act if he were straight]. Seriously though, I get the feeling that Lewis is so tired of talking about T.O. that he doesn't know what to do with himself. Every time he tries to talk about football, the media keep bringing it back to something T.O. said or did, and then Lewis has to summon all his strength not to, um, kill someone.

Funnier still is that Deion Sanders, the godfather of ridiculous endzone celebrations, actually defended T.O.’s actions:

"If you don't want to see him dance, don't let him score. That's it," Sanders said. "Don't make a big deal out of it. He made a crucial play in a huge game. What do you think he's going to do? Flip the ball back to the referee and run off the field? Please."
Oops. Somebody forgot to send that memo to Ray Lewis. Watch your back Deion.

Speaking of Deion, did anyone see him get jacked up by the punter, Dirk Johnson (yes, that’s his real name) on a punt return? It’s funny what a difference a week makes. After making Drew Bledsoe look like, well, Drew Bledsoe last week (Sanders had two INTs; one returned for a TD), Sanders was all but invisible against the Eagles – unless of course, you consider his postgame comments about endzone celebrations.

So what’s all this have to do with anything? My guess is nothing. I just remember turning to my friend Andy after T.O. did his little shimmy and saying, "Do you realize that T.O. probably spent a couple of hours last week in front of the mirror practicing that goofy dance?" Too much.

Here’s a conversation I had with Andy yesterday, after I told him I watched an encore presentation of the Steelers victory (via TiVo) a few hours after the game ended:

Me: Am I a nerd for watching the Pittsburgh game again Sunday night?

Andy: Watching the game again does not make you a nerd. Being a nerd is what makes you a nerd.
Good point.