I came across this photo of Roethlisberger during last week's pre-game introductions and my first thought was, "God, Ben looks a lot like David Brent."
I'm guessing no one else on the planet had the same disturbing thought, but at this stage of the proceedings that shouldn't really be a surprise I guess. And in case you don't know who David Brent is, just check out this clip to get a better idea. Now all that's left is for Roethlisberger to break out the Brent Dance during the pre-game intros in two weeks against the Pats. There's your Jedi mind trick.
And as long as I'm talking about dance moves, I have to bring up the Steelers' resident Soul Train representative, Verron Haynes. I forgot to mention this last week, but my unofficial Pittsburgh Steelers anthem for 2005 is Yeah! (Usher -- featuring Lil' Jon and Ludacris). If you saw last season's NFL Game of the Week featuring the Steelers and the Eagles, then you know what I'm talking about. There's some footage of pre-game warm-ups and at one point the camera shows Verron -- who in all likelihood is supposed to be stretching -- bustin' a move Young MC style while the sound system blasts Yeah! It was easily the funniest, most entertaining pre-game footage I saw all season. So now you know.
Speaking of Big Ben, he's been downgraded to questionable because of a bone bruise in his knee that has been slow to heal. Which means that there's some chance Tommy Maddox might play against the Texans Sunday. My first reaction to reading this was, "OK. Not really a big deal." Of course I'm discounting Maddox's last performance against Houston when he threw two picks that went the other way, the Steelers amassed something like 400 yards while allowing only 40 and went on to lose
But seriously, I don't think having Maddox step in for Ben is a problem. First of all, everyone knows the Steelers are going to pound the ball as long as the game is close. (And if Pittsburgh goes up, they'll run it even more.) And while Maddox sometimes likes to force throws into coverage, he's also pretty accurate on the short and medium passes. All this got me to thinking who the Pats would prefer to face in two weeks: Roethlisberger or Maddox. Personally, I want Ben to play, but just from a game-planning perspective, New England knows how to rattle Ben, but they've seen a lot less of Maddox. Another option would be for Cowher to rotate the position between Randle El, Hines and Cedrick Wilson -- all former QBs -- and run the single wing. Or just start Roethlsiberger. Either way.
Before I get to my deplorable picks from last week, I just want to throw this out there. Last night I rolled the dice and decided to visit espn.com just on the off chance that they might actually have some, you know, sports stuff worth reading. Not even close. And I mean "not even close" in the same way that you might say it after someone asks you how Keith Foulke looks compared to last season. But at least Foulke has an excuse. I don't think The Worldwide Leader recently had knee surgery.
I've made jokes before that ESPN is basically making the same transition that MTV made ten years ago. Namely, moving away from what they do best (showing actual sports and music videos) to increase their audience by appealing to the lowest common denominator. And I give MTV credit -- at least they thought up the whole "Real World" idea a good decade before every other network caught on to the reality television thing. I would love to meet the genius who reasoned it was a good idea to run this on an alleged sports website:
EDITOR'S NOTE: "24 College Avenue" is a new fictional series describing the lives of 11 college students sharing a filthy old Victorian house near the campus of State College. The series will run on Page 2 three times a week throughout the school year. If you miss a chapter, don't worry. You can catch up in our archive of installments.And I crap you not, this was the first thing I saw when espn.com's front page loaded. I was half expecting Ashton Kutcher to bust out of my closet to tell me I'd been Punk'd because this was even too stupid for ESPN. Does anyone believe this is a good idea? Since 80% of people now think that reality television is too pervasive (can something be too pervasive?) and more importantly, sucks, ESPN gets the bright idea to fictionalize reality television. Look, I'm all for fiction, but why does it have to be on the front page of a sports news site? This is definitely ESPN the Ocho-type material. For all the idiocy that is Stuart Scott and Skip Bayless, those two can't hold a candle to something this dopey. Honestly, I can only hope this is a hoax. It's that bad an idea.
Speaking of bad ideas, how about those picks last week? A svelte 5-11. But hey, I've always been a slow starter, and what better way to get things rolling than going down 700 clams in the first week. I'm like Tommy Maddox and the offensive line in 2003 -- I like a little challenge. (But even they finished 6-10. Hmmm.) Anyway, on to the picks:
AWAY HOME LINE PICKSeason: 5 - 11
BAL TEN 3.5 TEN
BUF TB -2.5 TB
DET CHI 1.0 DET
JAX IND -9.5 IND
MIN CIN -3.0 MIN
NE CAR 3.0 CAR
PIT HOU 6.0 PIT
SF PHI -13.0 SF
ATL SEA -1.0 SEA
STL ARI -1.0 ARI
CLE GB -6.0 CLE
MIA NYJ -6.5 MIA
SD DEN -3.0 SD
KC OAK 1.0 KC
NYG NO -3.0 NYG
WAS DAL -6.0 DAL
Last week: 5 - 11
Earnings to date: - $710
Week 1 picks