The NFL season runs about six months, from the first exhibition game to the bloated media extravaganza of the Super Bowl. It used to be that coverage of the NFL stuck to that schedule, heating up in August with the start of the preseason and winding down after the Super Bowl in January or, more recently, in February.
These days, with the NFL being the dominant league on the American sporting landscape, coverage of the league is a 365-days-a-year operation.
It provides us a never-ending stream of stupidity from the pigskin "pundits" that we have grown so fond of mocking.
Instead of a seasonal occurrence, the NFL media has become a yearlong barrage of misinformation, overreaction and jaw-dropping "I can't believe he just said that!" stupidity from favorites such as Sean Salisbury, Pete Prisco, Peter King and other football brainiacs.
With the onslaught of commentary comes an equally expanding plate of what we've come to call Pigskin Poetry – crap that actually came out of the mouths of the so-called football "experts."
For your reading pleasure, Pigskin Detention has compiled the very best (read: idiotic) commentary of 2006, just in case you needed further evidence that most of what you hear on TV is garbage.
The Favre Festival of Man Love
Without a doubt, the story of the year for sports-media observers was the way the "pundits" went above and beyond the call of duty in their effort to excuse Brett Favre's declining play and brutal interception streak over the past two seasons. As the Cold, Hard Football Facts have noted, Favre is just 5 INTs from tying the all-time INT record.
Never in the history of sports has there been a greater discrepancy between a player's onfield performance and the nauseating level of praise he has received in the media. Here are some of the vomit-inducing lowlights. Grab the barf bag.
"We're going to have to send Brett a memo: You cannot retire. You are still too good and too important to this league." – Mike Patrick on the potential retirement of Brett Favre at the end of the 2005 season
No, play until you're effin' 90, Brett. The world revolves around you and we, the football fans of the world, are warmed and nourished by your luminescent greatness.
"Only four of Favre's interceptions came when the Packers were winning." – Dan Pompei, analyzing Favre's 2005 season
Pompei failed to note that Favre last season had 491 pass attempts when behind (or tied), as opposed to 116 attempts while ahead. So he threw picks in 5 percent of his attempts when losing compared to 3.5 percent of his attempts when winning. Not a huge difference.
"You are not allowed to go away yet. We want you. We need you." – Joe Theismann on Favre
No, we don't.
"I will tell you this, any fan out there or prognosticator or so-called Packer expert who thinks that Brett Favre is holding you hostage ... you're an idiot!" – Sean Salisbury, during Favre's offseason of indecision
Do you know how hard it is to replace a quarterback with a 72.9 passer rating?!
"You can disguise Green Bay's problems by saying Brett Favre is playing like he's 64 if you want. But you'd be delusional if you did." – Peter King, Dec. 5, 2006
Can we say that he's playing like the fast-fading 37-year-old he is?
"Question: Will Brett Favre play next year?
Jeremy Green: I hope so. He is having fun again and he is playing better. He can still play. I am amazed at some of the throws he can still make on a weekly basis." – ESPN.com, Dec. 5, 2006
Nobody fires the ball into the arms of opposing defenders with quite the same panache as Favre.
"You give me a leader, and I'll show you a winner. You give me a coward, and I won't show you Brett Favre!" – Salisbury
"They're undermanned in so many spots and Brett tries to do it all by himself." – Steve Young
Yes, there are plenty of other Packers who can step in and help Brett throw away the game.
The Mind-Boggling Best
"I think Shawne Merriman must be an idiot to think you can use performance-enhancing stuff and get away with it." – King, SI.com
Because clearly that would be naïve. Nobody in the NFL gets away with performance-enhancing drugs.
"The media would have made sure that the general public knew who Joey Porter was. We would have labeled him 'that Beast,' the highest compliment anyone can give a professional athlete today." – Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com, on Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter
Kind of like how "illiterate hack" is the highest compliment anyone can give a professional sports "pundit" today.
"This is the second time in Cotton Bowl history that the game has ended on the final play." – stat at the end of the Jan. 2006 Cotton Bowl telecast
The other 68 Cotton Bowls ended midway through the third quarter.
If the Seattle Seahawks make the playoffs, that could be the play of the year ... This one maybe saved Seattle's season." – Sterling Sharpe, NBC, on a fourth-quarter reception by Darrell Jackson in their Week 1 victory over Detroit.
They'll replay this clip when Sharpe enters the Overreaction Hall of Fame.
"They're a little bit like the Dallas Cowboys were built in their heyday. I don't want to make these guys into Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin – but they're trying to be like that with the receiver, quarterback and tailback in place." – Steve Mariucci, NFL Network, on the Miami Dolphins
The Cowboys of the 1990s revolutionized football when they fielded a quarterback, running back and wide receiver all at the same time.
By the way, can anyone name Miami's top quarterback, running back and wideout this season?
The Chargers have a difference-maker at tight end and, no, I'm not talking about Antonio Gates. I'm talking about Brandon Manumaleuna. This guy is going to help them in the passing game." – Michael Smith, ESPN
At the time this quote was noted, we pointed out that the "difference-maker" Manumaleuna entered the 2006 season with the following career stats since joining the league in 2001: 66 receptions, 648 yards, 6 TDs.
He's made a "difference" this year, too, with 14 receptions for 91 yards through 15 games.
"Would they have won their first playoff game, in Cincinnati, if Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer hadn't been hurt on his second play? Doubtful...Would the Steelers have been able to win in Foxboro if the Broncos hadn't upset the Patriots the week before in Denver? Highly doubtful. Would the Steelers have won in Denver if an early poor pass by Roethlisberger had been picked off in the flat by Champ Bailey and returned for a stadium-rocking touchdown? Probably not." – Skip Bayless of ESPN on Pittsburgh's improbable 2005 Super Bowl run
So, basically, if nothing that actually transpired on the field had happened, the outcome of the 2005 playoffs might have been different. Bayless is so effin' incompetent it makes our ears bleed.
The Factually Inaccurate
"Within a yard ... of a Super Bowl championship." – Michael Wilbon of ESPN describing Steve McNair's impact on the Tennessee Titans franchise
No current myth forces us into action quicker than when someone in the media claims that the Titans were a yard away from beating the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV. In reality, they were a yard away from being an extra point away from being tied in the Super Bowl and going into overtime.
"You talk about offensive rookie of the year being Laurence Maroney, the defensive rookie of the year obviously I think is Bart Scott." – Tom Jackson, ESPN, on Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott
Scott is in his fifth year in the NFL.
If you watched this game and never looked at the scoreboard, you would say the Giants had won the game and that's why the Giants came out of this better off than the Colts." – Bob Ryan on ESPN's "Around the Horn," after the Week 1 victory by the Colts over the Giants
The Giants lost their first game of the season at home, but if you didn't look at the scoreboard, they came out of the game "better off." Ryan is a giant of the sportswriting world, but this was his Skip Bayless moment.
"I believe that a quarterback, by himself, is going to have to win two games a year. Like, we saw it, for example, in the Super Bowl with Ben Roethlisberger. He made some great plays by himself. Even though he didn't complete a lot, he made some key plays for the Steelers to go on and win." – Theismann, ESPN
Now, we don't mean to downplay Roethlisberger's contribution to the Steelers in the Super Bowl. He did have a few solid plays, such as his 3rd-and-28 completion to Hines Ward.
"I think Bill Parcells is undecided about coming back to coach the Cowboys in 2007, and you can take that to the bank." – King, SI.com
Classic Peter King: Say nothing and then stamp it with authority.
"This is the best coaching job (Parcells) has ever done ... they had better players in New York" – Salisbury, ESPN, after the Cowboys improved to 8-4 this season
In this age of instant gratification, going 9-6 and scratching and clawing for a division title is apparently a bigger success than winning two Super Bowls.
"(The Colts) have not proven since losing Edgerrin James that they can run the ball." – John Madden, NBC
Did we mention he said this early in the second quarter of the first game of the year?
"All those Chiefs fans who ripped me to shreds this spring when I wrote that Steven Jackson would lead the league in rushing, what do you think now? The Chiefs fans insisted Larry Johnson would be the rushing champ. Jackson ran for 121 yards against the Broncos, while Johnson had 68 against the Bengals." – Pete
Prisco, CBS.Sportsline.com, after Week 1
Prisco apparently believes you should crown the rushing champion after Week 1 of the season. By the way, here at the end of Week 16, the score is:
- Johnson: 1,651 rushing yards
- Jackson: 1,386 rushing yards
- Prisco: 1,112 useless columns
"It's a three- to four-point game." – Salisbury, ESPN, predicting the score of Super Bowl XLI ... back in July
And throughout the season, the league has clearly demonstrated how evenly matched the AFC and NFC are.
"Best third-round pick in the league this year: Falcons running back Jerious Norwood." – King, SI.com, after Week 2 of the season
No need to wait for other candidates to emerge.
"'They say there aren't anymore shutdown corners,' I said to Bailey. He laughed. 'Yeah, no more shutdown corners,' he said as he walked away. That's a little joke I have with him. We've always joked that the chic thing to say is shutdown corners don't exist." – Prisco, CBS.Sportsline.com
Rule #245 of the Sportswriter's Handbook: Inside jokes aren't funny.
Rule #246 of the Sportswriter's Handbook: Trying to act all chummy with a player who probably couldn't pick you out of a police lineup makes you look like a dildo.
Rule #247 of the Sportswriter's Handbook: Pete Prisco sucks.
Salisbury's MVP Race
All year, we've kept track of the tight race for MVP honors in the eyes of Señor Angry, Sean Salisbury. As of the final week of the year, this is a summary of his thoughts...
June 2006: "(Larry Johnson) is this year's MVP!"
September 2006: "I think he's (Tom Brady) going to be the MVP of the league this year."
October 2, 2006: "(Donovan McNabb) right now, along with Rex Grossman, has to be the frontrunner for the MVP."
Minutes later, October 2, 2006: "Rex Grossman right now is the MVP of this league!"
Seconds later, October 2, 2006: "Tommy Harris (is) the defensive MVP this year."
October 31, 2006: "(Peyton Manning) is the MVP of the league right now."
October 31, 2006: "(Michael Vick's) going to chase Manning for the MVP this year!"
Following Week 9 (early November 2006): "Manning is the MVP."
"(Drew) Brees is in the MVP talk."
"Steve Smith can be in it and Larry Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson, but (Manning's) the MVP no-brainer!"
"People are going to start saying (Steve McNair) is the MVP. He's not the MVP, but don't tell his teammates that!"
"Drew Brees might be the most valuable player right now in the National Football League."
"(Jason Taylor's) not gonna win defensive MVP because they're not going to the playoffs, but he's taking over!"
December 25, 2006: "(Drew Brees) is the second pick for the MVP!"
Apparently, they now have an award for the MVP runner-up. But there's no doubt about our hack of the year: It's Salisbury, in a landslide.