With the exception of root canals and Wayans brothers movies, is there anything more painful to sit through than the final week of professional football? It’s like sleeping with an ex-girlfriend -- Even though you know it’s a bad idea, it’s impossible to resist after enough beer no matter how dirty and empty you feel afterwards. It’s an awful experience for many of the following reasons.
1. Career back-ups, Talentless Ass-Clowns, and JaMarcus Russell
Did anybody else catch the Curtis Painter-Ryan Fitzpatrick showdown in Buffalo this week? Or were you too busy watching Mark Brunell earn some serious Metamucil endorsement dollars while seeing his first action since the Korean War in the Saints game? Don’t get me wrong, watching Reggie Bush break the NFL record for sideline high fives was a real “where were you when?” moment, but I missed too many of them because the chance to watch Keith Null, the pride of Texas Western A&M, lead the St. Louis Rams with 57 passing yards in the annual “How bad can we play without having people accuse us of throwing the game for a better draft pick?” Bowl doesn’t come along very often. Hell, even alleged quarterback JaMarcus Russell got into the Week 17 mix just in time to commit two key turnovers in a contest that Al Davis watched during commercial breaks of a Jersey Shore marathon. It was like watching a high school-quality football tournament, only without the underage cheerleaders and boxed wine.
2. No Fantasy Football
Isn’t it amazing how owning the back-up tight end in a fantasy league can make any game worth watching – provided of course the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t involved? I once walked into my cousin’s Wedding reception 90 minutes late with the excuse of “I was down six in my point-per-reception league and needed to see if Herman Moore could get me the win.” When there’s money on the line and fantasy pride at stake any game played outside of Detroit can become exciting. It’s just unfortunate that fantasy football ends in week 16, because watching Josh Freeman struggle to grasp the complexities of a fly route is painful to witness without a "loser has to go to work naked" side bet with my buddy Dan on the over/under.
3. It's Cold Outside
This doesn’t really explain why Week 17 sucks, but I spent Christmas back in Canada and everything is more miserable when you can’t feel your testicles.
4. Stat-Padding by Season Long Underachievers
Did you happen to see who was second in week 17 passing statistics this year? It wasn’t Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees. Those guys were comfortably resting on the sidelines getting ready for the playoffs after successful seasons. No, the 2010 week 17 stud was Jay Cutler, a guy who led the league in interceptions (by a long shot) and seemed to be in a year-long battle with mediocrity that he was a 24-point underdog in. During several important games this season, Cutler was Jason Campbell-levels of ineffective, but ended up with a respectable touchdown number thanks to the four scores he put up against a Lions team that gives out participation ribbons instead of game balls every week.
5. “The Matt Leinart Fallacy”
I used to have a girlfriend who would buy me the single worst presents in the history of Christmas - literally, it made me envy kids at the local orphanage. Thanks to my ex (let’s call her Angelina J. for the sake of my pride and delusional tendencies) I have a pair of Transformers tube socks, "his and hers" Mickey Mouse coffee mugs, and a Kyle Boller Baltimore Ravens jersey that she bought at a Foot Locker clearance rack because she knew I “cheered for a team that had a bird mascot and was pretty sure it was a Raven” - which it wasn't. Seriously, she might have been retarded. It honestly got to the point where I preferred not opening things as she gave them to me. That way I could look at a neatly wrapped present and fool myself into thinking that something great was inside. The only thing that could ruin the illusion would be opening it and seeing the "trip for two to wine country" that she got us directly during Super Bowl weekend.
As an Arizona Cardinal fan this is the exact same feeling I have about Matt Leinart. Prior to Week 17 he was still a first round draft pick with some potential to regain the championship luster he had at USC and a 6-foot-5 Heisman trophy winner still wrapped in his original draft day plastic. Had Leinart stayed on the sidelines during the regular season finale I could have spent the offseason fooling myself into thinking that he had the ability to one day become an adequate NFL starter. Hell, maybe even a slightly above average one! But, just like everything else in my life – the Cardinals ruined it. By suiting him up in Week 17 Arizonans got to watch their “future” go 13-21 for 96 “pity yards” and two interceptions. There was no more potential under the Christmas tree. Just a steaming pile of incomplete passes that made me wonder if Johnny Moxon is a free agent in 2011.
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