I Am Watching Football: 2021 Week 2

Before Monday night’s game between the Packers and the Lions I had prepped the following opening line for this week’s column:

“I think Aaron Rodgers really wanted to host Jeopardy!

Shows me I guess. But I mean they really did look god awful Week 1, and he looked pretty damn good hosting Jeopardy!. I was being 100% serious last week when I called him the MVP. Amongst a cast of numerous bland (and not taking it seriously) news anchors, previous contestants from the show (I’d be okay with Ken Jennings or Buzzy but I wouldn’t call them inspired choices), some obvious no’s from the start (looking at you “Dr.” Oz), a front runner who turned out not as great as anticipated (hopefully the LeVar Burton stans don’t find me), and their eventual “choice” of not even that long a time producer of the show and immediately-exposed-as-douchebag Mike Richards (who? Google tells me he is a “former” television producer as I type in his name to make sure I remembered it correctly) Aaron Rodgers stood out as someone who actually gave a fuck about what he was doing, and did it well.

What we all loved about Alex Trebek was, well, everything. And no one was going to match his swift elocution and wit, the way it seemed like he knew the answers and could go toe-to-toe with any of the contestants, his seemingly born and bred grasp over the workings of the show. But Aaron Rodgers, I mean they seriously could have, and almost did do worse. The news anchors all felt like, well how they normally feel on the show, when they’re there to present some video category, like it’s just some fun day on assignment. They weren’t all bad, but they weren’t really in it. LeVar Burton’s dulcet tones sound great until you realize, well, this game has a clock, in the end. We don’t need to talk any more about Mike Richards. The joy of Aaron Rodgers was not just his surprisingly decent delivery, but rather his clear and apparent joy at hosting the show. He seemed as excited as anyone to know the answer, who was right and who was wrong, who was winning and who was losing, all with a thoroughly invested exuberant energy crackling beneath his deep throated California drawl.

But he’s back to winning football games, so even with the still ongoing drama in the search for a permanent Jeopardy! host, it sadly seems we’re to be denied this reality.

Obligatory Sports Talk

The Bills shut out the Dolphins 35-0 after just about breaking Tua Tagovailoa’s rib in the first quarter, so this victory is not particularly exciting on both that front and the one discussed last week.

It’s honestly not very exciting to talk that much about any of the teams at the moment. The records don’t mean anything, 0-3 becomes a problem but 0-2 could still just be a blip. Some of them you know already but I mean, that’s also not exciting. Anything could happen. The season’s narratives aren’t set in stone yet. Which is why it’s super fun to watch the announcers flounder in all sorts of directions as they wait for some emerging sense of the story the powers that be will have them tell.

Tony Romo is a delight. His presence in the booth on CBS’s marquee broadcasts has been an energizing one and his chemistry with Jim Nantz has immediately far overshot announcing teams that have been on the air together for years. In Sunday’s late afternoon game between the Chargers and the Cowboys (they always have Tony Romo call Cowboys games, obviously) as it neared halftime Nantz pointed out that the score of 14-11 would be the first ever in an NFL game at the half. To which Romo responded:

“No it isn’t, you’re making that up.”

His zero tolerance for this sort of inane stat keeping in which every play is some sort of new record because of the infinite possibilities of things that can happen and every one of them being a new one is refreshing.

“11? I guess that’s a little uncommon, but 14? Tons of games go to half with 14,” he continued to muse.

It’s been interesting to watch the Patriots play games that haven’t been selected for the national broadcast the way they always used to be. Living here, I still have to see them, but the whole operation feels low-rent compared to years past with every week spent in the spotlight. The local announcer is Kevin Harlan, who I think sounds like a sort of knock-off of famed Sabres announcer Rick Jeanneret. Towards the end of a lopsided game against the Jets we were treated to a classic bit of NFL announcer fodder, discussing the physique of the referees, specifically the Hochulis. with the crown having been passed from Ed who retired in 2018 to his son, Shawn.

“Look at the guns,” Harlan marveled.

This is at least more fun than the Sunday night crew’s tendency to get huffy when faced with questionable flags, as if it’s some sort of personal affront, exemplified by a pouting Chris Collinsworth, “I don’t know what penalties are anymore.”

Sponsored By

Stop it Amazon. Just stop it. You’re not going to make “stat that” a thing. I don’t even understand the point of these commercials as a concept. They seem like they’re trying to present the idea that these “statistics” are responsible for real time decision making and the outcome of a play, which, obviously no. We’ve heard endlessly for the last several years about the new influence of “analytics” on the game, primarily in the context of deciding whether or not to take the extra point or go for the two point conversion, which, sure, makes sense. But was Kyler Murray looking down the field and thinking, “There’s a 16.9% chance I make this throw” on a hail Mary play that they had literally no choice but to run? No. The dude was just looking for people wearing the same color shirt as him.

Also, if you could stop making me relive this moment over and over again, that would be appreciated. I don’t need more reasons to hate Amazon.

A Dream I Had the Other Night

I was standing in my high school’s cafeteria in one of those dreams where everything’s familiar but nothing’s quite right, holding a lunch tray and looking for a place to sit. I saw a group of my high school friends, the people I actually would have sat with back then, but there was no space at the table. Then I saw a table anachronistically full of people I’ve met in the Boston comedy scene, similarly with no space to sit down. Then I started looking around for a particular person, an old crush, but she was nowhere to be found. So I was left just standing there, anxiously holding my tray as the world swirled around me, with no place for me in it.

Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop.

GameStop ($GME) price as of writing: $190.14.

Power to the players.

What Else Am I Watching?

The clock tick later and later into the afternoon on a Wednesday after saying last week I’d be trying to move this up a day. Tuesday seems like it might be difficult, I like to watch the Monday game to get the whole week in and it’s hard to turn that around for the next day. The schedule for this will probably fluctuate as I try and strike the balance between recap and look ahead, and there’ll be some other things coming on in the next weeks that might change the format a bit, so, we’ll see.

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