For those in my line of work, there is a kindred spirit we share. Barbers are like lawyers, bartenders, psychiatrists, nail salon employees, doctors, etc. We all hear people’s problems. On Monday, I was in no mood to hear problems.
All season in The Shop league, I was the Kingpin. Injuries had crippled me, but I had Peyton Manning in my hip pocket and clean livin’ on my side. I had earned a first-round playoff bye and drew Tommy Pants in the semifinals.
To make it light and tight, Tommy Pants invested in Jamaal Charles and Aaron Rodgers on draft day. When Rodgers went down, it knocked Tommy’s pegs out from under him. He made the playoffs, but, looking at his roster, even though Peyton had me limping into Sunday swinging for the fences, what happened between 1 and 7 p.m. was stunning. It was like a bad science fiction movie. The last thing I saw was my still-beating heart that had been ripped from my chest.
Charles was the only player on his roster that I feared. JC had taught me respect before. What I wasn’t prepared for was the riddle that would follow. That means so many bullets hit your body that the police report ironically claims your body was “riddled” with bullets.
My optimism of my easy route to the championship game was tempered by experience. I had been bitten by that dog before. What made me confident was that, his best option at quarterback Sunday was Alex Smith. Smith and Charles couldn’t double-up that much, right? Don’t get me started on Danny Bailey. If anyone mentions Greg Jennings by name, keep in mind that I wield a blade. I have lost title opportunities because the other guy had the better team. I have lost because my team dropped a deuce. I have never been so thoroughly crushed that I knew before half my team was done playing or yet to play that I was done.
I’m sure most who played against Charles, even those who rode tall in the saddle with Manning, know from where I speak. I’m not sure which is worse: losing because the son of Justin Tucker’s mother blew up on Monday night or to be so beaten to a pulp in such a short period of time that it comes as concussive blow, I wasn’t listening to other complaints…and those in The Shop knew it might be best to let their hair grow another day before asking me for a cut and a shave.
Monday was a bad day, but it was better than Sunday.
- For those who invested in Percy Harvin all season and their season is over, how do you spell I told you so? Fantasy rosters are too precious to hold onto damaged goods.
- Has anyone else noticed that Miami has gotten better since the loss of Richie Icognito and Jonathan Martin?
- If Aaron Rodgers comes back next week, you don’t want to be against the Packers making the playoffs as NFC North champion. Just sayin’.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
10. The Red-Nosed Raiders – Oakland has been the most non-descript franchise in the NFL for the last decade. If they finish 8-8, the world is stunned. The franchise may have hit bottom in the Black Hole Sunday, allowing 56 points to a Kansas City Chiefs team that wins more games by defense than offense. That’s like giving up 100 points to Denver. With the coolest logo in sports history, they should moving the merch like nobody’s business. Nowadays, if you ain’t from OakTown, you don’t want to be seen in Raiders gear. The Black and Silver is now the Black and Blue – the Blue representing their annual blue-chip spots in the draft.
9. Rocky Mountain Sigh – In the playoffs, having home field advantage is going to be huge. Nobody wants to go to Seattle, New Orleans, Denver or New England with the Super Bowl on the line. The Broncos had a chance to get their business done in San Diego last Thursday. Maybe it’s just my bitterness with Peyton these days, but the Broncos opened the door for the other first-round bye/home field contenders in a game they should have won going away.
8. An Open and Shut (Out) Case – There have only been two shutouts in the NFL this season. Both of them have been thrown up (figuratively and literally) by the Giants. Quite a few of them have two rings, but, when you’ve been shut out twice and scored seven points in another blowout loss, the only ring they have now is around the cold tub.
7. WKRP Your Pants – The Bengals had a chance to not only run away and hide in their division, but get a chance to run the table and get a first-round playoff bye – which will be as critical this year as any. The difference between being at home for a wild card game and being at home for the divisional round of the playoffs is huge. They had a chance to dagger the Steelers, but were buried early and died slowly. Not good news for a team that was aware of the goings on earlier in the day and had a chance to take unique advantage of the situation. Instead, they stunk out the open end of Heinz Field and ran it down their leg. Welcome to that home game in the wild card round.
6. The Venom Only Hurts For a Minute – As bad as Washington is playing, it’s almost as if Mike Shanahan wants the organization to suffer. With every loss, the pick the Redskins gave up for Robert Griffin III gets sweeter and sweeter for the St. Louis Rams. By benching RG3 and alienating his own son/offensive coordinator, the Mike Shanahan era – not only as coach of the Redskins, but likely as a head coach ever again – is getting more and more toxic. RG3 will be a Redskin in 2014. Shanahan seems to be burning the bridge behind him.
5. Goodnight Beantown – The Patriots had the chance to take back home field advantage throughout the playoffs Sunday while, at the same time, not being Dolphin-safe, by beating Miami they could have all but eliminated them from playoff competition. Instead, the Pats proved that without Rob Gronkowski they can grease out wins, but without him, they are a pedestrian team that can’t pull off three wins in January and has made it likely that, if they play Denver again, they do it without Gronk and in Denver.
4. We Dat! – The Saints had a chance to lock down their division title with a win over St. Louis, a team already eliminated from playoff contention. Not only did the Saints lose, but their loss makes it so Carolina can take over first place in the division with a win on Sunday. The Saints lost any chance of the Super Bowl going through NOLA unless the Seahawks lose in the divisional round,
3. Endangered Eagles – Losing to Minnesota is something that 2013 division winners don’t do. It’s like losing to Tampa Bay or Jacksonville, or, as they known around the country, the “too little, too late shame of north Florida.” Being owned by Minnesota was a display that the Eagles aren’t equipped to make a Giants-like postseason run. Nick Foles was the second-best quarterback on the field Sunday and the defense allowed Minnesota the most points it has scored since Randy Moss was a rookie in 1998.
2. Fiddling While Romo Is Burning – People have created stats to back up the assertion that Tony Romo is a walking Heimlich maneuver. They may have a point. Blowing a 23-point lead is what Shop patrons were offhandedly chucking, “Classic Romo!” Somewhere Jim Kelly is feeling better about himself. At least his failures came in February, not December and early January. Romo is becoming the sad sack of elite NFL quarterbacks. When the compliant Metroplex media turns on Jerry Jones and asks glove-slap style questions (the term “glove” is used in case there young readers are involved – give a hoot, read a book), change is comin’. The coaching staff is going to change. The brakes on a couple of reporters’ cars may need to be checked on a regular basis, much less the cost of paying for a neighbor kid to start their vehicles every day. You don’t talk to J2 like that. But, there are reasons for the questions.
1. Secondhand Lions – Detroit entered play Sunday as the leader in the NFC North. The Lions didn’t give up a touchdown on Monday night. Yet, they are now in third place in the division and their future is completely out of their own hands with two games to play. If Green Bay and Chicago win next Sunday, the Lions are guaranteed to be eliminated from postseason competition. American Jewelry and Loan will be doing good business down on 8 Mile. The Lions have once again collapsed post-Thanksgiving and even Megatron can’t pull them out of it. That was a team on Monday that, once again, has all the looks of one-and-done in the playoffs.