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Commentary From the Edge
By Kevin Ratterree
December 9, 2003
  I am starting to write this column on Sunday night while watching Sunday Night Football. This is as good a place to start my column as any. The referees in this game are pathetic. Well, to be truthful the ref's in most games are pathetic. But the fact that I just wasted The Huddle's valuable file space telling you that is like me telling you that the sky is blue, grass is green, and your car breaks down for the first time the week after the warranty expires.

Michael Vick, hands the ball off near the goal line. The runner fumbles the ball after being tackled. Vick picks up the ball and gets leveled by a defender. The Falcons take exception to this and start pushing and shoving, at which point Peerless Price gets his helmet ripped off. No flag. No foul.

I suppose that the officials did not blow a whistle in this situation when they should have, thus you get Michael Vick (Note to the ref's: who happens to be one of the great young stars of this league) pummeled like a tackle dummy.

Apparently the officials in that game did not realize that it is only when a player hears a whistle that he considers the play over. It's really not a difficult concept. The play is dead. Blow the whistle. The league should implement a new policy whereby if an officials mistake causes a player to get mashed, that official will be required to be pushed into the path of a vehicle going about 30 mph. It's the old eye for an eye, spleen for a spleen thing.

While I am on the subject of Mike Vick, I guess everyone who thought Vick could not be a factor in the fantasy playoffs was wrong. I wonder how many people in fantasy playoffs actually had the stones to start him against Carolina. Wow. He'll be fun to watch while he lasts. (See Randall Cunningham)

Also while watching Sunday Night Football I just marvel every week at the moron-athon that is Joe Theisman. I know I've railed on Joe before. He's one of my favorite whipping boy's. But man oh man, if it's possible he just keeps getting even more annoying. And not annoying like the late Howard Cosell. Howard was annoying, but at least he was provocative at times. Theisman is just as predictable as those pathetic officials I was complimenting. Every game, same thing. It doesn't matter who the players are, the script never changes for Joe.

The totally absurd:

"I think Jay Fiedler has a chance to be one of the top 5 quarterbacks in this league"

"I think Ron Dayne just hasn't been given enough of a chance"

"I think these Philadelphia receivers are under-rated"

The incredibly obvious:

(The team with the ball is behind by 7 with 1:20 to play. 4th down on the 40 yd line) "I think you have to go for it in this situation."

The malcontent:

"I think the rules committee should look into this."

Theisman could literally record the first game of the season, go in to the studio every week to insert new players names, and you'd never know he wasn't actually broadcasting the remainder of the games. I wonder when his contract comes up anyway?

While I'm discussing TV heads, the chrome dome of Terry Bradshaw comes to mind. I noticed this Sunday that Terry was slurring his words worse than usual, and seemed a bit askew. Now I like Bradshaw in general, but while watching the Fox show this week I could have swore he was buzzed. He seemed either drunk or recently drunk. Entertaining but highly irregular in the world of network television.

Then later in the show I found that Bradshaw had been on assignment to New Orleans last week. Suddenly it all made sense. This speech slurring, goofier than usual bit was actually a residual effect of all the bourbon he soaked up on Bourbon Street. Bradshaw wouldn't hit the sauce before a nationally televised show. At least that is what I am telling myself.

BIG KAHUNA PICK

(Cancelled due to mental incompetence)

Ok, that's a cop out. I started this just to prove that I can suck just as bad as the people in the football media who get paid big bucks to spew nonsense, and I think I have proven my point well thus far. But before I make my pick, more advice that you may actually be able to use.

A few weeks back I told you about betting the under in the second half of blowouts, a bet that continues to be a good one for me in the right spots. Let me get a little deeper into the halftime line betting. You can use the knowledge of the bookmakers against them in second half betting as well.

Let's use the Monday Night game St. Louis at Cleveland as a perfect (and profitable I'm happy to say) example. The line before the game was St. Louis - 5 1/2 (Lightly Tapping Hank Goldberg picked the Browns plus the points of course) and the over under was 43 1/2.

Once you admit that the bookmakers know the game better than you do, you can use their knowledge against them for fun and profit.

The score at halftime was 23-7 Rams. When the halftime spread came out it was pick 'em on the spread, and 21 1/2 on the under/ over. It is simple math from that point. Before the game the odds makers said there would be 43 points scored. You use that knowledge to take the under bet, and you win. The spread was 5 1/2, so you take the Browns even up in the second half. You win both bets using the man's knowledge against him. Isn't that nice? And so easy. It doesn't always work of course. There are games where the odds makers just really blow it, but for the most part over time, the point spreads before the game end up being very close.

Once again, you are welcome. No charge.

Ok, big pick time. The Chiefs need a big win this week at home, and pray that somebody takes New England out. The spread at Arrowhead is 14 against the Lions. The Lions are young, not very good, and playing in a hostile environment the like of which most of them probably have not seen. Yet, the spread is 14 points, and in this league, I'm always interested in getting 2 touchdown's for my betting dollar. I'll take it, and spend Sunday afternoon on my knees praying. LIONS +14. Oh brother.

MISERY INDEX

10) People who used to like ESPN Countdown: Michael Irvin blows his lines more often than L.T. did back in the day.

9) Browns: While Clinton Portis was shredding the Chiefs for 5 TD's, William Green was sitting at home taking turns hitting the bong and then his old lady. The Butch Davis "draft day genius" legacy grows every week.

8) Seahawks: The secondary has taken getting burned to a new level. I haven't seen that many torches since the last time I watched Frankenstein.

7) Chiefs: The Chiefs seem to be coasting through the last 4 weeks and now have lost the home field advantage. The defense is more full of holes than the Mustang Ranch.

6) Cardinals: The defense that cures all ails for opposing defenses. The way they get stomped every week they should change the team name to the Grapes.

5) Bears: A swift and merciful end to their dreams about actually getting involved in the division. Has Dick Jauron saved his job by guiding this team from a horrible start to a team that is now just stinky as opposed to putrid? Yeah, I should hope so.

4) Panthers: If you can't score more than 2 touchdowns against the Atlanta defense, I don't think you are really what I would call a playoff caliber team. Then again, have the Panthers scored more than 2 offensive TD's against anybody this season? You can count me officially jumping off the bandwagon, and the Panthers bandwagon is becoming a very quiet and lonely place.

3) Giants: Kerry Collins has the right idea. Medic!!!

2) Buccaneers: Well, I have heard some people make the statement that with this weeks win the Buc's are back in the playoff picture. Really? I don't see it. But, in this league we have all learned to expect the unexpected. At least now Sapp and company have the false hope thing going, and the misery will drag on a while longer.

1) Raiders: Why the Mirer thing? Why? At least if they would have signed Jeff George we would have all watched the games if for no other reason than the "freak show" aspect. I really feel sorry for Jerry Rice during this fiasco. But it just goes to show you, if you keep hanging around and hanging around, even a legend like Rice will eventually suffer humiliation usually reserved for guys who get busted picking up a cross dressing hooker on Cops.