We've all seen the footage and numbers from Boston. Some of us have seen the more graphic photos, images that belong in a war scene, not a foot race. As cliché as it sounds, offseason football just doesn't seem as important today - though we will still get to that, don't worry.
I have a friend named Mikey who got stabbed once. It was at a high school party in Austin. As would happen at a high school party in Austin, some kid had taken one too many mushrooms, and he simply lost touch with reality. Whatever visions he was seeing led him to take out a knife and just start stabbing people. A lot of people started freaking out. Mikey and a few others were calm. They encircled the kid with the dilated pupils, and, in concert, pounced on him to bring him to the ground. That's how Mikey got stabbed. He was lucky that the wound was minor. But in my eyes, he was even luckier to find out how he responds in traumatic situations.
If I'm ever in a situation like the one that unfolded near the finish line in Boston on Monday, I hope that I respond like Mikey did that night, or more appropriately, the way former New England Patriots guard Joe Andruzzi did at the marathon itself. It's that simple. I spent several minutes trying to think of the perfect set of words I could use to express my emotions on this matter, and finally realized that there really was no better way to put it: I hope I have inside of me what those people have inside of them. In Andruzzi's case, it is clearly something that runs in his family - the ability to run into the fire instead of away from it, the ability to keep your head when everyone around you is losing theirs. Most of us go our whole lives without having to find out which type of person we are. What happened yesterday in Boston was a stark reminder that the test could come at any moment.
Everything is bigger in Texas
What better way to transition back than with a good old fashioned phallic joke about the new HD video board at Reliant? Work has begun on the ridiculously too big monitor that everyone knows is THE BIGGEST T.V. IN THE WORLD. In tandem with the monstrosity in Arlington, this moniker will serve as endless material for all the standard jokes about relative nature of size in Texas.
Warning: the Texans may not get a WR in the first round
Since a certain friend became too cheap to renew on his ESPN Insider subscription, I have been left to siphon the dregs that Paul Kuharsky deems fit to feed to the commoners:
Mel Kiper Jr. on what the Texans must accomplish: "I know wide receiver is a huge need given Johnson's age, but in 2011 when the team was without both Johnson and Schaub, the Texans were sustained by a defense that finished the season fourth in points per game allowed. Last season the Texans dropped to 10th, and this was even with Watt playing defense as well as it can be played. The Texans are going to find ways to run the ball and create play-action opportunities in coach Gary Kubiak's system. I think the draft will be successful if they get a wide receiver who can help right away, but it also will be successful if they feel they have a pass-rusher who can create pressure. I don't think they can assume the defense will improve, not when it's hard to imagine Watt playing better."
Steph Stradley may write for a publication that also has a paywall blocking significant amounts of content, but luckily her blog remains free (and free of slideshows). Stradley made public weeks ago her suspicion that Houston will end up pissing off everyone and not drafting a wideout, and revisited that issue on Monday to explain why, and to present a positional breakdown in terms of need.
Stradley sees the basic problem with pegging all hopes on the Texans taking any particular wide receiver in the first round as the lack of consensus upon who the best receivers are. Take a look at all the variations in the myriad mock drafts out there when it comes to the order of wideouts taken for an example. Unless the Houston front office is head over heels in love with one receiver in particular that is still on the board late in the first round, we may need to either cross our fingers for a quality option to drop into our spot in the second, or simply brace ourselves for a lot more Lestar Jean and/or Keshawn Martin than we had hoped for in 2013.
If you really want to know which non-receivers the Texans may pick, you should just read Brett Kollmann's take from yesterday.
Cush wondering why Nick Scurfield hates him
Nick Scurfield rode the Praise Train to work on Monday, lauding the various Texans who showed up early to Day 1 of the offseason workout program determined to begin making strides towards the franchise's next step.
There was one inside linebacker who took exception to not getting any love.
@nickscurfield and I was there at 6:30 all offseason, where's my tweet?— Brian Cushing (@briancushing56) April 15, 2013
Oh man. Nick. You really don't want to piss this guy off.
Of course, in came J.J. to back up his teammate(s), making himself look even more praiseworthy in the process.
Seriously, J.J., just stop it. Next offseason, I vote you work on developing a flaw.
Around the NFL
The miseducation of DeAndre Hopkins
The next time you think you're having a bad day, I recommend re-reading this profile on the trials and tribulations that have defined the life of former Clemson wideout and potential Texan draftee DeAndre Hopkins. This guy has been living under a black cloud since the age of five months. His isn't simply your typical tale about a father not being there, though Steve Hopkins' death in a car accident at age 25 certainly set the tone for how things were going to go for DeAndre. It's also about cousins who lost control of their lives when their own pro football aspirations faltered; about a mother who was left for dead following a brutal assault at the hands of her boyfriend's mistress; and about the pressure of trying to make it big when an entire family in a small South Carolina town is depending on you.
Something tells me life has hardened DeAndre Hopkins to the point where he doesn't need a crazy, knife-wielding kid on mushrooms or a Boston Marathon moment to let us know what kind of person he is.
Crazy days in Cleveland
Former Texans kicker Shayne Graham signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Browns on Monday, getting the $940,000 minimum contract to which a player of Graham's experience is entitled. The 32-year-old Graham will compete for a starting job against Brandon Bogotay, nine years his junior and a former kickoff specialist for Georgia. Such a contrast Bogotay is to Graham, I'm going to guess he is also not a ginger.
That's the good news, Cleveland.
The bad news is that your new team owner Jimmy Haslam may be in some serious trouble with federal authorities. This is the worst kind of trouble in which a rich white dude can find himself, aside from the predicament currently facing Jerry Sandusky every time he feels like taking a shower.
Agents from both the FBI and IRS on Monday raided the headquarters of Pilot Flying J, the Haslam family-owned truck stop conglomerate based in West Knoxville, and listed by Forbes Magazine as the sixth largest private corporation in America. An FBI spokesman refused to give any details as to why the raid occurred, describing it as part of an ongoing investigation into the business dealings of Haslam and others. While agents didn't exactly bust down the doors, they did come in with their game faces on, forcing all employees to turn off all electronic devices to prevent any last minute tomfoolery. They said nothing of the tray tables or seatbelts, however.
Haslam only recently returned to his position as CEO of Flying J in February, six months after abandoning the role in order to spend more time focusing on the Browns. Apparently, he decided to get back to what he knows upon the realization that focusing on the Browns was an endeavor fraught with peril, or he simply agreed with Joakim Noah and wanted to get the hell out of Cleveland.
Joakim Noah: 'Cleveland Really Sucks' (via KOBEBRYANT8AND24)
It remains to be seen who the biggest winner would be if Haslam were to face criminal charges: Buc-ee's, or the rest of the AFC North.
Oh, and Haslam's brother is the governor of all BESF fans.
Revis looking healthy
New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis can now run without any kind of restrictions, according to Russ Warren, the doctor who surgically repaired the ACL in Revis' injured left knee last season. A source told USA Today on Monday of comments Warren had made to the Jets regarding Revis' rehab, which is apparently moving on rather nicely. Revis has still not been traded, and I won't say anything more about this player until he is.
Peyton dissing his scrub receivers
Denver Broncos receiver Andre "Bubba" Caldwell is pissed. Peyton Manning, his quarterback, goes and invites three other receivers to the private workout session at Duke last week, and doesn't invite him, a guy who averaged 18 yards per catch last season?
This should definitely be motivation enough for Caldwell to bust his ass this offseason and set the bar high in his personal goals for 2013. If he wants to surpass his total yardage from last season, all he needs to do is catch one pass for 19 yards.
The end of an era: Goodbye, Faith Hill
As of last night, if you had asked me to sing the "Sunday Night Football" theme song, I would have just made noises that approximate this tune.
NBC Sunday Night Football Theme (via NewLegend07)
And there would have been a lot of exclamation marks to those noises, because it's a very exclamatory and dramatic tune. It's the feeling we all get when it's time for Sunday Night Football, which is excited, stoked and happy to be alive.
What I do not associate with Sunday Night Football is Faith Hill. I swear to God I didn't know until 12 hours ago that she sang the show's "anthem," as SNF producer Fred Gaudelli described it on Monday. I didn't know the show even had an anthem.
Faith Hill NBC Sunday Night Football Intro (via nomoboys)
I would rather listen to Hank Williams, Jr. discuss the state of our national debt than be forced to listen to this song again, which sucks, because NBC is merely changing singers and continuing along with the same shtick. And I'm the guy that admits his love for Mariah Carey by singing it from the rooftops, meaning I'm not simply pretending to hate this song to sound manly.
This is one of those moments where gratitude must be displayed to the man who invented DVR, the technology that has allowed me to go through life without ever knowing Faith Hill had an NFL anthem. It has spared me the indignity of having such an anthem get stuck in my head, which is absolutely going to happen at some point today.
What's worse is discovering that Faith Hill was preceded in this job by Pink, the female Kid Rock.
Pink Sunday Night Football (via LEAPS5)
The lyrics that are especially killing me: "Hey Jack, that's a fact, best show in town."
Who is Jack? Who wrote this song? Who is getting royalty checks in the mail as a result of this song having been created? Who signed off on the lyrics, "Hey, Jack, it's a fact, the best show in town"? Some NBC executive at some point had to review these lyrics, and the Pink video, and had to say, "Yes, that is exactly what this network needs." Was he basically the real life version of the guy who tried to steal Cassandra from Wayne?
Noah's Arcade presents Wayne's World (via BoloSteinhauser)
For nearly an hour Monday night, I pondered these questions. And then I decided to actually try Google, which pumped out the answer in about 10 seconds. The Sunday Night Football theme song is a rip off of a song by Joan Jett that was famous long, long ago. I may not be old enough to really know who Joan Jett was, but I know her name belongs in discussions about the 80's, and that her music sucks.
Joan Jett - I Hate Myself For Loving You [ Original HQ ] (via spacialkritur)
What an appropriately-titled original song, too, for this situation.
While We're All Here
A seven-year-old Randy Johnsoned a bird last night
This story is insane. First, everyone remembers when Randy Johnson killed the bird, right?
Randy Johnson hits a bird!!! (via Xavier6808)
This exact same thing happened last night, after the Little League team I coach lost to the Dodgers.
Some friends and I run a coach pitch team called the South Austin Astros every spring, and this is the fourth installment. We've never been to the title game, and the protagonist of this vignette, whose father has requested remain nameless, is going to lead us there this season. The kid has a cannon; you should have seen some of the throws he was making from the mound to first base last night. Alas, we lost in the last inning, and he stuck around after the game for a few minutes to play catch with some of the coaches. I was busy talking to someone when I heard an uproar in left field.
"HE RANDY JOHNSONED THAT BIRD! HE! RANDY! JOHNSONED! THAT! BIRD!"
I naturally assumed it was one of the grown men that had done so, and rushed over with my camera to document this once in a lifetime event. Sure enough, there lay a bird, dead as dirt in the outfield grass.
Someone later said it was a mockingbird, which is the state bird, which would make me worry that we accidentally committed a felony, had I not been informed about a minute into this freakout/celebration of amazingness that the culprit wasn't even tall enough to ride many of the rides at Six Flags.
Andrew swears he saw feathers fly up in the air. I didn't see any in the vicinity, so maybe he's exaggerating. Certainly there were not feathers on the same scale as when Randy Johnson Randy Johnsoned a bird. Our star pitcher did not make a bird explode. But he definitely slayed it.
It is sad that the bird had to die. I don't hunt, and I don't like to see animals suffer. But that bird didn't suffer. It was over in a second, and what a way to go out. When a wide-eyed Dodgers player came over to inspect the scene, I looked him in the eye and said three words: "Circle of life."
The Lion King - Circle of Life (via essexboi1993)
He did not seem to get the reference.
We are now holding a contest for new nicknames for the kid who will one day have a great story to tell the real Randy Johnson. There would have been five options had we gotten to use the kid's name. Instead, there are just three:
1) The Little Unit (more apt for the reality on the ground)
2) The Big Unit (the name his dad prefers to the first option)
3) The Bird Slayer (you have to watch "Game of Thrones" to get this one)
Please vote in the comments if you have a take.
Big Rockets-Lakers game tomorrow
It's hard to match the story I just told, but I wanted to get this in here since I won't be writing tomorrow. For any Rockets fans out there, we've got kind of a huge game coming up Wednesday night in L.A., with the loser having to face Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs. This is a fate synonymous with a quick and sudden death, like a bird flying into a Johnson heater. We have to win this game if we want to advance in the playoffs. And in order to get everyone pumped up for the last regular season game of the year, I present to you this video:
Mitch Kupchak & Hakeem Olajuwon: Fight (via OldGoldenThroat)