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Battle Red Bag, Vol. 16: Officiating Your Bank Account


Sirs and madams,

We are now a week and two days away from professional football. Well, I know the Dolphins are still involved, but as professional as it gets.

I would like to take this spot to rail a little bit on commentator/writer Peter Schrager, who went on a bit of a Twitter rant about replacement referees. To wit, here are some of this gentleman's quotes about the situation:

I'm serious. I wouldn't get in a car with a driver who I didn't think could drive. If the refs are SO bad, why are the players taking field?

How many Fantasy Referee Drafts did you take part in this week? 3? 4? Accurate holding penalties called are worth 3 or 4 points? Get real.

This is a negotiation. All negotiations have two sides. I'm just presenting the other side, which, for whatever reason, is overlooked.

Let's toss aside the fairly obvious strawmen here, because as much as player safety is a nice thought (and a fun logical fallacy that the NFL likes to pretend matters in their decisions), this isn't about player safety. It's about the sanctity of the game. The NFL goes through extensive training procedures and demands a lot of its current referees. They still screw up a rather large amount.

Having watched my fair share of preseason games, I can tell you that these replacement refs are making those brutal calls and glaring mental errors at a much higher rate. I can tell you that as someone who has casually partaken in sports gambling before, I won't be doing so until the referee lockout has ended. To make something the best of the best, high standards have to be enacted on every level. It seems to me that, by valuing the integrity of the game at roughly a pittance of each NFL club's revenue, the league has effectively said that their product is not as important as their pocketbook.

And that's fine. That is their right as Americans. Just don't go blaming the media because the "Goliath stomps dumb, poorly organized refs because it can" angle isn't a popular one. Turns out it's something that a large majority of sports media isn't really in-tune with for whatever reason. Almost like we're not all driving rocket cars to the moon.

Anyway, on with the mailbag!

DisplacedTexan asks:

Which do you consider the superior form of underwear: boxers or boxer-briefs?

I am incredibly biased on this question, but as the owner of some real thick thighs for most of my adult life, the answer is boxer-briefs. Chafing has been an issue.

My progression has been tightie whities -> boxers -> gym shorts -> boxer-briefs. There's really no comparison in terms of comfort and function. I'm sure they could look a little cooler, but really, who the hell is worried about how cool their underwear is? People who have much more sex than me, is probably the answer.

(I actually did buy a pair of Simpsons boxers once -- I can't find an online image, but it involved Surly Duff. It pretty much just collects dust in a drawer.) asks:

Ryan Tannehill: This year's Blaine Gabbert?

Ryan Tannehill does play for a bad Florida team with little offensive talent, sure. He is going to make his share of mental mistakes, yes. I think the big difference between them is that I knew a few people last year that thought Blaine Gabbert was a good draft pick who could contribute right away. I don't think anyone that I've spoken to thought that Tannehill was NFL-ready.

And really, shit, a large majority of internet-based draft scouts thought that Cam Newton would take time to get acclimated. I'm not comfortable saying that Tannehill is going to buck that trend, but I also wouldn't completely discount it. If you're asking me to guess? Yeah, I think he's in for a rocky first year.

Blaine Gabbert: This year's Ryan Leaf?

(googles "Blaine Gabbert painkillers")

No results found for "blaine gabbert painkillers".

I'm going to say that Blaine Gabbert has the upside to be a solid citizen, and there doesn't appear to be any danger of him going into a mental institution or jail just yet. That said, a few more Connor Barwin sacks, and you never know.

Case Keenum: This year's Gifford Nielsen?

I dunno, I think he has the ability to hang on to the practice squad. Local CBS affiliate sportscaster is definitely a field I can see him breaking into within a few years though, what with his inability to actually play quarterback for an NFL team.

Matt Schaub: This year's Matt Schaub?



Ctacc asks:


As one of my six favorite Battle Red Bloggers, I am thrilled you are taking over duties for "Da Bag". If it's not to be MDC, I couldn't be happier that you're swinging the BIG RED SACK now. That said, and perhaps by way of introduction to newer readers, can you please tap your vast analytical resources and answer the following questions?

Oh boy, I'm in the top six! (He says in the tone of your mother after you bought her a bowling ball for Christmas.)

In the words of Win Ben Stein's Money, I shall do my very best.

Rivers McCown - Is this a Pen Name?

Not really, no. Rivers is my middle name, and I go by it because if there was one thing I learned in high school, it is that one out of every five boys born between 1985 and 1989 were named Chris. I decided that I liked not turning around after every "Chris!" shout, and eventually decided to start writing under the name in 2009. I still go by Chris when it comes to my family though, mostly because forcing older people to learn new names never ends well.

Are you related to either Josh McCown or Luke McCown?

I don't believe so, no. If I am, it's a very distant relation. However, I do thank them for making my last name pronounceable in Madden. Or at least I did when I played Madden still.

(That said, if any NFL team calls me asking for a quarterback, sure, I did the Itchy.)

If this awesome handle is your given name: could you explain its origin?

Not really much to explain. Rivers is a family name. My middle name, my dad's middle name, my grandfather's first name, great-grandfather's first name, and so on. It goes back a pretty long way. My uncle traced the whole genealogy of the family and says we're of the William the Conqueror bloodline, which I think is kind of a bit much, but hey, whatever helps him sleep at night.

Were your folks big fans of the Phoenix clan? Do you have a sibling named Joaquins? Did they idolize Joan Rivers? If Doc Rivers, Steve McQueen and Robert Downey, Jr had a baby would it be named Rivers McCown? If so, do you bear any resemblance to an amalgamation of the three gentlemen in question?

No, my folks were big on bad 70's music; I have a half-sister, named Sarah; Nobody has ever idolized Joan Rivers; I believe three men having a baby is a logical clusterfuck so I'm going to say that question is invalid; I think the only celebrity I've actually been compared to favorably is Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers (when he was dirty blonde, anyway). Pictures available upon request.

kurtie! asks:

What are Trindon Holliday's chances of actually making the team? If he makes the team, what are the chances he actually sees some time at WR? If he sees time at WR, what are the chances he can score a TD in that capacity? Trindon is so adorable as the littlest guy of the field, he's getting my wife and kids interested in football.
Actually, by the time this gets posted, I'm sure we'll know if he made the squad or not. I'm just going to guess that yes, he made the team. No, he won't see any time at wide receiver barring a catastrophe. "Adorable" isn't really a trait you want to have as a football player. Nobody ever calls Trent Cole adorable. Well, maybe his mom, but that's really not football-related. It's because he pulls his chair out for her before meals.

I have an upstairs bedroom in my house where the double sinks inexplicably fill up with water from the drain. I haven't turned on the faucets, but more and more water keeps showing up. I don't want to hire a plumber, but Google has been non-helpful. Where does the water come from? Is there a black hole in my sink? Is there a portal to the ocean? How can I know?

Asking me for advice with home repairs is a little like asking Comcast for lessons in customer service. (Just kidding, they're Comcastic! They're still an advertiser, right?) Anyway, that said, I would think the default solution is drain cleaner. If that doesn't work, and you're not ready to admit that you need the plumber, I would advise calling Unsolved Mysteries. Robert Stack's voice can fix any dimensional distortion, or your money back.

Josh Brown asks:

My question regards Owen Daniels and his potential production. Once considered a top receiving tight end, Daniels had essentially two seasons (2009 & 2010) marred by an ACL tear. In 2008, the 29-year-old former Pro Bowler had 70 receptions and 862 yards, though just two touchdowns. The question is this: Will Daniels ever reach, or dare I say, surpass, those numbers again?

I think the basic rule of thumb when it comes to the NFL is that if a player is more than three seasons into his NFL career, what you see is what you get. Owen Daniels is an injury-prone tight end who was never a game changer even in his best days. I think what we saw last year was about the ceiling for today's Daniels: he's a complimentary weapon that would be stretched as a No. 1 target. I don't think I've ever thought about him as a top receiving tight end. He might have played there in fantasy in those dire years where you had Antonio Gates or nothing, but asking him to hit 862 yards again in an offense that runs a lot more than most NFL offenses these days ... that's a lot.

Touchdowns have never been Daniels' forte- we all know that. What he does offer are reliable hands and fleet-feet after the catch. When Andre Johnson went down last year *hold for moment of silence* my contemporaries and I (read: dad and brother) thought Daniels would step up in a huge way. Then the offense was relegated to a third-string QB, and passing numbers plummeted. So, with Teh Schaub back, and Joel Dreessen stealing touchdowns from Denver tight ends, what are the expectations for Daniels this year?

I expect about 60 receptions, 600 yards, and ~ 5 touchdowns. That's factoring in two or three games missed to injury. There's no cresting wave that is about to carry Owen Daniels to the shores of greatness here because Joel Dreessen is gone. He is what he is.

BricAM asks:

With MJD reportedly wanting a trade out of Jacksonville I have two questions.

Where might he get traded to?

Would you be happy or sad to see him potentially out of the division?

Maurice Jones-Drew is in a very sad situation. He's an NFL running back that is very talented and has a lot of mileage on the treads, so no sane general manager is going to believe he can keep up his current level of performance longer than two or three years. Curtis Martin excepted, the track record shows us that running backs start to decline during their Age 27 year. Jones-Drew is, you guessed it, 27.

Talking about the particulars of a trade for MJD is almost not even necessary. He has zero leverage beyond holding out (which costs him counting stats), and he knows it. For the Jaguars to get a player that projects to be as good as Jones-Drew would be this year, they'd need to recoup a first- or second-round pick. I think they'd be lucky to get a third-rounder, and would most likely be looking at either a fourth-rounder or a pick that escalates on incentives. The problem is that whoever trades for MJD has to hand him a new contract, and said contract, given the particulars of the RB situation, would probably be a millstone the second it was signed.

I mean, yeah, I guess it would be nice for the Texans to get him out of the division. I just don't see it happening. I think the likely scenario is that he either gets a face-saving "new" contract like Frank Gore got last offseason, or he holds out until his pocketbook can't take it anymore.

Tim asks:

Please refresh my memory as to the underlying facts and dispute of Supreme Court v. McCown.
Back in it's pre-infancy days, Battle Red Blog was founded on three underlying principles: talking smack about the Dallas Texans, intimating that the NFL was a joke and that the AFL would totally outlast it, and paddling new "posters," which was our slang for "people who drank at our favorite bars."

Anyway, Martin McHale and I were having a beer (as I am ancient and sparkly or whatever bullshit magic bullet I have to concoct to induct myself into the story) and we happened upon Len Dawson. After Martin dubbed him a "chump" multiple times, we decided we'd give him a paddling that he'd never forget.

Anyway, turns out the Supreme Court doesn't look too kindly on that. so they ruled that men could never raise their paddles in anger in a sports bar again. That's why the Texans moved to Kansas City, that's why BFD is bald, and that's why your dad thinks everyone is a chump.

Why isn't MDC doing the Bag anymore?

Because his home planet needs him.


Also, I'm pretty sure that between all the threesomes, the time off for the summer, and the alcohol, there was no way MDC could write 2,000 words coherently in one week. Pictures are easy -- words? That shit's tough. Also, a joke about Arkansas.