Weekly NFL column, with game picks.
When they began play in 1966, attendance for the Miami Dolphins’ home games at the Orange Bowl reached such depths that the team stuck Flipper in a tank in the back of one of the end zones in hopes of perking family interest. More than four decades later, it’s the entire Dolphins team that’s in the tank. As the Web site TV.com reminds us, “Flipper” was a show “about a game ranger named Porter Ricks and his two sons, Sandy and Bud” that “centered around a precocious pet dolphin, named Flipper, and all their adventures.” Today’s Dolphins aren’t an adventure; they’re a punch line. The Dolphins are so bad, they’ve been banished from the country. The ’Fins will take the field at London’s Wembley Stadium this afternoon in the roles of hosts against the New York Giants, who will literally and figuratively be visitors, and, in the interest of total disclosure, I must warn the blokes that their designated home team is an out-and-out joke. On the bright side, during the course of the Patriots’ 49-28 laugher over the Dolphins last Sunday, CBS’s Greg Gumbel was heard to observe that “once in a while you have flashes of great play calling by (Miami head coach) Cam Cameron.” Upon further review, though, I am confused: Is Cameron calling plays or going through menopause? The team’s No. 1 quarterback, Trent Green, is lost for the season, having suffered a concussion, which, in this case, isn’t entirely a bad thing. If his memory’s been jogged, perhaps Green won’t be able to remember this season. As for the new starting quarterback, he’s appropriately named: Lemon. As for the season, you can turn out the lights because now there’s a Brownout on South Beach. Running back Ronnie Brown, arguably Miami’s best player through all this misery, suffered a season-ending knee injury, tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament, during an interception return by Pats cornerback Randall Gay last week. The hits just keep on coming in south Florida. While leaving Dolphin Stadium last Sunday in a 2007 Mercedes, linebacker Zach Thomas and his wife, Maritza, who was driving the car at the time, were rear-ended by the driver of a Dodge pickup truck. The Thomas’ vehicle had to be towed from the scene and, sure enough, on Tuesday the linebacker began complaining of a pain in the neck that will keep him out of today’s game. New Englang 31, Washington 10 – Remember the old Larry Bird-Michael Jordan commercial for McDonald’s? “Off the expressway, over the river, off the billboard, through the window, off the wall, nothin’ but net.” That is the tandem of Tom Brady and Randy Moss at the moment. St. Louis 24, Cleveland 21 – Bad ribs put Rams quarterback Marc Bulger on the bench earlier this season. Bad aim (21-for-40, three interceptions in a 33-6 loss at Seattle last week) may put Bulger back on the bench again soon. Chicago 17, Detroit 14 – Prior to the NFL trade deadline, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Bears weren’t looking to deal quarterback Rex Grossman. This was good since the other 31 teams in the league weren’t looking to trade for Rex Grossman. Indianapolis 31, Carolina 17 – Terminated by the Colts over the summer, defensive tackle Corey Simon signed with the Titans, but on Thursday he announced his retirement after eight seasons in the NFL. Simon says, “I quit.” New York Giants 34, Miami 3 – Entry by Tim Graham on Wednesday’s “Inside the Dolphins” blog on the Web site PalmBeachPost.com: Maybe he was joking, but gregarious Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder confessed today he didn’t know until Tuesday that people spoke English in London. Crowder, a former Florida Gator and Atlanta native, apparently isn’t sure where the plane is headed when it takes off … for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants in Wembley Stadium. “I couldn’t find London on a map if they didn’t have the names of the countries,” Crowder said. “I swear to God. I don’t know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot. I learned that. I know (Washington Redskins linebacker) London Fletcher. We did a football camp together. So I know him. That’s the closest thing I know to London. He’s black, so I’m sure he’s not from London. I’m sure that’s a coincidental name.” Tennessee 23, Oakland 9 – The Seahawks are averaging a league-low 3.4 penalties per game this season. The old Raiders used to average that many penalties per pregame warmup. Philadelphia 10, Minnesota 7 – After a long-term relationship with Eagles backup quarterback A.J. Feeley, Heather Mitts, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team player users of ESPN.com once voted the “Hottest Female Athlete,” has reportedly moved on and is dating tennis player James Blake. Feeley has been guilty of a number of incredibly bad turnovers during the course of his career. This is unquestionably the worst of ’em all. Pittsburgh 34, Cincinnati 21 – Bengals offensive tackle Levi Jones is reportedly still contemplating his legal options against Steelers-turned-Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter after Porter and a group of men attacked him in a Las Vegas casino last March. Sounds like Levi may be thinking of suing the pants off Porter. New York Jets 6, Buffalo 3 – Fearing that teams would freeze-frame what amounted to a two-second shot and study it, Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren was unhappy over NBC’s recent decision to broadcast his play card. Focus in on the play cards for the head coaches of the offenses of these two woeful teams, and I’m willing to bet you’ll see doodlin’ space. San Diego 41, Houston 10 – Wide receiver Chris Chambers’ arrival in San Diego means that first-round draft pick Craig “Buster” Davis will be demoted to a backup role. You know what they say: Buster, move. Tampa Bay 15, Jacksonville 14 - Facing separate federal charges he for defrauding a bank out of $20 million, boy-band mogul Lou Pearlman is reportedly losing his lakefront Orlando home and a New Jersey condominium in bankruptcy proceedings. Seems to me that’s a small price to pay considering the man foisted the Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync upon us. New Orleans 19, San Francisco 14 – The feel-good story of the 2006 NFL season has fallen on hard times. Oh, well, there is one very bright side to the Saints’ slide to 2-4. It’s spared us repeated renditions of the “Benson Boogie” – obnoxious team owner Tom Benson’s idiotic postgame dance with the parasol that should be accompanied by The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men.” Green Bay 26, Denver 21 (Monday night) – Seeing injured Jaguars quarterback David Garrard being examined on the sidelines last Monday night, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski said he didn’t want to play doctor. “Why not?” partner Tony Kornheiser asked. I pray to the football gods that Jaworski wants to play doctor during tomorrow night’s telecast and administers a three-hour sedative to Kornheiser that kicks in at kickoff. Last week: 10-4 Season: 64-38 Flawless Farley’s NFL picks column appears in The Sunday Enterprise.