We're back after another week of NFL football, and for the second straight Tuesday, the whole NFL's talking about a gutty Tony Romo performance and an incredible Bills comeback. And another Michael Vick injury, Cam Newton's latest triumph, and one more epic Vikings collapse.
But let's be perfectly honest: At this point, every NFL week has CRAZY stories like this. It's old hat. Upsets, parity, incredible plays--we've seen it all. And nothing that happened Sunday or Monday is as incredible as the Rick Ross profile that's running in the latest issue of GQ.
There's good profile writing, there's great profile writing, and then there's the celebrity profile that pretty much writes itself. Not saying that as criticism of Devin Friedman at GQ, because he did a great job, but I'm sorta convinced that pretty much every writer in America could, and should, successfully spin a night with Rick Ross into Pulitzer-worthy journalism. There's plenty of room to expand on what GQ gave us.
Like this paragraph:
And what did he do when he went to the Cannes Film Festival this year?
"Cannes," he says, like the word transports him back. "That was my first time going there. Took the team over, ended up fucking around, getting some Ferraris, Lamborghinis, going to the Eden Roc, kicking it with a few homeys. Shout-out to Leonardo DiCaprio."
See, that needs to spun off into its own 10,000,000 word article.
Anyway, in the name of reliving Ricky's world as often as possible, let's start today, with a rundown of this past week's NFL action starring none other than the BAWSE, himself. We'll dedicate a passage to each of the NFL's biggest performers. Shoutout to Leonardo DiCaprio.
1. He has started to exhibit the signs of mainstream iconic status—appealing to the full spectrum of teenage boys, culturally curious white people, ironic college kids. Basically anyone who listens to rap on the radio sometimes. "There's Jay-Z, Kanye, and Wayne—and Eminem is the king of his own domain," Wilson says. "And then there's Rick Ross, right on that cusp."
To Tony Romo, who's put himself on the cusp of elite in the past two weeks. Because this is the internet, people will get sarcastic and snarky about the broadcasters who fell all over themselves talking about Romo's performance on Monday Night—pretty sure Jaws would've kissed him on the mouth at one point—but those people have never tried to play quarterback with a broken rib. Or a recently punctured lung. Or a team full of young, mediocre receivers who didn't know the plays, with a center who kept snapping the ball too early.
What's incredible about Romo's performances the past two weeks isn't how dominant he's been, but that after five years of putting up dominant numbers in Dallas, it's been ugly wins against average teams (49ers, Redskins) that finally have put him over the top.
The NFL has a tendency to go nuts over any player that plays through an injury, but that shouldn't diminish what Romo's done. Monday night, you could see him writhing in pain after every single hit he took, but he just kept getting up, making plays. After every botched snap, bobbled pass, blown assignment... He's done everything his team could possibly ask, and he's done it while playing through an injury that would've plenty of other players.
So, what's changed from two weeks ago, when he was the butt of everyone's jokes?
More than anything else, it's the injury, and how it's changed the Cowboys' approach to using Romo. Instead of asking him to do absolutely everything for them, he's only had to do, say, 85%. And here's what's always been true of Romo: if he has a running game and a coaching staff that plays to his strengths, maybe he's not in the same league as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees, but he's right on that cusp.
2. Several dudes from Kamal's whisk us past a line of people. On the way inside, Johnny Dang puts his platinum-and-diamond fronts in. "This is how you go to a strip club!" Ross yells.
And Pill yells back: "Damn, it feel good to be somebody!"
Ross loves that. He says, "That's one of my boss rules. It feels good to be somebody!"
Yep, this one's (obviously) going to the Buffalo Bills. In last week's NFL picks column (which also featured a Ross cameo), I predicted imminent doom for the Bills, mainly because of Buffalo's mediocre secondary. And for about two hours on Sunday, this was dead-on:
Ryan Fitzpatrick's been called underrated so many times that he's becoming a little overrated. Same goes for the Bills. They're a good team who should win eight or nine games this season, and as I said Monday, Bills games will be a lot of fun to watch all year long. But Tom Brady's passed for 940 yards in two games, and this week he's facing Leodis McKelvin,
Terrence McGeeDrayton Florence, Jairus Byrd, and George Wilson in the Buffalo secondary. It could get ugly.
Of course, the Bills came back, a series of bad bounces and great plays by the Bills defense forced Tom Brady into four interceptions, and by 4:30, the Bills were alone in 1st place in the AFC East, and I looked like a moron. Whether it was all a little lucky doesn't even matter.
Buffalo may still have holes, but whatever karma they've been working with over the past few weeks isn't going away. It just seems like this is their destiny in 2011. You know how certain good teams just have years where they seem snakebitten every week? No matter what happens, something always goes wrong, and they lose games they should've won.
Well the Bills are the polar opposite. Just when it looked like Sunday was turning into one, crushing reality check for Fitzmagic and co., they turned around and proved they're for real. Now they get to cut the line at the NFL strip club, and they learn one of the most important boss rules. It feels good to be somebody.
3. "If you know anything about Rick Ross, it's what he looks like with his shirt off. At first that seems kind of courageous, something a women's magazine might call "body positive." But then you realize he's like the fat black McConaughey."
Yes, we're sticking with the Bills for a second here, and one of the greatest profile sentences of all time goes to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson. Together, they form the most unlikely pair of backfield stars the NFL's seen in years. You know that Ryan Fitzpatrick was a 7th round pick out of Harvard, but Fred Jackson's journey to the league is even more incredible.
Not only did he go undrafted, but he spent his first two years as a pro playing in the Indoor Football League, then went overseas to play with the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe, and he's spent the past four years working his way up in Buffalo. Now, he's part of the most explosive quarterback-running back duo in the NFL. It seems like cute story at first, but then you realize they've combined for more than 1,300 yards in three weeks. The NFL's fat black McConaughey, y'all.
4. Ross's kitchen cabinets are filled with rations that could last six months. One is entirely stocked with Ortega taco fixings, another with cans of Manwich, another with six-packs of Yoo-hoo, another with bags of Halloween-size candy bars. I try not to go back to the supersize bag of Butterfingers, but it's inevitable. I think: "No wonder Rick Ross is fat if he smokes this shit all the time and has cupboards full of Butterfingers." But Ross is not eating the Butterfingers. He is secreted away in his chambers with his non-girlfriend/masseuse.
For the New Orleans Saints and the offense that has all the answers. Granted, their defense seemed pretty clueless for roughly 70 percent of the time I watched them against the Texans on Sunday, but that's beside the point. For now, and until they hit the playoffs, what matters most is that no matter how many points you score on the New Orleans Saints, they're never, ever dead. There's just too many ways for them to come back.
It wasn't exactly a murderers' row of playmakers for the Saints on Sunday--guys like Devery Henderson, Darren Sproles, Robert Meachem, Jimmy Graham, Mark Ingram--but Drew Brees doesn't need a whole lot of weapons to kill you. The Texans led for most of the game on Sunday, but the Saints just kept chipping away with guys like Sproles and Graham, and then finally, Mark Ingram on the game-winning score. They just never stop scoring.
It's easy to take their skill players lightly, but the same way weed makes Rick Ross' kitchen look a thousand times more appealing, Drew Brees catalyzes it all in New Orleans. And at the end of the day, they go about eight deep with guys that can tear through the middle of a defense, and the Saints kitchen is as deadly as anything in the NFL this year.
5. "I just have my homeys or whatever bringing me the best food. I smoke the best weed. I get the best massages. I'm enjoying life. Being a boss."
This goes to Calvin Johnson. Please just go watch the highlights from the Lions-Vikings game, and pay special attention to the catch at the end, to win the game in overtime. Jesus.
He's finally got a decent QB throwing to him, and now he gets the best massages, eats the best food, and
smokes the best weed obeys the league's substance abuse policy. Just enjoying life, being a boss.
6. "Chicks send me pictures," Ross said. "And I appreciate it! I love all of them. But I don't do that shit. I'm the Boss." He shook his head, his expression hidden behind his candy-apple-red-framed aviator sunglasses. "Real ni**as don't send d** flicks."
To Aaron Rodgers, just because I'd love to hear him repeat that quote in public.
Anyway, he continued to make a mockery of the NFL on Sunday, making Brett Favre's reign in Green Bay look just a little more ridiculous, and making the Packers look just a little more unstoppable. The question with Aaron Rodgers isn't whether he deserves the hype, but at this point, whether he's just the best quarterback in football, plain and simple. It's a three-way race between him, Brees, and Brady. But doesn't Rodgers looks like the leader right now?
7. After he finished eating a dinner of fried cheese bread, artichoke dip, roasted chicken with sides, and three pieces of Key lime pie (two of them were to go; come on, son), he pushed his plates away and said, "That's how you gotta eat. You gotta eat like a don."
To Tyrann Mathieu and Vontaze Burfict, two guys who have been eating like dons all year long in college football. I realize this is supposed to be an NFL article, but we can make an exception here, because those two dudes are NFL players playing college football this year.
If you haven't enjoyed their particular flavor of badassery, then you should make arrangements to do so ASAP. Everyone's competing for the chance to draft Andrew Luck, but at least until Luck wins 8 Super Bowls with the Dolphins, watching Vontaze Burfict (Jr. LB, Arizona State) or Tyrann Mathieu (So. DB, LSU) is a thousand times more fun.
8. He'd smoked ten blunts since I'd been there. "You'd just be so in touch, man, with yourself," Ross said. "For me to be in the position I am? And I live a pretty stress-free life ... "Man, you need to stay in touch with your marijuana more often. You know what I'm saying?"
To Vikings fans. There's no need to be so stressed all the time, because this stuff is just going to keep happening, week after week. Listen to the Boss, you know what I'm saying?
9. "I sent one of my homeys ahead to get some bottles and some singles," he tells me. How many singles? "On a cool night like this? Probably start out with $10,000 in singles."
It just seems like that's how the Raiders should celebrate, too.
10. I mean, look at him ... The man is sitting in a wheelchair that has big silver spinner rims on it. But at the same time he looks so freakin' boss in that burgundy velour suit.
To Roger Goodell and the NFL. No league on earth revels in its own hubris and excess quite like Roger Goodell's NFL has for the past decade or so. And the whole time, it's only made them bigger. Whether it's the blatant hypocrisy from the league's disciplinary office or the blatant pandering from the league's marketing department, the NFL doesn't even try to apologize for being a corporate machine the likes of which American pro sports has never really seen. Roger Goodell is out here getting Oprah Crumbs getting America hooked on his Archie Bunker, riding around in his Drop-Top Chicken Box, totin' that Ving Rhames like it's legal. And yet.
But then you look up after three weeks of the season, and from Romo to Buffalo to Detroit, we've got some of the best stories in sports, and every week's been full of incredible games that come down to final minute. Just look at Sunday--the 1 o'clock games were unreal.
You had Cam Newton's comeback in Carolina, the Giants' upset in Philly, and then the Lions-Vikings, Patriots-Bills, and Saints-Texans, all coming down to the wire at the exact same time. Then Monday Night, even in an ugly game, you had Tony Romo putting up a legendary performance. So yeah, just for the record: The NFL's totally absurd. But damnit, it's still totally awesome.
Next week's topics... Curtis Painter, y'all: Because more QBs should have mullets. ... The Texans are still the Texans, huh? ... Opponents beware: Darren McFadden will run past you, Michael Bush will run through you, and Jason Campbell will hand off to McFadden and Bush ... Okay yeah, but what if we just stopped showing NFC West games on television? Would that work? ... Who snaps first: Jay Cutler, having to play with his terrible Bears teammates every week, or his Bears teammates, having to play with Jay Cutler every week?