Friday, September 16, 2005

Sports Commentary: Strangeness returns with pro football

Time for my favorite blogging cop-out, re-running my weekly sports column. I actually liked this one. Here we go.

returns with
pro football

By SPC. IAN BOUDREAU/Turret Sports Editor

I was never a great student of science, but one principle I do remember well is entropy.

Entropy is the measure of disorder present in a given system, and according to theory, in any system, entropy continuously increases.

In layman's terms, this means that things get weirder and weirder as time goes by.

That's why I'm excited about the new NFL season. The road to Super Bowl XL could be a demonstration of entropy at its best.

Opening weekend sure seemed to be a clear indication. It began with ex-Viking Randy Moss and the Raiders giving Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, who lost offensive (to Notre Dame) and defensive (to Cleveland) coaches since last year, a pretty decent scare at home. The all-powerful Pats won, of course, but only by 10 points, and this was against a team that went 5-11 last year without even playing the AFC powerhouse.

Sunday was full of surprises in the quarterback department. Fantasy favorites Daunte Culpepper (Minnesota) and Brett Favre (Green Bay) both looked as if they'd forgotten how to pass. Favre completed only 27 of 44 attempts and threw two interceptions. Culpepper made 22 of 33, threw three picks, and was sacked twice.

The Colts' Peyton Manning fared better only by completing two touchdown passes and avoiding interceptions.

Meanwhile, second-year Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sought to prove that last season's 13-0 streak wasn't a one-off, and made a convincing case with the help of new starting running back Willie Parker, who ran for 161 yards during Pittsburgh's 34-7 trouncing of Tennessee.

Roethlisberger got approximately zero respect in league projections, thanks probably in equal parts to his weak post-season performance last year, "new guy" status, and complete lack of production during the Steelers' preseason.

But Big Ben showed up to play the game when it mattered. He landed a 158.3 perfect passer rating, completing nine of 11 attempts for 218 yards.

In every account of the game I've read so far, Roethlisberger is paid the back-handed compliment of being "mistake-free" during the game. It's as if they're saying, "Good job, kid! You didn't even screw up once!"

Monday night, of course, is probably the best demonstration of entropy in action as far as football's concerned. Before the kickoff of the Philadelphia at Atlanta game, a fight broke out on the field, complete with yelling and punching.

The Eagles' Jeremiah Trotter and the Falcons' Kevin Mathis got thrown out, and the game hadn't even started.

Meanwhile, Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb were seen "chatting" on the sidelines. Surely this is a sign of the end times.

High above Monday night's game, however, was entropy's poster boy, "legendary coach," and endless source of comedy John Madden.

He was standing alongside Al Michaels, who grinned and talked about how great it was to be in Atlanta and what he thought about the ongoing game. Madden, meanwhile, shuffled from foot to foot, looking like a Kodiak bear hit with a tranquilizer dart. The poor guy seemed lost -- they must have taken his light pen away.

Ah, pro football. It's been a long, hot summer, and I've missed you. Welcome back.

By the way, I'd like to be the first to predict that "Super Bowl XL" will soon be universally referred to as "Super Bowl Extra-Large."

You heard it here first.