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The Sports Guy’s Week 12 picks

Hyperbole knows no bounds for Cassel

Before he gets to the second part of his mega-mailbag, Bill Simmons would like to "hyperbole" Matt Cassel a little. Story

I officially talked myself into the Matt Cassel Era while watching Thursday night’s Jets-Pats game at the Riviera in New York. And not because he exploded for 38 fantasy points or made that ridiculously clutch throw to Randy Moss to send the game into overtime. It’s because I “hyperboled” him. When you start hyperboling (I know “hyperbole” is a noun, but just work with me) your own guys, that means you’re getting attached to them. And Thursday, during another savvy Cassel scramble in the second half, I said excitedly to my friends, “When he takes off like that, he reminds me of John Elway!” I was serious. Definitely buzzed, but serious.

For the rest of the night, my buddy JackO killed me during every Cassel play: Stuff like “My God, it’s John Elway! I can’t believe it!” and “What do you think Elway has in store here on third down?” And you know what? I don’t care. As far as backup QBs go, Cassel has exceeded all expectations (most of all, mine), and I was proud to honor him with some old-school, over-the-top, semi-drunken homerism and hyperbole. When the Patriots fall short this winter — and they almost definitely will — Cassel won’t be the one to blame. I look forward to the Lions overpaying him next spring. He deserves it for keeping a lost 2008 Pats season semi-interesting.

OK, so if you missed Part 1 of the mega-mailbag, click here. Here’s Part 2. And as always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

Q: I’m watching the Bulls-Celts game — can I nominate Vinny Del Negro for a new Pantheon Face? It’s the Shooter from “Hoosiers,” “I can’t believe I haven’t had a drink for 12 hours, and I’m a head coach” face.
— Ryan, Weymouth, Mass.

SG: Done and done! I had been watching Vinny for two weeks, trying to figure out where I’d seen that glazed, slightly terrified, I-might-pee-my-pants look on the sidelines, and you’re right — it’s Shooter in “Hoosiers” right after Gene Hackman gets ejected and hands him the clipboard for the first time. Bingo. I demand we call him Vinny “Shooter” Del Negro from now on. The real shame is Derrick Rose has exceeded all expectations and looks like a potential franchise guy … and he’s being coached by “Shooter” instead of Mike D’Antoni. I can’t get over that.

Q: I’m going to find one of those pounds that have sick and old dogs. I’m going to adopt one of those sick, old dogs, name it “Tek,” and then shoot it.
— Chris, Hartford, Conn.

SG: That was the winner of the “Most Bitter E-Mail From a Red Sox Fan During the 2008 Playoffs” award, narrowly edging the 4,500 New England readers who wrote in after the Steve Harvey Game saying TBS should change its slogan to “Very Sorry.” By the way, after Chris shoots Tek the dog, do you think Scott Boras will try to shop its carcass around for $50 million?

Q: For years, you’ve been asking for certain athletes to be wheeled out on the court or field in a Hannibal Lecter Mask. Well, isn’t Anquan Boldin perfect for that? For all the talk of T.O. and Brandon Marshall, Boldin has to be the strongest receiver in the game. You’ve got a better chance of your defensive coordinator stopping him with an elephant gun than relying on a 185-pound defensive back. Plus, the man BROKE HIS FACE. After hearing Eric Allen describe how they had to lift the skin on his face to insert the plates and he’s playing at such a high level three weeks later, is there any question that he could be one of the toughest men in the NFL?
— William Evans, Columbus, Ohio

SG: I would say he’s No. 1 on the list. The broken face story absolutely amazed me; I never fully realized how bad it was until the Monday night guys discussed it, and I ended up spending an hour Googling stories about it. First, can you imagine if that happened to Vince Carter? He would never be seen again. He would just sit in a dark room with a towel over his head moaning until 2057. Second, isn’t it weird that Boldin’s new face makes him look like a cross between Shannon Sharpe and Ervin Johnson? Do you think he’s angry at the doctor? Third, how does Boldin continue to run fearlessly over the middle after what happened to him? It’s like he took amnesia pills to forget the whole thing ever happened.

Fourth, if he doesn’t win a 2009 ESPY, then we’re going to have to start wondering about the credibility of that show. (Oh, wait, that credibility was destroyed after the college softball player who got carried around the bases won the “Most Inspirational ESPY” over Jon Lester, who only battled back from cancer to win the deciding game of the 2007 World Series. Scratch that.) And fifth, it has become humanly impossible to root against the Cardinals to win the NFC — unless you root for one of the other NFC teams, of course — between Boldin’s courage, their exciting passing game, Football Outsiders hero Adrian Wilson, Kurt Warner’s incredible renaissance (at this point, it’s a bad sports movie starring Josh Hartnett waiting to happen), every interviewer’s reaction when Warner starts talking about religion, the chance of Cuba Gooding crashing the Super Bowl and screaming “Show me the money!” 500 times at media day, the “Who does Ken Whisenhunt look like, it’s driving me crazy?” game, and the surreal, peculiar, implausible possibility of the Arizona Freaking Cardinals playing in a Super Bowl.

Q: I’m concerned about the future of drama, have you seen the promos for the new TNT series “Leverage”? Shouldn’t it be called “The Leveragist”?
— Tom, Dallas

SG: You’re right, they missed a golden opportunity there. I’d also like to see TNT change the name of “Inside the NBA” to either “The Insiderists” or “The NBAists.” And “Frank-TV” should definitely be called “The Impressionist.” Speaking of TNT…

Q: Just finished watching Charles Barkley on a CNN interview. Can there ever be another Charles Barkley, someone who can say absolutely anything on the air, no matter how controversial, and not get crucified by the media and the public?
— Jai-Bo, Calgary

SG: You just described the Howard Stern Zone. It’s every creative person’s dream to get there. And really, only seven people are there: Stern, Barkley, Chris Rock, Larry David, Bill Maher, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. That’s the entire list. My concern with Barkley is that he has been out of the NBA too long and seems bored working on an NBA studio show. I’d hate to see him turn into Howard Cosell during his last few ABC years when he started to act like sports was beneath him and took it out on his viewers. Chuck, we love you. You’re the most charismatic NBA personality active or retired. You belong on TV. It’s your current destiny. You were blessed with the ideal partners and a network that will let you say whatever you want. Please break a sweat. Teach us about the league. Come up with angles that only you can come up with. Stop falling back on the same five points that you’ve been regurgitating for the past few years and start looking at the league from the perspective of 2009 instead of 2003.

For instance, Jason Kidd isn’t Jason Kidd anymore — you didn’t realize it last February and don’t realize it now because you only remember when you played with him and he was good and everyone wanted to play with him. Those days are over. And Allen Iverson isn’t the greatest fit for the Pistons since he plays the exact same position as Rip Hamilton, he couldn’t defend me at this point, and we just spent the past 12 years proving you can’t win anything if Iverson’s your point guard. At crunch time, they’re screwed because they’ll have to play Rip and Iverson at the same time and that’s a disaster on a number of levels. That move was a straight salary dump by Dumars — he gave up on the 2009 season and threw his fans off the scent by bringing in Iverson, period, end of story. But you liked the trade and compared it to the Dodgers getting Manny Ramirez even though Iverson peaked a few years ago. The point is, you would have nailed this stuff a few years ago, and lately, you’ve been missing it. I shouldn’t know more about the NBA in 2009 than you, but I feel like I do at this point. So, kick my basketball butt and go back to being you. Prove me wrong. We miss learning about the league from you.

Random tangent since we’re here: I want to come back in my next life as Joe Dumars. He should have broken up the Pistons after they folded in the 2007 East finals against the Cavs, but instead, he waited an extra 16 months, overpaid Chauncey Billups, then killed this season’s team by getting out of the Billups contract by dumping his salary for Iverson’s expiring contract, only nobody in Detroit caught on because, “Hey, we got Allen Iverson!!!!!” Meanwhile, he has the media convinced Rodney Stuckey is headed for the Hall of Fame, and the Pistons have a chance to land LeBron in 2010. Really? LeBron is going to drop a nuclear bomb on Cleveland by ditching it for a division rival? That’s happening? Last time I checked, free agents were fleeing Detroit (Allan Houston, Grant Hill, Ben Wallace) and not signing there. And if you really think Detroit is landing a marquee guy in 2010 when big markets such as New York and L.A. and warm-weather cities such as Miami, Phoenix and Orlando will all be throwing money around — not to mention deep-pocketed Portland, which will have assembled a contender at that point and remains the most logical destination for LeBron if he only cares about winning titles and nothing else (and also, Nike is right there) — then you’re obviously in denial. Chris Bosh loves Toronto. He’s not leaving. Dwyane Wade isn’t leaving South Beach so he can wear a parka and live in Michigan. And LeBron wants to be the next Jordan and/or the most famous athlete on the planet; these things aren’t happening in Detroit just because Worldwide Wes likes the Pistons. Come on.

Here’s what that cap space will get Dumars: Maybe a discount superstar like Dirk Nowitzki (who’s about three months away from turning into the 1991 Tom Chambers) or a nonsuperstar free agent like Carlos Boozer. That’s about it. As for the Pistons fans, Dumars might be better than many GMs in the league, but remember, he’s the same guy who botched the Darko pick, hired Flip Saunders, overpaid Nazr Mohammed, shoved Carlos Delfino down your throats, pushed out Larry Brown and badly misjudged Mehmet Okur. He’s not a genius. He’s a solid GM who made some good moves and some bad ones, and he definitely held on to the 2004 nucleus for about 18 months too long. It’s OK to lightly question the direction of this team without feeling like an ingrate. Really, it is. You are within your rights. The five-year grace period is almost up.

Q: Can you please change your ESPN picture? It’s about seven years old.
— A.J. Schmitz, New York

Gregg Popovich

Actually, it is 7 years old. No, really. It’s 7 years old. Here’s a picture of me now (at right). But just think, if I didn’t keep that picture for so long, then the following e-mail wouldn’t have happened.

Q: I work for a help desk and our e-mail box gets a ton of random e-mails. One e-mail we regularly get is from Western Aviation, which sells and buys planes and helicopters. I happen to click the link which brought me to their home page, and was like wait a minute, THAT IS BILL SIMMONS!! Click on their link and check out the photo used for “Experts,” the photo is definitely you, right? I figured, as a fan, it was my duty to let you know about this atrocity.
— Mike G, Franklin Square

SG: I can’t fathom how this happened. Was it an homage? Did they just like the picture and think that I look like someone who should be selling aviation? Were they hoping I would link to them in a mailbag? Do they have an expert who looks exactly like me and imitated my photo? Were they trying to coerce clients into thinking I worked for them or endorsed them? Are laws being broken here? Should I be flattered? It’s completely inexplicable. I don’t know whether I want to sue them or embrace them. Western Aviation, why don’t you donate $10,000 to the Jimmy Fund and we’ll call it even?

Q: Did you watch the WSOP final table? My roommates and I were arguing about the combined number of lifetime sexual partners between the last nine guys. The consensus was that it’s in the mid-30s, but only because the [Danish] guy (the dude who won) skewed the final number like Jordan skewed all the scoring stats for the ’98 Bulls. Do you have an opinion on this?
— Louis, Richmond, Va.

SG: I watched the final table, loved it and couldn’t believe ESPN turned the telecast around that fast. My favorite guy was the twitchy kid (Scott Montgomery) who got knocked out on a full house on the river. In the 90 minutes he appeared on this show, he made poker about 32 percent less cool, and there’s no going back. He was straight out of a Judd Apatow movie. I loved the thought of everyone in the ESPN truck rooting for him to get bounced because he made for such phenomenally bad TV. But to answer your question, that combined number has to be much higher for three reasons: the Russian guy (that country is crazy); the Danish kid who won (seemed relatively normal); and because all bets are off for any veteran poker player in the categories of “total cigarettes smoked,” “number of paid times with a hooker” and “number of trips to a strip joint by himself” (and we had two or three in there). It’s an inherently lonely and antisocial sport — either you sit there and say nothing, or you have awkward interactions with people whom you’d normally never glance at twice — and if you don’t believe me, consider the fact that the actively loathsome Phil Hellmuth is considered to be semi-amusing in this weird little world. Anyway, I would put that number in the 70s for the final nine. Maybe 73.5.

(I just want to know when ESPN is going to create the WSOP for sports figures so we can see MJ, LeBron, Mickelson and everyone else battling it out. Why do it in the secrecy of a hotel suite, fellas? Why not for a national TV audience? Couldn’t this happen after the ESPYS every July? Twenty-five entrants, $50,000 per person, a penthouse suite at the Mondrian that’s covered in cameras, unlimited open bar, Texas Hold ’em, winner takes $700,000, second place gets $200,000, the Jimmy V Foundation gets the rest. And this wouldn’t work … why?)

Q: I’d like an addendum to your Sports Czar platform please: All sideline reporters are gone unless they dress like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” or unless they’re named “Rob Stone.” Can you add that please? Come on, I’ve got to feed the kids.
— Rob Stone, Tampa, Fla.

SG: Fine. I’d also like to make an exception for Ric Bucher because I don’t want to put his hairstylist and tailor out of business.

Q: Last weekend I drank a little too much and passed out on the floor of my room. Normally, your friends would take this as an opportunity to write on your body or put shaving cream on your face. Not my friends. They noticed that my fantasy football league was open on my computer and proceeded to release every player on my roster. Add to it that there is significant money involved, and I was in first place. Is this the most unforgivable “prank” that can happen to a guy? Really, they could have slashed my tires and I would have been less mad.
— Casey, Lynnfield, Mass.

SG: See, I don’t think that’s a great prank — it’s funny, but ultimately, I bet it was resolved by you being allowed to add everyone back to your roster. A much funnier prank for this situation that was pretty much created and trademarked by my buddy Sal: In the writer’s office at the “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” if any of the writers run out to check on a bit, get coffee or whatever and forget to lock their computer, Sal goes on their computer and sends an abrasive e-mail to someone else on the show. And for the first year, it kept leading to a scenario where the person who received the abrasive e-mail would send an equally abrasive one back, so Sal’s victim would log back onto their e-mail and think, “What the hell?” And it would basically turn into a “Three’s Company” episode. After six years, everyone caught on to this trick, so any time someone gets a random abrasive e-mail from a co-worker, they just write back, “Hey, Sal.”

But in the case of a passed-out buddy, it could definitely work for that first time. You could e-mail his girlfriend and say, “I’ve been thinking about it — I want to have a threesome with a stranger, male or female, and if you don’t do this for me, I’m breaking up with you.” You could e-mail one of his parents and say, “Can you please send me more money? I am out of cocaine.” You could e-mail one of his platonic female friends that he’s always secretly liked with a long e-mail that basically says, “I am falling in love with you.” You could send a Sal-like abrasive e-mail to one of your other friends who’s not there. The possibilities are limitless.

Q: Went to the Wolves home opener Wednesday against the Kings. Great seats right behind the Kings’ bench. Garbage game to watch, as you can imagine, but saw Khloe Kardashian sitting courtside wearing a custom T-shirt with Rashad McCants’ name and number on it. Seriously, what does it say about Khloe’s place at the family dinner table when big sis Kim is hooked up with the main course in Reggie Bush, and Khloe is begging for table scraps in McCants?
— Josh, Minneapolis


FALCONS (-6) over Broncos
DOLPHINS (-10.5) over Raiders
Ravens (+7) over GIANTS
Texans (+8.5) over COLTS
Bears (+3.5) over PACKERS
Titans (-2.5) over JAGS
Eagles (-9) over BENGALS
CHIEFS (+5.5) over Saints
PANTHERS (-14.5) over Lions
Chargers (+5) over STEELERS
Rams (+6) over NINERS
Cardinals (-3) over SEAHAWKS
BUCS (-4) over Vikings
Cowboys (-1) over REDSKINS
Browns (+5) over BILLS

This Week: 1-0
Last Week: 11-3
Season: 79-61-5

SG: I love the Bush/McCants parallels to Kim/Khloe and their relative places in the pop-culture hierarchy. Kim dates a famous and highly paid football player who lives in a fun city; Khloe dates the 10th man on a lottery team in Minnesota. (Note: That’s IF she dates him, I’m going off your info.) But who would be the perfect guy for sneaky-attractive middle sis Kourtney to date? I’m thinking Mo Williams. Like Kourtney, he’s probably overpaid. Like Kourtney, he’s sneaky-effective. Like Kourtney, he’s becoming more and more famous strictly because of a teammate/family member (LeBron/Kim). It’s a nice match. By the way, I spent 45 minutes figuring this out. I need to re-evaluate my life soon. Maybe after I move to Atlanta and become a swinger with all the lonely ladies there. Speaking of Mo Williams …

Q: Can we dub the ’08-09 Cavs season the “Mo Boobie Era?”
— Rusty, Cleveland

SG: You gotta include LeBron. Maybe the “Witness Mo Boobie Era”?

Q: I am becoming increasingly concerned about the ability of the American media to point out the obvious issues around news stories. ISIAH THREW HIS 17-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER UNDER THE BUS! Let me rephrase that: HE THREW HIS 17-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER WHO IS COMPLETELY INNOCENT UNDER THE BUS! Am I taking crazy pills? The media has not made enough of this story.
— Roshan, New York

SG: The problem is the media didn’t know all the facts and still doesn’t. Isiah made up an excuse to a New York Post reporter who called him (that it was his daughter who went to the hospital) without realizing the police report had just been released and the words “47 year-old black male” were prominently involved. He hasn’t said anything since. I think he just screwed up and made the mistake of thinking he could talk his way out of an unseemly situation by misleading a reporter to avoid writing the story, not realizing the facts were already out and it was already a story. As far as bad judgment calls go, it was somewhere between the Steph Marbury trade and the Jerome James signing but nowhere near as bad as the trades for Eddy Curry, Jalen Rose and Steve Francis. I just like that Isiah made enough bad moves with the Knicks that we can now use them collectively as a guide to rate human error from 1 to 10:

1. The Zach Randolph trade*

2. The Nazr Mohammed trade**

3. The Steph Marbury trade

4. The Tim Thomas trade

5. Renaldo Balkman over Rajon Rondo

6. The Jerome James signing

7. The Jared Jeffries signing

8. The Eddy Curry trade

9. The Steve Francis trade

10. The Jalen Rose trade

*Note: The Randolph trade itself wasn’t dumb, but tying up cap space that you need for LeBron in 2010??? Dumb-de-dumb dumb.

**Not a bad trade in itself since they landed two late picks (one was David Lee), but Malik Rose’s contract killed any chance of cap space before 2009 and led to the Francis, Rose and Curry moves.

Q: I have to mention something about Kate Bosworth: I don’t see it. Really? I mean, you really think her twiggy legs are THAT great??? I am actually an actor out here in the Boston region (yes, insert joke here) and worked on a scene with her in the movie “21” … and I swear, she was as big as my left thigh!!! I loved the article you wrote about the “NBA getting its curves back” because that woman on “Mad Men” is EXACTLY what our society needs — a REAL WOMAN!!
— John C., Cambridge, Mass.

SG: I was only reporting what I had witnessed last week. Kate apparently has filled out since her “21” days, and not in the Tracy McGrady “I’m turning into Penny Hardaway, circa 2005, and couldn’t take Vlad Radmanovic off the dribble last weekend” sense, but in the “my agents are forcing me to eat fried foods once a week and drink a vanilla milk shake once a month” sense. Believe me, I was more shocked than anyone. I thought seeing her would be like seeing the guy who got starved in “Seven.” She exceeded all expectations.


ATL -6, Oak +10.5, NYG -7, Indy -8.5, Chi +3.5, Tenn -2.5, Phi -9, KC +5.5, Car -14.5, Pitt -5, STL +6, Sea +3, Minn +4, SD +5, Buff -5

This Week: 1-0
Last week: 10-4
Season: 76-64-5

That reminds me, “Seven” has been showing nonstop recently, and I was trying to think if I ever had a real-life reaction like Brad Pitt after he realized his wife’s head was in the box and wanted to shoot Kevin Spacey, only he was half in shock and half ready to throw up, and he just kept lowering the gun and then jerking it back up and pointing it at Spacey. Then I realized that’s what I would have been like in the 10 minutes after Game 6 of the ’86 World Series had I been holding a gun. With the TV being Spacey, of course.

Q: Your comment about the Lopez twins (comparing them to the Hanson Brothers) caused audible office laughter. It is dead on, and I want to add that in addition to the race cars, they could easily deteriorate into a grappling/slap fight in any game against each other and will probably call room service at each hotel and ask for the biggest sundae they have ever made.
— (Name withheld)

SG: Please know that the man who sent me that e-mail spent an extensive amount of time dealing with the Lopez Brothers once upon a time. The point is this: When Phoenix played in New Jersey last week, there’s a chance Brook went over to Robin’s hotel room with a suitcase of tiny race cars and they ordered the biggest sundae ever made. The NBA … where the Lopez Brothers happen! I demand an NBA-TV show featuring them. Like, right now.

Q: What individual athletic achievements in the last few years would have been made that much better had the person done the Sam Cassell Dance after? Would it be Kurt Gibson after hitting his famous home run in the ’88 World Series? Doug Flutie after his “Hail Mary” pass? Any home run involving Dustin Pedroia?
— Chris, Boston

I thought long and hard about including George W. Bush after he strolled out for Game 3 of the 2001 World Series, just one month after 9/11, wearing a bulletproof vest, and fired a strike right down the middle of the plate. Greatest random presidential moment of my lifetime. But that was so cool that it didn’t even need the Cassell Dance. Here were eight that needed it:

1. Tiger after he drained that impossible chip on 16 in the 2005 Masters that nearly made Verne Lundquist soil himself on live TV.

2. Ray Allen after he abused Sasha Vujacic in Game 4 of the 2008 Finals for the winning hoop and quieted a Lakers crowd that was … oh, wait, they were dead for that whole second half. But still.

3. Stephen Jackson right after the Artest Melee was over and he was getting escorted out of the Palace as Pistons fans tossed drinks at him. You stay classy, Detroit.

4. Any of Adam Vinatieri’s big kicks for the Patriots in 2003 or 2004. He’s the only kicker who could have pulled it off after what happened in the ’01 playoffs.

5. Rafael Nadal after he nailed that otherworldly down-the-line, behind-his-body forehand against Federer in their epic Wimbledon match this summer. Considering the circumstances (fourth-set tiebreaker, 7-7, Nadal up 2-1), that was the single most incredible shot I’ve ever seen. He should have done the Cojones Bailar afterward.

6. Albert Pujols’ series-saving homer against Brad Lidge in the ’05 playoffs. His home run trot basically was the Cassell Dance.

7. Me, if I had made my half-court shot at the Clips game instead of just missing it. I am ashamed to admit that I had the Cassell Dance cued up and ready to go. That’s not even a joke. I didn’t even tell my “E:60” producers about it.

8. Herm Edwards, if the Chiefs had come through with the winning two-point conversion last week in San Diego. “WE CAN BUILD ON THIS! WE CAN BUILD ON THESE COJONES!!!”

Q: I was sitting in the bar waiting for someone, so I decided to play some Trivial Pursuit Mobile Deluxe on my cell. Sure enough, one of the questions was “Who is known as the ‘Sports Guy’ on” Being an answer to a Trivial Pursuit question surely has to be proof you have now made it.
— Chas Neff, Burnsville, Minn.

SG: I guess that’s better than my previous reason: “Exchanging cordial e-mails every so often with A.J. Daulerio.”

Q: After his challenge of the Brandon Jacobs fumble when Jacobs’ arm was clearly down, Andy Reid needs to take his place on the Mount Rushmore of coaches who don’t know how to manage the clock or use challenges properly. I’m thinking that the Flabbergasted Four would consist of Reid, Marty Schottenheimer, Herm Edwards and Art Shell. They could even borrow Flava Flav’s clock from the Mount Rushmore of Rap, except that the clock would be constantly running while the four of them stare straight ahead with incredulous looks on their faces.
— Jason W., Laguna Niguel, Calif.

SG: Now that’s a cartoon I would watch — the Flabbergasted Four! Although we should switch Romeo Crennel and Brad Childress for Schottenheimer and Shell because those guys aren’t coaching anymore. Regardless, I feel like this could be its own cartoon on the NFL Network called “The Flabbergasted Four.” Then Bob Papa could come back from a commercial on “Thursday Night Football” and say, “This week on the Flabbergasted Four: The boys have to get from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in four hours to prevent a terrorist attack!” And every episode would center around them getting in each other’s way, making bad decisions and screwing things up — with Andy Reid repeatedly throwing challenge flags and grinding everything to a halt for three minutes at a time — before they collectively botch the last three minutes and another city blows up “MacGyver”-style. And that would be the show each week. By the way, Browns, Eagles and Chiefs fans are just nodding solemnly right now.

Speaking of the NFL Network: I love how it tinkered with the Thursday broadcast. Papa and Collinsworth do a splendid job of dissecting the game, staying out of our way and not bombarding us with useless information about second-string tight ends, possession receivers, long-snappers and everyone else playing in the game. (There are some play-by-play guys out there who announce games like their audience has to fill out a 50-question quiz about the 90 players who played after the game ends. FYI: We don’t.) Also, did you notice that the NFL Network decided to make do without a sideline reporter? Did you think one time, “Man, I wish we had a sideline reporter here.” I bet you didn’t. I swear, broadcasting a football game isn’t rocket science. You need two guys; you need to stay out of our way; you need to tell us down and distance; you need to break things down as they’re happening and not 20 minutes after the fact; you need to tell us what just happened to the guy who got injured and if he’s coming back; you need to avoid asking dumb hypothetical questions and making grandiose statements just to provoke a forced discussion that nobody wants to hear; and you match the excitement of exciting plays with the right passion. That’s really it. I swear. Give us those eight things, and we’re happy.

Q: If you heard on SportsCenter “Breaking News: NBA coach is a serial killer, bodies found in his backyard” would you even bother listening to see if it was Gregg Popovich, or would that go without saying? With that beard he looks wear-your-skin-and-dance crazy.
— Sean, Hudson, Mass.

SG: Hold on …

Q: Perhaps the biggest story in the NBA that nobody is talking about is the sheer size of P.J. Carlesimo’s glasses. It looks like he took the windshield out of a ’68 Catalina, chopped it in half and attached some industrial strength frames. This is perhaps the most unfortunate eyewear selection since George Costanza chose his new look from the Gloria Vanderbilt collection.
— Jeff, Milwaukee

SG: Just a tad longer …

Q: Am I the only one who can’t get over watching Kumar coaching the Heat?
— Sleepy, Oakland, Calif.

SG: OK, so we have Kumar coaching the Heat, Shooter coaching the Bulls, Jim Carrey coaching the Mavericks, Ron Jeremy coaching the Magic, Stanley Roper coaching the Bobcats, Terence Howard coaching the Wizards, John Lithgow coaching the Nuggets, Nic Cage coaching the Grizzlies, Tony Soprano coaching the Clippers, Maverick’s mentor from “Top Gun” coaching the Knicks, the star of “Hang Time” coaching the Kings, someone coaching the former Sonics whom a reader just described as having gotten his glasses from the windshield of a ’68 Catalina, and someone a reader just described as “wear-your-skin-and-dance crazy” coaching the Spurs. And this ISN’T the best NBA season ever?

Q: I don’t know which moment was more euphorically shocking: Joe “Heavy B” Blanton’s home run in Game 4 of the World Series, or Anna Paquin going topless in “True Blood” that same weekend, but I will tell you that on both occasions I ran around my living room with my fist raised in jubilation.
— Cruds, Philadelphia

SG: Yup, these are my readers.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. For every Simmons column, as well as podcasts, videos, favorite links and more, check out the revamped Sports Guy’s World.

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