Dan Hanzus, Terrell Suggs and Ben Roethlisberger are ingrates. We’ll get to the Ravens’ & Steelers’ stars in a second, but let’s start with Hanzus, whose response to Colts owner Jim Irsay’s incendiary remark was the tweet equivalent of a yawn:
Irsay has spoken *glowingly* about Manning for two years. It’s clear the guy has a mountain of respect. No reason to twist up one quote.
— Dan Hanzus (@DanHanzus) October 16, 2013
Yes, Dan. Yes, there is. If any football fan out there somehow missed it, Irsay – apparently fueled by the spirit of the rivalry-lovin’ Football Gods – poured gasoline on the BMOC’s homecoming fire, igniting a week’s worth of WWE-level trash-talking from Broncos head coach John Fox and former Colts GM Bill Polian. Meanwhile, Peyton’s silence has been deafening. And what’s been the response of Hanzus and his serious-minded colleagues at the apparently mirthless ‘Around The League’?
Amazing how many people are missing the point with this Irsay-Manning stuff.
— Dan Hanzus (@DanHanzus) October 15, 2013
On this week’s ‘ATL’ podcast, Hanzus – from high atop his perch on Mt Pious – commanded me to “shut my trap” about this Irsay flap. I’ll do no so such thing – and shame the devil if Irsay does, either.
Oh, Dan… can’t you just enjoy the warmth of the heat? Are you so hard-boiled you have to take a fire extinguisher to the first spark of good, old-fashioned antagonism? You must understand conflict is at the core of all drama. You wouldn’t want Batman and the Joker to settle their differences via statements penned by their publicists – so why diminish conflict when it comes to our beloved pro football?
For the record, Irsay knew what he was doing. Maybe he was scrambling to justify his choice to dump the Broncos’ massively productive QB before the neck issues were in the rearview mirror. Maybe he wanted to remind Colts fans – who will no doubt feel conflicted cheering against their longtime hero on Sunday night – the current state of the franchise is strong. Whatever imbued his sentiment, bringing Tom Brady’s (relatively) uneven stats and three rings into the conversation to sharpen the relief with which we regard Peyton’s achievements or lack thereof was no accident.
Then again, maybe I’m wrong. And if I am, who cares? Either way, Sunday night’s game and the run up to it have both been enhanced by Irsay’s nasty crack… whether he intended it that way or not. Don’t believe me, though. Take Peyton’s silence as proof.
Conversely, the NFL’s best rivalry of the last decade has lost a bit of luster, and not just ‘cause both participants are little down right now. Terrell Suggs – the man who once said, “God can have Roethlisberger’s soul, but his ass belongs to me” – this week said of the same bumless QB, “ The guy is a winner. He’s Big Ben. You can’t do anything but respect a guy like that and his physical play.”
What?! Yes, Terrell, yes, you can do something other than respect him. You can declare you’re about to take further ownership of #7’s anatomy. Better yet, you can promise to rip his heart out and stomp it into the browning grass of Heinz Field!
As for you, Big Ben, what’s the idea behind saying nice things about Suggs like, “I respect him. I respect the way he play the game.” Why don’t you two get a room already? Enough genuflecting – we fans wanna hear about your hatred for one another!
I understand free agency, individual “brand” awareness and 21st century political correctness have created a perfect storm in which – as my man Adam Rank so eloquently put it – “the NFL is becoming like a corporation with 32 branches… and players just get transferred from the Chicago branch to the Atlanta branch.”
It should go without saying imbeciles who assault opposing fans need to take a long look in the mirror (if their jail cells provide one), but c’mon, guys, take a page from pro wrestlers. After all, we’ve met you more than halfway by deluding reality to believe you care as much as we do about the city and team for whom you play. The least you can do is validate our civic pride by promising to defend our honor against the enemy. Sure, it’s childish… but you guys are the ones putting on costumes and chasing each other around. All I’m saying is, a little trash talk never hurt anybody.
King James and KG get it. The Tide and the War Eagles don’t agree on much, but they have agreed to hate each other forever. C’mon, Suggs. Let’s go, Big Ben. Open your trap, Hanzus, and celebrate what’s great about sports. Our QB is better than your QB. Our team is gonna whip your team.
Hug it out on your own time. We’ve got rivalries to rejoice.
Let’s get to the Week Seven picks (which you can also catch in more detail here on the latest ‘Dave Dameshek Football Program’, where you can also hear our delightful conversation with Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill).
WARNING: do not continue reading if you don’t want to know the outcome of the games.
(11-3 last week, 1-0 this week, 59-35 on the season)
C. Keenum: 3 INTs
A. Dalton: 311 yds, 2 TDs
A. Dennard: 31-yd INT TD
M. Wallace: 84 yds, TD
V. Brown: 32-yd TD with 00:27 left in 4th
S. Moss: 124 yds, 2 TDs
L. McCoy: 217 yds/scrimmage
S. Bradford: 3 TDs
M. Ryan: 350 yds, 3 TDs
H. Miller: 52 yds, TD
C. Kaepernick: 276 yds, 2 TDs
E. Lacy: 78 yds, TD
P. Manning: 698 yds, 9 TDs
E. Manning: 402 yds, 3 TDs
Enjoy the games, everybody. Good luck to your team… unless they’re playing my team.