A recap of an NFL season that began with all eyes on Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo — Tom Brady’s replacement in the wake of the Deflategate suspension a federal judge overturned — and ended with Peyton Manning awkwardly shilling for a beer company that once kept its worldwide headquarters in St. Louis.
Can you think of anything else that used to be based in St. Louis?
OK, on to the highlights and lowlights.
▪ Best Seahawks Game: The Week 12 shootout against Pittsburgh produced more offensive artistry during any four given minutes than Super Bowl 50 produced over four hours. Opponents fighting for their playoff lives exchanged the lead eight times, with Russell Wilson’s five touchdown passes trumping the 456 yards Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger amassed in a 39-30 Seattle victory.
▪ Worst Seahawks Game: After surviving a 10-9 wild-card thriller remembered for the sub-zero temperatures at Minnesota, the defending NFC champions traveled to Carolina and found no juice in their batteries. Although they managed to make the score appear respectable, it speaks volumes when a team puts up 24 unanswered points in the second half and still loses by a touchdown.
▪ Best Evidence of Marshawn Lynch’s Animosity Toward The NFL: By “announcing” his retirement during the fourth quarter of the league’s signature event, the running back made what amounted to an obscene gesture toward commissioner Roger Goodell — the same commissioner who fined Lynch $20,000 for displaying a different kind of obscene gesture.
Aside from the arrogance of presuming his career plans to be more important than the Super Bowl, the cleats-hanging-on-the-line Twitter message was pretty cool, and suggested Lynch will be as much of a force as an entrepreneur as he was on the field.
▪ Worst Fall From Grace: After turning Philadelphia into a playoff contender with a pair of 10-6 finishes, head coach Chip Kelly used his influence as Grand Poobah of the Eagles Lodge and overhauled the roster. Behind new quarterback Sam Bradford, things looked promising during the preseason.
Kelly didn’t make it through December.
▪ Best Opportunity To Dust Off An Old Joke: Bengals cornerback Pacman Jones and Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib get into a knock-down, drag-out fight after consuming several beverages more volatile than the beer endorsed by Peyton Manning. This didn’t happen, by the way. I’m merely using this very conceivable premise to set up the punch line.
Anyway, in a brawl between Jones and Talib, who wins?
▪ Worst TV Commercial Prior To A Super Bowl That Aired Ads For Products Providing Relief From Toe Fungus And Constipation: The “Football Is Family” spot featuring Eric Dickerson’s reflections on mourning the late Walter Payton. Not a good idea for the NFL to bring up the death of a legendary iron man whose reported reliance on pain medication likely contributed to the liver disease that killed him.
Payton didn’t just devote himself to a violent sport. He gave his life to it.
▪ Best Rivalry: Forget the Bears-Packers, Steelers-Ravens and Cowboys-Redskins. The NFL’s best rivalry is Eli Manning versus older brother Peyton. Upon scoring the late touchdown that sealed the Broncos’ victory Sunday, the Manning family was seen celebrating in its private suite. Well, most of the Manning family celebrated. Eli wore a hangdog expression that asked: Why is this happening to me?
Eli’s claim to fame was the two Super Bowl rings he won with the Giants, compared to the one ring Peyton won with the Colts. The realization that big brother also would own two clearly despaired Eli, who seemed oblivious to the NFL’s ad campaign.
Hello, Eli? Anybody home? Football is family!
▪ Worst Recycling Of A Vince Lombardi Quote: When Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was clearing out his locker after returning to the Panthers’ practice facility, he defended his sullen behavior on the sidelines and in the postgame interview area, where most questions were answered with answers that ranged from one to seven words.
“Show me a good loser,” Newton said Tuesday, “and I’ll show you a loser.”
Lombardi lost 35 times as an NFL coach, and not once did he pout like a high school teenager denied the keys to the family car on Friday night.
▪ Best Headline Regarding Newton’s Act: Props to the folks at Yahoo Sports are in order for this gem: “Cam Newton goes from Superman to Incredible Sulk in poor postgame showing.”
▪ Worst Crisis Awaiting Seahawks Fans Already Restless To Kick Off The 2016 Season: Salary-cap issues are paramount, which is to say it will be a challenge, once again, for Pete Carroll and John Schneider to keep a powerhouse team together for a third Super Bowl appearance in four years.
But, hey, it’s a challenge more appealing than solving toe fungus while you’re constipated.
John McGrath: firstname.lastname@example.org