Block & Tackle is John Teti’s column about pro football.
Better lecterns for worse coaches—a Block & Tackle Christmas wish
Look at this trash lectern. Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has to stand behind this thing when he addresses the media. “That’s not Marvin Lewis,” you say, “that’s a hostess at a strip mall sushi bar—I can tell by the horrid lectern.” But it really is Marvin Lewis, who has won a whopping 39 percent of his games this year and deserves a better lectern.
Dick Clark’s $25,000 Pyramid lectern was upholstered, a thoughtful detail that created depth on camera. Clark appreciated the craftsmanship—and so would Marvin Lewis, if only the Bengals would grant him such a marvelous thing. He could rub his face on the soft Bengal-orange fabric to soothe himself after a (rare) loss. It would be a humanizing moment.
The Rams were brimming with high hopes for Jeff Fisher when he followed the team to Los Angeles. Fisher has not won more than eight games in a season since 2008, so he was due for a breakout year. But then Rams management hobbled Fisher by propping him up behind this janky lectern. “Oh, fantastic, a curve of wood with a notch at the top,” said some asshole browsing the Office Depot clearance aisle, so he bought this lectern for Jeff Fisher, and then Jeff Fisher was fired. Nobody respects a man who hides behind a notch. Notches are for cowards.
Maybe if Fisher had occupied a lectern that lit up like Jim Perry’s on Sale Of The Century, he would still be alive today. Instead, the Rams coach had to light up the room on his own, which proved insufficient.
Why is Chicago Bears head coach John Fox winking? Because he has notched three NFL wins this season, and that’s more wins than you’ve got, unless you’re Bruce Arians, Bill Belichick, Todd Bowles, Jim Caldwell, Pete Carroll, Jack Del Rio, Jeff Fisher, Jason Garrett, Adam Gase, Jay Gruden, John Harbaugh, Dirk Koetter, Gary Kubiak, Marvin Lewis, Ben McAdoo, Mike McCarthy, Mike McCoy, Mike Mularkey, Bill O’Brien, Chuck Pagano, Sean Payton, Doug Pederson, Dan Quinn, Andy Reid, Ron Rivera, Red Ryan, Mike Tomlin, or Mike Zimmer. Yet John Fox—this elite achiever, this prince of the league—apparently does not merit any lectern at all.
What a splendid gift it could be if the Bears surprised Fox with a lectern this Christmas, specifically one festooned with giant buttons along the lines of Richard Dawson’s old Family Feud home base. Fox could have such fun with this lectern. “I’m going to put a weird green candle here, between these buttons,” he would say, beaming with pride, and none of the reporters would question it. They would simply ask John Fox to describe the importance of the running game, or whatever, as they wondered quietly about the candle, its meaning and provenance. “Why is that green candle there?” they would muse. This is my Christmas wish.
Phil Simms comes alive with the spirit of Christmas
As visions of Antonio Brown dance in our heads
This year’s new Carrie Underwood Sunday Night Football theme song, “Whoaahoohhhhhhohhhhooooooohhh Sunday Night,” has been widely criticized for being much worse than the old theme, “That Other Song Carrie Underwood Used To Sing.” And yeah, the 2016 theme is pretty rough, but I’ve gotten used to it. The song’s main message is that Sunday Night Football is awesome, which is a sentiment I echo, albeit with less moaning. So my affection for the tune is mostly Pavlovian. NBC could replace the theme song with a raccoon playing an accordion and I would grow to like it, because it would be the sound of Sunday Night Football starting soon.
I won’t try to convince you to like the current theme, as I realize it’s not great. That said, this is a time of year to celebrate the good things, and there is a portion of the 2016 theme sequence in which I believe we all can find joy: the little dance performed by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. It’s cuter than a badger playing a squeezebox, and I defy you to resist cracking a smile as the impossibly telegenic Brown shimmies his way off the screen.
What NFL players want to see under the tree
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning wants a bicycle, so he can ride away to Marzipan Land, where nobody ever gets mad at him and everything is made of peanut butter.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston wants a camel, but JUST ONE, because if you have more than that, they bite each other.
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller just wants grapes.
Happy Hanukkah, Julian Edelman!
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman not only likes to Photoshop himself into famous movies, he is also one of the NFL’s few active Jewish players. So Christmas comes early for Julian this year, in the form of a completely different holiday, Hanukkah, which begins tomorrow. Congratulations on your Judaism, Julian!
As a tribute to Edelman’s excellent season on the eve of the Festival Of Lights, Block & Tackle presents this supercut of every moment this year in which Edelman shouted the word “motherfuckers” on national television.
Staley Da Bear’s Amazon wish list is nothing but ointment
Here are Block & Tackle’s “never wrong” final score predictions for the Week 16 slate. The predictions must not be doubted. They are truth. They are the only truth. If a game differs from the prediction listed here, it is simply being untruthful—shamefully so.
New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles (last night, 8:25 p.m. Eastern, NBC/NFL Network): New York 20, Philadelphia 7.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers (Saturday, 1 p.m., Fox): Green Bay 28, Minnesota 14.
Washington vs. Chicago Bears (Saturday, 1 p.m., Fox): Washington 18, Chicago 14
Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers (Saturday, 1 p.m., Fox): Atlanta 28, Carolina 17.
Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS): Tennessee 24, Jacksonville 11.
San Diego Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns (Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS): San Diego 14, Cleveland 13.
New York Jets vs. New England Patriots (Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS): New England 21, New York 10.
Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills (Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS): Buffalo 21, Miami 20.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Oakland Raiders (Saturday, 4:05 p.m., CBS): Oakland 23, Indianapolis 21.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks (Saturday, 4:25 p.m., Fox): Seattle 22, Arizona 9.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams (Saturday, 4:25 p.m., Fox): Los Angeles 3, San Francisco 0.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints (Saturday, 4:25 p.m., Fox): Tampa Bay 33, New Orleans 20.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans (Saturday, 8:25 p.m., NFL Network): Cincinnati 4, Houston 2.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, 4:30 p.m., NFL Network): Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 18.
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 8:30 p.m., NBC): Kansas City 19, Denver 8.
Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys (Monday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN): Dallas 27, Detroit 23.
Register Of Truth
Block & Tackle prediction record for 2016 season: 224-0
Untruthful games in Week 15: 3
Overall truth-untruth ratio in 2016: 144-80
Is Phillip Asiago Simms besting Block & Tackle in the quest for truth?
Block & Tackle Week 16 Picks: Pocket Edition
With The A.V. Club on hiatus, Block & Tackle will probably be off next week. I guess I was supposed to be off this week, too, but I felt like writing about lecterns and animating Von Miller grape dreams, as one does. As ever, I love you guys, and I hope you have a great holiday.