Midseason Roundup – The Off The Field Soap Opera

For the first ten weeks of the NFL, the on-field action has been action-packed and wildly unpredictable. Perhaps the most predictable part of the season so far has been the inevitable controversy off the field, with coaches fired, players arrested, and a certain wide receiver embarking on a personal quest to score a touchdown for every team in the league within a season. Here’s a look at what has shocked the more naive fans of the NFL so far this season…

Randy Moss’ Incredible Journey

 
One of the greatest wide receivers to ever grace the game, Randy Moss spent the first four weeks of the season at the New England Patriots, but committed the ultimate sin from the first week in trying to be bigger than a team under the rule of General Belichick. Telling CBS Sports (and more or less anyone that would listen) that he ‘didn’t feel wanted’ in New England, Moss started the season with few catches before being rewarded with the trade he desired. He would return to the Minnesota Vikings, the team he built his career at for seven years, starting in 1998 until he left for the Oakland Raiders in 2005.

 
Trades happen in the NFL, even unpredictable big ones like this. What doesn’t happen too often, however, is that after such a big trade, the player is then waived four weeks later. But there aren’t too many players like Randy Moss. He swept into Minnesota on a wave of media attention, before a four week rollercoaster of chaos ensued. Moss started well, catching a touchdown in his opening game, but proceeded to make only thirteen catches in his four games for the Vikings, and became more of a royal pain in the horns for Vikings fans as opposed to a star catcher of the football. He criticised the food in the camp, slated his teammates and coach, refused to speak to the media (incurred a $25,000 fine) and spoke endlessly about his desire to return to the Patriots, where all was good and holy. After a month in Minnesota, coach Brad Childress reached his wit’s end, and Moss was waived.

 
Month number three of the season meant team number three for Randy. The only team who felt they could deal with Moss’ tantrums in the waiver jumble sale were the Tennessee Titans. With Kenny Britt injured, the Titans clearly felt Moss had something more to offer in the coming season. These feelings might prove misplaced, since Moss caught only one pass for 26 yards in his opening game against the Miami Dolphins. What happens next, who knows…

 

Destruction in Dallas

 
It always seems that the Dallas Cowboys rise to the top of the bookies’ tips for the Lombardi trophy at the beginning of each season, before usually letting down their faithful come the playoffs. However, Cowboys fans could have been forgiven for holding out some hope in 2010. A triple-pronged running attack, a quarterback ready to finally fulfill his potential, a collection of star wide receivers and a powerful defence placed the Cowboys at the top of the teams-to-beat in most eyes at the beginning of the season.

 
Even by Cowboys standards, the self-destruction of their own hype came spectacularly early in the first ten weeks of the season. Despite unfortunate moments such as Tony Romo’s (borderline) season-ending injury, much of the criticism around the winless Cowboys Stadium centred around coach Wade Phillips (their only win in the first nine weeks came in Houston in week two). When a coach is criticised in Dallas, the leading man in the ensuing soap opera is Dallas’ very own JR, owner Jerry Jones.

 

No off-the-field review would be complete with a comprehensive review of Jerry’s thoughts on his team’s season. The only issue up for debate is whether Jones really counts as being ‘off the field’, since when things go wrong, he’s usually prowling the sidelines, spouting nuggets of wisdom to smiling-and-nodding defensive tackles half his age and six times his weight.
When things started to go wrong in Dallas, Jerry stayed behind his coach. After a late defeat to Tennessee in week five, Jones would not even entertain the idea of ridding Dallas of Waddlin’ Wade. After a week six defeat to the Vikings that left the Cowboys 1-4, Jones still stood by his man. Even after a humiliating defeat at home to the witless Jacksonville Jaguars that left the Cowboys, Jones was ‘not in any way’ ready to sack Phillips. Only a complete crushing by the Green Bay Packers shook Jones into action. General Manager Jimmy Johnson wielded the axe on Jerry’s instructions, and Wade was evicted from Texas, probably with the same expression on his face he seemed to display come touchdown or pick.

 

National Flippin’ Lockdown

 
Fred Davis. Gerard Lawson. John Gill. Fili Moala. Braylon Edwards. Bret Lockett. Dwayne Jarrett. Pat McAfee. Jerramy Stevens. D.J Williams.

 
No NFL season would be complete without its superstars being arrested for a variety of misdemeanors. McAfee was nicked for allegedly swimming in a canal whilst ‘publicly intoxicated’, whilst Prisoner Stevens was cuffed for possessing cannabis with intent to sell. However perhaps the most common name in the list above is that of Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards.

 
Edwards has been arrested so many times in the past few years, they may as well leave wanted posters up throughout New York all the year round. Speeding violations are the usual ticket; as recently as 2008 Edwards was caught doing a Vettel-esque 120mph in a 65mph zone in the city. This time last year, Edwards was busy assaulting party promoter (and mate of Lebron James) Edward Givens in a New York nightclub. This season, our favourite con has downgraded to simple drink-driving. After police pulled over his car for having ‘overly-tinted’ windows (!), Edwards was found to be twice over the legal limit for alcohol, and was arrested. All of this despite the fact that the Jets have their own chauffeur service for any of their players, 24/7, due to other incidents involving their players and a few too many over the years.

 
Despite all this, the Jets were happy to play Edwards in a grudge match against the Dolphins later in the week. Maybe, unlike Moss, some players are bigger than the team…
So, the NFL has had it fair share of headlines so far this season. We have gone through this entire article without mentioning Tom Brady’s hair, Rex Ryan’s weight loss and the fact that the population of the Vatican City regularly fills Jacksonville’s stadium week-in, week-out. We’ll save that for Week 17.

 

David Dickson.

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