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PREVIOUS SPORTS
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
SPORTS

SIDELINE
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

London, Part 2
November 4, 2007

With a long pause since the last ‘Sideline’, this entry becomes something of a weekly round-up (still, at least I’ve spared you the week-long speculation and hype on the subject of Colts versus Patriots).

To begin with, the second installment of closing thoughts from the London game:

Now that I’ve had a chance to watch the game again from the rain-free comfort of my own couch, I can see a little better the way the turf was pulling away under the cleats of players, apparently detaching itself from the underlying layer.

If the coaching staff make such a report back to Commissioner Goodell, that would presumably be a mark against Wembley stadium for the future. At the very least, the resultant lack of traction would explain the sogginess of the offenses on the night.

Another observation regarding this first of the ‘International Series’ is that, aside from scheduling games in North America, such as in Mexico City or Toronto, Miami and New York relocating to London is about as EASY a shift of venue as the NFL can expect. If the teams use the time zone or the travel time as an excuse for a poor demonstration of the NFL product, how much worse will it be when a team from the Pacific or Mountain time zones has to go to Tokyo, or Sydney?

And there's also the issue of language. London speaks English, generally. Frankfurt less so. Beijing hardly at all. New York to London represents a challenge of accent and local peculiarities only, while negotiating Roman traffic or Parisian shrugs would be a far greater test for whistle–stop football players.

Lastly, there’s the suggestion that teams might take it in turns to be involved in the International Series, sharing the logistic inconvenience around. But the way I hear it, a good number of NFL teams – about a third –  are contracted for 8 games at their home stadia. So some teams would sure get to sidestep participation.

Of course, the NFL could extend the season to 17 games, with 8 home, 8 on the road, and 1 more around the globe, but there’d probably be the players union to talk to about that, or perhaps a shortening of the pre-season. The International Series may yet raise more widespread issues than whether teams get caught up in the London traffic.

A Tale of Two Chads
Personnel gossip of the past week has focused quite heavily on two Chads – Pennington and Johnson – and their futures with the Jets and Bengals respectively. Maybe these are both cases of media frenzy, or of personnel departments with itchy trigger fingers, but I find both stories faintly perplexing, because neither team really needs to be jettisoning these players.

In the case of Chad Pennington, this has felt like an inevitability. The media vultures have been circling the Jets QB for a while, and now they finally get what they wanted: Kellen Winslow. In fact, they got him last week, when he stepped in for Pennington in the closing minutes of the Bills game ...and promptly threw two picks. Hmm, yeah, that's much better.

Pennington remains the fourth most accurate QB in the league this year, while the Jets have the 24th-ranked rush attack, and the 29th–ranked defense. The QB change solves nothing.

To some extent, however, Pennington's history of brittleness meant the clock was always ticking on his tenure with the Jets. There's a faint logic there, even if the timing seems more desperate than sensible. In the case of rumors suggesting the Bengals will part with wide receiver Chad Johnson in the offseason, there would seem to be a case of mistaken identity underway. ‘Ocho Cinco’ is not T.O.

Chad Johnson might sometimes like to caricature himself, be confident/arrogant (depending on your point of view), and in all other ways be thoroughly entertaining, but he’s never yet blown up a locker room, never before demanded a trade to a team of his choosing, never undermined his quarterback.

He is, however, second in the league in receiving yards, and is the most dangerous weapon on the league’s no.5 offense. And despite the numerous Cincinnati players to have off-field problems, Johnson upsets league conservatives, but has yet to trouble the forces of law and order. He's the sort of player the Bengals need desperately.

The Bengals are ranked 31st - next to last - in defense, by the way.

A Game of Intimidation
Sorry, but I’m going to have to mention the Patriots after all. Specifically, the charge that they are ‘running up the score’. You know what? They are.

I’m just a little perplexed what the crime is - hurting opponents’ feelings? Oh, please!

The NFL likes to think the teams have parity, and the Patriots are proving how dominant they are despite it. If that upsets their opponents, who cares. These are professionals, not college amateurs. These guys are paid huge sums of money to be intimidating, to be merciless, to take their superior size or speed and physically overwhelm their opposition. Football is a haven for bullies, and there’s nothing fair about that.

Some of those bullies wear pads. But some of them carry clip boards and wear headphones.

And sooner or later, there’s always a bigger bully.

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