Drew left the tidbit out of his takedown of Peter King’s bad (or explosive!) column from today, but according to Lumpelstiltskin, it looks as though NFL Matchup, the last bastion of non-completely bullshit based football discussion left on ESPN, could be nixed now that NFL Films, which has produced the show since 1984, is no longer seeking sponsors. But what of Edge deodorant and State Farm? You’re telling me you can’t get The General to throw some insurance money at this thing?
As of now, it looks like the only hope for the show is if ESPN takes on the mantle of full ownership and producing responsibilities. Even though tWWL did everything in its power not to promote it by scheduling NFL Matchup at varying locations on the asscrack of dawn on Sunday mornings, there’s still a chance the show could go on. With a few minor tweaks, of course.
Sal Paolantonio: Welcome back to ESPN NFL Matchup, sponsored by Bud Light Golden Wheat. Okay gang, we just got done looking at the footage of Tim Tebow sitting on the sidelines against the Raiders. What stood out in your mind about his performance?
Jaws: Lemme tell you, Sal: the first thing that caught my eye was the GAMECHANGING LEG CROSSING TECHNIQUE. You can see in this clip, Tebow is situated firmly on the bench. Not wavering at all. He’s showing COMMANDING PRESENCE AT ALL TIMES. All of a sudden, he crosses one leg over the other. You might say, “oh, he moved! He’s got the shakes!” But no, he was not fidgety in the least. Very deliberate with the leg crossing. One NFL GM who spoke to me this week said that he hadn’t seen rock-solid sitting out of a rookie since Brett Favre’s days with the Falcons. That’s quite a compliment, huh guys? I will go as far to say that without Tebow’s steadying ass projecting a businesslike demeanor from the sidelines, this Broncos team would be poised to collapse at any moment.
Sal: Completely agree. They’re a steady 3-6 right now. Your thoughts, Hogey?
Merrill Hoge: Absolutely. Tim Tebow is a genuine article factor back in the National Football League. Call me crazy, but you line him up with a LeBron James at tight end, that’s a lethal combination. Too much factor back for an opposing team to factor in.
Jaws: Here’s where I’m gonna have to disagree with you, Hogey. Let’s go back to the Chiefs Week 6 game against the Dolphins. Look at the way LeBron James loses containment on the right side against the rush. Now, I don’t want to say this is just plain giving up, but I don’t have another word for it. Of course, the Dolphins were quick to use Kobe Bryant to exploit this weakness in the defense. Unless LeBron James learns to try to care, he will be a serious liability week in and week out for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hoge: That’s a fair point. But when you’ve got a Kobe Bryant on offense, you’ve also got yourself a factor back. When two factor backs meet on the field, there’s no telling what’s gonna play out. But I can tell you that a factor back is going to win that battle.
Sal: Well said. But let’s agree to disagree for now. Moving on to Philip Rivers. He had a bit of an emotional outburst this week after Vincent Jackson appeared to pull up prematurely on a route. What do we make of this? Is there a locker room race war about to descend on San Diego?
Jaws: HERE’S WHAT I ALWAYS SAY ABOUT PHILIP RIVERS: Emotional guy, puts up all the stats. But just can’t cut it in the playoffs. That has to make him the Alexander Ovechkin of football, doesn’t it? Very impressive, galvanizing presence, but he’s a choker. You can’t convince me otherwise.
Sal: Well, who then is Rivers’ Crosby?
Hoge: In my mind, it’s got to be Peyton Manning. The golden boy. The face of the league. The ultimate in factor backing. He’s won a title, after all. Case closed. Until Phillip Rivers wins a championship he’ll always be the Alexander Ovechkin of football and Alexander Ovechkin will always be the Dan Marino of hockey.
Sal: Or maybe even the LeBron James.
Jaws: Speaking of LeBron James, I noticed another interesting trend this week. Let’s go to last week’s Packers-Bears game. We’re looking at a key 3rd down play in 4th quarter with Green Bay driving to take the lead. Donald Driver occupies the slot position on this play. Normally, this would work if the Red Sox were fewer than four games back in the East. But because Boston is so far behind Tampa and the Yankees, the Bears are able to read the formation. Now, Aaron Rodgers could audible out of this play, but only if LeBron James becomes a Chicago Bull. Should LeBron sign with the Knicks, then Brett Favre would be forced to enter the game for the Packers. An odd development, maybe even a frightening one, but that is how gameplan is executed in the National Football League.
Sal: Expert analysis as always, Jaws. All right, viewers: at the top of the hour is The Sports Reporters. This week, Scoop Jackson moderates an ongoing panel discussion on the importance of LeBron James in the modern sports landscape. Panelists include Ric Bucher, Bill Simmons, and LeBron James.
But first the LeBron and Kobe puppets will argue with Boomer about the Patriots for 10 minutes.