I’m pissed off. I’ve been pissed off for several days now.
I just want to enjoy football. Write a column, make some picks, watch the games. For the past two days, every time I think about sitting down to write this intro, my thoughts jump around, my mind races, blazes. It’s hard to focus. I’m almost forcing myself to do this now. I don’t know how it’s going to come out.
There are none so blind as those who will not see.
Imagine this: An adolescent boy, fresh from football practice, confronted by his angry father, who had been informed by the boy’s school earlier in the day that the boy had been disruptive in class. The father takes off his belt, and, in front of the boy’s teammates, proceeds to whip him with it. Imagine the pain, the humiliation. Imagine that punishments like this are commonplace, just a part of life.
I don’t know about you, but my heart absolutely breaks for that boy. Shatters.
That’s where it ends, though.
It ends, because that boy is now a 29 year old, 220 lb. NFL running back (for now) who whipped his four year old son with a slender tree branch until that boy had welts and cuts.
I don’t care what was done to Adrian Peterson by his parents (Yes, PARENTS; his mother beat the shit out of him too). What his parents did to him was wrong, and he’s 29 years old, and he should know better.
I mean, seriously, what kind of adult hits a four year old with a stick, with ANYTHING, especially to the point where it causes injury? (At this point, I think it behooves Child Protective Services in California to at least make a note of the fact that Reggie Bush might have admitted this week that he beats his one year old daughter-- or has plans to beat her—for what, I can only imagine—Christ, what is wrong with these idiots?)
I’ve heard and read a lot these past few days where people, specifically black people, have tried to make this into a race issue, saying things like, “If beating kids is a crime, then you might as well lock up all the black parents.” People of all races have stated that it’s a generational thing, that parents today are too permissive, that people should be able discipline their kids the way they want, that, “My parents beat me and I turned out fine.” To all of these people, I say:
- I refuse to believe that all black parents beat their kids. Maybe I’m naïve. Maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about. Maybe what was true in previous generations is not as true now. I don’t know. Whatever the truth is, it’s f**ked up that people think that way.
- You don’t need to beat or terrorize children to make them behave or to teach them right from wrong. I know this first hand.
- If your parents beat you, and you think that it made you a better person, and/or you think that beating your kids will make them better people, you are not ok. You need help.
Two videos I saw this week, featuring retired star athletes-turned-television personalities, really drove the point home to me that growing up, some of the lessons we learn from our parents, sadly, is not to perpetuate harmful cycles of behaviour by continuing to practice them with our children. In the first, former NBA star Charles Barkley defends his harsh upbringing:
Then we have former Vikings WR Chris Carter (another guy who, to be honest, gets on my nerves) < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3Glks3Dmu4 > :
I have to wonder how Carter learned one lesson while Barkley learned the opposite. It's too bad that Adrian Peterson didn't learn the lesson that Chris Carter did.
Before I get to the picks, I’ll leave the last words of this week’s intro to none other than Carolina Panthers’ Head Coach Ron Rivera, taken from an interview where he discussed his decision to deactivate Greg Hardy due to Hardy’s pending trial for domestic abuse:
It’s been handled as well as we could. It’s been a very difficult set of circumstances. The climate is changing constantly. The attitudes are changing tremendously quick. There’s been a lot of things written, there’s been a lot of things said. Right wrong or indifferent, there’s a lot of pressure put on a lot of people. In some respects, it’s disappointing that it changes, and people get so emotional about it because it’s unfair. There are a lot of circumstances that we don’t know. There are a lot of situations that we don’t understand. It’s hard because you don’t know how. You really don’t. This is not a normal set of circumstances or situations. When you get into these types of situations, you try to handle it them the best you can. As I said on Sunday after the game, the biggest thing we have to understand is we’ve got to get this right. We really do. In all honesty, we’re worried about the wrong types of things. We’re trying to figure out who we need to blame. We don’t need to blame people, we need to find answers and corrections and make things right for people, and this is what this really should be about. I’ve been up and talked about this on and on and on, and I really just hope people understand we’re doing the best we can under the circumstances that we have and we’re trying to get this right. And at the end of the day, we have to come up with solutions to make that this does not happen again…
…I’m just saying the climate changed, and I had to make a decision last Sunday that I believe was prudent. I made a decision that I felt was best for everybody. There are a lot of distractions out there, and a lot of people being blamed for a lot of things they have nothing to do with. You know, there’s two ladies that work in this building and they answer the phone. And people call, and they get after them about decisions I make. They don’t deserve to have that. They’re people. They’re women. They’re mothers. They’re sisters. They’re grandmothers. And people call and want to complain. So I struggle with it. That makes it very hard on me. So when I have to make decisions, I make decisions that are in the best interests of this organization and don’t ever forget that.
Buccaneers at Falcons
The Bucs couldn’t win last week at home against the no-offense Rams, so I doubt they’ll be able to handle Matt Ryan in the Georgia Dome, even if Roddy White can’t go. Winner: Falcons
(Sept. 20/14-- Note: A savvy reader, my good buddy Vince, pointed out to me that my Jets pick didn't make much sense. I've remedied that mistake, in case anyone wants to accuse me of editing my picks after the fact.-- GFH)
Chargers at Bills
The Bills have looked impressive in forging a 2-0 start. However, I really like this San Diego team, riding high after knocking off the defending champs last week. Should be a good game. Winner: Chargers
Cowboys at Rams
The Cowboys’ willingness to rely on the running game adds an important dimension to an offence already loaded with talent in the passing game. Dallas’s offence vs. St. Louis’s defence is a great matchup; Rams’ offence vs. Cowboys defence is more like the lesser of two evils. Winner: Cowboys
Washington at Eagles
All right (some) Washington fans; you wanted Kirk Cousins, you got him. It will be interesting to see how Cousins fares as the starter, when Philly will have had a week to prepare to face him, as opposed to coming off the bench and forcing the opposing defence to adjust on the fly. The Eagles, meanwhile, have looked impressive in jumping out to their 2-0 start. Winner: Eagles
Texans at Giants
Houston seems to have gotten back to its winning formula; stout defence, strong running attack, conservative passing, plus the new wrinkle of JJ Watt doing his best Mike Vrabel impersonation last week with a TD catch. Meanwhile, Eli’s on pace for, what, 40 INTs? Poor Tom Coughlin. Winner: Texans
Vikings at Saints
I have to pick the Saints here, don’t I? I mean, they can’t keep losing, can they? They wouldn’t lose at home to the Vikes, would they? Rob Ryan isn’t one of the most overrated coaches in the league, is he? <Sigh> Winner: Saints
Titans at Bengals
Cincy at home is about as sure a bet as there is nowadays in the topsy-turvy NFL universe. Watch as the Bengals’ defence grinds Tennessee down to a nub. Winner: Bengals
Ravens at Browns
Owen Daniels is would be a nice addition to any offence, and he sure has made his presence felt since joining Baltimore. Joe Flacco’s not much of a touch passer, though, and I think he’s in for a tough day against this Cleveland defence. I just love how Brian Hoyer keeps getting it done at QB; four columns into the season and I still haven’t mentioned what’s-his-name the backup, and I won’t unless he actually does something worth mentioning. Winner: Browns
Packers at Lions
I keep hearing and reading that this Green Bay team is among the league’s elite. Such is the seductive power of Aaron Rodgers. I’ve watched both Packers’ games this season, and they are far from elite. They barely escaped with a win against the Jets last week, after Rodgers (with a big assist from the many-tentacled Jordy Nelson) dragged his team back from a 21-3 deficit. I hope I’m wrong, but I can’t help thinking that the need to do so much means that a serious injury to the league’s best QB is only a matter of time. (Aside: It doesn’t make me feel any better knowing that he’s facing the seriously dangerous Ndamukong Suh this week.) Still, I can’t pick the Lions. I just can’t. Winner: Packers
Colts at Jaguars
You know, I’m fine with Indy trying to diversify the offence a bit, running the ball to take some pressure off Andrew Luck. If you’re going to do that, though, you need a little more “Thunder Road,” and a little less “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” Trent Richardson is not the answer. This game also features an opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars. There, I mentioned them. #FreeBlakeBortles Winner: Colts
Raiders at Patriots
The Pats got their defence untracked last week, which is good, because that’s the key to their success this year. I have nothing bad to say about Oakland. Raiders’ S (and future Hall of Famer) Charles Woodson, on the other hand… Winner: Patriots
49ers at Cardinals
Boy, I love picking against San Fran. Can’t stand Jim Harbaugh. Colin Kaepernick is overrated, and more than a bit of a whiny douchenozzle. Team is full of woman beaters, drunk drivers, and homophobes. Watching the Bears come back to beat them last week (I picked Chicago!) as Kaepernick kept throwing INTs was enjoyable in a manner that defies description. Ah, but business is business, and I see the ‘niners’ pass rush creating havoc and turnovers against the slightly overmatched Drew Stanton (assuming Carson Palmer’s shoulder doesn’t reboot before Sunday). Winner: 49ers
Denver at Seattle
Denver added S TJ Ward, DE DeMarcus Ware, CB Aqib Talib, and WR Emmanuel Sanders in the offseason. More so than anything, the beating they received in the Super Bowl at the hands of the Seahawks necessitated these upgrades. I’d even go so far as to say that that loss motivates Denver more than any other factor. I can’t wait to see how they measure up this time. Winner: Broncos
Chiefs at Dolphins
Miami has already played its Super Bowl, in Week 1. KC showed some life last week against the Broncos, and need a win to avoid falling too far out of playoff contention. Winner: Chiefs
Steelers at Panthers
If Pittsburgh couldn’t mount any offence against Baltimore last week, I doubt they’ll do much better against Carolina. Winner: Panthers
Bears at Jets
I know it’s a lot of miles, playing on the road on the west coast one week and the east coast the next, but maybe this Chicago team needs to be roughed up to get their motor running (Chicago Masochists, anyone?). Jay Cutler got hit so hard last week, Chris Collinsworth doubted he’d play in the second half, but instead he played like an All Pro. And as for Brandon Marshall, last week’s performance is how he plays when he’s hurt. Yikes! Winner: Bears