Quick everyone, reach for your tissues. If we are to believe the football pundits this weekend, we're supposed to feel much pity for Shawn Merriman following his four game suspension for steroid use. Apparently, Merriman is a "good kid" who's a "team player" and "upstanding citizen".
Ummm, no. Merriman can now be placed on an infamous list that includes Ben Johnson ("Do you Cheetah?"), Jose Canseco and Lyle Alzado. He gets to rub shoulders with Marion Jones, Floyd Landis and Ken Caminiti (newsflash, Shawn, but two of those named have died because of steroid abuse). There is a phone number posted in every NFL locker room; a hotline for players who have doubts about the contents of various supplements. Over the weekend, Merriman's agent confirmed that his client had never made that call, and had never cross-checked the supplements he was using with the list of banned NFL substances. All these circumstances made for some very uncomfortable viewing this weekend, when I was watching him destroy the Rams offensive line. "Now wait a minute here," you say. "How could he have been playing if he was caught juicing?" Ah...great question Doctor Watson. The NFL (and every other pro sports league) allows players to appeal suspensions, and it's mostly used to pick and choose which games they are to miss. Got some tough games coming up? No problem - appeal the suspension and keep playing until you hit a soft patch. These derelicts make a mockery of the rules of the game and bend them to their advantage. And I'm supposed to give this kid the benefit of the doubt? I say let him sit until the league can hear his appeal. Let's see how strong a case he really feels he has.
Red Alert to all Billick haters: your boy gets to crow this week, after lighting up the Saints defence for five touchdowns. This comes in the first game since he fired Jim Fassell as his offensive coordinator and took over play-calling duties. The shameless self-promoter is sure to make the most of this - perhaps another book on his unquestionable genius?
Denver plays Cincinnati on Christmas Eve: don't say I didn't warn you, but this will be a golden opportunity for some producer to put up the "Silver Bells: Mike and Tatum" graphic. On a darker note, and I'm sorry Darrent Williams, but there's no gentler way of putting this: you got sodomized by Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne on Sunday.
My favourite quote of the week came courtesy of the Football Night in America panel. Bob Costas commenting on a Chris Henry touchdown reception says: "...and he can do it too...when he can make bail." This is followed by giggling "ooohs" and "ahhhs from the rest of the panel. Costas then says, laughing "What? He's been arrested like five times since January!" Collinsworth, unable to contain himself, quips: "Not in the past couple of weeks he hasn't!!" That had me in stitches. These guys are good.
And since I'm on a roll with broadcasting compliments, I have to send out some kudos to Matt Vasgersian and JC Pearson of Fox. They called the Seahawks and Chiefs beautifully. Insightful, accurate, working off each other, challenging one another on close plays (with sincerity, none of this mock confrontation). I hope they move up the ranks on Fox. Since I like them, that's as likely to happen as the Niners scoring a meaningful touchdown against the Bears in this decade.
Product tag line over which I'm still scratching my head: "Toyota Rav 4: Too intelligent to be categorized." Really? Looks like an SUV to me. Or maybe it's finally becoming uncool to own these death traps, so they prefer to say they don't have a category? And what does "Too intelligent to be categorized" mean? Come again? Is the truck intelligent? Someone please help me out.
My apologies for the short Pimple this week, but that's all I've got, and I refuse to babble for no good reason (some of you may think this was the case anyway!)
Note: It's 31-7 Patriots with 13 minutes to go. It's safe to go to bed right? Right? Maybe I should call Denny Green and ask what he thinks. "They WERE what we THOUGHT they were!!!"