Midseason NFL awards, with a Michael Jackson twist (Nov 10 2005)


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Midseason NFL awards, with a Michael Jackson twist.

By: Vivek Ravishanker
Issue date: 11/10/05 Section: Sports

In lieu of the Week 10 games, the Preview would like to get in on the act of handing out some midseason hardware. The key word is "act."

The Powers That Be in the new web-oriented world of sports journalism have seen fit to add a little glitz to their coverage by letting every ex-player and ex-coach with a laptop and a modicum of personality decide on topics ranging from the borderline sensible (Midseason MVP, Best and Worst Teams) to the downright irrelevant (everything else). Just seven Sundays: that's what these journalists are deciding from, taking into account the bye week that most teams have had.

Seven Sundays: a glorified crapshoot. Three great games make a campaign for MVP, five make a strong one, and six make a player a mortal lock. Six games don't get you to the final table after a full season. Plus, true stars pick it up when playoff spots are on the line. The most-picked midseason award recipients this time around are either criminally ineffective in big-game situations (Jake Plummer) or untested in them (Carson Palmer, Eli Manning). But since there's no business like show business, on with the show.

In honor of the Second Annual Michael Jackson Party thrown by the Preview's blocking group this past Saturday, let's do this thing "Gloved One"-style. MJ, to me, and hopefully to you as well, is universal; he represents entertainment in its purest and liveliest form. Something in the Jackson canon captures just about every happy feeling each of us has had - and if you include the period after he jumped the shark, most of the sad ones too. Plus, the dude can dance.

The "Scream" Causing-Confusion-and-Generally-Pissing-Everyone-Off Award: Terrell Owens, Eagles. MJ rarely gets angry and likewise with sister Janet, but some injustices are simply too great to ignore. To quote Michael: "Tired of you tellin' the story your way / It's causin' confusion / You think it's okay." This has been the story of T.O.'s year in Philly. He started by distracting the team and angering the city over contract negotiations, spent the first eight weeks of the season in a public battle with QB Donovan McNabb, and in Week 9 proposed a solution - replace McNabb with Brett Favre. The guy, talented as he is, simply can't be shut up, short of releasing him, which the Eagles may consider now that they have indefinitely suspended him.

The "PYT (Pretty Young Thing)" Offensive Rookie of the (Half-)Year: Ronnie Brown, Dolphins. Actually, this award is related in name alone to its brilliant MJ musical counterpart. Number-one pick Alex Smith is at least a year away from contributing in San Francisco, but picks two and three, Ronnie Brown and Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, are both starting at running back for competitive teams. Williams started the season with a rookie-record three consecutive triple-digit running games before going down in Week 4; his return in Week 8 was unimpressive in an ugly Tampa Bay loss to the Niners. And he hasn't scored since Week 2. He is likely to spend the rest of the season sharing carries with terrific backup Mike Pittman and may not fulfill his awesome promise in 2005. Meanwhile, Brown - Cadillac's former teammate in college - has excelled, cracking the 100-yard barrier twice and going for over 90 twice more. As Miami figures out how to use him and returning starter Ricky Williams effectively together and move away from an anemic pass offense, look for Brown's stats to explode. Also worth mentioning: Steelers' rookie tight end Heath Miller is fourth in the NFL with six touchdown catches but plays a limited role in the run-first Pittsburgh offense. Still, he is a terrific option for an already loaded offense in red-zone situations.

The "Thriller" Memorable Individual Performance Award: LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers. In week three, LT rushed for 192 yards on 21 carries with three scores in a 45-23 Chargers win over the Giants. But wait, there's more. Tomlinson caught six passes and threw a tight 26-yard spiral to Keenan McCardell for a fourth touchdown. And he managed all of this against a team with serious playoff aspirations. It is for this reason that this gem takes precedence over LT's virtuoso performance against Oakland in which he became the first player in four years to rush for, catch for, and throw in a touchdown. Tomlinson is freakish in his skill and simply unparalleled in his results, a phenomenon unmatched musically since the release of Thriller.

The "You Are Not Alone" Individual Disappointment Award: Reuben Droughns, Browns. As a fan of the Broncos front-office strategy of trading running backs after inflating their numbers in a run-friendly environment - think Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey - I half-expected Reuben Droughns, a far less gifted back than Portis, to falter in Cleveland. Denver, of course, made out like a bandit again, landing defensive star and All-Name Team member Ebenezer Ekuban, along with All-Name Second Teamer Michael Myers. Droughns has succeeded better than Browns backs of years past but has scored exactly zero times through eight games. At least MJ scored once in the "You Are Not Alone" video.

The "HIStory Disc One" Team Achievement Award: Indianapolis Colts. The Colts were the consensus preseason pick to win the Super Bowl, and have exceeded even those lofty expectations with a 7-0 start. Best team in football, hands down, a collection of superstars on both sides of the ball on par with the ten super-tracks on the first disc of MJ's greatest-hits compilation. Without abusing the one-to-one comparisons, the new Peyton Manning is clearly searching for the "Man in the Mirror," and it doesn't matter whether Brandon Stokley is "Black or White." And Marvin Harrison's mustache is way '80s. Also worthy of recognition are the Giants, 6-2 and dominating offensively, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose win against Green Bay last weekend prominently featured Michael Jackson hair-lookalike Troy Polamalu.

The "HIStory Disc Two" Team Disappointment Award: Baltimore Ravens. With stellar names on its defense and former 2,000-yard rusher Jamal Lewis returning to the fold, by all accounts Baltimore should have been an 8-8 team this season, if not a playoff contender. Sadly, as was the case with the second HIStory disc containing the first new MJ songs since 1991's Dangerous, the results fell far short of the expectations. At midseason, the Ravens are on pace to win four games this season, scoring fewer than 13 points a game. The popular notion is that the failure of HIStory was the turning point after which MJ was never the same musically and frankly became little more than an unfortunate spectacle. The good news for Baltimore is that they played their best game of the season to date against Pittsburgh; reasonably, they could pick up four more wins by January with home games against Green Bay and Minnesota, the second and third most disappointing teams of 2005.

Source: http://www.harvardindependent.com/media/pa...w-1054276.shtml