Preseason Blues and Land-o-Links for 8/5/2006

I love football. It doesn’t matter whether it’s pro football or college football – I’ll watch it all. I run multiple fantasy football teams every year. There have to be monstrous extraneous factors for me to miss watching a Bears or Illini game. However, for all of this love for the pigskin, there’s one thing that doesn’t excite me at all: preseason football.

Even though my heart flutters a little bit when NFL training camps open, preseason football just doesn’t do it for me. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll most likely end up watching the Hall of Fame Game this weekend along with all of the Bears preseason games (not to mention that a number of professional gamblers believe that the preseason presents great betting opportunities). Yet, as opposed to whetting my appetite for the upcoming regular season, which is what spring training does for me with baseball, the NFL preseason is an excruciatingly long month that puts me on edge.

The reason is that the NFL preseason has absolutely no correlation with what occurs during the regular season. (Random Factoid for Use in a Bar Bet – Question: What was the Bears’ preseason record before their 15-1 Super Bowl season in 1985? Answer: 1 win, 3 losses.) While the third game of the preseason is usually when teams leave their starters in for the most amount of time, the ultimate goal for most head coaches is to make sure they don’t have too many injuries going into the season opener. That means the average preseason game might see the starting units on the field for the first quarter, at most (I doubt we’ll see Rex Grossman take snaps for more than a series or two per game). After that, it’s a cacophony of scrubs trying to grab a third-string spot or a place on the practice squad. That’s not real football. At least in spring training baseball games, there is a feeling that the game of baseball is actually being played with the players that are going to be out there everyday.

There is nothing better in sports than a football game where both teams are playing at the highest level. However, preseason football is a bastardized version of this great sport. That being said, I’ll still watch it, though. On to today’s links:

1) Best Sports Cities 2006: Welcome Back, Chicago (Sporting News) – It’s no contest.

2) Zook’s Latest Coup Gives Hope (Mark Tupper Weblog) – How many “risks” are going to be acceptable for Ron Zook to take in order to get the Illini football program back on the map? Illinois just enrolled Melvin Alaeze, who was the number one rated defensive end in the nation out of the high school Class of 2005 but had his scholarship to Maryland rescinded because he (a) failed to qualify academically (which concerns me since Illinois is considerably more difficult to get into than Maryland) and (b) has some problems with the reefer. Of course, something tells me that if he really is the faster and stronger version of Simeon Rice that the scouts claim and Illinois turns into a perennial bowl game participant that we believe it should be, we’re going to end up forgetting these details within the next couple years. It’s somewhat sad, but it’s true everywhere in big-time college athletics.

3) Wee, Wee, Wee – Half the Way Home (Siberia, Minnesota) – Some of my Illini brethren have been foiled again. It’s probably a good thing that Facebook didn’t exist when I was in college (and an extremely good thing for Minneapolis Red Sox).

4) Whoa, Wait – You Meant That? (Chicagoist) – This is what happens when the Chicago City Council fails high school economics.

5) Bears Need Offense to Help Defense (ESPN.com) – The Bears training camp report filed by John Clayton AKA Bill Gates’ Dorkier Little Brother. Interesting tidbit: only one Bears team over the past 10 seasons has averaged more than 21 points a game, which was the 2001 club that averaged a huge 21.1. Bleh!

6) Top Ten Will Farrell SNL Skits of All Time (TK) – For anyone that has ever wondered, I seriously have had the nickname of Frank the Tank since my tenure at Brookwood Junior High at the beginning of the 1990s, which was long before Will Farrell’s character of the same name ever appeared in Old School.

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And finally…

7) Write Your Very Own Sports Guy Column (The Chicago Sports Review) (from Deadspin) – Bill Simmons AKA The Sports Guy on ESPN’s Page 2 is one of my favorite columnists on any subject, whether it’s inside or outside of the sports arena. Over time, he has developed a distinct writing style which has influenced plenty of writers out there (including myself), where a column on a sports topic is heavily interspersed with reality TV show and ’80s pop culture references. In fact, Simmons’ writing style has become so pervasive that it was only a matter of time that someone put up a “Mad Libs”-style form to create your own Sports Guy column. You can take a look at my end product, which is on the next page, but you really need to try it out yourself first before reading anyone else’s versions in order to get the full effect.

(UPDATE: The real Sports Guy has new mailbag column today, where he provides an apt description of the cab line at the Las Vegas airport.)

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