The Dan Hampton Lower-Body Tarp

by Jeff Johnson and David Roth

Jeff: I am ready to talk about anything but the Jets.

David: I think that’s best. Fans are organizing sit-ins at Buffalo Wild Wings establishments across Long Island. North Jersey Living is spiking its “Rex Ryan On Veal Chops, Khakis and Looking Good At 275” feature. Fireman Ed Anzalone has been weepily sliding down the fireman’s pole, over and over again, at the Center Islip firehouse he calls home, and is refusing to spell any word aloud. It’s pretty bad.

Jeff: I don’t think Anzalone is as far out as Islip. I think he’s actually been lobbying unsuccelsffuly to have Queens Boulevard named after him since David Dinkins was mayor, but yeah, I can’t add anything more to it. Of course Rex Ryan might end up having to take the fall for a rogue Hofstra alum.

David: A fall that will have very literal repercussions across North Jersey. The term “rumblings of discontent” are not at all a metaphor in this instance. They are gastric, and they are literal.

Jeff: I was super happy to be filled with moral indignation at Sal Alosi, until it dawned on me that I probably couldn’t resist tripping a guy in that situation. The Jets have like nine great receivers. Two solid running backs. And they’re scoring three points a game. If they were doing better, and just barely blowing games, perhaps, Nick Folk would be sitting on the shaky bar at the hydrochloric acid dunk tank, but…

David: Sanchez is the weak link to me. The handsomest, and far more natural than Eli in those Toyota commercials, but also just the crummiest of late.

Jeff: Do you think the Bears and Vikings are right to be concerned about a frozen field?

David: Yeah, kind of. I mean, I think they’re more right to be concerned about it than Tom Waddle is to call them fruits for being concerned about it. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done for that field to get even faintly usable. I’ve written a lot about this for WSJ this week. I mean, I’ll still watch the hell out of the game, though. I’m looking forward to the steaming lineman head and shivering punters and idiotic my-tribal-tats-keep-me-warm sleevelessness from tough guy nose tackles.

Jeff: Waddle said they were fruits? Couldn’t they just put some heated tarps on the thing for a couple of days and soften it up? They have a thing there called a snow dragon. That’s in there melting snow in bulk.

David: They actually are putting a tarp down, by the way. That’s how they’re doing it. They were supposed to cleared the field Saturday, and then put a tarp down and blasted heat under it for two days or so. There’s like a two-inch sheet of ice on the field now.

Jeff: I’m excited to see Joe Webb start. Tarvaris Jackson was trying to play like Jim Nabors against the Gions (Note: I don’t know who the Vikings are, where they play anymore, or whom they play. I do wish they would have brought “Geoff George” out of retirement, though).

David: I guess because he had turf toe? That particular ailment is way mis-branded. It sounds kind of embarrassing, like something there’s a special niche Tinactin for, but it’s apparently is a nice way of saying “the bone melted” or something horrible like that.

David: Also, Waddle didn’t say they were fruits for complaining. Columnists did. And Chris Kluwe is tweeting his discontent and none of the players seem all that pleased about it. I suspect Dan Hampton said they were fruits, probably through a mouthful of beef somewhere in the upper Midwest.

Jeff: Most of Dan Hampton below the belly button is all held together by brass hinges, I think. Richard Dent was always my favorite Bear. He once propelled himself over the offensive tackle, parallel to the ground and sacked the quarterback that way. Like a Hovercraft.

David: They put a tarp down on Dan Hampton’s lower body, too. Trying to get the cheese in his veins melted and recirculating.

David: I want to know more about the Snow Dragon. Really I want to pilot a Snow Dragon. Or be in a band called Snow Dragon. That mostly plays White Lion songs.

Jeff: I thought it was like a Zamboni, but apparently it’s just a furnace that they attach to a pick up truck and dump snow into it to melt. I was hoping it was a moving melting machine. Growing up in Wisconsin this is a fantasy you have. Something that’s like a Domino’s oven on wheels, blowing extremely hot air on the pavement, but then you realize it would destroy the roads, and funding is stripped by your new governor who was too smart to finish college.

Jeff: I was thinking of going to this game as I will be in the midwest. But I don’t think my kid is going to want to stand in line to race to the good seats at 4PM for a 7:30 start time. That is horse shit. Though it would be the game to bring him to because no one will be getting drunk (er) at the stadium.

Jeff: So maybe I will make an appeal to OLD PEOPLE in the Twin Cities.

David: Our core readership. Elderly people in and around Mankato of Swedish descent.

Jeff: Older season ticket holders. Who have 100 level seats. YOU DO NOT want to be out in that weather. You are 64 years old. Sell me your tickets.

David: Do the right thing, Mr. and Mrs. Lundegaard. Let Jeff and his kid sit outside in six-degree weather for seven hours. (I’m trying to help)

Jeff: Actually, it’s going to be way, way too cold. The novelty of seeing the Vikings outside in Minnesota for the first time in 30 years is not worth it. This will be the 1,158th time I have mentioned this, but I got to meet Walter Payton and Eddie Payton outside of the old Met Stadium as a child after a game. This was, of course, long before the ’85 Bears. Walter Payton was a mythically awesome figure in my childhood. But conjuring that nostalgia up when the reality is Jay “Natural Light Face” Cutler and Matt Forte trying to hang a 5–3 victory on many Vikings who don’t seem to want to be there might be impossible. The Bears game against the Patriots was like watching Dog The Bounty Hunter trying to strike up a casual conversation about law enforcement with some senior CIA guys. “Whadda you, uh, sorry I got ranch dressing on your suit, there, Ace. I’m packing a Ruger in my tube sock. And also a butter knife.”

David: I feel like Martz is going to crank up the weird for the cold weather. “When it’s this cold, you want your tight end throwing a lot of passes.” I didn’t see the Pats/Bears game, but I saw the box score.

Jeff: It finally hit me that Mike Martz reminds me of Lars Thorwald/Raymond Burr from Rear Window…Anyway, Wes Welker kept jumping up from passes that he caught acting like he had discovered gold. Like no one has attempted to catch a pass in the snow before. I think if I was making a million bucks I would be out there “trying hard” in all kinds of weather.

David: I also saw a lot of guys in Urlacher jerseys wandering around the Upper East Side that night, looking forlorn. All the brashness the Urlacher jersey usually gives you was gone.

David: So are the Patriots as good as they’ve looked? I’ve mostly seen box scores, but they’re beating teams by 2007 margins. By Steve Spurrier retardedly trying to game the BCS computer margins. Also, do you feel like we don’t talk about the Patriots enough?

Jeff: Yeah to me the big thing is they are just are making zero mistakes. Which really sets them apart right now from almost all NFL teams. There’s a lot of bad football being played for it to be so late in the season. Like to the point where the ball looks a little strange to most of the players even. “We’re supposed to do this tackling thing on everyn play? That seems a little odd. I kinda just like watching the guys run past me.”

David: It’s the better coaches who don’t have to remind the guys of that too often. I imagine the really worn-down ones are just like “You know, whenever you can. It’s cold, I get it.” Marvin Lewis is just reading an old issue of Self and listening to Luther Vandross on his headset and just generally doing his best to convince himself he’s somewhere else… If you were the Bengals owner, you’d keep forgetting that the Bengals exist. Getting stuck in traffic every Sunday and being all pissed and confused like, “Every Sunday, I swear, without fail. Unbelievable!”

Jeff: I have some sympathy for some owners. By they way I saw in the comments of your column Friday — speaking of owners — that someone had linked to that blessed rundown of Daniel Snyder’s high-octane assholery in D.C.. Unreal.

Jeff: I think I am going to cheer for Tampa Bay to run through the playoffs in the NFC. I don’t really like any of the AFC teams. I wish Cleveland were doing well.

David: I think by their standards, or like relative to expectations they actually kind of are? They’re playing over their head.

David: Losing to Buffalo is always bad, though. It’s rude, more than anything. The NFL equivalent of leaving one little square of TP hanging on the roll in someone else’s bathroom. That’s what kicking a field goal from the one-yard line in the first quarter against the Bills is. Which the Browns actually did last week. I am aware that the TP thing pertaining to the Browns is gross, and I am sorry.

David: Tampa Bay is not actually good, which makes me like that they’re winning. I still don’t think they’ve beaten a team with a winning record. And they only beat the Redskins because that poor kicker had the worst day of his life and because the entire Redskins team is in open revolt against Shanahan. It’s like a really violent, really overpaid episode of “Hogan’s Heroes” down there. LaRon Landry’s trying to dig a tunnel to Aberdeen, Maryland and then will be like “Follow me to freedom! And a Ruby Tuesday’s in a mall!”

Jeff: are there any teams this season that like their coach? Steve Spags in St. Louis?

David: The Steelers. I suspect that Spagnuolo brings a lot of appetizers from home in an attempt to curry favor.

Jeff: I have a feeling Spagnuolo tolerates less shit than Coughlin. There’s a chance that he will punch your wife and kid if you get out of line. Stop practice and drive to your kid’s school and give him a spanking

David: Bringing caponata to the linemen meeting. “My nonna made it. It’s vinegary because of the olives, so look out for that.”

David: Well, that’s like Coughlin’s secret thing, right? He looks like a psychopathic Jesuit. Like Savonarola in khakis and an ill-fitting windbreaker. But he actually doesn’t enforce much discipline on the team. He just yells and ensures that everyone gets to practice five minutes early. But then the whole team loses their helmets for a whole day, or Justin Tuck invents a sack dance that involves dropping his pants and he’s just kind of too screamed-out to do anything about it.

Jeff: I do like Barry Cofield’s dance.

Jeff: Coughlin did have gum the other day again. I saw that.

David: The simple pleasures. He enjoys his white wine vinegar-flavored Dentyne. He enjoys that, and he enjoys punctuality, and he enjoys buying pants at the golf superstore on Route 17. He was very complimentary about the service the team got at the Marriott in Kansas City after they beat Minnesota last week. But that’s about it.

Jeff: I forgot about that. That post-game speech went on for hours. Like he was a victim of some war atrocities. “Let’s not forget that an unforgiving God put our team in peril. In a sea of confusion. I just don’t know what you can do anymore. There’s only so much you can take. It was just a lot for us to handle.” It’s called a snowstorm, you fucking jackass. Get a club sandwich and do a jigsaw puzzle and wait it out. Holy shit. Put that Hoagy Carmichael CD on. Yes, Tom. The NFL got very impatient and decided to move on without you and the Vikings. As a result, you are out of the playoff hunt, and your dog was also euthanized.

David: Oh, and here’s another thing he enjoys: challenge flags. There was a good moment when he threw one last Sunday and he was kind of shuffling down the sideline with it really fast. It looked like a Candid Camera episode in which a mean priest was persuaded to chase a dollar bill down a sidewalk.

Jeff: I wonder when Cowher will be coming back?

David: I hope he stays away a bit. He needs to take it easy. I have a friend who swam against Cowher’s daughter in high school. She said that you could hear Cowher cheering for his daughter — really screaming exhortations at his daughter — from underwater, really clearly.

David: To be clear: she was hearing this from underwater. Cowher was above water. Unless it was an emergency, in which case he’d jump in and hold up signs with messages like “INTENSITY” on them.

David Roth co-writes the Wall Street Journal’s Daily Fix, contributes to the sports blog Can’t Stop the Bleeding and has his own little website. And he tweets!

Jeff Johnson tweets here. He is also responsible for doing weird things with old sportscards here and here.