Friday, August 26, 2011
NFL ACLB PREVIEWS - #20: ST. LOUIS RAMS
PERTINENT DATA: 7-9 last year; 45 to 1 odds to win Super Bowl XLVI.
BEST CASE SCENARIO (Raven): Look, Steve Spagnuolo aka Spags is the exact type of coach today's young players love and will smash through walls for - he's pretend hip, can refer to rap lyrics from the '90s, and wears his hair both facial and moptop like the Nissan GT-R driving assistant manager of a cell phone store. Now that's not necessarily enough to win Super Bowls, because football is football, but let's be realistic - this is a team perched mightily in the midst of the NFC West. Winning this division is like taking on a Special Ed class in a spelling bee. Sam Bradford, although he looks like he's about 12-years-old and for whatever reason is part of this massive influx of allegedly grown ass men who look like little gay children to me, did pretty damn good last year, clocking in with the last major guaranteed paycheck before the new collective bargaining agreement. Sure, his shoulder might snap in two at some point, but he has held up thus far, and really that's all that needs to happen for the Rams to be competitive enough to win the West. Steven Jackson was the best RB in the league two years ago, although you may have missed that, and even two years removed from such a year, he's not quite into Shaun Alexander/Terrell Davis "wheels about to fall off" decline, but he's not too far from it. On defense, the Rams have assembled a strange assortment of monsters like Chris Long and James Laurinaitis who can instill fear in offenses, yet play well to mildly racist middle America. Really, all they have to do is further tweak this offense to play well in that monstrosity of a stadium of their's, and this could actually be a perennial NFC Western power, which means maybe a victory against a wild card team at home and then beaten by a true football team from a different division. Still, that's commendable.
WORST CASE SCENARIO (Neil): I don’t really have anything against the Rams. They’re a once proud franchise beaten down and now trying to claw their way back to the top. I can respect that. I can understand that. But the fans of the St. Louis Rams are another thing. It’s not necessarily their fault, but there is something insincere and superficial about them. I have felt this way since the year the Rams won the Super Bowl and all their fans went crazy even though the Rams had only been in St. Louis for, like, four years. Now, I can understand the enthusiasm of the fans of St. Louis for a winning team. After all, they were forced to deal with the Cardinals through years of misery and despair, but man, the Rams aren’t your team. The Rams belong to Los Angeles, and while that may not be as true as it used to be – I’m sure there are some diehard Rams fans in St. Louis who truly feel that shit now – it sure as hell was true back in 1999. Every fan of the Rams that season made a conscious decision to root for the Rams. It wasn’t inborn because the Rams had belonged to Los Angeles when all those fans came of age. So, I know those fans didn’t really feel that shit deep in their gut, the way that you or I would, those of us who had no choice in the matter and were born into our fandom. That’s fine. I mean, sure, why not? There was a new team in town, might as well support it. But don’t tell me that joy was 100% pure. At least some of it had to be manufactured, even if Rams fans didn’t consciously understand that they were doing it. They had to hype themselves up to care. They were the equivalent of hipster football fans. I know this isn’t fair, but fuck them. They didn’t deserve to revel in the glory of that Super Bowl win. They just didn’t. You know who I feel for? Those L.A. fans who were abandoned and had to watch their team win for some other city. It must have been like watching your asshole dad who let you down for years marry some other broad, knock her up and then lavish all the attention and affection on the new kid that you never got. And you know those Los Angeles Rams fans weren’t the trendy ones either. The trendy L.A. fans, those jackoff cokeheads and starfuckers, all were Raiders fans. You know I’m right. So, I don’t necessarily wish ill on the Rams. I’m sure they have some of those diehard fans still back in L.A., following them and loving them like abused loved ones, unable to help themselves. But their St. Louis fans deserve a few more years of agony and depression. Let them grow into their fandom the honest way. That’s why I’m happy to report that the worst case scenario for the Rams is still rancid ass. Don’t buy into last year’s bullshit hype. Fuck Sam Bradford, that Okie charlatan. I watched my team break his back and humble his shameful ass last year and his tears tasted good. Goddamn, I’m a rambling fool here. Anyway, the worst case scenario for the Rams is Bradford getting his shoulder all fucked up (I understand this is what happens to young hotshot quarterbacks.) and then the lack of talent everywhere else catches up with the Rams yet again and they flail and fuck around and find themselves in last place being humiliated on a weekly basis by the Cardinals. The St. Louis fans need to see that shit. They need to see their ex beating the shit out of their new man. It’s time for some humility up in this motherfucker. No, I will not calm down. Get your goddamn hands off me, you damn dirty apes!
PLAYER TO PULL FOR (Raven): Steven Jackson really was the best RB in the league, and just a pure loveable hoss who never blinked an eye as he bursted and badgered his way for long runs constantly. Guys like him actually make me sad when they are mired down in a franchise on the decline for the prime years of their career, because after another year or two, he'll probably take a back-up role on a Super Bowl contender to try and win a ring, probably come up short, and end up retired somewhat forgotten because he never got those primetime moments, or those playoff NFL film recaps of note. And yet he was truly one of the baddest ass motherfuckers in the NFL in his time. I'm not writing the dude off, but he's certainly getting into that grey area this year, where you might start to see the downward decline in ability to shake off the mini-concussions felt when your running style is so smashmouth stylish. But nevertheless, the true football gods, the proverbial real that recognizes real, they know Steven Jackson was the real deal, and because of that, he always will be the real deal, even in decline. Because in the eyes of the real football gods, you are always at your penultimate, and you go to Football Heaven (which is actually on the southwestern suburbs of Hell geographically) and just play smashmouth football for eternity with the game's greats from forever, and there's an endless supply of recreational drugs and loose women and cheap beer and cheap champagne and big steaks and Cuban cigars and whatever else they need in Football Heaven. It's kind of like Canton, but not decided by douchebag writers.
PLAYER TO HATE MOST (Neil): Al Harris used to play for the Green Bay Packers and therefore he is a known shithead. He’s a feisty little fucker and while I appreciate that kind of shit, too many times he was on the opposite side of the field from my boys acting the fool and therefore I cannot in good conscience say he is anything more than a lousy degenerate who should be dragged in chains before Sheriff Goodell and then hanged in the NFL town square while the townspeople scramble to steal his boots. Goddammit, hang on, there’s a bug on my leg. I have to kill that son of a bitch. Stream of consciousness style, yo. Okay, I’m back. Anyway, yeah, Al Harris should have his boots stolen.
BEST NAME ON TEAM: C.J. Ah You, which for whatever reason matches up with former Jets FB B.J. Askew in my brain, and seems perverted.
IN A PERFECT WORLD (Neil): In a perfect world, I take some Ritalin and try to focus on a coherent story here, but fuck that, it’s almost midnight, I just killed a bug who may or may not have been the reincarnated Hitler, I’m feeling feral and I don’t know where I’m going with any of this. I suppose I should talk about some actual football related stuff, but that doesn’t interest me right now as much as the idea of the people of St. Louis getting humbled for their imaginary crimes. They didn’t do anything wrong. Not really anyway. They just don’t deserve to revel in the joys of a winning team. That’s all. They haven’t earned that shit yet. They got too much too soon and now in a perfect world, they have to pay for that shit. I don’t want to wish injury on Sam Bradford because that would be mean spirited and I am a warrior of peace and therefore am above such petty tomfoolery, but at the same time, I remember people saying that he would have been – and should have been – the number one overall pick ahead of Matthew Stafford if he had declared for the draft a year early. And then the Rams and their spoiled fans had the nerve to cheer his selection over Ndamukong Suh. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they chose the way they did, but goddammit, there is family pride at stake here. I can’t have Sam Bradford running wild, tricking people into believing that the Lions got the raw end of the quarterback deal or that Ndamukong Suh isn’t the greatest man alive (After The Great Willie Young, of course, but that shit’s closer than you think.) Can’t have it. Therefore, in a perfect world, Sam Bradford will stay healthy but he will be revealed as a charlatan, a false prophet and an utter heathen. He will throw 30 interceptions this season and be hanged from the St. Louis arch by his own teammates. Yes, that’s a tad extreme, but these are strange and terrible times and these things happen. I didn’t ask for it to be this way. It was ordained by God. Just ask Brenda Warner.
PROGNOSIS (Raven): The Rams will be middle ground, like last year, and like they'll probably always be with Bradford, and go 7-9. That won't be enough to win the West, but it'll be enough for them to continue to feel good about themselves going into next year, when they'll expect to take that next step as a franchise.