In 2007, the Patriots and Colts renewed the league's biggest rivalry when they met in the season's biggest regular season contest. This weekend, those same two teams are clashing again, but so much has changed in just 12 months to render this game unimportant. Tom Brady and his bad knee is out for the year. (Though his supermodel girlfriend Gisele is having a better season.) Peyton Manning is playing ... barely. Or maybe it's just the ghost of Peyton Manning, as his surgically-repaired (and later infected) knees have really made him a shadow of his former self. The Patriots are playing slightly better than the Colts, but the truth is that for the first time in years both of their Super Bowl prospects look scarier than the Randy Moss Halloween mask. Yikes!
QUARTERBACKS: In the '90s, Kerry Collins used to be a tabloid's dream. He drank too much. He smoked too much. He got arrested. He pissed off some teammates with poorly executed trash talk. He was basically the NFL's John Daly in shoulder pads. Even after Collins got clean and sober, he'd throw dumb interceptions and just look off into space with a slack-jawed expression. So, when he joined Tennessee in 2006, it was considered by most to be his NFL old-folks home. He'd quietly back up the team's real quarterback and slowly fade into oblivion. But Collins didn't get that memo. Instead, he is the field general for the undefeated Titans. This Halloween, the 35-year-old won't need a costume; he will be playing a winning quarterback, an “outfit” that Collins hasn't worn for years.
RUNNING BACKS: Deuce McCallister is the Anne Hathaway of the NFL. He's a likeable guy but he has no shortage of bad luck. While teammate Reggie Bush gets all the hype in New Orleans, McCallister has fought through injuries and done all the grunt work. And just like Hathaway's sour ending to her relationship with her Italian boyfriend, who has since been convicted of felony fraud, some of Deuce's struggles might be his own fault. This week, the Saints running back reportedly tested positive for a drug that is known to prevent positive tests for steroids. As many as eight NFL players reportedly tested postivie for the same masking drug. So McCallister didn't test positive for steroids, but he came dangerously close. Maybe the next time Saints fans chant “Deuuuuuuuuuce!” some of them instead will be yelling “Booooooo!”
WIDE RECEIVERS: Some medical patients say that marijuana helps ease their pain. Maybe it's not too late for Santonio Holmes to use that excuse. The Steelers wide receiver was arrested last week for possession of pot in his SUV. I, for one, am shocked and appalled ... that given today's gas prices, he's still driving a SUV! When the Steelers drafted him, they envisioned a great duo in Roethlisberger and Holmes, not Cheech & Chong. To his credit, Holmes apologized for getting arrested ... and then he asked for potato chips. Just kidding about the last part.
TIGHT ENDS: Underachieving 49er Vernon Davis ... million contract. Getting kicked out of the game last Sunday by his own coach ... priceless.
KICKERS: I'm tired of Scott Norwood taking the fall, dammit! Norwood is the guy who missed a 47-yard field goal in 1991 that would have given Buffalo its one and only Super Bowl title. The loss was so painful for Bills fans that film director Vincent Gallo even made a great indie movie, “Buffalo '66,” with a similar missed Super Bowl kick as a subplot. Why am I defending the much-maligned Norwood? Because last week I saw his name pop up on a list of “Biggest Choke Jobs in Sports” and I couldn't believe it. I did a quick Google and found his name on other similar lists. Are you kidding me? Since when did a 47-yard kick become an easy chip shot? Legs are stronger nowadays and 50-yard kicks are more frequent. But nearly 20 years ago, a 47-yarder was almost a desperation move. It would have been a small miracle for Norwood to nail that kick, so, let's lay off of him, shall we? Okay, I'll stop ranting. I need to calm down. Where's Santonio Holmes when I need him?
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS: Jason Taylor almost walked away from football when he came in second place in “Dancing With the Stars” last year. Taylor got bit by the “Celebrity in LA” bug, created a media buzz with his movie-star looks and almost retired to focus on an acting career. Any film agents whispering in his ear to quit football now have company. Taylor's 34-year-old body is telling him the same thing; he has only 12 tackles and just one sack and his calf injury is only getting worse. We wish Taylor, who is truly a classy guy, way more luck than Lawrence Taylor had with his post-NFL acting “career.”
COACH: Mike Singletary joined the pantheon of classic postgame tirades by NFL coaches last Sunday. Now comes word that he tried to fire up his 49ers during their blowout loss to Seattle by dropping his pants in the locker room at halftime. According to reports, Singletary kept his pants around his ankles while he yelled at his players for up to three minutes. Why? To convey that they were getting their butts kicked, he explained this week. Oh. By the way, if anyone is curious, he was wearing boxers not briefs.