By Pat Imig
Cold, Hard Football Facts critic of critics
Remember playing Hot Potato as a kid? Sure you do. Nothing screamed childhood entertainment quite like a circle of young people viciously eliminating each other until only one alpha-child remained. It was Survivor for kids before reality TV.
Sometimes adult professionals participate in Hot Potato as well. The people at Fox Sports, for example. Or reporters in Seattle. Both groups of pigskin "pundits" treated tired storylines like Hot Potatoes over the past week, only to get burned in the end.
But it could be worse for the pigskin "pundits." They could have ended up on TV like these guys:
show video here
Hot Potato: McNabb vs. Vick!
Fox broadcasters passed the Week 4 Redskins-Eagles Hot Potato to one another for seven straight days. If it wasn't an in-game advertisement during Week 3, it was a commercial leading in and out of a break or a hurried mention during one of the studio shows.
Sadly this Hot Potato mashed from "Donovan McNabb's Homecoming" and "McNabb vs. Michael Vick" to a game that was "ugly and underwhelming." This can happen when there are 104 other players in uniform not named "Donovan" or "Vick."
Vick was injured and carted off in the first quarter; McNabb failed to impress (125 passing yards); and Philly RB LeSean McCoy was the game's biggest offensive star (28 touches, 174 yards from scrimmage) in a 17-12 Washington win.
Sorry to break up the storyline, media.
This Hot Potato of pigskin punditry isn't just limited to Fox, either. The folks in the upper Northwest are passing around the notion that "Pete Carroll is Exciting!" Did you hear what I just said?
PETE CARROLL IS EXCITING!!!
There you go.
After springing what some would call a surprise win over the 49ers in Week 1, Seahawks.com writer Ben Malcomson passed the 'tater.
"'It was our first chance to lay a foundation for building a championship team,' coach Pete Carroll, buoyed by excitement and joy, told his players in the locker room on Sunday afternoon."
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times also picked up the hotness and passed it along:
"The Seahawks are buying into the excitement and college spirit created by Pete Carroll."
This exciting idea of excitement on the sidelines carries over to an excited Pete Carroll on the exciting practice field:
"There was Carroll just passing the time by attempting to hit the goalposts with throws from 30 yards away — and getting excited every time he did." – Tim Booth, Associated Press
Don't think for a second the Hot Potato can't be passed from pundit to player. It turns out players are allowed in the circle, too. The face of the Seattle offense, Matt Hasselbeck, is now an energy and excitement expert:
"When it comes to energy and emotion and enthusiasm and all of that, it's not just Pete; it's his whole coaching staff. Everybody's in on it. It's almost like he's got people assigned to it. It's really just a well-oiled machine. They have it down. It feels very authentic all the time."
What happens to the Potato after a terrible loss, though? Does it grow cold? No! Not when it's authentic excitement! A truly Hot Potato of a storyline can survive even the most dispiriting loss to the lousiest teams.
Following a 20-3 loss to the Rams and a Week 5 bye on the horizon, the exciting Pete Carroll excited Danny O'Neill of the Seattle Times:
"Carroll is a coach that can make even a bye week sound like an exciting opportunity."
And O'Neill isn't the only one by the loss and the bye head. Fox Sports' John Lynch revealed in Week 4:
"It's just exciting talking to the guy."
Playing Hot Potato with the pigskin pundits is fun – and when the game involves Pete Carroll, it's downright exciting!
If the Seahawks manage to win the NFC West crapshoot, the Hot Potato could blossom into a five course meal. At that point, Carroll will be "like a kid having fun out there."
Where have we heard that one before?
CURT MENEFEE HOSTs AMERICA'S No. 1 PRE-SCHOOL SHOW
While some pigskin "pundits" were passing the Hot Potato, the writers for the NFL on Fox studio shows might have a career in nursery rhymes.
Some of the lines offered by Curt Menefee during the preview of the "O.T. on Fox (Presented by Lowe's)" included:
"In the city that usually loves to hate, Donovan McNabb was greeted with a huge ovation. But did the Eagles fly by the Redskins?" (Get it? Eagles? Fly!)
"With Drew Brees a little banged up, did the Panthers stumble upon their first victory?" (Video of Jonathan Stewart stumbling over his own feet aired during the line. Catchy.)
"In Mr. Rodgers' neighborhood, did the Packers put on a great show against the Lions?" (I would argue the Lions-Packers game was more exciting than any episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood – unless Pete Carroll starred in the program.)
"Was it curtains for the Steelers undefeated run?"
Has anyone ever hanged a curtain made of steel? Why didn't the Steel Curtain opt for a stronger term like Steel Wall or Steel Monster?
ROVER RED ROVER SEND DILFER RIGHT OVER
As principal of Pigskin Detention, it's necessary to continue the punishment of ESPN's Trent Dilfer, whose reaction to Garrett Hartley's missed field goal in Week 3 was quite ridiculous:
"It makes me physically ill because you look at the investment of what each person on that football team puts in during the week and in the game – getting beat up, the resilience, the toughness – kickers don't have the same investment. They're online shopping and watching soap operas during the day. You have a job: make a 29-yard field goal. You should make it 1,000 out of 1,000 times. The team is too politically correct to say it: I'll say it for them."
Hey Trent, do you think it made your Tampa teammates physically ill the day in January 1998 when you sucked the hard one against the Packers in the playoffs? You have a job: complete better than 11 of 36 passes, throw fewer than two picks and post a passer rating better than 27.5. You should do that 1,000 out of 1,000 times.
As for online shopping? You, Trent Dilfer, are going to succumb to a yardstick beating at the hands of Sister Spalding and Mother Hochuli.
SOMEBODY GET DICK STOCKTON A SPORTS ALMANAC
Sticking with Week 3, the Rams defeated the Redskins for their first win in what seemed like forever. Forever apparently crosses over to Major League Baseball, according to Fox broadcaster Dick Stockton, who has apparently been calling sports forever, too. He said after the St. Louis victory:
"There hasn't been much to enjoy for the St. Louis Browns in recent years."
You aint just whistling Dixie, Dick. The American League's Browns haven't won a game since 1953, their last season in existence. Next time insert the standard snafu "St. Louis Cardinals." At least they actually played pro football.