Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Oct 2005


Many requests for a weekly link to Bill Simmons' NFL picks, so who are we to deny our readership (it helps that Bill likes us again). The main thrust of this week's article suggests that we may have an all-Manning Super Bowl this year, and that Eli Manning has that intangible "winner" quality that his brother lacks. I believe Mike Tanier would refer to this as "swagger." Anyway, the most surprising part of Bill's essay, given his past essays, is the fact that he is even considering the possibility of the Colts going to the Super Bowl.

By the way, if you would like a measure of how much pull Bill has at ESPN.com, note that he is the only columnist on the entire site whose articles are not split into multiple pages.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 28 Oct 2005

45 comments, Last at 31 Oct 2005, 6:55pm by zlionsfan


by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 4:20pm

Is Eli Manning as good as the hype? I think every football writer wrote about Eli this week...

I've only been able to watch the Giants play against the Rams and Cowboys. He certainly looked like the best 1st Round drafted QB in 3 years, but it seems a little early for a bandwagon.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 4:20pm

I've seen plenty of Giants games this year, and Eli Manning has at least one thing in common with the 2001 version of Brady. He misses a lot of throws to open receivers. I'm still not ready to annoint the Giants as a top team in the NFC, but we'll know in a few weeks if they're for real or if this is another version of the 2003 Chiefs. A bunch of early victories thanks to special teams that maskes a deficiency in defense, which gets exposed by a better team in the playoffs.

by Luz (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 4:22pm

i'd like to see him win a game on the road before we annoint him with oil.

by JG (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 4:22pm

I don't think it'll be a Manning-bowl this year, but if the Colts can keep up this level of production for a couple more years I think Eli could lead the Giants to a superbowl. He just needs a little more experience and maybe a little help on the lines.

by Ferg (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 4:27pm

Re #1: That Palmer kid isn't bad. (Or was he drafted 4 years ago?)

by Pksoze (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 4:30pm

I'm a biased Giants fan. I've seen every game this year. Eli still has some work to do before he's remotely in Peyton's league.

However he is a gamer and doesn't hang his head no matter the score.

I'd love to see a Manning vs Manning SB with Eli winning.

But I don't see it happening this year.

by Tyler (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 4:39pm

I'm with #3. If he does that at the Linc, then I'm sold.

Simmons's idea for the Randy Moss childbirth celebration has already been done, although it was an Italian soccer player, who did it as a tribute to his pregnant wife.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 4:46pm

This is something mentioned about Brady (and some other QBs) in the "Franchise QB" thread - that some QBs (or athletes in general - Simmons takes great delight in mentioning A-Rod in this) seem to have ice in their veins when it truly matters, and some don't, even if in general their talent levels may not match up.

That doesn't mean they always come through, but does mean they don't seem to blow it when the game is on the line. Conversely, it doesn't mean the other guy starts throwing INTs, but just that they seem to lose some of their touch when it matters most (Chris Webber, for example, is one of the ultimate examples of a player that just falls apart at key moments).


by pawnking (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 4:48pm

Very nice that you are linking Simmons stuff. Didn't he request that you do some kind of reasearch on QB performance after traumatic booing (QBPATB) or something like that a few weeks ago? I looked for the exact quote, but couldn't find it. Have you done that yet?

by MCS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 4:54pm

I've barely noticed, but all of a sudden the margins are full of ads.

Congrats Aaron.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:05pm

Ads for weird stuff. Ruff Ryders? I'll chalk that up with trucks and NASCAR under "Not the type of fan everyone thinks is a football fan."

by Bob (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:07pm

I'm tired of internet columnists not bothering to check the facts before they write stuff. I'm using Simmons as the example here, but they all do it - Easterbrook, King, etc. Simmons slammed DirecTV for not showing the Dolphins-Chiefs game live, when it's been very thoroughly discussed that it was the NFL's decision, no DirecTV's.

by zip (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:19pm

Wow, that touchdown celebration discussion is one of the funniest things I've read in a while. Who is the Simmons guy, and why does he work for ESPN?

by MCS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:22pm

The NFL has some kind of gentlemen's (or is it part of their charter?) agreement that they will not play football on Fridays or Saturdays during the college and prep seasons.

Warning: conjecture.

Because of the weather, they felt it was safest to play early, but in order to respect their youth colleagues, they did not air the game.

by Ray (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:28pm

My favorite part of the column is at the end where he's writing the Paul Maguire commentary. I can just hear it in Maguire's grating, nasaly voice. Perfect.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:30pm

It's not a gentleman's agreement, per se, but a by-law written into the stature that gives the NFL anti-trust exemption. I guess one of the senator committee members must have been a big college footbal fan to get the NFL to agree to never air football games on Friday (competes with high school) or Saturday (competes with college).

by JayHak (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:35pm

re #15
Agreed. You should go back in his archives. Several times he has faded into McGuire/Theismann speak (several this year actually.) He is dying to completely slaughter those guys (as most of us are), but they share employers, so that is as far as he goes. It is right on, and one of my favorite schticks of the former Boston Sports Guy.

by james (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:58pm

The best end zone celebration would involve the dude who scores throwin a pass to his nearest teammate. Then another dude comes out of nowhere and sets a back pick on the referee who is signaling touchdown and the original scorer than dunks it home through the goalposts.

Would be worth the fine.

by JG (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:59pm

re: 18

why do I get the feeling that any celebration involving the ref would not only result in a fine, but also most likely an ejection and possibly a suspension?

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:01pm

Maybe in 5 years we'll be able to rent the Sunday night crew to do commentary for $50 / hour. "10 % of all Wedding videos"

They would be perfect for a Blind Date like dating show...

by charles (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:15pm

the best end zone celebration would involve someone scoring a td, taking off his helmet, reaching into to the helmet to pull out pro bowl ballots and then walking to hand them out to the first row of the crowd.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:31pm

The TD celebrations described were hilarious. This is the one writer left on ESPN that I still read. (And I always make sure I go to sportsguy.net instead of through the main ESPN page.)

by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 7:40pm

What is the backstory on SG vs FO? From my understanding, there was never any ill feelings from this website, right?

by TomC (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 10:20pm

Simmons’s idea for the Randy Moss childbirth celebration has already been done, although it was an Italian soccer player, who did it as a tribute to his pregnant wife.

But he didn't SPIKE THE BALL! That was far and away the funniest (and most disturbing) part of the choreography.

by Drew (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 12:35am

The Texans are giving 2 points to Cleveland?! I don't care if they're playing Saint Mary-of-the-Woods; they shouldn't be giving points against anyone.

by Francisco (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 1:44am

Taco Wallace was a WR for the Seahawks in the preseason, so I'd imagine that's where Madden got the name.

by EorrFU (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 2:12am

The law that gave the 4 major sports anti-trust exemptions was passed in 1963. The NCAA lobbied and in '66 the law was edited so that the exemption did not apply from 5 pm Fridays till midnight Saturday.
Thus, it is a possibility, however small, that the nFL could be sued by an NCAA conference for anti-competitive practices if they had aired the game.

Nothing spooks corporate types quite like liability.

The exception is only in effect till mid-december which is why the start showing Saturday games.

by Fast Eddy (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 4:51am

#22. I've read Simmons pretty faithfully for more than a year. He is consistently funny, sometimes he just makes me laugh uncontrollably. Sort of like the Gil Thorp cartoons by Beatty on this web site (on occasion).

But I have to disagree with him being the only writer on ESPN worth reading. Jason Whitlock and his 10 Truths columns are generally worth reading, and the prefaces are very funny as well. His email from Beyonce was great this week.

by Raul Allegre\\\'s Revenge (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 1:27pm

Reading a Bill Simmons column makes me remember that he's actually a decent read.

Because as a baseball columnist, he's a great football columnist.

by Israel (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 2:21pm

the equivalent of somebody's wife getting into a debilitating car accident, then her husband filing for divorce while she's still in the hospital
Why isn't this analogy gender-neutral?

by Israel (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 2:28pm

Brother vs Brother in a Super Bowl would be nice hype.

So would #1 2004 pick vs #11 2004 pick. (With Jerome goes home to Detroit as a sidebar.)

by Matt (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 2:57pm

How many hours a day does Bill Simmons spend thinking about Peyton Manning? Has he ever gone seven full days without laying out the whole 'selfish/cares more about his numbers/doesn't come through when it counts/blah blah blah' thing? I swear, Peyton is renting space in that guy's head.

I will point out, however, that this is the first media article published in the last three years that has mentioned Peyton Manning without comparing him to Brady.

by Jason (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 3:16pm

The colts could win every game for three straight years by 100 points each game and Bill Simmons would still hate on Peyton Manning and the Colts.

For someone who's a fan of the team that's made the Colts their bitch the last few years, Simmons has a real complex about Manning and the Colts.

When he's not writing about the Red Sox or celebrating Tom Brady he's a good columnist. I just wish he'd ask Brady out to the prom already. I mean, we already know how dreamy he thinks he is.

by stan (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 4:56pm

When I saw in Aaron's review that this guy thinks Peyton isn't a winner, it was obvious that he was too stupid to bother reading.

Here are some clues for observers of NFL QBs:

1. If the QB doesn't know the plays and can't read coverages, it is too early to put him in the Hall of Fame. Actually, it is too early to even consider him a good QB.

2. If the QB's coaches don't let him audible at the line, he isn't great at "managing the game" (no matter what kind of "coach speak" those coaches feed the media clowns.

3. No QB in the history of the NFL has ever won a game. Teams -- made up of coaches, offenses, defenses and special teams -- win or lose games. Attributing all the success or failure to the QB is the flaccid thinking of fools who aren't willing or able to understand the game.

by Phil (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 5:18pm

RE: #34...ummmm, What??

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 5:56pm

So, I'm still curious why the SG had a beef with FO. It was something to do with an imitation contest, but what, exactly, went down?

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 9:41pm

The fact that Bill Simmons is the best columnist that ESPN has to offer is pathetic.

Although Simmons can occasionally be funny, I despise him and his homeristic tendencies.

ESPN blows.

by Drew (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 11:49pm

Re 32 and 33

I'm glad it's not just me who thinks that way. I can understand his man-crush on Brady; I really can. But for someone who's made it extremely clear that he considers Peyton Manning a loser, SG sure spends a lot of time thinking and writing about him. A-Rod too. It's not enough for his team to win, I guess. Maybe it's an intangible "bad winner" quality he possesses that comes through when it matters.

Different note -- when exactly did Eli Manning suddenly become this great "winner"? Last week? I think he's a fine player with a bright future, but come on. Last year, SG was ready to unveil the "Eli Manning face." Now he's a great winner and leader, chock full of intangible goodness.

by Zac (not verified) :: Sun, 10/30/2005 - 3:07am

Jerry F.: It's really not a very interesting story. FO had done a TMQ Homage article written entirely based on reader's suggestions. http://www.footballoutsiders.com/ramblings.php?p=67&cat=7 , they've since done a Peter King homage http://www.footballoutsiders.com/ramblings.php?p=92 and a Dr. Z homage http://www.footballoutsiders.com/ramblings.php?p=2101&cat=1

So anyway, they wanted to do a Sports Guy homage, where you talk sports a little bit, and you talk some pop culture and stuff. But then Aaron got an e-mail from the Sports Guy, asking him not to do it because he is not really a football writer so much as he is a gambling writer. This was when he was writing for Jimmy Kimmel, so he was only writing one column a month for ESPN the magazine. This is another reason why he didn't want it done, because for homage/parody to work, the source has to be well known.
So Aaron of course agreed. That's all there is to it.

by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Sun, 10/30/2005 - 12:05pm

RE #38
Perhaps Eli is a winner now to simply foil Peyton.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Sun, 10/30/2005 - 12:25pm

The funniest scoring celebration I saw was during a rugby (or maybe Aussie Rules)game. The scorer hurdled over the low wall, found an empty seat in the crowd, sat down and started applauding.

by T. Diddy (not verified) :: Sun, 10/30/2005 - 8:48pm

I didn't see who it was, but one of the Panthers did a "rowing a boat" TD celebration after scoring against the Vikings.

I'll admit, I chuckled.

by Ben Roethlisberger (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 12:05am

Simmons knows football awfully well for a guy who isn't a football writer. I can understand where he irritates a lot of people, but he does know his stuff. He's as knowledgable about football as any of the other alleged experts such as King, Zimmerman, or for that matter anyone else ESPN employs.

by Moe (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 6:56am

I seem to remember part of the reason Simmons didn't want an homage column was that he didn't want to be accused of "stealing" something from a column that he wouldn't necessarily have read anyway. Hmm mebbe that is just something I remember from the comments on the issue at the time.

I agree that Simmons is annoying with his Clemens, Peyton, A-Rod schtick, but its tough to argue with his record vs. the spread over the last couple years.

(Oh and I could do without all references to wrestling and reality TV, but that's why God invented the "page down" button.)

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 6:55pm

The Carolina oarsman was Steve Smith.

I generally like the Sports Guy, although I don't care for his pathological dislike of Manning and his violation of his own five-year rule. He's had some columns recently that really weren't that good, but the ones that are good are usually really good, and even the slower columns have some gems.

I'd love to hear him talk about the Sunday Night Follies in person, off the record. I bet he's just dying to do an uncensored review of them ...