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04 Mar 2009

Who Watches the Walkthrough?

by Mike Tanier with apologies to Alan Moore


Horse carcass on Interstate 70 this morning. Another dead horse, still getting beat. This league is afraid of me. I have seen its true face.

They put us out to pasture years ago. They said we were too old, too powerful. So instead of Super Coaches, they followed the ways of Internet billionaires and wunkerkind coaches with peach fuzz. Now the whole league stands on the brink, staring down into the hell of free agency run amok and a year with no salary cap. When the world needed us, the Super Coaches caved in: They retired or compromised or moved to the front office to become fat cats.

All but me. I may have been fired, but I refuse to compromise, to surrender.

Last night, someone tried to kill an old man in Illinois. The media is baffled. I know the man's identity. He was the Chicago Chin, a former Super Coach. As I investigated the case, all I could say was "Hrrmmm." I must warn the other Super Coaches.

In a run-down apartment outside San Diego...

Niteowlenheimer: Hello? I hear someone. Who's there?

Rorshan: It's me, Marty. I helped myself to an uncooked can of beans.

Niteowlenheimer: You scared me, Rorshan. So, um, why are you here?

Rorshan: Chicago Chin was attacked last night. Someone is trying to get rid of Super Coaches. Any of us could be next. I think we should team up and investigate.

Niteowlenheimer: I don't think so. I am not a Super Coach anymore, if I ever was one. Frankly, I feel ... impotent ... nowadays. Too many memories. Earnest Byner. Marlon McCree. They haunt me when I sleep.

Rorshan: Hrmm. If someone is killing Super Coaches, sleep will be even harder for you. Farewell, Marty.

Niteowlenheimer: So many memories...

In a top secret lair in South Florida...

Tunamandias: Jeff, Tony, prepare all of my televisions. I must watch 50 of them at once. Tune to all the ESPN networks, FOX Sports, and NFL Network. Also tune to Home and Garden Channel, Golf Channel, and Fine Living Network, because my exceptional brilliance allows me to glean trends from all of these media outlets. You can even tune to CBS, if you want, though that doesn't help me much at all.

(Beside him, a freakish, genetically mutated cat purrs.)

Tunamandias: Steady, Wildcat. I know we will have a guest soon. My first impressions from watching all of these televisions: a sense of panic and confusion, of overspending and poor planning. Dan Snyder spent $100 million on Albert Haynesworth, as I predicted. The market is in flux. For the short term, I will stick with my original strategy by signing Gibril Wilson. In the long term, once my elaborate plan has been enacted, I will have no need for minor free agent transactions.

Rorshan: I thought the Smartest Man in the NFL would know I was coming.

Tunamandias: I anticipated your arrival and told security to let you in. Now what did you want to tell me?

Rorshan: Someone is attacking Super Coaches. I think you could be next.

Tunamandias: Nonsense. I am not a Super Coach anymore. I am a team president, an executive. No one would have anything to gain by trying to hurt me.

Rorshan: No one had anything to gain by attacking Chicago Chin, either. But perhaps your security and mutant feline can protect you. Farewell, William.

Tunamandias: Easy, Wildcat. Rorshan is dangerous, but he is a threat that we can manage.

Interlude: A Street Corner in Manhattan...

News Vendor: We oughta nuke this salary cap and start over. I mean, that's just my opinion. But I'm a news vendor, damn it. I look things in the face. It's my job to keep an eye on these spoiled brat athletes and the playboys who blow millions on them. It's all going straight to hell, inna final analysis. You listening, kid? Stop reading that pirate comic book.

So many lost souls were consigned to oblivion on that Pewter Freighter. Young men's lives ruined, the prime of their lives torn from them, all because of a captain whose name echoed in terror across the bayside communities: Yellow Jon.

News Vendor: This is crazy, I tell ya. All of these free agent signings. Now there's even crazier news: someone wants to have all the free agents meet in Times Square at noon for a special conference. It's typical NFL: some media circus to drum up excitement in the offseason. It will probably tie up traffic for days. Who needs it?

Those who met Yellow Jon trembled in his presence. They say he resembled a demented children's doll, that his temper could make the sea itself boil. Still, the promise of wealth and opportunity caused otherwise sensible men to cleave to him. Yellow Jon had some success years ago, leading a ship and crew assembled by a more noble captain. Sailors of all temperaments were fooled by this fleeting success: scoundrels like Jerramy the Dropper and saints like Warrick the Benevolent. All of them cast their lots aboard the Pewter Freighter.

News Vendor: It sez here that Bill Parcells, Tunamandias himself, organized the Free Agent Conference. I like that guy, I trust him. He did the right thing when all the other old Super Coaches kept trying to hang on. I'm glad most of the rest of them are gone, and I hope they find that creepy Rorshan guy from Denver. Talk about a guy who wore out his welcome. And that one up in New England, he's the creepiest of them all.

The Freighter was seaworthy, and it always sailed from port smoothly, fooling a crew that anticipated easy success. But Yellow Jon's method of piracy was insidious and complex. Some said that it took three years plying the sails to master the currents of the West Coast as he navigated them. By the time young seamen learned the ways of the Pewter Freighter, their backs were broken and their ACLs torn.

News Vendor: Yeah. Inna final analysis, I'm a little terrified of Doctor Foxboro.

In a top secret laboratory in Massachusetts...

Doctor Foxboro: It is 30 seconds from now. Rorshan is sneaking through the back door to surprise me.

Fourteen months ago, David Tyree catches a football against his helmet.

Twenty years ago, I am at the first meeting of the Super Coaches as an invited guest of Tunamandias.

It all happens simultaneously for me, for I have transcended the construct of time, and the need for clean or fashionable clothing.

Rorshan: Doctor, I think someone is trying to get rid of Super Coaches.

Doctor Foxboro: Rorshan? You surprised me.

Matt Cassel: How could he surprise you? You just said that he was coming 30 seconds ago.

Doctor Foxboro: Twenty years ago, the Super Coaches are meeting. The Chicago Chin is mad.

Chicago Chin: The whole freakin' system is out of order. The players are making too much money, and they keep demanding more. The owners are a bunch of panty waists. I don't see any way to save this damn league.

Niteowlenheimer: We can try. Maybe if the league institutes a hard salary cap, plus a profit sharing system, it will help level the playing field. Then, the players will be able to negotiate a fair pension program. That's why all the Super Coaches have gathered here. We have the Texas Tophat and the Water Mammal, Racer Joe and the Squonk, and some new guys: Rorshan and Doctor Cleveland. We are all on the same page here. Take a look at this chart.

Chicago Chin: Don't you get it? It takes more than that. Someone needs the real power and real vision to, I don't know, get rid of all the free agents for a year or two. Then the guys who really love the game can play for the fun and excitement, not just to get rich. It makes me so mad I just want to light your stupid chart on fire with my cigar.

Texas Tophat: Son, that ain't right.

Squonk: (Sniff) The chart! He worked (sniff) so hard on it. I need a tissue.

Matt Cassel: Did you just time jump again? It confuses the hell out of me when you do that.

Rorshan: I know you are powerful, doctor. You have the ability to see everything that is happening everywhere in the world. But this threat may be bigger than all of us.

Doctor Foxboro: It is 14 months ago. David Tyree is catching a football against his helmet. My tenuous tether to humanity is severed.

Two months ago, Tom Brady is yelling at me.

Tom Brady: The franchise tag? You are franchising Matt Cassel? He will make more than me this year!

Doctor Foxboro: I am only protecting our interests.

Matt Cassel: I didn't want you to find out this way.

Tom Brady: Oh, you just wait, Matt. Wait until you are old and have a bad knee. Wait until you lose a Super Bowl. Then you will look at him and see that he is still the same, and he has his eye on the next young quarterback who can help him win games. Bernie told me this would happen. Bernie told me this would happen!

Doctor Foxboro: Five seconds from now, Rorshan asks me for help.

Rorshan: Even if you don't want to help investigate this crime, you can at least provide me with some of your surveillance footage. Maybe if we knew what happened the night of the attack on Chicago Chin, we could make progress.

Doctor Foxboro: Two days from now, I am walking through Times Square. The buildings are rubble. At my feet is a torn Cardinals jersey, number 13.

Fourteen months ago, David Tyree is catching a football. Plaxico Burress is celebrating a touchdown. Humans are no more interesting to me than single-celled organisms.

Twenty years ago, Chicago Chin is burning a chart with a cigar. Tunamandias watches the scene intently.

Two months ago, Tom Brady yells at me. Eric Mangini is gone. Romeo Crennel is gone. Charlie Weis. Josh McDaniels. None of them have any success without me. They are all tainted somehow. Tainted by my presence, perhaps.

Matt Cassel: Hello? Anybody home, Doc?

Doctor Foxboro: Rorshan, this surveillance tape may help you. I am going to Mars.

Interlude: On a street corner in Manhattan...

News Vendor: We're headed for Armageddon, I tell ya. Did you see this? Doctor Foxboro left for Mars! And all the free agents are heading for Times Square for a big shindig tomorrow. It makes no sense. Even the guys who signed contracts will be there. Kurt Warner, Albert Haynesworth, Ray Lewis, all the big stars. All the free agents have committed except one. You payin' attention, kid? That pirate comic costs money, you know.

Pity the poor souls on that Pewter Freighter! The first mates had it worst of all. One, a fresh-faced lad named Chris, was the son of a great captain. So chastised and derided was he by Yellow Jon that he attempted to pilot the ship through a storm despite a ruptured spleen. His innards filled with bile, but young Chris sailed on, fearing the lash of Yellow Jon. But it wasn't enough for the accursed ship's master, who claimed the mate wasn't tough enough.

Chris' replacement was a grizzled sailor named Garcia, who was keen of mind but frail of body and big on ambition. Garcia dared to question Yellow Jon, who went so far as to imprison the mate in the brig for a spell. But Garcia was the best first mate Yellow Jon could find, so he was released, and the Yellow Freighter won several battles up and down the coastline.

News Vendor: The only free agent who hasn't responded to the Times Square invitation is a two-bit tight end named L.J. Smith. Can you believe it? No one can even find him to interview him. How the hell does an NFL free agent disappear in March?

Garcia and the others soon learned that Yellow Jon's plans led only to ruin. As winter loomed, they desperately laid siege to town after town, but each opponent rebuffed them. The captain's fleet-footed shock troopers, Galloway the Once-Swift and Cadillac the Ever-Injured, attempted to surprise opponents with speed, but they were too old, too spent from years of piracy. The crew of the Yellow Freighter lost four straight battles, their ranks decimated by the constant violence.

News Vendor: The worst development is that all of the Super Coaches are back in the news. That big guy who got attacked turned out to be the Chicago Chin. Remember him? Those guys were great in their day. Coach Squonk, always crying when he won. The Texas Tophat, dressed perfectly on the sidelines. They should know when to call it quits. There's a rumor on NovaExpressTalk.com that Niteowlenheimer plans a comeback, and that he's working hand-in-hand with Rorshan. What's this world coming to?

As sunset came, there was little sign of the Yellow Freighter's crew. Brave sailors like Warrick and Derrick disappeared into the coastal forests, happy to escape. Yellow Jon was beset by enemies on all sides. As they closed upon him, he bared his teeth and snarled. "You cannot defeat me, for I am immortal! One year in exile, and I shall be back, with a new ship and a new crew!" Alas, even as the mob had him drawn and quartered, they knew it was true: Yellow Jon would one day return to terrorize the high seas.

News Vendor: Even Tunamandias is getting weird. He just invested in a toy store that makes lifelike baby dolls. What kind of investment is that for a football guy? If you ask me, all of these things are connected, somehow.

In a Hovercraft, high above Miami...

Rorshan: You decided to help me. That was wise.

Niteowlenheimer: That evidence you got from Doctor Foxboro was frightening. Play the tape again.

(Rorshan presses a button on the console. A frightened man appears on the screen, talking on a cell phone.)

Chicago Chin: I'm really scared, man. He's got a bomb. He's got a dupe who is going to set it off, some clueless guy no one would suspect. I wanted to change the business structure of the league, but not like this! Not like this! Tunamandias has gone crazy! Wait, who's at the door? Ricky Williams! How are you doing? What the ... ouch! Help! Help!

Rorshan: Who is he talking to?

Niteowlenheimer: Peter King. King was about to report about this, but ... well, Brett Favre retired the next day.

Rorshan: Hrmm.

Niteowlenheimer: Do you think he's involved somehow?

Rorshan: Who?

Niteowlenheimer: Herm.

Rorshan: No. I just say "Hrmm" a lot.

Niteowlenheimer: OK. It doesn't make sense to include Herm Edwards in a diabolical scheme. Uh-oh, when I pulled Marty the Blimp out of mothballs, I forgot to set the on-board clocks.

Rorshan: Not a problem. I have a Swatch.

Niteowlenheimer: It's not that. Marty the Blimp thinks it's January. Nothing I create works properly in January.

Rorshan: Yes, your well-known Achilles' heel.

Niteowlenheimer: We're going to crash into Tunamandias' headquarters. Grab something heavy.

Inside the top secret Miami bunker...

Tunamandias: Gentlemen, how good of you to drop in.

Niteowlenheimer: Give up, Bill. We know you attacked Mike, the Chicago Chin. We know you have some kind of bomb. Turn yourself in.

Tunamandias: It's too late, Marty. Look on television. The Free Agent Conference is starting.

Niteowlenheimer: What do you have up your sleeve?

Tunamandias: Something so brilliant, neither you nor your unhinged friend could possibly have pieced it together without the help of my old protégé, Dr. Foxboro. You see, the only way to save the NFL is to destroy all of the free agents. They are all in one place now, all of the richest, most successful players in the NFL. Their agents are also there, as well as the biggest media hogs among the owners. Once my bomb goes off, they will no longer be a problem.

Niteowlenheimer: You are sick, Bill! Tell us where the bomb is!

Tunamandias: Hiding in plain sight, Marty. After the explosion, everything will be different. With fewer stars, teams will cut ticket prices so ordinary fans can go to games. Fewer agents mean fewer holdouts and less prima donna behavior. The shock will bring the union and management back to the table. Out of fear, they'll extend the salary cap and profit-sharing plans. It will be the dawn of a new era. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Rorshan: On the television: That player over there is holding a baby. Suspicious.

Niteowlenheimer: That's the bomb, isn't it Bill? The bomb is disguised as a baby.

Tunamandias: Yes. That player thinks he is holding a baby, but he's just a pawn. As soon as that baby hits the concrete, kaboom.

Niteowlenheimer: You think you are so clever, but you're not. That's an NFL tight end. His hands are his livelihood. Do you think he'll just drop an infant on the ground like some talentless klutz?

Rorshan: Marty? That's L.J. Smith.

Niteowlenheimer: Oh shit.

One day later. The rubble of Times Square. Two figures suddenly blink into existence...

Doctor Foxboro: Thirty seconds from now, I pick up Kurt Warner's jersey. Two days ago, I tell Rorshan about what happens two days from then, which is now. Twenty years ago, I cut Bernie Kosar. Six weeks ago, I am eating a panini when a sun-dried tomato gets wedged between my teeth.

Matt Cassel: Stop it! Stop it! I cannot take it any more! All of these people are dead and all you can do is narrate your life out of sequence!

Doctor Foxboro: Hey, check it out. Kurt Warner's jersey.

Matt Cassel: I can't be here anymore! I cannot take it!

Doctor Foxboro: Don't worry, they didn't die here. At the last second, I beamed them all to the moon to save them from the explosion.

Matt Cassel: But there's no oxygen on the moon.

Doctor Foxboro: As I said, they didn't die here. And their sacrifices won't be in vain. Observe the jumbo screens.

Matt Cassel: My God, look at the news crawl! Fifty percent ticket rebates! A new pension plan for retired players. A new collective bargaining agreement that's fair for everyone. Matt Cassel traded to the Chiefs. Wait, what's that last one?

Doctor Foxboro: We need to start over, to rebuild. You will be happier in Kansas City. I am going to the Crab Nebula to start my own football league.

(A rebuilt blimp lands. Three figures get out.)

Tunamandias: I did it! I saved the NFL!

Niteowlenheimer: Yes you did. But we are all witnesses. We all have to keep quiet.

Rorshan: Never! No surrender. No compromise. There is only winning and losing, right and wrong. The guilty must be punished.

Doctor Foxboro: Shall I vaporize him?

Tunamandias: Go buck-nutty.

(Doctor Foxboro raises his hand. Rorshan disappears in a poof of blue smoke.)

Niteowlenheimer: That's a relief. But he was keeping a journal, and I think he put it in the mail before we confronted you, Tunamandias.

Tunamandias: Where'd he send it? NovaExpressTalk.com? ProFootballFrontiersman.com? If he sent it to Peter King, I'll just coax Brett Favre out of retirement again.

Niteowlenheimer: I'm afraid I have no idea.

Somewhere in southern New Jersey...

Tanier (on phone): Is that you, Aaron? Sorry, Walkthrough is going to be late. What do you mean you need it right away? There's no football news: All the free agents are dead! OK, fine, let me check my mail and see if there are any ideas there. What's this package? "Horse carcass on Interstate 70?" Sounds like another blogger with an axe to grind. Well, he'll get his chance this week. Don't worry, Aaron. Walkthrough will be on time. And this week's edition is sure to get some attention!

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 04 Mar 2009

116 comments, Last at 08 Jun 2011, 12:04am by BigCheese


by AnonymousA (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 12:22am

Mike Tanier is so awesome, and I love everything he writes.

Except this. Dear god, this was unreadable. Just the high-level, boneheaded errors:

1) Assuming your readers are all familiar with Watchmen
2) Multiple colors. WTF? Hideous, illegible.
3) Long, meandering, nonsensical "plot". I'm not even sure what the point of this was.

by manderson (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:16pm

You're just a party pooper

by Martial (not verified) :: Fri, 03/06/2009 - 1:13am

If you read this website, you're obviously literate in English. If you're literate in English you should have read Watchmen. It certainly is not Tanier's fault if you've decided to be less of a well-rounded human being than you could otherwise be. Great lit is always worth it. Go read some. It's the offseason; you have time to kill.

If you read websites, you've been exposed to much, much worse than Tanier's color games - and his at least refer to his source material, so he's got some cleverness working for him. (Though the graphic nature of Watchmen, and the excellence of its melding word and image, makes it pretty much impossible to satire. Again, this is not Tanier's fault, but rather the limitations of his chosen medium. If the medium is the message - and it is a very large component - then it is really, really hard to do satire across media.)

Personally, I find football fascinating, even though each season is long and meandering and quite often winds up described as though there were a "plot", nonsensical as that idea might be. If sports fans aren't a built-in audience for odd structure, weird twists, and things that make absolutely no sense yet are so compelling you can't turn away, then I don't know who else on this planet is. (2007 Giants? That's not literature for adults; that's pure wish-fulfillment for adolescents. Though I must confess, it was better done than 2001 Patriots.)

This Walkthrough was fun, though ultimately I think impossible and therefore somewhat unsatisfying to this comic-book nerd and football geek. That doesn't lessen the attempt by any means. As Clarke's Second Law states: "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible." All those who attempt the impossible deserve our sincere thanks and, when they push as far and succeed as often as Mike Tanier, our reverence.

Mike, keep pushing the envelope. I'll keep reading.

by $ mike (not verified) :: Thu, 03/12/2009 - 9:42am

2) Multiple colors. WTF? Hideous, illegible.

FWIW, Faulkner wanted to use different colored text in his classic "The Sound and the Fury."


Their use here is just another indication of the author's genius.


by tally :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 12:23am

Wow. Best Walkthrough ever.

Only thing that would have pushed this to true epic levels would be Jason Beattie parody of Dave Gibbons' art.

by NY expat :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 12:31am

I don't have anything meaningful to add, but wanted to say that was just great.

by Mike (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 12:31am

Tanier, I have read FO forever and have never commented here, but this warrants it.

by Bob in Jax :: Sat, 03/07/2009 - 9:57pm

I have commented here, and this warrants another.

Well played, sir!

by KR (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:02am

Just outstanding work.

by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:04am


by Kelly in San Diego (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:04am

That was awesome. Agree with Tally that a cartoon parody of Gibbons art would make it perfect.
I am speechless.

I am a little worried that your next walkthrough will take inspiration from Final Crisis...

by Kenneth (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:05am

I haven't read Watchmen...does this spoil the whole thing?

by D :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:29am


by Jimmy :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 8:49am

If this is the book I think it is haven't they just made it into a film? If so would it ruin the film if I read the walkthrough?

A film I want to see and a walkthrough I want to read and I can't see either.

by Bobman :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:14pm

Who cares? Haven't read the book and probably won't see the movie for a few years, but this is awesome enough for me!

Doctor Tanier, your evil genius knows no bounds. Well, there's the out of bounds lines, of course, and the backs of the endzones, unless you're Captain Orlovsky to whom they are but meaningless doodles on the green landscape of life, but you know what I mean. This rocked. When I DO finally get around to seeing the movie, I'll have to go back and dig this up afterwards to see how much better this was.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 6:27pm

Fair point Bobman. I just didn't want to ruin a film I had been planning to see when it comes out here (unless it already has, I am really lazy about finding out stuff like that).

The worst had to be Peter King filling up half of his column with the final scene of The Sopranos when the last series had only just started showing in the UK.

by langsty (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:09am

sweet jesus

by math_geek (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:13am

Rorshan - Mike Shanahan
Niteowlenheimer - Mary Schottenheimer
The Chicago Chin - Mike Ditka (but the name fits Cowher so well)
Tunamandias - Bill Parcells
Dr. Foxboro - Bill Bellichek (who the hell else?)
Yellow Jon - Jon Gruden
Texas Tophat - I believe Jimmy Johnson?
Water Mammal - Clearly Mike "The Walrus" Holmgren
Squonk - Dick Vermeil
Racer Joe - Joe Gibbs
Doctor Cleveland - Cowher maybe?

Brian Billick deserves a mention somewhere. Tony Dungy missing, but he's not a media figure. George Seifert is also missing. Maybe too long out of the public eye? Tomlin's missing, but he's the only one that still has a job, so he'd mess up the joke.

by tally :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:32am

I thought Doctor Cleveland was a reference to Belichick's time in Cleveland.

by MikeyS (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:37am

I was thinking it was Mangini.

by tally :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:40am

No, Doctor Cleveland was a reference from a meeting 20 years ago. Mangini wasn't around then (as a coach, anyway).

by MikeyS (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:46am

Oh, I see. You're right. He changed his name in 2000, then, I presume.

by BywaterBrat (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:36am

wow...you are so intelligent and sexy

by Will Kier (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:40am

I haven't read Watchmen, but I'm assuming Doctor Cleveland is referring to Jon Osterman, or Belichick's earlier stint as Browns coach.

by TerryW (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 2:03am

Dungy is indeed in there.

Yellow Jon had some success years ago, leading a ship and crew assembled by a more noble captain.

by D :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:32am

The Texas Tophat is Tom Landry.

by Megamanic (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:48am

I agree - and this makes the sea mammel Don Shula

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 11:34am

No, the "sea mammal" is the Walrus - Mike Holmgren.

by NY expat :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:14pm

I think Megamanic is right -- Holmgren is too recent.
Would Squonk = Weeb Ewbank?

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:55pm

Squonk was sobbing in his only line - I took him to be Dick Vermeil.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:16pm

I assumed he was Dick Vermiel from the crying.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Fri, 03/06/2009 - 11:33am

From wiki: "The Squonk is a legendary creature reputed to live in the Hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania."

Northern PA = Pittsburgh = Chuck Noll?

by Dales :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 10:33am

"Tomlin's missing, but he's the only one that still has a job"

Tom Coughlin is so flustered by your slight that his face has turned beet red.

by MCS :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 5:08pm

I thought Texas Tophat was Landry

by TerryW (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:19am

To attach an appropriate meme to this...


(see urbandictionary, encyclopedia dramatica)


Do I show my age if I ask who "Chicago Chin" is?

by BywaterBrat (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:35am

Is journalism art now? I picked the wrong week to quit smoking...muthahflipping cool beans.

by TomKelso :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:45am

Doctor Cleveland was Doctor Foxboro's first incarnation of course....

I'm assuming the Texas Tophat is Landry, but I'm an old coot.

I'm just glad he didn't go into Silk Spectre's backstory at all - the thought of Matt Cassel flipbooks -- unless you have Brett Favre play the first one, then the books would be Peter King columns?

by D :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:36am

There would be a touch of irony though given how much Chicago Chin hates his QBs.

by TerryW (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 2:00am

I'm just glad he didn't go into Silk Spectre's backstory at all - the thought of Matt Cassel flipbooks -- unless you have Brett Favre play the first one, then the books would be Peter King columns?


Applause to you, sir.

So, who's Chicago Chin?

by TomKelso :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 2:09am


by speedegg :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:54am

Ha! Ha! Ha! Awesome! This had me rolling

by Rodafowa :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 5:37am

(Beside him, a freakish, genetically mutated cat purrs.)

Tunamandias: Steady, Wildcat.

Well played, sir. Well played.

Only criticism - this is more than a little bit spoilery if you haven't read Watchmen.

by sswoods (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 7:22am

I'm not sure which one made me laugh harder:

"Niteowlenheimer: You think you are so clever, but you're not. That's an NFL tight end. His hands are his livelihood. Do you think he'll just drop an infant on the ground like some talentless klutz?

Rorshan: Marty? That's L.J. Smith.

Niteowlenheimer: Oh shit."

Or ..

"Niteowlenheimer: It's not that. Marty the Blimp thinks it's January. Nothing I create works properly in January."

by footballprofessor :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 8:57am

oh my god, you guys are worse than simmons.

by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 10:07am

Uh, Mike. Time to start taking the cheesesteaks without mushrooms.

by andrew :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 10:11am

Awesome walkthru. Yeah, a few spoilers, but if you haven't read Watchmen, you have only yourself to blame.

And even if you haven't, the point of it isn't so much the plot. I've read watchmen maybe a 100 times, 99 of which I knew how it ended.

I know it was probably written well before that, but hope the Pewter Freighter stuff doesn't come across as a reference to the tragedy off the Tampa coast.

by glengarry (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 10:19am

i got real excited right off the bat to see who got to be Moloch... i demand MORE, Tanier! great stuff!

by Aaron M. (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 11:14am


This is not an homage to Watchmen. It's a flat ripoff that makes little sense. It's almost unreadable.

by Love is like a bottle of gin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:13pm

I agree...meh.

by Temo :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 11:17am

Heh, such a wide array of responses. I haven't seen/read/heard of watchmen, so I was mostly lost through the parts that I read. I stopped reading it half way through to stop myself from being spoiler'd, though.

I do appreciate the immense amount of work it seemed you had to undertake in order to write this, that part certainly shows. I'll try to read it again after I see the movie tomorrow and hopefully I won't be as lost as I am now.

"Then again, I'm a Bobby Carpenter believer." -- Barnwell

by daddymag :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 11:26am

They sure as hell better make a movie of this.

by jds (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 11:34am

Mike, your talent is wasted educating our youth. On second thought, perhaps that is exactly what you should be doing. Very well done sir.

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 11:38am

Mike, didn't you once write that you're an English teacher? And your epic is based on a comic book? No wonder this country's education system is going to hell.

by Temo :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 11:46am

He's a math teacher.

But yes, our education system is still going to hell.

"Then again, I'm a Bobby Carpenter believer." -- Barnwell

by tally :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 12:10pm

Ahem, not comic book. "Graphic novel." And a novel that was voted to Time Magazine's list of the 100 greatest novels of all time.

And for the record, I would have loved to have had Tanier as my teacher--math, English or otherwise.

by Eddo :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 12:09pm

Watchmen is really more an illustrated novel that a "comic book".

And so what if it plays a part in our education system? Can't a "comic book" raise relevant themes and be well-written?

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 12:25pm

As a matter of principle, yes. As a matter of practice, apparently not.

by phildo (not verified) :: Fri, 03/06/2009 - 2:07am

read maus and then try again

by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Fri, 03/06/2009 - 1:48pm

Agreed - there's pictures in the Divine Comedy, but that doesn't make it a comic book. The Watchmen is actually an outstanding literary achievement; the movie, unfortunately, misses the mark in trying to replicate that.

by Jake (not verified) :: Sun, 03/08/2009 - 9:05pm

The Divine Comedy's art is not of the form of a comic or graphic novel. However, Blake's poetry merges visual art and words in a manner that is very similar to that of graphic novels. Blake is one of the great English language poets.

I am currently reading Watchmen, and although I am enjoying it, I'm not yet convinced it deserves the elevated status some have given it. I am convinced that it deserves respect as a legitimate literary work. Also, I enjoyed this Walkthrough but think it should have some sort of spoiler warning at the top.

by L-Jam 3 (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 11:42am


by sb (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 11:49am

"All you can do is narrate your life out of sequence!"

That would probably be really annoying.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 12:02pm

That is possibly the greatest thing I have ever read.

by Scarhead :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 12:13pm

That was fantastic. And pretty much just for people who love football and who've also read the book, or maybe seen the movie. A lot of work for a select audience. Well done.

by WesM :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:18pm

I want to see the Venn diagram of the audience this was written for. All 27 of us.

by Bobman :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:26pm

Nicely said.

Tho I am outside the graphic novel and superhero/comic book/movie sets, I am in the NFL and "appreciator of great writing" sets.

But of all the people I know personally... not sure I can come up with a single person who would really enjoy it. Oh, maybe one, but after Marino retired he stopped following the NFL....

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:34pm

I'm wondering if I count. I don't generally read graphic novels/comic books/whatever other name by which they want to go this week, but I have TRIED to read Watchmen. (I'll admit I got about 1/4 of the way through it and decided it was better in synopsis.) As for the movie, Zack Snyder essentially began his filmmaking career by butchering one of the great horror masterpieces and turning it into a gargantuan, foetid, steaming pile of crap, then made a glorified cartoon out of a great piece of Greek mythological history. I'm not planning on seeing anything of his ever again.

I think my film student background is showing through...
*goes to watch "The Bicycle Thieves"*

by Wait, what? (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:15pm

Rorshan: Who is he talking to?

Niteowlenheimer: Peter King. King was about to report about this, but ... well, Brett Favre retired the next day.

Hah. I've read just enough of the book to get the gist of this whole thing, but I guess I need to read the rest. (Or see the movie, I guess, but I think I'd prefer the book.)

by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 1:55pm

This crap is so not funny my level of respect went down for Mike Tanier and all of his geeky followers.

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 2:12pm

Lighten up, Francis

by peterB (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 2:19pm

Oh, well played mr. Tanier, well played indeed.

I'm not sure whose plan is less feasible, Tunamandias' or Ozymandias' (in the book version I hear tell his plan is slightly different in the movie)... either way it's still entertaining. :)

by Skummy (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 2:29pm

Wow, that was fantastic.

Sadly, my football friends aren't nerdy enough to like it, and my nerdy friends aren't football-savy enough to puzzle it out. Like so much on this site it appeals to only a small segment... but when you get it you love it.

by Bobman :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:29pm

You are not alone...

...it only feels that way.

by mawbrew :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 2:46pm

Am I the only person that thought the Texas Tophat was a Bum Phillips reference?

by Outsourced Bengals Fan (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:00pm

You are not alone. The ten-gallon hat (or whatever the hell that size was) seemed natural to me. It took me a while to realize it was Tom Landry.

Fantastic job, Mr. Tanier. Walkthrough remains my favorite Outsiders column.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:22pm

I wish I had thought that. Unfortunately, if you say "Texas," the first thing that pops into my head is Tom Landry.

That's actually sort of scary.

by I'm in the Venn (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 2:59pm

That was amazing - as one of the 27 in the Venn diagram (mentioned in a comment above) who are both comic book geeks and huge football fans, I loved every second of it. Well played sir, well played.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:08pm

That was fantastic, even though only a small fragment of people could appreciate it.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by tally :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:30pm

We 27 may be the very loud minority, but I prefer to think of myself as well-rounded.

by wr (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:34pm

I haven't read or seen Watchman, but it didn't matter. While it was
tedious in a few places, overall it was hilarious. Especially the Pewter Freighter part - and IMHO it is distinct enough to not be confused with, or taken for , what just happened in the Gulf.

by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 3:35pm

Thanks to all who read and enjoyed it. I know I was only writing to the small segment of Earth's population that can get both Ozymandias and Schottenheimer jokes. What good is writing for an independent website if you cannot do something truly independent once in a while? I'm glad to have found 27 of you, and I guess it goes down to 18 of you when we throw in the Genesis reference.

BTW, Texas Tophat was Landry. Squonk is Vermeil. Ditka, the Chicago Chin, was originally called The Hogbutcher, but that was probably just getting too obscure.

And for those of you who didn't like it, I will be writing about left tackles next week. Lots and lots of football and scouting. No comic books. Promise

by Really anonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:21pm

It was sweet. Ridiculous - but awesome. Epic, really.

March 6!!!

by CaffeineMan :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:44pm

Count me as one of the 27. I thought it was freakin' hilarious! Heh. Doctor Foxboro. Well done. That'd make a fun screen name for a Pats fan.

by Mystyc :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:45pm

As one of the 27, I thank you. As not one of the 18, I commend you for taking it to another level nonetheless.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 03/09/2009 - 12:45am

Ditto from another 27er.

by Bobman :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 7:39pm

Ozymandias reference: Romantic poetry (can't recall if it's Keats or Shelley -- "Look on my works, mere mortals, and despair" what a great line) or an actual character in the graphic novel/movie? I guess I'll find out soon enough. And if you are spanning into 19th C Brit Lit along with 20th C pop lit and 21st C football, bra-freaking-vo! If you need some opera gags to work in, glad to help out. (See, there I go: Opera. No WONDER I have so few friends who can appreciate this! And no wonder the Wagner Society frowns on my waving my big foam hand when Seigfried chops the anvil in two.)

by Thok :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 9:01pm

Both. (He's a character in the graphic novel/movie, but the name was clearly chosen as a reference to Shelley.)

by D :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:06pm

I can't decide if this is one of the best Walkthroughs or worst but either way it was an interesting way to kill a few minutes. I know it wouldn't exactly fit the book, but I would have liked to have read about Yellow Jon's time as the captain of his previous band of pirates from the other coast when he served the evil King Al. I guess I'll just have to wait for a Star Wars parody with Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Davis.

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:14pm

Im going to eat a pot brownie and watch the movie in imax sometime soon

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:35pm

I'm sure there's much I did not understand but I still rather enjoyed it. Tanier still ranks as second-funniest person alive.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:37pm

However, I do wonder--Mike Ditka, Supercoach? Really? Ditka?

I was also expecting Andy Reid to show up as comic relief, it being Walkthrough.

by tally :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 6:26pm

Well, one thing that does get overlooked is that while Watchmen is a "superhero" comic, only one character really has any powers (Doctor Manhattan) and the other is kind of straddling the line between realistic and fantastic (Ozymandias). The rest are a bunch of sociopaths in funny costumes.

So only Belichick and Parcells being among the true (modern) super-coaches is appropriate.

by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Fri, 03/06/2009 - 1:42am

Ah, I see.

So one could argue that Ditka is really just someone who appears to the general public as a Supercoach though he is not truly one? That would be so perfect that I might start thinking I've underestimated Tanier, which I didn't think was possible.

by Jmagic (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 5:08pm

Anyone who is ripping on this should be set on fire. Go read Peter King and nfl.com and all the blogs devoted to speculating on the same bullshit (will TO be released? Will The One retire?) for months at a time. Thanks for writing this Mr. Tanier!

by Josh :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 5:21pm

Well Done, Tanier. Well Done.

by DavidL :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 5:58pm

That was many, many levels beyond fantastic.

by VarlosZ :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 6:48pm

I'm a big Tanier fan, and I enjoy his forays into weirder stuff, but this one just didn't work for me. Still, I appreciate the effort: better to attempt something ambitious (occasionally) and fall on one's face (IMO) than never to make the attempt at all.

by TomKelso :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 7:32pm

I want to take a moment here to thank Mike for doing this -- the inventiveness and devotion to detail are the hallmarks of classic satire -- and any football fan should be able to appreciate the plot line from the people he knows, without knowing the book.

Besides, it's not like we haven't been inundated with Watchmen references over the past few months -- the image of Silk Spectre or Rorschach Happy Meals was avoided, but they've pretty much covered everything else.

And The Curse of the Pewter Freighter is priceless -- unless you're a Bucs fan. I'm just glad he resisted the temptation to make Brian Billick Moloch...

by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 7:48pm

and this was obviously not written for those unfamiliar with the graphic novel and their comments shouldn't be taken to heart.

by CathyW :: Thu, 03/05/2009 - 10:36pm

Okay, I really enjoyed this and I've never read Watchmen. The guy I'm seeing is a big Watchmen fan, so I suppose I will have to read it and/or see the movie.

And I too thought that Andy Reid might make an appearance, but the LJ Smith reference was priceless.

by Tom Gower :: Fri, 03/06/2009 - 10:50am

Sorry, Mike, I couldn't make it to the third line despite multiple attempts, so I'll just cite Joe Morgenstern's review of the movie (WSJ, may be paid sub-only):

Unless you're heavily invested -- as countless fans and fervent fanboys are -- in the novel's flawed superheroes, its jaundiced take on heroism and its alternate vision of American history, watching "Watchmen" is the spiritual equivalent of being whacked on the skull for 163 minutes. The reverence is inert, the violence noxious, the mythology murky, the tone grandiose, the texture glutinous. It's an alternate version of "The Incredibles" minus the delight.

by Sophandros :: Fri, 03/06/2009 - 1:28pm

Clearly, the movie reviewer in WSJ doesn't understand what "Watchmen" was about, because THOSE are the qualities of it that appeals to people. The characters are intentionally flawed and to call its worldview dystopic would be an understatement.

But what do you expect from the WSJ, who love the status quo...

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by draco193 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/06/2009 - 2:44pm

Is there any way I could find that Broncos-Watchmen symbol that was up yesterday? The art was amazing.

by TomKelso :: Fri, 03/06/2009 - 4:32pm

Once again proving that I'm too old for some of this , maybe...

The guy wanting the bloodied horse head artwork, Mike...might be making you an offer you can't refuse... how's that for a meta-reference?

by Vincent Verhei :: Sat, 03/07/2009 - 12:46am

Click this link.

by Bobman :: Thu, 03/12/2009 - 3:58am

Vince and Tom, Godfather references never get old, but thanks to a certain former New Englander pseudo-sports-writer, they have to be more cryptic or obscure these days. My personal favorite part of the horse head scenes is the Sol Woltz's description of his ingenue star: "She was sweet. She was innocent. She was talented. And what's more, she was the best piece of ass I've ever had and I've had them all over the world." So much for sweet and innocent. I laugh out loud every time I think of it because it's just so over the top. But I have to stop myself from using it in the wrong context lest people miss the ref and think I am serious. Like end of season ratings for my son's baseball and football teammates. I use that line and I'll end up with Shanahan's severed head in my bed.

by witless chum :: Fri, 03/06/2009 - 3:43pm

Brilliant. I do know one other person who'd appreciate this.

Another couple might, but they don't follow football close enough.

by Parker W. (not verified) :: Fri, 03/06/2009 - 7:35pm

To those of you who hated this article enough to take the time to voice it:

The internet is an extended gutter and the gutter is full of garbage and when the spam filters finally clog, the articles worth reading will be flooded. The accumulated garbage of all the unoriginal writers' cliches will overfill your minds and you will look up and shout "Save us!"...

And Mike Tanier will look down, and whisper "No."

by KWsteelersfan (not verified) :: Sat, 03/07/2009 - 1:30am

i've never read/seen the watchmen but i was able to figure out pretty early that's what it was

in any case i thought it was really well written and funny as hell, the LJ smith line made me lol

by Tim (not verified) :: Sat, 03/07/2009 - 12:31pm

Epic Walkthrough. Amazing novel. I left the theatre frustrated; another great story ruined by Zach Snyder.

by Phil (not verified) :: Sat, 03/07/2009 - 7:34pm

Brilliant, just brilliant!

by BigCheese :: Sun, 03/08/2009 - 3:16am

This was absolutely amazing. As a fan of the book, and having jsut seen teh movie to have it all fresh in my memory, I enjoyed this completely.

I even logged on to messenger jsut to see if the one other person I know who falls into the target demographic was online.

He was. And now he has FO bookmarked :)

- Alvaro

by bengt (not verified) :: Mon, 03/09/2009 - 8:49am

I think it is not too late to say that I enjoyed this Walkthrough immensely, a very short synopsis in a movie review being everything I know about the novel.

by Dr.Lance (not verified) :: Tue, 03/10/2009 - 9:11pm

This is excellent.

by Stevie :: Thu, 03/12/2009 - 10:26pm

Two thumbs up Mike

by BigCheese :: Wed, 06/08/2011 - 12:04am

Two years later: still genious!

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs