Sometimes, losers win. That's the heartbreaking thing about sports, when a known loser like Pacman Jones returns a kick for a touchdown and gets to strut across our television screens. More than heartbreaking, really. It's nauseating.
But the flip side is uplifting. Sometimes, losers lose. And when that happens, it's more than uplifting. It's delicious.
|It isn't easy to summon sympathy for Jerry Jones. (US Presswire)|
And your point?
My point: Some people deserve to lose. Some people spend 11 months and 29 days asking to lose, begging to lose. And so when that 30th day of that 12th month comes along, and Jerry Jones and Bill Belichick and Brett Favre fall absolutely onto their face ...
It's OK to rejoice. Really. This isn't cruelty.
This is justice.
Jerry Jones is the George Steinbrenner of the NFL, money-whipping everyone he can, whether it's his roster of Pro Bowl players or his overpaid offensive coordinator or the new $1.1 billion facility he erected in his own honor to pay for it all. He money-whips with no discretion, throwing money at Terrell Owens, the worst human being, non-criminal division, on the planet. He threw money at two of the worst people in the NFL, Tank Johnson and Pacman Jones. Having one of those players on your roster is a shame. Having two is a problem. Having three? Now you're being a jerk just for the hell of it.
Jones is Steinbrenner-like in another way, too. It's not enough to own the most famous team in his sport, one of the most famous teams in all of sports. No, that's not enough, so Jerry Jones, like Steinbrenner, thirsts for the spotlight. He must be seen and heard, because otherwise he would be like that tree falling in the forest, and for Jerry Jones, it is better to fail loudly than to succeed quietly.
And so this week he failed, and he failed loudly, and it is a beautiful thing. Because last week Jerry Jones, the moth that he is, was drawn to all those TV cameras when he said -- vowed -- that this coaching staff, this awkward Wade Phillips-Jason Garrett union, would return for the 2009 season no matter what.
And then, you know what? The Cowboys lost their playoff elimination game to Philadelphia, and it was bad. Really bad. It was 44-6. It was so bad, you could open your window in any time zone in this country and hear people laughing. Definitely you could have heard me laughing, because I can't be dishonest about my dislike for Jerry Jones. He's a spoiled rich kid with the nicest toy on the block, and he just dropped his toy in the mud. Now if he fires Wade Phillips, as he must, he's a liar. If he keeps Wade Phillips, as he insists he will do, he's an idiot. Either way, he loses. Which means the rest of us win.
And we win even bigger because Bill Belichick lost on the same day, albeit in a different way. Belichick's team, the New England Patriots, won their game but needed help from someone else -- the Jets -- to get into the playoffs. The Jets, coached by former Belichick aide Eric Mangini, needed to beat the Dolphins for the Patriots to win the AFC East. Mangini couldn't do it, and on Monday he paid for that failure with his job. We should all get together and get him a flower arrangement or something, because his failure meant failure for Belichick, and allowed all of us to ask a most pertinent question:
What has Belichick ever accomplished, and I do mean ever, without Tom Brady?
In Cleveland he was a 36-44 bust, and in New England he has reached the postseason only when he has had a healthy Brady, perhaps the most impressive quarterback in NFL history. In seven seasons with Brady as Belichick's starter, the Patriots have reached the playoffs. In two seasons without him, they have not. That says a lot about Tom Brady. It says a little about Belichick, too. So does his brusque (OK, rude) manner with most non-blonde walks of life, and his convicted cheating in the NFL. He's not a great guy, and unless he has Tom Brady under center, it's fair to ask if he's all that great of a coach.
The Jets' failure against Miami was also an indictment -- even more than an indictment of Mangini -- of Brett Favre. Of everything Brett Favre. Of the way he waffled on his retirement. The way he manipulated his return. The way he strong-armed himself onto the Jets and, as an aside, cost Chad Pennington his job as the Jets' quarterback.
Pennington is going to the playoffs. He led the Dolphins to one of the biggest one-season turnarounds in history, and capped it by beating the Jets in their stadium. Favre? He's going where he goes every year, back to Mississippi to channel his inner Marilyn Monroe and drama-queen his way through another offseason. Maybe he'll come back. Maybe he won't. Maybe he'll see and hear his name often enough to be satisfied. Probably he won't.
Whatever the case, he went to a team that spent a fortune in the offseason to improve its weak spots, and the Jets entered 2008 as an established playoff possibility. And then Favre drove them off the cliff, throwing nine interceptions and just two touchdowns in the final five games, four of them losses.
But this is what Favre wanted. He wanted all the attention, all the pressure, all of it. And so now he has it. In the media capital of the world he completely fell apart, cost his team a spot in the playoffs and cost his coach his job.
Encore, Brett? Pretty please?