The Rod Marinelli League

I posed this question to W.F. Skinner on Thursday night:

Who is the second-best coach in the NFL? (Obviously Belichick is first.)

He was stumped. Jeff Fisher? Yawn. Tom Coughlin? He's alright. Andy Reid? Somehow I don't think Johnny K. Woo would think so. Mike Tomlin? His team has lost five straight, including the last two to the Raiders and Browns.

At this point, Sean Payton would probably be the popular choice.

My choice for the second-best coach...Tony Sparano...and I ripped him earlier this year. He's mentally challenged regarding two-point conversions. But at least I can say for sure he knows how to get the most out of his talent.

I'm not suggesting that Herm Edwards should be getting his resume updated, but my god, the current crop of NFL coaches are just absolutely awful.

They go by the names Zorn, Phillips, Cable and Mangini. And the list goes on.

Cowher, Shanahan, Gruden, Holmgren...HURRY BACK! The NFL needs you.

And of course, this legend is still out there...don't think he isn't thinking about it. Early prediction, he'll be leading the Texans to the Super Bowl next season.

Jeff, come back to us

I always liked Jeff Van Gundy. He was an underdog, a diminutive guy in a sport of giants, and I thought he did a good job coaching the Knicks.

But the longer he's on the air the crazier he sounds. Here are some of his recent gems:

- Last year he said he'd rank Tracy McGrady as the second best two-guard in the league, behind Kobe and ahead of Wade.

Oh, where to begin. Dwayne Wade might have been the best player on the U.S. team in last summer's Olympics. Wade carried a team to a final four. He carried a team to an NBA title. McGrady has done none of those things. He did once say that he was happy to finally be in the second round of the playoffs during a seven game series his team led 3-1.

McGrady still has never won a playoff series. Dagger.

Van Gundy also said LeBron should go to L.A. and play for the league minimum so that he can win a title with Kobe. Again, so lost it's scary. First, why would LeBron give up tens of millions? I'd like to see Van Gundy do that. Second, great players and competitors in their primes usually don't take the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach. That doesn't do wonders for your legacy.

Van Gundy said Steve Nash should win the MVP this year. He said the NBA should do away with fouling out. Tonight he suggested Rashard Lewis take himself out of a game after he missed three consecutive shots.

I don't think Van Gundy is a stupid guy (I've been wrong before), so my best guess is that he's trying to be edgy and different.

Unfortunately, all he's being is an idiot.


Can't leave well enough alone

Jerry Jones has a bad habit. He seems to like to meddle at the worst possible times, and now, he's done it again.

Remember when Jones left tickets to NFC championship game in his players' lockers before the Cowboys and Giants met in the divisional round two years ago?

Now Jones is publicly questioning his staff's use of Marion Barber. Maybe I'm missing something, but what could possibly be gained here? He owns the team, so if he really couldn't live with the way Barber is being used, all he'd have to do is tell Wade Phillips privately the exact role he wanted the back to play.

Publicly questioning Phillips only brings more heat on a guy who most people think will be gone at season's end, and it's certainly not going to help the team pull together amid the talk of its pathetic December record in recent years. Jones' comments serve absolutely no productive purpose.

Don't get me wrong - I love this. I hope Jones keeps this up all month and the Cowboys take a nose dive right out of the playoffs. But Jones should take a page out of George Steinbrenner's book. The Boss mellowed out in his later years running the Yankees, and lo and behold they started stacking up titles. Steinbrenner was still passionate and occasionally popped off, but he chose his spots better.

Jones should do the same, but man, I hope he doesn't.


The root of the problem

I usually make it my business to make sure there is something new up here every day, but it's taken me until now because I have the dagger of all daggers, a major toothache that will require a root canal tomorrow.

With the help of a fistful of Advil, however, I'm feeling well enough to rip Kerry Rhodes. The Jets safety is unhappy because his role isn't clearly defined right now. In reality the guy should be counting his lucky stars that the Jets haven't cut him - that's how badly he's played this season.

My fellow Rippers and I have all witnessed this guy shy away from contact, get trampled by running backs and make weak attempts to push guys out of bounds all season. It's so bad that you don't even have to look for it, his tentative play jumps out at you on replay.

So Kerry, until you get back to playing the way you did your first few years in the league, be quiet. You've been an embarrassment, the last thing you should be doing is drawing attention to yourself.


Schooling Tiger

The time has finally come for me to do the unthinkable. It's time for me to rip Tiger Woods.

Never did I ever imagine the day would arrive when I would have strong enough feelings to take a shot at my favorite sports figure of all-time. I also never thought I'd see the day when perhaps the most dominant athlete in the history of sports would be in the news more for the size of his, um, shaft, than for what he does with the golf clubs he wields on the course.

I'm sorry, Tiger. I love you, but you are officially an idiot.

Look, I've said for years that I think about 80% of professional athletes cheat on their wives. In no way am I saying that makes it okay, but it really is the ultimate don't-judge-someone-until-you're-in-that-situation situation there is.

It turns out, Tiger is an ordinary (bad) guy when it comes to going after women. Am I surprised? No. Am I surprised how stupid he was about it? Yes.

It's one thing to do this stuff when you're not married (See: Derek Jeter -- SI Sportsman of the Year and holy figure in New York despite his playboy ways), but once you tie the knot, the number of mistresses needs to go down. At least to single digits.

I mean seriously, how could Tiger think that not even one of his female playing partners would ever say anything about having slept with one of the most famous people in the history of the planet? Especially ones that were supposedly working for barely more than minimum wage at glorified Waffle Houses? As Tony G. Dagger mentioned previously, there are a lot of money-grubbing hoes out there. I guess Tiger's Stanford education didn't cover him that.

Tiger's buddy, Michael Jordan, couldn't give him a few pointers on sneaking around? Like have a separate, secret phone for dealing with side-pieces. Or don't actually call yourself and leave an embarrassing/incriminating voicemail. How stupid can you be? You could have afforded to pay a different person to handle each of your mistresses. Police found $235 in your crashed SUV? That's like a couple pennies slipping out of my pocket and into the crack of my car-seat.

For nearly 15 years, this guy has been in the spotlight as much as any other athlete and the public hasn't seen one sloppy-drunk picture of him or even heard about a single speeding ticket. It appeared that either Woods was genuinely the "boring" person he categorized himself as or he was just as good as guarding his private life as he was at slingling a little white ball around the golf course.

Apparently, he wasn't being so careful this whole time. As a result, it was just a matter of time before some of this stuff started to come out. Like his stunning loss to Y.E. Yang at this year's PGA Championship, it was inevitable that Woods' off-the-course behavior would eventually be exposed. Yet somehow, Mr. Swoosh never saw it coming.

I'm sure it was tough for him to turn off the "playa" switch upon marriage and I'm sure he was super careful at first. But the more these guys get away with -- and when you're Tiger Woods you can probably do just about anything you want -- the more they think they are bulletproof.

Yes, his agent Mark Steinberg and whoever else is in charge of the Tiger Woods machine deserves blame for letting this get out of control. But unlike a lot of other athletes who have faced controversies, I thought Tiger was smart enough to never let it get to this point.

Wrong. Instead, the whole saga (Mysterious accident, multiple affair allegations, possible foul play, prescription drugs and alcohol, his mother-in-law being taken to the hospital days after) seems like a never-ending story. I half expect to wake up tomorrow and find out that he has gone missing after being abducted from his Orlando mansion by aliens.

Tiger, the seemingly indestructable force, has become the continuous butt of jokes around the world (Got to admit, Wanda Sykes had some pretty funny lines). How did Tiger's people let it come to this?! How did Tiger let it come to this?!

So please, Tiger, I'm begging you. Do Oprah, do 60 Minutes. Let us see you apologize for everything, let us see your vulnerable side. Provide us with some concrete answers about what happened that night with the Escalade escapade and a own up to the "transgressions" that are true.

If you're addicted to pain-killers or sex (What guy isn't?), tell us! It's the only way to make this mess go away and get this National Enquirer/TMZ (plenty to rip with those "media" outlets too) circus to stop. It's also the only way to possibly save your unparalleled global popularity.

Bill Clinton, the freaking President of the United States, cheated on his wife while in office. Brett "The Media Can't Get Enough Of Me" Favre was once addicted to pain-killers. Jordan's gambling problems, as well as his own infidelity, have been well documented. Kobe Bryant was accused of far worse, yet right now there are thousands of parents out there buying his jersey as a Christmas present from Santa.

Athletes have come back from far worse and sometimes their problems even draw sympathy and an increased fan base (Again, Kobe). Outside of an alledged double-murder (I'll never forget hearing that verdict while sitting in home economics class in 7th grade), and the recent bonehead handlings of being caught for cheating the sport and using steroids by Roger Clemens (Looks stupid for not admitting to it) and Mark McGwire (Looks pathetic for not saying anything), these guys usually recover.

For someone like Tiger, who has maintained that squeaky-clean image until this point, getting out of trouble should be about as difficult as a long bunker shot. It certainly won't be easy, but the best player in the world can pull it off.

If only he would get his head out of the sand.


Quick hitters...

And by "hitters" I mean rips. Here we go...

• Peter King picked Aaron Smith of the Steelers over Michael Strahan for his all-decade team. I mention the team Smith plays for because it's 50-50 on if you've heard of him. Strahan needs no introduction. King, on Twitter, said Smith "had to be on there" and that Strahan didn't play the whole decade. True dat, Pete. And in his meager eight-year run he managed more sacks, tackles, forced fumbles, interceptions and passes defended than Smith. And please don't tell me Strahan didn't eat up blockers. For that, consult the following: bank account, Umenyiora, Osi.

• Despite reports that the Brewers signed Randy Wolf for three years and anywhere between $27 and $31 million, Omar Minaya keeps putting logs on the fire, telling reporters the Mets are "still in" the Wolf sweepstakes. And get this, as of this afternoon, Minaya still wants to sign Wolf to a two-year deal, or one less than the Brewers have offered him.

Wait, let's get this straight. Someone offered Wolf a four-bedroom house, so Minaya wants him to take the two-bedroom condo instead? The Mets are a complete joke.

First thought: Why Wolf? He stinks. Just block out some time in May for elbow discomfort now. Second thought: If Minaya is not playing coy, he is wasting quality time at the winter meetings chasing a man who's already caught. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Anyway, Jon Heyman says their attempts were "fruitless." So is rooting for the Mets.

• Tiger: The story of a man who is rich, famous, wildly successful, and has absolutely no standards.

Don't be afraid to discriminate next time, guy.

• So the Tigers decided their best bet moving forward was to trade a 28-year-old center fielder coming off a 30-homer year who is two years removed from one of the best leadoff seasons in baseball history and a 26-year-old power righty who ranked among the best pitchers in the AL in '09? Sick rebuild, Dumb-rowski.

Maybe if their lucky Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson can develop into players as good as Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson. Maybe. So why risk it?

• Turns out the NFL fined Chad Ochocinco $30 G's for donning a sombrero on Sunday after he made a diving touchdown catch. Hmmm. What has Esteban done this year? Only personalize a soulless league with his personality, make people laugh and stay 100 percent off the police blotter. He entertains us again and the NFL flips him upside down and shakes him out.

This from a league that continues to employ criminals like Leonard Little and Donte Stallworth and cheats like Shawne Merriman and Luis Castillo.

Giants fans = Ingrates

This rip goes after an unusual target for me: fans. Specifically, fans of the New York Giants.

Unappreciative and misguided Giants fans who like to boo the greatest offensive player in franchise history.

Tiki Barber returned to Giants Stadium on Sunday, honored along with fellow 2000 NFC champion teammates. He had his No. 21 jersey on -- a number that should be retired -- and should have received a standing ovation. A long one.

Instead, he was booed, like he always is when his (many) highlights are played at Giants Stadium.

Let's quickly go through Tiki's "crimes."

1: He attacked Tom Coughlin, saying he was outcoached in a 23-0 playoff loss to Carolina. (He also said the Giants didn't run the ball enough in a loss to Jacksonville during the 2006 season.)
2: During the middle of the 2006 season, he didn't deny that he was planning to retire at season's end when asked about it by the New York Times.
3. He said Eli Manning's leadership was comical when asked about it in an NBC broadcast in August, 2007.

Of the three, the only one that fans should even be remotely annoyed about is the third one. If fans want to make a case that Barber shouldn't have blasted a former Giant, fine. To some extent, I can understand that. Fans want to feel like they are supporting Manning, and some likely feel that they are backing Manning by booing Barber.

Of course, then he wouldn't be giving any real honest or inside insight as a member of the media. Calling Manning's leadership "comical" was a harsh choice of words, no question, but it shouldn't erase all the amazing things he did in his career. It's time to let it go.

As for the first two things on the list, it's incredible that those are actually considered grievances. But make no mistake, they are considered just that.

The Giants' performance against Carolina in the 2005 playoffs was one of the most pathetic displays ever given in football history. It's a pretty safe bet that every fan thought Coughlin was grossly outcoached by John Fox. So in a fit of frustration -- in a season-ending loss no less -- Barber didn't hold back. If players laugh after losses, fans go crazy, and make hilariously stupid claims that they care more about winning and losing than the players do. If a player criticizes a coach after loss, then he's being disloyal. The players can't win.

And the fact that Barber didn't keep his pending retirement to himself? This became a big story because WFAN's Mike Francesa and Chris Russo made it into one, and talked about it endlessly. It started a myth that Barber was all about putting himself ahead of the team, that he wasn't giving his all, etc. Of course, he put forth another incredible season, and had the greatest game of his career in leading the Giants to the playoffs in the final game of the regular season, rushing for 234 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries against the Washington Redskins to lead the Giants to the playoffs.

(Oh by the way, he saved Coughlin's job in the process.)

Here's what really is going on. Barber wasn't on the Giants' Super Bowl championship team and there is this belief in the minds of many Giants fans that the team improved because he left.

Wrong. Very wrong.

The Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007 for a variety of reasons, and those reasons have nothing to do with the team's best player retiring. Tiki Barber's departure didn't allow David Tyree to make an amazing catch, didn't help the Giants' defensive line manhandle the Cowboys (which led to this) and Patriots, didn't give Tom Coughlin the idea of firing Tim Lewis and hiring Steve Spagnuolo, didn't help Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress to play masterfully in the NFC Championship, etc. etc, etc. etc, etc.

Those, along with many other factors, were the reasons why the Giants won Super Bowl 42.

It's understandable for Giants fans to love their Super Bowl winning team. And I'm not suggesting that Barber should be as beloved as Michael Strahan, Manning, or any of the other key players that led the team to a championship.

But he should still be applauded for a fantastic career.

Rex Ry-wrong

Now that Joey Porter has been put in his place by the Tuna, the loudest mouth in the NFL belongs to Rex Ryan, the new coach of the Jets. Ryan talks so much it's a wonder people still listen. He guarantees victories — claiming he can sense a big performance ahead — and the team goes out and loses, crushing the hopes of its pathetic, groveling fans yet again.

Look, I like Rex's act. It's all in the name of confidence. On the field, the guy clearly knows defense, and players are bound to play hard for him judging on his unbrideled — and often misguided — faith in them alone.

Having said that, you simply can't coach a .500 team and say what Ryan said on Monday:

"This team is close. We’re close to being a special football team. Nobody can deny that. The facts are what they are, the number one ranked defense in the league learning a brand new defense. That’s pretty good." — Ryan

Rex, you wanna see me deny it?

I find it remarkable that a coach could stand at a podium a few days after his team eeked out wins over the mighty Panthers and Bills and proclaim his team close to anything "special" but a special offseason of sunbathing and snorkeling in the tropics.

For starters, the Jets can no longer allow their kiddie quarterback to play without his swimmies. Secondly, arguably the team's best offensive player (Leon Washington) and defensive player (Kris Jenkins) are out for the season, leaving them without a playmaker on offense and down a difference-maker on D.

Basically, the Jets right now are Revis and Harris and pray the other offense can't scare us. And there's nothing special about beating mediocre teams by a couple field goals. Sorry Rex.


Mr. cheap shot

Flozell Adams has proven to be a bigger loser than even I thought. Again yesterday he showed his what a tough guy he is when he shoved Justin Tuck in the back at the end of the first half as Tuck was ready to head to the locker room.

In the first Cowboys-Giants tilt, Adams, who has long had a reputation as a dirty player, leg-whipped Tuck and kicked Osi Umenyiora. After yesterday's game, Adams had this to say about his latest punk-out.

"I ain't talking about him. He's a nobody."

I'll tell you what he is - he's a better player than you are, moron. He's also won a championship and played an incredible Super Bowl against the greatest offense in history. Where do you keep your rings, Flozell?

Once again, completing the sweep of the Cowboys yesterday was as good as it gets. For the past few years bad guys like Adams have gone unnoticed because the Cowboys employed the chivalrous Pacman Jones. Now, however, Adams' true colors (are fat and lazy colors?) are coming out.

Quick addition
: Justin Tuck, the "nobody" was 1st team All-Pro last season. Not just a pro-bowler, 1st team ALL-NFL!

Cop out

Once again, college football lets us all down. Why on earth is Boise St. matched with TCU in the Fiesta Bowl, while the teams from the "power" conferences do battle in the other BCS bowl games?

It's bad enough that we can't ever get a true national champion, but even when it has an opportunity to create an intriguing game in one of the non-title BCS games, college football is too dumb to do it.

Wouldn't you have loved to see TCU play Florida? An upstart with big talent against the best team in the country over the last five years - that would interest me.

Instead we get yawners like Florida-Cincinnati, Ohio State-Oregon and the ultimate sleep-aid, Iowa-Georgia Tech. Boise and TCU played in the Poinsettia Bowl LAST YEAR! Can't we get something different?

Of course we can't, because college football is a joke.

A ray of sunshine

Between the Yankees winning it all, the Mets finishing a miserable season and the Giants free-falling after a 5-0 start, the last couple of months have been unkind.

Until today.

As I've stated before, the Cowboys rank second behind the Yankees on my list of despised franchises, but because I root for the Giants, beating the Cowboys ranks right up there with any loss the Yankees could ever suffer.

(Winning the World Series in 2000 would have been the greatest, but alas the Mets pissed that away).

In recent years, the Cowboys talk big and play small. They yapped this week about Eli "disrespecting" them by signing his name in the visiting locker room in Week 2. I guess the motivation from that complete non-story wasn't enough to push them over the top.

The Giants are flawed, and they may still miss the playoffs. Obviously I hope the Giants can get hot and make an impact in the NFC. But today's win, at least for me, will make this season a lot easier to swallow even if it has a less than spectacular ending.


Early rips

I'm sorry, I can't wait until later to start ripping. I've never seen anything like this.

The Texans, on first-and-goal, ran a halfback toss that was picked. Comical.

The Redskins just missed a 23-yard field goal that would have sealed the Saints' first loss of the year. Disaster.

Tony Sparano, again, goes for two in a questionable situation but gets bailed out with a late field goal.

The Steelers, who stink, can't stop the Raiders all day and give up a touchdown with nine seconds left and drop to 6-6.

The daggers of incompetence are flying like never before!