Time to go, Wade

Tonight is the night. Finally, it appears Wade Phillips finds himself one loss from ensuring his pink slip, and tonight's date with the unbeaten Saints provides the perfect exit strategy for Jerry Jones. Cowboys lose, Giants swoop in and steal the last playoff spot. I can picture it now. Wade may as well be standing on the trap door.

Jones' finger has been firmly resting against the button ever since Phillips came to Texas. He hired Jason Garrett as a de facto coach-in-waiting when he brought Phillips in, but Mr. Botox seems to have soured on Garrett since. Still, the offensive coordinator plays the Bruce Gradkowski to Phillips' JaMarcus Russell, the superior option. But what kind of business model is this? A model of imminent failure, that's what.

Not surprisingly, Jones behaves like the Cowboys are the Yankees, a team destined to compete for a championship every year. Instead, Dallas last won a playoff game with Troy Aikman under center, making Jones' expectations laughable at best, delusional at worst.

Now, trust me, Phillips is awful. But the Cowboys have been beset by problems every season dating back to before Bill Parcells. Their lack of mettle reflects poorly on superstar QB Tony Romo, a Jay Cutler-level flake without the babes. Romo piles up yards in Garrett's offense, lobbing the ball to wide open receivers crossing the middle of the field. But the Cowboys are front-runners. Their offensive line (Marc Columbo) is banged up. Their running game flops every second half. They simply can't play from ahead.

On defense, Jones' collection of big-name, no-game defensive backs has cost the Cowboys for years. Finally, Roy Williams was jettisoned. Too bad they kept the other one.

Now DeMarcus Ware may miss tonight's game. He's their best player, but the Cowboys won't touch Drew Brees anyway. It would require exactly the type of grit, fight and physicality this team lacks every year, this one included.

Frankly, I can't wait for tonight. Phillips' boys will flop, the local and national Cowboy-loving media will pin yet another December loss at his feet and Jones, once Dallas misses the playoffs, will drop the ax. So predictable, so typical. Really, the fault should fall on Romo, the players and the unrealistic culture in Dallas. Big stadium, big money, big dreams — small results.

Blame Wade. Bring in some new eight-figure clown to put you over the top.

Then watch the top stretch even further out of reach.


The worst sports villains ever

I love top 5 and 10 lists, and earlier today I came up with an idea - the top 10 most evil sports figures. Obviously I wasn't alive when some of these people were around, so some of this is based on reputation. I also tried to include only athletes who were/are at least fairly well-known. Here we go:

10. Roger Clemens - What a snake. Anyone who follows baseball at all knows he did steroids, but more than that, how could he throw his wife under the bus during in front of Congress to save his own neck? In addition, he's an unabashed head-hunter and may have very well slept with a 15-year-old girl.

9. Ty Cobb
- Unapologetic racist who used to sharpen his spikes in plain view in order to better cut up opponents.

8. Marge Schott
- Former Cincinnati Reds owner kept a swastika armband in her house and referred to some of her black players as million-dollar n***ers. A fan of Hitler, Schott was upset when umpire John McSherry collapsed on the field and later died on opening day,because the umpires had the gall to postpone the game.

7. Lawrence Phillips - Former Nebraska standout assaulted his girlfriend in college, but he wasn't nearly done. In '05, Phillips ran his car into three teenagers after a dispute and was eventually convicted on seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

6. Pacman Jones - Spitting on and hitting women are just the start. The Las Vegas shooting case Jones was involved in led to one man being paralyzed.

5. Ugueth Urbina - Urbina went after workers on his farm - with a machete - because he believed they stole a gun from his house. A machete.

4. Mel Hall - The former Yankee outfielder was convicted of having sex with several minors and is serving 45 years in prison. Rot away, Mel.

3. Mike Danton - I didn't know much about about this former member of the St. Louis Blues until I did a little research for this post. He tried to have his agent murdered. Enough said.

2. Rae Carruth
- Arranged a drive-by shooting of a woman pregnant with his child. Only one guy could top this...

1. O.J. Simpson
- We all know he stabbed two people to death, one of whom had young children sleeping upstairs while Simpson was murdering her. He then committed a robbery at gunpoint which finally landed him where he always belonged - prison. He also pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge in 1989. Good guy.

Don't get crazy

After listening to New York media over the past few days I have to say, the Roy Halladay trade to the Phillies is being blown a little out of proportion.

Halladay is a terrific pitcher, no doubt. But in case anyone missed the World Series this year (or the last two regular seasons), Cliff Lee doesn't exactly stink. Halladay is better, but I heard someone say on the radio today that he will make the Phillies seven games better this year, and I don't see it.

As a Mets fan, I'm not crazy about the idea of Halladay to Philadelphia, but it's not the end of the world either, because Lee is gone. (The Mets themselves are another story. I don't know what the plan is, but right now I could argue they're the fourth best team in the division).

Had Halladay been dealt to the Phils and Lee had stayed put, I would have made the Phillies the favorite to win the title next year over even the Yankees. But that isn't what happened.


Just plain sad

This isn't a rip, I just wanted to say a few quick words about Chris Henry. It's a sad, sad thing that the Bengals WR is fighting for his life after finally seeming to put his demons in the past.

If Henry doesn't come through this incident, he'll leave three children he was raising behind, and that's awful. As someone who had a close family member go through a life-threatening car accident I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

This may be an incident that could have happened to anybody. I have no idea. But I can't help but think, once again, that some athletes, especially football players, just don't place enough importance on their own health and well-being.


Peter King: "Struggling" to understand good football

Peter King, the senior football scribe of SI.com, is at it again. Mr. Starbucks stuck yet another dagger into the side of Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

If you read King's legendary and prolific Monday Morning Quarterback, you know it's among the best reads in football journalism. King routinely culls quotes from key players while sitting in his 30 Rock "Sunday Night Football in America" pad and has first-hand word from them in MMQB. He also watches a ton of football, and has a very strong take on all things NFL.

Make that all things but one.

King has routinely peppered insults at the younger Manning, treating him different than big bro Peyton. Today came another. King said "you don't give a struggling quarterback like Eli Manning a 391-yard night" in Tuesday edition of MMQB.

Puke time.

I'll admit, overall King's Eli opinions are often justified. Brother Peyton may be the greatest QB ever. Eli probably ranks somewhere in the second half of the top 10 in today's NFL at the very best. There's no comparison, and Eli looks second-rate by comparison.

But just like the rest of the talking heads (Aikman, Moose, I'm looking at you "guys"), King still slays Eli like that centaur A-Rod does enemy horses, er...I mean, middling relievers. In 2009, this is lazy reporting from one of the hardest working men in sports journalism.

As a Giants fan, Manning bashing is the norm. No matter how well Eli plays over the course of a game, announcers and writers talk about one inaccurate pass or one wounded duck. A friend who will remain nameless (Buckner) believes Manning played poorly on the final drive of Super Bowl XVII. Buckner, like Bill Simmons, pointed to the dropped interception by Asante Samuel. Hello, guys? Do you not remember the "Tuck Game?" Without that call, Tom Brady is not Tom Brady. He's bagging B-level actresses, not Giselle. But these lucky plays happen. They change history. We choose to look at the body of work (i.e. the entire game-winning drive) and judge him on that. Bottom line: He rocked, the Giants won. Move on.

I will admit: Eli is NOT accurate. But even the most honed-in are not forever perfect. Brady has been downright awful at times this year. I'm still waiting for people to pick apart his game on a weekly basis. Tick, tick, tick...

While I wait, here's the difference with King: Most major media personalities are complete blowhards unable to admit a mistake; he's largely an open-minded man. Sure, King has his man-crushes on Brett Favre, Mike Tomlin, Tony Romo, etc., but he typically changes his opinion if so provoked, altering it if a player's performance proves worthy.

So these days I find it truly remarkable that SI's top football evaluator has missed the steady ascension of the QB on the biggest team in the league's No. 1 market. It is completely inexcusable.

Peyton Manning played through pain after a risky knee surgery last preseason. King praised his season, and chronicled Manning's recovery in detail in his book. Likewise, Eli has played much of this season with plantar fascia. The injury to his foot caused him to overcompensate, and led to a stress reaction that reportedly causes even more pain. Here's a story from the Star-Ledger's excellent reporter Mike Garafolo.

I imagine King has read these reports. I imagine he can put two and two together and realize Manning's injury coincided with a terrible three-game stretch. And I imagine he's a cagey football evaluator who realizes an offensive line that has declined faster than Tiger Woods' rep and a putrid D have hurt Manning over the Saints-Eagles-Cardinals fiasco-of-a-stretch.

I guess not. King wrote this week the Eagles' D had to generate more of a pass rush. They picked up three sacks and had a fourth before Manning shoveled a pass out of trouble. That's not a middling pass rush. Sorry, guy.

But I digress. ... If you throw those three stinkers out, Manning has posted a quarterback rating of 88.9 and above in all but one game. That's nine out of 10, and, to be fair, nine out of 13 for the year. Include them all and Eli has posted a career-high rating of 93. He's a cinch to finish with the best numbers of his career.

Some won't trust QB rating, which is fine. So let's compare these two seasons:
Season 1: 4,002 yards, 68.1 completion percentage, 7.2 yards/att., 27 TD, 12 INT
Season 2: 4,081 yards, 60.4 completion percentage, 7.95 yards/att., 28 TD, 14 INT

So which season is better? Can you even tell? Does King watch football?

OK, enough rips. Let's get to the facts: The first season is Peyton Manning, circa 2008, a year he won MVP. The second are the projected totals of a "struggling" Eli Manning in 2009, as he tries to lead the Giants, who can't run, block or play defense, to the playoffs.

In any final analysis, the younger Manning clearly is not struggling. Yes, "struggle" was just one little word on SI.com today, but enough is enough.

If you want to bash Eli, wait until the future. Another day, another year, will provide you and your boys enough fodder. But please watch the Giants this season before writing another word about them.

Bush is no longer president. The Sopranos is over. You live in Boston, not Jersey.

No, Pete, it's not 2006 anymore.


Rips from around the league

I got so caught up in the early games last week that I ripped a few people and then neglected to write this post in full. But, I'm back.

Philadelphia 45, NY Giants 38:
What is there to say? The Giants have absolutely no defense. Eli Manning played a nearly flawless game and the G-men still didn't have enough.

New Orleans 26, Atlanta 23: Crazy, crazy fake FG by Sean Payton late in this game, but it doesn't come back to haunt his team as the Saints squeak by to stay unbeaten.

Green Bay 21, Chicago 14: Jay Cutler has now thrown more picks than any Bears QB since 1949, and there are still three games to go. Ouch.

Indianapolis 28, Denver 16: Peyton Manning actually let the Broncs back into this one with three picks in the second half. Then he remembered he was Peyton Manning, threw his fourth TD of the day and went home a winner.

Buffalo 16, Kansas City 10: Wow, what a completely uninteresting game.

Minnesota 30, Cincinnati 10: All my friends who are Favre fans are ripping me for rooting against him this year. No matter. I'm still waiting for that crushing interception he's bound to throw at some point in the playoffs.

New England 20, Carolina 10: A win for the Pats, but New England doesn't look good, especially Tom Brady.

NY Jets 26, Tampa Bay 3: Jets have made a nice recovery to put some meaning back in their season. Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman put up a 12.1 passer rating on the strength of 93 yards and three picks. Right now the Bucs are the worst team in football.

Baltimore 48, Detroit 3: Did I just say the Bucs are the worst team in football? Let's give the Lions their due and call it a tie.

Washington 34, Oakland 13: An injury to Bruce Gradkowski forced JaMarcus Russell to enter the game. Expected results followed.

Miami 14, Jacksonville 10: Boring game, good win for the fins.

Houston 34, Seattle 7: Andre Johnson had almost 200 yards receiving and two TDs...in the first half. Nice job Seahawks.

Tennessee 47, St. Louis 7: At this point both the Giants and Steve Spagnuolo might be better off with Spags as Big Blue's defensive coordinator.

San Diego 20, Dallas 17: Does any team in sports have less guts than the Cowboys? That was rhetorical. The answer is no.