Like a lot of folks, last Thursday night I settled into my chair and watched the NFL football game between Pittsburgh at Cleveland. It was a fairly good game, but nothing to write home about.
As is my custom, I usually take a nap at halftime and I usually wake up near the start of the fourth quarter and watch the end of the game.
As the old saying goes, “I went to the fights the other night and a hockey game broke out,”
Well, this week the nap was a little extended and I woke up in time to watch the last two minutes of the game. OK, fine. No problem. Watch the end and go to bed right? I had my finger on the off button of the remote when I witnessed a 21-7 Browns win turn into a WWE Smackdown, or, for you millennials, UFC 129 or something like that.
Now, pushing and shoving happens on almost every play in the NFL and football in general. It’s a violent game. Having had the privilege of standing on the sideline at many games from high school to college to the NFL, I can tell you it gets heated out there. When you have grown men 300 pounds or better hitting each other on every play, tempers sometimes flare. The language would sometimes make a sailor blush. But, that’s just the way it is. It’s not G-rated.
Anyway, what happened on Thursday crossed the line. To me, Pittsburgh’s quarterback Mason Rudoph started the melee. Rudolph decided to try to de-helmet Myles Garret after Garret sacked him and then told him about it. Bad move. Rudolph was actually lucky his head wasn’t still in the helmet when Garret lost his mind and proceeded to rip Rudolph’s helmet off his head, followed by a free-for-all with many teammates of both players getting in on the no-holds-barred fight that ensued with much punching, kicking and name calling.
Mistake number two was when Rudolph jumped back into swinging range of the large, angry Browns lineman who then hit him with his own helmet. Another bad move.
The NFL handed out swift and severe penalties the next day. Garret, gone for the rest of the season. Steelers lineman Pouncey, three games. Rudolph just a fine.
Are you kidding? He was the instigator. The NFL messed it up again. This reminds me of the malice at the palace (Ron Artest going into the stands) in the NBA or, going way back, John Roseboro going after Juan Marachial with a bat back in the '60s after a beanball in MLB. It’s like using your stick as a weapon in hockey. You just can’t do certain things in sports. And, this was one of those things.
Bottom line, Garret got what he deserved, but there is plenty of blame to go around. For all the kids that were watching, here’s a prime example of grown-ups acting badly. Isn’t sports great? Just when you think you have seen it all, the next week of games roll around. Oh, and the Browns and Steelers play again in two weeks. That’ll be fun.
Anyway, let’s get to work with this week’s picks. Grisham’s Gridiron Grinders went 8-2 last week to push the season mark to 93-25.
Tennessee will continue its march toward a Bowl game, but it won’t be easy with a trip to Missouri. I’m definitely picking with my heart on this one, because it makes me nervous. Vols by a field goal. What happened to Texas A&M? They will lose big to Georgia this week.
The big game of the day will be Penn State at Ohio State. It would really mess up the rankings if the Nittany Lions found a way to pull off the upset. I would love it, but I doubt it happens. Buckeyes by two touchdowns. I see Boston College giving Notre Dame a hard time but falling, Michigan squeaking by Indiana and Minnesota downing Northwestern in a close one as well.
USC and UCLA used to be one of the biggest rivalry games in all the land. That was then, this is now. Or, to quote Billy Joel, “When I wore a younger man’s clothes.” Now they are two very mediocre programs at best. What a shame. I like the USC fight song, so I’ll pick them in a close one.
California at Stanford also has great memories. I watched as a kid when the Cal player ran through the band to win the game. Good memories.
Texas at Baylor could be a dandy as well. But, I see the Bears bouncing back to top the Longhorns. Oklahoma is still very much in playoff contention and they will knock off a pesky bunch of Horned Frogs.
That’s all for this week folks, thanks for all the feedback.
Bryan Grisham is a contributing sports writer for the Cleveland Daily Banner. Email him at bkgsports @ yahoo.com.