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Prepare Thyself: Week Eight

October 24, 2008 | By Andy Goldstein | comment on this post

ESPN sucks. There…I said it. Watching SportsCenter is mostly an exercise in frustration as on-air personalities ramble on as if they all have been sent a list of approved talking points. They all say the same, regurgitated things. I know what they will say before they say it. I don’t think anyone beyond the Pardon the Interruption duo of Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon have an iota of contrarian thought-processes in their brains. ESPN.com is slightly better, just because there are more voices. Some actually bring something to the table like Bill Simmons and Henry Abbott.

Basically, I follow the World Wide Leader enough to feel as though I can offer some commentary on what happened this past week (we’ll get to it), but I also obviously have some bias in that I think the conglomerate is utter poop. So take that as you will.

On FOX’s Sunday pre-game show, football insider Jay Glazer (not employed by ESPN) dropped a moderate bombshell about Brett Favre. According to Glazer, Favre had been involved in a lengthy phone conversation with then Lion CEO Matt Millen and some of the Lion coaching staff. At least some of the conversation involved insight into stopping the Packer offense.

I’ll get into interpreting that information in a bit, but the most fascinating aspect of the story is how ESPN handled it. Actually, it didn’t handle it. It avoided the story like an elephant avoids a mouse. ESPN ran scared. An internal memo was sent that the story was not to be reported on. ESPN claimed it couldn’t verify the report. I have no problem with it not being able to verify the report. But why not report that? The story had been put out there by Glazer and FOX. ESPN should have reported on the story and added that it could not confirm it. But it didn’t. ESPN ignored the story until Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Favre was asked about the reports and mostly affirmed what Glazer reported. He admitted to talking with Millen and the coaches about the Packer offense and what his teams had done in the past against the Lions. He offered an excuse that players help their current teams all the time when facing their former teams. He denied having a current Packer game plan and denied that he actually helped the Lions in a meaningful way.

ESPN only reported the latter part there, a full four days after the story initially broke. It completely overlooked the part where Favre talked to the Lions about the Packer offense. In essence, if ESPN isn’t lying to its readers (by omission, at the very least), it is coming dangerously close.

Whether or not you think Favre’s actions were being overblown, the most fascinating aspect to the entire saga is how ESPN completely missed the mark in its reporting. It ignored the festering story much too long and then mysteriously reported on just half of the events on Wednesday. Why ESPN did this is beyond me. It could be incompetence, a disdain for Glazer, a protection of Favre, or something else altogether. If nothing else, it makes me question every other report coming from the WWL.

Sneaky Starts

Trent Edwards – Buffalo Bills (@ Dolphins) – I might have talked about Edwards before, but he has been a nice little backup for fantasy owners this season. Okay, he doesn’t have a multi-touchdown game just yet, but he has tossed exactly one in five of the six contests he has played in. The only game he didn’t get one was when he left early with a concussion. Miami has a pass defense located in the bottom half of the league. I guess I can’t be so bold as to predict Edwards’ first multi-touchdown game, but he will definitely provide a stable presence at the top of your fantasy lineup if you lost your starter to bye or injury.

Deuce McAllister – New Orleans Saints (vs. Chargers) – I guess some Saint fans are bummed about Reggie Bush’s injury. The team certainly loses a spark plug on special teams and catching passes out of the backfield. But on the plus side, New Orleans actually has a chance to run the ball effectively now! Woo! McAllister’s lifetime per carry average is 0.7 yards better than Bush’s. That might not seem like a lot, but over the course of a season, it does add up. San Diego has been allowing plenty of yards on the ground this season, and that shouldn’t change here. Expect McAllister to be a nice second back with some upside.

Antonio Bryant – Tampa Bay Bucs (@ Cowboys) – Bryant had a heck of a game last week, so it’s probably not quite a “sneaky” start anymore. But don’t anticipate Bryant to just be a fluke. He has pretty much supplanted Joey Galloway in the offense and now he gets to take revenge against one of the teams that didn’t believe in him. Also, have you noticed the Cowboys have absolutely no secondary left? There’s no reason Bryant can’t be a borderline top wide out this week.

Surprising Sit

LenDale White – Tennessee Titans (vs. Colts) – After last week’s incredible rushing display, just about everyone who has White on their roster will be amped up to start him against the porous Colt rush defense. Umm, not so fast, compadres. Did you all watch White’s improbable 80-yard touchdown scamper? Actually, it wasn’t a scamper. It was more of a slow roll down the field. You can’t expect anything like that to happen again. Ever. Sure, he’s always a candidate for a cheap score, but prior to last week, White was averaging an abysmal 2.6 yards per carry. Chris Johnson is averaging over 5.0 per carry. One is good. The other is not. You do the math.

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