Friday, December 6, 2013

The Hippodrome: Of Pizza and Peyton

Posted By on Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 11:04 AM

This Week The 'Drome Looks Back

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Opening Face-off

What Could Be vs. What Is: With the Titans visiting Denver Sunday, this week in the dead-tree I look at the Titan-ic pursuit for Peyton.

And Titanic is the right word — a grand, massive idea that went terribly awry. Early in Peyton's search for a place, Titans GM Ruston Webster declared unequivocally the Titans were happy with their quarterback situation.

From February 2012
:

“We’re excited about our quarterback situation,” Webster said. “I think Matt [Hasselbeck] brought us through a difficult time, especially once we lost Kenny Britt last year. I think everybody saw a glimpse of Jake Locker and … we’re real excited about his future.

“Obviously Peyton’s a great player but we feel like we’re in good hands.”

It's easy to imagine him patronizingly patting the fanboys' heads: "Oh, that is an interesting idea, Timmy, but I live in the Real Actual World, not a fantasy land where war doesn't exist and we get everything we want."

Keep stuffing your flowers into the business end of the rifle, kids. Dreaming is just fine, but reality is — you know — reality.

Of course, the Come Home Peyton folks are still spending money on billboards and print ads, proving that, despite the election year recriminations from the right, Americans are still free to spend their money however they want, even on patently stupid things.

But the heart wants what the heart wants, even when that heart is carefully ensconced underneath a garish white suit-coat. The late Bud Adams — whose repeated declaration "VY is my guy" should have been proof enough he shouldn't have been anywhere near decisions about quarterbacks — wanted Peyton Manning in Two Tone Blue as bad as any screeching fan at MetroCenter. As predicted, Adams' insistence that the Titans go all-in on Manning hamstrung the team, the effects of which we are still seeing with another moribund year from the Titans:

Yes, Manning played for Tennessee and in our heart of hearts we know this is the place he wants to play. So make up your mind already, Peyton! We need to know so the Titans can do what they have to do if you do something else. But this prison — if there is a prison — is a prison of Bud Adams' design. He's the one who decided he wanted to go hot and heavy after Manning. He's the one who usurped his general manager and front office, bigfooting them and telling them to shift all their resources to Peyton's gun, rather than the butter of the defensive line.

And now, while Peyton slings pizza for Papa John's, Titans fans eat the bitter fruit.

The Week Behind

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Well, That'll Do It: Imitation, the cliche goes, is the sincerest form of flattery. At least the Titans can take that away from the team's 22-14 loss to the Colts Sunday.

Adam Vinatieri kicked five field goals and somewhere (St. Louis, one supposes) tears of joys moistened Jeff Fisher's mustache.

Not that Vinatieri was the hero so much as the Titans were a herd of goats. The Fitzmagic ran out on the Titans back-up quarterback. Though he demonstrated his Ivy League Speed on a first-half, one-yard TD plunge and his Ivy League Arm with a wobbly one-yard touchdown pass to Chris Johnson, Ryan Fitzpatrick had very little to put in his career highlight reel. Sure, the late interception killed any chance at a comeback, but it was the other pick and the fumble that killed a promising drive that sealed the Titans fate.

He had plenty of help in giving an early Christmas gift to the division-leading Colts, though. Moise Foiku let his people go to the locker room losing after an idiotic personal foul late in the first half that set up a Vinatieri field goal.

A team that, inexplicably, was in the playoff hunt before Thanksgiving heads deep into the holiday season with little to play for.

Wake Up Just In Time: Maybe Vandy was looking ahead to the BBVA Compass Bowl invitation party, but the 'Dores looked a little out of sorts against Wake Forest.

Vandy ended up winning 23-21, despite being without pretty much every person who has ever smelled a line-up spot at defensive back. The defense held the Demon Deacons to just one second-half score and that was enough to overcome a flat start.

The 'Dores outgained Wake by leaps and bounds but struggled to put up points. The good news is that's the kind of game Vandy used to lose going away; now, against all odds, they've enough talent to win.

Homewreckers: The Predators finally got to come home for a decent stretch, with four games (four, ostensibly, winnable games) in a week.

And from those four games, the Predators mustered one measly point. The team looked like they ate far too much turkey on Thanksgiving in a 3-0 loss to the Oilers (who celebrate their Thanksgiving on Columbus Day). They looked better earning a loser's point against Philadelphia — the team could have won easily, but for some horrifying bad luck from Colin Wilson, who hit so many posts, one wonders if a crossbar stole his prom date. Old nemesis Ryan Kesler scored twice for the Canucks in a 3-1 Vancouver win. And Jeff Skinner notched a hat trick Thursday night for Carolina, in a rare bad performance from November's NHL Rookie of the Month, Preds field-promoted starting goalie Marek Mazanec.

Meanwhile, Shea Weber missed a handful of games after taking a puck to the eye against Edmonton (he'll practice today and play with a visor for the foreseeable future), and Kevin Klein missed a few with what was almost certainly some kind of foot issue.

Good news of a sort came Thursday, as David Poile announced Pekka Rinne's gross hip thing was progressing nicely and the $7 million netminder could resume "more strenuous activity" December 20.

The Butler Didn't Do It: Kudos to TSU, who positively dog-stomped Butler in the first round of the FCS playoffs Saturday, a 31-0 Tiger win in Indianapolis, paced by returning quarterback Mike German.

Halftime Entertainment

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They Say It's Your Birthday; It's My Birthday Too, Yeah: Per a tweet from Vandy, today is Memorial Gym's 61st birthday. In a time before the gym, Vandy played games at the old Hippodrome, which is great, because The 'Drome (this 'Drome) is celebrating its second-birthday. Happy to stay quirky with you, Memorial.

Did Chris Johnson Run Faster Than A Cheetah? No.

Thank You For Your Support: The Predators announced attendance for Tuesday's game against Vancouver was 15,330. There may have been three-quarters that many in the stands (maybe).

In this case, though, they weren't exaggerating for effect or out of embarrassment. They weren't papering the house, in the traditional sense. When Blackhawks fans were forced into buying a second game to get tickets to one of the Chicago-Nashville games, many of them opted for the Canucks game, which, due to the Predators' variable-pricing strategy, was one of the cheapest of the slate. So those empty seats? Imagine they were filled with the crying ghosts of ejected Chicagoans lamenting that their world-beating team got slapped 7-2 by the current divisional bottom-feeders.

The Week Ahead

You Don't Just Walk Into Charleston, Illinois: TSU gets a chance at a little revenge Saturday — and a chance to go deeper into the FCS playoffs — when they visit No. 2-seeded and OVC champions Eastern Illinois.

In the teams' first match-up, the Tigers were without German and it showed as the potent Eastern Illinois offense overwhelmed the usually-stout Tiger defense, who couldn't keep the score close enough for a comeback.

The hardest thing in football is beating a team twice — but it ain't easy going on the road to play a rested, talented team either.

There's Cold In Them There Hills: What's higher this weekend? Game time temperature at Mile High Stadium or Chris Johnson's yards-per-carry? Johnson is no fan of the cold — and why would he be, having grown up in Florida? — but because of the frigid air and the swirling winds, he'll have to get over it. Running games will be the key. Also key? Hoping Peyton Manning doesn't do to the Titans what he does to the Titans always.

After the Jags win last night against Houston, Jacksonville (of all teams) is squarely in the Titans' rear-view, driving a 1998 bright green Honda Del Sol.

Because It's The Belt: The Preds head to the mid-Atlantic for a quick road trip, taking on the Washington Capitals (and old pal Marty Erat) Saturday, taking a train and taking on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden Tuesday in an inexplicably nationally-televised game. The Western Conference, by and large, has dominated the East this season and since they didn't pick up much of anything during the home stand, the Preds could really use some points here.

They'll return home Thursday for the "Chambers Pot" against Dallas, in a game that is also a battle for the Conference III Championship Belt.

In short, the Preds really need to get points in all three of these games.

Stay safe out there. Emails to jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.

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