The 10 Worst-Run NFL Franchises

June 23, 2009

By Dan Boone… In the NFL the owners ask a lot of the fans. The personal seat licenses extortion, 10-beers, seven-buck hot dogs, six-buck sodas, full priced exhibition game tickets, 25-buck Made in China team caps, $75 made in Indonesia game jerseys, $30 parking, and tax-payer-funded stadiums, to name just a few perks.

They ask for all that and more. Each year, every year, gang greed wants more…More, more, more. But fans of certain franchises always get less, less, less.

Some teams seemed doom. Whether cursed by the ghost of Bobby Layne, just destined to be team ruled by pettiness due to some rogue DNA rolling around the owners brain, or just plain incompetence and bad luck some teams always seem to be on the losing end.

So while the NFL and its billionaire boys club prepare to go the mattresses with tiny Delaware and its dreams of a state-sponsored sports betting, while the always hypocritical NFL rolls out lottery ticket games, let’s look at the franchises that give their fans the worst bang for their buck.

1. Detroit Lions

It’s been almost 50 years since Bobby Layne blew Motown in a huff and the Lions have been mostly lusterless ever since.

Beside George Plimpton, Barry Sanders, and the brief bright light of Billy Sims, there has not been much to excite Lion fans since.

It’s beating a dead cat, but what have the Fords been worst at football or Ford Motors? Both seem dead in the water and Motown might be an American ghost town soon.

The Los Angles Lions? It has a ring to it. The Hollywood Lions?

2. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals broke into a pair of Super Bowls in the ’80s but it’s been a two-decade dead spell since. A dead spell broken by a string of spectacular arrests and failed teams.

Owner Mike Brown is considered to be one of the cheapest owners east of the Bidwells, and the Bengals always suffer from a short scouting staff and an inability to develop quality players or sign key free agents.

Superman used to have an enemy known as Bizarro who was an evil opposite version of Superman formed by a laboratory experiment gone horribly wrong. That is the Bengals in comparison to their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

What direction would the Bengals have taken if they had hired assistant coach Bill Walsh all those years ago? Would Ken Anderson be wearing a few Super Bowl rings right now?

Owner Paul Browns mania prevented the Bill Walsh hiring and Walsh always wondered why. So do the Bungle faithful.

3. Cleveland Browns

The city and franchise have not been the same since Marty Schottenheimer decided to play prevent defense against John Elway on what become known as “The Drive.”

The there was the sad sequel “The Fumble” then the tragedy “The Modell Move” and since then team returned its been mostly flat line football.

The recycled New York Jet Wonder Child wants to can the franchise quarterback from South Bend before he has a chance to prove he’s another bad Brown. It’s a big bet by a magic man who should little magic on Broadway.

The team lacks direction and talent and its Super Bowl less streak will continue well into the twenty teens and beyond.

But the 1940s and the Jim Brown era were quite a run. And quite a long time ago. Best thing for Browns fans to do now is to block arch betrayers Art Modell’s Hall of Fame hopes.

The Hall of fame isn’t for rats, is it?

4. Arizona Cardinals

A Super Bowl appearance doesn’t erase the curse of the Bidwells. Long known as one of the worst owners in any professional sports the fanatically frugal Bidwells won’t let the Cardinals success stand long.

Like the Phoenix their city is named for, expect this bird to rise from the ashes only once every 500 years or so.

The Bidwell’s would bring down any franchise in any sport in any country.

5. Kansas City Chiefs

While his Daddy HL Hunt was digging oil and talking John Birch blues and his brother Bunker was cornering the silver market Lamar Hunt was given the Chiefs to play with

And they played well in the 1970s. But its been a long sad, slow decline since the days of Lennie Dawson, Willie Lanier, Buck Buchanan, and Hank Stram.

Under the mismanagement of Herman Edwards and Carl Peterson the Chiefs ended up a very boring team, very losing team, with little talent and less reason to spark any hope in the hearts of Chief fans.

It’s cold in Missouri at football games in winter time and Kansas City desperately needs to do something positive for its besieged, and worse bored, fan base.

6. San Francisco 49ers

Shopping mall Godfather Eddie Debartolo liked to try to bribe corruptible Southern Governors and to bet big on his team but at least he wanted very badly to win.

And win the big one. Never again will we see an owner willing to stockpile his team with so much high priced talent.

The salary cap won’t allow an owner to import the entire  starting defensive line of the San Diego Chargers as back ups or stash Steve Young on the roster after slipping a fellow owner a million in cash as Eddie D once did..

But at least Eddie D wanted to win the York’s don’t seem to care. The lack of Fast Eddie D has laid this once proud franchise low.

7. Oakland Raiders

I like Al Davis. He’s done more for football then any modern era owner but the old pirate needs a first mate who can pick talent, pay coaches contracts, and negotiate trades.

Al has lost his magical mojo.

Me hopes he gets his mojo back but the pirate king is aging and the players he picks aren’t playing at a high level anymore.

John Madden phone home? Help Mad Al find his mojo.

8. Dallas Cowboys

Like Lamar Hunt, old Dallas Cowboy owner was the scion of a Big Oil Dallas Daddy.

But Clint, unlike Hunt, was a wild one who loved his booze, pills, powders, cheerleaders, and Cowboys.

But unlike Jerry Jones, Clint hired Tom Landry, Gil Brandt, and Tex Schramm to run the football end of things while he funded the fun times until his bubble burst.

Jerry Jones thinks he is Tom Landry, Tex Schramm, Gil Brandt, and Clint Murchison Jr. ruled into one all knowing football being.

The Cowboys have not been the same since Jimmy Johnson left. When was the last time the Cowboys won a playoff game?

Jones seems like he has more fun running a free wheeling circus rather then a football team so Cowboy fans ought to enjoy Jessica Simpson new reality TV show which will feature their starting quarterback in a starring role.

Would Roger Staubach do that? What would have Tom Landry said about that?

Who knows? But the circus is in town and fans better pluck up the big bucks to see the show.

The last time fans in Dallas town were being held up like this was when Clyde Barrow was running about West Dallas with a wild woman, bootleg booze, and a trunk full of stolen guns.

Anyone want to buy any naming rights for the ball park?

9. Washington Redskins

Even in his 80s, old Redskin billionaire owner Jack Kent Cooke liked his wild, wind shield riding, drug toting, brown eyed South American ladies and he loved his Redskins.

He left his Redskins in the able hands of Joe Gibbs and Bobby Beathard. To current owner Daniel Snyder the Redskins are but a big toy to boost his ego and build his bank account by fleecing the Redskin faithful.

Failed coaches and free agent flops come and go quicker in DC then corrupt lobbyists these days and under Danny it doesn’t seem like it going to get better.

But for the fans it will definitely get costlier.

Why pay more for a product so much poorer then it was two decades ago?

Well it is Washington.

10. Chicago Bears

Sure they signed Jay Cutler but its a shameful stain on the teams old name that all its passing records are held by Sid Luckman who retired 60 years ago before passing rules were liberalized.

The Bears owners have a history of cheapness and it all began with the Papa Bear George Halas.

Bronko Nagurski left the Bears in the ’30s because pro wrestling paid better than the Papa Bear did. Mike Ditka, the player, once said that Halas threw nickels around like manhole covers. The great Dick Butkus’ career was riddled with bad knees and worst contract disputes.

QB George Blanda was  signed by the Bears for $600, a fee Halas hounded Blanda to refund when he made the team, and after long running money feud with Halas Blanda left the Bears for a Hall of fame career elsewhere. Blanda later said Halas was even to cheap to buy him a kicking tee.

The great Bear team of 1985 was dismantled by Halas grandson, Mike McCaskey, who refused to bring in a capable back up QB or USFL stars while releasing such stars as Wilbur Marshall, Willie Gault, and Otis Wilson over contract disputes.

With Cutler the Bears finally have a capable QB but it might have came four years after their defense peaked.

Don’t expect a Bear to change its coat.

Will The Buffalo Bills Play In Canada Without a Backfield?

May 25, 2009

By Dan Boone… Its tougher to cross into Canada from the United States.

Folks going fishing have been turned back by Border Guards if they have minor infractions with the law on their records.

It’s going to get tougher too.

Which begs the question how is the NFL going to smuggle the Buffalo Bill’s backfield across the border?

Running back Marshawn Lynch has been charged with multiple crimes and has a criminal conviction for carrying an illegal lorded hand gun, while loaded himself of course.

Bill’s fullback Corey McIntyre was just charged with drunkenly fondling himself while staring through a women’s window at night.

Whispers of the net say the Bill boss men might be interesting in signing convicted felon Michael Vick to play quarterback.

A team should consider whether Vick can pass through international borders before giving him a contract. What if the NFL moves the Super Bowl to Toronto in a few years and Vick can’t make the trip?

Pity the poor pooches that would suffer pain and woe for that wrong.

The defense doesn’t rest either as safety Ko Simpson was arrested for interfering with a police officer and captain and safety Donte Whitner was tasered and charged with aggravated disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

What is Ralph Wilson going to pay some rogue Mohawks to row his bad boys across Lake Ontario on a moon less midnight so they can sneak into Toronto?

Buffalo Bill Cody, the teams namesake, was handy with a gun, but does that mean the Bill’s backs should be packing pistols?

Why not make it OJ Simpson in Canada Day and squeeze the juice free and take him along as a Bills mascot? Let the Juice go on the loose in Toronto.

But does the NFL and the uber rich get an exception? Do they, as usual, get a free pass?

Joe Fan can’t go fishing for walleye in Canada because of a DUI a few years back, but bring on the Bills?

A man with misdemeanor can’t hunt a moose, but a man with a felony for sadistically murdering dogs gets a free pass to play pass and catch?

Fair’s fair, right?

The NFL is on its high moral soap box in its epic battle with tiny Delaware over gambling on parlay cards at state racetracks, but it will cut a dark deal to bring its bad boys north?

Some Bills fans with minor criminal records, lesser records, then some current Bill’s players will be barred at the border, but the team will roll right in?

What if the Cincinnati Bengals or Dallas Cowboys want to play overseas? What if the Bills or Jets sign PacMan Jones?

I don’t say ban the Bills, the border has become a bit of a bureaucratic overkill, but what’s fair for the fisherman and the fans should be fair for the Bills.

But maybe we should start paying attention to what the bureaucrats are doing at the border and why not use the Bills as an example?

If Marshawn Lynch wanted to go fishing he wouldn’t be allowed in, so should he be allowed in because he is bringing big bucks to Toronto?

Do we exist until two sets of standards and laws?

Joe Fan can’t fish, but Lynch can run?

Canadian Coup: Bye Bye Buffalo and the Bills and Jills?

February 18, 2009

by Dan Boone…

Is Canada trying to annex Buffalo?

Not just steal the Bills, and their lovely cheerleaders the Jills, but take the entire city in a startling new show of imperial Canadian policy?

Before ye scoff consider the terrible evil economic witch’s brew we are embroiled in, a bilious broth which might just be being born, and understand in this new vicious, vile new world order old friends and new enemies aren’t always what they seem.

One day Putin’s your sweet, soul eyed vodka swilling buddy and the next day he’s mooning ye from Moscow. The worlds gone strange old spies, with far away eyes, sip scotch and say while dreaming of  good, old Cold War Days. A weird world where mass destruction was just a switch away but, at least, the sad eyed Spooks say the Reds were Red, and we were Red, White, and Blue.

The Pentagon said it is planning for a destabilized Mexico, an increasing, violent place, an unstable place, one which wild Pancho Villa would savagely smile at and toast with strong tequila today, but the hard eyed men in Washington are also planning for the 2019 US-Canadian Sea Lane War for the suddenly sweet shipping lanes opened by the melting polar caps.

The Pentagon plans for Russia and Norway, with its old Viking Fishing Fleet, to join the confused fray. But the Russians have few spare parts and the Vikings have been quiet since King Harald of Norway took that sharp arrow in his hard throat in Jolly Old England long ago, the main Pentagon threat, the Generals hiss, is Canadian Imperialism.

And some whisper it has started already with Canadian secret agents trying to steal the Buffalo Bills. Far fetched? Canada has long been at the heart of black operations and mad, dark plots.

Both John Wilkes Booth and Benedict Arnold vacationed in Canada shortly before becoming infamous in America.

President William McKinley was discussing football, tariffs, and trade with Canada in, you guessed it, Buffalo,when he was brutally assassinated. An event which Bills Owner Ralph Wilson was scheduled to speak at. Coincidence? Some may say so…

And ye thought that Buffalo Bills Miami Dolphin game in Toronto was just an innocent act to expand the fan base? An innocent act or a gentle probe to seize first the team and then the city?

And what if they did not send the Bills back? Sure Marshawn Lynch was likely packing more heat then an entire company of Mounties, but what if they infiltrated the Bills with members of the Canadian Secret Service?

Don’t laugh that hot chick in Russia at the end of Quantum of Solace told James Bond she was in the Canadian Secret Service. Who knows she could be a Buffalo Jill now for all we know?

Why else would Buffalo Bills Coach Dick Jauron keep his job if he wasn’t a deep cover Canadian Spy? Anyone else with that record would have been fired unless, of course, Bill’s Owner Ralph Wilson is a double agent.

Did Canada return the real Bill players or a team of cloned Canadian Commandos? Well the Bills did not seem like a highly trained football team too often last year, did they?

Perhaps Wilson is a type of Manchurian Toronto Candidate Owner and “His brain has not only been washed by Canada, as they say…It has been dry cleaned by Canada.”

And when a group of secret Canadian infiltrator fans hold up Queens of Diamonds at a Bill’s Home Game Wilson will obediently lead the entrenched team to the buses and point them north.


Did ye also notice the Buffalo Bulls were hijacked to Canada for some bizarre, likely spy filled, game called the International Bowl? Who, dear reader, goes on vacation to the International Bowl in Toronto in January?

Bilderburger Group Bankers, Canadian Spy Buffalo stealers, and Black Helicopter folks that’s who.

And mefears Paul Maguire and Jack Kemp could be mixed up in this wicked broth of Canadian treachery. Cases of good Canadian whiskey, its whispered, easily buys Maguire’s alliance. And Kemp still longs to lead a country and win a Super Bowl.

And why, exactly, is a football team in New York named after an Old West rake from Wyoming via Iowa with a thirst for wicked whiskey and wild frontier women?  Well Buffalo Bill Cody did spend a lot of time in, or near, Canada.

Coincidence? Or Sleeper Canadian Spy?

Tremble when ye gaze north, first the Bills then Syracuse and the Orange, and then Detroit and the Lions, and then Maine, their beloved Black Bears and Stephen King.

Remember the US lost the last time we took Canada on.

So if ye be at a Bills games, and the lovely Jills flash Queens of Diamonds at the crowd, beware if sitting near Jim Carrey, Donald Sutherland or Leslie Nielson.

Be very, very afraid if Gordon Lightfoot and Celine Dion just sang at halftime.

Actually be afraid if they be due-ting and there isn’t even a Canadian Coup plot about.

Rocky As the Wrestler? Mickey Rourke Routs the Rock

February 4, 2009

by Dan Boone…

Rocky Balboa coulda been a contender! The Rock coulda been the champ again!

But Sly Stallone took the simple easy way out for Rocky to say his farewell and Mickey Rourke stole the old pug’s thunder with a rousing performance as Randy the Ram in The Wrestler.

Rourke is nominated for an Oscar. Stallone is musing butchering Edgar Allan Poe in a Bio Pic called Yo! Yo! Poe.

Rourke and Stallone were both eighties cinema stars. Rourke, while a much better actor, never had the mega hits that Stallone had with the Rocky and Rambo franchises. But both actor’s careers have faded badly in the past two decades.

Rourke has revived his as fading, suffering, broken down eighties Pro Wrestling king, Randy The Ram, who is looking to climb to the top rope one last time, because the top rope is where its at for him.

Actually, the old wrestler realizes its the only place for him. Randy the Ram wants one more glorious taste of the only place that ever made him whole and happy.

And the faded Ram doesn’t care what the butchers bill will be on his collapsing body as long as he has one more stab at glory one note of Sweet Child of Mine. Faded glory is better then no glory as many pro athletes will attest to.

Randy Ram is a glorious, aging wreck of a once wondrous fun house of a man. The Ram wanders the crumbling, collapsing Jersey shore showing his estranged daughter the old great haunted fun house, the one place they had fun together in her childhood.

It’s a wonderful scene one envision this crumbling, haunted house of a man trying desperately to rebuild the fun house that was his long gone glorious youth.

Jersey icon Bruce Springsteen sings the final sad song, “The Wrestler”, and it is a worthy sequel to Glory Days. But Bruce could have been serenading Balboa.

That haunted house should have been Rocky Balboa’s.

Stallone finished his final Rocky epic, which became completely clownish after Clubber Lane, with the usual cliched Rah! Rah! Rah! Rocky ending.

If Sly would have run Rocky a darker route his finale might have been under Oscar nights glittering gold lights. What if Rocky ’s swan song would have been a realistic one? A look at down and out broken souled boxers? Complete with shaking limbs, glazed eyes, battered brains and no income?

What if it had been colored with the bitter, grim endings of Joe Louis or Sonny Liston? What if Sly would have show a broken in body and brain Rocky shuffling, shaking slowly around South Philadelphia used as a side show to some second rate mobsters and smirking, suburban yuppies?

What if Rocky had been shaking hands at the Blue Horizon, like Joe Louis did in Detroit and Vegas, for beer, food, and chump change? What if instead of the trite Hollywood ending Stallone had gone dark and shown the harsh, ugly reality many boxers, even the great ones, face? No health insurance, no pension, no job prospects, broke both in body and in mind.

Maybe a desperate Rock doing some dark things in dire circumstances would have made the old, broken pug a deeper character instead of a common caricature.

Would that unhappy Rocky have won Sly respect and an Oscar? If Rocky checked out not in the cliched, unrealistic ring comeback way but instead died in a cheap hotel or in a run down hospital would America have cheered?

No, of course not but that flick might have made a difference to broken down boxers and maybe won Stallone some Oscar gold.

But Randy the Ram stole Rocky’s gold and even his broken down Philadelphia and Jersey scenery. Randy the Ram robbed Rocky’s fun-house but at least he did it in an Oscar worthy way.

Stallone? He chose to go to Burma instead to make yet another silly Rambo movie. But in Burma real bullets were flying and the Rocky Rambo man fled. Not that I blame for that but I wonder if Sly watches the Wrestler and considers what Rocky’s swan song could have been? What it should have been?

And lets hope when Yo! Yo! Yo! Ed Poe! is released Stallone doesn’t make it a rah! rah! rah! Rocky ending. In real life everyone stays down when the final bell rings, age and injury, and in Poe’s case, like many boxers, substance abuse and mental illness take their terrible toll.

Old Poe went down hard and early and did not get up, and few cheered as he lay dying, drunk and delusional on a dark, dirty side street in Baltimore. No one there knew who Poe was until it was too late.

If Stallone would have put a dash of Poe in Rocky’s farewell that movie might not have been forgettable. No that Rocky-Ram-Poe that flick might have been famous.

Super Bowl Screwups: Infamous Super Bowl Week Awards

January 27, 2009

by Dan Boone…

Someone will screw up this week. Some player usually does. The Super Bowl spotlight shines too bright and madness seizes their mind and sheer stupidity ensues.

The thinking part of the brain submerges and a beast arises. Or in the better cases just a clown or a man with panic dancing just behind his dazed eyes.

Here’s a look at Super Bowl screw ups, maniac meltdowns, and media clowns caught in the media feeding frenzy that is the big Bowl.

Not to worry lads, only about 100 million people watching.

In the 1989 Super Bowl, running back Stanley Wilson was a key element in Sam Wyche’s vibrant Cincinnati Bengals offense that was set to meet his his mentor Bill Walsh’s San Francisco 49ers.

Just minutes before the Super Bowl eve final meeting of the Bengals offense Wilson stepped out to get his playbook. Twenty minutes later, a coach found Wilson in a cocaine stupor in a bathroom stall.

Wilson was suspended and the Bengals lost to the ‘Niners 20-16 on Joe Montana’s game-winning late drive. Wilson might have made the difference and given the Bengals just enough of an edge to score an extra touchdown.

Wilson never played for the Bengals again and is currently doing 20 years in the California penal system for burglary.

In 1999, Atlanta Falcon safety Eugene Robinson had received the Bart Starr Achievement Award, for high moral character, from a Christian group on Super Bowl eve. Later that night he was arrested for soliciting a female undercover cop for $40 oral sex.

The next day the Falcons played the John Elway led Denver Broncos. Robinson was toasted on an 80-yard pass play by Rod Smith which put the Broncos up 17-3. Later in the game he missed Denver running back Terrell Davis on a key play in which Davis advanced the ball to the Falcon’s ten yard line effectively finishing the Falcons.

It’s doubtful the Falcons win even without Robinson’s distracting arrest but it sure didn’t help his or the team’s concentration.

Center Barrett Robbins was the leader of the Oakland Raiders’ offensive line that paved the way for their 2003 Super Bowl showdown with Jon Gruden’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers .

Unfortunately, for most of the week, before the game, Robbins went on a binge in Mexico. Spurred by alcohol, steroid, and drug abuse, bipolar disorder, and depression, Robbins had a massive meltdown and ended up hospitalized for the Super Bowl.

The Raiders offense had a meltdown in the Super Bowl as the Buccaneer defense had game planned beautifully for them, or else the Raiders had kept the exact same audible system they ran when Gruden was the Raider head man, either way the Raiders melted down magnificently.

And have been melting ever since.

As for Robbins the pre-Super Bowl downward spiral accelerated. In 2005, in a drug and booze steroid rage he was shot three times during a vicious brawl with several Miami police officers.

Before sentencing Robbins skipped Florida and is currently wanted by the police. If he is at your Super Bowl be afraid. Be very afraid.

During the 1979 Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson was so addicted to cocaine that he hide some in his uniform and consumed it on the sidelines.Before the game he had caused a Super Bowl stir by saying Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw was so stupid he could not spell cat if spotted the c and the t.

Henderson, a good player but a constant drug soaked distraction in Dallas, played sub-par in the Super Bowl and the Cowboys lost 35-31. Bradshaw was the Super Bowl MVP.

Henderson was cut by Tom Landry the next year as his cocaine abuse spun madly out of control. Eventually Henderson achieved sobriety and now runs a Drug Rehab clinic in Texas.

Henderson also won $28 million in the Texas lottery.

Baltimore Raven linebacker Ray Lewis wasn’t playing in the Super Bowl in Atlanta in 2000, which pitted the Tennessee Titans against the St Louis Rams, but he brought bad news to the league when he was involved in a murderous melee after a post-Super Bowl party.

Two men were stabbed to death but conflicting testimony allowed Lewis to walk free though he did make civil suit settlements with the victims families and was fined, a then record, $250,000 by the NFL.

Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers: Edgar Allan Poe’s Playoff

January 17, 2009

by Dan Boone…

Next Monday, old Edgar Allan Poe turns 200.

Next Sunday his namesakes, the Baltimore Ravens, play the Pittsburgh Steelers, and with an overtime or three, the game might just end at the stroke of midnight.

So if ye feel spirits swirling where three rivers meet, or if ye feel the Steelers are making a descent into a defensive maelstrom, perhaps play a penny or three on Poe’s people.

Not that Baltimore was very lucky for Poe; after all, he did die there after being found in a delirium. But then nothing was ever very lucky for Poe. Burdened with debt, addiction, illness, and dying loves, he danced his entire tortured life along the edges of early death.

And now he has a giant Raven bird running onto the field to celebrate his 200th birthday. Perhaps Poe would just chuckle at that and order another double whiskey with a laudanum chaser, and tell you to never bet the devil your head.

Will the Ravens preside over the fall of the house of Rooney circa 2009 or will that be left to the Rooney estate lawyers?

Will Ed Reed be Ben Roethlisberger’s personal imp of the perverse? Will a black cat cross Big Ben’s path?

Raven Linebacker Ray Lewis’s career has certainly had a touch of the Gothic. After his tell tale heart trials, does he think everything he see’s or seems is but a dream within a dream? When he plays his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that’s been dreaming, but he loudly proclaims he is God’s chose son.

Poe was the Father of American Gothic. He’d appreciate Ray in a Gothic way.

Both teams seek the football Eldorado of the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay and, now that the favorites have fallen into premature playoff burials, the three football playing birds are left to battle the men of Steel.

Tennessee Titan Coach Jeff Fisher must feel like he is in the Pit and Pendulum with all the errors his team made to give the Ravens their day in Pittsburgh.

Perhaps on Poe’s birthday the Ravens will roar—or at least cackle—victoriously. Perhaps the black birds will put Pitt into the pit under the pendulum.

Or perhaps Pittsburgh will be the Poe birds haunted palace. Twice the Ravens have been tap, tap, tapping, nearly rapping, on victory’s door, and the Steelers sent the craven, ghastly, grim Ravens away croaking Nevermore!

Or will the Ravens defense croak Nevermore to the hopes of Steeler Super Bowl shores?

Will the Baltimore defense take them back to Super Bowl shores? Will Mike Tomlin wonder What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

And if the Arizona Cardinals defense exposes Donovan McNabb as a Prince Prospero, it would only be fitting to call the Cardinal defense the Masque of the Red Death.

The Red Death against the Ravens? Poe would be proud.

That Baltimore mascot though—the big, black, goofy Raven bird—seems nothing like a grim, ungainly, gaunt, croaking bird of yore.

When Poe wrote the Raven he never dreamed of a Baltimore football team. Born in Boston raised in Richmond, Virginia he might of been a New England Patriot or Washington Redskin fan.

But he would have appreciated the marketing.

And maybe wrote a tale about the removal of the inept ghost of Brian Billick from the play calling of the Baltimore offensive machine.

So Happy 200th Birthday, Mister Poe.


May ye be with your Annanel Lee

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling -my darling -my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea -
In her tomb by the sounding sea.