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This NFL Mailbag Is Ready to Eat Some W’s

The best college football names, an early NBA rookie redraft, the best possible group touchdown celebration, and some Week 10 picks

A photo illustration including Jameis Winston Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Steve in Detroit writes, “You have reach and influence. Can you do everything in your power to make sure that ‘Eat a W’ makes its way into the general lexicon? I want Ringer writers going nuts about how the Sixers are ‘eating W’s left and right,’ or debating if anyone can ‘eat 70 W’s like the Warriors did a few years ago.’ We can also go the other way with various gags on indigestion, heartburn, and projectile vomiting when teams lose. There's so many ways to take this. Jameis is a genius.”

I know we’ve been watching that clip for four days, but guess what? IT’S DAY FIVE! You know what’s gonna eat a W? This mailbag! We have so many quality emails this week that I almost choked to death! These W’s are lodged in the back of my throat and I can’t cough them out! Send us your mailbag questions at themailbag@theringer.com. As always, these are actual emails from actual readers.

Q: Where does this Kaepernick Collusion Case fall on the list of Greatest Legal Moments in Sports? There's the Gold Club, O.J., Vick, Roger Clemens before Congress, etc. The Most Comical is the Gold Club but in terms of impact on a sport, Kaepernick could approach O.J., right?
—J.C., stuck in Houston

BS: You can’t include murder trials: Aaron Hernandez, Oscar Pistorius, Ray Lewis, O.J., they’re all out. As for everything else …

LEVEL 1 (BORING): Deflategate, Barry Bonds, USFL vs. NFL

LEVEL 2 (DEPRESSING): The Pittsburgh Drug Trials, Alan Eagleson, Michael Vick, Isiah Thomas–Anucha Browne Sanders

LEVEL 3 (HILARIOUSLY INSANE): The Gold Club, the Clemens Trial

LEVEL 4 (IMPORTANT): Al Davis vs. the NFL, Renée Richards, Curt Flood, Oscar Robertson vs. the NBA

LEVEL 5: (SUPER-DUPER IMPORTANT): The Black Sox Trial, Ali vs. the U.S.

Kaepernick vs. the NFL feels like a Level 4, but who knows? Could it assume Ali-level resonance if it completely upended the NFL’s business model and gave 32 billionaires and their stooge commish a collective comeuppance? Is there anyone who doesn’t think he’s getting blackballed? Even a completely unprepared Mike McDermott could come off a 72-hour poker binge with Worm and still win that case for Kaep.

Q: I think counting on TB12 staying healthy is a great idea.
Signed, the 1992 Celtics
—Brent Ruder

BS: That hurt. Speaking of TB12, the Jimmy G trade inspired my confused father—an admittedly spoiled Boston fan who doesn’t care that Belichick won five Super Bowls—to complain about the Pats getting fleeced in the Brissett/Dorsett trade while griping that, “Belichick has never been able to evaluate young receivers—EVER” and “I knew we were in trouble with Belichick when he started hiring his sons and posing for Nantucket Magazine covers with his wife.” We’ve spent a ton of time talking about it. And here’s what I have come to believe …

When Brady is done, Belichick is done.

It’s as simple as that. He kept Garoppolo as an insurance policy for Brady’s inevitable decline, dealt Brissett because he thought he had a Super Bowl team and wanted more speed, realized over these past two months that Brady was lasting 3-4 more years, realized the roster wasn’t good enough to win a Super Bowl without Brady anyway, grabbed the Niners pick and gave himself a floating finish line. They’re walking out into the football sunset together—and even better, they won’t get sunburned because Brady will insist that they both drink 300 ounces of water first.

(And by the way? I agree with my dad … once you start hiring your kids in prominent positions, it’s over. Thankfully, nobody at The Ringer has to worry about my 10-year-old son taking over some day; we can’t even get him to wear a shirt or underwear.)

Q: Read your column on QB names. Which Will Ferrell character would’ve been the best QB name? The choices are: Mustafa, Bob Woodward, Sky Corrigan, Lance DeLune, Jacobim Mugatu, Frank Ricard, Buddy Hobbs, Ron Burgundy, Phil Weston, Jack Wyatt, Chazz Reinhold, Ricky Bobby, Harold Crick, Chazz Michael Michaels, Jackie Moon, Brennan Huff, George W. Bush, Allen Gamble, Deangelo Jeremetrius Vickers, Cam Brady, James King, Brad Whitaker, Ashley Schaeffer, Rick Marshall, Steve Butabi, Arnold Darkshner, Gene Frenkle, Marty Culp, Roger Klarvin, Craig Buchanan, Jacob Silj, Neil Diamond.
—Ryan Carney

BS: In the words of Colonel Parker, those are some great names! The obvious no. 1 choice: someone named “Cam Brady” could have DeShone Kizer’s accuracy, Eli Manning’s mobility and Brock Osweiler’s sense of improvisation and still become a top-5 QB just because of his name. Runner-up choices: James King, Rick Marshall. Highest ceiling/basement potential: Jackie Moon, Sky Corrigan, Deangelo Jeremetrius Vickers, Buddy Hobbs. Worst potential: Lance DeLune, Neil Diamond and, of course, Chazz Michael Michaels, who sounds like someone the Jets would pick. And still might.

Q: In last week’s column you mentioned that a study found that: “People tend to gravitate to jobs that fit their names.” Want an example that tops them all? Introducing, Dick Chopp, vasectomy specialist. A couple of my friends went to this guy and swear by the job he does. Another buddy did NOT go to him and had an infection that lasted nearly a month. Dick Chopp is the only guy I'd trust to mess around down there. And yes, he goes by Dick. Of course he does!
—Ted, Austin

BS: Obviously I had to Google “Dick Chopp, vasectomy” for the past 15 minutes. Did you know he has a partner in his urology practice named Dr. Lester Wang? How is this possible? Do you think Dick Shiner is a patient there? (Inside joke for anyone who read last week’s column.) Why don’t Dick Chopp and Lester Wang have a Viceland show about urologists in Austin? Why does Ted have three friends who’ve had vasectomies? What the hell is going on in Austin?????

Q: Literally every player needs a nickname, especially the fun ones. What about Carson Wentz? Fortunately I have us covered. Wentz (1) has red hair, (2) plays for the Eagles, and (3) rises from the ashes of seemingly broken plays to deliver majestic touchdowns. Carson Wentz is The Firebird!
—Joe, New Jersey

BS: Little-known fact: Our Ringer family is exceptionally Philly-heavy thanks to executive editor Chris Ryan’s ongoing attempt to overthrow me, Stringer Bell–style, and rebuild The Ringer around a potential Philly sports boom. (I’m not worried—just remember what happened to Stringer Bell.) Anyway, I asked these self-loathing weirdos how they felt about “The Firebird.”

One didn’t love the nickname but admitted “I don’t hate this.” One asked, “Please don’t jinx this, please.” And three were upset, emailing me back “I take offense to this because, to me, The Firebird suggests a kind of borderline trashy throwback car,” “The idea of people calling WIP to praise the fucking ‘Firebird’ in Philly accents makes me want to self-harm,” and “If you’re good enough at quarterback, you don’t need a nickname … [Marlo Stanfield voice] your name is your name!”

(I agree wholeheartedly. Memorable QBs never need nicknames. He’s fine being Carson Wentz … the mayor of Wentzylvania and the head chauffeur of the Wentz Wagon.)

Q: Please provide some sound advice to Eagles fans to help keep us from sniffing our own farts after starting 8-1.
—Jack

BS: Positives to keep remembering: franchise QB; ridiculous front seven; possible 1-seed; lousy NFC; no Aaron Rodgers; shaky Pats and Seahawks teams; potential home playoff games against Case Keenum and Jared Goff. Also, Doug Pederson isn’t getting out-coached by any NFC coach except the King of Millennials (Sean McVay). And isn’t a possible NFC championship game that’s really The Guys Cleveland Could Have Had Bowl (Wentz and Goff) just about the Brownsiest thing that could happen?

One other bonus: The 2010s isn’t just the decade of “My favorite [blank] turned out to be a bad person,” and “Who cares? We’re probably all getting blown up soon,” it’s also the decade of “I can’t believe [blank] won a championship!” The Eagles winning a SUPER BOWL???? That would be the 29th-most unbelievable sports fact of this decade. You’re in good hands with the Firebird. Don’t overthink it.

Q: Why isn't “Utah Jazz” a genre of music? Like I want to scroll through XM radio and find the “UTAH JAZZ” channel and find out exactly what instruments/lyrics this exciting new genre would have.
—Jed, Wisconsin

BS: That genre already exists. Isn’t Yacht Rock the same thing as Utah Jazz?

Q: As a Cleveland fan, every time you open a podcast talking about Kyrie my soul crushes. But his play in Boston is NOT a revelation. Cavs fans knew he had this in him. We’ve been calling him “Mr. 4th Quarter” since his career began. There is a reason LeBron came back beyond the “Returning Home” angle. There is a reason every Cavs fan believed Kyrie was as good as Steph Curry before every Finals. Anyone who says “He can’t win without LeBron” was missing the point: Surround Kyrie with the right players and this was always there. He found a great coach and took what he learned from playing with LeBron on the biggest stage. Again, Cavs fans knew he had this in him. Enjoy, Boston. I’m going to go burn my eye sockets now.
—Suman V.

Q: Kyrie can defend and pass? Where the hell was that in CLE? He can go fuck himself. Cleveland should lose all of our teams—we're hopelessly cheering for laundry worn by athletes and executives who disdain us. Fuck everything, but especially fuck Kyrie “The Polymath” Irving.
—Daniel Donatelli

BS: As you can tell, we had a two-way tie for “Most Bitter Kyrie-Related Email of the Week.” (Find my Kyrie-related thoughts at the beginning of this podcast.)

Q: You love it when athletes date. What do you think about the future kids of newly engaged Caroline Wozniacki and David Lee? Did anyone even know they were dating?
—PC, New York

BS: I might make this a running mailbag gimmick: THE RINGER’S ATHLETE MATING BREAKDOWN. Who would be our sponsor for this? An erectile dysfunction drug? Let’s have Hubie Brown break this down for us:

“OK Bill, we have David Lee at 6-foot-9 and Caroline Wozniacki at 5-foot-10—right THERE, you know you are getting a very TALL child. At least 6-foot-4, maybe 6-foot-5. You also know you’re getting a very COORDINATED child, and on top of that, David Lee is left-handed, so it might be a LEFT-HANDED child. Both of them have incredible hand-eye coordination, so you know you’re getting INCREDIBLE HAND-EYE COORDINATION, and terrific FOOTWORK as well. She’s also Danish, and as we know by now, Danish men are SURPRISINGLY WELL-ENDOWED, which would give that child remarkable balance. So you’re looking at a well-coordinated, well-endowed, left-handed child, around 6-foot-5—that sounds like the next Chris Mullin to me.”

Q: Did you notice that LeBron travels in his new Nike commercial?
—John Gelhard

BS: They wanted to make it realistic.

Q: Has there ever been a player more destined to end up on the Patriots than Clemson's Hunter Renfrow? White? Check. Under 6 feet tall? Check. Former quarterback? Check. Average speed? Check. Runs crisp routes and has great hands? Check again. A standout in a second sport? Check. Walked onto the team? Check. You know Belichick will somehow get this guy in the fifth round and have him catching 100 passes a season out of the slot by 2020. Edelman should put his house on the market.
—Nick Fitz

BS: Nick easily could have made this guy up and I would have believed it. I barely watch college football. (Thinking.) Wait, did Nick make this guy up?

Q: I have been catching up on The Rewatchables pods this week, and was listening to the Point Break one, where you mentioned your dream job on a bank robbery team would be getaway driver. What car would you use? And please tell me it would be a stick shift à la Baby Driver.
—Kevin, Winnipeg

BS: You act like I haven’t been thinking about this for the past 30 years. There’s only one acceptable current answer: the black Audi S8 Plus. It’s like a stolen police car, but nicer. And I’m not even dignifying the stick shift part of that question.

Q: At what point does an actor like Tom Cruise flip the switch from I’m still young and still got it to the grizzled handsome old guy. Is there a historical precedent for the moment when the switch is “flipped?”
—Justin B.

BS: It should have been 3-4 years ago. We don’t want to watch Tom Cruise pretend he’s still Tom Cruise anymore; the turnout for his past two movies confirmed as much. He needs to make the turn like Paul Newman did at age 57 (The Verdict, 1982), or Clint Eastwood at age 62 (Unforgiven, 1992), or even 51-year-old Sly Stallone (Cop Land, 1997). How is he STILL playing Ethan Hunt? He’s 55 years old!

'The Mummy' New York Fan Event Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

In Amy Nicholson’s terrific Cruise piece from 2014, she describes how Cruise took off after Risky Business, disappeared for two years, then made a concerted effort to avoid popcorn movies and sequels and work only with the best directors and actors. But after Eyes Wide Shut, something flipped and he ONLY made popcorn movies and sequels. Now, he has to flip the script again. He has to find his version of The Verdict.

(For the record, I cancelled my Cruise season tickets after Jack Reacher: Never Go Back—it was like watching a completely bald Hulk Hogan hulking up in his mid-50s. But what a 35-year run! Very few regrets! Nobody had a higher movie PER than Cruise except for maybe Harrison Ford. There’s one last chapter that he needs to write. And it’s not action sequels or Top Gun 2. The only defensible Cruise sequels, at his age, are Jerry Maguire 2 or Cocktail 2. Two movies that, by the way, I WOULD PAY TO FUCKING SEE!!!!!! I STILL BELIEVE IN YOU, TOM CRUISE! I just don’t want you getting into fistfights, flying fighter jets, and defusing bombs anymore.)

Q: I can't believe The Challenge XXX: Dirty 30 is over and you never did an NBA/Challenge crossover column! I was so fake outraged I came up with my own comparisons.

Tony–Dwight Howard (extremely accurate); Kailah–Dion Waiters (both think they’re the best, both below average in PER); CT–LeBron (forces of nature who never age, even though they've both lost a step they can step it up when needed); Camila–Boogie Cousins (forces of nature in a different way, could blow up at any time); Jordan–Russell Westbrook (only go full speed, better alone than as partners); Cara Maria–Kyrie Irving (the silent sides of dysfunctional partnerships who now thrive on their own); Derrick–Kyle Lowry (tough overachievers); Tori–Kristaps Porzingis (only because Laurel is Giannis).
—Shaughn B.

BS: Tori as Kristaps? What? The Challenge has no Kristaps. There’s never been a 7-foot-3 freak scorer who can protect the rim on The Challenge. I’m positive. I have Tori as Ben Simmons (stunningly good rookie season, ambidextrous, future Hall of Famer if she can stay healthy), Leroy as Blake Griffin (all the tools, keeps falling short), Cory as Joel Embiid (lots of shit talk, no results yet), Aneesa as Zach Randolph (if you’re starting her in 2017, you’re in trouble), Darrell and Bananas as Wade and Dirk (the all-timers with nothing left to prove), and Markelle Fultz as the dude from Are You the One who disappeared in the first episode. (Sorry, I had to.) By the way, I’m 48 years old.

Q: I dare any of the Ringer staff to dip a pancake in a jar of peanut butter, eat it, wash it down with maple syrup, then try to drive for five minutes without dying. Was this scene to show Billy Bob’s commitment to being huge for football? Can’t wait for the Varsity Blues Rewatchables podcast.
—Mark, Bethlehem, Pa.

BS: That podcast is coming sooner than you think. You know what’s not coming? Varsity Blues 2. I share Clippers tickets with Blues producer, 30 for 30 director, and tortured Philly fan Mike Tollin. During the CP3 era, we were so bored at one of those everyone-hates-each-other home games that I annoyed everyone in our section by pitching Varsity Blues 2.

This was right after Paul Walker died, so I had Blues 2 starting at Lance Harbor’s funeral because, I mean … how could you not acknowledge Paul Walker/Lance Harbor? Lance was West Canaan’s hotshot coach who won multiple titles and could have left for a cushy college job, only the town meant too much to him … and now he’s gone. And, of course, Mox returns for the funeral as a disgraced Brown University literature professor who lost his tenure after getting caught sleeping with a student, and he needs a job, and the team needs an interim coach, and Tweeder’s son is the hard-partying, out-of-control QB, and you can guess what happens next. But I couldn’t talk Tollin into it. Hardball 2, on the other hand …

Q: As a lifelong SAN DIEGO Chargers fan (sigh), I think I've come up with a solution to how the Chargers can finally become L.A.'s team. First step, lose—they're already world-class at finding unique ways to do this. Next step, draft Josh Rosen, a.k.a. The Chosen Rosen. In one quick move they've added all the UCLA alumni and Jewish communities in L.A. That's gotta be worth at least 27,000 people, right?
—Kevin, Austin

BS: It’s a bold and brilliant plan. Speaking of Rosen, I know the Astros broke their World Series drought but shouldn’t we remember the 2017 postseason for ending a different drought? A star-making performance by Alex Bregman? Big Joc Pederson home runs? Sandy Koufax sightings? The Phillies hiring Gabe Kapler? I know Cleveland fans were disappointed when the Tribe lost to the Yankees, but I feel like a different tribe might have won the 2017 postseason. I asked The Ringer’s Joel Solomon if this was the biggest month in recent Jewish sports history. Here’s what he wrote back:

“It’s been a while. We had to deal with Ryan Braun’s PED suspension, Julian Edelman’s ACL, and the end of Jordan Farmar’s career. Our last big highlight may have been Walter Sobchak bowling in The Big Lebowski. Sure, maybe we should have been more optimistic after Israel’s surprising Cinderella run in the World Baseball Classic and, of course, Goldberg’s WWE title run. But having a Jewish star on BOTH World Series teams was a double mitzvah! It was like Judd Apatow directed the series. The Dodgers and Astros combined for a record 25 home runs—Jews hit five of them!!! Throw in Kapler and Chosen Rosen and what’s next? Lonzo converting to Ballstein? All I know is Hanukkah came early this year.”

Q: It's way too early, but based on your initial impression of the first three weeks, what would the top 10 picks of the draft look like if you could redo it now?
—Paul from Seattle (by way of Chicago)

BS: It’s way too early. And I’m going to change my mind 10 more times this season and write this as a real column at some point. Remember, I value rookies based on “Can they help me win a title?” and not “Can they help me win my fantasy league?” At least we can figure out who got drafted lower than they should have. Right now, these nine guys would go higher in any redraft than they originally did. I’m ranking these nine in order of my personal favorites on November 10, 2017 (knowing this could all change in 10 days) …

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Jayson Tatum (3): The first pick every time. Pierce crossed with Granger, maybe better.

Jonathan Isaac (6): Not sure what he is yet, just know I haven’t seen it before.

Lauri Markkanen (7): The Finnisher! Mild Dirk 2.0 potential. Repeat: Mild.

John Collins (19): An old-school athletic 6-foot-10 guy?!?!? Yes, please!

Kyle Kuzma (27): I didn’t want to get sucked in but … fuck.

Frankie Smokes (8): Destructive defensively. Fearless. Had to mention him even if he only goes 1 pick higher.

OG Anunoby (23): Shouldn’t have fallen that far.

Jordan Bell (38): Shame on the Cheap-Ass Bulls. SHAME.

Semi Ojeleye (37): Either the Poor Man’s Draymond or the Homeless Man’s Draymond. Hey, at least my team got a version of a Draymond!

Q: Great NFL QBs have names like the ones you mentioned in last week's column. But why did Colt McCoy fail in the NFL? Because he has a great college QB name—that’s a different category, names that almost seem made up like Colt McCoy, Baker Mayfield, Ryan Tannehill, Dak Prescott, or anything with initials (EJ Manuel, A.J. McCarron, etc.), or anything with alliteration (Tim Tebow, Kirk Cousins, Connor Cook) or any first name ending in “y” or “ie” (Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Joey Harrington, Landry Jones).
—Victor Valenzuela

BS: I’m down with this. You brought up a riveting wrinkle: Dak Prescott is trying to become the first QB since Joe Montana to win a Super Bowl with a great college QB name AND a great NFL QB name. That’s a tall task. I mean, it’s Joe Montana! He won four Super Bowls, married the girl from the Schick commercials and starred in one of the funniest SNL sketches ever. Don’t disturb Joe, he’ll be in his room.

Anyway, I asked The Ringer’s three college football experts if they approved the theory. Rodger Sherman called it “stunningly accurate, Charlie Ward and Brady Quinn are further proof.” Mallory Rubin also approved and added, “Strong agree. Tim. Couch.” And Ben Glicksman signed off but not before suggesting an additional category for “names that you could easily hear Gus Johnson screaming incomprehensibly. This would bring in quarterbacks such as Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold, and Josh Rosen. Is it a coincidence that Johnson was calling the game in which Rosen led UCLA to a 34-point second-half comeback in a win over Texas A&M? I think not.”

Q: You’re the GM—you have two choices for your team for the QB position. You taking vintage Jay Cutler or vintage Jeff George?
—Harry Webb, Nuku’alofa, Tonga

BS: Readers have been sending me Cutler/George emails for nearly a decade. In 2009 and 2010, they asked if Cutler was the next George. From 2011 to 2014, they just sent Cutler/George jokes because Cutler WAS the next George. Now, it’s 2017 and they’re asking me to choose between them. With Cutler, you’re guaranteed a disappointing, confusing, spiritless, up-and-down season that falls between 6-10 and 10-6, and afterward, you’re going to examine his stats and go, “Wait, that’s a little better than I thought!” and talk yourself right back into him.

With George, you have a 50 percent chance of your season completely cratering. He went 1-15, 2-9 and 4-12 in three different seasons. He left Indy and Atlanta and their fans HATED him afterward. He got fired by the Falcons for a screaming match with his coach on the sidelines. He could also rip off 15-yard frozen ropes and 60-yard bombs like nobody other than maybe John Elway. When he joined forces with Randy Moss and Cris Carter in 1999 (9-3 as a starter with an astonishing 32 TDs, including four in Minnesota’s 49-37 Round 2 loss to the Rams), that team had a higher ceiling than any Cutler was on. Even better, George’s basement was like seven floors deeper that Cutler’s basement—it was like the gateway to football hell.

To recap: Jeff George either gave you a fun football team, or a team so bad that you’d end up with a top-5 pick. And he was more fun to complain about. And he might get into a screaming match with a coach you never liked, anyway. I’d rather have Jeff George.

Q: George Springer won the Willie Mays award for World Series MVP, but he also won something equally important: The Most Excited Dugout/Home Run Trot Celebrations. What’s the right name for this award?
—Dexter, Houston

BS: Wait, wait, wait … we have to split those awards up. Best celebratory home run trots fall under the umbrella of the Carlton Fisk Award: His series-saving home run in the ’75 World Series doubled as the modern TV era’s first unforgettable baseball celebration, as well as a pivotal scene in Good Will Hunting. You were at Game 6???

As for most excited dugout celebrations … I mean … how do we not name that after George Springer? He made it an art form! Did you ever think a baseball star would take Michael Phelps’s “My Teammate Just Won Me The Gold Medal Relay By 1/100th of A Second” lean-back double fist pump scream, meld it with Jimmy Connors’s 1991 U.S. Open screaming fist pump shakes, throw in a dash of 2005 Masters Tiger Woods, then repeatedly unleash this orgasmic hybrid for an entire baseball postseason?

If someone ever threw The Sports Celebration Awards, we’d hand out awards named after Fisk; Bjorn Borg (tennis); Brandi Chastain (soccer); Kirk Gibson (best celebration while injured); Bill Gramatica (best injury-causing celebration); Kevin McHale (best use of arm pits); Magic Johnson (hugging); Pearl Washington (sprinting off the floor/field); the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team (team euphoria); George Springer (dugout); Chris Chambliss (casual fan violence); Bridgette Wilson-Sampras (spouse); Dikembe Mutombo (lying on the floor); Tiger Woods (golf); Michael Phelps (Summer Olympics); Tug McGraw (pitcher); Tim Tebow (college football); Conor McGregor (MMA); Alex Ovechkin (hockey); Mark Messier (with the Stanley Cup); Jim Valvano (coach); Ricardo Mayorga–Robbie Fowler (most inappropriate); Larry Bird (coolest in the moment); Sam Cassell (best use of testicles or fake testicles); Kobe Bryant (most shameless attempt to rip off an already established celebrator); The Fab Five (coolest group celebration); The Fun Bunch (most contrived/awkward group celebration); the Vlade Divac No Arms Celebration Award (best wholly original celebration); the MJ Shrug (best condescending celebration); Michael Jordan Lifetime Achievement Award (best array of celebrations); and most important, The Billy White Shoes Johnson Award (best celebrator of the year). Long live Billy White Shoes.

Q: Tony Romo is a great analyst right now, but how long will he be this good? Isn't he great at predicting plays because he just played against all these players and coaches two years ago? With every passing year, he gets a step away from being a guy fresh out of the game and a step closer to Phil Simms. I put the over/under of the year he becomes Gruden at 2023.5
—Jack, Calgary

BS: You bite your tongue. Romo is a broadcasting comet—he’s the next John Madden. We’re getting 25 years and an iconic video game out of him. Here’s my question: Who’s the next Phil Simms? In other words, which established announcer inadvertently turned into a Shtick Machine/Master of the Obvious about four years ago, only it took us four extra years to realize it? Your nominees: Troy Aikman, Jon Gruden, Mark Jackson. There’s an answer. I don’t want to be mean. (And by the way, we can have co-winners.)

Here’s the thing: When you’re announcing a sporting event as the lead color analyst, we’re setting the bar at that Romo/Smoltz/Collinsworth/Kerr level for lead color analysts consistently (a) pointing out stuff that we wouldn’t know, (b) explaining why something just happened, and (c) predicting things that happen before they do. If you’re consistently falling short with observations like “This is a huge play right here” and “I love watching this guy, he’s something else,” or you’re just lapsing into shtick over and over again without actually offering anything, then either step it up or make way for the next Romo (especially if you’ve been out of the league for five years or more).

We want to learn stuff when we watch these games. We want to be educated, surprised, and entertained—in that order. If you’re 1-for-3, it’s time to go. If you’re 0-for-3, it’s definitely time to go. (P.S.: You know who could become the NBA’s Romo if ESPN moved him to games? Paul Pierce. But only if he put in the work. Not sure he would.)

Q: Any time you mention The Ringer’s NBA slack in a podcast I keep picturing you guys making dozens of jokes about Royce Young’s latest defensive pro-Westbrook tweet. Why don’t you charge $4.99 a month for people to read your NBA Slack?
—Jonah, Frederick, Md.

BS: You’re not far off. Our NBA Slack is a teeming brew of Westbrook-related arguments, fake trade suggestions, NBA gossip, Giannisgasms, Porzingasms, people asking “WTF?” about the Suns or Bulls, people making fun of embarrassing media tweets, and everyone trolling Chris Ryan with Markelle Fultz updates. It’s probably worth $9.99 a month, to be honest.

Q: Joe Flacco's response on his focus after the bye week: “We just have to go after it. We can't sit back and just expect us to not lose football games.” Is it just me or is Joe realizing he's a god-awful quarterback and auditioning for the next commentating job? I'm not so sure he wouldn't be able to fill Dan Dierdorf's double-negative shoes nicely.
—Paul, Saskatoon, Canada

BS: These are great points. Also, what sums up Baltimore’s run at having the most boring 8-8 season in NFL history: Justin Tucker being their best fantasy player, or their QB saying “We can’t sit back and just expect us to not lose football games?” They’d be 12-point favorites over any other NFL team in the Boring Finals. How is Jeff Fisher not coaching this team?

Q: Everyone loves the group TD celebrations so far in 2017, but it's only a matter of time before someone goes WAY over the line. What would be the most likely to draw a suspension or a Kaepernick-ian blackballing from the league? My money is on “performing an autopsy and extracting the CTE-ridden brain (the football).”
—Ross M., San Francisco

BS: That crossed every line as well as like 250 other lines—but imagine if someone did that to raise CTE awareness? What would the league do? Could it suspend that player for … raising awareness for the league’s single biggest issue right now? You’re right, though: That celebration has the highest potential to get a player Kaepernicked. But here’s my dream touchdown celebration …

The Mock Goodell Draft-Day Hug.

Here’s how it goes. Guy scores a touchdown. A teammate runs 10 feet away from him, stops, and fake-announces a name at a fake podium, then turns toward the scorer. The scorer then walks over to the player like he’s just been drafted; they re-enact one of those obnoxiously over-the-top, full-body Goodell hugs; then five teammates rush in front of them like fake photographers, then the scorer and Fake Goodell pose for fake pictures.

And then … the scorer turns and clotheslines Fake Goodell like they’re Paul Orndorff and Hulk Hogan. Fake Goodell fake-falls to the ground and 7-8 players come over and fake-kick him. Now THAT would get everyone suspended.

Let’s bang out some Week 10 picks. I hated last week’s slate, almost stayed away, then talked myself into a Seahawks money line wager that exploded all over me like a faulty firework. (The lesson, as always: When you know you should stay away, stay the F away.) This week, I actually love the slate. We’re putting $770 to win $700 on the following wagers …

Jets (-2.5) over BUCS
BILLS (+3) over Saints
FALCONS (-3) over Cowboys
SIX-POINT TEASE: RAMS (-11.5 over Texans) and Patriots (-7.5 over BRONCOS)

Last week: 0-1, $1,360
Season: 15-14, -1,755