Christmas is almost here. Snuck up on you, didn’t it? I trust this column finds you in good spirits, and the more stressful aspects of the season haven’t ground you beneath the icy asphalt. I have two boys at home — 2 years old and six weeks, respectively — so my life is an unending terror hellscape, regardless of the season or outside stress factors. Come visit anytime!
Speaking of that DadLife, I drove to the mall this week to get the older boy’s picture taken with Big Red (Santa, not Andy Reid) and ended up unwittingly taking another man’s parking spot. (My defense: He was idling in the opposite lane, no blinker on, about 10 yards from the unoccupied space. He made several protocol errors.) The guy looked at me like he was James Harrison and I was a practice-squad kicker who just dropped a 45-pound bench-press plate on his toe.
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He seemed like an unhappy person. You hate to see unhappy people this time of year, and I’ll extend that to the NFL. It’s ironic that the season of joy is a time of melancholy for so many NFL teams.
Because it’s Christmas, I thought it’d be a super nice gesture by me to hand out gifts to all the teams that have been eliminated from contention entering Week 16. You guys might stink, but you’re still special to me. So with that in mind, let’s bring some good cheer to the less fortunate.
To the Cincinnati Bengals, I provide the gift of amnesia. This was a stupid year. Tyler Eifert jacking up his foot at the Pro Bowl was stupid. Giovani Bernard’s torn ACL was dumb. A.J. Green’s hamstring staging a revolt was idiotic. Forget this dumb year. Let’s add another playmaker to the offense and take another shot with this core in 2017. As for the possible complications that come with having 2016 wiped from your memory like a bad “Black Mirror” episode, take heed: You didn’t miss anything good.
San Diego Chargers
To the Chargers, I give the gift of stability in the form of an $850 million stadium in downtown San Diego. I will finance this myself with money found in a hidden compartment of the decommissioned B-39 submarine stationed on the city’s waterfront. No move to L.A., no rebranding, just another 60 years of Chargers football in San Diego.
New York Jets
To the star-crossed Jets, I give the gift of a true successor to Joe Namath. I will create this specimen in a lab and give it all the tools to succeed as a viable 12-15 year starter in the NFL.
Listen, don’t be uptight. What you call, “a crime against nature,” I call, “extreme thoughtfulness.” What, Russell Wilson can buy his lineman a bunch of curve flat screens and be some great guy, and I create a productive football monster, and I’m the villain? It’s not like it’s going to hurt anybody. Well, it’s probably not going to hurt anybody. I can’t totally control it once I remove the restraints. Let’s move on.
To the Jags, I restore Blake Bortles to that more innocent time when he was The Next Ben Roethlisberger. This feels a lot better than the new reality as The Current Blaine Gabbert. That’s right, Blake is getting brand new mechanics! With one thoughtful gesture (again, by me), Bortles will no longer throw like a boy skipping rocks across Guana Lake.
To the Cardinals, I will work with Tom Brady’s scientists to create a house bubble for David Johnson to live in when not destroying his opponents on the field. The goal is to keep Johnson healthy and effective for the next 35-40 years. If Brady can do, why not DJ?
To the Eagles, I will institute a strict national ordinance banning any more references to the Santa booing incident. I’m not even from Philadelphia, and it’s annoying to hear it come up in every single discussion of Philly sports culture. Anyone who references the 1968 incident will be incarcerated until the Eagles win a Super Bowl. (This is obviously an open-ended and deeply intimidating sentence.)
To the Rams, I’m going to make sure Jared Goff is good. Pretty simple. All the red flags this season indicating you might have sold away your future to select the next JaMarcus Leaf? Forget it. I will make sure Goff is a perfectly proficient passer for the next decade. Think a slightly richer man’s Alex Smith. Does that feel like a low ceiling? I’ll tell you what: You can take my Better Alex Smith or roll the dice with what you got now. Your call, bub.
For the Bears, I’m going to Christmas Carol Jay Cutler. The ghosts of Cutler’s Past, Present and Yet to Come will visit the veteran passer on the night before Christmas. During the most terrifying portion of this personal awakening, Cutler sees a near future in which he’s out of football at 35 and serving as the third banana of a Bravo reality show starring his wife. (The show’s second banana will be the couple’s Miniature Schnauzer.) Horrified by his future, Cutler wakes up on Christmas morning and apologizes to every coach he ever got fired, then relentlessly rededicates himself to his craft before successfully convincing the Bears to give him one more shot.
San Francisco 49ers
To the 49ers, I get Joe Montana on the phone. We’ll catch up like a couple of yentas — Joe will tell me about the relative merits of Skechers before sharing his memories of that “SNL” sketch. Then I’ll make a successful pitch to have Montana pull an Elway and become the face and brain behind the 49ers’ rebuild. Does Joe Montana have any ability to successfully run an organization? Who knows — but I feel like Niners fans would sign off and hope for the best.
My most important gift of all. To the Browns, I gift a 21-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell will slip during a 33-yard field-goal attempt with seconds to play, allowing Cleveland to escape 0-16 infamy. Ho, ho, ho.
Ah, what the hell, the Browns can have one of my synthetic quarterback creations, too.