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Mardi Gras in Miami – Superbowl 44

5 Feb

Officially the Whitest Man in America


So.
Here we are.
The biggest NFL game of the year, in a city built for a party.
(puts sunglasses back on) “It appears the Mardi Gras has come to Miami!”
“YAAAAAH!!” (Huge chiming guitar chords, into hideously out of time Keith Moon tom fill)

Because of films and TV, we all think we know what Miami, or at least South Beach is like.
Trust me, you don’t know the half of it. While I still rate Sydney as being the most dangerous city to your health I’ve ever experienced (I’m sure I lost a kidney in the L’otel Darlinghurst once) , Miami is not far behind. I lived there for a year, and trust me, I barely remember any of it. Like none. Zero.

'hey...what time is it? I gotta go to work'

Occasionally I have random flashes like I imagine war veterans or 60’s hippies get, and they are as strange and as terrifying as theirs. Jumbles of colour and bodies and bass heavy sound.
The oddest part is usually the first part of the memory is feeling heat on my skin. Trust me, Jim Cameron’s working on how to replicate that for the Avatar sequels, because tactile memories are intense and frightening.
I feel that muggy Miami heat crawl up my arm, and then I feel the blinding whiteness of the sky at the back of my eyeballs.
All that burnt orange sky a la Bad Boys or Miami Vice is just filters folks.
CSI Miami, with its blue skies and sunsets is shot in Long Beach CA. There was a reason most of the original Miami Vice TV show takes place indoors or at night. Only the excellent Burn Notice uses the real, awful, hard Miami light.

Garielle Anwar of the excellent Burn Notice. Did i mention i like this show?

How will this atmosphere affect the game? 10, 20, 30 years ago Miami would have meant player arrests for solicitation, assault or public drunkenness and guys playing the game with hangovers. Now we’re either at vehicular manslaughter, or nothing. Even the fans are subdued these days. Rhianna is supposed to be playing to 300,000 on South Beach tomorrow night, but they will all be South Florida kids who couldn’t care less about the game except as a good place to score johns or cougars. (Please note: Rhianna playing a free gig at the beach while The Who play the SB halftime show. Thank you ‘wardrobe malfunction’.)

So no advantage for either side there. (Having said that, if Peyton Manning is busted with a transvestite hooker then Tiger will start running around Mississippi screaming ‘Free at last! Free at last!’.)

How do they do cheerleader wise?

SAINTS

Who Dey?

COLTS

Nice use of the horseshoe

Like the game, this is very close.
But given the poor recruiting area the Colts have to deal with (trust me, Indianapolis is a lot like Invercargill with a racetrack) you have to give them the vote.

Which is how the game will go.

The Colts win this going away. In fact it may be over by the third quarter. It will take a David-Tyree-catch level of upset to beat them.

The Colts are immensely good and ruthlessly efficient. And that’s BEFORE you add in Peyton Manning. Honestly, this team may well be in the SB with dad Archie Manning at QB they are that good, but when you have the smartest football player of all time running the offense, well, the Saints had the right idea when they talked about trying to knock him out early.
Peyton has no equal at reading the game while in it.
He is the Zidane of the NFL in a button down shirt and tidy sweater.
Other QBs have better arm strength, can run, or can match him for guts (including the Saints’ Drew Brees). No-one else can read what a defense is doing better than him.

On the other side of the ball is a defense that will use speed to counter Saints’ coach Sean Peyton’s inventive offensive schemes. The Saints will score, especially early, but its like watching a poker tournament where the old pro lets the kid win a few pots to learn his style, then destroys him over time.
Having the lightest defensive front in the league as the Colts do isn’t a weakness if you need to adjust quickly, which is exactly what the Saints are vulnerable to.

I think the Saints will score first, and could even lead close to the half. But then the Colts will drop the hammer.

COLTS 38 SAINTS 24

Meanwhile this year I will be watching the game in Las Vegas, at Emeril Lagasse’s (he of the ‘bam!’ and a boatload of plastic surgery) Stadium Grill at the Palazzo.

pass the hot sauce mon cherie

It’s a bar! Its a 5 star restaurant! It’s a sportsbook! It’s nuts! I’ll be able to place a prop bet on the size of Reggie Bush’s penis vs his rushing yards while scarfing $15 Salmon Tartare!
Obviously given Lagasse’s heritage it will be a Saints fest in there, but hey, most places will be. I mean let’s be honest – if you’re not from Indiana why would you be a fully fledged Colts fan?
Whereas New Orleans, birthplace of jazz and crab louie and the most sexy/godforsaken accent this side of John Candy in ‘JFK’ (see below)? Have you never seen The Big Easy (hilarious trailer here)? They will be the sentimental favourite sure.

But on Sunday in Miami, they will meet the least sentimental football team in the NFL.

(puts on sunglasses, looks away from camera)

“Mardi Gras,………(LONG ASS PAUSE)…..is officially over.”

CUE MUSIC

– Mark Tierney

PS: I will be tweeting the game because a) I finally want to use that space for something and b) I’m a dick. Follow me at http://www.twitter.com/marktierneyfilm

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Are You Receiving? It’s Hammer Time!

8 Oct

This week two of the biggest Wide Receiver controversies in the NFL were resolved.

A different pair of controversies

A different pair of controversies

Perennial pain in the ass Cleveland Brown Braylon Edwards punched a friend of LeBron James outside a nightclub last Saturday, so 10 minutes later he was traded out of town. Wow, LeBron is REALLY the Man in Cleveland. He can get guys cut who aren’t even in his sport. Is it worth pointing out he was the most talented guy on the team? Edwards has gone to the excellent Jets, so its even a major bonus for him. We’re all happy now, yes?

Two shy, retiring men

Two shy, retiring men

And Micheal Crabtree, who was electric in college for Texas Tech, finally woke up and signed with the San Francisco 49ers. He was helped to that decision by renowned Bay Area negotiator MC Hammer who was brought in to mediate. I’m not making that up. PLEASE HAMMER DON’T HURT THEM.

Solving NFL issues, and harem pants are back. It's Hammer time!

Solving NFL issues, and harem pants are back. It's Hammer Time!

The only person being hurt was Crabtree, who for insane ego reasons too boring to get into here was threatening to not take $15M odd in garunteed money, and instead get re-drafted next year when he would have been lucky to make $8-10M. I could explain all the reasons why that would be, but as mentioned above its kind of dull, and the point is its all the fault of the Oakland Raiders owner, the corpse of Al Davis. So, that information alone makes it all make sense. At the end of the day, a young kid gets to make a ton of money playing for a decent team in one of the greatest cities on Earth (meet you in North Beach for an awesome espresso ok?). We’re all happy now yes?

No. Probably not. Wide receivers are now addicted to being the most insane/loud/obnoxious guy on an NFL team. It’s now accepted as part of the position. Hey look, there’s our new star wide receiver; he’s nuts! He craaaaazy!!
Just as being a defensive stud in the NBA is now license to bring the crazy up the head (Dennis Rodman, Ron Artest etc) now being a star NFL Wide Receiver is akin to being the Flavor Flav of the NFL. Why is this? Twenty years ago the model of an NFL receiver was Jerry Rice or Lynn Swann. Stately, cool, friendly. Catch, score, stay classy. Apart from the freakishly nice Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona that’s now as rare as Favre-less sports radio in the US. Instead they have become the gonzo nutjobs of the sport, almost overshadowing the QBs and running backs in rock star wattage. In  fact, that’s exactly what they’ve become: rock stars. Rock stars during the early Who/80’s Motley Crue stage of their career.

So, without further ado, here are the 4 craziest Wide Receivers in the NFL that got us here, and the older, white rock star nutter/addicts they most resemble (with highlights of both):

No 4: Chad Ocho Cinco

Chad would be higher on this list except for one thing. He may actually have genuine mental health issues. He changed his name by deed poll to a bad Spanish version of his jersey number, has been fined more often by the league for his pranky and inventive touchdown celebrations than anyone else (the league even changed the rules JUST FOR HIM), is fond of using twitter to spout the craziest stuff you’ve ever read and is brilliantly parodied by the guys at KSK (read one here). He’s also a terrific receiver when he’s on form. But with Chad you suspect the craziness may not all be for show or for attention, or drug related. Like Ron Artest’s it may be real.  And, you know, that’s a bit of a concern.

His music match: Keith Moon.

This is the one where Keith’s little prank cost Pete Townsend 90% of his hearing in his left ear.

No 3: Terrell Owens

Let’s recap: Called his first QB gay, his second one a wimp, did the Jesus pose on the Cowboys star (and then BECAME a Dallas Cowboy), did a workout session in his driveway for the media during his holdout with the Eagles, wears rocks in his ears suitable for the Tiffany’s window while playing, is a reality TV fame whore despite having no discernible personality and is now marooned in the frozen north of Buffalo NY. That’s not a career, that’s a catastrophe.

His music counterpart: Robbie Williams. Has had more than a few brushes with gay insults (given and received), dissed his bandmates, took drugs, got fat, got super famous then decided he hated it, was terrifically overpaid for 5 of the dullest albums ever made that helped push his record company into the arms of an investment banker (anyone seen EMI lately?), became a bearded UFO expert scrambling around New Mexico,  and is now marooned in a stately pile somewhere in Kent desperate for a comeback.

No 2: Randy Moss

Randy used to be the Allen Iverson of the NFL. Hard, street, and talented as fuck. He is really the model for the modern go-to receiver in the game. Very tall, great hands, ridiculously fast. When he arrived in Minnesota in the 90’s he ushered in the greatest era of throw-the-ball football the game had ever seen. He also was the first overtly ‘gangsta rap’ (how old does that term sound?) NFL star. Randy took no shit from anybody, and was very happy to tell you. He was full of rage and petulance. If he thought he wasn’t getting enough attention, he’d sulk ON THE FIELD. He would often not bother running his route if he knew the play wasn’t to his side. And block? Or tackle? That shit’s for queers homie, I’m Randy Moss. He was surly to team-mates and fans, once left a game early the Vikings were losing, and has insulted everybody he’s worked with at some point publicly. Things reached their head during his bizarre stint in Oakland, where he became possibly the worst team-mate in the history of pro football and a public danger to meter-maids. However, in 2006 he became a New England Patriot and has become a model citizen. In 2007 he and Tom Brady broke almost every record for a QB and a WR. So it turned out to be true: he really did just wanted somebody good to throw him the damn ball, on a well-coached team, and he’d be happy. And he is. Randy Moss: mellow, happy.

His music counterpart: Eric Clapton. Supremely talented Clapton has always been a music mercenary, was a serious heroin and coke addict, a stealer of wives and an all-round bit of a nasty bastard to anyone close to him. However, he got clean, suffered a terrible tragedy and is now regarded as one of the nice old men of rock. It’s the grey hair and the glasses. They can reform anybody.

No 1. Micheal Irvin

The original bad boy. Very small by today’s No 1 receiver standards, Irvin possessed a freakish single-mindedness about the ball that made up for his lack of pure skills. He was gonna get that ball, and he was going to score. There are SO MANY Irvin bad boy stories that I’m just going to tell you to go Google him and look them up yourself. He was part of a team that wrote the book on pro football excess at a time when all of it remained hidden from the public. I think Ben Roethlisberger would be wilder than all the 80’s Cowboys put together if he had the freedom from the press that these boys did, but Irvin would be with him stride for stride, or rather, stroke for stroke, line for line. Yet Irvin was also very loyal, and played every game hard. When the lights came up, no matter how much coke or alcohol was in him, or if he’d just stepped out from a 5 girl 2 guy orgy, he was ready to go. Even now in retirement, his craziness continues with his, ahem, chequered broadcasting career. Irvin, you the man.

“Only white folk write down everything……” Genius.

His music counterpart: All of Led Zeppelin.

THIS WEEK’S GAMES

Have we recovered from VIKINGS-PACKERS yet? It was the most watched piece of television in US cable TV history! 28 million people watched it. And they got a hell of a game. Put a ring around the rematch Nov 17 in Lambeau.

Also genius: this

Sadly nothing this week is anywhere near as mesmerising. Its a very soft week, a lot of very good teams meeting very bad teams.

REDSKINS v PANTHERS  MONDAY SKY 2 4pm (Delayed)

Good god these teams are awful, but I see the Panthers turning it around faster than the Redskins. Or do I? Who knows with these guys. Both coaches are looking to be gone at the end of the year (if not sooner in Jim Zorn’s case), and both QBs too (unless Delhomme wakes up from his downward spiral). Ok, yeah, give it to the Panthers.

PS: Sky really know how to pick their games.

JETS v DOLPHINS

When did Miami rename their field Land Shark Stadium? Missed that completely. What the hell is it named after? A bar?
The Jets need a good win to get their mojo back, but Miami need a win even more. I say they throw the kitchen sink at Sanchez but Sanchez survives, and new guy Braylon Edwards is the reason. Jets by a smidge.

Mr Sanchez is ready for Miami

Mr Sanchez is ready for Miami

PATRIOTS v BRONCOS

The Broncos are at home, but this is their first real test of the season against a Patriots team that still has major weaknesses but is starting to jell. Why are these games all so tough to call this week? I’m not betting any of these suckers. I’m going to go with the thoroughbred here, New England, but if Denver win, and win well, don’t be shocked.

– Mark Tierney

Fat Tits & Fatsis: Hey, the NFL is back!

11 Sep

lucy-pinder-white-bikini-wet-in-pool

The low sun in the sky had turned the surface of the pool a gorgeous orange colour that matched my skin. I’d been in there just long enough for my extremities to wrinkle nicely. Nadia, back from a shoot for yet another global underwear brand handed me a watermelon margarita, her dramatic frame bronzed and pert. Sipping the cool drink while floating out to the middle of the pool I made my toes splash in the water, the droplets backlit by the sun. In the distance a faint buzzing of commentary could just be heard over the low narcotic thump of the mixtape DJ AM had dropped off a few days before his demise.

“What’s that?” I asked Nadia as she slid naked into the pool. “That buzzing sound?”

“I don’t know,” she said, her hands drifting over my now submerged lower half. “Perhaps it is, you know, the footsball. The kind they make with my friend Giselle’s husband.”

“Ah, Tom,” I said distractedly. “Good old Tom.” Her hands were definitely having an effect now, and I turned towards her in the water and….

“HOLY SHIT!!”

I’m standing dripping wet, wrapped in a Ralph Lauren beach towel staring at my 100″ LCD. I look down at the $50,000 Omega Seamaster I won in a ‘who’s got the better abs’ bet with Daniel Craig : holy crap it really is September. There is football on. Tom Brady is already hurt. Can this be happening?

“Don’t worry,” says Nadia, unwrapping the towel as she sinks slowly onto her knees on the Indonesian hardwood floors “it is only what you call the preseason…”

Whew. That was close. What a nightmare. I almost missed it. The start of the freaking NFL season. How did this happen?

I blame an exciting offseason. From Living Coaching God Mike Shanahan out in Denver (more on this later), QBs Cutler and Orton trading condos and O Lines like two kids switching bikes,  Favre finally coming back (after retiring in tears TWICE in 4 months) to join a team his old fans regard as their arch enemy, Vick strolling back into the game with the Eagles, Terrell Owens choosing to drive to work through 10 feet of snow, Plaxico out for a LONG time thanks to not having a holster in his Hanes, Helmet Catch hero David Tyree released by the Giants (‘yeah, you won us a Super Bowl, but what have you done for us lately?’) Tom Brady’s knee/shoulder/wife and a laundry list of shootings/assaults/wife beatings/dope arrests that could keep all the Law & Orders in business for 4 full seasons who needs the actual games for entertainment?
C’mon: Three days before the season one of the game’s stars is arrested for choking his drunk girlfriend who is mostly famous for her flagrant bisexuality.

Ms Tila Tequila alone

Ms Tila Tequila alone

...and with friend.

...and with friend.

This isn’t a sport. This is a big budget VH1 show.

But play the games they must. Back in the real world Pittsburgh & Tennessee have just played 3 hours of some of the most average football I’ve seen in a long time (about 6 months actually) and GIDDY UP, the ’09 NFL season has begun. If the on-field play is half as shocking/surprising/bizarre as the last 6 months of non-stop action, its going to be a doozy of a season.

This week’s key games:

ON SKY 2 (Delayed) 4.30pm Monday

Philadelphia Eagles v Carolina Panthers

Whoever writes the capsules for SKY thinks this will be a high-scoring game. Um, no it won’t. We are still 3 weeks away from the Dog Killer taking the field, Jake Delhomme is now very rich but still flat out ordinary, so its run run run all the way. Philly takes it, but not by much.

Miami Dolphins v Atlanta Falcons

THIS will be a high scoring game and a huge indicator for both teams. They are both ready to break out and be this year’s Arizona Cardinals and go the distance. I love both teams, but I’ll give it to Atlanta by a nose. We’ll see a lot more of these two squads later in the year.

Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints

Listened to a long, well thought out argument on 710 ESPN the other day suggesting that it was possible for the Lions to repeat as a winless team. I couldn’t fault the reasoning, but there’s no way. Detroit WILL win at least 3-4 games this year. This will not be one of them. New Orleans will beat their brains in. If I were a Sportcenter anchor I’d already be starting on my Lions beat down insults. It pays to prepare.

Buffalo Bills v  Tom Brady’s shoulder

Still coming to grips with the Terrell Owens move to upstate NY. Makes no sense whatsoever, as it has almost no immediate impact on what is a running, short throwing team. Its like getting Usain Bolt as your tennis doubles partner. Nice, but perhaps not the best fit for him. The Patriots meanwhile continue to be the Yankees of the NFL. If they don’t win a Super Bowl its a down year. Patriots run riot here.

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers

The Packer bandwagon is loaded already, and you couldn’t get a bigger fuck you to the Favre, so that’s a terrific reason to support them winning the Super Bowl. However, Chicago now has complete dickhead Jay Cutler at QB, which instantly transformed them into a less likeable but much more dangerous team. This will be a great game to watch as both offenses are exceptional, and their defenses aren’t bad either. Pushed to choose I’m going with the Pack but I think it’ll be closer than most think it will be. Them Bears will score.

And now for a short book report:

030209

Stefan Fatsis is a Wall St Journal reporter who managed to convince the Denver Broncos to let him join the squad for training camp and pre-season as a kicker. He was 43 at the time, an age some of us have come to love. Because we have no choice. Anyway, its a great Plimpton-esque look into the business and complexity of the NFL written by a Scrabble playing nerd. There are a few too many huntin’ shootin’ born-again Christians going on in that locker room for my taste, but Fatsis absolutely nails details like the level of intellect it takes to play the offensive line, the emotionally rough life of NFL journeymen bouncing from team to team, and the level of micro-management the coaches and trainers put the players through. He even makes then Coach For Life Mike Shanahan seem human, which is no small trick. And its a good read even if you know very little about the NFL, just for its exploration of the last gasp of an athletic dream before the lights finally go out. It’s not laugh out loud funny, and it won’t make you cry. But if you want to understand the game of the NFL and the game in the NFL its a terrific read.

– Mark Tierney