Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bit by the Injury Bug

By now you've all heard of the "Madden Jinx." The player who ends up on the cover of Madden gets injured, and that team's season is ruined. It dates back a while. When I first heard Shaun Alexander was going to be on the cover of the 2007 edition of Madden, I was worried. But then I convinced myself that there couldn't really be a curse. Just a very consistent coincidence. Then after the Seahawks Week 3 win over the Giants, Alexander was diagnosed with a broken foot. "Out indefinitely" was the initial report. There is a chance he could return next week at Kansas City, but is most likely out until Week 9, a Monday Night matchup with the mighty Oakland Raiders. Luckily this wasn't a season ending injury. But the Madden Jinx cannot be ignored. No, it is to be blamed. Lets take a look at the history of the Madden Jinx:

  • Donovan McNabb, 2006: McNabb suffered a sports hernia in the first game of the season. Not to mention all of the TO drama he had to deal with the remainder of the season. He played 9 games before missing the rest of the season.
  • Ray Lewis, 2005: Lewis didn't get hurt until the last game of the season, when he broke his wrist. But it was his first season of his career in which he failed to intercept a pass.
  • Michael Vick, 2004: The day after the game hit shelves, Vick fractured his right fibula during the preseason. He missed the first eleven games of the year, and had his worst QB rating other than his rookie season upon his return.
  • Marshall Faulk, 2003: An ankle injury forced him to miss two games, and was held under 1,000 rushing yards for only the second time in his career. He would never again break the century mark.
  • Daunte Culpepper, 2002: A year after throwing 33 touchdowns, Culpepper struggled to a 4-7 start to the 2001 season before a season-ending knee injury.
  • Eddie George, 2001: Perhaps the exception to the rule, George had a career year, but had a key fumble in a Titans playoff loss.
  • Barry Sanders, 2000: After becoming the first player to appear on the cover of Madden (sharing the space with Madden himself), Sanders shocked the football world by retiring a week before training camp.
So the Madden Jinx is for real. I am convinced. I'm typically not a superstitious person. I feel being superstitious is bad luck. But I believe this one.

And the pain hasn't come to an end.

The Seahawks began the season without tight end Jerramy Stevens, a key piece to the high-scoring 2005 Seahawks offense, providing great speed at the tight end position, and a big red-zone target to a team with no starting wide receiver over 6'. He played for the first time in the awful Week 7 loss to Minnesota. But it seemed the team was coming together. A huge conference win as time expired vs. St. Louis the week before. A key offensive player returning in Stevens. Deion Branch adjusting and increasing his role in the offense. Alexander just a week or two away from returning.

And then it hit. On the opening drive of the second half, Vikings linebacker EJ Henderson was blitzing, got passed Mack Strong, and after an incomplete pass, rolled into Matt Hasselbeck's planted leg. Hasselbeck hit the turf immediately. He tried to get up, but couldn't put weight on the knee, and went back to the ground, pounding the grass in pain and anger. It wasn't a cheap hit, like Carson Palmer's injury last season in the playoffs. It was an accident. I'm not going to complain about that. But this injury possibly hurts even more than Shaun Alexander's.

Losing the MVP is never a good thing. But until last week, the Seahawks had actually played fairly well considering the fact that they were missing the league's leading rusher and touchdown-record holder from the year before. And that's because Hasselbeck makes this team go. The game was tied when Hasselbeck went down, but the Vikings took the lead on the ensuing drive, and soon led by two touchdowns. I think Seneca Wallace is a good backup quarterback, a change-of-pace scrambler who shows a different skill-set than Hasselbeck. But I am much more comfortable with Wallace in the game when the Seahawks have the lead. He has never started a game. Never had to lead the team in a close game. This wasn't ideal. Only Hasselbeck was going to lead the Seahawks back from a two-touchdown deficit, like he had done the week before and as he has shown the ability to do in the past.

So now the Seahawks, who have been defined over the past few years by Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck, have to rely on Maurice Morris and Seneca Wallace. I always thought Morris was one of those backups who would excel if ever given the opportunity to start. I was wrong. Hopefully he only gets one more before Alexander returns. Wallace, on the other hand, was one of my favorite collegiate players, but I'm not too sure what he can do leading a team for the next 3+ weeks. I'm excited to see if he can do it. Because if there is one word that defines Seneca Wallace, it is excitement.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Boston Accent

Simply put, I love the Boston accent... on guys. It's a masculine thing, I guess. Makes guys sound cooler. More "BA." It's exciting. On girls, the accent drops from "exciting" to "below average" in status. It just doesn't appeal to me. Going to school in Boston, I was around it quite a bit. Not as much as you might think, because so many BC kids came from other areas of the country. But it was there. Some of my friends, some of their friends, professors, employees of the university... it was around me. And when I would venture from Chestnut Hill into Boston for a night out at Faniel Hall or for a Sox game at Fenway, the accent really took off.

I remember the first real education about the Boston accent. Freshman year, talking to Jomo and K-Mac. They gave me the "pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd" tutorial. But I also learned a few other things. A water fountain is a "bubblah." A liquor store is a package store, or a "packie." And chocolate sprinkles are "jimmies." Those are just the basics. See, one of the great things about the Boston accent is when you incorporate things from the region to it. "We were going to Hahvahd to a pahty, and had to stop at the packie. But Murph couldn't find a place to pahk."

Something I've noticed with Bostonians and their accent is when it comes out. The most obvious time for a college student to notice is that it comes out when they are drinking. One of my coworkers this summer, Dave, was a prime example. He had a thick accent to start, but once he got some beehs in him he really stahted with the accent. Sorry.

The other time that the accent comes out of a Bostonian in force is when they are talking, or rather arguing, about something they are passionate about. The Sox especially. It was very fitting for the Sox to have "Nomah" for so many years. He just so happened to be one of the fan favorites. Sox fans were devestated when they traded Nomah. One of my friends, Matt, is from Boston but, somehow, is a Seattle Mariner fan. I remember Jomo saying he shouldn't be allowed to pronounce Nomar "Nomah." But anything a Bostonian is passionate about, when argued, the accent comes to the surface even more. Like one night over the summer, when my coworker Dave had been drinking, and a Fort Minor song came on the radio. Dave doesn't like Fort Minor, or Linkin Park for that matter. (For those of you who don't know, Fort Minor is the side project of Linkin Park rapper Mike Shinoda) Needless to say, it was very amusing to hear Dave verbally assault "Fort Minah" and "Linkin Pahk" for fifteen straight minutes.

As I said earlier, I love the Boston accent. Over the summer, when I would drink with the gang, the Boston accent could be found coming out of my lips. That happens to me when I'm surrounded by it. After four years in Boston, I can pull it off well enough. And as stated, I like it. I enjoy it. It's exciting. So, sometimes I like to get in on the fun as well. Saturday night, a huge BC crew went out to Brother Jimmy's on the Upper West Side. At one point, I was talking to a group of guys and girls from Jersey that I had never met. One of them said, "So, where in Boston are you from." It was at that point that I realized I had been speaking in a Boston accent the entire conversation. And I realized the reason I was talking like that, in addition to the booze in my system, was because I had seen The Departed earlier that day.

The Departed (or "Depahted" as it should be called) is a fantastic movie based in Boston, starring two actors (Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg) who grew up in Boston and absolutely nail the Boston accent. I saw it on Saturday with a few of the BC kids who live in NYC or were visiting for my friend Chris's birthday. We all loved it, all agreed it's one of the best movies we've ever seen, and all agreed that, for the most part, the Boston accent was fantastic on every character in the movie, minus one: the girl. Maybe if Vera Farmiga had nailed it as well as the men did, I would appreciate it more on women. Maybe.