That’s right, sports fans: Halloween week is here! Enjoy it while it lasts, because this is the only time of the year when you can shamelessly watch The Simpsons “Tree House of Horrors” reruns, eat as much candy as you want and/or have an excuse to dress like a Cameron Crazy, Raider or Clipper fan in public.
Most importantly, Halloween (or Autumn in general) reminds us that this is without doubt the best time of the year to be a sports fan. In September, MLB lit the torch on this 3-month long celebration. This included another New York Mets meltdown, coupled with the Tampa Bay Rays birth into prominence as they currently face the Philadelphia Phillies in the Fall Classic. The torch will soon be passed along to the NBA, as the Celtics, Lakers, LeBron, Kobe, Duncan, Nash, Oden and the rest of the league tip-off for the first time in the 2008-09 regular season. I will give a shout out to the NHL, because they just don’t get enough credit. Hockey, like NASCAR, will always be a live spectator sport. Electrifying when you’re there, conversely, our metaphorical lights go out watching it on the tube. Our weekends, of course, are taken care of with America’s place for drama: college and pro football. The plot thickens with each week, especially on the college scene, as every top ten team fights for the right to play in the BCS title game in January.
So with an abundance of black cats, haunted houses, UFO’s, corn maizes, witches (or ex-girlfriends/wives) and candy (the one product you can buy from Wal-Mart not manufactured in China) sure to be going around, we pay tribute to Halloween week and its relation to the world of sports.
Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams: Without question, this starting QB can sling the pigskin with the best of them. You have to wonder, though, what kind of character or leadership qualities this guy displays on a daily basis. Before Scott Linehan was fired as head coach this season, Bulger appeared to be dogging it, and was benched in the process. Then with interim head coach Jim Haslett calling the shots and giving Bulger a second chance at the starting job, we again see the quarterback that once made Kurt Warner expendable. I don’t get this guy, and I would never trust him to lead my team. TRICK!
Brett Favre, New York Jets: On the field, the legendary QB has been the trick-or-treater (highlight reel plays) poster boy his entire career. His team’s fate is often dictated by his play. Off the field, he trick-or-treated the entire Packer organization this off season with his lack of commitment in deciding whether or not he was going to play again. TRICK!
Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers: In so many ways, he is one of the more compelling figures to ever enter the league. The true seven-footer has the skill set to become one of the elite players in the league for some time. Oden’s inability to stay healthy has been advertised since he was at Ohio State, but the bigger question mark that often flies under the radar is his character. Not because he’s the kind of guy who encounters run-ins with the law, its because of his decision-making as an adult. The guy just appears to be a little on the eccentric side and could use some guidance. Playing pickup hoops in the YMCA less than a year after a much publicized micro-fracture knee surgery doesn’t exactly scream rational decision-maker, much less having a pulse. But we’ll give him a break, since he looks like he’s been around the block with an AARP card. Maybe the solution to Oden’s inability to think is just playing ball with his teammates everyday. TREAT!
Teams of Philadelphia: The common cliche surrounding the City of Brotherly Love is: “this is a town hungry for a championship!” When was the last time this town won a title? Was it when Rocky beat Mr. T? Wasn’t that like in 1983? Officially, it was the Phillies who last won a title, in 1980, who happen to be in the Fall Classic yet again. The only problem is that they appear to be playing a franchise, in Tampa Bay, on a magic carpet ride of their own. The Eagles were Sports Illustrated’s pick to win the NFC this year, so that alone should tell you they are doomed to even make the playoffs. On the hoops end, the Sixers expectations heading into the season are as lofty as ever having picked up stud forward Elton Brand to go along with a team that surprised everyone by making the playoffs last season. But this is Philadelphia, pholks! The daily pressure to win in this city is without a doubt stronger than in any other sports town. You can’t count on a team dealing with a “win or be threatened” ultimatum from its fan base. It’s why Philly teams usually choke. TRICK!
Other notable trick-or-treaters (not including New York sports fan):
NFL: Steven Jackson–St. Louis Rams running back, Reggie Bush–New Orleans Saints running back and Subway Spokesman, Marvin Harrison–Indianapolis Colts Wide Receiver, Terrell Owens–Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver, Chad Johnson–Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver, Mike Martz, San Diego Chargers
NBA: Gilbert Arenas–Washington Wizards Guard, Jamal Crawford–New York Knicks Guard, Adam Morrison–Charlotte Bobcats Forward, Stephen Jackson–Golden State Warriors Guard, Jermaine O’Neal–Toronto Raptors Center, Rasheed Wallace–Detroit Pistons Center, Joakim Noah–Chicago Bulls Center, Ron Artest–Houston Rockets Forward, Pat Riley, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, Tracy McGrady during the playoffs, LeBron James’ supporting cast.
Scariest (for whatever reason imaginable: nicknames, presence, looks, performance, decision-making, character):
Bill “Big Tuna” Parcells, Bill “Hoody” Belicheck, PacMan Jones, Raider Fan, Lawrence Taylor, Dick Butkus, Jim Brown, Stephen Jackson, Ron Artest, Tank Johnson, The entire interior line group of the 90’s Dallas Cowboys, Al Davis, Isiah Thomas, Andre “Dirty” Waters, Chuck Cecil, Steve Atwater, Christian “Nigerian Nightmare” Okoye, OJ Simpson, Rae Carruth, Lawrence Phillips, Ryan Leaf, Ohio State fan, Bill Romanowski, Larry Allen, New Orleans Saints defense, New York Knicks defense, New York Mets Franchise, Detroit Lions Franchise, Cincinnati Bengals Franchise, Hal McCrae, Jim Bowden, Kellen Winslow Jr., Deacon Jones, Manute Bol, Charles Barkley, Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, Bruce Smith, Ray Lewis