Speed Read: The NFL Is Back! It’s Awes…Yawn

Hey, it’s early August, so it’s that time of year to get really fired up about football and be let down again and again by the abyss of suck that is the preseason. The Hall of Fame Game was last night, and it was billed as Terrell Owens‘ big debut for the Bills against the Titans. It’s exciting and all since it’s football, but it’s lame because even before halftime you’re watching guys that even the UFL would reject. Owens was fine in limited action, and both teams only used their starters briefly. By the end of it, guys like Gibran Hamdan and Alex Mortensen (both of whom I think I just made up) were playing quarterback. There was even a Patrick Ramsey sighting.

Gibran Hamdan

(I don’t even know who I am)

This particular rivalry is well-known for the “Music City Miracle” back in 2000, and Tennessee pulled another fast one on Buffalo in last night’s games — though the stakes were just slightly smaller. It all started when Titans punter AJ Trapasso took a long snap, and then pulled off one of the best fakes I’ve ever seen:

It’s too bad they can never run that again, since every team has now seen it. Well, except for the Raiders, who I’m sure haven’t figured out this whole “videotape” concept yet.

And how about the jerseys? Both are old AFL teams and were wearing throwbacks that will be brought out periodically during the season. Though for the Titans, the oil derrick image has some uncomfortable connotations. While the Oilers certainly had their moments of success, to the younger generation the logo serves as a reminder of the team’s ugly divorce from Houston (when a couple of thousand people would show up to see the lame duck team during their last year), and their odd welcome in Tennessee (when they played a season in Memphis, wearing the Houston unis and not exactly packing in the fans). When the team switched looks (and the nickname), things started to head the right direction and the Titans have been one of the better teams in the regular season over the last decade.

Titans Oilers

It’s officially the time in the baseball season when things start getting weird. The Red Sox were held scoreless for 31 innings by the Yankees over the weekend before finally breaking through with a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning last night by trade deadline prize Victor Martinez. But even that wasn’t enough, as Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira went back-to-back in the bottom of the inning to finish off a 5-2 Yankee victory and a four-game sweep of the suddenly hapless Sox.

Mark Teixeira

The Yanks now lead the AL East by 6 1/2 games with roughly 50 to play. Boston, meanwhile, has allowed half of the AL to creep back into the wild card picture. The Rangers are now tied for the lead with the Rays lurking just a game and a half back. Heck, Seattle, a team that traded away Jarrod Washburn and his sub-3.00 ERA, is only 4 1/2 out and have re-appeared as a contender.

But nothing is as odd as what’s going on in the District. The Nats, a team left for dead in early April, have now won eight games in a row after beating the D’Backs yesterday. Quite an accomplishment for a team that only won 32 of its first 104 games. In fact, it’s the third-longest run ever for a team that started a streak at least 40 games under .500.

By comparison, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s threats to start throwing at every hitter in the AL in retaliation for the Indians plunking three of his players in Saturday’s game between the two teams seems downright mundane.

Ozzie Guillen

• Want Madden 10? SPORTS RUBBISH points out that you can get it for free for subscribing to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for $49. Not a bad deal, considering the game will retail for around $60.

• So you know that guy the Raiders drafted first that everyone says they were totally crazy to pick that high? You’re not going to believe this, but it seems as if he’s not really very good. Like, the Niners are still glad they took Crabtree over this guy.

• Look, England, when you withdraw your badminton team from the world championships because of threats made by some Islamic extremists, then the terrorists have won.

• The Phillies’ Shane Victorino was tossed out of yesterday’s loss to the Marlins by home plate umpire Ed Rapuanowhile he was 350 feet away playing center field.

Shane Victorino

• The Cubs might only be two games out of a playoff spot, but they haven’t won a series against a team with a winning record since April.

Jim Leyland doesn’t understand all the hubbub about the steroids, and unlike some Hall of Famers (ahem, Hank) seems to understand what “confidential” is supposed to mean.

• Speaking of drugs, is there some sort of ADD epidemic in baseball? The Red Sox’ Nick Green is one of more than 100 players who have an exemption that allows them to use amphetamines (like Adderall).

• The HARTFORD COURANT’s Desmond Conner has a far-fetched, but actually pretty solid, idea about creating a Big East/ACC superconference.

George Karl fell out of love with Lithuanian big man Linas Kleiza in the playoffs, and now it looks like Greek team Olympiacos is going to steal him away from the Nuggets, if this poorly-translated Spanish story is to be trusted.

• WAG extraordinaire Colleen Rooney (wife of England soccer player Wayne Rooney) talks about her daily beauty routine in the DAILY MIRROR. She’s not really big on waking up with “panda eyes.”

Coleen Rooney

Which preseason is the worst to have to sit through?

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