There is so much to be hissy about today -- the embarrassment of the replacement officials and the continuing he-said, he-said Saints saga most notably -- but there's one question on the tip of everybody's tongue today that I simply must answer:
What in the world is going on with Andy Reid's mustache?
You've seen the thing. It's past Stadlerville and headed into Yosemite Sam territory. Reid always had a nicely kept 'stache, and now it looks like he's five months into his facial hair trimmer being held hostage.
Turns out there's a method to his hairness: Reid is growing the mustache as a tribute to high school offensive line coach Andy Cheschelski, who died of cancer earlier this year in Los Angeles. Reid played for two coaches, Cheschelski and his offensive coordinator, Danny Hime, who had flowing mustaches. When Cheschelski died this year, Reid told Hime he'd stop trimming the mustache to pay homage to a coach who he says taught him much about football and about life.
"Those guys have been watching over me since I was a kid, and I really appreciate all they've done for me in my life,'' Reid told me. "My wife doesn't even know why I'm doing this. I just thought it would be a good way to honor them.''
Cheschelski had a long mustache and longer beard when he coached Reid. Hime, Reid said, "had the Yosemite Sam look. When I told Danny about [growing his out], he was fired up."
One big mystery down, a few to go. Other league items today:
"This is not the NFL I worked for. Don't care whose fault it is,'' tweeted former officiating chief Mike Pereira last night, watching the game.
My first reaction: You're going to have to decide who you believe: two coaches who were in the room that night (and maybe more, though we don't know if there are other witnesses who have corroborated the details without the NFL releasing their stories) or nine others who also were apparently in the room, presumably players mostly.
I believe there are at least three people who were present who have told the league Vilma offered the money. The fact that the NFL has been so strident about Vilma's role in this leads me to think that at least Williams was strident that he heard the offer in the room, and Williams had to know there was going to be a good chance he was going to go down as an all-time rat when he told the league that.
The motivation for nine teammates or coaches still on the Saints' staff -- if that's who the nine in Vilma's corner are -- is to stand behind their man. The motivation for Williams is to tell the truth to try to save his career, even when he knows what he's saying might damn him as a snitch for violating the sanctity of the team meeting room. As I say, you'll decide who to believe, but I keep coming back to the fact that the NFL knew it was committing character assassination on Vilma when it released its findings in March and then made more of its evidence public in June -- and the league wouldn't be doing that if it wasn't confident in its case.
Bush says he thinks his knees can withstand 16 games, but that obviously will be the big question for coach Joe Philbin as the Dolphins' season goes on. The 27-year-old has only played a 16-game season once, his rookie year in 2006. Most football people believe Bush needs to be managed and shouldn't be a workhorse back. I asked him if he thought he could be a 325-carry guy. "I just want to be an effective player, no matter how many times I carry it," he said. "I feel good, but after 26 carries I'm pretty sore. I do think I'll be able to make it through the season fine."
If he can, defenses won't be able to tee off on rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill so readily.
Young used the concept of "inelastic demand'' in discussing why the NFL doesn't care. The definition of inelastic demand is when a change in the price of an item has no effect on the public demand for it. In essence, Young said it doesn't matter how much the public screams for the real officials to come back, because the public will watch the games regardless who is officiating them. And until you vote with your eyes and your fanness -- and stop watching the games, and stop logging on to NFL.com, and stop consuming all things NFL -- all of your angst over this won't matter.
Just wanted to point this out, because it's smart and, because he said it long after many of you were in bed; I doubt many of you heard it.
Now onto your email:
I'M A GOAT FOR NAMING GOSTKOWSKI A GOAT.
Fair enough. My view is he had the game in his hands with what was, for him, an easy kick. He blew it.
Good point, which many have made. I look at the diving at knees and the pigpile and the potential strategy of linebackers/defensive linemen crashing into the backs of defensive linemen on the play, to propel them forward, and I see the danger of injury as much as anything else -- in a game that is making new rules every year to lower the risk of injury.
There's one other matter here. Watch the classic kneel-down victory formation, and you'll see a quarterback who kneels almost simultaneously to the ball slapping into his hands. It is virtually impossible, and that is being charitable, for a player on the other side of the ball to get to the quarterback to make him fumble. In my mind, the risk of injury, and vengeance from angry offensive players for taking more chopping at their legs, is not worth the scrum.
I THOUGHT GRONK IMPEDED THE GUY.
It was a borderline hold, I thought. But I did think Gronkowski impeded him and, though I didn't see it clearly enough on the replay from behind the play, it appeared he held him. But I have to stress that on the replay I saw I didn't see the hold. I saw the effect of a hold, but no hold, so I can't swear he held. It's the kind of play, because there wasn't an isolated instant replay on Gronkowski that I saw, that you have to think the official saw something. But with these officials, obviously, you never know.
In 1978, with the Giants not in victory formation, Joe Pisarcik took a handoff, wheeled to hand off to Larry Csonka, and there was a fumble, and Edwards picked it up and ran for a touchdown. On Sunday, with the Giants in victory formation, Eli Manning took a snap from center and immediately took a knee.
THE REPLACEMENTS ARE BEING TOO CAUTIOUS.
It's difficult to paint all 120 replacement officials with a broad brush. But I think you're on to something. In the Eagles game Sunday, Mike Vick clearly had his arm in a throwing motion as he was being tackled, and the ball went forward, but referee Robert Frasier made no call; that tells me he knew the eye in the sky would rescue him. Either that, or he was simply overwhelmed by the stage. Either way, you can't officiate games like that.