Poor Ed Hochuli.
There was a time when he was unassailable. His football acumen, like his biceps, was solid as a rock. When Hochuli took the field, you knew he'd keep the players and coaches in line and the fans well informed. After last Monday night's contest between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, sales of voodoo dolls rose sharply in Louisiana's largest city and the streets rang with the howls of incensed Saints fans feeling that they, like fans before them in San Diego and Carolina, had been victims of his suddenly faulty administration of the rules of the game. Chants of "Who Dat" were followed by the raucous shouts of "Hochuli!" as effigies of Hochuli and his crew were paraded through the streets. The talking heads on network sports shows fanned the flames while lamenting his abrupt fall from grace.
There were numerous missed calls, including a vicious hit that should have been flagged when Cornelius Griffin put a helmet into the side of Billy Miller's head. While the broadcast team debated whether it was a helmet-to-helmet shot, the slow motion replay showed the side of Miller's helmet compress on contact. The final act for Saints fans came on a play where it looked like Adrian Peterson fumbled. Hochuli got the call right, as again instant replay showed that the ball came loose after it made contact with Peterson's thigh, which was connected to the knee bone that was connected to the turf at the time.
Everyone wants to blame someone else for their problems.
I'm not exonerating Hochuli, but the Miller call wasn't his to make and frankly, he wasn't in position to make the call anyway. His hands were tied by the NFL's instant replay rules, which don't allow penalty reviews.
People, get off his back already! Be careful, Saints fans. If I start feeling feverish, experience sudden and excruciating pain shooting through certain delicate parts of my body, well, you should know that I'm tight with the Yaponcha, the Hopi Indian God of Wind.
• OK, I'm off the soapbox and sitting on the Thinking Chair. Not Matt Greber's Thinking Chair, since this is far from punishment. This is the one where I ponder what is, what was, what might have been. And stuff.
• Was anyone else besides me thrilled not to have to watch Chad Ocho Cinco prostrate himself over the Dallas star for a grassy grope and kiss?
• Um, O.J.? I hope you didn't have a deposit down for that acquittal party. Looks like you are going to need some commissary money for the next few years.
• At what point does Roger Goodell call the human equivalent of the dog pound and put Al Davis out of our misery? All in favor say "aye". All opposed, please give Big Al his money back, it's dirty.
• Yo, Pacman. Yeah, I'm talking to you Adam "Pacman" Jones. Some people don't learn. I guess a year out of football wasn't enough of a lesson to you. Roger Goodell could do the entire world a favor by making another example out of you and kicking your "John Brown hind parts" to the curb.
• Reasons why you draft depth at key positions like WR and RB:
Michael Turner, Matt Forte and Steve Slaton are scoring better than LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook, Willis McGahee, StevenJackson and Marshawn Lynch. Le'Ron McClain, Chris Johnson and Tim Hightower are producing great flex numbers and could easily take over the starting jobs with their respective teams.
• Muhsin Muhammad has been more valuable so far than Randy Moss and Andre Johnson, and Roddy White has been even better, besting the aforementioned players as well as Reggie Wayne and Terrell Owens.
• Reasons why you never draft a QB early:
Early season busts -- Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, Derek Anderson, Matt Hasselbeck.
Early season steals -- Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Warner, Jason Campbell, Brett Favre.
• Terrell Owens cries, then says he's fine. This is the same guy whose publicist found him trying to overdose not long ago. Is Terrell clinically depressed? Seriously, he should seek counseling.
• Le'Ron McClain; Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways -- Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Joe Flacco (because the Ravens will continue to run the ball to protect their rookie QB).
• I don't know how long he'll last, but Steve Slaton is making a lot of pundits look foolish right now.
• The Atlanta Falcons are 3-2? Seriously? OK, I did pick them to beat Green Bay last week and Michael Turner is leading the league in rushing. Atlanta fans should send Bobby Petrino a really, really big group hug and thank you card.
• Don't look now, but Cincinnati seems like an awfully dangerous team after playing both the Giants and the Cowboys tough, with a chance to win both those games. I'm sorry, but six touchdowns in a game or not, I'm still not buying into the New York Jets. I'm thinking upset in the Meadowlands this weekend.
• Last week Buffalo showed its true colors, and the fact that when an opposing offense lights up the score board, they don't have the weapons to return fire. Marshawn Lynch, the beast within, is looking a lot like a cuddly little kitten.
• Kurt, let's not talk retirement just yet, OK buddy? You have me rocking toward fantasy football dominance so far this year. Focus man. Focus!
• Speaking of hurting, Brandon Jacobs' owners must be reveling right now with the prospect of rolling around in the Dawg Pound this weekend. Cleveland already had no defense. The lack of an offense means the Giants likely run wild this weekend. That also makes Ahmad Bradshaw an interesting flex play.
• Al Davis is our Honorary Hot Seat Chairman until further notice, or the men with white jackets finally, mercifully take him away. Good thing he doesn't live in Florida, because the line of people willing to Baker Act him would be a real hassle for the constabulary.
• Since we have a few vacancies, I've extended an invitation to Norv Turner. I don't expect him to be sitting comfortably in San Diego right now. Marty Schottenheimer might not have been so good in the playoffs, but at least for 17 weeks of the regular season, Chargers fans had something to brag about ... Brad Childress gets to slide down the table to the warm seats after escaping New Orleans with a win ... I'd like to monitor the bank accounts of the line judges and umpire to see if any large, unexpected deposits are made this week. Maybe what the NFL needs is their own Lasik clinic. There sure are a lot of referees who seem to need a checkup ... Hmm, seems like Nick Bakay at NFL.com and I are on the same wavelength. Only he muses after the games, and I muse before them. That's a lot like having the NFL Network only to find that when one game goes to commercial, the others are taking a break as well.
Conspiracy? Inquiring minds want to know.