It’s one of those things where you know it’s going to happen but just can’t do anything to stop it. You’re a 175-pound cornerback, and Walter Jones is headed your direction.
Inevitable as a bone-jarring collision.
Sometime today, you’ll be driving the family around when the sounds will overcome you. Whether you hear about the sleigh bells jingling, the good tidings to all or the chestnuts roasting on an open fire, you’ll ask yourself: “Christmas … already?”
Yes, the shopping season is here, folks. And for the fifth year in a row, The Herald is here to commemorate the official start of Christmas shopping season with our annual gift-buying guide.
We might not be much help when it comes to whether Aunt Betty wants the fruitcake or the wool sweater, but we know the perfect gift for your favorite football player.
We know that Chad Johnson would prefer the single “Yakety Yak” to “Silent Night,” and that free-agent-in-waiting Shaun Alexander would rather watch “Million Dollar Baby” than listen to 50 Cent. We know that Mike Holmgren is partial to FedEx ground delivery these days, instead of having his present sent Airborne Express.
Oh, and Mike Tice doesn’t need any Super Bowl tickets.
We even know that California quarterback/Big Game hero Steve Levy prefers Christmas presents to Chanukah gifts, even though Levy was once named New Jersey’s Jewish Athlete of the Year while in high school (turns out he’s not Jewish).
And so while we’ll have to leave to others what piece of jewelry would make your sweetie’s heart flutter, we certainly have some ideas when it comes to Terrell Owens’s favorite cut of diamond. (Let’s just say you probably can’t afford it.)
And so, sports fans, here are this year’s gift ideas:
For Brian Billick, Mike Sherman, Mike Martz and Dom Capers: A gift certificate to Kinko’s, so they can brush up their resumes.
For Tony Dungy or Marty Schottenheimer: Some long-overdue postseason success.
For the Philadelphia Eagles: A surgically-repaired quarterback … and a lobotomized wide receiver.
For Larry Johnson: Big-boy pants, because no one’s questioning his manhood anymore.
For Drew Rosenhaus: A muzzle.
For the 1972 Dolphins: A Pittsburgh Steelers victory on Monday night.
For David Carr: A flap jacket.
For Reggie Bush: A better offensive line than that of the Houston Texans.
For Brett Favre: A book with a better ending.
For the Chicago Bears: An afternoon in the recording studio. (We’re not here to start no trouble …)
For Fred Smoot: Isaac, Doc and Gopher. (No, he won’t be needing Julie McCoy, because Smoot will be bringing his own entertainment.)
For the Denver Broncos: A postseason that doesn’t include a date with the Colts.
For the city of New Orleans: An owner with a heart.
For the city of Los Angeles: More movies, less football. You’ve already lost two teams … why ask for a third?
For Ray Rhodes and Ken Hamlin: A healthier 2006.
For NFL fans: One day of Terrell Owens-free news.
For Seahawks fans: One playoff win. For starters.
Happy hunting. Just, please, don’t get Chad Johnson that megaphone he asked for.
Giants at Seahawks
Kickoff: 1:15 p.m. Sunday
TV: Fox (Channel 13)
Radio: KIRO (710 AM)
Stars to watch: Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander is leading the NFL with 1,229 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. WR D.J. Hackett has caught touchdowns in each of the past two games. MLB Lofa Tatupu is leading the team with 68 tackles. DE Bryce Fisher has 71/2 sacks this season.
Giants QB Eli Manning is having a breakout year in his second season, but he’s had a quarterback rating of below 52.0 in two of his past four games. RB Tiki Barber needs 31 rushing yards for his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season. WR Plaxico Burress ranks sixth in the NFC with 54 receptions. DE Michael Strahan has 7 sacks this season.
Breaking down the game: For two teams that have generally flown under the radar, the Seahawks and Giants aren’t lacking star power.
Let’s just say that the skill position guys are mostly familiar names: Tiki, Plaxico, Shockey, Eli on one side; Alexander and Hasselbeck on the other. There are plenty of playmakers to be had, so it might be up to the middle-of-the-pack defenses to be the difference Sunday.
Seattle’s secondary hasn’t been very consistent, so it would not be a huge surprise to see Plaxico Burress have a big day. Nor would it be overly surprising to see the Giants hurt Seattle’s blitz package by running Tiki Barber or throwing to Jeremy Shockey.
Defensively, the Giants have a big task in stopping the NFL’s No. 1 offense. New York has been particularly bad in pass defense this season, so it would have been a good week for the Seahawks to get Darrell Jackson back.
The Giants haven’t been a very good road team, and Seattle hasn’t lost a game at home all season. So it should be an easy pick, right?
Not so fast.
Pick: Giants, 20-19.
Injury report: Seahawks S John Howell (hamstring), WR Darrell Jackson (knee) and LB Jamie Sharper (knee) are out. DT Marcus Tubbs (calf) is questionable. DE Bryce Fisher (knee) and LB D.D. Lewis (knee) are probable.
Giants DT William Joseph (elbow) and CB William Peterson (back) are out. LB Reggie Tabor (hernia) and S Shaun Williams (hamstring) are doubtful. TE Jeremy Shockey (chest), CB Curtis Deloatch (illness), C Shaun O’Hara (ankle) and T Luke Petitgout (knee) are questionable.
Little-known fact: The Seahawks and Giants have not made the playoffs in the same year since 1984.
Other NFL games
Chicago (7-3) at Tampa Bay (7-3), Sunday, 10 a.m.: A win over Carolina last week put the Bears in the thick of the talk about NFC favorites. Even Tampa Bay, which looked ready to fade when quarterback Brian Griese went down, is staying in the hunt. These two improbable division leaders will square off in … dare we say … an NFC Championship preview? Ugh. Pick: Buccaneers, 10-9.
New England (6-4) at Kansas City (6-4), Sunday, 10 a.m.: Before anyone can write off the suddenly-ordinary Patriots, remember that they’re still in first place in the AFC Least. But can their defense stop the Larry Johnson Show? Don’t think so. Pick: Chiefs, 31-28.
Pittsburgh (7-3) at Indianapolis (10-0), Monday, 6 p.m.: The Colts dodged that Cincinnati bullet last week, so now a 16-0 season is guaranteed, right? Not so fast. Indy still has plenty of tough games, with the Steelers, Jaguars and Seahawks still on the schedule. While Seattle fans might have their fingers crossed that the 14-0 Colts come to Qwest Field on Christmas Eve, we have a feeling that Big Ben and the Steelers will end the run Monday night. Pick: Steelers, 38-35.