Before we move on to new business, I would like to remind you of one of my recent blog posts. I called it Mo Money, No Problems, and I discussed the NFL expanding the regular season as a means to keep players out of trouble. My theory is simple. Players indulge in self destructive behavior because they‘ve got too much time and too much expendable income. Keep them on the football field to keep them occupied. Turns out my idea has real merit. Not a single NFL player was arrested throughout the entire month of September. That’s the first time the league has enjoyed an arrest-free month since 2009. Top NFL officials took note and are already planning significant schedule changes for 2016. The Super Bowl will be played February 7th. The 2016 draft will be held a week later. Training camps will open a week after that and the 2016 regular season will kick off on Ground Hog Day. Don’t laugh. It could happen.
Okay, onward and upward.
The Week 4 contest between the Jets and Dolphins kicked off at 9:30AM this past Sunday morning. You might be wondering why that would be. The simple answer is that the game was played in London, which is kind of a head scratcher in itself, but it still didn’t have to be inconvenient for anyone other than the players themselves. And let’s face it; they’re being well compensated. The time difference between England and the Eastern United States is only five hours. Most games begin at 1:00PM, which would be 6:00 PM there, which seems perfectly reasonable for everyone involved. However, someone decided the tremendous London fan base (also known as a few thousand transplanted Americans) needed the true NFL experience. That meant afternoon football. To hell with the millions of U.S. residents who actually wanted to watch the game. It was scheduled (British pronunciation) for 2:30PM London time, which is 9:30AM in the east, 6:30AM in the west, and 4:30AM if you happen to be living in Maui.
I understand the NFL’s desire to expand and globalize its brand, but does unbridled capitalism have no limits? Is it really worth venturing into new territory if doing so risks alienating the fans that made the sport so strong? Are they just freaking insane? As much as I like football, I don’t really want to be in front of my television for fourteen straight hours and, at least initially, I resented that such a thing was even being asked of me. I thought about it. I stewed, and stewing got me thinking about food—football food to be specific, and that’s when true inspiration struck.
I am, as I mentioned in a previous recap, still collecting recipes for my 21 Sundays of Fantastic Football Food cookbook. The recipes I have thus far are, for the most part, lunch and dinner fare. However, if the NFL is so determined to expand its schedule, I need to expand my culinary horizons accordingly. You can’t watch football while choking down Corn Flakes, a bran muffin or Cream of Wheat. With that in mind, I give you the brunch burger.
I’ve actually been working on some burger variations already and I’ll share some of my better creations a bit later in the season. Under the circumstances, though, I decided the brunch burger couldn’t wait. It’s pretty straight forward. Start with a nicely grilled ground beef patty and top with crispy bacon (ham or Canadian bacon if you prefer), cheddar cheese, and a fried egg. I like mine over easy. Finally, add a generous dollop of hollandaise sauce. Oh, I know what you’re thinking. Hollandaise sauce is rather fussy and probably more than you want to tackle first thing in the morning, especially if the game is about to start. You have options. You can buy prepared sauce or get a packet of dry mix and add whatever it calls for. OR, whip up a nice homemade hollandaise in your blender. It’s quick, easy and taste great.
2 egg yolks
2 Tsp. lemon juice
I pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
5 Tbsp. salted butter or margarine
Melt butter in a small sauce pan over low to medium heat. Do NOT allow butter to boil. Add egg yolks, lemon juice and cayenne pepper (if using) to blender and blend on medium to medium high speed until yolk mixture lightens in color (about 20 to 30 seconds. Reduce blender speed to lowest setting and slowly add melted butter while blender is still running. Blend until butter is well incorporated. That’s all you gotta do.
One more thought on the brunch burger. If you want to get into the true spirit of London football, ditch the traditional sesame seed bun and serve your masterpiece on an English muffin. And if you think it needs a side dish, I would probably go with fried potatoes or, I suppose, mashed peas.
In keeping with the London tie-in… sort of, this week’s Football Flashback is from Week 7 of the 2010 season and features an absolute moron.
The NFL no longer wants to see “dangerous” and “flagrant” hits. That point was stressed this past week when the league doled out fines to 3 players totaling $175K. Dirty hits, especially helmet to helmet hits will no longer be tolerated. Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder has a perfect solution, “eliminate the helmets.” I’m thinking Crowder has already taken a few too many blows to the head. Let’s go back to 2007 when the Dolphins were preparing to head to England for a game against the Giants. Crowder said, “I couldn’t find London on a map if they didn’t have the names on the countries… I don’t know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot. I learned that. I know London Fletcher. We did a football camp together… That’s the closest thing I know to London. He’s black, so I’m sure he’s not from London. I’m sure that’s a coincidental name.”
NFL players are undoubtedly thrilled that Crowder has made himself spokesman on the subject of illegal hits. “If I got a chance to knock somebody out,” Crowder said, “I’m going to knock them out and take what they give me. They give me a helmet, I’m going to use it.”
The NFL is concerned about player safety. Channing Crowder is not. “If I hit my head and black out for a second and now I get up dizzy, OK, I’m ready to go.” Crowder says he’s been getting concussions since high school, gets one almost every week, but has never missed a game due to concussion. According to Crowder, “The NFL is making a big deal about nothing.” In Crowder’s case, that’s probably true. What’s a little more brain damage to a guy like that?
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