For the past several months, the NFL has given us little to cheer about and even less to laugh about. The commissioner is under fire. High profile team owners are getting arrested for drunk driving and accused of sexual misconduct. Players are beating their girlfriends, wives, kids and anyone else within easy reach. Drug and alcohol use is rampant, and it seems like someone is getting suspended every other day. None of that is funny, and that’s why I say thank goodness for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
The Bears opened the season with a shocking home loss to the Buffalo Bills. They backed that up with a stunning come from behind victory on the road against the San Francisco 49ers. San Fran dominated most of the first two quarters, and just before the end of the first half, Cutler was hit so hard in the chest I’m pretty sure I saw his spleen squirt out his ear hole. I thought he’d be carted off and maybe buried right there at the 49ers’ new stadium. Instead he got up, dusted himself off (metaphorically anyway) and made a big-time statement by completing the drive with an impressive touchdown pass. Against a very good defense, Cutler was 23 of 34 for 176 yards, an average of just over 5 yards per pass. That’s very un-Cutler-like. I’ll tell you what else was un-Cutler-like, he threw 4 touchdowns and no AS IN ZERO interceptions. A more typical stat line would be something like 34 of 49 for 349 yards, a couple TD’s, a couple INT’s, a couple sacks, and maybe a fumble for good measure. That’s what he did against Buffalo. Fans will try not to get too excited about this new efficient Jay Cutler because they know the old Jay will rear his ugly head soon enough.
I’ll give credit where it’s due but I’m also gonna take a shot at the Bears any chance I get. On that note, I’d like to draw your attention to an article written by one David Fleming. It’s titled It’s Never Just Right with Jay Cutler. I don’t know anything about Mr. Fleming but I’m gonna guess he’s not a Cutler fan. He says, ” Cutler has a nearly flawless, smooth and compact throwing motion and a crazy once-in-a-lifetime cannon of an arm. It is so remarkable, in fact, that with it Cutler has managed to seduce even the wise and hardened fan base of Chicago for more than six years. But we all know playing quarterback in the NFL is about so much more than passing the ball and then screaming at your subordinates when things go poorly. Which means, given his track record of leadership, the only franchise Cutler should be running is a Denny’s.”
Fleming discusses everything the Bears organization has done to accommodate their pricy prima donna, and sums it all up with something he calls the Goldilocks Disorder, where nothing will ever be just right. I hope you read the Fleming article because it’s far better than anything I could ever do. He softens up a bit at the end. Otherwise, I think it’s Pulitzer material. For more on Jay Cutler, I encourage you, I beg you, I implore you to watch this cartoon It’s heartwarming and poignant and sure to cure your NFL blues.
The season is two weeks old. What have we learned so far? The Houston Texans have already matched their win total from a year ago. The Buffalo Bills are alone atop the AFC East. The Saints, after losing to Cleveland, are at the bottom of the NFC South. The Packers and Jets are both 1 – 1, but had New York not been granted a peculiar timeout the coach didn’t even want, their Week 2 matchup could have turned out very different. The Cardinals lead the NFC West. The Chargers, after losing to Arizona Week 1, just knocked off the Super Bowl champion. Seahawks. Basically, all we know for sure is that things can change very quickly.
Here’s a fun fact, over the last six quarters, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been outscored to the tune of 50 to 9. Turns out that old Steel Curtain is actually made out of a single layer of store brand aluminum foil. But hey, it could be worse. I mean it really could be worse. The Jacksonville Jaguars, in their last six quarters, have been outscored 75 to 10. You call that a defense? I’ve seen soap bubbles put up more of a fight.
My wife and I almost never fight. Okay, there was that one time but I took her for a nice ride in an elevator and everything’s been fine ever since. We do have the occasional disagreement, and one of the things we sometimes disagree about is the proper amount to leave for a tip. Another word for tip is gratuity which, by definition, is a gift of money over and above payment due for service. In other words, that fifteen or twenty percent is a thank you for a job well done. I’m cool with that, but what if the job isn’t well done. What if service is slow, my glass is empty, my order is wrong or the server is just plain rude? I have no problem leaving little or no tip if that’s what the situation warrants. My wife, however, says that service staff makes less than the minimum wage and we should take that into account. Here’s the thing. I don’t get why their crappy work ethic is my problem. Eagles runningback LeSean McCoy agrees with me. He recently made headlines for leaving a twenty cent tip at a Philadelphia area burger joint. In reporting the story, ESPN pointed out that McCoy is due to make over $7 million this season. What difference does that make? Are we supposed to tip based on our income? Will the lousy service I get be worth more if I someday become a bestselling author? McCoy said he normally tips very well but felt the need to “make a statement.” If his experience was anything like some of the ones I’ve had at Friendly’s and Denny’s (probably the one run by Jay Cutler), I say twenty cents was probably too much.
That seems like the perfect lead in to the next recipe in my game day cookbook. Normally, I’d say potato salad is not really a football food. However, it’s still warm enough for grilling and this would be a wonderful accompaniment to pulled pork sliders, a slab of ribs or maybe a juicy beer cheese burger. Check out last week’s update if you missed my recipe for spicy beer cheese. And, this potato salad has bacon, which means it goes well with everything. I give you Bacon Ranch Potato Salad.
2 pounds white potatoes
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
5 strips bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
2 to 3 Tbsp. dry ranch dressing mix
1 jalapeno pepper (optional)
Dice your potatoes. There’s no need to peel them first. Toss the spuds in a pot, add water and salt, bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 12 minutes or until tender. While all that’s happening, cook five or six strips of bacon until nice and crispy. Crumble the bacon into a large bowl. Add the potatoes, onion, mayo or Miracle Whip (I prefer a mix of both) and the ranch dressing mix. If you want to take it up a notch, throw in some fresh, diced jalapeno pepper too. Mix it all up, let chill and you’re good to go.
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