Tuesday, October 5, 2004 Doing the Laundry, NFL Style

I’ve only been at Georgetown for a short time, and already my friends think I do too much laundry. Maybe it’s the satisfaction I get from taking a mess and quickly making it clean again. But whatever the reason, I faithfully find myself in Harbin’s basement twice a week.

Sunday, however, remains a day when no laundry will be done. Loads of dirty clothes are replaced by loads of televised football, Village C’s Alumni Lounge and boxes of Chicken Kickers.

This past Sunday marks the conclusion of week four, and I feel like it’s already Dec. 26. The gift of a new season that I eagerly unwrapped has given way to a few emerging trends, some intriguing storylines, and even one or two epic statistical performances. Much like dirty clothes, the NFL is waiting there for you each week, so I acknowledge these outstanding individual efforts . laundry-style.

In honor of the spin cycle, I cite Peyton Manning’s week three first-half statline. Manning threw for 320 yards and five touchdowns in just 30 minutes. That’s a solid game for anyone – or a complete season for Drew Brees.

Yet as impressive as that is, Manning’s statline is only the second most remarkable I’ve witnessed so far. This season’s truly unfathomable performance belongs to Jerome Bettis and his week one stats.

Against the Raiders, Bettis enthusiastically rumbled to the tune of one yard on five carries, but still managed to score three touchdowns. Anytime a player has more touchdowns than yards it is a reason for incredulity, but when a 32-year-old, past-his-prime running back nicknamed “The Bus” accomplishes this feat, it’s a reason to celebrate. Those who say that the Bus’s career has suffered a flat tire are correct – which makes this all the more mind-blowing.

You know what happens when you forget to toss a sheet of Bounce into the dryer along with your wet clothes? One football team this season that has clearly lost its “bounce” is the Buccaneers.

The swagger that carried the team through its 2002 Super Bowl run is gone, and the remaining group of players and head coach are gradually wearing on each other. Now that the Bucs are losing, Head Coach Jon Gruden looks less like a genius and more like Mike Martz. When the inevitable Chris Simms for Brad Johnson switch is made in the next few weeks, the transition from contending to rebuilding will leave the Buccaneers with a bad case of static cling.

And then, there are few things more frustrating than realizing the clothes you just ran through the dryer are still wet. In the NFL, where no one likes to see their talent dry up, Jets fans are thrilled to see that Curtis Martin’s ability remains evident. Through four weeks of play, Martin has rushed for 425 yards. He’s making defenders miss, while simultaneously managing to find his way into the end zone.

In short, Martin has become what Deion Sanders no longer is.

Watching Sanders’ return has been painful. He retired three years ago looking as fine as one of his trademark sport coats, but now it appears like we’ve ignored the dry clean only label and shrunk his style in the wash. Prime Time’s cover skills are not what they once were. Before things become comical he should put that (alleged) 4.4 40 on display, sprint back to broadcasting and challenge Michael Irvin in a contest for best NFL analyst’s wardrobe.

Anyone remember Seinfeld’s Goldenboy? Jerry had a favorite yellow shirt that he would proudly throw into the wash first each week, pleased that it always emerged clean and unscathed. One faithful day, however, Jerry discovered that his beloved shirt had dissolved into fragments of yellow rags.

This season’s NFL version of Goldenboy is the Cowboys’ Vinny Testaverde, who, at 40, is somehow still a productive starting quarterback. Amazingly, he’s among the league leaders in passing statistics, but I agree with a friend’s observation that sometime around week eight Testaverde will drop back, throw a deep out to Keyshawn and see his arm come flying off with the ball.

But at least Seinfeld always remembered to wash Goldenboy along with the rest of the colored clothes.

I wish the same could be said for Cincinnati Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis, who has tainted a solid load of whites by tossing in the proverbial red t-shirt: Carson Palmer. The Bengals were a franchise that made tremendous strides last year and, as odd as this sounds, in the AFC North they are a team that now has the potential to win.

It’s difficult to tell future star Carson Palmer to wait, but to demote last season’s team MVP Jon Kitna in his favor will leave the Bengals in an uncertain state. Much like pink laundry, the Bengals don’t know what they are: They’re slightly ready to win now, but at the same time they are still struggling to find themselves.

And finally there’s that stain – the one that no matter how many times you wash it, it’s still there.

This is the stain known as the Miami Dolphins. I’d chronicle the season’s failures that range from Dan arino’s departure to Ricky Williams’ drug habits to David Boston’s knees, but instead I reveal my true bias as a devoted Dolphins fan and admit it’s too painful to discuss. The Dolphins have something wrong with their franchise that runs deeper than what two loads of laundry a week can fix.

It’s getting to the point where, for them, I think they should probably just get a new set of clothes.

Chris Seneca is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service. He can be reached at senecathehoya.com. Slow Motion appears every other Tuesday.

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