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Passing Out Candy, Coal for the Holidays

By Leonard Shapiro
Tuesday, December 14, 2004; 7:11 PM

With so much holiday spirit in the air, it’s the perfect time to offer baubles, or bupkus, to people have been nice or naughty so far during the 2004 pro football season. (For the uninitiated, bupkus, which just happens to rhyme with Butkus, is the Jewish equivalent of a piece of coal in the stocking.)

Bauble: To Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who opens all his practices to reporters, allows all his assistant coaches to speak with the media and still has the best record in football, including wins over New England and Philadelphia on back-to-back weekends.

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_____Mark Maske's NFL Insider_____
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49ers' Erickson Dismisses Ole Miss (washingtonpost.com, Dec 15, 2004)

Bupkus: To Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who has all the baubles and big bucks he needs anyway. Still, after five different coaches in his first six years of ownership, he’s still got nothing to show for it on the football field, except some of the highest profits in the league.

Bauble: To Marty Schottenheimer, who somehow avoided getting fired in the offseason, got rid of some rotten apples and got lucky when Drew Brees finally decided to play like a big-time quarterback.

Bupkus: To Tom Coughlin, the N.Y. Giants coach who fines players for being late because they’re only two minutes early instead of five, then takes his team out of the playoff hunt by benching Kurt Warner and starting rookie Eli Manning, now 0-4 and playing like a rookie with no confidence in himself at all.

Bauble: To Colts quarterback Peyton Manning for showing young quarterbacks the right way to do everything, on and off the field.

Bupkus: To Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, who gave new meaning to the Mile High Salute when he gave half a peace sign to an unruly fan heckling him from the stands last Sunday. Already out of favor with Denver followers who wonder why he still throws so many interceptions, Plummer will now have to get his team into the playoffs in order to stem all the boos.

Bauble: To Carolina Coach John Fox, who’s injury-decimated team started 1-7 and is now back in the playoff chase in the mediocre NFC after six straight victories.

Bupkus: To Dallas Coach Bill Parcells, who actually thought that a 41-year-old quarterback could somehow carry his football team back to the playoffs, and also questioned the toughness of rookie running back Julius Jones early in the season, only to see him have three straight 30-carry, 100-yard plus games.

Bauble: To Patriots assistant Charlie Weis, finally rewarded for all his good work as the Patriots offensive coordinator with his dream job at Notre Dame. Wonder if Bill Belichick will now allow the head coach of the Fighting Irish to speak to reporters covering the Patriots until their season ends?

Bupkus: To St. Louis head coach Mike Martz, who keeps blaming everyone else for his team’s shortcomings, when all he has to do is look in the mirror every day to figure out what keeps going wrong.

Bauble: To Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, who brought his team back from a 1-4 start to lead the NFC North, despite the death of his brother-in-law in an all-terrain vehicle accident, and learning at midseason that his wife has breast cancer.

Bupkus: To the ABC Sports genius who decided that having a naked lady jump into the arms of Terrell Owens in prime time was a boffo idea, not to mention the rocket scientist on the Eagles who actually allowed it to happen.

Bauble: To Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick for breathtaking performances almost every week in leading rookie head coach Jim Mora and the Falcons to a division title for only the third time in 39 years.

Bupkus: To Ricky Williams, the former Miami running back who single-handedly caused his head coach to get fired and the Dolphins to have their worst season in history. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Ricky.

Bauble: To Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who took a pay cut and demotion to part-time back and touchdown scorer to stay exactly where he belonged, then answered the bell when Duce Staley got hurt with three straight 100-yard performances.

Bupkus: To San Francisco owner John York and general manager Terry Donahue who have turned the 49ers, one of the great teams of the 1980s, into a semi-expansion outfit.

Bauble: To Gregg Williams, the Redskins defensive coordinator who’s unit has kept the team close in so many losses. Joe Gibbs and the offense owe this guy big-time.

Bupkus: To any of my fellow Hall of Fame selectors who fail to vote for retired Redskins receiver Art Monk to make the Hall’s Class of 2005.

Questions or comments? Send Len an e-mail.

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