Pay attention. This column is about two of America's favorite things, pro football and sex. And like most observations on such far-reaching matters, it is destined to be both silly and dead serious.
The silliest extreme happened last week, when a New Orleans radio station urged listeners to practice celibacy until the Saints scored a touchdown. The possibilities immediately became mind- boggling. Veterans of Mardi Gras and Super Bowls were benumbed by the concept of the French Quarter without sex. It seemed a little like football without helmets. Serious brain damage could result.
Consider the wider ramifications. If this policy was invoked in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers are still without an offensive touchdown, the population could suffer a serious decline as long as Joe Walton remains as offensive coordinator. In Los Angeles, the leather-clad biker posses that still support the Raiders might begin doing wheelies on the blond head of Jay Schroeder. And to return to the source of this debate, consider New Orleans.
The wonders of this city can hardly be summed up in a phrase. But for openers, try breakfasts and bed. The "typical New Orleans breakfast," as described in the menu at Brennan's and priced at about the cost of Kuwait, consists of a bunch of oysters and arugula wedged between an egg and a muffin. Super Bowl veteran Bob Drum once described it more accurately: "It's 432 Ramos gin fizzes and a piece of bacon."
He who would deprive mankind of such treats would allow the sex life of a city to depend on the minus-pool quarterback ratings of a John Fourcade. Beds would remain vacant until the next sighting of Halley's comet. Or the arrival of Steve Walsh, which might do more for libertine living than anyone since Marquis de Sade.
Mention of such a strange figure from history brings us to the serious side of sex in football. In fact, we are prepared to present the first annual Marquis de Sade degree in sadomasochistic dementia to the razor baron who owns the New England Patriots, Victor Kiam. This petty tyrant derives much of his fortune from the sale of electrical devices called Lady Remington. But it turns out in the relative privacy of his own macho Patriots locker room, he doesn't call those Remington buyers ladies. If one gets too uppity, he calls her "a classic bitch."
The incident involving reporter Lisa Olson of the Boston Herald has by now been well documented. This woman committed the egregious mistake of lingering in the locker room to check on some last-minute details about injuries. Along with some moronic friends, tight end Zeke Mowatt, whose IQ does not come close to his uniform number, waved his naked body in front of her face and asked her if she wanted to touch it. This is not just a personal affront. It is a monumental insult to Christine Brennan, Sally Jenkins, Diane K. Shah, and Lesley Visser -- and the scores of other professional women who have made the sports beat an equal opportunity employer. Such women don't make speeches about feminism. They practice it by carrying their lap-top computers through the trenches and doing a job that they are fully entitled to in the year 1990.
Then, in that very same enlightened year, comes Marquis de Kiam. He figures that this crude form of mind rape is "a flyspeck in the ocean." It must have happened to a woman who didn't know her place. Classic bitch.
Perhaps Mowatt's transgression is forgivable on the grounds of terminal idiocy. Kiam can't even get away that easily. It is now fervently hoped that any woman who buys a Lady Remington product breaks out in an angry skin rash. Classic rash.
It is also hoped that football's grand commissioner, lord of TV signals and potentate of point spreads, will unscramble his own signal to pay attention here. This is a commissioner who objected when one coach called another a jerk. He has not yet reacted to an owner insulting half of the population. We're not talking wrist slap here. Let the fine to Marquis de Kiam start in six figures. Then let the imagination soar.
Back here in the land of equality, things have been all to equal in my battle to put .500 behind me. In fact, it's ahead of me at the moment. But not for long.
The Bears are favored by 1 at the Coliseum against the Raiders in the game of the week. The good old days are back with both these clubs undefeated. This will be a brawl, no holds barred, no quarterbacks who can play. The Silver and Black usually wins brawls at home. Raiders plus 1.
The Chiefs are 6 1/2 over the struggling Browns. A dangerous proposition: Kansas City is 0-10-1 when favored by 3 1/2 or more at home. And here's the stat of the week: When the Chiefs return from a two-game road trip to play at home, the dog has won 10 straight. The Browns are battered but still have some class. Browns plus 6 1/2.
The Lions are 2 1/2 in Pontiac over the Packers. They are also 2-8 in home games during the first month of the season. Did you know that the dog has won the last seven Green Bay games in the week before the Pack played the Bears? The Magic comes back. Packers plus 2 1/2.
The Patriots and Jets are pick'em in Foxboro. Both teams are coming off debacles, but the Jets seem to care more these days. If Marc Wilson plays, I love the Jets. Even if it's Steve Grogan, I take the Jets at pick'em.
Monday night special: The Bengals are giving 2 1/2 at Seattle. The Bengals won last week, 41-7. The last six times they scored over 40 and won, they failed to cover the next week. The Seahawks, peering at a sick season, can get well on national TV this week. Seahawks plus 2 1/2.
Last week's top selection, the Eagles plus 5 1/2 in Anaheim, performed as promised and won, 27-21. So did the Bears, laying 2 to the Vikings and winning, 19-16. Now the bad news. The road-weary Cardinals, getting 9 at New Orleans, brought sex back to Louisiana, losing 28-7. The Colts, getting 9 in Houston, remained nonviolent and succumbed, 24-10. Monday night, the Jets were unmentionable. Bills, 30-7.
Total for week: 2-3
Total for season: 7-8. And ready to make a move. One way or another.