Go figure the good people of Minnesota: Last year they took in Jesse Ventura, this year they took in Jeff George. Can you think of another state with as hazardous a public servant/starting quarterback combo?
(Maybe New York, if Hillary Clinton wins the Senate seat and Kent Graham is still a Giant. Oh, that's right, the Giants aren't actually in New York. Then again, neither is Hillary.)
Before 1999, Jeff George was 37-70 as a starter. In 1999, he is 5-0 as a starter. Stunningly, since replacing Randall Cunningham at the Vikings' helm, Jeff George has completed 112 of 187 passes for 1,637 yards with 17 touchdowns, six interceptions and an NFC-best 105.4 quarterback rating.
Who would have figured that Jeff George and Rob Lowe would revive their careers in the same fall season?
But we come today not to praise Jeff George, we come to bury him. Again.
(Style Note: He is always referred to as "Jeff George," never just "George." It's just one of those names--Don Ho, Brooke Shields, Rip Torn, Bruce Lee, Jeff George--that simply works better together than apart. Even when he's called to his table in a restaurant, it's always, "Jeff George, party of one.")
You listen to all these former quarterbacks on TV, such as Joe Theismann and Boomer Esiason and Sean Salisbury, and they marvel at Jeff George's arm strength and tell you that he simply has had the misfortune to play on bad teams. No, my friends. They are bad teams because Jeff George is their quarterback.
No one wants to be around Jeff George. Smug and aloof, he is a king with no subjects. He doesn't even wear his helmet right. He doesn't inspire, he doesn't lead, he doesn't motivate.
He also looks a little too much like Tom Arnold for my taste.
On Monday night, the Vikings, 2 1/2-point favorites, will play the Buccaneers in Tampa. Because of injuries, Shaun King--another one of these fellas who was a grocer or a CPA or a bureaucrat just a couple of weeks ago--will make his first NFL start at quarterback for Tampa Bay. Usually, The Man bets against maiden NFL quarterbacks. But this time, The Man will risk alimony money on Shaun King vs. Jeff George. Take the Buccaneers.
As always, the following point-spread picks should not be used as the basis for any actual cash wager:
Jets (-2 1/2) at Giants: Yeah, I want to see the Jets and Giants at the Meadowlands like I want to see Lyle and Erik Menendez at Chuck E. Cheese's. . . . The Giants are, I believe, the worst 5-6 team in the history of organized sports at any level on any continent, including Antarctica. . . . If the Jets "run the table" now, they can finish with the league's best last-place record! Pick: Jets.
Colts at Dolphins (-2): Is Indianapolis, loser of 27 of its last 33 games prior to this season, actually alone in first place in the NFL's toughest division? Huh. You know, the oddest notion just struck me--that these Colts are en route to galloping ingloriously into Super Bowl XXXIV. Pick: Colts.
Packers (-4) at Bears: My Wife Of The Moment, Rhonda, interrupted my solitaire tournament the other night and said, "I don't know what was dumber--you thinking the Bears would have a good defense or me thinking you would make a good husband." Uh-oh, here we go again. Pick: Packers.
Rams (-7) at Panthers: Here are the actual scores of the Rams' nine victories this season: 27-10, 35-7, 38-10, 42-20, 41-13, 34-3, 35-10, 23-7 and 43-12. As a public school graduate, I'm a bit slower than most but I finally realize: This is a pretty good team. Pick: Rams.
49ers at Bengals (-3 1/2): Bill Walsh held Tuesday night seance in effort to contact any former 49ers who have scored touchdowns. . . . MIT scholars calculate chances of Bruce Coslet winning back-to-back games as "statistical improbability." Pick: 49ers.
Titans (-3 1/2) at Ravens: As Brian Billick and staff stalk the Ravens' sideline, I am reminded of a Gordon Gekko line from "Wall Street": "They don't know preferred stock from livestock." Pick: Titans.
Cowboys at Patriots (-2 1/2): If Regis Philbin met with Patriots Coach Pete Carroll, I believe he would inform the Patriots' coach that he has just about used up all of his lifelines. Pick: Patriots.
Browns at Chargers (-7 1/2): Four of Browns QB Tim Couch's six interceptions this season are considered "lake effect" pickoffs. Pick: Chargers.
Redskins at Lions (-3): Daniel M. Snyder met with Sammy Baugh on Tuesday, then fired entire 1940 Redskins coaching staff Wednesday. Pick: Lions.
Chiefs at Broncos (-4): To enforce stricter crowd-control measures at Mile High Stadium, Broncos will fly in 2,500 Raiders fans. Pick: Chiefs.
Seahawks at Raiders (-1): Raiders Kid Coach Jon Gruden now naming plays for Pokemon characters. Pick: Raiders.
Saints at Falcons (-4): Billy Joe Hobert chosen by NASA to hurl tiny probes into surface of Mars. Pick: Saints.
Eagles at Cardinals (-7): This Duce Staley makes Bill Gates look like Mike Stivic. Pick: Eagles.
Last week: 7-6-2.
Season record: 72-89-10.