In my sometimes distinguished, sometimes disparaged football handicapping career, I have never done what I am about to do in regard to my venerable Team of Destiny program. To be sure, I'll be ridiculed, but men of vision learn to ignore the jeers of the teeming masses huddled around their plasma TV screens waiting for Chris Berman to belch.
With a new NFL season beckoning, I annually grab one woebegone franchise out of the league's gravelly pit of despair and predict great and wonderful things for it. This forlorn group gets the highly coveted Team of Destiny tag.
Last year's chosen darlings, the Arizona Cardinals, were the most disappointing Team of Destiny in recent memory, sabotaged by Sam Wyche-like bungling from Coach Dennis Green. Which leads us to this year's selection. For the first time ever, I am anointing the same franchise as my Team of Destiny.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen (and fantasy foofs), I give you the Arizona Cardinals. Again.
They have arguably the worst owner, the worst fan base and the worst stadium.
They have had a winning record one time in the last 20 seasons, and exactly one playoff victory in 56 years.
They string losing season after losing season, with each defeat drifting into the desert haze. If the Cardinals lost any more often and any more mundanely, Biff Loman would be their coach.
Lame-duck Sun Devil Stadium is usually half-empty, and many in attendance actually just got lost looking for a Super Wal-Mart. By halftime, it is not uncommon to see some fans operating yard sales in the end-zone bleachers.
Most Cardinals games are televised only to portions of southern Arizona and select methadone clinics.
Nobody really roots against the Cardinals -- that would be like rooting against crabgrass.
Still, the Cardinals are so unloved, their second home game this season -- Oct. 2 against the 49ers -- is in Mexico City. The bad news is they will have to travel 1,241 miles for home-field advantage. The good news is place kicker Neil Rackers took Spanish in high school.
So, you might ask, is Couch Slouch -- how shall we say? -- un poco loco en la cabeza to throw his support to the Cardinals?
Not with otherworldly Kurt Warner taking snaps this season.
As has been well-chronicled, I first discovered Warner when his spaceship from Altair IV landed in the parking lot of an AMF bowling center in Bolingbrook, Ill. At first, no one believed he was an alien, but after his fourth consecutive 300-yard passing game for the Rams in 1999, my story gained credibility.
After recent letdowns, he is ready for redemption. The desert's the closest thing to a dome for him -- heck, if the Cardinals played at nearby Biosphere 2, Warner would lead them to a 15-1 record. Still, Tempe's moderate climes will remind Warner of his faraway home in another dimension.
Now, I have talked to Green personally, and he assured me he will not subject Warner to the benching that victimized Josh McCown last year. Green told me -- and I quote -- "I'm sticking with Kurt, even if he is convicted of treason by the U.S. government." *
(* The quote is largely fabricated, due to the fact that, well, I didn't talk to Green personally. In fact, Green couldn't pick me out of a police lineup of two if the other person were the Dalai Lama. I did call the Cardinals' offices in an attempt to reach Green but was put on hold for a very long time and, frankly, I've heard better Muzak in a freight elevator. So I hung up and turned on "Pet Star" on Animal Planet.)
With his jetpack refueled by his outer-space comrades, Warner is primed for one more out-of-this-world season. He used to run the Greatest Show on Turf; now it will be the Greatest Show With Plenty of Good Tickets Still Available on Grass. He and his earthly Cardinals teammates are destined for Super Bowl XL.
You heard it here first, unless it somehow doesn't happen, in which case you didn't hear it here at all.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Have you ever tried muting the volume, activating the closed captioning and simply reading what Stephen A. Smith says? I initially thought that my closed captioning was set on "Russian." (Bill Roland; Pittsburgh)
A. I tried using the closed captioning for Tim Green on "A Current Affair," and it declined.
Q. With athletes like Emmitt Smith and Brian Mitchell signing one-day contracts so they can retire with their former teams, have you ever considered a one-day marriage with any of your ex-wives? (Todd Brinkman; Plymouth, Wis.)
A. My attorneys say it would be both legally and conjugally ill-advised.
Q. When you wager on NFL games, how do you factor in marijuana and other drug use? (Stephen Simon; Glendale, Calif.)
A. It's impossible to know which players are high, one of the reasons that, since 1997, I only bet on Little League baseball.
Q. Do you think the Indianapolis Colts should bring in Jon Gruden to finish the job? (Kevin Fila; Springfield)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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