The New York Times recognizes that coverage of the NFL is way too earnest. As beat reporters and fans consider this player’s hamstring tear or that coach’s new offensive system, they often forget that the game is void of all meaning.

Hence the Fifth Down blog/column, which occasionally takes a lighter approach to the league. Good scheme, as they might say in NFL circles.

But the execution? That’s where some columnar training camp could come in handy.

Columnist Mike Tanier starts out yesterday’s piece Elvis joke:

If you spend too much time in the August heat of training camp, you may start to experience football-related hallucinations.

Bengals fans thought they saw Brett Favre in Cincinnati last week, presumably driving down Sycamore Street in a convertible with Elvis and Janis Joplin.

There are an additional 16 laugh lines of comparable humoristic caliber in the column, including one about the Jackson 5.