Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/3/12

DENVER - OCTOBER 05: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leads his team against the Denver Broncos during NFL action on October 5, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Buccaneers 16-13. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

My apologies for being late to the party this week. We are on the eve of Week 5 and I haven’t even processed Week 4. Hell, I haven’t sent up a Hollow Mockery since opening night. But let me assure you; I still exist, even if only in a phantasmal sort of vein. 

The reasons for my sporadic efforts are manifold. My work days have become as grueling as the NFL week. They are barely over and they are beginning again. I have been worked like a revolting mule.

I can’t find the time to figure out what the hell happened and already I’ll find myself staring down the barrel of Thursday Night Football. But I suppose there are greater travesties than perpetual football. 

Indeed one such travesty occurred Monday Night, when the balloon in Jon Gruden’s stomach burst about fifteen minutes before kickoff and he was reduced to a raving fool with no recourse to reality. I can be sure of these things. I am, after all, an expert, and have been completely divorced from reality myself--for professional reasons.

But Gruden’s psychic journey wasn’t so nice, and those of us with a taste for pro football on Monday nights were forced to endure it like demented trip-sitters. The best we could manage was to keep him from puking on the furniture, but he still dealt his damage like a mushroom fiend in high season, eating cigarettes and opening thirty cans of Mt. Dew and asking annoying and incomprehensible questions like “Are you cool?” 

Well that would have been preferable at least to what he DID do. He started the night by jabbering about oblique and labored comparisons between Jay Culter, Tony Romo, John Wayne, and Clint Eastwood. I couldn’t follow any of it. It was clear the masters in Bristol had decided to “Texify” the whole broadcast with this “gunslinger” palaver, and the result was a half-baked presentation of purified rat excrement. 

Gruden has proven himself to be a rather inept commentator. Everything is the “greatest ever” with him. It is painfully clear that he is trying to keep himself from burning any bridges back into the business. He bounces around like a terminal dope fiend, and even Tirico can’t get comfortable when he starts reading from his script of crappy allusions. But maybe Gruden is just a good company man, doing the job the dark masters in Bristol beckon him to.

It is rather sad in the end. He is probably the most knowledgeable man in any of the broadcast booths. If only he didn’t have a sleepless eye on returning to the sideline. If only his malice ever slept. If only he wasn’t under the thumb of a network that champions asinine and frivolous story-lines.

If only he wasn’t such a willing salesman. For that is what nearly every ESPN commentator boils down to. They are agile pitchmen, with turds for brains, and only a thin and slipping grip on anything of substance. They have things to push, and more often than not truth is but a hurdle in their race.

But we’ve given Gruden enough lumps for now. There was plenty of disgrace on show this past week, and that is why we have the Hollow Mockery.

Here We Go!

Everyone feels relieved that the regular officials have returned, even if the performances weren’t perfect (Jeff Triplette HAS to be the first guy to get the hook in favor of the substitute crew). It was none too soon. The NFL had turned into one big demented game of Mario Party. You could be a superior player for an entire game and in the end you’d be screwed by a bunch of b.s. beyond your control that happened for no reason. 

Strange Adventures in Advertising

Every fall comes football, and it invariably brings with it brainless and provoking commercials. Maybe better minds can filter this sort of garbage out, but sometimes I feel like each ad is going out of its way to bother me. 

Coors had continued their ad campaign in which an arctic train emerges from a tunnel and brings cold weather and cold beer to whatever the locale happens to be. In one spot, a man captures the sun using some manner of ancient evil, and casts it down a darkened train tunnel.

Moments later the Coors train emerges from the tunnel, burying the city in a New Ice Age, and distributing alcohol like Federal soldiers greeting an native tribe for the first time. So what is the message here? That from the staggering power of the sun we derive Coors Light, which is so powerful that it has dramatic ecological repercussions? Then why does it taste like glorified rice piss?

In an ad for Lowe’s, a mother laments that her children are painting all over the walls and fancy themselves “little Rembrandts”. Well just be thankful, madam. There are worse things to confuse your identity with than Dutch painters from the Baroque period. The children could be like all of the rest of the white kids in suburbia and think themselves to be black gangsters.

Head Trauma Warning

I generally like Troy Aikman, but he offered up a funny little gem on Sunday, mistakenly calling Randall Cobb “Reggie Cobb”. Perhaps he had a wire crossed and was flashing back to the career of journeyman running back Reggie Cobb, good old number 32, who played for the Packers in reserve role in 1994. Head trauma is a *****.

Danger Close

During Sunday’s game between the Saints and the Packers, the NFL mistakenly placed its on field microphones way too close to the Packers cheerleaders from St. Norbert’s. The result was a constant drone of cheers and chants and all manner of apocryphal garbage. Forgive me for my blasphemy (actually don’t, swallow it) but why do we still have cheerleaders at NFL games?

No one actually follows their lead in cheers. Only about an eighth of the stadium can even see them, and even fewer can hear them. That and they seem like a relic from an era when you could call dames broads. The only thing they manage to do is irritate the auditory sensibilities of anyone unfortunate enough to be sitting near the field at the fifteen yard line.

Plastic Face

Jerry Jones is a better businessman than a general manager. He perpetually fields inept and over priced teams that accomplish little in a football sense, but which gross huge revenues regardless. It will cost you $75 to park on any property belonging to him, even if the parking lot is in Oklahoma. For a family of four to go to a game it will cost about $600 in total. His stadium is so big that it can’t hold any crowd noise, but that doesn’t matter much in the end.

The seats are so expensive that only corporate shills with thin blood and sensitive dispositions can ever buy one to sit quietly in. Increasingly, visiting teams’ fans take over the building, as was clear on Monday night when Bears fans made their presence felt. The offense, which it seems that Jones has put on the backburner while he works on other things, is rated 30th in points scored. Luckily, Jones just added a Victoria’s Secret to the burgeoning strip mall that is Cowboys Stadium so fans will have at least one reason to head to the stadium on game day.

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