Our football still catching on in the land of the other football

Sal DeFilippo

Celebrity Picks

Lance Burton, Monte Carlo master magician (11-13)
Jets +6 at Bills
Falcons -3 at Raiders
Steelers +2 ½ at Redskins
Anthony Crivello, star of "Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular" (15-9)
Packers +5 ½ at Titans
Broncos -3 ½ vs. Dolphins
Raiders +3 vs. Falcons
Carrot Top, Luxor headliner (9-14-1)
Steelers +2 ½ at Redskins
Eagles –7 at Seahawks
Dolphins +3 ½ at Broncos
Danny Gans, Mirage headliner (11-13)
Bears –13 vs. Lions
Packers +5 ½ at Titans
Giants -8 vs. Cowboys
Oscar Goodman, mayor of Las Vegas (12-12)
Rams +2 ½ vs. Cardinals
Bears -13 vs. Lions
Giants -8 vs. Cowboys
Kevin Janison, KVBC meteorologist (12-10-2)
Cardinals-Rams over 49
Texans +4 ½ at Vikings
Giants -8 vs. Cowboys
Wayne Newton, "Mr. Las Vegas" (14-10)
Broncos – 3 ½ vs. Dolphins
Seahawks +7 vs. Eagles
Patriots +5 ½ at Colts

The NFL’s effort to have global appeal is going to take some time.

Imagine that you’re a Briton, and you’ve spent your whole life watching soccer. You have a general understanding that the American version of football involves pads, using your hands, and that kicking the ball over the horizontal goal bar is a good thing. Fine, you get all that. They send a couple of teams across the ocean to give you a glimpse. Good deal. Grab some tea, circle around Big Ben a few times, and head to the stadium. The curiosity exists – the crowd was more than 83,000.

You pick up on the four-down thing and make a few Monty Python jokes about five being “right out.” You’re moderately amused that the clock sometimes stops in the middle of the game. But overall, you’re enjoying it.

This year in particular, it was an enjoyable game, as the explosive offenses of the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers were on display. And after a mild first quarter, they started executive and late in the game, you’ve seen plenty of excitement as New Orleans clings to a 37-30 lead. Touchdowns, field goals, even an onside kick.

Then, just as you think you’ve got this whole thing figured out, something inexplicable happens. With a few seconds remaining, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees takes a snap and just starts running toward his own goal. As he approaches the goal line, he slings the ball backward through the end zone.

In soccer, this would be cause for instant rioting. In some countries, players have been killed after what’s called an “own goal.” You can’t give a score to the other team and expect to leave in one piece.

Yet Brees’ teammates weren’t upset. And in a game where scores increase by threes and sixes with those funny bonus points after the sixes, he comes this bizarre addition of two on the scoreboard. What’s up with that? Can’t they just make everything a point and move on?

The Saints came marching home with a victory – and it was probably a win for the league, too, in spite of the undoubtedly-confusing Brees retreat.

Meanwhile, I’m still moving forward, posting a 2-1 week that improves the season record to 16-7-1. The 12-game unbeaten streak against the spread is over, so we’ll try to start a new one by taking the Texans plus 4 ½ at the Vikings, the Dolphins-Broncos over 49 and the Rams-Cardinals over 49.


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