Top story: I guess there is some turf-monster roaming Minnesota right now, looking to eat football players. At least that's what I thought I heard on all the newscasts last night. The story of outside football in Minny is getting national headlines. Monday Night Football was throwing out commercials all day yesterday saying "tune in for this special event." If there were ever a time for throwback jerseys, tonight would be it. For both teams. Play in your 1982 jersey. Since 1981 was the last outdoor game for Minnesota football, let's act like it's the next year.
I believe this is all a conspiracy. The Vikings want to trot out the 50th anniversary party (it's been booked all year). That's a big party for the state of Minnesota, including weekend festivities at their convention center and bars here and there. Add to that the NFL's need to have meaningful, watchable games in their prime-time schedule. This game at the Metrodome wouldn't have been a huge draw. Now they are licking their chops at a national ratings boon.
The TCF stadium turf is the problem. It's cold, frozen and possibly uneven in spots. This is a concern for football players, because the speed of the game and the strength of collisions has increased and the field needs to help absorb the blow, not enhance it. The NFL is taking a real gamble. If any of their marquee stars sustain injury based on the playing surface, who's to blame? If Julius Peppers gets his cleats stuck or Jay Cutler gets a concussion, who's to blame?
If I were Lovie Smith and the Chicago Bears, I would throw caution to the wind and bench my starters.
I know that it sounds like a terrible option, but it might be the best way to actually win the division. If you lose players to injuries, you are significantly hurting your chances to play deep into the playoffs. The Vikings are out of it, therefore they aren't playing their star (Brett Favre). If they had something to play for, he would be out there, bum shoulder and all. But it's cold and frozen, so Favre won't suit up. If you don't play Favre, we don't play Cutler.
I know the Bears can clinch a division. But the way the Packers and Giants are playing right now, the Bears may win the division by attrition. So Lovie, if you have trust in your team and belief in your system, let's see a heavy dose of Chester Taylor handoffs and Todd Collins' short passes to Rasheed Davis. Paging Craig Steltz?
B story: I can guarantee you tonight there will be a million runnings of the 'Beatles on iTunes' commercial. We get it...the Beatles are now on iTunes. Their billboards are everywhere. But the problem is that everyone already owns the Beatles collection, so there's no way they are going to make trillions, right? Wrong. My wife spent $25 last night on Beatles tunes, most of which we already have on LP, cassette or CD. I think I need to prod Mr. DeRogatis to write more about this. I'm fascinated by this business decision. iTunes is going to make sooooo much money.
C story: Lil Wayne was on SNL this weekend. Fresh out of jail, he was wearing his customary low-riding jeans and a new accessory: a White Sox hat. So cool. He probably became a fan after they signed Adam Dunn. Someone should ask Weezy whether or not they should go Quentin in the 3-hole or drop him down in the lineup.
Weather: It's gonna snow this week. Christmas is ruined.
Sports: Once we get past this football season, we might want to watch the Chicago Bulls. Although, I watched Saturday night and they are in for a tough stretch without injured Joakim Noah.
Kerry Wood is back on the Cubs. Getting him back in a Cubs uniform will remind us all of the good times...and the misplaced curveball that he left over the heart of the plate. Same as it ever was.
The Packers, with back-up QB Matt Flynn, almost upset the Patriots last night. The Patriots were at home and they barely squeaked by the injury-depleted Pack. Um, didn't we go full speed at them last week. Remember that game at Soldier Field where we lost 36-7? Last night's game just put salt in that wound.
Kicker: Want to see WBEZ's Natalie Moore mix it up with Shaw and Kurth on Chicago Newsroom? Here you go. Shaw has a funny way of using his hands. That must be from his TV training.