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Losing brings out worst, but it's much more interesting

You know, we all love winning, because it's lots of fun, everybody pats us on the back and buys us beers down at our favorite pub. Yeah, winning is very cool.

But LOSING is far more interesting.Yes sir, losing brings out our true character, makes it rise to the surface. Then, if the losing continues, our character begins to twist and bend like a metal rod being attacked by a blow torch.

A couple of examples . . .

Joe Bugel is known as a positive, upbeat guy. But he is beginning to twist and bend as his Oakland Raiders find new, inventive ways of losing games, including last week's 25-10 loss at home to San Diego.

Listen to Joe: "Nobody likes walking around being called ugly names. My Dad is 89 years old. He was there, and he booed, too. So did my wife. . . . We stunk."

Say it ain't so, Joe.

Then there's Mike Ditka. He's special.

Ditka can twist and bend after WINNING. Now I know he's a lousy coach, but I'd love to be covering the Saints because every news conference would be an adventure.

Here's Mikey talking to his team's beat writers after BEATING Chicago, 20-17, last week:

"I would assume you think I think you're my friends, and I know better, you're not. The media is never a coach's friend. You people are all vultures, in my opinion. I only say that in a complimentary way. But you will pluck the flesh the first chance you get."

See? Ditka's INTERESTING because, essentially, he's a born loser.

LAST WEEK: Let's hear it, Ray Charles: "Born to lose, and now I'm losing you . . . " Wait! Stop the tape! Don't they have any songs about being born to be mediocre? I was 7-6 straight up (50-32 for season) and 6-6-1 against the spread (44-34-4). The only place that effort looks good is Bourbon Street, where they can't tell good from bad, left from right, male from female.

MIAMI (3-2) at EAST RUTHERFORD JETS (4-2): Jets favored by 31/2. . . . Hey, Fish fans, don't sell your team for bait yet. Listen to how positive Dan Marino sounds: "We're close to getting better offensively.". . . Close to getting better! That's positive, isn't it? Well, it's good enough for me. . . . In a Close-To-Making-Sense Upset Special, Flounders by 8.

PHILADELPHIA (2-3) at JACKSONVILLE (4-1): Jags favored by 3. . .. Jag receivers are giggling over films of Eagles' bump-and-stumble pass coverage. Jags' Jimmy Smith: "I'm praying for man coverage." . . . Jimmy, your prayers are answered. . . . Jags by 11.

CAROLINA (2-3) at MINNESOTA (4-2): Vikes favored by 31/2. . . . Panthers QB Kerry Collins has been benched. After last pathetic performance, he said he dressed in the shower instead of at his locker because,"I've already embarrassed myself enough tonight.". . . Uh, anybody want to pursue this? I didn't think so . . . But old pro Steve Beuerlein is The Man . . . In a Beuerlein's-Better Upset Special, Panthers by 7.

INDIANAPOLIS (0-5) at PITTSBURGH (3-2): Steelers favored by 101/2. . . . Forget the game. Everybody's talking about "The Kiss." After Steelers QB Kordell Stewart scored on a 74-yard run last week, coach Bill Cowher kissed him on the cheek. . . . Bill? "What can I say? I'm an emotional guy. I get caught up in the love of the game." . . . Uh, anybody want to pursue this? . . . Just don't be surprised if Kordell mysteriously falls down on the 1-yard line and refuses to score the next time. . . . Reluctant Steelers by just 3.

DETROIT (3-3) at TAMPA BAY (5-1): Bucs favored by 6. . . . Do you realize the Bucs have won their last eight at home? I told you they'd lose to the Pack, but they'll bounce back Sunday. . . . Bucs by 8.

ATLANTA (0-5) at NEW ORLEANS (2-4): Saints favored by 2. . . . First the Bears, now the Falcons. What a schedule these Saints have! . . . Oh, Ditka was upset because TV focused on his return to Chicago last week. "They only had 38 cameras on me." . . . They were using all those cameras, Mike, to get a clue about what was stuck in your teeth. You spent the entire second half trying to pick it out. . . . Hey, cheer up, you're either on a roll or eating one with sesame seeds. . . . Saints by 6.

GREEN BAY (4-2) at CHICAGO (0-6): Pack favored by 111/2. . . . Pack angry that they won't get their shots at Bears QB Rick Mirer, who fell from No. 1 to No. 3 in a week. Mirer: "I want to throw chairs through windows, but that's not going to solve anything." . . . This just in: Mirer hit a window on his sixth chair - but didn't break it. . . . Pack by 14.

DALLAS (3-2) at WASHINGTON (3-2): Monday night. Cowboys favored by 21/2. . . . America must still love them because the Cowboys were 31/2-point 'dogs at start of the week. I can understand it. Without the Cowboys, who would we joke about? Say, did you know the Cowboys hired a new defensive coordinator? . . . Johnny Cochran. . . . In a Kind-of-Sad Upset Special, Native Americans by 3.

OFF: Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, Seattle and Baltimore.

HIDING OUT: Oakland.

THURSDAY NIGHT SPECIAL: Chiefs over Chargers by 5.