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So far, this has been an amazing year of football in terms of parity. Unless you’re the Raiders, you have the potential to win every game. The teams that are supposed to be good are absolutely terrifying.

Green Bay has looked very beatable, and the defense has been downright hospitable. They beat the Jets on a referee mistake, although, honestly, had Rodgers gotten the ball back with the score tied, it still may have been a Jets loss. Denver has let a lesser team compete with them for the second straight week. You only have so many goalline stands in you. San Francisco gave up late scores to Chicago, and the Seahawks lost on the road. New Orleans lost to the Browns, and the Bengals beat the Falcons who looked so impressive last week. I have no idea who is supposed to be elite anymore.

I do know that I feel great for the Texans, Cowboys, Ram, Cardinals and Browns to at least be competitive. You get tired of the same teams being bad all of the time.

I would just like to add that Rolando McClain led his team with 7 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception. For some reason, this guy got roundly mocked for taking time off to deal with his issues, but more people need to do that in the NFL. (See Rice, Ray.) Also he was presented as a bust, but everyone forgot how formidable he was when he was playing for the Raiders. In a rough year for players in the media, it’s nice to see some redemption.

Yeah, this happened.

Yeah, this happened.

If you are the Raiders, it took you so long to clear the dead wood from the team that the GM and coach are going to get fired before Khalil Mack and Derek Carr pay off. Then again, Derek’s brother David was thrown onto a lousy Houston team and ruined for life, so maybe throwing him into the fire isn’t the best idea. Oakland lost promising lineman Jared Veldheer to Arizona, (Oh look, randomly Andre Ellington looks great and the Cardinals are winning with their backup QB!) and then the ghost of Al Davis appeared, the Raiders panicked and started spending money like Wes Welker at a racetrack.

They found 29 year old LaMarr Woodley, whose last great pass rushing year was 2011, and who was just cut by the lousy Steelers defense and they were like, “Hey, do you want $10 Million dollars for no reason, what-so-ever?” Ditto for Justin Tuck, who was part of a pass rushing unit that hasn’t been as effective since Michael Strahan retired, and for wide receiver James Jones, because signing Green Bay receivers whose worth has been inflated by Hall of Fame quarterbacks has worked out for everyone. They got Donald Penn who was too average for Tampa Bay, which is saying something and the utterly unimpressive Matt Schaub.

The Raiders are hopelessly bad, after a couple of years of trying to recover from being hopelessly bad. Somewhere Al Davis is smiling as he files a lawsuit. This week they played the Texans where J.J. Watt caught a TD pass, sang the national anthem, and stayed late to clear the field of debris, because there is literally nothing he can’t do.

In 2011, there were ten people picked before J.J. Watt. Normally, this is where you make fun of teams for blowing the pick, but only two teams did, the Titans picked Jake Locker and the Jaguars picked “Blame” Gabbert. The other players?

Cam Newton, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, and Tyron Smith. Robert Quinn and Ryan Kerrigan were off the board pretty soon after Watt. Muhammad Wilkerson came near the end of round one. Wow. What a draft. Do you know how badly you have to suck as an executive to come out of 2011 with nothing?

Speaking of the Jaguars, they can’t cover. For some reason, people think that there’s a quarterback controversy in Washington, because sticking pocket passers behind leaky offensive lines works out well. This Kirk Cousins thing is stupid.

Kirk Cousins started in 2013 and lost every game with a passer rating of 58.4. RG III posted an 82.2 on the same crappy team, playing on a bad plant leg. Cousins has a good day against a terrible Jags pass defense and everyone loses their minds. Fine. If your subtly racist Northern Virginia fan base wants RGIII to move on, he should pack his bags and move on from this train wreck of a team to a better situation, instead of getting the stuffing beat out of him for fans that are inclined to pick him apart for any perceived transgression. (For the record, Cam Newton is sulky and lacks composure, but Johnny Football is passionate. Gotcha.)

The San Diego Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles won. Both teams have the greatest asset a football can have…coaches that make adjustments. They don’t have the most talent in the world, but you can always compete if the coach can think on the fly.

And finally…Adrian Peterson.

adrian peterson

This is the subject of a great racial divide from what I’ve seen. If I were to use sweeping generalizations, I’ve seen white people condemn Adrian Peterson as an abuser, and I’ve seen black people offended by the breach of privacy for his family.

Spanking is not as offensive among minority communities, and if you’re over 30, you were probably spanked as a child. From what I’ve read about Peterson, he is fantastically strong, something he doesn’t quite seem to realize (apparently he’s crushed many a hand doing handshakes) and I don’t think he should be using a switch to beat his children. I don’t think anyone should be using a switch, frankly.

What alarms me is that he already figured that out. When the media covered this, they didn’t highlight his text conversations. Peterson’s private texts show a thoughtful, disciplined person (who can’t spell). After the spanking, he acknowledged that it hadn’t gone the way he intended, that the switch had wrapped around his son’s thigh which he hadn’t realized, even that a stroke had gone astray and hit the child in the testicle…which if you’ve ever endured corporal punishment sometimes accidentally happens. (Also, having been beat with a switch by my grandmom, the wound don’t immediately show up. You swell up afterward. You look terrible, but it doesn’t really hurt once the spanking stops.) He then said he had stopped spanking the child after that, and instead put him in ‘time out’ for the rest of the summer. He also said that he explained to child what he had done wrong and what he expected both before and after the spanking.

I’m sorry, but this doesn’t sound like an enraged abuser. We habitually see athletes neglecting their children, and not supporting them. Peterson sounds like an engaged dad that was trying to raise his children. Maybe he didn’t do it the best way by non-East-Texas standards, but he was trying and he’s getting treated like Ray Rice.

Well…

Speaking of Ray Rice…

When I saw him punch his fiancee I felt sick to my stomach. Ray Rice did a horrible thing, and I find it hard to believe that that was the first time he’s done something like that. Also, he spit on Janay, which I find worse in a way. You spit on people you just don’t care about, that you have no regard or respect for. But it think it’s a little to linear to simply call him a wife beater.

When I watched the video and saw them argue, what struck me is that Janay Parker was not afraid of Ray Rice. In cases where a man is physically abusive, usually the wife and children are afraid of him, but I did not see the least bit of fear in her. Afterwards, she has been his most vocal defender. Maybe it’s just bluster, but I really believe she doesn’t know why people are so upset.

It made me think that their dysfunction went somewhere beyond the typical model of domestic abuse that we think of. They sound like two people that are in love but probably bring out the worst in each other. They got drunk, went to casino, and things got ugly, and they get ugly a lot. They don’t need to be with each other and until they can work their issues out, they don’t need to be with anybody else either.

I also find it quite interesting that the media focused on this case but did not assign the same notoriety to Oscar Pistorius, who not only killed his girlfriend after an abusive relationship, but will do no jail time and is free to race again. For some reason there is just not the same intensity of outrage from anyone.

It’s hard to see Week Three topping this level of drama, but we’ll see. What happens next? Will we suddenly think about creepy Robert Kraft’s and Belichick’s girlfriends are? Will we wonder what else the NFL swept under the rug? Will the Bucs be even mildly interesting? Stay tuned.

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