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The Football Fanatic

By O.B. Usmen

COLUMNIST

Are you ready for some football? With the NFL season in full tilt after a wild first weekend, football fans are more than ready for what promises to be a season filled with excitement and drama.

Can the Patriots overcome their over-rated label and repeat as Super Bowl champs? Will Randy Moss play hard every game and finally reach his seemingly limitless potential for Minnesota? Can Tony Dungy teach the Colts to play defense and give Peyton Manning a chance to prove he’s got what it takes?

Every football season begins with lots of questions, and as the season progresses the answers will come. I’m the Football Fanatic, and I’ll be keeping you up to date on what happens every week in the NFL, and add my two cents while I’m at it.

If the first week of the season is any indication, football fans are in for a wild ride. With three overtime games and ten games decided by a touchdown or less, it looks like commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s dream of league-wide parity is close to becoming a reality.

Hell, St. Louis and Philadelphia lost, and Carolina and the expansion Houston Texans won; how’s that for an upside-down week in the NFL?

With all the crazy games, the football world is buzzing with controversies and debates. Is Michael Vick ready to make an impact?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a seasoned veteran, it’s tough to be an effective quarterback playing against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau field. Still, Michael Vick, the first pick in last year’s draft, looked impressive in only his third start in the NFL. In the first half he was a perfect 10 for 10 and had his Atlanta Falcons thinking “upset.” Even with impressive numbers (he ended the day 15/23 for 209 yards and led the team with 72 yards rushing), Vick couldn’t finish off the Packers. In the end, Brett Favre’s poise and experience proved too much for the upstart Falcons, as Green Bay won 37-34 in overtime on a Ryan Longwell field goal.

Vick looked good but I’m wary of giving him too much credit too early. Everyone’s ready to jump on the Vick bandwagon but remember, he’s still a second year quarterback. Expect an up-and-down year from Vick as he continues to learn the nuances of the NFL. But once he does, watch out, he could be really dangerous.

Rudd-iculous: The mistake that lost the game. What was he thinking? With the clock winding down in the fourth quarter of the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs, Dwayne Rudd thought the game was over when he threw Chiefs’ quarterback Trent Green to the ground. What he didn’t see was tackle John Tait galloping down the field after scooping up a desperation lateral from Green. Celebrating what he thought was a Browns’ victory, Rudd threw his helmet a good 20 yards down the field only to earn an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that tacked 15 yards onto Tait’s run, putting the Chiefs in perfect position to win the game on a field goal.

With literally no time on the clock (as a game cannot end on a defensive penalty), Chiefs’ kicker Morten Andersen booted a 30-yard field goal to win the game 40-39.

Now the rulebook states that no player may remove his helmet while on the playing field, as a measure to cut down on taunting. While some feel that the penalty was unfair because Rudd was celebrating, not taunting, and he clearly thought the game was over (as the clock read 00:00), I disagree. The rule is clear, and Rudd should have been more careful. The drama of it all notwithstanding, not realizing that the game was still going is not a reasonable excuse. Granted, this was a most unfortunate string of coincidences for the Browns. More importantly, though, this should be a lesson to defensive players everywhere: save the celebration for the locker room.