Sep 052012

So why am I going to work today? Isn’t this a national holiday? Shouldn’t it be? Well, either way we are only hours away from the 2012 NFL season. It has been a long wait, and I for one am eager to camp out and watch the Giants play the Cowboys tonight. Of course I also have a work commitment tonight that will pull me away for the second and third quarters, but at least I will get to watch the beginning and end of the season’s first game.

Of course the season kicks off in earnest on Sunday, and I am looking forward to seeing the Patriots’ new-look defense when we kick off at Noon (Central) against the Titans. Here’s some last minute pre-season business before we get it all started tonight:

1. Oh, Rexy!

So Rex Ryan can’t envision a situation in which he would be fired by the New York Jets because he knows how good a coach he is? Wow. I have come to expect that NFL coaches (like players) are Type A personalities, but sometimes the narcissism can border on the irrational. While I am sure that Ryan is a very good football coach (yes, I said that), no one is going to employ the man based on his estimate of his own self-worth. Results matter, Mr. Ryan. I have already predicted that this will be the final season of Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez in New Jersey. I don’t know if this is an accurate prediction and the odds are probably against my pick coming true. But I do know this… if the Jets have another season without reaching the playoffs, and certainly if they go 8-8 or worse, someone is losing their job. At the very least I would expect Mark Sanchez to bid adieu to New York and its high school dating scene, but both Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum should feel far from secure that their return is guaranteed for the 2103 season. It’s not “What have you done for me?”, it’s “What have you done for me lately?” in the NFL (unless you are Andy Reid, of course).

2. Officials v. NFL – Another Quirk

It would appear that another sticking point in the standoff between the NFL and its locked out officials is the NFL’s desire for accountability in the performance of officials. According to PFT, the NFL wants to create a system of accountability to would establish a reserve group of officials who would step in for struggling officials. NFL Vice President of Officiating Ray Anderson said that the league intends via the lockout to change from an system of “entitlement” to “accountability.” According to PFT, “While officials currently are held accountable via week-to-week grading that, depending on overall performance, could get an official fired or demoted, Anderson explained that some officials become complacent once they know they won’t be getting a postseason assignment.  He also said that some officials are in shape at the outset of the season, but that they are 20 or more pounds heavier later in the year, and in turn unable to keep up with the play on the field.”

On this point I have to agree with the league. While the locked out officials are far and away superior to the replacement officials lined up for Week One, the fact remains that we should all be held accountable for the jobs that we do. And when your job is as public as being an official in the National Football League, insuring accountability for high performance is critical. If the NFLRA is in any way staving off a settlement with the NFL over this issue, then they are (in my view) very misguided.

UPDATE: The NFLRA has responded to PFT, but their response is an unfortunate one, and this might well be a deal breaker in further negotiations.

3. Rat’s Widow

Regular readers know that my wife is a participant in this little adventure of ours, and I note that she is getting numerous hits on her articles. In looking through the different Google results for football widows, I do think we have the only football widow writing on a regular basis about her life with a football fanatic (and I am not nearly as fanatical as a number of people that I know). There are a number of women who have started football widow blogs (no men that I found), but much of the material is out of date and not maintained. So if you are looking for the perspective of a real football widow who is trying with all of her heart to humor her husband, learn about football, and help other people through the process in a light-hearted and entertaining way, this is your stop. Share this page with football fans and football widows alike, and let it be proclaimed that we have the best football widow on the internet! Besides, learning to live with a football addict is probably better than taking drastic action.

4. The Rat’s (Real) Lair

Regular readers know that i got married and bought a new house over the course of the summer. Part of the “fun” is the unpacking that must take place. I won’t even get into the planned extra bathroom that has now become the incredibly expensive added bathroom, thanks to the need for an egress window, the need to bring our plumbing up to code and add a draining system in the yard for storm water, not to mention the framing, drywall, plumbing and fixtures that promise to triple the expected expenditure for the overall project. In any event (back to the unpacking), I have had tons of curios sitting in boxes after five years of living in an apartment and wanted to bring out all of the things from my life that have meaning to me. So off my wife and I drove to Ikea, where they had great glass cabinets for a very affordable price. Now I have never been to Ikea, and thought of it as a place where young, single people go to get cheap furniture. And while there is some truth to that, I was amazed by how much great stuff there was at very affordable prices. Plus the Swedish meatballs were pretty good too. Anyway, to break away from my Ikea commercial (since they are not paying for this plug), I finally got to assemble more of the Rat’s Lair, where this wonderful site is maintained. So here’s what we (yes, my loving and patient wife was willing to build shelves with me so that I could take over the room) have put together so far:

Photo 1 – Showing my sports loyalties








Photo 2 – Gridiron Rats Central






Photo 3 – Another shot of the workstation (yes, I have to get those cords under control)






Not shown is the second work station (where the Rat’s Widow writes and where kids game) or the bookshelves and rocking chair. It’s no mansion, but it is a very comfortable room to relax and play with this website.

That’s all for now… keep on visiting, and PLEASE leave comments on the articles, “like” us on Facebook, share our articles with friends, and… most importantly, vote in our polls! Enjoy the football opener tonight!

Sep 012012

Friday marked the real end of the pre-season as all 32 NFL teams were required to get to the 53 man roster limit. The focus now turns to poking through the haystacks of released players in search of an impact player, filling out practice squads, and game planning for Week One of the 2012 season. We are in that magic piece of real estate that is the Christmas Eve of the football season, waiting for the time that we can tear the wrapping paper off, and see our teams take the field with the promise of a new season.

In the rush to dump rosters this week, some important and/or fun little tidbits may have gone unnoticed, so please allow me to begin your Saturday with a recap of what you might have missed.

– Today is not a good day to be a castaway quarterback. Brian Hoyer (New England), Seneca Wallace (Cleveland), Curtis Painter (Baltimore), Josh McCown (Chicago), Zac Robinson (Cincinnati), Jordan Palmer (Jacksonville), Sage Rosenfels (Minnesota), Mike Kafka (Philadelphia), and Josh Johnson (San Francisco) were among the quarterbacks released, flooding the market for serviceable quarterbacks in the event of injuries. I expect Hoyer and Kafka to be among the first picked up by other teams.

– Rex Ryan just can’t help himself. Just when I thought he might be learning to tone it down, his genetics kick in and he runs off at the mouth. Friday’s comment? Only that this collection of New York Jets players and coaches has a chance to be his best team since taking over the Jets. if by chance he means the opportunity for a snowball to survive in Hell, then he has a point. And certainly one can appreciate the value of talking positively about your own team to help build confidence. But the best? That’s simply an absurd statement. Ryan said that the results of the pre-season don’t matter, and he is right in the sense that the wins and losses don’t matter. But Ryan is apparently wearing his rose-colored glasses if he does not have serious concerns about the ability of his offense to score. He seems very confident in new Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano, but as Miami Dolphins fans know, you can’t be competitive with field goals alone. Scoring just one touchdown in the pre-season, and that by the third string quarterbacks, is not a good sign for the Jets. And while they try to play coy with a wildcat offense that they haven’t shown in game play yet, the wildcat will not save the jets from having two bad quarterbacks, and inconsistent running game, a collection of nobodies at wide receiver and a troublesome offensive line. They might surprise one or two teams with some form of a wildcat, but a gimmick offense is no substitute for far more talented players and far better execution.

– First the rumor was that the NFL and the officials union was meeting on Friday, and then we learned that they were just exchanging information. Now the word is that there will likely be a meeting or meetings this weekend as the NFL and its officials seek to close the gap on their contract dispute. I sincerely hope that the NFL is getting nervous about using replacement officials in a real game. No matter how the NFL tries to spin it, the replacement officials were AWFUL in the pre-season and they are simply not ready for prime time. I will take the real officials, even on three or four days notice, over the ridiculousness that I observed on my television throughout the pre-season.

– Finally, a little Patriots tidbit. This week Robert Kraft proclaimed that Tom Brady does not need to win any more Super Bowls to be considered the greatest quarterback to ever play. Kraft acknowledged that his opinion might be a bit of a reach, but there is no question that in the hotly-debated question of who is the greatest quarterback, Brady is a legitimate contender. But I think it is a stretch to say that if Brady retired today, without any more statistics or Super Bowl wins, that he would be considered the greatest ever. But for Patriots fan there is the certainty that, barring serious injury, Brady will continue to accrue top-tier statistics and has a reasonable chance to win at least one more Super Bowl championship before his playing days are through. And assuming that Brady to continues to play at a high level, he may well retire as the greatest quarterback ever. Winning another Super Bowl title, in my view, will end the argument, even if it doesn’t do so for the Manning, Montana, and Unitas fans and those projecting some other favorite quarterback as the greatest ever. I appreciate Robert Kraft’s sentiment and loyalty, but the entire discussion still seems a little premature where Brady is concerned.

OK, on to the start of the 2012 season!


Aug 222012

We held the first annual Gridiron Rats fantasy football draft on Monday night, in our sixteen team pay league. If you’ve never been in a sixteen team league, let’s just say it ain’t easy. Because our league is heavy on quarterback and receiver play (recognizing life in today’s NFL), quarterbacks are at a premium, and so many NFL teams conduct running back by committee that it is equally difficult to get a feature back. Receiver depth is typically not a problem, but with so many teams running three and four wide receivers, it is easy to accrue points over a season, but harder to count on week to week consistency. My thought on winning this league is that quarterbacks are most valued, receivers are second (along with the top tier tight ends), and running backs are third, unless the running back catches a lot of balls out of the backfield.

Yet that is the type of league that we run, given our desire to include as many interested players as we can, to have our teams perform like real teams and, since we are a pay league, to accrue as much prize money for our players as possible. So Monday night we got down to business, and thirteen of our sixteen managers were able to join us for our live, online draft. The results are below.

Speaking for my own team (Ghost Rats), I feel I was able to construct a competitive team, barring major injuries. I drafted twelfth/fifth in a snaking draft, but was relieved to find one of my top five quarterbacks (Matt Stafford, QB-Detroit) still available by the time I got on the clock. With my next pick I was able to snag Julio Jones (WR-Atlanta), whom many people are expecting great things from this season. Twenty-three picks later I went after Aaron Hernandez (TE, New England) and then grabbbed Willis McGahee (RB-Denver) as my primary back. After four rounds, 64 players are off the board, and now the real test of the draft begins; rounding out a roster and creating depth). Needing to fill out my second receiver spot, I landed on Stevie Johnson of Buffalo, who I was surprised was still available at Pick 76. Then at Pick 85 Jonathan Stewart (RB-Carolina) was available to round out my starting running backs.

It’s a long spell to wait until Pick 108, and I wait as players such Peyton Hillis, Erin Decker, Pierre Garcon, LeGarrette Blount and David Wilson all come off the board. I still need someone to fill out the flex WR/RB position we have on our active rosters , but am also watching as some of the top defenses have come off the board already. San Francisco was selected early in the sixth round, and Baltimore and Chicago closed the sixth round, while Green Bay (wow) went in the middle of the seventh round. So seeing that three of the receivers I wanted were still available, I buckled to pressure and selected Philadelphia’s defense with my seventh round pick. At pick 117 I was surprisingly able to land Titus Young (WR-Detroit) to round my offensive starters. At 140 I chose Montario Hardesty (RB-Cleveland) as a backup running back, taking a chance that he will get a healthy dose of playing time either to spell Trent Richardson or to replace him in the event of further injuries. At 149, I selected Brian Quick (WR-St.Louis), a promising rookie who might be a surprose fantasy producer this season. By Pick 172 I knew I needed a good backup quarterback in the event that Stafford goes down, but most of the quality quarterbacks had vanished from the board by then. Given the choice between Jake Locker, Matt Flynn, and Carson Palmer I went with Locker (QB-Tennessee), but have since agreed to a straight up trade for Palmer (QB-Oakland). I am not a Carson Palmer fan, but with any luck this is a one game starter for me. At 181, most of the top tier kickers were already off the board, so I again buckled to some pressure and grabbed Jason Hansen (K-Detroit), figuring with the Lions’ offense Hanson should get plenty of opportunities again this season.

By now the pickings are slim, and most often just projections of hoped-for production. I waited until Pick 204 and selected Davone Bess (WR-Miami) hoping that he will become a preferred target for Ryan Tannehill. At 213 I took Kevin Smith (RB-Detroit), a total shot in the dark, given that Smith is trying to come back from an injury and is off to a slow start. Set with running backs (we mainatin a maxiumum of 4) and quarterbacks (2), I went after a backup tight end, selecting Tony Scheffler (TE-Detroit) with Pick 266 and then grabed another tight end by accident at 245, taking Dennis Pitta (TE-Baltimore). I must have momentarily blanked out, as I needed another defense and not another tight end. So I dropped Scheffler and am awaiting waiver wires for another defense. But if the worst that happens is that I made that error, I feel pretty good about the draft that I had, despite the fact that of the 16 players I targeted for selection by round, I ended up with only three of them (Julio Jones, Aaron Hernandez, and Brian Quick).

So that’s a peek into the madness that drove my draft. I had pre-ranked players at each position, landing my #5 & 17 quarterbacks, #21, 22, 24 and 46 running backs, my #4, 19, 31, 33, & 46 wide receivers, my # 2 and 21 tight ends, my #2 defense, and my #5 kicker.

As for our entire league, here’s how the draft played out:

No I in Lapdance (Like Gandhi, But Taller)

1. (1) Aaron Rodgers (GB – QB)
2. (32) Andre Johnson (Hou – WR)
3. (33) A.J. Green (Cin – WR)
4. (64) Jason Witten (Dal – TE)
5. (65) Donald Brown (Ind – RB)
6. (96) Chicago (Chi – DEF)
7. (97) LeGarrette Blount (TB – RB)
8. (128) C.J. Spiller (Buf – RB)
9. (129) Alshon Jeffery (Chi – WR)
10. (160) Randy Moss (SF – WR)
11. (161) Terrell Owens (Sea – WR)
12. (192) John Kasay (NO – K)
13. (193) Mike Tolbert (Car – RB)
14. (224) Heath Miller (Pit – TE)
15. (225) Dan Carpenter (Mia – K)
16. (256) Jason Campbell (Chi – QB)

1. (2) Tom Brady (NE – QB)
2. (31) Darren Sproles (NO – RB)
3. (34) Roddy White (Atl – WR)
4. (63) Antonio Brown (Pit – WR)
5. (66) Beanie Wells (Ari – RB)
6. (95) Baltimore (Bal – DEF)
7. (98) Coby Fleener (Ind – TE)
8. (127) Mario Manningham (SF – WR)
9. (130) David Akers (SF – K)
10. (159) Alex Smith (SF – QB)
11. (162) Matt Cassel (KC – QB)
12. (191) Randall Cobb (GB – WR)
13. (194) Rashad Jennings (Jac – RB)
14. (223) Matt Bryant (Atl – K)
15. (226) Washington (Was – DEF)
16. (255) Kendall Hunter (SF – RB)
** over quarterback limit; must drop one

Chump Change** (Flip Stricland)
1. (3) Arian Foster (Hou – RB)
2. (30) Jamaal Charles (KC – RB)
3. (35) Greg Jennings (GB – WR)
4. (62) Jermichael Finley (GB – TE)
5. (67) Torrey Smith (Bal – WR)
6. (94) Carson Palmer (Oak – QB)
7. (99) David Wilson (NYG – RB)
8. (126) Santonio Holmes (NYJ – WR)
9. (131) Sam Bradford (StL – QB)
10. (158) Jerome Simpson (Min – WR)
11. (163) Buffalo (Buf – DEF)
12. (190) Kyle Rudolph (Min – TE)
13. (195) Rob Bironas (Ten – K)
14. (222) Brandon LaFell (Car – WR)
15. (227) Bernard Scott (Cin – RB)
16. (254) Ryan Tannehill (Mia – QB)
** over quarterback limit, dropped Ryan Tannehill

Reyno Island (Reyno Island)
1. (4) Ray Rice (Bal – RB)
2. (29) Michael Vick (Phi – QB)
3. (36) Frank Gore (SF – RB)
4. (61) Dez Bryant (Dal – WR)
5. (68) DeSean Jackson (Phi – WR)
6. (93) Michael Floyd (Ari – WR)
7. (100) Jermaine Gresham (Cin – TE)
8. (125) Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buf – QB)
9. (132) Denarius Moore (Oak – WR)
10. (157) New York (NYG – DEF)
11. (164) Toby Gerhart (Min – RB)
12. (189) Joe McKnight (NYJ – RB)
13. (196) Mike Nugent (Cin – K)
14. (221) Jacoby Ford (Oak – WR)
15. (228) Anthony Fasano (Mia – TE)
16. (253) Stephen Hill (NYJ – WR)

Team Dan Mocci
1. (5) LeSean McCoy (Phi – RB)
2. (28) Fred Jackson (Buf – RB)
3. (37) Wes Welker (NE – WR)
4. (60) Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG – RB)
5. (69) Vincent Jackson (TB – WR)
6. (92) Matt Schaub (Hou – QB)
7. (101) Owen Daniels (Hou – TE)
8. (124) Lance Moore (NO – WR)
9. (133) Mark Ingram (NO – RB)
10. (156) Malcom Floyd (SD – WR)
11. (165) Dustin Keller (NYJ – TE)
12. (188) Christian Ponder (Min – QB)
13. (197) Kendall Wright (Ten – WR)
14. (220) Minnesota (Min – DEF)
15. (229) Emmanuel Sanders (Pit – WR)
16. (252) Graham Gano (Was – K)

SG-1 (Brodrick Kincaid)
1. (6) Cam Newton (Car – QB)
2. (27) DeMarco Murray (Dal – RB)
3. (38) Hakeem Nicks (NYG – WR)
4. (59) Tony Gonzalez (Atl – TE)
5. (70) Brandon Lloyd (NE – WR)
6. (91) Isaac Redman (Pit – RB)
7. (102) Andrew Luck (Ind – QB)
8. (123) Anquan Boldin (Bal – WR)
9. (134) Sebastian Janikowski (Oak – K)
10. (155) Ryan Williams (Ari – RB)
11. (166) Dallas (Dal – DEF)
12. (187) Jacksonville (Jac – DEF)
13. (198) Early Doucet (Ari – WR)
14. (219) Ryan Grant (GB – RB)
15. (230) Benjamin Watson (Cle – TE)
16. (251) Daniel Thomas (Mia – RB)

WD Forte (Cankles)
1. (7) Drew Brees (NO – QB)
2. (26) Michael Turner (Atl – RB)
3. (39) Marques Colston (NO – WR)
4. (58) Vernon Davis (SF – TE)
5. (71) Reggie Bush (Mia – RB)
6. (90) Pierre Garcon (Was – WR)
7. (103) Michael Bush (Chi – RB)
8. (122) Pierre Thomas (NO – RB)
9. (135) Nate Burleson (Det – WR)
10. (154) Jabar Gaffney (NE – WR)
11. (167) Mark Sanchez (NYJ – QB)
12. (186) Ed Dickson (Bal – TE)
13. (199) David Nelson (Buf – WR)
14. (218) Robbie Gould (Chi – K)
15. (231) Oakland (Oak – DEF)
16. (250) Miami (Mia – DEF)

Madden All-Stars
1. (8) Calvin Johnson (Det – WR)
2. (25) Marshawn Lynch (Sea – RB)
3. (40) Jordy Nelson (GB – WR)
4. (57) Antonio Gates (SD – TE)
5. (72) Shonn Greene (NYJ – RB)
6. (89) Eric Decker (Den – WR)
7. (104) Stevan Ridley (NE – RB)
8. (121) Sidney Rice (Sea – WR)
9. (136) Andy Dalton (Cin – QB)
10. (153) Tim Hightower (Was – RB)
11. (168) Danny Amendola (StL – WR)
12. (185) Matt Flynn (Sea – QB)
13. (200) Devery Henderson (NO – WR)
14. (217) Alex Henery (Phi – K)
15. (232) Tennessee (Ten – DEF)
16. (249) St. Louis (StL – DEF)

1. (9) Chris Johnson (Ten – RB)
2. (24) Adrian Peterson (Min – RB)
3. (41) Mike Wallace (Pit – WR)
4. (56) Ben Roethlisberger (Pit – QB)
5. (73) Dwayne Bowe (KC – WR)
6. (88) Peyton Hillis (KC – RB)
7. (105) Green Bay (GB – DEF)
8. (120) Ben Tate (Hou – RB)
9. (137) New York (NYJ – DEF)
10. (152) Dallas Clark (TB – TE)
11. (169) James Jones (GB – WR)
12. (184) Jon Baldwin (KC – WR)
13. (201) Scott Chandler (Buf – TE)
14. (216) Eddie Royal (SD – WR)
15. (233) Nate Kaeding (SD – K)
16. (248) Rueben Randle (NYG – WR)

1. (10) Brandon Marshall (Chi – WR)
2. (23) Jay Cutler (Chi – QB)
3. (42) Demaryius Thomas (Den – WR)
4. (55) Jeremy Maclin (Phi – WR)
5. (74) Fred Davis (Was – TE)
6. (87) Roy Helu (Was – RB)
7. (106) Jahvid Best (Det – RB)
8. (119) Mason Crosby (GB – K)
9. (138) New England (NE – DEF)
10. (151) Mikel LeShoure (Det – RB)
11. (170) Mike Williams (TB – WR)
12. (183) Ronnie Hillman (Den – RB)
13. (202) Greg Olsen (Car – TE)
14. (215) Chad Henne (Jac – QB)
15. (234) Neil Rackers (Was – K)
16. (247) Kansas City (KC – DEF)

1. (11) Ryan Mathews (SD – RB)
2. (22) Darren McFadden (Oak – RB)
3. (43) Steve Smith (Car – WR)
4. (54) Doug Martin (TB – RB)
5. (75) Kenny Britt (Ten – WR)
6. (86) Jacob Tamme (Den – TE)
7. (107) Josh Freeman (TB – QB)
8. (118) Houston (Hou – DEF)
9. (139) Stephen Gostkowski (NE – K)
10. (150) Justin Blackmon (Jac – WR)
11. (171) James Starks (GB – RB)
12. (182) Doug Baldwin (Sea – WR)
13. (203) Tony Moeaki (KC – TE)
14. (214) Tim Tebow (NYJ – QB)
15. (235) Billy Cundiff (Bal – K)
16. (246) Atlanta (Atl – DEF)

Ghost Rats** (Ghost Rat)
1. (12) Matthew Stafford (Det – QB)
2. (21) Julio Jones (Atl – WR)
3. (44) Aaron Hernandez (NE – TE)
4. (53) Willis McGahee (Den – RB)
5. (76) Stevie Johnson (Buf – WR)
6. (85) Jonathan Stewart (Car – RB)
7. (108) Philadelphia (Phi – DEF)
8. (117) Titus Young (Det – WR)
9. (140) Montario Hardesty (Cle – RB)
10. (149) Brian Quick (StL – WR)
11. (172) Jake Locker (Ten – QB)
12. (181) Jason Hanson (Det – K)
13. (204) Davone Bess (Mia – WR)
14. (213) Kevin Smith (Det – RB)
15. (236) Tony Scheffler (Det – TE)
16. (245) Dennis Pitta (Bal – TE)
** over tight end limit, dropped Tony Scheffler

Brownie Bites (Fat Jesus)
1. (13) Tony Romo (Dal – QB)
2. (20) Jimmy Graham (NO – TE)
3. (45) Percy Harvin (Min – WR)
4. (52) Miles Austin (Dal – WR)
5. (77) DeAngelo Williams (Car – RB)
6. (84) Cedric Benson (GB – RB)
7. (109) Evan Royster (Was – RB)
8. (116) Detroit (Det – DEF)
9. (141) Joe Flacco (Bal – QB)
10. (148) Greg Little (Cle – WR)
11. (173) Laurent Robinson (Jac – WR)
12. (180) Kellen Winslow (Sea – TE)
13. (205) Steve Breaston (KC – WR)
14. (212) Isaiah Pead (StL – RB)
15. (237) Arizona (Ari – DEF)
16. (244) Rian Lindell (Buf – K)

It’s Complicated
1. (14) Maurice Jones-Drew (Jac – RB)
2. (19) Victor Cruz (NYG – WR)
3. (46) Eli Manning (NYG – QB)
4. (51) Robert Griffin III (Was – QB)
5. (78) BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Cin – RB)
6. (83) Brent Celek (Phi – TE)
7. (110) Darrius Heyward-Bey (Oak – WR)
8. (115) Seattle (Sea – DEF)
9. (142) Jacquizz Rodgers (Atl – RB)
10. (147) Santana Moss (Was – WR)
11. (174) Martellus Bennett (NYG – TE)
12. (179) Felix Jones (Dal – RB)
13. (206) Mohamed Sanu (Cin – WR)
14. (211) Cincinnati (Cin – DEF)
15. (238) Nick Novak (SD – K)
16. (243) Plaxico Burress (NYJ – WR)

Lambda Chi Guy
1. (15) Matt Forte (Chi – RB)
2. (18) Rob Gronkowski (NE – TE)
3. (47) Matt Ryan (Atl – QB)
4. (50) Steven Jackson (StL – RB)
5. (79) Reggie Wayne (Ind – WR)
6. (82) San Francisco (SF – DEF)
7. (111) Nate Washington (Ten – WR)
8. (114) Joshua Cribbs (Cle – WR)
9. (143) Dan Bailey (Dal – K)
10. (146) Dexter McCluster (KC – RB)
11. (175) Devin Hester (Chi – WR)
12. (178) Danny Woodhead (NE – RB)
13. (207) Matt Hasselbeck (Ten – QB)
14. (210) Joel Dreessen (Den – TE)
15. (239) Preston Parker (TB – WR)
16. (242) Jason Avant (Phi – WR)

1. (16) Larry Fitzgerald (Ari – WR)
2. (17) Trent Richardson (Cle – RB)
3. (48) Philip Rivers (SD – QB)
4. (49) Peyton Manning (Den – QB)
5. (80) Brandon Pettigrew (Det – TE)
6. (81) Robert Meachem (SD – WR)
7. (112) Jared Cook (Ten – TE)
8. (113) Pittsburgh (Pit – DEF)
9. (144) Michael Crabtree (SF – WR)
10. (145) Rashard Mendenhall (Pit – RB)
11. (176) Phil Dawson (Cle – K)
12. (177) Austin Collie (Ind – WR)
13. (208) Johnny Knox (Chi – WR)
14. (209) LaMichael James (SF – RB)
15. (240) Deion Branch (NE – WR)
16. (241) Brandon Jacobs (SF – RB)

Who do you think had the best draft? Feel free to leave a comment.

Aug 202012

So tonight is the official Gridiron Rats fantasy draft… which of course means time away from watching my Patriots (the tvs are not in the same room as my hardwired compuuter, and my iDevices are not designed to work with the Yahoo! draft system, or at least not in any way that I have found workable. That’s OK thoughh, since I understand that Brady, Mayo, Lloyd, Hernandez, Welker and Gronk are all being held out of tonight’s game. It looks like the second string from the get-go tonight.

Drafting in the #12 spot is a challenge (16 team league), as the big names are likely to be ticked off my draft sheet and I will already be into the top of my second tier of players for my first pick. Of course with a snaking draft, the great equalizer is that I will get to pick fifth in the even rounds, but that fact still does not net me one of the marquis players that I would love to have on the roster. The key to a 16 team league however, is depth, and that’s where I hope my obsessive planning over this draft comes into play. We shall see, and by 11pm tonight I should have a pretty good idea as to whether or not I will have a competitive team this season.

I will now pause here to provide you time to picture Rat’s Widow rolling her eyes as she reads this. .. she is good to humor me as she does.

The best part about our draft of course, is that it means the start of the season is very close now.The Patriots have three games over the next ten days (thank you NFL schedule-makers) before we are officially at Week One.

Before I sign off, some quick thoughts about the pre-season to date:

– I realize the regular season has not started yet, but I am not sure if I have ever seen a more pathetic display of offense than what the Jets threw at the Giants on Saturday night. Given that the Jets likely will not run the wildcat offense in the AFC East, if I were a Jets fan I would be very nervous about my team’s ability to score points with a mediorce receiving corps, poor running attack, lack of an elite (or even very good) quarterback, and an offensive line that looks very suspect on the right side. And no matter how good the Jets’ defense is, if the offense has a lot of three and outs, the defense will eventually break, and badly. They have just two weeks to get this corrected.

– Denver fans are excited to see Peyton Manning play (or maybe just happy that Tim Tebow is in New York), but Manning’s arm strength is not where it needs to be, and the belief is that he can not throw the ball downfield with both strength and accuracy. I still see this team as the class of the division and even at his current strength, Manning is better than half the quarterbacks in the league. But I would understand why Broncos’ fans might just be holding their breath a little bit.

– The NFL continues to push forward with replacement officials who, in my view, have been anything but stellar in the pre-season. The league seems to be in denial with the quality of the officiating, acting like the mistakes are no big deal and only being magnified because of the lockout. Texan’s owner Bob McNair went so far as to say he did not see any difference at all in the quality of officiating. I call bs on you Bob; the calls are poorer and the games are longer so far, and I don’t suspect the situation is going to improve before the start of the regular season. Once again… the NFL needs to get over it’s fear of investing money in the game and work out a long-term deal with the officials now.

That’s all for now; wish me luck on my draft!

Aug 152012

For today’s edition of the Rat’s Lair, it’s time to call out some of the idiocy of NFL players now that playing has begun. I really can’t wait until the start of the regular season, when talks with the press become a little more game and performance focused. Until then, open mikes abound and without the pressure of real wins and losses, some players don’t yet seem to be on their game.

This week’s winners for stupid behavior/commentary:

Chad Johnson, Unemployed –

He allegedly yelled at his wife that he didn’t care about his career. Well that’s a good thing, because Chad’s little head-butting outburst has cost him his job with the Dolphins, his tv show, his wife, and makes it unlikely that any teams will pursue Chad barring catastrophic injuries to the receiving corps. Chad’s apology was much better than most of the non-apology apologies that we are used to seeing from celebrities and politicians, so I give him that much… there is hope. But while his best days as a person may be ahead of him, his days as a player are looking to be in a rear view mirror.

Robert Griffin III, Redskins –

I enjoyed the first outing this past week by RG3 and am genuinely excited about what this kid has the potential to do in the NFL. I really believe that the Redskins franchise could flourish if they surround him with the right talent. My beef with RG3 comes from his post-game conference, where he referred to pre-season preparation by saying, “we were doing… you know, retarded, or ridiculous things…” Ummm… someone from the Redskins’ staff needs to sit down with this kid and remove that word from his vocabulary. Of course, this is the same team who still thinks it is appropriate to have a team name that refers to the color of someone’s skin. What a bunch of re-, oops strike that, maroons (thanks, Bugs).

Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns –

Our latest brainchild is the Browns’ wide receiver who said that Head Coach Pat Shurmur’s aversion to Twitter was because “Pat’s a little older, so he really doesn’t understand it.” Really Mohamed? Really? I think the only thing Massaquoi established with this comment is that he is an idiot, or ignoranimous (see link above). I am 48 years old, one year older than Shurmer, and I have likely forgotten more about social media and technology than this little pissant knows. Perhaps Mohamed should spend some time getting re-acquainted with the football field, a place we rarely seem to find him, than offering his pearls of wisdom to the press.

GiR News

We’d like to welcome our new Facebook followers to our site and hope that you will find it to be enjoyable and entertaining. I’ve launched a Facebook ad and will run it every couple of months in order to help bring in new readers. If you are new to the site and think, “I could write at least as good as these people…” then you are welcome to do so. Please contact me at and let’s chat about whether or not you might be someone that we could add to our contributors. This offer applies to one-time guest authors and regular contributors.

Once Week One gets here, readers will see four recurring pieces. These include predictions for each week’s slate of games (along with a separate article from Rat’s Widow), game results, GiR fantasy results and standings, and a new set of GiR power rankings. Speaking of Rat’s Widow, I encourage you to share her writing with any people (male or female) who really don’t “get” football, but are impacted none the less as a result of your addiction. Rat’s Widow will be offering aid and resources to those in need. :-)

Finally, don’t forget to vote in the GiR polls now that they have been launched. Polls will generally run Monday to Monday.

That’s all for now… thanks for checking us out. Please share our stuff on Facebook, and feel free to follow us on Twitter, despite Massaquoi’s contention that we’re too old to get it.


Aug 062012

So football is finally back with last night’s Hall of Fame pre-season game in Canton. While I only watched about five minutes of the game last night,  and I honestly can’t tell you much about what happened last night (other than Kevin Kolb getting hurt), it was simply enough to know that there was a game on; all felt right with the world again. The Saints beat the Cardinals 17-10, and this Thursday brings a slate of five pre-season games including my Patriots hosting those same Saints.

Speaking of the Patriots, they are looking a bit lean on the offensive line right now. Logan Mankins is still out and Robert Gallery retired after unsuccessfully trying to come back from an injury, while Sebastian Vollmer is still rehabbing and Brian Waters has yet to report to camp. The thought is that Waters has simply reached a private agreement with Belichick not to report until he has to, and the veteran guard played at a Pro Bowl level last season. But if Waters does not return this group could find itself in some trouble early on.

In other football news, the lockout with NFL officials still has not been resolved, so Thursday will see the first ever appearance by a female official. Replacement official Shannon Eastin will be one of the officials for the Green Bay at San Diego game. So it essentially has taken a negative experience (failure to reach an agreement) to see a good thing accomplished. Hopefully Eastin will be the first of many female officials to follow.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace still has had no contact with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and seems intent on holding out despite being under contract. Given that the Steelers awarded a large contract to fellow receiver Antonio Brown, this situation does not look like it is going to end well for Wallace in Pittsburgh. While Wallace is an excellent talent, his contract demands are preposterous for his resume.

Finally, a shocker…. Brandon Weeden is now the official starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns. OK, maybe that’s not a shocker to me or you, but it is apparently a shock to former starter Colt McCoy, who seems to be under the impression that when the Browns told him he would have a fair shot at the job, that they meant he would have a fair shot at the job. Speaking with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, McCoy said, “I have not taken any snaps with the first group. I thought coming in it would be a competition.”Given the Browns’ treatment of Colt to date, it seems like a rather large leap of faith on his part to believe that he had any chance at all. While McCoy has not demanded a trade, a good pre-season showing might motivate another team to seek his services, and you can count me as one person who would really like to see that happen. The Browns don’t deserve McCoy, whether or not he ever proves to be an NFL starter. And this will only end with another miserable season for the Browns and a house cleaning by ownership in the next off-season. The Factory of Sadness just keeps producing.

On a final note, a shout out to the Rat’s Widow, who in addition to writing an excellent article for football widows everywhere, also bought me NESN (to see my Boston sports) and an improved sports package, as well as getting our NFL Sunday Ticket upgraded. Life is good. :-)


Jul 312012

Welcome back! or maybe I should be saying that to myself instead of to our readers.

Let’s see… in the past twenty-five days I have gotten married, taken a long weekend mini-moon, taken a six day business trip to San Diego and spend about thirty hours writing dissertation materials and working on updates to a book I am co-writing. So please forgive the interruption in our service.

So what else has happened in our absence? Training campus have broken, more players have been arrested, other players have failed conditioning tests, Drew Brees has continued to run his mouth and Rex Ryan started making ridiculous statements again after saying he was done making ridiculous statements. In other words, it’s been business as usual in the NFL. :-)

If you are not too wrapped up in gymnastics, swimming, and basketball to notice, football season is on our doorstep, and we at GiR could not be more excited. We do have articles on the way… really, I promise… these guys are writing again. If you have topics you’d like to see addressed let us know, or better yet pen your own article and let’s see if it is GiR material (meaning it is more advanced than a cave drawing).

Additionally, we have two late openings in GiR fantasy football… 16 teams, $50 keeper league… blah, blah, blah… read the league rules to learn more. We are opening the league to all comers, so please give a shout out to me quickly. Oh, and GO USA!


Jul 092012

I am finally back after a wonderful long weekend with my new bride (rat’s Widow). We took a long weekend in St. Louis simply because we don’t have the time for a real honeymoon at the moment, thus the “mini-moon” designation. Once Christmas has come and gone it will be time for a real honeymoon in a warm destination where they wait on us hand and foot.

As to our trip to St. Louis, we got to eat at one of our favorite restaurants (Eleven Eleven Mississippi) and also ate at the famous Ruth’s Chris Steak House, in addition to being baked at Sunday’s Cardinals game against the Marlins. The Cards won, but we were gone by the 7th inning stretch, and I am in recovery with lots of aloe vera gel. And yes, I am a Redsox fan first and a Braves’ fan second, but I have always enjoyed catching games in St. Louis, and find the Cards to be my next adopted team.

A big welcome to Reyno Island as a new contributor to the site. he may be a Yets’ fan, but he is at least pragmatic, and he takes as good as he gives, so there should be some fine banter as we get into the season. We still have a couple of more sets of predictions on the way, including those from Rat’s Window, who has painstakingly developed a sophisticated system for predicting the winner of each game throughout the NFL season. Consider it part Bloggess and part John Madden, but it will definitely be entertaining. For our male readers who have wives/girlfriends that either think football is silly (gasp) or who read The Bloggess, they should enjoy the column.

Some quick hits for today –

1. The fantasy football league is about to be activated, and an announcement will be posted as soon as it is live. Check the FFL rules if you are interested. We are still looking for players in the Gridiron Rats League.

2. According to Amani Toomer, Tony Romo is better than Eli Manning. I’m sorry, but until Romo wins something more than a single playoff game, there is little room for discussion or debate.

3. Add Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson to the list of people that just can’t stay out of trouble this off-season. Maybe he’s trying to get traded to the Lions.

4. The Patriots have a week to get a deal done with Welker, but the two sides seem pretty far apart. Consider me in the camp of considering Welker’s contract demands unreasonable. The Pats made a good offer that was rejected by Welker, and are not known for overpaying players who are on the wrong side of 30. As good as Welker is and as much as I like him, I expect the Pats to stick to their guns on this one, perhaps offering another $3 million guaranteed but no more. It’s still possible that Welker could be traded if a deal does not get done.

5. I will be in San Diego all of next week for a professional commitment, so posting will be in fits and starts. I’m still waiting for a couple of articles to come in for your viewing pleasure, and will post them as soon as they arrive.

Finally, please “Like” us on Facebook and share our articles on your own Facebook pages. You can also follow us on Twitter.



Jun 232012

Greetings and a happy Saturday to all! The has been a very slow week at GiR, but of course with the exception of the bounty hearing and subsequent meetings it has been a slow week in the NFL.

Here at GiR Central we are still unpacking, as I ready for myself for another business trip this week. Unlike another football blogger, I have to maintain this NFL addiction with a non-NFL day job, which really gets in the way of just being able to think football 24/7. But the bank is insistent that we make mortgage payments, and who am I to argue? I rather suspect we have another light week come up, but I know there are articles on the way from some of our staff writers, and I am working on a rather fun one that I hope to get the chance to post while I am on the road this week. Plus, the Rat’s Widow is beginning the research on her weekly predictions, and that series promises to be a lot of fun.

I don’t know about anyone else, but watching Mike Florio at PFT flip flop on the bounty situation has been rather disheartening. I tend to think that, due to his legal training, Mike fixates on a single point, blows that point out of proportion, and then begins making broad generalizations based on that point. None of the key evidence in the Bountygate scandal has really changed, but Mike is now on the player’s bandwagon. For example, the debate is now raging over whether or not it was Mike Hargrove  who can be heard demanding payment after a hit on Vikings’ quarterback Brett Favre in the NFC Championship Game. Now the thought is that it might actually be Remi Ayodele who made the comment, given that Ayodele was the player who hit Favre high on the play. Personally, watching the video I tend to think Hargrove actually said it twice and couldn’t be heard the first time, so he repeated himself to be heard. That’s why you see his lips moving, but then his head ducks briefly out of the shot at a key time. But even if it is Ayodele who said it, I will ask the question…

So what?

Even if the NFL investigator erred in identifying the correct player for the comment, Florio seems to be missing a basic point that should be a part of his legal training; there is a difference between making an error and making a substantive error. Even if the league erred in identifying the correct player, the fact remains that the comment, “Give me my money” was made on the sidelines following what was believed to be a game-ending hit on Favre. In my mind it doesn’t matter who said it; the comment remains proof that payment was on the table for a Saints’ player injuring Brett Favre. We don’t know how many players the NFL interviewed, or if Ayodele was one of them, but this is simply a case where the players and now Mike Florio are calling on technicalities to try to minimize or outright dismiss a case that on its face is compelling. Identifying the wrong player does not negate the case.

OK, enough on Bountygate, at least for the moment. I remain convinced that Roger Goodelll is going to stick to his guns, and to allow the case to play out in court if necessary. And then the courts can determine how important the technicalities are.

Other NFL items this week? There were only two that I took real note of. The first was that the Patriots re-signed safety James Ihedigbo, primarily a special teams player who was pressed into way too much playing time in a depleted secondary last season. And while Ihedigbo performed as well as he could be expected to, it was painful to have to watch him be tended to by trainers after what felt to be nearly every single play. Given the Patriots defensive improvements in the off-season, and the fact that  Steve Gregory seems to be fitting in to the Patriots’ system very well, I am not sure there will be room on the roster for Ihedigbo this season.

The other amusing gem was from San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. That’s right, the same guy who informed us that the 49ers should be Super Bowl favorites is back, with an even bolder proclamation. According to Davis, he will “be the best tight end to ever play the game.” That’s quite a mouthful there, Vernon. While there is nothing wrong with confidence, I am beginning to wonder if this guy isn’t a few fries short of a Happy Meal. First, Mr. Davis, you’re not even as good as the second best tight end for the Patriots. But then again, there are probably only a handful of tight ends that are as good as or better than Aaron Hernandez. But there is no way that he, or any other tight end (Jimmy Graham included) is better than Rob Gronkowski, and only Graham could be considered as good as Gronk at present. Davis has been in the league for six seasons and never broken the 1,000 yard mark in receiving. He has scored double digits in touchdowns once, and yet he’s ready to put himself up with the current great performers AND with legends like Mike Ditka. Riiight. Davis ranked 32nd in receptions last season, racking up 792 yards and 6 touchdowns on 67 catches. The best ever? He finished behind seven other tight ends just last season. Give it a rest, Vernon.

OK, with that out of my system, it is time to have a productive day at… you know… day job kinds of things. Damn bills. And I don’t mean the kind from Buffalo.


Jun 182012

It’s good to be back after a busy moving day and Father’s Day weekend. Greetings to all of the dads out there; I hope your Father’s Day was as good as mine was.

Thursday we had the movers in to relocate all of Ghost Rat’s and Rat’s Widow’s possessions to our new home. We are going to be swimming in boxes for a while, but it’s nice to have all of the furniture in place and to be working on the punch list that we have started upon moving in. It has also been fun to get back into the groove of doing yard work, which I am already beginning to think is going to be an endless opportunity.

The first order of business though was getting the Gridiron Rats command center up and running, which I did with much success thanks to my friend who actually knows something about technology. My friend Matt built our new machine and set up our home network so that we could be back on the grid. See the accompanying picture of the new beast.

Then for Father’s Day, the Rat’s Widow bought us tickets to see my beloved Red Sox play at Wrigley Field on Saturday night. Even better, the Sox won on the back of six strong innings from Jon Lester, a good relief effort, and a two run homer from Salty. We had a fantastic Father’s Day breakfast Sunday morning at the Rise N Dine Pancake Cafe (amazing food) before heading home. We spent the afternoon working on the house before doing a Father’s Day cookout with my kids. All in all, I can’t imagine a better Father’s Day weekend, and even breaking my toe on Saturday didn’t interfere my ability to enjoy everyone’s expressions of love.

And this is why we haven’t had much on the site for several days… life happens. As it is a fairly uneventful time in the NFL right now, I am simply waiting on some of our writers to finish some new pieces, so additional content is on the way but it may be a somewhat slow week here at GiR. Thus, I will take this opportunity to renew a call for our readers to “Like” us on Facebook and share us with your friends.