Oct 102012

One thing that has amused me since the start of this blog is the use of search terminology used to find this website. Many are very team specific, some are perverse, and others are just flat out funny. Over the past month, some of my personal favorites have been “why do saints fans wear rats”, “tony romo rat”, “ben roethlisberger is tebow minus jesus”, “why didn’t mark sanchez wear pink for breast cancer awareness”, and “broncos failure pictures”. It might be interesting to know the sources of why these search terms were used, but then again it might be pretty scary.

Anyway, I thought it would be at least a little entertaining to bring you the top ten search terms (by frequency) used to find this site over just the past month. Enjoy!

Top Ten Search Terms

#10: Seahawks Uniforms

Apparently most people find the ‘Hawks new unis pretty hideous, judging by the number of hits and the terms attached to these words. Danny Boy hit the nail on the head with his look at NFL fashion, or lack thereof.

#9: Football Widow

If there is a claim to fame for Gridiron Rats, it is that we have the best football widow on the internet. I love the fact that Rat’s Widow is (shhhh) willing to learn about the game, and that she has found a way to weave important social commentary into her posts about the NFL. This term is used every couple of days, so I know there are football widows out there looking for a kindred spirit. I think you found one here.

#8: NFL Breast Cancer Awareness/Wear Pink

A number of people have been looking for information on why the NFL players and coaches have been sporting the color pink, and why the NFL has chosen this cause. I hope you found your answer in this excellent article by Rat’s Widow.

#7: Gridiron Rats

I have to admit that this term surprised me a bit. Yes, that is our name, and yes, our readership has been increasing over the past month and a half, but I was surprised to see the frequent use of this search term. My guess is that someone (maybe… Country Preacher, perhaps?) just hasn’t bookmarked the site and finds it through Google. But whatever… it showed up on a regular basis.

#6: Dick Butkus

So I have no idea why so many of you are searching for Dick Butkus, but it is a frequently used term, often combined with “knee” and the number of searches really surprised me. Are there big Butkus fans out there? Did I miss something new about his knee? Danny Boy gets credit for putting this one on the map.

#5: Rob Gronkowski

The Summer of Gronk may be over, but the fixation continues. The monster tight end is having another good season despite playing through some heavy pain, and little sprinkles of news about Gronk and his gal-pal porn star bubble up now and again to make life interesting.  The nude spread for ESPN probably didn’t hurt any either.

#4: Patriots-Ravens Field Goal/Kick was good/Kick was wide

The kick that provided the Ravens’ victory over the Patriots was big news for the week that followed, but continues to be a source of traffic as people want to see close-ups and video of the kick. Glad to oblige.

#3: NFL Officials Lockout/Replacement Officials/Roger Goodell

There was a fair amount of rage regarding NFL officiating during  the officials’ lockout, as shown by some of the words attached to this search, with the word “suck” being the most publishable. Fans were not happy, and the topic dominated conversation on many NFL-related sites.

#2 NFL Boycott

Also in regard to the officials’ lockout, it seems that fans were looking for an organized effort through which to be able to send a message to the league about their dissatisfaction with the officiating situation. These terms were coming in before GiR announced our planned boycott of the NFL Network, which thankfully was averted by the settlement that was reached by the two sides. I sincerely doubt that we would have made much of a dent, but the lack of a settlement would no doubt have led to broader calls to boycott the NFL and its advertisers.

and the winner is…..

#1: Rex Ryan/Jets’ Coach

This has been the most frequently used search term to find this site, and I have no reason why. When I Google Rex Ryan it takes many pages to find a reference to our site, and the same holds true fr photos of Rex Ryan. Yet the hits are continual, occurring multiple times each day. Granted, we have had plenty to say about Sexy Rexy and his team, but no more so than any other football blog. In any event, Rex Ryan was a runaway winner, with more than twice the use of any other search terms. Thanks, Rex!

GiR Notes

I want to thank all of the Jets’ fans for coming over to read the site and take our poll this past week. As I noted in the poll results, I actually prefer it when the Jets are a good team, but that simply is not the case right now. While it is early enough in the season to be correctable and they fought hard against the Texans, they don’t execute well on offense or consistently enough on defense, and their play calling leaves a little something to be desired.

Similarly, I want to thank all of the Packers fans who have visited site over the next few days as a result of Country Preacher’s article. Yes folks, he really is a Packers’ fan. But he is right that the team is not executing particularly well right now, and not playing like a team. This is a difficult thing for Packers’ fans so recently after a Super Bowl championship, but the truth is there is something wrong in Wisconsin. It began last year with a lame playoff performance against the Giants, and they haven’t quite been the same since. Again, it is early in the season and very correctable, but the Preacher’s warning to the Packers’ faithful is a good one.

Finally, I have had some helpful dialogue with Seahawks fans who think I am vastly under-rating their team. I have had some good back and forth with some of their fans and have learned more about their squad, having only watched about a game and a half of their action so far. I was not, as some said, trying to determine the game based on statistics, but those stats do show some trends after five games. The Seahawks run well but are not a good passing team, and a rookie quarterback will have problems against a Bill Belichick team. The Patriots can defend the run well and have been better this season at preventing big plays, with some exceptions. On the other side, the Seahawks defense is the best in the league at present, and they have played teams with the potential (Cowboys, Panthers, Packers) to be explosive, but each of those teams is struggling. The Patriots have been really coming together on offense, and the Seahawks have yet to see an offense like this. As I said in my prediction, I can see Seattle keeping New England under 30 points, but scoring to keep pace is going to be a problem for the home team. None the less, I have found their fan base to be very knowledgeable, and I appreciate the feedback that I have been getting. I welcome one of their fans (or any opponent of the Patriots this season) to write a counter piece to my preview and prediction.

That’s all for now!

Oct 022012

Well, Widows, we have made it to week 5 of the season. This week celebrated the return of the regular officials, which was most likely as big of a hit at your house as it was at mine. Coming out of week 4, I am still coming up last with my predictions. Widow’s intuition allowed me to tie Idaho Quarter, which basically means that I did as well as chance when it comes to selecting who will win football games. I want to do better, ladies. I had not-so-secretly hoped to beat the pants off of the likes of Ghost Rate, Fat Jesus, Country Preacher and Flip Stricland. I may have even bragged a little that I would. It isn’t looking good so far, but we have a long way to go. That is lucky for me. And for the Saints. And the Browns. And the Lions. Unfortunately, the team I most identify with at this point in the Jets; lost, confused, not seeming to understand the game, and with an ever-increasing potty mouth.

If this is your first time joining me, you don’t know that up until this season much of the game of football has been a mystery to me. I have operated with an “ignorance is bliss” approach to the NFL, which had me thinking, for example, that football was only on television on Sunday and Monday. I have gone YEARS without so much as watching a game. In my effort to be the best Football Widow I can be, I have made it a priority to learn something about the game in order to better understand the socially redeeming value that my husband finds in professional football. Imagine my excitement when I discovered a large amount of it this week when I saw officials and players getting their “Pink On”!

I am going to deviate from my usual fun-poking at the NFL to write about the most pleasant surprise I have had to date: The “A Crucial Catch” campaign to support early detection of breast cancer. October was named Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1984, and the NFL began their support of the cause in 2009. Games played from October 5-27 will be designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Games with items worn by players, pink coins used in the coin toss, and special game balls to be auctioned off with the money donated to the cause. To date, the NFL has raised over $3 million, largely from auction proceeds.

I was impressed by the various ways in which the NFL players, owners and officials have embraced Breast Cancer Awareness. The NFL Referee’s Association presented a check for $14,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure during a pregame ceremony at Texas Stadium on Sept. 28. Home games will be dedicated to these efforts this month, with various programs and promotional activities, featuring support for both national and local initiatives that promote early detection. Teams are also partnering with local chapters of the Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) sorority whose national philanthropy is breast cancer education and awareness. The activities are too numerous to mention, and can be found by visiting the NFL’s official website.

So, why breast cancer, a disease that most significantly impacts women? In my research on the topic, I found a few skeptics that see this as an opportunistic effort to draw women to the game, given our power when it comes to attracting would-be advertisers. The sale of women’s NFL clothing has doubled in recent years and I myself have seen a very cute commercial for women’s game day jerseys. Nielson ratings reveal that viewership is up among young women, age 18-34, while down in general among women. Still, in the world of professional sports, the NFL has a higher percentage of female fans than any other sport, with most recent US Census data and ESPN surveys indicating that around 44% of fans are women. That’s a lot of breast to protect, Widows…not to mention the wonderful array of man boobs (moobs?) out there in the world of football fandom! To the skeptics, I say “So what?” Many NFL players, like many of us, have been touched personally by breast cancer and using this forum to promote early detection should be applauded.

In 2004, Deanna Favre, wife of retired future Hall of Famer Brett Favre was diagnosed with breast cancer. They dedicate efforts of the Deanna Favre’s HOPE Foundation to the cause. Stephanie Spielman, wife of former linebacker Chris Spielman died of the disease in 2009 at the age of 42. The couple had also been strong supporters and Spielman continues his involvement. Cowboys Line Backer Bradie James supports a team that will walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on behalf of Foundation 56, his personal foundation which raises funds and awareness for breast cancer causes. His mother, Etta, died of the disease in 2001. The Rams established Team Georgia, in memory of late team owner and chairman, Georgia Frontiere, who lost her battle with breast cancer in January 2012. The list goes on and on.

According to nfl.com, “The money raised through A Crucial Catch will support the American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) program. This program provides outreach and breast cancer screenings to women who need them. The NFL markets being supported in the first year of the program are Atlanta, Baltimore, New England, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Washington, DC.” You, and women in need in those areas, are already winners going into Week 5!

My helmet is off to you, NFL players, owners and officials. This week, my plan was to choose the home team to win, regardless of the matchup. I am sticking to that plan in honor of the dedication of home games to breast cancer awareness. I make a few deviations based on my usual scientific criteria. I am choosing the Packers over the Colts although the Colts are the home team. The NFL press release indicates that the highlighted activities are to be performed by the teams’ Women’s Associations related to local Race for the Cure events, so I went with my gut on that one. I am also choosing the Texans to beat the Jets as a shout out to the efforts of the Lady Texan Wives Association team who will be participating in the Race for the Cure. I’ve got nothin’ in the Football Widow department compared to player’s wives! I wasn’t able to find any information on what the Jets franchise will be specifically doing during their home games this month, but I want to acknowledge Mark Sanchez for recording a public service announcement in support.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but thanks, NFL!

Week 5 Picks
Rams over Cardinals
Redskins over Falcons
Steelers over Eagles
Packers over Colts
Giants over Browns
Vikings over Titans
Bengals over Dophins
Chiefs over Ravens
Panthers over Seahawks
Jaguars over Bears
Patriots over Broncos
49ers over Bills
Saints over Chargers
Texans over Jets