October 2, 2006
Adios Good Bye
by Bob Hulsey
Congratulations to the Houston Texans and Coach Gary Kubiak for getting their first win of the regular season. I suppose if you are going to enter the "bye week", it is better to bask in the glow of victory than to dwell for two weeks on a loss.
You can look at it two ways. Either the Texans now have an extra week to regroup and be better prepared for the game against their cross-state rivals from Dallas, or the Texans have two weeks to lose momentum before they hit the field again. Judging from the way the Cowboys manhandled Vince Young and the hapless Titans, the Texans can use any advantage they can get.
I don’t recall whether the "bye week" came about as a sop to the players union or a sop to the TV networks, but I don’t like it. It’s unfair. It’s not applied evenly. A team that has to sit out Week 3 is usually at a disadvantage to the team that gets to sit out Week 9 when the club is likely to be more banged up and need to heal.
The Cowboys, in this case, have only one week to think about playing the Texans while the Texans have two weeks to plan for the Cowboys. If Kubiak doesn’t come up with a few wrinkles the Cowboys haven’t seen on tape, I’d be rather disappointed. When else do you have time to install new plays?
The "bye week" breaks up the rhythms of the season too. Just as you, the fan, start to get into the habit of getting your game face on every Sunday morning, they throw a monkey wrench into your routine. Suddenly, you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go. Your team’s not on anywhere.
Back in the days when I played fantasy football, it sucked to know your best player had to sit out a bye week even though he was perfectly healthy. One week, your starting quarterback was out. The next week, you had to go without your top running back. It was particularly annoying for the leagues that had autopilot teams.
If the NFL wanted to be totally fair about the "bye week", they should at least make the entire division take the same week off. One week, the NFC West would sit. Next, the AFC North, and so on until all eight divisions were done. I hate league standings that would show, say, Washington 1/2 game behind Dallas. This isn’t baseball. There’s no crying in football, and there shouldn’t be any half-games in the standings either.
Even better would be to have every NFL team get the exact same mid-season bye week. It could be like an All-Star Game break. Fans would be encouraged to get reacquainted with their wives and children. Heck, maybe Father’s Day could be moved from June to that weekend just to make the lack of football a tad easier to suffer. The networks could replay great games from the first half of the season you should have seen the first time but didn’t because of blackout rules or because it looked like a dog game when they made the schedules. You know, the type of great game that had three lead changes in the final two minutes but you didn’t get to watch it because it was only shown in the Phoenix and Cleveland markets.
The NFL could also use that week to fundraise for 9-11 victims and Katrina victims and Tsunami victims and AIDS victims and the United Way and all the other do-gooder crap they bombard us with during timeouts and pre-games so we don’t have to hear about it as much the rest of the year. Maybe they could stick all their lame music acts into same weekend too. That way, we guys who just want to watch 300-pound behemoths colliding into each other can do so without having our consciences pricked by all this "we are the world, we are the children" stuff.
And if the NFL really wanted to do us a favor, it would be a week free of Peyton Manning commercials, Bill Cowher’s jaw, Brett Favre’s three-day beard and anything that has anything to do with Terrell Owens.
We could detox for a week from the voices of Joe Buck, Michael Irvin, John Madden and Joe Theisman. Who wouldn’t want a break from that?
That would certainly provide a weekend where you could mow the lawn or clean out the garage in good conscience. Your neighbors will probably be doing the same thing so they can be enlisted to do those two-man and three-man "guy" projects that have to be done.
That week could also be the unofficial start of the Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Ramadan shopping season. And you’ll have the whole weekend to hang those outdoor lights around the gutters and put up the "Holiday Tree" because the NFL is taking their bye week so you won’t miss a thing. Merry Multiculturalism to you and yours.
Everyone hits the field again for Week 9 ready to do battle in the season’s "second half" with batteries recharged and foci regained. It could even make for a few less blowouts in December.
Of course, they could just lop the bye week off the schedule and play 16 consecutive weeks. That would be just fine with me, but I don’t see the NFL passing up on the cash they get from the networks for showing an extra week.
So enjoy your bye and realize you have nothing to lose. For Texan fans, not losing can be the best thing about not playing.
Bob Hulsey is starting the unofficial "David Carr For Honolulu" campaign. His petition drive already has two signatures – one from Andre Johnson and the other from Melody Carr.
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