The Weekly Gut Check Vol. 184

  Updated 12/23 by Matt Waldman, Exclusive for Footballguys.com

The Weekly Gut Check examines the players, strategies and guidelines fantasy football owners use to make personnel decisions.

Soul Train

My wife has decided she is going to write a screenplay about Soul Train. Yeah, that's right, Soul Train: The hippest trip in America. Don Cornelius. The Soul Train Scramble Board. "The longest, continuously-running first-run syndicated program until at least 2016," according to Wikipedia.

Why am I telling you this? Because tonight I'm running on fumes and I keep replaying the moment in the restaurant while we were having dinner when she decided to shut me up by flagging down two women as they walked through the door and asked if they would go see The Soul Train Story. Next thing I know I'm the one laughed at for questioning her sanity.

Not that it's a bad idea. In fact it's a pretty good one. However, her writing experience is limited. Although my wife can write, the sum of her work outside of e-mails and memos consists of fan fiction for the show In the Heat of the Night.

And that is what gets me. My wife, who cannot grasp the concept of fantasy football, has written several "episodes" of fan fiction about a television show that served as a narcotics anonymous halfway house for Archie Bunker's family and friends. You know what? She'll probably do it, get several hundred thousand dollars, dwarf any income I've made on fantasy football, and prove her point again.

Fan Fiction!

If my wife can daydream about The Soul Train Story, then I can do the same about football. Here's my fan fiction for what I would do if made a commissioner or owner in the NFL.

Commissioner Gut Check

If I were NFL commissioner the first thing I would do is address the long-term health issue in the league. I can already imagine my second press conference a month after my appointment (cue the Wayne's World segue sound effects):

The league didn't know there would be a widespread problem with retired players dealing with debilitating pain and collision induced-mental illnesses might have resulted in forcing some of our finest representatives of the sport to live and die in a nightmare beyond the game. While we can't say for sure all these issues are a result of playing football, there's enough smoke flying through the air to at least man up and try to do the best we can to rectify the situation without ruining the game and the business of our sport.

So with the help of my recently appointed staff of paparazzi photographers and tabloid journalists from The Star, The National Enquirer, The Globe, and the FOX network, I have "convinced" the NFLPA and owners that it is in their best interest to come to the table and hammer out the following agreement, effective immediately:

We are cutting player salaries across the board by 50 percent based on the fact that we have a long-term injury problem we need to address for both our former and current players coupled with research that shows too many players have no real money management skills.

Initially, the NFLPA balked at this point. However, when I conducted an impromptu survey in the Raiders parking lot and 83 percent of the players had an average of 3.4 game checks still in their glove compartments or trunks covered with a fine layer of dust, I got their attention. I sealed the deal with a recorded segment of an HBO feature where Marvin Lewis was shown trying to counsel Chad Ochocinco on matters of finance.

Once we did some real research, the demographic breakdown was eye opening:

  • 59 percent had a parent or parents holding down two jobs at the same time: one blue collar and one front line service-oriented job.

  • 34 percent had parents holding down multiple front line service-oriented jobs.

  • 4 percent had parents running elaborate Ponzi Schemes for investment firms or corporations appearing on top-10 lists in Fortune for several years running.

  • 3 percent had parents working in banks that eventually got shut down after choking on bad loans.

Regardless of social status, these players grew up without parents who could teach them about managing money. They were either too busy working for it so they could give it back to the banks that gave them ridiculous loans to pay back the loans corporations defaulted on while figuring out ways to hide what they were stealing.

Since the last commissioner decided it was perfectly within his right to tell players how to dress or express themselves, I figured I'd just take it a step further and manage some of their money for them. Therefore, that 50 percent reduction in the player-labor budgets will actually be reallocated as follows:

  1. Half of these funds taken from each player will be placed in a trust fund in his name to be invested conservatively and released to that player when he reaches the age of 40, or distributed for post retirement medical care if needed prior.

  2. One quarter of these funds will be invested into the retired players pension fund, which we will be revamping across the board to provide the best care possible for our veterans who really built this league.

  3. The remaining quarter of these funds will be invested into aggressive research and innovation of player equipment. And if we discover our current equipment is so good that the unintended consequence is our players turn themselves into human ICBMs, then we may consider going back to the equipment that Red Grange and Sammy Baugh wore. Both of those guys seemed to stick around for while. I didn't see them sleeping under subway tracks or driving down the wrong side of the road, scouting for flammable trucks in their retirement. Then again, they didn't play on the line of scrimmage...

Anyhow, you might call it socialist, but call it what you want. We're the NFL and we need to call it like we see it. Hines Ward says he lies to the doctors all the time to play. I admire that honesty about deception that he and other players share. They tell you straight up that they try everything they can to be deceitful to get an edge. You don't have to call a special session of the liar's convention on Capitol Hill to see the overweight, overpaid, and under talented employees of the MLB dance like Steve Slaton at a small crease in the A-gap with itching powder in his jock.

Baseball. What a waste.

Gutcheck, the NFL Owner

If I could own any team it would be the Cleveland Browns. Even after turning in my fan card after they moved the team to Baltimore, I can't deny who I really am - a Browns fan. Right now it's easy, because the Cleveland Browns have yet to be replaced. There's an organization there, but it's the equivalent of a zombie; it has a body, but no soul.

I would put soul back into the Cleveland football team and here's how:

  1. Change the name: I'm a call it like I see it kind of owner. The tradition of the Cleveland Browns is gone. The city may have kept the name, the uniform colors, and the team records, but the soul of that organization is in Baltimore. No, not with Art Modell - as a football owner he was soulless - it's vestiges of soul remain with Ozzie Newsome. He was the soul of our team. However, we don't want Newsome anymore. He can visit, but as Thomas Wolfe once said, "You can't go home again." Instead, we're taking the security blanket away from the fans. They need to grow up and move on. That's right Cleveland fans, the "woobie" is getting put out of its misery. Uniform? Ugly and gone. Records? We can keep them, but let's remember its history because it was in the past. Name? I bet half of you didn't even know that the original name for the team was The Brown Bombers, which was intended to be a tribute to boxing great Joe Louis, but you decided to shorten it to the Browns because your forefathers didn't have the cajones to name a team after him and like to say they named it after Paul Brown (which isn't true). So it's gone.

    I'm following the lead of the Steelers and Packers. They named their team after something identifiable about the city. Yes, we have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it is too new school. We have LeBron James, and I kind of like the way the "Cleveland LeBrons" sound, but if you wouldn't name the team after the great Joe Louis, you don't get a second shot.

    What about the indelible image much of the world has of Cleveland? The fact that our fair city, and a city in Russia are the only two cities on record to have a river catch on fire and burn for an extended period of time. That kind of disaster fits right in with our current fascination with celebrity. I like it. That narrowed the pool to a few worthy candidates:

    • The Cleveland Toxins

    • The Cleveland River Monsters

    • My Chemical Romance (taken)

    • The Cleveland Burning

    So after seconds of debate, the staff of me, myself, and I chose the Cleveland Burning. Infamous? Yes. Inappropriate? Heck yeah. Dirty? Oooohhh yeah. The innuendoes and word play with The Cleveland Burning are endless. Any name that you can respond with "will I need penicillin for that?" is a winner.

  2. Hire back Marty Schottenheimer: He should have never left Cleveland and we all know it. He'll build a team that will make the Cleveland Burning an ominous opponent. They will be the NFL equivalent of the UFC's ultimate ground and pound warrior. Tom Coughlin will be jealous. John Madden will have a conniption. Buddy Ryan will want to be our defensive coordinator and as long as he promises to throw a haymaker at Belichick when the Patriots are on the schedule I'll hire him. Watching Buddy Ryan chase down Belichick will be the lead highlight on every sports channel. We'll even have reports from local psychics that Vince Lombardi has risen from his final resting place to watch practices. It won't take much to get Schottenheimer back: I'll ask the city council to create an official apology for running him out of town and I'll rent him a tank to ride down Superior Avenue as a part of a welcome back parade on the way to his first press conference. He'll love it.

  3. Hire the right scouts and listen to them: If the scout gets enamored with a guy in shorts but hasn't seen him perform as well in pads, that scout is out the door. We're going from the trenches outward and we're going to have such good depth along the line that we could lose three linemen in a game and still field a better front five than most teams. We'll find good skill players, linebackers, and defensive backs on day two because that's where the all the real players who lost the beauty contest known as the combine wind up anyhow.

You say I forgot to mention the new uniform? Check it out! If it works for Bam Bam Bigelow, our linemen are going to rock it...

League Updates

Here's a quick update:

  • Footballguys IDP Staff League: After going 13-0 - my first undefeated season ever - my team that has been averaging 217 points per game, puts up a dog of a game and scores 178 points against Aaron Rudnicki's strong team. I'll take the undefeated regular season as consolation.

  • WCOFF Online Championship: I won money already and I think I'm in the top 30 teams. However, it will take a miracle for me to finish anywhere near the very best.

  • WCOFF One And Done: With one week remaining, I have nearly a 50-point lead in my division and I am third overall. The top 10 overall are in the money so my chances are pretty good in this format where you choose the best possible lineup using any player only once during the four-week format.

  • Local League: I won my first-round playoff match up in week 14, but I lost by a little more than 12 points in the semifinals. Starting a five-receiver set that included Randy Moss, DeSean Jackson, Greg Jennings, Chad Ochocinco, and Steve Smith of the Giants, I benched Marion Barber, who has been my normal running mate with Ray Rice and it bit me. However, even if I started Barber and recent QB waiver addition Vince Young, I would have lost by less than a point. What's worse is if I didn't get two extra points in garbage time in week 13 then I would have been the lowest seeded team and I would have beaten the other team in the semis. I know, I'm over-thinking it.

  • HyperActive2 Dynasty: How my team wound up the top seed in the conference was mystery to me. However, I was pleased to win one match up before losing to a much better looking team in the conference finals.

Thanks for giving me the gift of sharing my football fantasy - the daydream - not the Cleveland Burning. From my family to yours on this holiday (as they say on Soul Train), "we wish you love, peace...and SOUL!"