I love when my lives as ESPN's degenerate correspondent and editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine intersect. Let me explain:
A couple of weeks ago, we were all set to put Kevin Durant on the cover of the most recent mag. We called it the Plan B issue because it hit newsstands when we should have been putting out our NBA preview. You may have noticed the NBA isn't playing -- at least on the court, though they are offering plenty of mind games -- and the issue is filled with pieces about what happens when the best-laid plans in sports fall apart. Like what happens if Albert Pujols leaves St. Louis. Or how can NBAers start their own league. KD was our cover guy because he hijacked the summer with those YouTube videos from the playgrounds. They were exhibits to his love of the game. And a wicked reminder of what we're missing as Halloween rolls around and we're not getting any pro hoops.
Meanwhile, all across Denver, billboards in support of Tim Tebow were popping up, begging the Broncos to play the backup quarterback. Plan B, backup QB, a guy who is a lightning rod because of his faith -- we smelled a story. So we sent Tim Keown out to get a story and, the day the Broncos played San Diego, told a photographer to stick to Tebow's hip from the moment he exited the tunnel. Fast forward to Tebow nearly bringing the Broncos back that day, getting named the starter and the photographer sending in a killer pic. That's how Tim Terrific ended up on the cover.
I was so sure of his powers that I picked Denver at plus-1.5 against the Fins on Sunday. And for 57 minutes I felt like a stooge. I was going to lose the bet and the magazine would have a cover on the stands featuring a guy who can't complete an NFL pass. Then the man of faith did what he does. After looking like a peewee QB for most of the game, he scored two touchdowns and a two-point conversion (I can't give him credit for the onside kick, but someone will). The Broncos tied the game and then won -- and covered -- with a field goal in OT. Hallelujah. Tebow 10:23, baby! Reverse the curse!
It reminded me that you never know what it's going to be, right? A timeout not called or a phantom pass interference or a pick-six or a blocked field goal/personal foul combo. I'm talking, of course, about the Browns-Seahawks game. And yeah, shame on me for getting myself involved in what may be the ugliest 60 minutes of football of the season by making the Browns minus-3 one of my Las Vegas Hilton Super Contest picks for the weekend. But let's recap: Leading 6-3 with 3:05 left, Phil Dawson had a 24-yard field goal attempt blocked (the second blocked field goal of the day for Dawson). Charlie Whitehurst then threw an interception which, coupled with a penalty, gave the Browns the ball on the Seattle 26. Cleveland ran three plays into the line, and would have almost certainly attempted a 40-yard field goal with about 45 seconds left, but Seattle defensive end Red Bryant head-butted a Browns player and was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. First down Browns. Instead of a field goal, they took the knee, ending the game in a push.
The Browns-Seahawks game was one of the few games on the day, along with the Chiefs and the Packers, in which the teams getting the majority of the action from the public didn't cover the spread.
But that doesn't mean someone out there won't be chasing on "Monday Night Football."