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easy money

(photo by Brian Murphy)

When you have a name like Homer McFanboy sometimes you have no choice but to put your money where your mouth is. That was clearly the case this past weekend when the wife and I snuck away to Las Vegas for a mini-vacation. It had been nearly a decade since I last visited Sin City, so pretty much everything seemed new. But one thing that hadn’t changed was the sheer number of sports books ready and willing to help me prove my undying devotion to the Washington Redskins.

With this being the first game of the 2008 regular season I wasn’t on the sidelines for, I felt obligated to show my favorite football team some love. So the wife and I went to Caesars – home of the Pussy Cat Dolls Lounge and PURE Nightclub – and placed our bets on the ‘Skins to win. While a lesser man might have taken the 6.5 points Vegas was gladly offering against the Philadelphia Eagles, the wife and I were so confident that the Redskins would come out victorious that we threw cash down against the money line, no point spread needed.

As you all know by now, the ‘Skins won. So while the team was heading off the field, we were giving our best “Hip Hip! Hooray!” after collecting a cool $300. The only question became – what should the wife and I do to celebrate with our winnings? Since the Redskins won the money for us, it seemed only fair that the players should have a say in how we spent it.

“You got kids,” asked running back Rock Cartwright.

Nope, none that I know of.

“Maybe you and your wife could buy you something nice together. Maybe you guys could go out and treat yourself to a fancy dinner. Look at it as a blessing and do whatever you need to with it. Maybe you could pay a bill with it, you never know. Three hundred dollars can go a long way, so hopefully we can continue to win you guys some money.”

Pay a bill or take the wife out for a fancy dinner? Both sound ideas, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask a few more guys, so I headed over the veteran defensive end Andre Carter, one of the key players in the 23-17 win in Philly.

“Congratulations,” Carter said. “Go ahead and take the wife out for a nice, little dinner. You can spoil her with a nice dinner at Ruth’s Chris or Morton’s.”

Sensing the irony of the situation, offensive tackle Chris Samuels came up with a different solution.

“Buy me something,” he said. “Because I was the one out there taking the licks so you could get that money. Nah, I don’t know. Go to a nice dinner on the Redskins.”

And right when I was all set to make reservations at a swanky restaurant, offensive lineman Randy Thomas came in as the voice of reason in this less-than-perfect economy.

“Save it for gas money,” he said.

Who knew the Redskins were so practical?


to name a predator

(photo by Brian Murphy)

With the way things have gone here at Homer McFanboy over the last couple weeks I was worried we were heading into high school gossip territory. Even though we weren’t saying anything negative, we’ve been sitting here talking about a certain player behind his back lately, and we just didn’t feel comfortable about it. So today, we confronted the situation and pulled rookie safety Chris Horton aside.

We’ve got to bring something to your attention. It seems the fans have given you a nickname …

“I think I already know it,” Horton said. “The Predator?”

This really was becoming high school, with Horton surprising me by already having the nickname get back to him. Rattled, I tried to press forward.

As a safety who seems to have a knack for being around the football that’s a compliment, right?

“Yeah, it’s a funny name, but when I think about how that guy looks I don’t know if that’s so much of a compliment,” he said with a laugh.

My guess is, unlike in basketball or other sports, the fans can’t really see your face. They just see the helmet and the hair as you swoop in and make another play.

(Laughs). “It’s a good thing, I guess,” he said. “The Predator, his role, he’s a deadly guy. Some of the things he did and some of the weapons he had in the movie were insane. So I guess it’s a good thing.”

And what are some of the weapons you have?

“I love to hit,” Horton said. “I love to try and hit guys as hard as I can.”

So its official – Chris Horton approves of his new nickname “The Predator,” which is great because my neighbor kid has already put “gave an NFL player a nickname” on his resume.


eagles playlist

(courtesy photo)

I know, I know … you’re wondering what’s up with the photo. Trust me, we’ll get there. In the meantime, here’s this week’s recap:

1. “Sweep The Leg” by No More Kings

Coming into the game, the haters were running out of areas to nitpick. After the Redskins rolled off three consecutive wins, including a dominating performance against the Dallas Cowboys last week, the best any of them could come up with was “The Redskins haven’t had to deal with adversity yet. Let’s see how they respond with their back against the wall.”

Redskins 1. Adversity 0.

The Eagles came out of their corner swinging and nearly knocked the ‘Skins out in the first round. Eagles running back/Redskins killer Brian Westbrook scored the game’s opening touchdown and then an Eagles punt return for a score barely a minute later put Philly up by two touchdowns just seven minutes into the game. On the road against a desperate divisional rival with the entire stadium rocking after two quick touchdowns a lesser team calls it a night. They pack up, hit the showers and try again another night. Not this team though. The Jim Zorn-led Redskins simply “stayed medium” as he likes to say. They took a deep breath and went back to work.

Most impressively, the team stuck to their gameplan. While most teams would have abandoned the running game down by two touchdowns, Zorn refused to throw in the towel. Early and often he handed the ball to running backs Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts, and was rewarded with 203 rushing yards on the day.

With the running game in full effect and a patch-work defense stifling a dangerous Eagles offense, the Redskins reeled off 23 straight points en route to their fourth-straight victory. On defense they were without several big name starters. No Jason Taylor. No Shawn Springs. No Marcus Washington. No problem. Whoever stepped in stepped up. Here’s how good the Redskins defense has been this season – throughout the first five games, the ‘Skins have allowed just 10 points in the fourth quarter.

And while quarterback Jason Campbell didn’t have his best statistical outing of the season, he’s still taking what defenses are giving him and making timely plays. In fact, Campbell has now thrown 153 passes without an interception this season. Dating back to last season, Campbell’s thrown 175 passes without a pick, which is a franchise record. And the most impressive number for Campbell and the offense this season is 4, as in four straight games have ended with the ‘Skins offense taking a knee as the clocks winds down and they pick up another win.

Oh, and if you’ve never seen the “Sweep The Leg” video, then do yourself a favor and check it out. Seriously, you’ll thank me.

2. “Anything Can Happen” by Wyclef Jean

While Portis finished the day with 29 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown, those numbers don’t tell the whole story. For starters, the Eagles came into the game with the NFL’s best defense against the run, allowing around 54 yards per game. And while the 145 yards represent Portis’ best outing of the 2008 season, it’s the last three he rushed for that mattered the most.

With the Redskins facing fourth-and-1 at the Eagles’ 38-yard line with less than three minutes to play, Portis somehow coaxed his rookie head coach into calling the play he had in mind. That play, a draw out of a shotgun formation, turned out to be a game-clincher, with the ‘Skins able to run the clock out after Portis picked up the three toughest yards he ran on Sunday.

And what did Zorn have to say about handing the game’s pivotal play over to his running back?

“If a rookie had said anything, I’d have told him to shut up,” Zorn told Peter King of Sports Illustrated. “But the call made sense. We ran it.”

Hall of Fame head coach Joe Gibbs used to joke that if Portis had his way he’d throw at least one pass a game, so obviously he’s biased when it comes to who should have the ball in their hands when the game is on the line. But give Zorn credit – he trusted his players and was rewarded. You better believe the locker room noticed and will be more than willing to go to war for their first-year coach from here on out.

3. “Nothing As It Seems” by Pearl Jam

Conventional wisdom, at least if you listen to the talking heads on the major networks, was that the Redskins had just one weapon in their passing game. While it’s flattering for folks to remember how truly talented wide out Santana Moss truly is, it’s also a slap in the face to a certain Pro Bowl tight end to forget exactly what he’s capable of. In an effort to remind the talking heads that he can still take over a game, Chris Cooley hauled in eight catches for 109 yards and his first touchdown of the year. The touchdown was courtesy of wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who threw the highlight-worthy touchdown while on the run in an effort to make up for his three drops on the day.

4. “Mr. Carter” by Lil Wayne (w/ Jay-Z)

Defensive end Andre Carter was absolutely dominating. He might be labeled as a pass rusher, a job which he does very well, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of shutting down the run from time to time. The Eagles had the ball on third-and-one from the two yard line in the fourth quarter with just over eight minutes to play. The drive had started on the Eagles’ nine yard line and 10 plays later they were knocking on the door ready to cut the score to 23-21. That is, until Carter, who led the ‘Skins defense with six tackles, slammed the door shut on the Eagles, stuffing Westbrook in the backfield for a three yard loss. The Eagles settled for a fieldgoal and never touched the ball again.

5. “Ace Of Spades” by Motorhead

See the photo at the top of the page? That’s my wife and Lemmy from Motorhead. Turns out he decided to join us on our trip to Las Vegas this weekend. Okay, so maybe we didn’t share bunk beds, but he was on our flight to Sin City, which turned out to be a good omen for our trip. The wife and I headed to Caesar’s and bet some money on the Redskins beating the Eagles. We didn’t even want the points. Just a straight up win, please. When the ‘Skins won, so did we. So thanks to Zorn and friends, we walked away with an extra $300 worth of beer money. Good times. Good times indeed.


join the bandwagon

(photo by Brian Murphy)

With the Washington Redskins in between trips to Dallas and Philadelphia to take on divisional opponents, the timing seemed right to ask a simple question – what do the players think of rivalries against teams like the Cowboys and the Eagles? We know how much these games mean to fans, but do the players actually care? Do they look at this game any different than a matchup with the Houston Texans or Seattle Seahawks?

“Oh yeah,” said safety LaRon Landry. “As soon as I got here I was introduced to this rivalry and all the hatred towards these guys. I just joined the bandwagon.”

Really? It happens that fast? As soon as you show up, someone like Redskins trainer for life Bubba Tyer sits the players down and brainwashes them into hating Dallas and Philadelphia? I went to track down one of the rookies to see if they’ve been educated on these historic rivalries yet.

“I think for the guys who have been here for a long time, they understand what it is,” said safety Chris “The Predator” Horton of the rivalry. “I’m new, so I’m just now getting into it. But I understand what a rivalry game is, playing USC every year. It’s starting to grow on me. I just know we’ve got to play real physical, because it’s going to be a physical game.”

Pretty much all of the players I talked to agreed that the fans are what make this rivalry so meaningful.

“This is huge for the fans,” said tackle Jon Jansen, the longest tenured Redskins player. “This is the game that everyone talks about for the entire year.”

Seriously? A full calendar year is at stake when hated division rivals do battle? How do you not let it affect you when you’re on the field?

“You know, obviously the fans remind you of the rivalry,” said center Casey Rabach. “It’s always in the back of your head. But you’ve got to approach this game as just another game. You can’t get wrapped up into all of the history and stuff. You’ve got to just go out and play your game.”

Since he set himself up for it, I followed up with a question asking what the heck happened during the Cowboys game, when Rabach was called for two penalties that negated Redskins touchdowns.

“On the first one they called me for, I don’t know what they saw or what they called,” he said. “Zack [Thomas] said he tripped when I talked to him about it afterwards, but they called it. The second one, I think they called me for being downfield. I was just trying to be aggressive and finish a block, and it happened.”

Since the ‘Skins were still victorious, I didn’t feel the need to kick Rabach anymore. Why be a downer when the rest of the locker room was enjoying a hard-fought win over a quality opponent?

“It’s great,” said defensive end Andre Carter. “This experience, by far, is big for the Redskins organization and for myself. Out of all the times I’ve played Dallas, I’ve never won a game in Dallas. With this being the last game for us here in this arena, it’s just something special.

“You try not to think of it as a rivalry,” Carter continued. “But at the end of the day, when you see the Dallas and Redskins fans, you see a little bit of tension. At the end of the day, there is a rivalry.”

And what did Carter say to the Cowboy fans sitting behind the Redskins bench just moments before the ‘Skins had won Sunday?

( Laughs). “You guys wanna be Redskins fans,” Carter asked the dejected Dallas faithful as the final seconds ticked away and the Redskins were victorious for the fifth time in the last seven meetings.

I guess the players get into the rivalry a little bit more than they’re letting on. Here’s hoping Carter and friends are able to recruit a few new ‘Skins fan this weekend in Philadelphia after another win.


note: music city miracle 2

Things couldn’t be better for fans of the Tennessee Titans or Buffalo Bills these days, with both franchises playing great football and off to a 4-0 start. Coming into the season, most people would have predicted the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts or Dallas Cowboys to get off to such a fast start, but these two smaller market teams are the ones standing out a month into the season.

The Titans franchise has been around for nearly 50 years, and yet, this is the first time they’ve ever starts a campaign 4-0. What’s more impressive is that they’re doing it without the face of the franchise, quarterback Vince Young, who at last account was, at best, going through some personal issues and at worst, considering retirement at 25 or contemplating suicide.

With Young faltering, Kerry Collins followed the lead of his “brother from another mother” Redskins quarterback “The Tasty Drink” Todd Collins, transforming from backup to big shot seemingly overnight. Collins came in for an injured Young in week one and has the Titans offense playing with a swagger that’s been lacking since Steve McNair left town.

A rookie running back named Chris Johnson, out of East Carolina University, is staking an early claim for rookie of the year honors, racking up 337 yards and two touchdowns in four games. More importantly, Johnson is throwing the Titans a lifeline for drafting LenDale White, an overweight running back out of USC who is only averaging 2.7 yards per carry, but is flourishing as a goal line back with five touchdowns now that his role has been reduced.

The absolute hallmark of this is that the Titans defense is the nastiest defense in the NFL. They’re not just winning games, they’re beating opponents into submission – giving up a league-best 11.5 points per game and are tied with the Washington Redskins at plus six in turnovers.

But most importantly, they’re leading the AFC South and the Colts are not. Peyton Manning and friends had led the division for 56 consecutive weeks before their season opening loss. Now, the Titans hold a two game lead over Jacksonville and a three game lead over the Colts. As long as this defense is playing smash-mouth football and the offense is taking what their opponents give them, there’s no reason to think that the Titans won’t continue to roll.

As for the Bills, they, even more so than the Titans, are the feel-good story of the 2008 season. Mainly because they’re run by an inept owner, Ralph Wilson, who at 89 should be sitting around in his boxers doing the crossword puzzle and eating tapioca pudding instead of trying to run an NFL franchise.

Click here for the full article.

(courtesy photo)

Note to self is a weekly sports column written for HoboTrashcan.


caption this: movie edition

(courtesy of Park City Skins)

We here at Homer McFanboy highly encourage fan participation. Whether you agree or disagree with something you come across on the site, we always enjoy hearing back from fellow sports fans. So when I learned that Park City Skins had taken my photo of “The Predator” Chris Horton and had a little fun with it, well, I felt obligated to share it with the class.

So instead of coming up with a witty caption to accompany one of my photos, I thought it would be fun to switch it up a little and challenge the masses to think up a tagline for the movie poster shown above. As always, you might not win any cool prizes, but you’ll be formally recognized for being better than your peers and will get some love here on the blog.

Here’s my humble offering to get folks started:

“Still ain’t got time to bleed.”

Or maybe the humorous route is better:

“Horton Picks Off Who!”

Think you can do better? Leave a comment below with your best caption.

[Editor’s note: The winner is Joel, with a caption of, “To catch (like) a Predator.” Thanks to everyone who contributed.]


predator 2

This needs to be said up front – Redskins rookie Chris Horton had a grand total of four interceptions during his entire college career. That’s right, in 41 career games at UCLA, Horton picked off four passes.

So naturally, Horton, who we lovingly refer to as “The Predator,” has three interceptions in his first four NFL games. This past weekend, with the Washington Redskins in an intense battle with their hated rival, the Dallas Cowboys, it was Horton making the game-changing play with time running out in the third quarter. In a battle of a Pro Bowl quarterback and an unheralded seventh-round rookie, “The Predator” struck again.

“We had been running that defense all day,” Horton said. “You know, just trying to get that guy to throw the ball in that spot. I just kind of baited it up. I knew where I was supposed to be, got myself into position and read the receiver’s eyes. He threw it, and I picked it.”

He, of course, would be Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo, the gun slinging media darling who attempted a short pass to wide out Miles Austin down the right sideline. Horton hung back just long enough to lull Romo into a false sense of security and then sprinted to the ball before Austin even knew what hit him. The ‘Skins went into the final quarter with a 23-17 lead and never looked back.

“That’s a really good team we just beat over there,” Horton said. “There’s some things that we’ve got to go back and correct because we do play these guys again.”

Back to the interceptions. Seriously, how does a guy with four picks in college suddenly become a ballhawk seemingly overnight?

“I’m feeling very comfortable,” Horton said. “I don’t know what it is. I tell my teammates all the time that my hands have gotten a lot better since I got to the NFL. I’m catching a lot of balls that in college …”

Can we get you to work with Fred Smoot and Carlos Rogers?

(Laughs). “When the ball comes to those guys, they’ll make their plays,” he said. “I think I’m just making plays right now and I’m doing whatever it takes to help my team win.”

After the Saints game I told you that you should be starting, but you disagreed. Fast forward to this week and the Redskins actually named you a starter against the Cowboys. That must mean you’re doing something right.

“I am, but … in the second half I got pulled,” Horton said. “I got pulled from the game, but I know my coaches believe in me. I just got to continue to get better every week.”

When asked why he was pulled, Horton said he was responsible for the Cowboys’ first two touchdowns. Horton said he was out of position on the touchdown catches by tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Terrell Owens, prompting the coaches to rotate Horton and safety Reed Doughty throughout the rest of the game. But Horton wasn’t worried about that. He was simply pleased that the ‘Skins got the win.

The team has a 24-hour rule, so how are you going to enjoy this win?

“I’m going to go home, relax, you know, tomorrow I’ll forget about it and go back to practice,” Horton said. “I’m excited. It’s a win, and wins are hard to come across in the NFL, so just to get that win is exciting.”

Is this a statement win?

“It is,” he said. “No one gave us a chance, but we believed in ourselves. That’s all that really matters. When we step on the field between those white lines, we’re going to play some physical football.”

(photos by Brian Murphy)

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