I hate when people ask me what my favorite quote is. How can I decide when there are hundreds of great ones to choose from? I was actually so frustrated with choosing a quote for my high-school yearbook that I decided to go with Mr. Miyagi?s ?Don?t know. First time ... First time you. First time me.?

If I had to narrow it down, I?d probably pick something ridiculous, such as Phillies manager Charlie Manuel?s, ?Shane Victorino's done a heck of a job for us. I look at that as good? or Dennis Green?s, ?The Bears are who we thought they were.? Or, if I wanted to go the sublime route, I could take Joe Gibbs?, ?Every day you waste is a day you can never make up.? I tell that to myself whenever I wake up the night after a drunken stupor.

A quote I feel will set the tone for this column is one I heard while watching the movie Cheaters. The film featured a group of kids who stole answers to an academic decathlon and then suffered through investigations, accusations, lawyers and the media. The made-for-TV movie wasn?t any good, but one thing I took away from it was this quote: ?I cheated in high school to get into a good college. I cheated in college to get into a good law school. I cheated in law school so I could get a good job. Now, I?m making six figures, and I don?t care that I cheated on some algebra test.?

I?ve lived by that quote ever since. Though school teachers will tell you otherwise, I really don?t see the harm in cheating on tests that feature material you?ll have no use for in the future. Did cheating on multiple physics classes harm me when I worked as a loan officer earlier this year? Were the answers I borrowed from a friend in calculus hinder me as a columnist for the Centre Daily Times? Absolutely not. I?ve always believed that there?s nothing wrong in gaining a competitive edge as long as you?re not harming anyone, including yourself, physically or psychologically.

I think you know where I?m going with this. I?m quite aware that I?m in the minority, but I believe the penalty Roger Goodell imposed on Bill Belichick is way too severe and completely uncalled for.

If you apply my rule about gaining a competitive edge without damaging anyone, there?s nothing wrong with Belichick?s taping of the Jets? signals. Belichick was doing whatever it took to win. I admire that. In fact, if Belichick had the opportunity to give his team an advantage and didn?t do it, that would be a lot worse than video taping Eric Mangini.

Belichick didn?t drive drunk and crash his car into a street sign. He didn?t throw billions of dollars into the air, inciting a riot at a club. He didn?t plan a solo invasion of Iraq by collecting hundreds of unlicensed guns and ammunition in his house. And he certainly didn?t raid a nursery and sleep with an 8-month-old girl. All Belichick did was try his hardest to win and appease his fans. For his effort, he was fined $500,000 and docked a No. 1 pick in 2008.

Now, I?m not saying Belichick shouldn?t have been penalized. After all, it's a league rule that you can?t video tape other coaches. However, what?s important is that Belichick isn?t the only one who cheats. On Sunday NFL Countdown, Mike Holmgren and Sean Payton stated that many coaches steal opposing signals. Why aren?t they investigated if they know of or participate in espionage? Why isn?t everyone else fined and stripped of draft selections? Because they weren?t caught? Because they don?t use a video camera to do their dirty work? Apparently, there?s something a lot worse than cheating, and that happens to be idly following stupid league rules.

If I were Goodell, I would have taken away a fourth- or a fifth-round pick from Belichick, simply because of his arrogance. Why would he video tape Mangini, a former member of his coaching staff, who knew of his tactics? I guess Belichick didn?t think Mangini would turn into Joey the Rat, but he should have at least considered it. And why was Belichick video taping the Packers and Lions? He plays them once every four years and has no chance of ever meeting them in the Super Bowl.

The only thing Belichick was guilty of was being too confident that Goodell wouldn?t impose a punishment for something in which, according to Holmgren and Payton, almost every NFL coach engages. And because all Belichick tried to do is win football games, it really feels like the NFL is cheating the Patriots more than anything else.


Quote of the Week: ?There was no holding on the play - the defender was just overpowered.? - Ed Hochuli, as he flexed his chest and biceps.

ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown: When watching the best pre-game show on TV, I want you to look at Emmitt Smith when he?s not talking. Definitely a candidate for the King of Smug award.

Unfortunately, ESPN still employs a bed-wetter. Seriously, why is a 10-year-old on this show? And why does he have black marks under his eyes? What is ESPN doing to this kid?

Oh, and ?next e-mail, my friends!? Ugh.

Cleveland Browns 51, Cincinnati Bengals 45:
So... why did the Browns trade next year?s No. 1 pick to Dallas for Brady Quinn? All Derek Anderson did was go 20-of-33 for 328 yards and five touchdowns. Mark my words: Anderson will be the next Joe Montana.

Yeah, I?m kidding. We know Cleveland?s 51-point performance was a fraud because Jamal Lewis rushed for 215 yards. The Bengals? defense is a joke. Year after year, Marvin Lewis? group ranks last in almost every conceivable category. This season, they?re allowing 6.2 yards per carry. 6.2! Maybe this will convince Lewis to draft a defensive tackle instead of a cornerback, for a change.

Green Bay Packers 35, New York Giants 13:
Thanks, Chris Mortensen, for telling us Eli Manning would be out a month. I picked the Giants, thinking Jared Lorenzen would start. If I knew Manning wasn?t going to miss any time, I wouldn?t have made the them such a huge play. Don?t mind me, I?m just venting here.

For those of you who actually watched this game, did you notice that Brett Favre tripped over his own legs during a two-minute drill at the end of the first half? If Michael Strahan had retired, I?d write that his ghost sacked Favre. But because Strahan hasn?t retired.... Wait... Is Strahan still playing or not? I?ve lost track.

Lawrence Tynes missed a chip-shot field goal from 34 yards in the first quarter. Way to let Jay Feely go, GM Jerry Reese.

When the Packers claimed a 14-13 lead in the third quarter, my college roommate Dennis, who stopped by for the 1 p.m. games, declared, ?This is going to be back and forth the rest of the way.? The Giants failed to score after that. What did Dennis have to say? ?I guess Eli Manning wasn?t sure if it was OK for him to keep scoring because he couldn?t talk to Brett Favre.? Classic.

Dennis also pointed out that the Giants are a bunch of losers. I couldn?t agree more. Sure, they?ve got talent, but every player on that roster seems more like a whiner than a winner.

Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Buffalo Bills 3:
You can?t really blame the Bills for this loss after what they went through with Kevin Everett this week. I?m an idiot for picking them to cover.

That said, Buffalo?s offense was anemic in the first half. On the team?s first drive, J.P. Losman threw a horrible pass to Lee Evans, who wasn?t even in the same zip code as the ball. On the next possession, the Bills failed to convert on a 2nd-and-1 on two Marshawn Lynch runs. I don?t get why Buffalo didn?t bomb it downfield on one of the downs. Not too creative if you ask me.

Jacksonville Jaguars 13, Atlanta Falcons 7:
Joey Harrington was sacked twice on the first drive of the game, following a 35-yard completion to Alge Crumpler. Jacksonville sacked Harrington seven times.

When I took the Jaguars -10 for a unit on my picks page, I mentioned that I had issues with laying double digits with a team that could have trouble scoring double digits. My concerns were warranted, as Jacksonville put up only 13. I simply don?t get it; David Garrard threw for 272 yards. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew combined for 87 rushing yards. Doesn?t sound that terrible.

So, what was the problem? The only thing I can find is Jacksonville?s 11 penalties. Considering the team started its season with a home divisional loss, I?m surprised it played so sloppily.

San Francisco 49ers 17, St. Louis Rams 16:
The 49ers are growing up before our very eyes. The team couldn?t win a crucial game at St. Louis last year, yet, despite a muffed punt that set the Rams up with a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, it prevailed in the Edward Jones Dome this season.

As I?ve opined a few times the past week, I believe Orlando Pace was the most important piece of the Rams? offense. That was evident on Sunday, as St. Louis scored 16 points, seven of which came off a turnover. Marc Bulger threw for 368 yards, but Steven Jackson couldn?t find any running lanes; he was limited to just 60 yards on 21 carries.

Houston Texans 34, Carolina Panthers 21:
I got an e-mail a few weeks ago saying that the Texans were going to start 6-0. I scoffed at that comment. I?m still scoffing, but I have to admit that I?m impressed with the Texans. Matt Schaub had his second-consecutive outstanding performance, going 20-of-28 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Andre Johnson caught seven balls for 120 yards and a pair of scores.

Last week, Mario Williams dominated Kansas City?s offensive line. It was Amobi Okoye?s turn this week, as the rookie defensive tackle had two sacks and a forced fumble.

If you were to tell me the Texans would defeat Carolina by 13, I would have guessed Jake Delhomme threw a couple of interceptions. Delhomme actually played well, going 27-of-41 for 307 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. Instead, Carolina?s lacking running game was partly to blame; DeAngelo Williams and DeShaun Foster combined for only 53 yards on 17 carries. Weren?t these guys high draft picks, or something? Why isn?t Williams getting more of the workload (Foster had nine carries, opposed to Williams? eight.)

And what happened to Carolina?s defense? Wasn?t this stop unit among the league?s best a few seasons ago? Why did Julius Peppers and company fail to register a sack against the Texans?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, New Orleans Saints 14:
Every Sunday, I make notes during the games so I know what to write afterward. For the Saints and Buccaneers, I wrote, ?What the...?? Buccaneers 31, Saints 14? Huh!?

Looking at the stats, Cadillac Williams managed just 61 yards, while Jeff Garcia completed only 10 passes. However, those 10 hookups were for 243 yards. That?s 24.3 yards per completion! Before you ask how the Saints can possibly allow so many big plays, remember how porous Jason David and their secondary looked against the Colts.

Indianapolis Colts 22, Tennessee Titans 20:
I think Vince Young is one of the best players in the league, but there is no excuse for him having only five carries in a loss. Young, who scrambled for 53 yards, needed to take matters into his own hands more often against the Colts.

Something odd occurred when Indianapolis was running out the clock at the end of the game. Despite ripping off five or seven yards per carry on the ground with Joseph Addai, Peyton Manning unceremoniously started throwing inside Tennessee?s 35. Manning was incomplete twice and sacked the third time. I know... who am I to question the Colts? It was just weird and seemingly unnecessary.

Detroit Lions 20, Minnesota Vikings 17:
So much for the Tarvaris Jackson experiment; the Alabama State alumnus threw four interceptions against Detroit?s beleaguered defense. He was replaced by Brooks Bollinger in overtime.

The Lions and Vikings were undefeated heading into their battle, but it was fairly obvious their 1-0 records were fraudulent; the two squads combined for 10 turnovers. You read that right - 10 turnovers! These teams aren?t going anywhere.

Jon Kitna?s Quest for 5,000: Kitna?s 5,000-yard goal took a hit when he left the game with an injury. Kitna compiled 245 passing yards, giving him a total of 534 for the year. He?s now on pace for 4,192 yards. Not good enough, Kitna. Not good enough.

Arizona Cardinals 23, Seattle Seahawks 20:
It was good to see Matt Leinart bounce back after a dreadful performance last Monday night at San Francisco. Leinart was 23-of-37, 299 yards, one touchdown and a pick, leading the Cardinals to an upset over Seattle.

Dallas Cowboys 37, Miami Dolphins 20:
It looks like there won?t be any stopping Dallas? offense this season. The sick thing is that the team scored 37 points despite the fact that Tony Romo struggled (14-of-29, 186 yards.)

Trent Green, on the other hand, was predictably horrendous. He threw for 287 yards, but fumbled once and tossed four picks in the process. Ronnie Brown, meanwhile, managed just three yards per carry. I don?t know if the Dolphins are going to match my predicted 2-14 record in my season previews, but it?s pretty evident that they need a new quarterback and running back, as well as younger defenders.

Oh, and maybe another rookie receiver. Ted Ginn has yet to register a reception this season. I know he?s only in his first year, but the fact that he hasn?t caught a single pass thus far is inexcusable.

Baltimore Ravens 20, New York Jets 13:
Randy Cross, the color commentator for this game, had a few bizarre things to say. I?ll list them in the leads of my Week 3 picks page.

I can?t believe the Jets covered. Baltimore, up 20-3, went soft against Kellen Clemens, allowing New York to come within 10 yards of tying the game at 20. Give all the credit to Clemens, who, despite the numbers he put up (19-of-37, 260 yards, one touchdown, two picks) played exceptionally well, considering he was making his first career start on the road against the Ravens? defense.

Chicago Bears 20, Kansas City Chiefs 10:
Rex Grossman was booed in front of a home crowd that witnessed a 20-10 Bears victory. Maybe that?s because they were 13-point favorites that struggled to defeat a hapless Chiefs squad, thanks to Grossman?s two picks.

Larry Johnson continued to struggle, carrying the ball 16 times for only 55 yards. I?m not sure exactly what?s wrong with him, but maybe it?s a combination of his offseason lethargy while he was holding out; his being content with his new contract; or the heavy workload he endured in 2006.

Denver Broncos 23, Oakland Raiders 20:
I thought Oakland?s defense was supposed to be good? If so, how did Jay Cutler throw for 269 yards? What about Travis Henry?s 128 rushing yards? And how about the fact that the Broncos converted a 3rd-and-9 deep in their own territory with a Selvin Young 40-yard rush up the middle?

But enough about a winless team?s defense. Denver?s stop unit also looks porous. LaMont Jordan gained 159 yards on the ground, allowing the Raiders to come within a missed field goal in overtime of pulling a huge upset.

New England Patriots 38, San Diego Chargers 14:
Hey, A.J. Smith, how do you like Norv Turner?

Hey, LaDainian Tomlinson, I thought your Chargers would beat the Patriots nine out of 10 times? Do you need to 18 more games against New England to prove your point?

Give the Patriots a lot of credit for ignoring all the distractions they had this week, regarding Overblown Videotaping-Gate. They once again utilized their us-against-the-world mentality, completely obliterating the third-best team in the league.

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